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The Smith Family, Early Settlers in Gloucester and Middlesex Counties

Two early plantations; Purton in Gloucester Co. , and Shooters Hill in Middlesex Co. were locations where the Smith Family settled.   Purton Bay on the North shore of the York River and the land around it are very significant to Virginia history.  First,  the original Indian village that was Chief  Powhatan’s home in 1607 was located there, when the English settled Jamestown.  This is also where Pocahontas saved John Smith in 1607. It is called  “Werowocomoco” and had been a significant village for hundreds of years.   The Indians abandoned it in 1609-11 due to “English  pressure from settlement”.   Then in 1642 William Pryor, a very early and Purton Bay’s first English settler, was granted a land patent for 1300 acres around Purton Bay.  Next, in 1647 Richard Bernard came to Virginia, and took a lease on Pryor’s property.  He was developing the property and the home when he died in 1648-50.  In 1652 his wife Anne (1636-1698) purchased Purton Plantation  and added 1000 acres to the property for a total of 2300 acres. She also married John Smith (1627-1680) in 1652. He had just arrived in Virginia in 1652, probably at Jamestown.  Their son “Lt. Col. John Smith of Purton” (1662-1698) was Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses, in 1680.  That year he also married Mary Warner (about 1665-1700) daughter of Augustine Warner builder of “Warner Hall Plantation” in Gloucester.   Today the National Park Service owns Werowocomoco (part of Purton Plan) and will some day open it to the public again.

Their son Augustine Warner “Gus” Smith  (1687-1756 )  was like his father, born at Purton, and moved to  “Shooters Hill plantation” in Middlesex, about 1724.  His father probably acquired that 1256 acres in Middlesex, on the Piankatank River in the late 1600s.   Augustine married Sarah Carver in 1711,  their son was John Smith (1715- 1771).  When operated by the Smith’s, Shooters Hill plantation had a very large three story brick home with lead roof.  There was a fish pond on the lead roof all of which made it exceptional for that time.  The home burned sometime before 1797.  This plantation also had a significant Indian attachment.  During John Smith of Jamestown exploration of the Chesapeake Bay he visited a significant Indian village on the north shore of the Piankatank River between August 30 to September 1,  1608.  The Indian Kings house (village) on the Piankatank was most likely part of, or next to  land that became Shooters Hill.   Were these two properties, land of high value to early settlers because they  had all necessities for survival and some land was cleared  which was for Indian crops (corn, beans, squash, and tobacco)?  The English settlers were interested in cleared land for planting  “Tobacco”, their gold!

Rob Warner, Deer Chase Subdivision on the Piankatank, Middlesex Co.

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