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Title: Some Notes on Shipbuilding and Shipping in Colonial Virginia
Author: Evans, Cerinda W.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Some Notes on Shipbuilding and Shipping in Colonial Virginia" ***

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Some Notes On Shipbuilding and

Shipping In Colonial Virginia



Librarian Emeritus, The Mariners Museum
Newport News, Virginia

Virginia 350th Anniversary Celebration Corporation
Williamsburg, Virginia


Jamestown 350th Anniversary
Historical Booklet, Number 22


It is that which everyone knoweth and can say

          They are our Weapons
          They are our Armaments
          They are our Strength
          They are our Pleasures
          They are our Defence
          They are our Profit
      The Subject by them is made rich
      The Kingdom through them, strong
      The Prince in them is mighty
    In a word: By them in a manner we live
    The Kingdom is, the King reigneth.

(From _The Trades Increase_, London, 1615)



Various types of watercraft used in Colonial Virginia have been
mentioned in the records. The dugout canoe of the Indians was found
by the settlers upon arrival, and was one of the chief means of
transportation until the colony was firmly established. It is of
great importance in the history of transportation from its use in
pre-history to its use in the world today. From the dugout have come
the piragua, Rose's tobacco boat, and the Chesapeake Bay canoe and
bugeye as we see them today.

The first boats in use by the colony in addition to the Indian canoe
were ships' boats--barges, long-boats, and others. A shallop brought
over in sections was fitted together and used in the first explorations.
As the years went by, however, "almost every planter, great and small,
had a boat of one kind or another. Canoes, bateaux, punts, piraguas,
shallops, flats, pinnaces, sloops, appear with monotonous regularity
in the seventeenth and eighteenth century records of Virginia and

Little is known about the construction of boats in the colony except
the log canoe. A long and thick tree was chosen according to the size
of the boat desired, and a fire made on the ground around its base.
The fire was kept burning until the tree had fallen. Then burning off
the top and boughs, the trunk was raised upon poles laid over
crosswise on forked posts so as to work at a comfortable height. The
bark was removed with shells; gum and rosin spread on the upper side
to the length desired and set on fire. By alternately burning and
scraping, the log was hollowed out to the desired depth and width. The
ends were scraped off and rounded for smooth navigating.

Captain John Smith, who had a number of occasions to use the canoe,
wrote that some were an elne deep (forty-five inches), and forty or
fifty feet in length; some would bear forty men, but the most ordinary
were smaller and carried ten, twenty, or thirty men. "Instead of oars,
they use paddles or sticks with which they will row faster than our
barges." Additional space and graceful lines in the canoes were
secured by spreading the sides. To do this, the hollowed log was
filled with water and heated by dropping in hot stones until the wood
became soft enough to bend into the desired shape by forcing the sides
apart with sticks of different lengths and allowed to harden.

The tools with which the Indians built their boats and used for other
purposes, were tomahawks of stone sharpened at one end or both, or one
end was rounded off for use as a hammer. A circular indentation was
made in the center to secure the tomahawk to the handle. Another
method of fitting the stone tomahawk to a handle was to cut off the
head of a young tree, and as if to graft it, a notch was made into
which the head of the hatchet was inserted. After some time, the tree
by growing together kept the hatchet so fixed that it could not come
out. Then the tree was cut to such a length as to make a good handle.
Another method in use was that of binding the stones to the ends of
sticks and gluing them there with rosin.

Some colonists did not hesitate to take the canoes from the Indians,
which they may or may not have returned. On one occasion the King of
Rappahanna demanded the return of a canoe, which was restored. Among
the first laws of the General Assembly was that for the protection of
the Indians, enacted in August, 1619: "He that shall take away by
violence or stealth any canoe or other things from the Indians, shall
make valuable restitution to the said Indians, and shall forfeit, if
he be a freeholder, five pounds; if a servant, forty shillings or
endure a whipping."

A story of an Indian and his canoe was told by John Pory, Secretary of
Virginia, after he had visited the Eastern Shore. "Wamanato, a
friendly Indian, presented me with twelve bever skins and a canow
which I requited with such things to his content, that he promised to
keep them whilst he lived, and berie them with him being dead."

Several writers of boatbuilding have expressed the thought that the
evolution of the Chesapeake Bay canoe and the Chesapeake Bay bugeye
from the Indian dugout canoe was one of the most interesting developments
in the history of shipbuilding. M. V. Brewington, in his _Chesapeake
Bay: A Pictorial Maritime History_, says of this development: "The
white man's superior knowledge of small craft soon indicated changes
which would improve the canoe: sharp ends would make her easier to
propel and more seaworthy; broader beam and a keel would increase
stability; sail would lessen the work of getting from place to place.
Sharpening the bow and stern was a simple matter; the increased beam
was difficult because no single tree could provide the needed width.
In time, the settler learned to join two or more trees together to
give the beam desired. He learned how to add topsides, first of hewn
logs, later of sawed plank. A keel was added and a sailing rig. After
the centerboard was invented, it took the place of a keel...."

