On November 18, 1618, two of the Virginia Company of London’s officers, Sir Thomas Smythe and Sir Edwin Sandys, drew up a set of instructions to the newly appointed governor, Sir George Yeardley. Unlike the three charters before it, this Charter, approved by King James I, not only dealt with matters of financing the Virginia Colony, it established a system of self-governance. Accordingly, it is referred to as the Great Charter of 1618.
Rather than relying on stock sales or a lottery to raise funds to support the struggling colonizing venture, it was decided that the colony’s greatest resource, land, would be utilized. This system of giving 50 acres of land to those who paid for their or other’s (including indentured servants’) passage was known as the headright system.
The Great Charter eliminated military law which had been used to rule the colony since 1610. Now the colony was to be jointly governed by elected representatives (burgesses) along with the King’s council and appointed governor. The first legislative meeting of these democratically elected burgesses would take place the following summer at the church in Jamestown. Years later, when the legislature became bicameral, it became known as the House of Burgesses. This legislative body begun in 1619, the first of if its kind in North America, still meets today and is known as the Virginia General Assembly.
Colonial Virginia’s process of self-rule was thereby institutionalized on 30 July 1619 and set an example for others to follow. As Virginians migrated in search of new opportunity, they took these lessons of self-rule they had learned and put them into practice in other colonies, territories and states.
In late July of 2019, there will be a large celebration commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first legislative assembly held in North America when Governor Sir George Yeardley, the King’s Council and 20 democratically elected burgesses met in the Jamestown Church on 30 July 1619.
Capt. Thomas Graves, a shareholder in the Virginia Company who came to Jamestown in 1608 aboard the Second Supply, was one of the original 20 burgesses representing Smythe’s Hundred and the tenth great grandfather of Lewis & Clark Company Governor, John Graves.
William Hatcher was born in England 14 Jan 1614 and died in Henrico County, VA. His will was recorded on 1 Apr 1680 in the Colonial Wills of Henrico County 1677-1737 and establishes the year he died. Although his will does not list his sons, it names Burton and Elam men who marry into his family. Because William’s sons—Edward, William, Henry, and Benjamin—are not named in their father’s will, the implication is that what was recorded as his will is a codicil. The identity of his sons is established in deeds wherein the sons identify their father as William Hatcher. William Hatcher outlived his sons William and Henry; and sons Edward and Benjamin equally divided the land their father owned after his death, land called Varina, Pigg in the Bole, Turkey Island Point, and Neck of Land.
William married about 1633, most likely in England; the name of his wife is unknown but may have been Mary. Because she is not provided for in William’s will, she undoubtedly predeceased him.
William is known to have been in Virginia by 1636 because he was granted 200 acres on the Appomattox River on 1 June 1636. He received two more parcels 200 acres on the Appomattox River on 1 June 1636. He received two more parcels of land: 850 acres in July 1637 and 150 acres in 1638. His headrights for the 850-tract were the four headrights he submitted in 1636. After Hatcher failed to settle the tract received in 1637, Henry Randolph secured patents for it in 1662. Six years before Hatcher’s death, he patented 227 acres in Henrico County on the south side of the James River next to Gilbert Elam.
Hatcher prospered in Virginia and was respected by his neighbors, who elected him to represent them in the VA House of Burgesses during most of the sessions between 1644 and 1652. He was known to speak his mind, and in 1654 he called the speaker of the House of Burgesses a “Devil.” For that offense, he had to apologize on his knees and pay a fine. During Bacon’s rebellion in 1677, a jury found Hatcher guilty of “uttering divers mutinous words . . . and divers oaths” and fined him 10,000 pounds of tobacco. After considering Hatcher’s age—he was in his 60’s—the court reduced the penalty to 8,000 pounds of dressed pork to supply His Majesty’s soldiers.
The identity of William Hatcher’s parents in England is unknown. The name “Hatcher” was derived from the Norman-French word hache, a light battle-ax. After the Norman invasion, hache was anglicized to the name Hatcher.
Hatcher lived up to his bellicose name, not only in the House of Burgesses and during Bacon’s Rebellion, but also in dealing with his neighbors. He did not like for his neighbors to poach fish from his pond; and he ordered John Lantroope and his other servants to split all the canoes they could find in the swamp, including orders to strike a piece out of the head of Mr. Robert Woodson’s canoe with an ax as well.
Descendants of William Hatcher who belong to the First Mississippi Company: John Wycoff Godsey, Ellen Lane McAllister, Constance Ellen Godsey, Dylan Bishop, Dean Bishop .
