First Families of Virginia – The Pages

The Page family fascinates for many reasons. Their rise was similar to other First Families, but their most prominent founding members didn’t leave much beyond wills from which one can learn about their lives.

What we do know about them is that they came into the colony around 1650, quickly established themselves as leading land owners, and became a major colonial influence. Perhaps they thought too much of themselves by the mid 18th Century, or they were just terrible financial planners, but they overextended themselves in building their most famous structure, Rosewell Plantation.

The fabulous manor home was to rival the Governor’s Mansion, and it certainly did, but doing so came at a hefty price. The cost to build Rosewell overreached Page family funds in such a way that two generations after it was completed the accrued debt essentially wiped the Page family out.

Their lands and homes were all out of the family by the early 19th Century. That doesn’t diminish the reality that during their relatively shorter period of dominance the Pages did impact the colony and young Commonwealth. For this reason, the Pages, in spite of their debts, are well worth studying.

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. Blair, John L. The Rise of the Burwells. MA Thesis, Williamsburg, VA: College of William and Mary, 1959.
  5. Bruce, Phillip Alexander. Social Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An Inquiry into the Origin of the Higher Planting Class. New York: JP Bell Company, 1927.
  6. Brown, Stuart E. Burwell: Kith and kin of the immigrant, Lewis Burwell (1621-1653) : and Burwell Virginia Tidewater plantation mansions. Virginia Book, Co, 1994.
  7. Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.
  8. Dowdey, Clifford. The Great Plantation: A Profile of Berkeley Hundred and Plantation Virginia from Jamestown to Appomattox. Charles City, VA: Berkeley Plantation, 1980.
  9. Evans, Emory G. A “Topping People”: The Rise and Decline of Virginia’s Old Political Elite, 1680-1790. Charlottesville, VA: UVA Press, 2009.
  10. Fischer, David Hackett. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: a cultural history). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  11. Freeman, Douglas Southall. George Washington: A Biography. New York: Charles Scribners, 1957. (Specifically Volume 1).
  12. Horn, James. Adapting to A New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
  13. Lanciano, Claude. Rosewell: Garland of Virginia. Gloucester, VA: Gloucester County Historical Committee, 1978.
  14. Leviner, Betty Crowe. The Page Family of Rosewell and Mannsfield: A Study in Economic Decline. Williamsburg, VA: William and Mary. Unpublished Master’s Thesis, 1987.
  15. Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
  16. McCartney, Martha W. Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers: A Biographical Dictionary, 1607-1635. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007.
  17. 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.
  18. Page, Richard Channing Moore. Genealogy Of The Page Family In Virginia: Also, A Condensed Account Of The Nelson, Walker, Pendleton, And Randolph Families. NY: Jenkins and Thomas Printers, 1883.
  19. Pecquet du Bellet, Louise. Some Prominent Virginia Families, 4 Volumes. Lynchburg, VA:  J.P. Bell Company, 1907.
  20. Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
  21. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.
  22. 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.
  23. Washburn, Wilcomb E. Virginia Under Charles I and Cromwell 1625-1660. Kindle Edition.
  24. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia Under the Stuarts: 1607-1688. New York: Russell and Russell, 1959.
  25. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. The Planters of Colonial Virginia. Kindle Edition.
  26. 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 PageFamily Crest. Turn of the century Rosewell Pictures are all from Wikimedia Commons. Mansfield Plantation pictures are from Mysteries and Conundrums. John Page I Portrait by Peter Lely is from Wikimedia Commons.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “Rich Kids” by Judah and the Lion, also available on iTunes.

The Rolfe’s, Tobacco, Plantations, and Pocahontas’ Death

Stearns1850

Thomas Dale’s Virginia still suffered under his heavy-handed rule in the early 1610s, but the Rolfe/Pocahontas marriage as well as semi-relaxed private property laws began to have a noticeable affect upon the colony.

Rolfe took advantage of those newly relaxed laws by introducing a new tobacco strain, the Spanish, sweet-scented Orinoco along the James River. Soon after Rolfe’s successfully growing the weed, and sending a 1,200 lb crop to England, other Virginia colonists began growing the crop on the many plantations that sprung into life after 1613.

