One of Mine was at Jamestown, Virginia

Watercolor by Wendy Harty 2021, Dunes on Chesapeake Bay, Accomack County, Virginia

I started down a blog path. Soon I fell down a rabbit hole and between my imagination and researching stories, it has me carrying my DNA (Mom, Jeane Waddell’s ancestry) back to the pages of lives with words preserved and left behind in a written record.

My tenth great grandparents were Francis Stockley and Ann Stokley living at Stoke on Trent, Stafford, England. Two of their children, Francis and John, born 1575, in England, made the records at Jamestown, Virginia. I always thought Plymouth was the first colony; not so says my research; Jamestown was the genesis of democracy in America!

In 1664, John Stockley had 2600 acres of land on Accomack Co. described as west of Assawoman Creek, bounded on the east by the sea, south by Stockley’s Branch, in payment for transporting people to the Virginia Colony, named in the transport: John and Elizabeth Stockley. Accomack county was named in 1663 on the eastern edge of Virginia, between Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Red dot is Assawoman, Accomack County, Virginia

In the beginning, “Out of the Many, One” was the quote. And just these few words send me off in search of this historical time. Many colonies were formed into states which emerged into a single nation. Three ships arrived in 1607, called the Susan Comfort, Godspeed and Discovery. They brought the first English settlers 104 men and boys. They left London on December 20, 1606 and arrived across the Atlantic on the shores of America on May 12, 1607. 40 miles up a river they navigated the next day and named the spot Jamestown, in honor of King James I. Here they attempted to carve a home from a forested frontier wilderness. This was the first permanent English settlement in North America. Why did they come?

Knights, gentlemen and wealthy British merchants were eager to find opportunity to invest in established companies to trade in various parts of the world. These investors were called adventurers, who then owned purchased shares of company stock. The British King granted a charter to each company and gave a monopoly to explore, settle and trade goods. Profits were shared according to how many shares (stock) each owned. 6300 Englishmen invested between 1585 and 1630.

The Virginian Co. of London in the first charter, was granted Maryland, Virginia and Carolina. The Company paid for all the costs of establishing a colony requiring all settlers to work for the company which controlled all the land and resources. My John and Ann Stockley apparently read the pamphlets, saw the plays, or heard the sermons in Church when England raised interest in the New World Investments. In groups or individually, 1700 purchased shares by men of different occupations, wealthy women, and trade guilds helped pay for ships and supplies, recruiting and outfitting laborers. 1 share cost 12 pounds, 10 shillings or about 6 months wages of the ordinary man. In exchange for 7 years labor for the company, the company provided passage, food, and protection.

With the second charter granted, another 600 colonists sailed for Virginia. The King had a risk free investment and hoped to find the route to the Orient. The colonists had a chance to improve their economic and social standing. Instead they found leadership problems, sickness, assault by the Natives, poor food and water, and class strife. The third supply ship, Sea Venture, shipwrecked off Bermuda. From the wreck, two ships were built, Deliverance and Patience. When these ships finally sailed up to Jamestown, they found only 60 of 214 who had survived, many dying and ill and not self sufficient. These were taken on board. Jamestown was being abandoned when another relief ship from England arrived and the settlers were put back on shore. The King gave a third charter from sea to sea. The colony continued to struggle with labor shortages and mortality was high. In 1619, the first slaves were brought to Virginia.

Into this background of history, drops my 9th great grandfather, John Stockley. John had married Elizabeth Woodman in England. Their first child Ann, was born in England in 1621. At this time the London Company was in trouble with unpaid dividends. Investors were wary and the company was in debt. By March 1622, the colony situation was dire to disastrous. The Native, Powhatan Confederacy rose up in protest, where before they had traded for food, some English had taken food by force. In 1609, the Company had issued instructions to settlers to kidnap children and educate them with English values and religion. (Pocahontas, story for another blog). The massacre of 1622, killed one quarter of the Virginia Colony with 350 of 1240 dying.

