"The colony Creeps from this marshbound island, up the stream Plantation by plantation."

A description of the Jamestown settlement having been given with an outline of the progress of the colonists centered about that settlement, and having pointed out the salient features in the founding of the other colonies, this chapter will have to do with the attempt of Deputy-Governor Dale to found a city fifty miles further up the James River.

It was in June 1611, that Sir Thomas Dale sailed up the James to select a proper site for the new town he had been instructed to found in Virginia. There were several very- good reasons why such a town should he founded. In the first place, the colony was in jeopardy of surprise attacks by- the Spaniards. That war-like nation looked with great jealousy- upon English colonization in America. They- had, by right of discovery-, claimed all of the coast of North America, and were using every endeavor to gain information as to the situation and condition of the English. As yet they- had not located the settlement, and it was feared that upon being discovered at Jamestown the colony would be destroyed. The town of Henricus could be better defended, owing to its situation. Then again, the low, marshy terrain of Jamestown was thought to be the cause of the great mortality among the settlers, where as, the site for the new- city, being more elevated and with better drainage, would minimize this great drawback to the colony's efforts at successful colonization.

While in search of a new location, Dale ascended the River as far as the falls, and then returned to "A high-land invironed with the Mayne River, near to an Indian Town called Arrahattocke." If this settlement proved a success, it was the intention to abandon Jamestown, unless conditions there greatly improved.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Dale stated, "I have surveyed a convenient, strong, healthie and sweet seate to plant the new town in, from whence might be no more remove of the principal seate; and in that form to build, as might accommodate the inhabitants, and the Title and Name which, it hath pleased the Lords, all readie to appoint for it." The name selected by the Privy Council had been Henrico (Henricus : Henricopolis) in honor of Henry, Prince of Vales, the patron of the Company-. The Prince of Wales was an enthusiastic supporter of the plan to colonize Virginia, and his untimely death, November 16th, 1623, was a great loss to the colony.-. Had he lived, and succeeded to the Crown, the history of Virginia would have been much less full of the tragedies and sufferings of its founders.

It was Dale's intention to erect five fortifications for the protection of the colony, viz: Point Comfort, ( Fort Algernoune)[1], Kiskiack, Jamestown, Henrico, and at the Falls (nowRichmond). He requested that a standing army of two thousand men be sent from England. The army was never dispatched, but, with the aid of political prisoners sent over, Dale began preparing the defense of the new town, to secure it against the Indians, "in the midst of whom, he was resolved to set down," as he was convinced that a settlement at Henrico would command the security of that part of the colony situate above its site. Having selected the site, Dale returned to Jamestown, secured the approval of Lieutenant Governor Gates, and returned in September, with about three hundred men, to the place selected. It was reported that "within ten days he had fortified seven acres of ground, which in honor of the Noble Prince Henrie (whose royal heart was ever strongly affected to that section) he called by the name of Henrico." Strong watch-towers were constructed at each corner of the town (five); also a "fair and handsome church and store houses." By the middle of January 1612, he had constructed houses for himself and men, and made ".Henrico much better and of more worth than all the work ever since the Colony began, therein done." (It was reported that the first stories of these houses were constructed of brick, burnt in that vicinity.)

On the Salisbury side (the south side of the River, the north side being called the Popham side), a hospital was constructed, containing eighty beds for the sick and wounded, and keepers were appointed, "To attend them for their comfort and recoverie." The place where this hospital was located w as a section of Coxendale, called Mount Malady. It may be well to explain here that the North side of the River ,vas named after the patron of the North Virginia colony-, Chief Justice Popham, and the South Side after the patron of the South Virginia colony, the Karl of Salisbury, Prime Minister of England.

In fortifying Henrico, three parts being already environed by the James River, Dale cut a "Dutch gap" at the narrowest point, and erected a palisade on the side toward the town. This was called Dutch Gap by Dale, as he was in the military service of Holland, and was furloughed, for a limited time, by request of the Virginia Company. In the wars of the Lower Countries, he had become familiar with this method of defense. If was not the attempted completion of this gap by Germans under command of General B. F. Butler in the Civil war, that gave the name to this piece of engineering, though this is the general impression which has prevailed.

Evidently the intention of Dale was to make this gap deep enough to permit the passage of vessels, for prior to the war between the. States, a channel was open half way across the peninsular, the work having been interrupted by the Indian massacre of 1622.

About two miles from the town, a pale (palisade fence) two miles in length, was placed from the James River to the Appomattox, and there were several block houses on this line of defense. This was to secure a fertile section of land between the James and Appomattox, so that the planters could raise corn and tobacco without interruption by the Indians. Ralph Hammer says that sufficient crops could be raised in this section to have supported ever- immigrant that could be expected to arrive within the colony for three years. Coxendale was also impaled, and secured by block houses. Here the colonists began the raising of quantities of hogs and cattle.

In 1619, Brown state s in his, "First Republic in America," that, "The City- of Henricus included Henrico (Farrar's Island), extending thence on both sides of James River to the westward, the pale run by Dale between the said river and the Appomattox River being the line on the South Side." It was represented in the House of Burgesses by Thomas Dowse and John Polentine. Henrico having keen selected as the site for a college and university, the first college in America, ten thousand acres were set by, as agreed, and the limits of the corporation were extended from the Falls of the James on the Popham side to what is now called Farrar's Island.. Part of the University land was impaled on the Salisbury side, around Coxendale, to which was added one hundred acres of plebe land for a primary school, and one thousand acres (?) to belong to the college. The college was for the purpose of educating Indian boys and girls, whereas the project for the larger institution comprehended including within its scope, the education of sons and daughters of the colonists. Fifty tenants were sent from England to tend the college land, there wages to be pro-rated on a fifty per cent basis of the profits.

In 1622, construction of the university buildings had' begun and a number of houses had been added, among them a guest house or tavern, and the little settlement lead every right to look forward toward rapid growth and prosperity. But, while man proposes and plans, without being able to look into the future, with any accuracy, all of those calculations proved as naught. It was this year, March 22nd, that the massacre entirely destroyed both the inhabitants and their habitations. Henricus was never rebuilt. Only a monument stands sentinel to mark the spot where this great tragedy occurred and commemorate the efforts of these hardy colonists, to establish the first English city in the New World. It may be observed by those passing through Dutch Gap.


  1. Fort Algernoune (Old Point Comfort) was so named by George Percy, President of the King's Council in 1609. The name was selected in honor, of the founder of his family William Algernoune de Percy, who came from France to England, with William the Conqueror, in 1066. He was called Algernounce, (which means whiskers) on account of his wearing a beard, to distinguish him from the other William of the Conquest.