Eighth 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
Isle of Wight County, VA
Edward Bennett served as a Burgess from Isle of Wight County, VA. He was born 2 Feb 1577 in Wiveliscombe, Somerset, England, the fifteenth child of Robert and Elizabeth Bennett. In 1621 he ]established a plantation in Isle of Wight County on the Warrosquoake River and named it after the river. Bennett was a Puritan, as were several of his Virginia neighbors. His patent for Virginia land was contingent upon his settling 200 people in the colony, and the first settlers he transported arrived on the Sea Flower in 1622. Within a month of their arrival in Virginia, the Indian Massacre of 1622 occurred, and 53 settlers out of the 347 colonists killed died at Bennett’s plantation.
He returned to England and married Mary Bourne, daughter of a prominent Somerset merchant in late 1622. Mary was 28 years younger than Edward, and they had six children together. The first two children were born in England: Mary, born in 1623; and Elizabeth, born in 1626.
Bennett was a wealthy London merchant and the owner of a large fleet of ships which traded with Virginia, largely importing tobacco. He was also Commissioner of Virginia at the Court of England and an investor in the Virginia Company of London, which settled over 600 people in Isle of Wight County.
About 1627 Bennett fled to Amsterdam, Holland during the Puritan migrations, where, because of his wealth, he became an elder of the Ancient Church. By 1631, Bennett had left Holland and moved to Bennett’s Plantation in Isle of Wight.
Colonists from 80 plantations banded together in eight plantations near Jamestowne for safety, and Bennett’s plantation was abandoned until a fort was built there and Governor George Yeardly drove the Warraskoyak and Nansemond Indians out of their villages in reprisals. The census of 1623 showed that Bennett’s plantation, which he renamed Bennett’s Welcome, was reestablished with 33 settlers, “including 4 negroes.” In 1624 the total population was 31. Because of the 1622 massacre, the settlement in the Isle of Wight County is dated from that year.
Four of Edward and Mary’s children were born in Virginia: Sylvestra, born in 1630 in Isle of Wight; John, born in 1632 on Hogg Island; Ann, born in 1633 on Hogg Island but died as a baby; and Jasper, born in 1635 on Hogg Island.
Edward Bennett represented Isle of Wight County in the Virginia General Assembly in 1628 and then left with his family for England. He left the management of Bennett’s Welcome to his Puritan nephew, Richard Bennett, who served as Governor of the Commonwealth of VA from 1652-1655. Isle of Wight County was a Puritan stronghold in Anglican Virginia for many years. Bennett never returned to Virginia and died before 3 Jun 1651 in England.
First Mississippi Company descendants of Edward Bennett: Dell Dickens Scoper
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