"But the culmination of the simple, single log, trough-shaped Indian
dugout was the bugeye, a complex vessel as much as eighty-five feet in
length. There was an intermediate step between the canoe and the
bugeye, the brogan, a large canoe, partially decked, with a cuddy
forward in which a couple of men could sleep and cook.... The earliest
known use of the name "bugeye" was in 1868, but doubtless the word was
not coined upon the first appearance of the vessel itself.... In
essence the bugeye was a large canoe, fully decked, with a fixed rig
following that of the brogan. There were full accommodations for the
crew which, because the vessel was built for oyster dredging, needed
to be comparatively large.... Throughout the course of development
from canoe to bugeye, the original dugout log bottom was always
apparent in this most truly American craft."


The smallest of the three vessels that reached Virginia in April,
1607, was the little pinnace _Discovery_, a favorite type of small
vessel in that period. The first English vessel known to have been
built in the New World was a pinnace. A colonizing expedition to
Raleigh's colony on Roanoke Island left Plymouth, England, on April 9,
1585, with a fleet of five vessels and two pinnaces attached as
tenders. A storm sank the tender to the _Tiger_, Sir Richard
Grenville's flagship. On the 15th of May, the fleet came to anchor in
the Bay of Mosquetal (Mosquito), and a landing was made at St. John on
the Island of Puerto Rico. Here an encampment was made to give the men
time to refresh themselves and to build a new pinnace for the _Tiger_.
A forge was set up to make the nails, and trees were cut and hauled to
camp on a low four-wheeled truck for the boat's timber. The ship's
carpenters made speedy headway, launching and rigging the pinnace in
ten days. They set sail from St. John on the 29th of May, the new
pinnace carrying twenty men and, on the 27th of July, anchored at
Hatoraske on the way to Roanoke.

The second English vessel known to have been built in North America
was also a pinnace. The members of the second colony of Virginia left
Plymouth, England, on the last day of May, 1607, under command of
Captain George Popham, and located at "Sagadahoc in Virginia" at the
mouth of the Kennebec River. There they set up fortifications which
they called Fort St. George. After finishing the fort, "the carpenter
framed a pretty pinnace of about thirty tons which they called
_Virginia_, the shipwright being one Digby of London." This little
vessel is known to have made two voyages across the Atlantic.

On June 7, 1609, a fleet of seven ships and two pinnaces left
Plymouth, England, for Jamestown. After a few days out, one of the
pinnaces returned to England, but the other, the little _Virginia_,
remained with the fleet as the tender to the flagship _Sea Venture_.
Sir Thomas Gates, Lieutenant Governor under Lord De La Warr, and Sir
George Somers, Admiral of the fleet, embarked on the _Sea Venture_,
commanded by Captain Christopher Newport, Vice Admiral. These three
men were leaders of the expedition and in order to avoid any dispute
as to precedence, they agreed--very unwisely, it was disclosed--to
sail on the same ship "with several commissions sealed, successively
to take place one after another, considering the uncertainty of human

WRECK OF THE _Sea Venture_

On July 28, a violent storm arose which separated the _Sea Venture_
from the rest of the fleet. This "dreadful tempest" was the tail of a
West Indies hurricane and lasted four days and nights. An account of
it written in 1610, by William Strachey, secretary to Lord De La Warr,
and a passenger on the ship, is said to be one of the finest
descriptions of a storm in all literature, and led to the writing of
_The Tempest_ by Shakespeare. The letter was written to a person
unknown, addressed as "Excellent Lady." Some excerpts are given

