Virginia Settlers: A Glossary

Expanded from Parke Rouse, Planters and Pioneers:  Life in Colonial Virginia, New York:  Hastings House, 1968 and Carol McGinnis, Virginia Genealogy:  Sources and Resources, Baltimore MD:  Genealogical Publishing Company, 1994.

  1. Adventurers:  a legal term for stockholders in the joint stock companies that brought the first Virginia settlers to America.  These men (and a woman or two) remained in England and Wales.  They underwrote the expenses and thus, had a vested interest in the success of the enterprises.
  2. Planters:  a legal term for the men who planted the settlements in The Plantations, as the colony of Virginia was originally called.  These men came to Virginia, at least for a time.  Some were sons or relatives of the Adventurers.  Those who arrived before 1616 were sometimes called “ancient planters.”  100+ planters are listed in the Introduction to Nell M. Nugent’s Cavaliers and Pioneers, Volume I.  William Thorndale, whom you already know from his careful research with William Dollarhide on Map Guide to the US Federal Censuses, 1790-1920, has created an Early Virginia Database (before 1625). When he completes his research, the original 105 settlers and those who followed them will be documented and connected to their origins in the British Isles.  See also Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1601-1624/25, ed. John Frederick Dorman, 3 vols. 2004-2007 and Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers:  A Biographical Dictionary, 1607-1635 by Martha W. McCartney, 2007–both published by Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore MD. Dorman documents some 900 stockholders named in the first 3 charters for Virginia who either came to Virginia or whose children or grandchildren became residents of Virginia.
  3. Political Prisoners.  The Virginia plantations and later the Colony of Virginia received thousands of political prisoners from the British Isles.  First, Irish prisoners, about 1655, taken by Cromwell to be sold as slaves. Second, Scottish Covenanters, Protestants who had accepted the Presbyterian Church by covenant.  Third, Englishmen who had supported Cromwell were transported to Virginia after the restoration of Charles II.  Then Protestant supporters of the defeated Duke of Monmouth, from Southwestern England.  These political dissidents often became indentured servants:  serving 4 years if age 20, 5 years from age 12-20, and 7 years if under 12 years of age.  It is estimated that up to 70% of the people of Virginia were at one time indentured servants.  Note:  Irish servants were required to serve 2 years longer than everyone else.
  4. Apprentices.  Children were indentured as apprentices to learn a trade, to learn to read, write, and cipher.  Orphans, children kidnapped and sold as indentures, children from correctional homes, and children who ran the streets of London were transported and indentured before colonial courts. Some of these children are identified in Peter Wilson Coldham’s Child Apprentices in America from Christ’s Hospital, London, 1617-1778. Entries after 1670 include date and place of birth or baptism—origins!  See also Robert Hume’s Early Child Immigrants to Virginia, 1619-1642 for 468 children from the Bridewell/Royal Bethlehem Hospital Archive at Beckenham.  Apprentices were also assigned or contracted to learn a trade through county courts to expand the work force in Virginia.  They served until age 21 years.  Irish apprentices served until 25 years of age.
  5. Convicts.  Parliament sent more than 4,500 convicts to Virginia 1655-1699.  And some 138 shiploads arrived 1748-1775.  English convicts were often given the choice of punishment, which included disfigurement, or being sent to the Americas.  These included men, women, and children.  Peter Wilson Coldham’s The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776, 4 vols. and The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1775, 2 vols. documented many of  these convicts by name from English jails and courts.

to be continued…Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  I’m going to update my speaking and exhibit schedule for 2014–check my Home Page and click on the left-hand menu–Speaking Schedule  

PPS  Some of the venues are new and close to home!  Pick the ones you can attend and get registered before those with limited seating are full.  In 2013, some of the retreats filled up in less than 2 weeks!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.