Elizabeth Woodman Stockley

Many States into One Nation Series

Corn sketch by Wendy Harty August 2021

My 9th great grandmother, Elizabeth Woodman Stockley crossed the Atlantic Ocean from England. Elizabeth was living in an outpost on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay by 1621 near the fort called Jamestown. The sun had only been up a few hours and she nursed her nearly one year son, John Francis Stockley. His older brother Francis played at her feet. The whole town was on guard having been alerted by a native informant but, seven miles away in the Martin’s Hundred Plantation hundreds of Powhatan warriors attacked the English colonists in what she now called home, Virginia. On March 22, 1622, Elizabeth saw the smoke as settlements along the James River were burned in a sudden and fierce attack. Elizabeth learned of her twenty female neighbors who were abducted after witnessing the violent deaths of neighbors and loved ones.

Some of these neighbors had recently arrived, brought over by the Virginia Company of London to establish a Protestant English Colony. They hadn’t had an easy time of it. They were weakened by disease, malnutrition, poor organization and no knowledge of their new environment and the settlement was a disaster. By nightfall less than 150 remained alive.

Elizabeth married to John Stockley heard the story when she arrived how peace was obtained after the chief’s daughter Pocahontas had been abducted and married the white planter Rolfe Those who had been enemies enjoyed a cordial relationship. However, more settlers had poured in, carving up the land into tobacco plantations, driving away the animals from the hunting grounds of the natives and destroying a centuries old way of life. The natives wanted to rid their lands of the invaders. They surprised the settlers, burned houses, killed livestock, and mutilated the dead and dying before fleeing, that day in March.

The whole settlement was melancholic; the colonists that survived were dazed and despairing. Everyone was struggling to survive. Some of the other settlements were abandoned but England continued to send a new supply of people. 1/6 of the entire Virginian colony had been wiped out in a single day.

The men were divided, but colony officials felt that attacking took precedence over saving English prisoners. One year later, Elizabeth looked up and saw a bewildering sight. She gazed upon an English woman dressed in attire, with native pearl necklaces, copper medallions, dressed in furs and feathers, and dyed red deerskin. Mistress Boyce, once a captive of Opechancanough was being returned when the chief desired a truce, saying enough blood had been shed on both sides.

The Powhatans were allowed to plant corn the next spring however, the truce was never intended to be honored by the Virginians. Captain William Tucker and his force of musketeers in May, 1623 met to negotiate the release of the other captives. The natives were given poisoned wine prepared by the resident physician who would become governor, Dr. John Pott. Many died or were shot. The chief escaped and so did the hopes of the captured women. Until November, the colonists kept striking them and the abundant harvest of corn was taken by the Englishmen for their profit. The Powhatan Uprising of 1622 paid a high price, but so did the colony that had become a crude, crueler place than before. A few powerful men thoroughly dominated affairs of the colony politically, economically and militarily.

Dr. Potts ransomed Jane Dickenson and other women by trading beads for them. Jane owed the Doctor a debt of labor for her ransom and three more years of service that her deceased husband had left on his contract of servitude for his passage. She petitioned the court in March 1624 for release from what she considered her “new slavery” with Dr. Pott.

Elizabeth named her third son Woodman in 1624, her maiden name. Francis, John and Woodman grew up and while was Woodman was quiet, Francis and John had many court cases against them. The Anglican Church was the only one recognized and had strict rules. There were fines for not attending. John was called before the grand jury of Virginia in Accomack Co. for violating laws of “failing to remember the Sabbath Day and to keep it holy”. His accuser was John Stratton whose testimony said John talked and made loud noise at the service. On December 20, 1643 John and Francis were fined for “profaning God’s name”. As the boys matured all three married. Francis and John Stockley the oldest travelled back and forth the Atlantic Ocean, transporting people to the colony. Elizabeth heard their tales of 1635; they boarded the ship “Two Brothers” which took them to Jamaica then they arrived back at Accomack. As young men in London, they found it congested, busy, loud, and rank. The babble rose from the vendors hawking their wares but in the taverns they found men willing to take on servitude to travel to the New World. The early seventeenth century had the colonies becoming more viable and the brothers were granted land for privately organizing the movements of those willing to relocate. In 1635, some whether reluctantly or enthusiastically boarded the ships for an adventure, even some prisoners were ordered overseas, to become indentured laborers. The boys talked of trepidation of the hazards of the voyage, fair winds and ballast. “The hurricane struck and they saw the rocks of death before them, the sails torn into rotten rags; and God turned the wind”, they told Elizabeth. The boys were accumulating land for their transporting.

My Uncle Francis Stockley, obtained 50 acres in the County of Accomack at old Plantation Creek, adjoining the land of Henry Williams, due for transporting of one servant, Francis Jarvis, Dec 22, 1636. Francis was a valuable asset to the colony, settled at Dunn and Mill Creek, on Old Plantation Creek and married Joan Hall and gave Elizabeth grandchildren. His will dated Dec 12, 1654 was proven Jan 28, 1655 gives to his wife (not named) 3 cows and 4 steeres, to daughter Ann Stockley 2 cow and 3 steeres, to son, John 3 cows 2 steeres and my gun, to daughters Frances and Ann a bed apiece, to wife the best bed, curtains and valance, to godson Francis Willyams, a calf, the cow my brother, John, owes me – bequeathed to his son William to my wife all my movables and things belonging to me.

8th Grandfather John Stockley married Elizabeth Watkins in 1648. He was granted acres based on transport of people and in 1672 he bought 500 acres from Colonel William Kendall. He wrote his will in Feb 3, 1670 codicil Apr 9, 1673 and probated Aug 18, 1873. His plantation at Assawoman, 2700 acres to be divided by his seven sons, if wife remains a widow the sons inherit when they become 21. Wife Elizabeth shall keep the part she resides on now, then son Thomas inherits also wife chest, featherbed, bolster, rug, blanket, curtains, valance, a pair of sheets and one mare with foals. All cattle, heifers and mares are to remain in wife’s possession until children reach age of 18 they inherit a proportionate number of the animals. He names Jane, Hanna, Elizabeth and Ann under 18. Elizabeth wife to have all movables.. In 1673 John added codicil. sons William and Woodman and John to have no share of cows because have received shares already. Also gives a neck of land to wife outright. Elizabeth Stockley, William Custis and Edward Roball executors.

These two wills are proof of Elizabeth Woodman Stockley and her husband John Stockley of Assawoman, Accomack County, Virginia grandchildren: Hannah Ann, Ann 1647-1712, Francis 1652-1698, William 1652-1686, John 1654-1675, Woodman 1654-1713, Elizabeth 1656, Joseph 1658-1737, Thomas 1659-1720, Jane 1663-1710, Charles 1660-1719: children of John and Elizabeth Watkins Stockley and Ann, Francis and John children of Francis and Joan Hall Stockley. The other son Woodman moved away to Maryland and soon their was a migration of Stockley’s away from Virginia. In my tree are 27 family given the name of Woodman, you certainly left a legacy.

To my 9th great grandmother Elizabeth Woodman, I say well done for living during the entire 17th century. She died over 320 years ago living to an old, old age. Thanks for the path you followed that allowed me a glimpse into your life.

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