"Once more they struck, and once more driven back, Left to the plow their primal hunting ground's."
While the King had given permission for a return to the blessings of self-government, he retained for himself the restrictions of the tobacco monopoly and demanded that all cargoes be landed in some part of the King's dominions in Europe. Penalties and confiscation of cargo were meted out to any colonist who disregarded the royal edict. The sheep's skin disguised the hungry wolf.
Before Berkeley arrived, during the later years of Harvey's administration, Opechancanough, inveterate enemy of the English, rankling over the failure of the massacre of 1622, had again plotted the destruction of the colony. He was fully aware of the dissensions caused by the tyrannical Harvey, and had also learned from Thomas Rolfe, while the young man was on a visit to him (his great uncle), and his Aunt Cleopatra (sister of Pocahontas), that the people of England were on the verge of a civil war. Rolfe had no idea, of course, that this would influence the old chief to plot against people he was thought to hold in reverence and respect. The wily chieftain was old and feeble; not able to walk; too weak to raise his eyelids without assistance, and must be carried from place to place-yet he mapped out his plans and struck without a warning. Five hundred settlers fell victims in the massacre.
Carried on a litter, at the head of his warriors. Opechancanough began his advance from the outer edge of the colony- in April, 1644. His intention was to annihilate or sweep them into the sea. The settlers along the York and Pamunkey were surprised' and killed, but Berkeley- met' the invaders near the present site of West Point, and defeated them with great slaughter. Opechancanoughwas captured and taken prisoner to Jamestown, where he was mortally- wounded by a soldier who guarded him.
It is said that the aged, warrior, shortly before expiring, heard the voices of the people, who out of curiosity, gathered around him. Requesting an attendant to raise his eyelids that he might see, he gazed upon them in contempt and indignation.
Sending for Governor Berkeley, he exclaimed, "Had it been my fortune to have taken Sir William Berkeley prisoner, I would not meanly have exposed him as a show to my people." Having delivered his reproof, he calmly "stretched himself upon the earth and died."
Upon the death of Opechancanough, Necotowance succeeded him, and notwithstanding the fact that Charles I. had lost his throne at Nasby in June, 164, a treaty was entered into between the "King of the Induns" and Governor Berkeley , October, 1646, by which it was agreed that he would recognize the authority- of the King of England; the General Assembly promising to protect him from his enemies. Necotowance promised as an earnest of his friendship, to deliver the Governor "a yearly tribute of twenty beaver skins at the departure of the wild geese." "Cohonk," the wild goose call, was the Indian term for winter. To this day, this promise has been faithfully kept by the Pamunkey Indians, descendants of the Powhatans and each year their tribute is presented to the Governor of Virginia.
The treaty contained other stipulations; one of which was that the Indians were to occupy- territory an the north side of the York River, and to cede all land extending between the York and James, from the falls (Richmond) to Kicquotan (Hampton). The method of transferring title was to pass over to the English a turn of grass through which an arrow had been shot. Illustrative, the writer ventures to suggest, than the title right was surrendered, as it had been killed, so far as the Indian was concerned.
No Indian was to venture into the ceded territory without official permission, which was to be indicated by a badge of striped cloth to he secured at the time the permit was given. No settler was to he permitted to venture inside of the Indian huntingground, which extended from the head of the Blackwater to old Manakin town on the James. Violation of this constituted a felony and was to be punished as such. Special permits could only be secured at the four forts, viz. : Royal (on the Pamunkey), Charles (Richmond), Henry (Petersburg), and James (on the Chickahominy,). Thomas Rolfe, son of Pocahontas, was commander of the last named fort.
Sir William Berkeley- held office as Governor of Virginia longer than any other executive, appointed or elected in colony or State. Succeeding Wyatt in February, 1642, he held the position with the exception of the interregnum-until recalled by Charles II, in April, 1677. James I. had keen fearful that the marriage of Rolfe to Pocahontas would establish a claim on the part of their son to the throne in Virginia, yet Charles II. virtually, made of Berkeley- a king, saving only the title, and the lack of a few minor prerogatives.
Berkeley visited England in 1644 and returned to Jamestown in June, 1645, without being aware of the defeat of the Royalist cause. In the absence of the Governor, Richard Kemp acted in his stead. Kemp is said to have erected the first brick residence in the colony, though brick had been used in the construction of houses at Henricopolis in 1619, several having at least one story constructed of this material.
One may well imagine the feelings of this loyal supporter of Charles I when he learned from the next incoming ship that he had been defeated and the ancestral home of the Berkeleys (Gloucester, Eng.), where the governor had been born and reared, was in the possession of the Round Heads. Brave as he was loyal, he found a large majority of the Virginias also determined to be true to the King, and ready under his leadership to defy the "Protector of the Rights of the People," even to the extent of armed resistance. So far as Virginia was concerned, Charles was still the King. Thus is explained the wording of the treaty with Necotowance the following year.
Taking advantage of the unsettled conditions in England and the absence of Berkeley from the colony, Claiborne had organized a band of insurgents, made a descent upon the Maryland government at Kent Island, defeated Culvert, driven him from the colony, and seized the reins of government. The reader will remember that Kent Island had been settled by Claiborne under the provisions of the London Charter, it being part of the Virginia grant, and that he had been dispossessed by Calvert (Lord Baltimore) under rights claimed through the later charter granted him by the crown. Now Calvert fled to Virginia where he remained until August, 1646, when he succeeded in driving Claiborne out again, and the sturdy Virginian never forgave the King for evicting him from what he declared to be a rightful possession. Claiborne became a professed Puritan, and openly espoused the Cromwellian cause. He succeeded in organizing a Puritan party and invited several ministers from New England to visit the colony. These men came to Virginia and were permitted to preach to the Puritan element, gaining many converts, until Berkeley, becoming aroused against them and their growing influence, ordered them banished.
