First Families of Virginia – The Lees

The Lee family impact upon Virginia’s history is undeniable. Richard I, “The Immigrant” had a seemingly boundless energy attached to a shrewd business sense. He used that combination to establish the Lee Dynasty from which foundational descendants sprang. He and his wife Anne (aka Anna) Constable Lee bore 10 children, of whom 9 survived infancy. Those 9 children, perhaps not as boundless as their patriarch, ensured Richard’s legacy within the Commonwealth lived beyond one generation.

Richard purchased vast lands, and left them to his children to build upon. They built enduring monuments to the Lee name such as Statford Hall, created tight bonds with other leading families of the day, and shaped Virginia’s future, while also taking part in America’s founding. But the Lee name didn’t stop there.

When Virginia’s First Family dominance seemed lost a Lee stepped forward in the twilight to give one last performance. In the end, the sun set on the Lee family as well as the First Families of Virginia, which in profound manner also influenced Virginia’s future. No longer a leader, Virginia became simply another contributing member of the United States, and the Lees, ever faithful continued to play their part.

Today debates abound, but what is not debatable is the Lee impact as trailblazers, innovators, country-builders, heroes, and sometime villains. Without them Virginia and the United States’ story, both good and bad, would not be the same, and their story begins with that brilliant family founder in 1639.

Tune in to this episode where we introduce this important family’s founding, while highlighting just a few of the Lee’s who impacted history.

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. Billings, Warren M. Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia. Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press, 2004.
  3. Billings, Warren. A Little Parliament: The Virginia General Assembly in the Seventeenth Century. Richmond, VA: Library of Virginia, 2004.
  4. Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.
  5. Evans, Emory G. A “Topping People”: The Rise and Decline of Virginia’s Old Political Elite, 1680-1790. Charlottesville, VA: UVA Press, 2009.
  6. Fischer, David Hackett. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: a cultural history). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  7. Freeman, Douglas Southall. George Washington: A Biography. New York: Charles Scribners, 1957. (Specifically Volume 1).
  8. Freeman, Douglas Southall. R. E. Lee: A Biography. Charles Scribners: New York, 1936.
  9. Hendrick, Burton J. The Lees of Virginia: Biography of a Family. New York: Little Brown and Co, 1935.
  10. Horn, James. Adapting to A New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
  11. Lee, Edmund Jennings. Lee of Virginia, 1642-1892: Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of the Descendants of Colonel Richard Lee. Heritage Books, 2008
  12. Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
  13. McCartney, Martha W. Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers: A Biographical Dictionary, 1607-1635. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007.
  14. Nagel, Paul C. The Lees of Virginia: Seven Generations of an American Family. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  15. Neill, Edward D. Virginia Carolorum: The Colony under the Rule of Charles The First and Second, A.D. 1625-A.D. 1685. Albany, NY: Joel Munsell’s and Sons, 1886.
  16. Pecquet du Bellet, Louise. Some Prominent Virginia Families, vol. 4. Lynchburg, VA:  J.P. Bell Company, 1907.
  17. Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
  18. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.
  19. Walsh, Lorena S. Motives of Honor, Pleasure, and Profit: Plantation Management in the Colonial Chesapeake, 1607-1763. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  20. Washburn, Wilcomb E. Virginia Under Charles I and Cromwell 1625-1660. Kindle Edition.
  21. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia Under the Stuarts: 1607-1688. New York: Russell and Russell, 1959.
  22. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. The Planters of Colonial Virginia. Kindle Edition.
  23. Wright, Louis B. First Gentlemen of Virginia. Charlottesville, VA: Dominion Books, 1982.

SPECIAL LINKS:

 

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is of the Lee Family Crest.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Haven” by We Banjo 3, also available on iTunes.

Virginia During the Interregnum

The Commonwealth came to Virginia in 1652. Berkeley was out. The Virginia General Assembly then elected Richard Bennett, one of Parliament’s approved commissioners who was sent to force Virginia and Maryland into submission. Bennett was an extremely well connected man in both colonies, therefore he was the perfect person to answer Parliament’s call. But that call took slightly longer to answer than expected.

Once Berkeley surrendered his position, Bennett had little trouble in steering an increasingly-distant-from-England Virginia under the Protectorate. There were outliers, such as the Eastern Shore; however, who wanted to be separated from the colonial mainland. The best that could be done there was grant a form of semi-autonomy that many from the peninsula across the bay  benefited.

Most did indeed prosper during this time, largely because of increasingly decentralized government that gave power into the smaller, local courts. But there were some who suffered.

Indians, mostly those who were out of state that began moving into lands left uninhabited by the shrinking Powhatan Confederacy, came into contact with English settlers on the frontiers during this period, and violence plagued both English and Indian settlements. The Assembly wanted to ensure peace, but they had little power to enforce their authority on the frontier lands so distant from Jamestown.

In time, the Assembly lifted many trade restrictions formerly existing between the English and Indians, which would go a long way to lessening tensions – though not completely.

