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The People of Gloucester County in 1850
by Roger Davis


It can be said the Colony of Virginia had it's beginning in 1607, when Jamestown was first settled.  The rich, unknown wilderness extended from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and was inhabited for the most part by Native Indian tribes.  "The early settlers of Virginia came almost entirely from the Welsh Border and Southern England" (1)

A number of individuals received very large land grants and patents during the 1700's from the British King and appointed Governor.  These holdings would result in large plantations and many settlements of smaller working homesteads.  This "landed gentry" would become the political backbone and ruling class of the emerging democracy that would soon break ranks with England.

A lot of history transpired on Virginia soil in the  243 years from Jamestown (1607) to the 1850 Gloucester County census. " That census, the first to list the names and ages of individuals living in a household, showed a total county population of 10,509.  Of this number, 4,952 were free inhabitants, with 694 of this group free black citizens;  5,557 were still in bondage."

"About 40% of white families owned slaves;  only six of the 400 slaveholders were black."

"The principal occupations listed were, in order, oysterman, farmer, laborer, sailor, fisherman, and craftsman (wheelwrights, millwrights, saddle makers, harness makers, coach makers, blacksmiths)." (2)

Gloucester County was formed from York in 1651. (3)  It was one of the original Shires in the Colony of Virginia.

Bean's research into the names of the early people who populated Gloucester showed the following per cents: English (43.8%);  Scottish (20%);  German (9.5%);  Welsh (4.5%);  Irish (3.8%); and French (7.6%) ancestry. (4)

Early names in Gloucester will be of interest.  I quote from page 86-87, Peopling of Virginia.

"The earliest land grant was to Augustine Warner in 1635; Thomas Curtis, John Jones, Hugh Gwynne, and Richard Wyatt followed in 1643, and in 1645 James Whiting and John Robins.  In the following years others came such as Burwell, Kemp, Willis, Singleton, Armistead, Todd, Taliafero, Peyton, Beverly, (these two married Randolphs), Page, Throckmorton, Nicholson, Van Bibber, Byrd, Corbin, West, Buford, Tyler, Selden, Cooke, Lewis, Dabney, Tabb, Mann, Taylor and Sterling.  Sir John Peyton, Baronet, fought in the Revolution with the rank of Colonel." (5)

"Other names were Colonel John Washington, Fontaine, Thurston, Yates, Hughes, Lightfoot, Thornton, Buckner, Lee, Carter, Grymes, David Alexander, John Alexander, Scott, Hubard, Duval, Ware, Cole, Montague, Cary, and Lewis."

End Notes:
1. Bean, R. Bennett, The Peopling of Virginia, p. v
2. Rilee, Cyrus Fleming, Jr., The 1850 Census of the 4,952 Inhabitants of Gloucester County, Virginia
3. Bean, R. Bennett, The Peopling of Virginia, p. 86
4. Ibid., p. 88
5. Ibid., p. 87

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