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The Story of Jamestown (continued)

"NEW TOWNE." It is in the 1619 to 1624 period that the first clear picture of Jamestown emerges, for this period corresponds with the earliest known property records that exist. The town had outgrown the original fort in some years past and now appeared as a fairly flourishing settlement. The records reveal that many of the property owners were yeomen, merchants, carpenters, hog-raisers, farmers, joiners, shopkeepers, and ordinary "fellows," as well as governors and colonial officials. The "New Towne" section of James City developed in this period as the old section proved too small and the residents began to build more substantial houses, principally frame on brick foundations. The Indian massacre of 1622, that wrought such heavy devastation in the colony, did not reach Jamestown which was warned through the efforts of the Indian Chanco. It did temporarily cause congestion in the Jamestown area however, as the survivors from the more distant settlements fell back for safety and to regroup. The punitive Indian campaigns that followed were directed from Jamestown by the governor, who resided there.

The population figures taken in these years give a good idea of the size of Jamestown in this period. In February 1624, it is recorded that 183 persons were living in Jamestown and 35 others on the island outside of the town. These are listed by name, as are the 87 who died between April 1623 and the following February. The death toll suggests that the mortality rate was continuing high and that it was still difficult for newcomers to adapt themselves to the Virginia environment. In the "census" of January 1625, a total of 124 residents are listed for "James Citty" and an additional 51 for the island. In the over-all total of 175, 122 were males and 53, females. At that time, Governor Sir Francis Wyatt and former Governor Yeardley had two of the largest musters for the town, which included women, children, indentured servants, and Negroes. Nine Negroes were listed for Jamestown and the island, evidently some of those brought there in 1619.

The remains of a brick and tile kiln (c. 1650) found at Jamestown. This is the best preserved and most complete of several kilns that have been uncovered, showing that the Jamestown residents manufactured many of their bricks and roofing tiles.

Aside from the population statistics, the musters of January 1625 give much more information. Jamestown had a church, a court-of-guard (guardhouse), 3 stores, a merchant's store, and 33 houses. Ten of the colony's 40 boats were here, including a skiff, a "shallop" of 4 tons, and a "barque" of 40 tons. There were stores of fish (24,880 pounds to be exact), corn, peas, and meal. There were four pieces of ordnance, supplies of powder, shot and lead, and, for individual use, "fixt peeces," snaphances, pistols, swords (to the number of 70), coats of mail, quilted coats, and suits of armor (35 of them complete). The bulk of the colony's livestock seems to have been localized in the Jamestown area— about half (183) of the cattle, a little more than half (265) of the hogs, and well over half (126) of the goats. The one horse listed for the colony was at Jamestown.

The "census" clearly indicates that the population of Jamestown was not keeping pace with that of the colony. The needs of tobacco culture—open fields and new soil —and the abundance of navigable waters in the rivers, bays, and creeks of tidewater Virginia led to a scattered population, based on the plantation system. These factors prevented the rise of trade centers and large towns for almost a century, despite the best efforts of both home and colonial officials. The idea was to make Jamestown the center of social, political, and economic life and to develop it into a city of some proportions. In size,it never attained that of a city and it failed to dominate trade and commerce. It was, however, the hub of political and social life for as long as it was the capital of Virginia—92 years. Hence, its story is vital to an understanding of American beginnings. Its citizens, in their daily life and work, developed the origins of many of our institutions, styles, and customs in speech, in architecture, in dress, and in government organization.

VIRGINIA MADE A ROYAL COLONY. The Virginia Company established the first permanent English settlement in America, but did not reap the profits that it had expected. Despite reorganization and large expenditures, it never achieved its full objective and was increasingly subject to criticism. Matters reached a head in 1624 when James I dissolved the company, thereby removing the hand that had guided Virginia affairs for 17 years. With this act Virginia became a royal colony and continued as such until the American Revolution made it free and independent. From the point of view of operations in the colony the change was almost painless although there was concern over land titles and a continuance of the assembly which had already voiced its feeling on taxation without representation. The company governor gave way to the royal appointee, but most, institutions were left intact.

Sir Francis Wyatt was the last company governor, and he continued in office for a while as royal governor. When he left for England, in 1626, Yeardley again became governor and served until he died at Jamestown the next year. Capt. Francis West was named to the post as deputy. Another deputy, Dr. John Pott, followed next in turn, and he was replaced by the royal appointee, Sir John Harvey.

GOVERNOR HARVEY DEPOSED. Sir John Harvey first came to Virginia in 1624 as a member of a committee to report on conditions in the colony. It was in 1630 that he returned as royal governor and settled himself at "James cittie, the seate of the Governor." In 1632, he had a commodious house here and was complaining of the expense of the entertainment that he had to finance in "the Governors owne house." Whether because of his personal nature, his own view or interpretation of government, or because of the severe opposition that confronted him, he managed to become thoroughly disliked throughout the colony. His high-handed and autocratic methods arrayed even his council against him.

In the end, his council, in meetings at Jamestown, moved to depose him, naming another to act in his stead—a bold measure, indeed. The assembly, in May 1635, approved this action, and Harvey was returned to England to answer the charges placed against him there. The King, it is true, returned Harvey to his post as royal governor in 1637, but undoubtedly both he and Harvey were impressed by the action that the colonists had taken to redress their grievances—they had deposed a royal governor.


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