The Virginia Company began granting land to new settlers both old and new after Samuel Argall ascended to the Lieutenant Governorship. More than 30 plantations were founded upon which Tobacco became the chiefly grown crop. Virginia was now showing signs of profitability, and many believed it to be due in part to the Rolfe/Pocahontas marriage as well as Rolfe’s experimental work. They were now Virginia’s most famous people, and England wanted to see this early modern power couple.

The Rolfe’s journeyed to England in 1616, were a hit, helped bolster the Virginia Company’s books. But the successful junket came at a price. The Powhatan natives were affected by the dirty English civilization. Pocahontas fell ill and died at the outset of their return journey to Virginia. Further, one of Pocahontas’ attendants, Tomocomo, spread his negative reviews to powerful Powhatan leaders upon his return.

Those words had an affect, as Opechancanough, Powhatan’s successor, let the words fester, and began plotting an attack against the English.

LINKS TO THE PODCAST:

 

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Tobacco being grown at the Frontier Culture Museum

SOURCES:

  1. Berhnard, Virginia. A Tale of Two Colonies: What Really Happened in Virginia and Bermuda? Columbia, MO: University of Missouri, 2011.
  2. Billings, Warren M.; Selby, John E.; and Tate, Thad W. Colonial Virginia: A History. White Plains, NY: KTO Press. 1986.
  3. Custalow, Linwood “Little Bear” and Daniel, Angela L. “Silver Star.” The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History. Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 2007.
  4. Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.
  5. Deans, Bob. The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James. Plymouth, UK: Rowan and Littlefield, 2009.
  6. Encyclopedia Virginia, Sir Thomas Dale.
  7. Doherty, Kieran. Sea Venture: Shipwreck, Survival, and the Salvation of Jamestown. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008.
  8. Firstbrook, Peter. A Man Most Driven: Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Founding of America. London: Oneworld Publications, 2014.
  9. Glover, Lorri and Smith, Daniel Blake. The Shipwreck that Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America.
  10. Horn, James. A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. New York: Basic Books, 2005.
  11. Hatch Jr., Charles E. The First Seventeen Years: Virginia 1607-1624. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1991.
  12. Hume, Ivor Noel. Here Lies Virginia. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1963.
  13. Hume, Ivor Noel. The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne – An Archaeological and Historical OdysseyNew York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.
  14. Kelso, William M. Jamestown: The Buried Truth. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2006.
  15. Kupperman, Karen Ordhal. Apathy and Death in Early Jamestown The Journal of American History, Vol. 66, No. 1 (Jun., 1979), pp. 24-40
  16. Kupperman, Karen Ordhal. Captain John Smith: A Select Edition of His Writings. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press published for the Omohundro Institute, 1988.
  17. Kupperman, Karen Ordhal. The Jamestown Project. Cambridge, MA: The Belknapp Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.
  18. Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
  19. Price, David A. Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Start of a New NationNew York: Vintage, 2003.
  20. Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
  21. Rountree, Helen C. Powhatan Foreign Relations: 1500-1722.Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1993.
  22. Rountree, Helen C. Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown. Charlottesville, VA: UVA Press, 2005.
  23. Smith, John. The Generall History of Virginia. 1624.
  24. Strachey, William. Collected Works on the Internet Archive.
  25. Wallenstein, Peter. Cradle of America: Four Centuries of Virginia History. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2007.
  26. Williams, Tony. The Jamestown Experiment: The Remarkable Story of The Enterprising Colony and the Unexpected Results that Shaped America. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2011.
  27. Wooley, Benjamin. Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America. New York: Harper and Collins, 2007.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

  1. Historic Jamestowne
  2. Virtual Jamestown
  3. The Cittie of Henricus
  4. The Pocahontas Archive
  5. St. George’s Church Gravesend, England (Pocahontas’ Burial Site, though the exact grave has been lost)
  6. Virginia History Podcast Store

 

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Tobacco being dried at the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown

 

 

 

All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is the only known picture of Pocahontas from her lifetime. It was done by Simon Van de Passe upon Pocahontas visit to England. The next image is The Death of Pocahontas by Junius Brutus Stearns.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “From This Valley by the Civil Wars“, available on Soundcloud.