    When on S. James his day, July 24, being Monday ... the clouds
    gathering thicke upon us and the wind singing and whistling most
    unusually, which made us to cast off our pinnace towing the same
    until then asterne, a dreadful storm and hideous, began to blow
    from out the north-east, which swelling, and roaring, as it were
    by fitts, some hours with more violence than others, at length
    beat all light from heaven, which like a hell of darkness turned
    black upon us, so much the more fuller of horror, as in such cases
    horror and fear use to overrunne the troubled, and overmastered
    sences of all, which, taken up with amazement, the eares lay so
    sensible to the terrible cries, and murmurs of the winds, and
    distractions of our company.... For foure and twenty houres the
    storme in a restless tumult, had blown so exceedingly, as we could
    not apprehend in our imaginations any possibility of greater
    violence, yet did wee still find it, not only more terrible, but
    more constant, fury added to fury, and one storm urging a second
    more outrageous than the former; whether it so wrought upon our
    feares ... as made us look one upon the other with troubled hearts
    and panting bosoms; our clamours drowned in the windes, and the
    windes in thunder. Prayers might well be in the heart and lips,
    but drowned in the outcries of the officers, nothing heard that
    could give comfort, nothing seen that might encourage hope.... The
    sea swelled above the clouds, and gave battell unto Heaven. It
    could not be said to raine, the waters like whole rivers did flood
    in the ayre.... The winds spake more loud and grew more tumultuous
    and malignant. What shall I say? Winds and seas were as mad as
    fury and rage could make them.... There was not a moment in which
    the sudden splitting or instant oversetting of the ship was not
    expected. Howbeit this was not all; it pleased God to bring a
    greater affliction yet upon us; for in the beginning of the storm,
    we had received likewise a mighty leake. And the ship in every
    joint almost, having spued out her okam, before we were aware ...
    was growne five foote suddenly deep with water above her ballast,
    and we almost drowned within, whilst we sat looking when to perish
    from above. This imparting no less terror than danger ran through
    the whole ship with much fright and amazement, startled and turned
    the blood and took down the braves of the most hardy mariner of
    them all.... The leake which drunk in our greatest seas, and took
    in our destruction fastest could not then be found nor ever was by
    any labour, counsell or search.... Every man came duely upon his
    watch ... working with tyred bodies and wasted spirits three days
    and foure nights destitute of outward comfort, and desperate of
    any deliverance.... During all this time the Heavens looked so
    black upon us that it was not possible the elevation of the pole
    might be observed; nor a starre by night, not a sun beame by day
    was to be seene. Onely upon Thursday night, Sir George Somers
    being upon the watch, had an apparition of a little round light
    like a faint starre, trembling and streaming along with a
    sparkeling blaze, halfe the height upon the main mast, and
    shooting sometimes from shroud to shroud, tempting to settle as it
    were, upon any of the foure shroudes ... half the night it kept
    with us; running sometimes along the main yard to the very end,
    and then returning. At which, Sir George Somers called divers
    about him, and showed them the same.... It did not light us any
    whit the more to our known way, who ran now as hoodwinked men, at
    all adventures, sometimes north and north-east, then north and by
    west, and in an instant varying two or three points, and sometimes
    half the compass.... It being now Friday, the fourth morning, it
    wanted little, but that there had been a general determination to
    have shut up hatches, and commending our sinfull soules to God,
    committed the ship to the mercy of the sea. Surely, that night we
    must have done it, and that night had we then perished: but see
    the goodnesse and sweet introduction of better hope, by our
    merciful God given unto us. Sir George Somers, when no man dreamed
    of such happiness, had discovered and cried land!

The storm drove the ship toward the dangerous and dreaded islands of
Bermuda. Nearing the shore, the ship was caught between rocks as in a
vise and held there while all the one hundred and fifty persons
reached the shore in safety. As soon as they were conveniently
settled, after the landing, the long boat was fitted up in the fashion
of a pinnace with a little deck made of the hatches of the wrecked
ship, so close that no water could enter, and with a crew of six
sailors, using sails and oars, Thomas Whittingham, the cape merchant,
and Henry Ravens, the master's mate, as pilot, the boat sailed for
Virginia. It was hoped, when news reached Jamestown of the safe
landing of the passengers from the wrecked _Sea Venture_ on Bermuda,
that a ship or pinnace from the fleet in Virginia would be sent to
take them home, but the long boat was never heard from again.

BUILDING THE _Deliverance_ AND THE _Patience_

While waiting for help from Virginia, Sir George Somers and Sir Thomas
Gates decided to build a pinnace, in case of need. The work was put in
charge of Richard Frobisher, an experienced shipwright. The only wood
on the island that could be used for timber was cedar and that was
rather poor, being too brittle for making good planks. The pinnace's
beams were all of oak from the wrecked ship, as were some planks in
her bow, all the rest was of cedar. The keel was laid on the 28th of
August, 1609, and on the 26th of February, calking had begun. Old
cables that had been preserved furnished the oakum. One barrel of
pitch and another of tar had been saved. Lime was made of wilk shells
and a hard white stone, which were burned in a kiln, slaked with fresh
water, and tempered with tortoise oil. She was forty feet long at the
keel, nineteen feet broad at the beam, had a six-foot floor, her rake
forward being fourteen feet, her rake aft from the top of her post
(which was twelve feet long) was three feet; she was eight feet deep
under her beam, four feet and a half between decks, with a rising of
half a foot more under her forecastle, the purpose being to scour the
deck with small shot if an enemy should come aboard. She had a fall of
eighteen inches aft to make her steerage and her great cabin larger;
her steerage was five feet long and six feet high with a closed
gallery right aft, having a window on each side, and two right aft.
She was of some eighty tons burden.

On the 30th of March, the pinnace was launched, unrigged, and towed to
"a little round island" nearer the ponds and wells of fresh water,
with easier access to the sea, the channel there being deep enough to
float her when masts, sails and all her trim had been placed on her.
"When she began to swim (upon her launching) our Governor called her
_The Deliverance_."

