Page images



John H. Latané, A. B., Johns Hopkins Press, Baltimore, March and April, 1895.

(Review continued from page 348.)


(Now Isle of Wight.) The first colony in Isle of Wight was led by Christopher Lawne, who settled in that “neck of land,” made by the creek, called to-day Lawne's creek (dividing Isle of Wight from Surry) and James river. He came in March, 1618, and settled there with fifteen of the twenty men he engaged to bring over. (Va. Co., Vol. I, page 22, of Va. His. Col.) He died some time prior to November 4th, 1620, for on that day his patent was granted to Nathaniel Basse and others, “associates and fellow-adventurers with Captain Christopher Lawne, deceased,” “provided the heirs of Christopher Lawne be no ways prejudiced thereby;” and, in consequence of the “late mortality of the persons transported heretofore," they were given till mid-summer, 1625, “to make up the number of the said persons mentioned in the former patents." (Id., 92, 154, and 161.)

But Christopher Lawne did not die before he had shown his churchmanship and the churchmanship of his colony, for he and Ensign Washer were members of the first Legislative Assembly that ever convened upon American soil, viz: on July 30th, 1619-a year and more before the Pilgrims left the harbor of Southampton, a fact that dwarfs into utmost insignificance, that little piece of paper that was drawn up in the cabin of the Mayflower in December, 1620, about which Bancroft and the whole Puritan press grow so eloquent. That Assembly met in the “Quire of the Church at Jamestown,” and was opened with prayer, by the Rev. Mr. Buck, who still survived the shipwreck of Bermuda and the disasters of the climate. Amongst the many laws that related to the church and to church government, was one that enacted, that “All ministers shall daily read divine service, and exercise their ministerial function according to the Ecclesiastical laws and orders of the churche of England, and every Sunday in the afternoon shall Catechise suche as are not yet ripe to come to Com. (communion). And whoever of them shall be found negligent or faulty in this kinde, shal be subject to the Censure of the Govern'r and Counsell of Estate." (Senate Doc., extra, 1874.)

No one who is at all familiar with the proceedings of that Assembly will, for a moment, contend that there was a particle of Puritanism in it. Nathaniel Basse does not seem to have acted under the conditional patent of November 6, 1620, for on the 30th of January, 1621-2, “a patent was granted to him and his associates to plant one hundred persons " in Isle of Wight. He and Ralph Hamer, as the representative of this county, were members of the first Legislative Assembly reported by Hening (March 5, 1623-4), and the very first law standing on the first pages of the Statutes of Virginia, as given by Hening, is (I) That there shall be in every plantation, where the people are to meete for the worship of God, a house or roome sequestered for that purpose, and not to be for any temporal use what soever; and a place impaled in, sequestered only to the burial of the dead;" and the third is “ that there be an uniformity in the church as neere as may be to the canons of England; both in substance and circumstance, and that all persons yield readie obedience unto them under paine of censure.” (I Hening, pp. 122-9.)

Nathaniel Basse was a Burgess in 1629, in 1631, and was one of Harvey's Council in 1631-2, and a member of the General Assembly of that year. Surely the persons whom he and Hamor represented, and whose sentiments they spoke, were not Puritans. Baldwin, over the prostrate body of his wife, “with divers others;” Thomas Hamer, “with six men and eighteen or nineteen women and children;" Ralph Hamer, “with two and twentie persons;” and Lieutenant Basse, with guns, “spades, axes, and brick bats," made a valiant defense of themselves in the massacre of 1622. (2 Smith's History of Virginia, page 68.) The laws of the General Assembly and the writings of Hamer show that those people were not Puritans.

Edward Bennett was one of the leading merchants of the city of London, and an enthusiastic supporter of the London Company. He rendered it great and grateful services with his pen, and by his speeches before committees of Parliaments. On the 21st of November, 1621, a patent was granted to him “for plantinge two hundred persons." (Virginia Company of London, by Neil, page 261.) His nephew, Richard Bennett, came over with his colony, and established “Bennett's Plantation," near that of Lawne and of Basse. They began on the neck of land formed by Lawne Creek and James River, and extended up that neck and down and along James River, towards what was then called Warrosquoyacke Bay, now, and since 1820, called Burwell's Bay.

