Interview with Berkeley Castle’s Charles Berkeley

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Two men with deep connections to Berkeley Plantation – L-R Charles Berkeley (descendant of Richard Berkeley) and Graham Woodlief (descendant of Captain John Woodlief)

I used to tell my students that history is a giant web. Cause effects change, and that  change, sometimes unseen, is felt for generations.

Gloucestershire’s Berkeley Castle is a location at the heart of change. Even though the manorial seat has been in the same family for 27 generations, many of the people directly associated with the Castle moved to Virginia bringing profound influence with them to the New World.

The name Berkeley stands tall in 17th Century Virginia’s annals. The 1619 landing at what would become known as Berkeley Hundred put the Castle’s name on Virginia’s map forever. Decades later a Berkeley relative became Virginia’s most influential 17th Century colonial governor. But it wasn’t just Berkeley’s that came to Virginia from Gloucestershire. Skilled tradesmen, indentured servants, and merchants also moved from the old world, hoping to better there lives.

Berkeley Hundred soon suffered a horrific blow in 1622, but survivors endured and built a thriving colony. That colony became an early American leader, producing countless statesmen, scientific pioneers, westward explorers, military heroes, and seven United States Presidents. Two of those Presidents, William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison have immediate connections to Berkeley Plantation, and they were preceded by Benjamin Harrison V,  a Declaration of Independence signer.

The various causes spurring Berkeley Hundred’s first settlers to leave Gloucestershire undoubtedly left a lasting impact upon Virginia’s and the United State’s history. For that we should be thankful, just as those first settlers were, for new opportunities. Today we can build upon those opportunities, while we trace our history back to places like Berkeley Castle and beyond.

Charles Berkeley, 27th Generation owner of Berkeley Castle, visited Berkeley Plantation in order to share in highlighting Berkeley Castle’s profound influence upon Virginia. His kind generosity made this interview possible, for which I’m thankful beyond measure.

LINKS TO THE PODCAST:

SPECIAL LINKS:

 

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of Berkeley Castle accessed from Wikipedia.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and English Folk Song Suite I. March ( Seventeen Come Sunday). Allegro by Ralph Vaughan Williams, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Adrian Boult, also available on iTunes.

Graham Woodlief Interview – The 400th Anniversary of the First Thanksgiving

Next year marks the 400th Anniversary of the First Thanksgiving in the English speaking New World.

In this episode I had the special opportunity to discuss details surrounding Berkeley’s upcoming celebration of that 400th Anniversary with H. Graham Woodlief. If you have the chance to attend next year’s event, it promises to be spectacular, a celebration 400 years in the making!

Before you listen to this interview, let me express my gratitude to Berkeley Plantation for setting up space for Mr. Woodlief and I to record this interview. Specifically, Melissa Back, your hospitality is second to none!

Also thanks to Commemoration 2019 for once again coordinating the opportunity to interview Mr. Woodlief, who is a fountain of information concerning Berkeley’s history.

One final note, Berkeley Plantation is an active tourist destination. That being the case, please do mind the occasional background chatter as guests came to tour the mansion and grounds.

LINKS TO THE PODCAST:

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Mr. H. Graham Woodlief, descendant of Captain John Woodlief, who led the original Berkeley Hundred expedition.

SOURCES:

  1. Dowdy, Clifford. The Great Plantation: A Profile of Berkeley Hundred and Plantation Virginia from Jamestown to Appomattox. Charles City, VA: Berkeley Plantation, 1957.
  2. Gethyn-Jones, Eric. George Thorpe and the Berkeley Company: A Gloucestershire Enterprise in Virginia. Gloucester, England: Sutton, Publishing, 1982
  3. Hatch, Charles. The First Seventeen Years: Virginia 1607-1624. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1991.
  4. Smyth of Nibley Papers. New York Public Library Digital Collections.
  5. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.
  6. Woodlief, H. Graham. History of the First Thanksgiving found at Berkeley Plantation Website

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

  1. Berkeley Plantation
  2. First Thanksgiving Festival
  3. Commemoration 2019
  4. WCVE: First Official Thanksgiving
  5. Special Episode – The First Thanksgiving, Virginia 1619.

 

 

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is of Berkeley Plantation’s Carriage Entrance.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and selection from “Symphony 9: From the New World – 2nd Movement, Largo” by Antonin Dvorak, also available on iTunes.

Special Episode – The First Thanksgiving, Virginia 1619

I have written about, and even briefly mentioned the First Thanksgiving before, but this event deserves a stand-alone podcast episode.

For those who have not heard about the first English Speaking Thanksgiving in the New World, it started when a group of closely related English investors came together to plan a new life in Virginia.

They saw an opportunity to escape economic and religious hardships plaguing 17th Century England, enlisted a veteran Virginia settler, and shipped 35 settlers to an 8,000 acre land-grant on the James River in 1619.

Upon their arrival, the settlers offered their thanks to Almighty God as their first action at their new home, Berkeley Hundred. All of this was accomplished before their more famous counterparts, the Pilgrims, set sail in 1620.

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Berkeley Plantation’s Reenactment of Captain Woodlief and his men coming ashore to celebrate the First Thanksgiving in 1619

LINKS TO THE PODCAST:

SOURCES:

  1. Billings, Warren M.; Selby, John E.; and Tate, Thad W. Colonial Virginia: A History. White Plains, NY: KTO Press. 1986.
  2. Dowdy, Clifford. The Great Plantation: A Profile of Berkeley Hundred and Plantation Virginia from Jamestown to Appomattox. Charles City, VA: Berkeley Plantation, 1957.
  3. Hatch, Charles. The First Seventeen Years: Virginia 1607-1624. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1991.
  4. Horn, James. A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. New York: Basic Books, 2005.
  5. Hume, Ivor Noel. Here Lies Virginia. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1963.
  6. Hume, Ivor Noel. The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne – An Archaeological and Historical OdysseyNew York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.
  7. Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
  8. Price, David A. Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Start of a New NationNew York: Vintage, 2003.
  9. Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
  10. Smith, John. The Generall History of Virginia. 1624.
  11. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.
  12. Wallenstein, Peter. Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2007.
  13. Williams, Tony. The Jamestown Experiment: The Remarkable Story of The Enterprising Colony and the Unexpected Results that Shaped America. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2011.
  14. Woodlief, H. Graham. History of the First Thanksgiving found at Berkeley Plantation Website
  15. Wooley, Benjamin. Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America. New York: Harper and Collins, 2007.

 

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is of colonial re-enactors at the First Thanksgiving Festival, which takes place annually at Berkeley Plantation.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Little Birdie” by Vince Guaraldi, also available on iTunes.