Late in November, and still with no word from Virginia, Sir George
Somers became convinced that the pinnace which Frobisher was building
would not be sufficient to transport all the men, women, and children
from Bermuda to Virginia. He consulted with Sir Thomas Gates, the
Governor, who approved his plan of building another pinnace. He would
take two carpenters and twenty men with him to the main island where
with instruction from Frobisher, "he would quickly frame up another
little bark, for the better sitting and convenience of our people."
The Governor granted him all the things he desired, all such tools and
instruments, and twenty of the ablest and stoutest men of the company
to hew planks and square timber. The keel laid was twenty-nine feet in
length, the beam fifteen feet and a half; she was eight feet deep and
drew six feet of water, and was of thirty tons capacity. Sir George
Somers launched her on the last day of April, giving her the name of
_Patience_, and brought her from the building bay in the main island,
into the channel where the _Deliverance_ was moored.

After nine months on the islands, these fearless and undaunted men,
with a stout determination to finish the voyage they had begun nine
months before, set sail in the two pinnaces on May 10, 1610, and after
eleven days, arrived at Point Comfort. "On the three and twentieth day
of May, we cast our anchor before Jamestown."


The few available records of early boatbuilding in the Virginia colony
differ so materially that one cannot make a statement as to number or
kind of vessels with any degree of accuracy. That the first vessel
constructed in Virginia was built earlier than the year 1611, and was
of twelve or thirteen tons capacity, seems to be an accepted fact as
given in the Spaniard Molina's _Report of a Voyage to Virginia_ in
1611. The report also referred to a galley of twenty-five benches
being built there.

In his _Short Relation_ to the Council of the Virginia Company in
June, 1611, Lord De La Warr spoke regretfully of the fact that the
three forts he had erected near Point Comfort were not properly manned
because of a lack of boats, there being but two, and one barge in all
the colony. The fishing, too, had been hindered because of this
shortage. No mention was made of the galley that was said to have been
in the process of construction.


In a letter to Nicholas Hawes, written in June, 1613, Samuel Argall
(later Sir Samuel Argall) tells of a voyage to Virginia in 1612, and
some of his activities there. On the 17th of September, he arrived at
Point Comfort with sixty-two men on the ship _Treasurer_, his course
being fifty leagues northward of the Azores. From the day of his
arrival until the first of November, he spent the time in helping to
repair such ships and boats as he found there "decayed for lack of
pitch and tarre." About the first of November, he carried Sir Thomas
Dale in the _Deliverance_ to Sir Thomas Smith's Island to have his
opinion about inhabiting it. They found an abundance of fish there,
"very great cod" which they caught in water five fathom deep. They
planned to get a great quantity in the summer of 1613, and hoped to
find safe passage there for boats and barges by "a cut out of the
bottom of our bay into De La Warr Bay." This is an early mention of
the need for a canal connecting these two bays. That the Sir Thomas
Smith's Island referred to was not the island known by that name lying
near Cape Charles is evident from the reference to large cod fish
caught there, and the desire for a passage between the bays for a
shorter route.

Argall sailed from Point Comfort on the first of December and entered
Pembroke, now Rappahannock, River where he met the king of Pastancie,
who told him the Indians were his very great friends and had a good
store of corn for him, as they had provided the year before. He
carried his ship to the king's town and there built a stout shallop to
take the corn aboard. After concluding a peace with other divers
Indian lords, and giving and taking hostages, Argall hastened to
Jamestown with 1100 bushels of corn, which he delivered to the
storehouses there, besides the 300 bushels he retained for the use of
his own company. As soon as he had unloaded the corn, Argall set his
men to work felling timber and hewing boards with which to build a
"frigat." He left this vessel half finished in the hands of his
carpenters at Point Comfort in order to make another voyage to
Pembroke River, and so discovered the head of it. Upon learning that
Pocahontas was with the King of Patowomack, he devised a stratagem by
which she was captured. Pocahontas was taken to Jamestown and
delivered to the protection of Sir Thomas Gates, who hastened to
conclude with Powhatan, her father, a peace based upon the terms
demanded by Argall. Argall returned to Point Comfort and "went forward
with his frigat and finished her." He sent a "ginge" of men with her
to Cape Charles, to get fish and transport them to "Henries Town"
(Henrico). Another gang was employed to fell timber and cleave planks
to build a fishing boat. Argall himself, with a third gang, left in
the shallop on the first day of May to explore the east side of the
Bay. Having explored along the shore for some forty leagues northward,
he returned on the 12th of May, fitted his ship and built a fishing
boat, and made ready to take the first opportunity for a fishing


Samuel Argall is said to have achieved lasting fame as one of
England's maritime pioneers by establishing a shorter route to
Virginia from England in 1609, although Batholomew Gosnold took that
route in 1602, and Martin Pring did so in 1603. The usual course led
by way of the Canaries to the Island of Puerto Rico in the West
Indies, the route of Columbus, a long, circuitous pathway exposed to
pirates and interference from Spain. Argall made the round trip by the
shorter route in five months. However, the shorter route did not
supplant entirely the longer southern route for several decades.