Richard Bennett is said to have brought with him Robert (Ibid, 194) and the Rev. William Bennett. Mr. Neil says: “The first settlers were Puritans, and they may have built the Smithfield Church, still standing." (Virginia Company of London, page 194.) If the first part of that statement is as false as the second, then the whole statement is untrue. The first settlers were not Puritans, and they did not build “the Smithfield Church, still standing." There is not one particle of evidence that they


did, nor even a vague rumor to that effect. And there never has been

The supposition originated wholly and entirely in the wild Puritan imagination of Mr. Neil. Long before the recent discovery he could throw an X ray into anything-even brick and mortar-and find a Puritan in it. They would have been arrant fools to have been guilty of any such folly. They would have been compelled to have crossed two large streams, and to have traveled from ten to fifteen miles to attend church. There was a church much nearer to them than The Old Brick Church. Its exact location I do not know. It is spoken of in the deeds of the Hills and the Bakers in 1674 and in 1680. The character of the church we can easily infer from the fact that Mr. Hening tells us that in 1642 Mr. Faulkner was in charge of it; and the colonial records inform us that in 1680 Senate Document, 1874, extra) the Rev. Robert Parks was in charge of it; and that the Rev. Robert Housden was in charge of that other church in the lower parish, which the Puritans did not build. We can also infer the character of the church from the fact that Henry Baker and the Rev. Alexander Forbes were the trustees of the charity of Mrs. Silvester Hill, under her will of October 7, 1706.

In a vestry-book of the Upper Parish, now before me, beginning in 1724, on the first page is the name of the Rev. Alexander Forbes, minister of the church in this Cpper Parish. It also, at that time, had a chapel. The only church I have ever known in this Cpper Parish is “ The Old Bay Church," a large, fine, brick church, about a mile from Burwell's Bay and four miles from Smithfield-convenient to this section, and about half way between the Rocks and Lawn's creek. I do not know when it was built; it was built prior to 1724. It never had any Puritan services in it so far as I can learn. And if good, amiable, kind-hearted, forgetting, and forgiving John Hammond (for whom I love to say a kind word) is any authority, it is not likely to have had any in it as early as 1635. He came to this county in that year, and lived here until 1653-4. In 1656, in his Leah and Rachel ( Force's Tracts, Vol. III), he said of the times which we are considering, that Virginia was “whol for monarchy.”

If there were ever any Puritans in this county they were very few, and left no impression upon it.

I doubt very much if Richard Bennett had any Puritan sympathies until after he obtained his patent and went to Nansemond to reside. He was one of the Burgesses of this county in 1629, and participated in making all of the laws of that session. He was a justice of the peace in 1631, also in 1632; was a member of the Council of Sir Francis West in 1639-40, and therefore a member of the General Assembly of that year, and a memb of the Council of Sir William Berkley in 1642, and until after October, 1646. (I Hening.) If he manifested his Puritanism in any manner prior to 1642, it is unknown and unrecorded. If he, or any of the colonists, on the Edward Bennett plantation from

1621 to 1637 were Puritans, the State of Virginia did not, in any manner, molest or trouble them. The absence of complaint shows either that they were not here, or that if here they were treated with that kindness and forbearance that has always characterized the cavalier.



LEE OF VIRGINIA. By Edmund Jennings Lee, M. D. Philadelphia,


Though “Lee of Virginia " was published more than a year ago, and has already become a standard Virginia genealogy, it is by no means too late to call our readers' attention to its merits.