Bennett’s finished his Parliamentary commissioned work after his gubernatorial tenure ran out. The second part of his commission was to subdue Maryland, a colony in which Bennett was quite familiar, since he and other Puritans fled there in the late 1640s.

Maryland’s proprietor, Lord Baltimore, a Royalist installed Puritan William Stone as his colony’s governor in 1648. Regardless of Stone’s religious stance, Parliament wanted to remove Baltimore from controlling the colony, because of his support for Charles II. Bennett and William Claiborne successfully removed Stone, and fended him off after the Battle of Severn in 1655, which allowed Parliament to reign supreme over the Chesapeake colonies.

But Parliament really didn’t care too much about Virginia and Maryland, at least that’s the impression both lands felt due to such scanty correspondence from London after 1652. Colonists decided that this was a good thing, and only increased their self-government, often in opposition to the government’s desire, as the Interregnum’s last governor, Samuel Matthews, Jr. discovered.

Perhaps in time Matthews and Parliament would have turned the screws on Virginia’s growing independence, but Matthews died soon after the Assembly overruled his command to dissolve, and Richard Cromwell, Oliver Cromwell’s son and heir chose to resign his position as Lord Protector in 1659. The Interregnum was over, and a familiar face soon returned to govern Virginia once again.

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. Billings, Warren M. Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia. Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press, 2004.
  3. Billings, Warren. A Little Parliament: The Virginia General Assembly in the Seventeenth Century. Richmond, VA: Library of Virginia, 2004.
  4. Breen, T.H. and Innes, Stephen. Myne Owne Ground: Race & Freedom on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, 1640-1676. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
  5. Craven, Wesley Frank. White, Red, and Black: The Seventeenth Century Virginian. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1977.
  6. Craven, Wesley Frank. The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century: 1607-1689. LSU Press, 1949.
  7. Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.
  8. Horn, James. Adapting to A New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
  9. Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
  10. Neill, Edward D. Virginia Carolorum: The Colony under the Rule of Charles The First and Second, A.D. 1625-A.D. 1685. Albany, NY: Joel Munsell’s and Sons, 1886.
  11. Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
  12. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.
  13. Wallenstein, Peter. Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2007.
  14. Walsh, Lorena S. Motives of Honor, Pleasure, and Profit: Plantation Management in the Colonial Chesapeake, 1607-1763. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  15. Washburn, Wilcomb E. Virginia Under Charles I and Cromwell 1625-1660. Kindle Edition.
  16. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia Under the Stuarts: 1607-1688. New York: Russell and Russell, 1959.
  17. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. The Planters of Colonial Virginia. Kindle Edition.
  18. Wise, Jennings Cropper. Ye Kingdom Of Accawmacke: Or The Eastern Shore Of Virginia In The Seventeenth Century. Richmond, VA: The Bell Book and Stationary, CO. 1911.

ADDITIONAL LINK:

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of Colonel Edward Hill and Pamunkey Chieftan Totopotomoi.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Edges Run” by Mipso, also available on iTunes.

Land Expansion – The Powhatan Tribes and William Berkeley

Virginia continued to expand beyond the James River by the time Sir William Berkeley arrived. Much of that expansion spread northward into traditional Powhatan power centers along the Middle Peninsula, and further northward into the Northern Neck.

Some of the Powhatan tribes didn’t take kindly to English encroachment. Notably, the 1622 massacre leader, Opechancanough, decided to do something about those expanding English settlements. He led a fresh attack in April 1644.

In spite of more than 500 deaths and a new Anglo-Powhatan War, the English continued expanding into new lands. By 1646 the English had won the war, Opechancanough was killed, and his successor signed the Articles of Peace. Now, land restrictions, both legal and belligerent were removed.

With no restrictions, English Virginia expansion rapidly entered a new phase. That new phase, however, brought new challenges that were rooted in older foundations.

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. Billings, Warren M. Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia. Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press, 2004.
  3. Billings, Warren. A Little Parliament: The Virginia General Assembly in the Seventeenth Century. Richmond, VA: Library of Virginia, 2004.
  4. Craven, Wesley Frank. White, Red, and Black: The Seventeenth Century Virginian. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1977.
  5. Craven, Wesley Frank. The Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century: 1607-1689. LSU Press, 1949.
  6. Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.
  7. Horn, James. Adapting to A New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
  8. Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
  9. Neill, Edward D. Virginia Carolorum: The Colony under the Rule of Charles The First and Second, A.D. 1625-A.D. 1685. Albany, NY: Joel Munsell’s and Sons, 1886.
  10. Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
  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. Walsh, Lorena S. Motives of Honor, Pleasure, and Profit: Plantation Management in the Colonial Chesapeake, 1607-1763. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  14. Washburn, Wilcomb E. Virginia Under Charles I and Cromwell 1625-1660. Kindle Edition.
  15. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia Under the Stuarts: 1607-1688. New York: Russell and Russell, 1959.
  16. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. The Planters of Colonial Virginia. Kindle Edition.

Berkeley Signature

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is the Falls at the Appomattox River near the site of Fort Henry.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Crazy World (Judgment Day)” by Jamestown Revival also available on iTunes.