Argall accompanied Lord De La Warr to Virginia in 1610, to point out
the northern route. While in Virginia, he was sent with Sir George
Somers to Bermuda with two pinnaces to get a supply of hogs and other
provisions for the colony. In a storm, Argall lost sight of Sir
George's pinnace and failed to locate Bermuda; so he changed his
course toward the north and went to Sagadahoc and Cape Cod where he
procured a large cargo of fish, which he brought to Jamestown. Sir
George Somers reached Bermuda, but died there on November 9, 1610.
Argall was then sent by Lord De La Warr to the river Patawomeke to
trade with the Indians for corn, where he rescued the English boy,
Henry Spelman, who had been living with the Indians. Through Spelman's
influence, the Indians "fraughted his ship with corn."

Soon after June 28, 1613, Argall sailed from Virginia on his "fishing
voyage" in a well-armoured English man-of-war. His object was the
French colony of Jesuits at Mt. Desert, now in Maine, but at that time
within the bounds of Virginia. He attacked the buildings and returned
with the priests late in July. He was sent back by Gates to destroy
the buildings and fortifications there and at St. Croix and Port
Royal. This was done and he arrived back at Jamestown, about the first
of December. On this voyage, he stopped at New Netherlands, on the
Hudson, and forced the colonists there to submit to the crown of


The tracts of land or plantations occupied by individual settlers of
the colony were very few until after the "starving time" in 1610. When
the colony had been reorganized by Lord De La Warr and Sir Thomas
Gates, and something like peace existed with the Indians, more land
patents were issued year after year. A list of land owners, in 1625,
in the records of the Company, shows nearly two hundred persons owning
plots of land varying in size from forty acres to the thirty-seven
hundred acres of Sir George Yeardley's plantation at Hungar's river on
the Eastern Shore.

In _A Perfect Description of Virginia_ by an unnamed writer in 1648,
it is stated that there were in the colony "pinnaces, barks, great and
small boats many hundreds, for most of their plantations stand upon
the rivers' sides and up little creeks and but a small way into the
land." Every planter must have had a boat of some kind. Neighborly
communication had to be maintained, religious services attended,
fishing and oystering to be done, crops of tobacco transferred to the
ships anchored out in the channel, and cargoes of goods taken from the
ships to the warehouses. The planter navigated the boat himself unless
he could provide a slave or an indentured servant.

Most of the shipbuilding done on the plantations was done by ship
carpenters or men trained by them. The shipyards were very simple
affairs, the essentials being a plot of ground on the bank of a stream
with water deep enough to float the vessel and near a supply of
suitable timber. Later would be added, perhaps, a small pier to which
the boat could be attached, and a small building or shed for the
protection of tools.

A visiting ship in need of repair would seek some convenient place on
the river and the hospitality of the neighboring planter. An instance
is that of Captain Thomas Dermer from Monhegan, North Virginia, now in
Maine, who arrived at the colony in September, 1619, in an open
pinnace of five tons. He had met Captain Ward several weeks earlier at
a place called "St. James his Isles," and there had put most of his
provisions on board the _Sampson_, Captain Ward's boat. Of his arrival
in Virginia, he wrote to Samuel Purchas as follows: "After a little
refreshing, we recovered up the river to James Citie and from thence
to Captain Ward his plantation, where immediately we fell to hewing
boards for a close deck." He and his men soon fell sick with malaria
and "were sore shaken with burning fever." As their recovery was slow
and winter had overtaken them, Dermer decided to wait until spring
before sailing north. Captain John Ward had arrived in Virginia during
the previous April and was already a member of the House of Burgesses.

Some of the visitors did their shipbuilding more quickly. A Captain
Thomas Young arrived in the colony with two ships on July 3, 1634, and
by July 14, was reported by Governor Harvey to have built two
pinnaces, and that he would be gone in two more days.

Some planters on the larger plantations continued to build their own
ships even after public shipyards had been established in seaport
towns. Flowerdieu Hundred on the James River was a prosperous
plantation, where many vessels were built. It had its own wharf where
large ships could be moored for loading.

Some shipbuilding at Westover on the James River is recorded in the
diary of William Byrd II, who, after the death of his father in 1704,
became owner of the plantation.

In July 1709, Byrd wrote: "I sent the boatmaker to Falling Creek to
build me a little boat for my sea sloop." Two days later he wrote: "I
sent Tom to Williamsburg for John B-r-d to work on my sloop." Later in
the month, he noted that John B-r-d had come in the night to work on
his sloop. In November, he wrote: "In the afternoon we paid a visit to
Mr. Hamilton who lives across the creek. We walked about his
plantation and saw a pretty shallop he was building." In August, 1710,
he wrote that he had taken a walk to see the boatbuilder at work. On
August 9, he wrote that he had paid the builder of his sloop sixty
pounds, which was twenty pounds more than he had agreed for. Later in
the year, he noted that his sloop had gone down to the shipyard at

Byrd acquired a new shipwright who came from England on the ship
_Betty_ in 1711. In March, he wrote that the new shipwright was
offended because he had been given corn pone instead of English bread
for breakfast. He had taken his horse and ridden away without a word.
However, he reported later that the shipwright had returned. On May
15, 1712, Byrd reported that he had engaged Mr. T-r-t-n to build him a
sloop next year. Several years later, he recorded the loss of his
great flat boat, but it was found by a man at Swinyards. Swinyards was
a place for public warehouses and a shipyard, located on the north
bank of the James River, a short distance below Westover, opposite
Windmill Point.

