By Rob Warner
Back in 1670 a very colorful early settler to the Chesapeake Bay area finished creating a map of the area. His name was Augustine Herrman, who may have been the first Czech settler in America. He called his map “Virginia and Maryland as it is planted and inhabited this present year 1670.” The map was printed in London in 1673 and quickly became one of the most accurate maps of its time. It was copied many times in smaller sizes for the next 120 years. Today only five original prints exist, two in America, two in France, and one in England— all well cared for.
Yes, Middlesex County, Virginia, is on the map. Middlesex County was just formed in 1668 and 1669. Urbanna would not be created for another 38 years.
About three years ago, while studying Herrman’s map, I realized that three Middlesex plantations I was interested in were probably marked correctly on the map. This is a large map, made from four separate sheets, so it is 37 inches wide and 31 inches high. The scale is 7.5 miles to the inch, so showing plantations and other details like shallow spots in a river were possible. The more I researched Augustine Herrman and his map, the more interesting the story became. I am still working the full Chesapeake Bay story. I will need lots of help for it, but I also need help on the Middlesex part of the map. My Middlesex home is near “Turks Ferry.” Turks Ferry is on the map. I can see Turk’s Ferry from my dock. I found the map has many named locations which are like secret keys that allow us to locate groups of plantations.
Well, it must have been a very, very boring day when I decided to count the plantations on the map. My answer was 1,268 plantations, 24 Indian villages, and many other details. About six months later, I counted again and got 1,374 plantations, and 29 Indian villages. So let’s say 1,300 plantations.
Luckily, the portion of the map that shows Middlesex has only about 30 plantations. That part of the map is shown below, and I have identified 12 of the plantations. Two plantations I could not identify are upstream from Turks Ferry. There are also nine unknowns between Bushy Park and Brandon, and another seven upstream of Nesting. Please historians, check and correct my work; find the missing plantations and contact me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can send your results to Larry Chowning at email@example.com at the Southside Sentinel. I consider Larry the Middlesex County Historian.
Everyone please comment on the big picture here. Surely, if the entire map is accurate about plantations and other details, don’t you think it may by one of the most significant or possibly the most significant single one page data base for this information from 1670. To date, I have found only one other author who has hinted about the importance of this.
List of plantations shown on the partial map to the left are as follows.
Plantations on the north shore of the Piankatank River: 1. Turks Ferry, 1664 (1608 Indian Village of 200-John Smith); 2. Grymesby, 166070, 1,000 acres, John Grymes; 3. Shooters Hill, late 1600s or earlier, 1,274 acres, Augustine Smith; 4. Mottrom’s Mount, 1642, 1,900 acres, John Mottrom; 5. Kemps, 1656, 1,100 acres, Edward Kemp.
Plantations on the south shore of the Rappahannock River: 6. Bushy Park, 1650, 1,950 acres, William Churchill; 7. Brandon, 1642, 500 acres, Mr. Abbott, then Grymes; 8. Rosegill, 1650-54, 3,200 acres, Ralph Wormeley; 9. Hewick, 1660s, 1,350 acres, Christopher Robinson; 10. Weeks, 1665, 450 acres, Abraham Weeks; 11. Buckingham, 1654, 3,900 acres, Henry Corbin; 12. Nesting, 1649, 450 acres, Richard Parrott.
Rob Warner is a member of Museums of Middlesex, Northern Neck Historical Society and Northumberland Historical Society.