Eighteenth in a series of biographical sketches on Burgesses whose descendants belong to the First Mississippi Company; in honor of the 400th anniversary of the July 30, 1619, meeting of the first representative governmental body in America at the 1617 Church on Jamestown Island.
Abraham Peirsey first arrived at Jamestowne aboard the Susan, the first Magazine ship sent to the Colony in 1616 from England. His wife, Elizabeth Draper and their two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary, arrived on the Southhampton in 1624. He later returned to England on the Susan and sailed back to Jamestowne aboard the George. Peirsey was Cape Merchant of the Virginia Company and a stockholder. In late August 1619, John Rolfe reported that the privateer White Lion landed “20. and odd Negroes…which the Governor and Cape Marchant [Peirsey] bought for victuals.” He also made a trading visit to Newfoundland in 1619 on the George to exchange tobacco for fish.
In 1624 Abraham Peirsey bought Governor Sir George Yeardley’s plantation known as Flowerdew Hundred, located on the south side of the James River just upstream from James City in present day Prince George County. Peirsey renamed the plantation Peirsey’s Hundred and built a stone house with the first permanent foundation in the colony. Flowerdew Hundred was a palisaded settlement which may account for there being only six deaths there during the Indian uprising in 1622.
According to the 1624/25 Muster, Peirsey was the second wealthiest man in Virginia after Yeardley. Peirsey’s Hundred included twelve dwellings, three storehouses, four tobacco houses, and housed a total of 57 people, including 29 servants and seven Negroes belonging to Peirsey as indentured servants. The other residents were six married men with their families and servants, three single men, and a minister.
In 1624, Peirsey also owned Windmill Point at which included the first windmill constructed in America. Ample supplies of food were on hand in the form of cattle, hogs, corn, peas, and quantities of fish. A continued concern over defense was reflected in the cannon, armor, gunpowder, and swords listed.
On 24 Oct 1623, along with John Pory, John Harvey, John Jefferson and Samuel Mathews, Abraham Peirsey was appointed to a commission to "look into the state of Virginia." He was appointed to the Council 1624 and elected as Burgess in 1625.
Peirsey’s plantation went to his second wife, Frances Greville, upon his death in 1627/1628. She later married Samuel Mathews and died in 1633. At her death the property was awarded to Peirsey’s daughter Mary Peirsey Hill. One of Mary's first act upon acquiring Peirsey’s Hundred was to rename it Flowerdew Hundred. In the five years that passed after Abraham's death the estate was altered so much that Mary became destitute.
Today the plantation is held by the Flowerdew Hundred Foundation and is listed on Virginia’s Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, Civil War Overland Campaign Lee-Grant Trail, and the National Register of Historic Places.
First Mississippi Company Descendant of Abraham Peirsey: Henry Hunter Jordan III
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