At Berkeley, a neighboring plantation on the James River, owned by
Benjamin Harrison, there were extensive merchant mills and a large
shipyard where vessels were built for the plantation. On October 20,
1768, there appeared a for-sale advertisement in the _Virginia
Gazette_: "A double decked vessel of 110 tons on the stocks at
Berkeley Shipyard, built to carry a great burden, and esteemed a very
fine vessel." Two years later, John Hatley Norton and a Mr. Coutts
were negotiating with Colonel Harrison for the purchase of the ship
_Botetourt_ built there for which they offered 1100 pounds sterling.
"She is as stout a ship as was ever built in America, and we expect
will carry 380 hogsheads of tobacco," wrote Mr. Norton.


When Sir Thomas Smith ended his term as Treasurer of the Company in
1619, among many other charges brought against him by the opposing
faction, it was declared there was left only one old frigate belonging
to Somers' Isles, one shallop, one ship's boat, and two small boats
belonging to private persons. In his defense, Smith referred to the
150 men he had sent to Virginia to set up iron works; the making of
cordage, pitch, tar, pot and soap-ashes from material at hand; the
cutting of timber and masts; and how he had sent men to erect sawmills
for cutting planks for building houses and ships. In justification of
Smith and himself, Robert Johnson, alderman, a leader during Smith's
administration, drew up an account in which he stated among other
evidences of prosperity that barks, pinnaces, shallops, barges, and
other boats had been built in the colony; but this statement was not
accepted as fact.

Sir Edwin Sandys succeeded Smith as Treasurer; and in the Earl of
Southampton's administration in 1621, a list of improvements was drawn
up, among which it was claimed that the number of boats was ten times
multiplied and that there were four ships owned by the colony. A reply
to this may be taken from _An Answer to a Declaration of the Present
State of Virginia in May_, 1623, in which it was declared that the
new administration was many degrees behind the old government, for in
those times there were built boats of all sorts, barges, pinnaces,
frigates, hoyes, shallops and the like.

The great massacre in March, 1622, put an immediate check on any
progress in boatbuilding in the colony. For a time the settlers were
panic stricken, and there was much talk of assembling all the
remaining settlers on the Eastern Shore, but happily, wiser counsel
prevailed. That the few boatwrights then in the colony perished is
considered probable from the fact that none could be found to repair a
boat that had drifted ashore at Elizabeth City after the massacre.
When writing about the Indian massacre, Captain John Smith, in his
_General History of Virginia_, in a bitter outburst, said: "Yea, they
borrowed our boats to transport themselves over the river to consult
on the develish murder that insued and of our utter extirpation." In
Sir Francis Wyatt's commission to Sir George Yeardley on September 10,
1622, to attack the Indians in punishment for the massacre, he ordered
the use of "such ships, barks, and boats as are now riding in this
river as transports." The ships and barks may well have been English

When Virginia became a Crown Colony in 1624, the reports on the state
of the colony named thirty-eight boats, two shallops, one bark, one
skiff, and one canoe, but this was considered inaccurate as many
plantations did not report their vessels.


Every colonizing expedition to the New World had been deeply impressed
by the wealth of shipbuilding materials to be found. The English were
particularly enthusiastic, since the scarcity of timber in England was
very serious. Here, in Virginia, were to be found all that was needed
for building ships: "oakes there are as faire, straight and tall and
as good timber as any can be found, a great store, in some places very
great. Walnut trees very many, excellent faire timber above four-score
foot, straight without a bough." The report went on in praise of the
tall pine trees fit for the tallest masts, and the kinds of woods for
making small boats: mulberry, sassafras, and cedar. Other materials
were not wanting: iron ore, pitch, tar, rosin, and flax for making
rope. The colonists saw in this wealth of materials a new source of
supply at one-half of the previous cost. Both England and Holland had
been purchasing their shipbuilding materials from Poland and Prussia
at a cost of a million pounds sterling annually. One enthusiastic
Englishman, when he heard these reports, wrote: "We shall fell our
timber, saw our planks, and quickly make good shipping there, and
shall return thence with good employment, an hundred sayle of ships

When Captain Newport returned to England in June, 1607, he carried
with him a request, from the colonists to the company, for carpenters
to build houses, and shipwrights to build boats. Upon Newport's return
in 1608, he brought with him a number of Poles and Dutchmen to erect
sawmills for the production of boards for houses and boats. This did
not prove to be a successful venture. Further attempts were made in
1619, and later, to establish sawmills in the colony. Instructions
sent to Governor Wyatt, in 1621, bade him "to take care of the Dutch
sent to build sawmills, and seat them at the Falls, that they may
bring their timber by the current of the water." Repeated appeals had
been made to the Company for ship-carpenters without success. In
January, 1621, the Governor and Council joined in an appeal for
workmen to build vessels, of various kinds, for the use of the people
in making discoveries, in trading with their neighbors, and in
transporting themselves and goods from one place to another. In reply,
a letter from the Company, in August, gave the encouraging news, that
in the spring, the Company would send an excellent shipwright with
thirty or forty carpenters. In preparation, they were advised to fell
a large number of black oak trees, and bark as many others. The
Company expected the sawmill to provide the planks and suggested a
place near the sawmill and ironworks for the shipyard. A thousand
pounds had been underwritten by private persons for sending the
shipwrights and carpenters who were promised by the end of April at
the latest.

