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Martin's Hundred Sites

Historical Background:

The particular plantation of Martin's Hundred was probably chartered in 1618 by the Virginia Company of London for a group of investors known as the Society for Martin's Hundred. Granted 20,000 acres, the Society could administer the plantation any way they pleased to attempt to make money on the initial investment. The next year, some 220 men and women presumably hoping to make money for themselves and the Society arrived at Martin's Hundred. Any optimism they may have had was dashed four years later, at the time of the Anglo-Native American War of 1622. Seventy-eight of the 140 inhabitants were killed by the Native Americans on March 22, 1622 and the remaining 62 were captured or fled the hundred, seeking safety in Jamestown. Martin's Hundred sustained a substantial 22% of the 347 fatalities recorded throughout the colony (Noel Hume 1991).

By 1623 about 50 settlers had returned to Martin's Hundred but by the time a census (muster) was taken of the whole colony in February 1625, nearly half the 50 returnees had died of disease and only 27 people inhabited Martin's Hundred. The 19 men, five women, and three children counted at Martin's Hundred on February 4, 1624/25 appeared to be well-provisioned, according to the muster. Only two years earlier, one of the unfortunate 23 who died over the winter, Richard Frethorne, had complained in a letter to his parents in England of a shortage of food and other supplies: ..."I have nothing at all, no not a shirt to my backe, but two Ragges nor no Clothes, but one poore suite, nor but one pair of shooes, but one paire of stockins, but one Capp... I am not halfe a quarter so strong as I was in England, and all is for want of victualls, for I do protest unto you, that I have eaten more in one day at home then I have allowed me here for a Weeke..." (Kingsbury 1935:58).

Perhaps in anticipation of attack from the locals, the little community at Martin's Hundred in 1625 was well-armed, with a full set of armor for just about each man, 26 matchlocks, 27 fixed pieces, 29 swords, a cannon, 91 pounds of powder, and 361 pounds of shot. The ordnance and most of the other weaponry were under the control of William Harwood, the "governor" of the settlement.

By the time of the dissolution of the London Company, it appears that the focal point of the hundred had been moved from the prewar location at Wolsenholme Town near the river, to Site A up on the bluff, near the present-day Carter's Grove Mansion. The three houses listed in under Harwood's muster may have been at this site, along with most of the arsenal.

Very little specific information is available about the individuals that lived at Martin's Hundred after the 1625 muster. James City County records were destroyed during the Civil War. Land patents, (records of the headright system) which did survive the burning of Richmond, are somewhat helpful in at least naming some individuals who patented land at the hundred during the remainder of the century, but again, sufficient detail in location is wanting.

Martin's Hundred seemed to cease to be an entity by the early eighteenth century when Martin's Hundred Parish joined York-Hampton Parish in 1713 (McIlwain 1925:[IV]316).

Sites


SUGGESTED READINGS

Kingsbury, Susan
1935 Records of the Virginia Company.

Luccketti, Nicholas
1981 Excavations at Carter's Grove Site H. Interim Report, Ms. On file at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Department of Archaeological Research, Williamsburg.

McIlwaine, H.R. (editor)
1925 Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia. 6 volumes. The Virginia State Library, Richmond.

Noel Hume, Ivor
1991 Martin's Hundred. University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville.





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