The tobacco economy led to constant expansion into Powhatan Indian lands, which ultimately provoked the violent reaction of 1622 and the killing on Friday, 22nd of March, 1622. The Powhatan braves came unarmed into the houses with deer, turkey, fish fruits and other provisions to sell. It was a ruse, however, and the warriors grabbed tools or weapons and killed all the English settlers they found, of all ages. Openchancanough then led the Powhatan Confederacy in a coordinated series of surprise attacks. The colonists had the excuse they needed to take even more of what they wanted from the indigenous population. They believed this unprovoked assault by Native Americans made them forfeit any legal or moral rights of ownership of the land. The English settlers took revenge with surprise attacks of their own, famine resulted from the burning of Native corn, they destroyed boats and houses, broke the fishing weirs, and pursued the Natives with horses and blood hounds.

Jamestown expanded into a town to the east of the original fort. Colonist John Rolfe who married Pocahontas introduced sweeter strains of tobacco from the Caribbean. This was the background history of Virginia where John and Elizabeth Stockley appeared and their son, John Jr. was born in Jamestown, Prince Edward County, Virginia in 1622. Woodman Stockley was born in 1624. King James I dissolved the Virginia Company and made Virginia into an official crown colony with Jamestown as its capital. The governor was appointed by the King. The King provided land ownership to the colony. John and his brother Francis said, “yes”, and their names begin to appear, sometimes in court cases!

John Stockley travelled back and forth transporting 52 people and 11 children to Virginia in 1643. A court case of 1640 was brought against John. His brother Francis testified that John was indentured to him for 3 years, therefore he could not work for another man. In 1642, John was accused of ruining a set of clothes for William Stevens. In a 1643 will in the estate of William Burdett, John was owned 260 pounds of tobacco. John was called before the grand jury of Virginia in Accomack Co. for violating laws, “failing to remember the Sabbath Day and to keep it holy”. Testimony said he talked and made loud noise at the service and was accused by John Stratton. It was law to be fined for not attending the Anglican Church. On December 20, 1643, John and his brother Francis were fined for “profaning God’s name”. Francis, his brother paid Captain Sam Lucas 50 acres for transporting him. In 1649, Francis was given land on Phillip Watkin’s deathbed. Francis was living in 1651-53 at Northampton County. John proved his brother Francis’s will in 1655 in court. The will mentions a loving wife, not named, children Ann, Frances and John and to his brother’s child William to be given a cow that his brother John owed to Francis. The widow of Francis remarried Col. William Custis and he his found with 20 acres bounded ESE land beside Francis Stockley on December 1658.

My ninth great grandfather, John Stockley Sr. died February 3, 1669 at the age of 74. Elizabeth Woodman Stockley his wife died August 6, 1707 aged 92 at Assawoman, Accomack Co. Virginia, British Colonial America. Note her maiden name of Woodman. It will be used and inherited for generations!

What an adventurous risk taker, probably profane ancestor John Stockley was! I’m going to repeat my original find of the record. In 1664, at the age of 69, John had 2600 acres of land in Accomack County. This land bordered the Atlantic Ocean on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. There are 33 dune sites on Chesapeake Bay along Accomack’s shoreline. After the sandy beach, behind the dunes are marshland. I imagine John and Elizabeth building their home on stilts, so water from the northeaster’s can wash under it. I see John climbing the dunes looking for ships or to survey the flat terrain with it’s sandy soil growing tobacco. I imagine Elizabeth fanning herself during the temperate summer, relating the moments and milestones of her wealthy landowner husband. Did John and Elizabeth understand that they were making history of the first permanent English settlement in North America that would be the beginnings of three cultures: European, Virginia Native and African.

The King approved the Virginian Assembly in 1627 with the governor and assembly overseeing the colony until 1776. After the Revolutionary War one nation emerged but not until 1965 could most people vote. The 15 th amendment said they could but that is not what happened. Now I am fearful for the American’s right to vote again. My ending quote I’ve changed to say “From out of the two, Many!” as I intend to explore the next eight generations of ancestors.

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