The next spring, in May, the Council received notice that sailing on
the ship _Abigail_ were Captain Thomas Barwick and twenty-five other
persons for building boats, ships and pinnaces. They were to be
established together in an area of at least twelve hundred acres, and
were to be employed only in the trade for which they were sent. Four
of the Company's oxen were to be assigned to them for use in hauling
the timber.

Captain Barwick and his men settled in Jamestown. At first they were
employed in building houses for themselves and afterward began to
build shallops, the most convenient and satisfactory vessels, for
transporting tobacco to the large ships. Soon several of the men were
ill, from malaria it was thought, and by the end of the year many of
them had died. A letter from George Sandys, in March, to Deputy
Treasurer Ferrar, sent by the ship _Hopewell_, told the discouraging
news. He deplored the failure of the shipbuilding project caused by
the death of Captain Barwick and many of his shipbuilders, "wherein if
you blame us, you must blame the hand of God." He attributed the
pestilent fever that raged in the colony to the infected people that
came over in the _Abigail_, "who were poisened with stinking beer, all
falling sick and many dying, everywhere dispersing the contagion." Not
only the shipbuilders, but almost all the passengers of the _Abigail_,
died immediately, upon their landing. The contagion even spread to the
cattle and other domestic animals, it was said.

On March 31, 1626, Thomas Munn (?) came before the Council and the
General Court of Virginia and swore that he was at the making of a
small shallop, by direction of Captain Barwick, and that afterward
this boat was sold to Captain William Eppes, for two hundred pounds of
tobacco, and "as yet the debt is not satisfied unto any man." Upon the
death of Captain Barwick, Munn had delivered to George Sandys,
Treasurer, a list of debts owing, and this debt had never been paid.

Adam Dixon, who came over in the _Margaret and John_, was sent by
the Company as a master calker of ships and boats. He was living at
Pashbehays, near Jamestown, in 1624. As the years went by, a number of
shipwrights came to the colony from time to time, and were engaged in
private shipyards on plantations, or set up shipyards of their own.
Orphan boys were sometimes apprenticed to these shipbuilders until
they reached the age of twenty-one. They were expected to be taught to
read, write and cipher in addition to learning the trade of

Many of the shipwrights who came to Virginia in the seventeenth
century, became land owners, some of them owning large tracts of land,
as shown by county records, especially in the Tidewater area. In
Lancaster on the Rappahannock River, John Meredith, a shipwright,
obtained, by patent, a tract of fifty acres. His sale of 600 acres is
recorded, also a contract to build a sloop and a small boat, in
payment of a debt of 47,300 pounds of tobacco.

In Rappahannock County records, we find shipwright Simon Miller, a
noted shipbuilder, who owned a tract of 125 acres; and John Griffin, a
shipwright, who, in 1684, recorded a deed to Colonel Cadwalader Jones
for a bark of fifty odd tons, for the consideration of fifty pounds

The first John Madison of Virginia, great-great-grandfather of
President James Madison, acquired considerable land in Virginia by the
importation of immigrants; in a land patent dated 1682, he called
himself a ship-carpenter. At this time, good ships of three hundred
tons and over were being built in Virginia, and probably John Madison
aided in the construction of one or more of these. It is evident that
many of the shipwrights, who came to Virginia from England, found the
life of a planter more desirable than that of a shipbuilder, while
some of them combined the two occupations.


The Council and General Court of Virginia were called upon
occasionally to settle controversies over vessels of various kinds and
to hear reports concerning others. The following reports are from the
records of the Court for 1622 to 1632.

At an early date, Robert Poole reported a trading voyage with the
Indians for Mr. "Treasurer," in the pinnace _Elizabeth_, during
which he gave ten arms length of blue beads for one tub of corn and
over, and thirteen arms length for another tub. Anne Cooper complained
that her late husband, Thomas Harrison, loaned a shallop to Lieutenant
George Harrison, late deceased. It was ordered by the Court that she
should receive one hundred pounds of merchantable tobacco from George
Harrison's estate.

An argument between John Utie and Bryan Caught resulted in the order
that the latter should build Utie a shallop eighteen feet, six inches
keel; six feet, six inches breadth; with masts, oars, yard and rudder,
and to find the 1100 nails and six score "ruff and clench" desired.
Utie was to pay Bryan for building the shallop six score pound weight
of tobacco, and to furnish the help of a boy and the boy's diet. Also,
he was to pay Bryan six score pounds of tobacco for a boat previously
built for him.