Both Jamestown, founded in 1607 by the Virginia Company of London, and Plymouth, founded in 1620 by English religious separatists, were products of the English drive for New World colonization as were those of Spain and other major powers.
Three personages associated with Jamestown also ended up being major figures in the sailing of the Mayflower. First was Captain John Smith. Second was Captain Samuel Argall, employed by the Virginia Company to transport colonists to Jamestown. In 1613, he led an expedition that wiped out French colonies in Nova Scotia and Maine, thus securing the Atlantic seaboard for English speaking Protestants.
Smith returned to the New World in 1614, explored the New England coast and went home to publish A Description of New England, in which he described how it was ripe for colonization. The religious separatists then living in Holland must have seen the book. They had decided they needed to relocate and would try colonization.
The third figure, and ultimately most important, was Sir Edwin Sandys. He was a principal in the Virginia Company and deeply committed to successful English colonization in the New World. He played a major role in keeping Jamestown going, including calling for the first elected representative body in Jamestown and conceiving the sending of 100 "maidens" to Jamestown to help stabilize the colony.
Sandys was the son of the Bishop of Yorkshire; whose ecclesiastic seat was Scrooby. The Bishop’s manor was rented by the family of William Brewster, who would become one of the leading figures in the separatist community in Holland. In 1617, Brewster wrote to his old friend, Sandys, for help in transporting the separatists to the New World.
Sandys played a huge role in the negotiations, going as far as lending the separatists £300. He also helped to arrange an agreement between the separatists, antagonistic to the Church of England, and King James I, which enabled the grant of a patent for colonization. That patent allowed them to found a colony as far north as New York, but they ended up at Cape Cod in mid-November, as their captain was not willing to take them any farther.
The ship's passengers, however, included both separatists and secular colonists, and there was a question as to
who had authority to govern. In the end, all the men who were going to stay in the new colony agreed to a written accord of self-government, which we call the Mayflower Compact. It recognized that they were loyal subjects of King James and, being about to engage in a democratic form of government, is certainly reflective of Sandys’s influence on the language and content of the Compact.
By Erica Hahn; a First California Company member and past Governor of the Orange County Colony of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants
Fifth in a series of biographical sketches on members of the General Assembly and House of 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 American at the 1617 Church on Jamestown Island
Thomas Farley was elected to the Virginia General Assembly to represent plantations in James City County, VA, in 1629. Who was this man?
Thomas Farley was born 15 January 1590, in Worcester, Worcestershire, England. He was the son of Roger Farley and Isobel Pumphreys and the brother of Robert, William, Elliot, and Edward Farley. He was known as a “gentleman of Worcester of Worcestershire.” Thomas Farley married Lady Jane Molyneux of Sefton, the illegitimate daughter of Sir John Molyneux of Sefton and Margaret Hope, on 12 July 1622 in Savoy Church, Worcester, England. Jane was christened on 30 September 1607, at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. Being born on the “wrong side of the bed,” Jane had no right to call herself “Lady” and was presumably sent to Worcester to live with relatives in order to avert any embarrassment to the Molyneux family in residence at Sefton.
Thomas Farley and his wife Jane first arrived in James County, Virginia, in 1623 on the ship Ann the year after the Indian attack that slew more than 347 inhabitants of the colony of Jamestown in 1622. Their first child, a daughter whom they named Ann, was born either soon after their arrival or aboard the ship. Accompanying them was a servant Nicholas Shotten, age 40 years.
Thomas Farley owned a plantation and rented other adjoining properties to produce large quantities of tobacco for English markets. He was twice elected to the General Assembly. In the March 1629-1630 session, Farley served as a Burgess from the plantations between Harrop and Archer’s Hope and Martin’s Hundred, and in the February, 1631-1632 session, he represented Archer’s Hope.
At court in James City, 21 August 1626, “Thomas Farley, gent.,” confessed to being absent from church on the Sabbath Day for three months. It was determined by the court that a fine of one hundred pounds of tobacco for the public treasury would restore him to his spiritual status. The minutes of the Council and General Court, 1622-1629 states, “Thomas Farley of Archer’s Hope bargained with Widow Bush for the land he was settled on.” Thomas Farley died after 1634 in Archer’s Hope, James City, Virginia.
First Mississippi Company Descendants of Thomas Farley: Sandra Sartor Ford, Martha Ray Sartor, Daniel Ford, John-Peter Ford, Mark Ford
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