It is to be presumed that practicing lawyers, living in Virginia at this time, also sought other fields of labor, for it was decreed, by Berkeley, that professional attorneys were to be prohibited from receiving any compensation for their services, nor should they be allowed to appear in civil cases before the bar. Parties litigant must plead their own causes, without outside assistance, unless it appear to the court that one of the contestants was suffering from inability to make proper defense. In that case the court was instructed to select some one from the people, presumably not a lawyer, to assist.
Lawyers may fail to understand, without explanation, how the colonists can be reported to have been contented and at peace. Happily, they were little influenced by the civil war then convulsing the mother country. There was a growing trade between the colony and its Northern neighbor, New England. In exchange for fish and other commodities, Virginians shipped tobacco, corn and cattle. In 1647 over 8,000 people lived in the colony, thousands of acres had been cleared and crops planted, 150 plows being in use. When Christmas arrived it found the people worshipping in twenty churches, each with its own minister, who received a salary equivalent to $500 per year, payable in corn and tobacco. There were anchored in James River ten vessels from London, two from Bristol, twelve from Holland, and seven from New England. The several crews totaled 800 men. Captain Brocas, of the Council, had planted a vineyard and made excellent wine; Mr. Richard Bennet had twenty butts of cider pressed from his own orchard; Sir William Berkeley had, from his orchard, apricots, peaches, mellicotons, quinces, wardens and the like, dried, pickled, preserved or otherwise disposed of; and there were wild turkeys, game, oysters, fish, poultry, pork, beef and many other delicacies of Old England.
In 161 the English squadron of Cromwell, having forced the colony at Barbadoes to submission, entered the Chesapeake with orders to compel Berkeley and the Loyalists of Virginia to acknowledge allegiance to the Commonwealth.
Cromwell was greatly incensed when he learned that the Virginia colony had refused to swear fealty to the new government in England. Parliament, by his suggesstion, passed an ordinance declaring the Virginians rebels and traitors, and issued a decree forbidding them commercial intercourse with England or any other colony. 'Massachusetts, notwithstanding the debt of gratitude, owing its Southern neighbor for food supplies when the colony was on the border of starvation, with many other favors voluntarily extended, immediately passed an ordinance similar to that of Parliament, and demanded of its citizens that they discontinue all communication with Virginia.
Notwithstanding the isolated condition of the little band of Royalists and the impossibility of making successful defense, yet, under the leadership of Berkeley, they did not hesitate to take up arms in defense against the invading fleet. Several Dutch ships (trading in Virginia in defiance of the navigation act) were requisitioned and the sturdy-hearted Virginians met the enemy. Though defeated, they made such a gallant defense, the commander, in admiration of their effort, granted terms of submission favorable to the colony.
In lieu of the severe epithets and restrictions of Parliament, the new terms stipulated that, "The people of Virginia shall have a free trade, as the people of England, to all places and with all nations," and that the General Assembly should continue to transact the affairs of the settlement, and enjoy exclusive rights of taxation.
Disdaining any suggestion of personal exemption, from men he considered as regicides and usurpers, Berkeley retired to his country estate, Green Springs, where he resided as a private citizen beloved and respected by his fellow colonists.
Had he never again accepted public office his memory would ever be revered in Virginia history. Yet, Berkeley was logically the man of the hour when the exasperated Virginians could no longer be restrained from erecting the royal standard and proclaiming Charles II. their rightful sovereign.
The terms granted to Virginia by the articles of surrender to the fleet of the Commonwealth, were almost immediately violated by Cromwell and Parliament.
Commercial intercourse between the colonies was forbidden. No production of Europe. Asia, Africa, nor America could be imported unless it be in vessels owned by English subjects, navigated by an English captain with a crew, the majority of which should be Englishmen. This navigation act supplied the tinder; later the stamp act was to supply the torch; starting a conflagration impossible for England to stop. It would sweep forward, until every vestige of English sovereignty was obliterated from the thirteen colonies then (1776) established.
Hundreds of the best families of England fled to Virginia, knowing its loyalty to the crown, to escape the vengence of the Round Heads, as the Cromwellian army was called. Thus were introduced into the colony the Cavalier families whose descendants have shed such lustre upon the history of the commonwealth. The Washington, Madison, Monroe, Marshall, Randolph, Tyler, and other Cavalier families came to Virginia at this time.
Oliver Cromwell died Sept. 3, 1658 and was succeeded by Richard his third son, the two elder having proceeded their father to the grave.
He was unable to restrain the forces of Anarchy and soon resigned. Charles II ascended the throne.
As the tide of emigration, first following the rivers, drifted ever westward, the great distance from Jamestown, Williamsburg, and the older settlements, where attendance upon court made long journeys ofttimes imperative, caused the colonists to continue mapping out new divisions of the original shires.
Be it remembered that there were few roads, even in the vicinity of Williamsburg, only Indian trails and water courses furnishing line of communication. Journeys were ever filled with dangers of many varieties and seldom could be attempted other than on foot. Later, George Rogers Clark is reported to have walked seven hundred miles to attend a session of the House of Burgesses only to find the session closed before he arrived.
One petition for a new division asserted that the petitioners thought it a hardship that they must "swim eight rivers and cross seven mountains" in order to attend court. This, of course, was after settlements had been made along the Ohio River and in Kentucky, all of which was at that time embraced in Virginia territory.