As the family of Lee has, perhaps, produced more distinguished men than any other in Virginia, it is fitting that its history should be preserved in the most elaborate and best of our publications on individual families. Even to those to whom genealogy is most distasteful and tiresome reading, the history of the Lees is to some extent familiar, simply from the fact that their pedigree is history and not merely genealogy. From the first landing of Richard Lee, about 1640, until the present day, the family has rarely lacked sons to render service to their country, and to make the name widely known or illustrious. Founded in Virginia by a gentleman of worth and estate, who held some of the highest offices in the colonial government, the family gave to colonial Virginia one governor, four members of the Council and twelve members of the House of Burgesses; in the colony of Maryland, two Councillors and three members of the Assembly; to the Revolution, four members of the Convention of 1776 which organized the State of Virginia, two signers of the Declaration of Independence, the three other eminent brothers, Thomas Ludwell, William and Arthur Lee, and the foremost cavalry officer of the war, “Light Horse Harry.” To the civil service of the United States the family has furnished one attorney-general and several members of Congress; to the State of Virginia, two governors; to the State of Maryland, a governor; and to the Confederate States, the illustrious commander of its armies, three major-generals, and one brigadier-general, while at the present time the Virginian who is most widely known, and whose brave and untiring efforts in defense of the rights of American citizens have secured the applause of the whole nation, is a Lee, the Consul-General to Cuba.

A family with such a history deserves a full and carefully prepared record, and the difficult task has been well done by Dr. Lee. He begins his book with brief sketches of ten prominent families of the nam Lee in England, and shows that while the ancestry of Colonel Richard Lee, the immigrant, has not yet been traced, the almost absolute certainty that he was descended from the Lees of Coton, in Shropshire. None of



the family ever claimed any other descent, and Dr. Lee has entirely disproved the gratuitous claims of other descent set forth by other people. In this connection he quotes an interesting statement by John Gibbon, an acquaintance of Richard Lee, who says that after the death of Charles I, Colonel Lee went to Brussells, surrendered Governor Berkeley's commission and obtained a new one. This is doubtless the origin of the tradition that after his father's death a delegation was sent to Charles II to invite him to take refuge in the colony. It is certain that Charles issued a new commission to Governor and Council in 1650, and it may be true that he was told that in case of failure of other resources he could find safety in the loyal Old Dominion.

In connection with the first Richard Lee, the author mentions that a Hugh Lee lived in Northumberland county 1650-54. This Hugh Lee was a merchant in extensive business, shipping tobacco to Europe, and his wife, Hannah, seems to have assisted actively in his commercial operations.

In a note on page 56 it is stated that Richard Bennett, of Virginia, is said to have been a brother of Henry Bennett, Earl of Arlington. This is a mistake, due to a misinformed newspaper writer. Thomas Ludwell, Secretary of Virginia, who knew Richard Bennett well, stated in one of his letters to the Earl of Arlington that Major-General Richard Bennett bore the same arms as his lordship, “and is, I believe, of your lordship’s family," language he, of course, would not have used if they were brothers.

Dr. Lee gives a very full, careful and accurate account of the various branches of the Stratford line of Lees. In many instances heretofore unpublished letters and documents were printed, and of the more noted members of the family lengthy biographical sketches are given, and throughout (as indeed in the whole book) the utmost diligence has been used to obtain original and authoritative proofs of statements made. In the branches of the family at “Cobb's Hall” and “Ditchley,” in Virginia and in Maryland, the same painstaking care and minute research has been used, but in regard to many members of these lines there remains but little evidence, and therefore, they are necessarily left, in some respects, incomplete. The system used in preparing the genealogy is good, and there is an excellent index.

In examining this work, of which much more might be said in praise than our space will permit, a few addenda et corrigenda were noted. The Corbin book-plate (page 84) does not bear as stated (page 88) the arms of Corbin quartering Tayloe, but quartering Lane, for Jane Lane, wife of Gawin Corbin. To the information given as to Mrs. Hannah Lee, wife of President Thomas Lee (page 124), it may be added that the Gentleman's Magazine for 1750 contains an elegy in verse to her Memory, p. 129. Philip Ludwell, who was born in 1717, could not, of course, have been Speaker of the House of Burgesses in 1695. Mrs. Lucy

« PreviousContinue »