Home > 006210. Thomas Harris > The First Seventeen Years: Virginia, 1607-1624

The First Seventeen Years: Virginia, 1607-1624

Source: Charles E. Hatch, Jr., The First Seventeen Years: Virginia, 1607-1624 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1970).

[page 36]

[…] Samuel ARGALL returned to Virginia, which he had served well in the 1609-14 days, as governor in 1617 […] ARGALL […] is identified with the creation of a distinct settlement in the area, one that, for a time, bore his name.  This was Argall’s Guift, more often mentioned as Argall’s Town.


Samuel ARGALL, it seems, was attracted to the area west of Jamestown and established his people here.  He and his associates had been assigned 2,400 acres for the transportation of 24 persons by Charter of March 30, 1617 issued just before he left England.  This was one of the first such grants.  There were settlers with him, too, to be employed on land set aside for the support of the Governor’s office.  Evidently his settlement, or plantation, got underway in 1617 and two years later was listed among the populated areas in the Colony.  It was one of the eleven communities which sent representatives to the First Assembly in 1619.  They were Thomas PAWLETT and Edward GOURGAING.

To advance the settlement, ARGALL had contracted for the clearing of some 300 acres of ground (600 pounds sterling it was to cost).  This was to be done by colonists assigned to Martin’s Hundred.  Other arrangements were made with Captain William POWELL to clear ground and to erect a house, this to cost £50.
This was the POWELL whom ARGALL made the Captain of the Governor’s Company and Guard, Lieutenant Governor and Commander of Jamestown, the blockhouses and the people.  Evidently ARGALL and POWELL intended to pass on this cost to the “Inhabitants of Paspaheigh, alias Argall’s towne” for these people sought “an absolute discharge from certaine bondes wherein they stood bound to Captain Samuell ARGALL for the payment of 600 lb

[page 37]

and to Captain William POWELL, at Captain ARGALL’s appointment, for the payment of 50 lb more.  To Captaine ARGALL for 15 skore acres of wooddy ground, called by the name of Argal’s towne or Paspaheigh; to Captain POWELL in respect of his paines in clearing the grounde and building the houses, for which Captaine ARGAL ought to have given him satisfaction.”

Seemingly the accomodations which resulted were good ones for when, in 1619, some newly arrived Martin’s Hundred people were seated here, there was good and convenient housing which enabled them to do the “best of all new-comers.”  They reaped better crops and the list of those who died was “not comparable to other places.”  Argall Town, however, was not destined to become a settled community.  It was on the Governor’s land and YEARDLEY proceeded after his arrival in 1619 to take a “petty rente” from the settlers here “to make them acknowledge … that Paspaheigho by expresse wordes in the greate commission did belonge to the Governor and that they had bene wrongfully seated by Capt. ARGALL upon that lande.”

[page 49]


This area, on the north side of the James below Henrico and across from Bermuda (Nether) Hundred, was one of the several hundreds annexed to, or included in, the corporation of Bermuda City.  Settlement seems to have begun in 1613 although little is known of events in the early years.  “Curls” evidently was a name suggested by the course of the river here.  The reported patent for 400 acres to Edward GURGANY in October, 1617 has been assumed to have been in this area.  In 1619 GURGANY’s widow bequeathed the tract to Capt. Thomas HARRIS.  Progress in the occupation and use of the ground was severely checked by the massacre.

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