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LOT 20

This half-acre lot facing on the cross street in Yorktown that became known as Ballard Street was not developed prior to 1706. It was assigned in 1691 to one Thomas Bramton; he failed to build and thereby forfeited it. In May 1706 the trustees (Thomas Ballard and William Buckner) deeded it to Miles Cary, Senior, a gentleman of Warwick County, who evidently performed the reguired building since he retained possession of the lot. [1] At his death, it passed to his son, Wilson Cary. [2]

In June 1731 Wilson Cary, of Elizabeth City County, disposed of Lot 20 by sale to Robert Ballard, carpenter, along with two other adjoining lots (Nos. 14, 19). [3] Ballard remained in ownership until his death, which came prior to July 1740. He left three daughters and died without a will. In the settlement of his estate there was a division of property among the daughters. Lot 20 fell to Henrietta, who later married William Powell. At the time of the property division in March 1741, the parcel was described as "the Lott in the occupation of Elizabeth Williamson now assign'd to Henrietta Second daughter of the sd Ballard now rented at £6 p. Ann." [4]

On May 1, 1751, William Powell, "Planter," and Henrietta, his wife, disposed of this "One certain Messuage, Tenament and Lot or half acre of Ground" to John Richardson, a carpenter. The sale price was £170 current money of Virginia. [5] Three weeks after the sale, Richardson found it necessary to give a mortgage on the property ("one certain messuage tenement and Lot") to James Mills, a tailor, in the amount of £170. [6] Evidently Mills had advanced Richardson the money to make the purchase from the Powells. Two years later, in September 1753, Richardson found it advisable to sell the property to Mills, who paid him £110 for the "Messuage Tenement and Lott . . . and all the Premises." [7]

By his will probated in August 1762, Mills gave his wife, Hannah, a life estate in the lot with the remainder going to a niece, Martha Gunter, providing she pay his sister (Ann Dycher) "the sum of one hundred pounds Sterling." His real estate was listed as the place where "she [Hannah] now Dwells" and "2 lotts of ground purchased there with," plus "five unseated L[ots]." One of the five lots evidently was Lot 20. [8]

The next reference of record to the property seems to be in the will of John C. Gunther. Dated March 1, 1795, it was probated on April 18, 1796. It was a general conveyance to his "loving Wife Martha Christiana Gunther" of a life interest to "all my real and personal estate to hold during her life." At her death, he directed that all of his personal estate and property, "Except my Houses and Lotts" (which Martha was bequeathed "to will as she pleases"), be sold. The money from the personal estate and property sale was to go to the "Children of my loving Brother John Dycher of London" and to the "Children of my loving Sister Catharine Sampson of London." [9]

In November 1810, Martha Gunther drew up her will, which was proved in June 1812. It directed that the property be sold by her executor. Her description of it was remarkably similar to that in the Mills will of 1762. [10] The sale occurred in 1814 when Robert Sheild, sheriff, acting for her estate, sold the lot to Willoughly Jordan. [11]

From this discussion it seems clear that Lot 20 was developed at an early date, probably soon after its acquisition by Miles Cary in 1706. Evidently the lot was being lived on in 1741 and there was specific mention of a "Messuage" or "Tenement" standing on it in 1751. However, eleven years later James Mills mentioned it as "unseated," though no reason is given. Perhaps fire had taken a toll here.

Alexandre Berthier shows nothing surviving here after the siege. It was relatively close inside the British line and probably escaped military damage, though not necessarily so, during the construction of British works. It would have been in the encampment area of the British Brigade of Guards. Later when the more massive Confederate works were raised, this half-acre plot became involved to some extent. [12]

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Last Updated: 22-Jan-2010