Captain Francis West, a member of the Council, desired that he be
given the use of the Spanish frigate with all her tackle, apparel,
munitions, masts, sails, yards, etc., that had been captured by John
Powell, with a shallop built for that purpose, on an expedition to the
West Indies in the man-of-war, _Black Bess_. He was required to pay
1200 pounds of tobacco to the captain and men.

In trading for corn for Southampton Hundred, John Powntis was allowed
a barrel of the corn for the use of his pinnace.

Mr. Proctor had to pay Mr. Perry fifty pounds of tobacco for splitting
Perry's shallop. Later, a shallop, which Edmund Barker sold to Mr.
Rastall's men, was ordered returned to Mr. Perry, and Edmund Barker to
be paid fifty pounds of tobacco for mending the shallop. To settle a
charge against Thomas Westone by several men, he was ordered to appear
before the Governor with his pinnace. At a later meeting, Thomas
Ramshee swore that Westone was owner of the ship _Sparrow_ and "did
set her out of his own charge, from London to Virginia." This was an
early seagoing vessel of a colonist, but whether built in Virginia, or
purchased, is not stated.

Nicholas Weasell received the most severe penalty, in cases concerning
boats, when he was ordered to serve Henry Geny the rest of the year
from February, for taking away Geny's boat without leave, "whereupon
it was bilged and spoiled."

Captain Claiborne purchased a shallop with appurtenances from Captain
John Wilcox who had been "at the plantation called Accomack" since
1621. He paid Wilcox 400 pounds of tobacco for the shallop, and sold
it to Thomas Harwood. Captain Wilcox failed to make delivery, and the
court ordered the attorney of Captain Wilcox to make satisfaction to
Thomas Harwood.

The court was called upon to settle a controversy between Captain
William Tucker and Mr. Roland Graine about a boat. A Mrs. Hurte was
named as the owner of another ship in the colony, the _Truelove_,
formerly owned by John Cross, deceased in England. A much discussed
case was that of William Bentley, on trial for the killing of Thomas
Godby, which resulted when Mr. Conge's boat ran ashore at Merry Point,
near William Parker's house. While there, Bentley, who had arrived in
the boat, got into a quarrel and fight with Godby, and was accused of
killing him.

These Court records show that most of the cases concerned vessels
built in the colony: boats, pinnaces, and shallops. The ships
mentioned were evidently of English make. The shallop was the most
popular boat for use in the colony. It was a small boat from sixteen
to twenty feet in length, fitted with one or two masts and oars, and
suitable for exploring the creeks and rivers, collecting corn from the
Indians, and transporting tobacco to waiting ships.


The Eastern Shore records are among the earliest in Virginia.
Shipbuilding in the early days has been ably discussed by Dr. Susie M.
Ames in _Studies of the Virginia Eastern Shore in the Seventeenth
Century_. In 1630, John Toulson, or Poulson, built a pinnace at
Nassawadox in which he had one-half interest. Richard Newport, one of
Captain Christopher Newport's sons, while living in Northampton
County, bought a shallop from the carpenter, Thomas Savage, for the
use of the merchant, Henry Brookes, for which Savage was paid twenty
pounds sterling. William Berry, another Eastern Shore carpenter, made
an agreement with Philip Taylor, one of William Claiborne's men,
during the Kent Island controversy, to make him a boat, twenty by ten
feet, provided Taylor furnished the boards for the deck between the
forecastle and the cabin. For this, Berry was to receive two cows with
calf and four hundred pounds of tobacco. During the dispute over Kent
Island, a pinnace, belonging to Captain Claiborne, was taken by the

Obedience Robins, a well-known citizen of the Eastern Shore, acquired
from the boatwright, William Stevens, a shallop, twenty-six feet in
length, with masts, yards, and oars. He owned a pinnace also, which he
had named _Accomack_. A number of lawsuits on the Eastern Shore in the
1640's, involved boats and ship materials. Philip Taylor was indebted
to William Stevens for one house, four days on a shallop, valued at
one pound sterling, six gallons of tar, and 1250 nails of various
sizes. Payment was ordered made to the overseers of the estate of
Daniel Cugley of one small boat, twenty-four yards of canvas, twenty
gallons of tar, and ninety ten-grote nails, supplies for making a
boat. Another court order concerned the delivery of a boat, and 3500
six-penny nails lent by John Neale. Ambrose Nixon testified that he
and his mate had built a boat for Randall Revell. In 1638, two
planters of Accomack, Nicholas White and one Barnaby, made voyages to
New England in their own vessels. The names of Walter Price and
Christopher Stribling shipwrights are listed in the early records of
Northampton County.


The General Assembly of Virginia encouraged shipbuilding by such laws
as those enacted during 1662: "Be it enacted that every one that shall
build a small vessel with a deck be allowed, if above twenty and under
fifty tons, fifty pounds of tobacco per ton; if above fifty and under
one hundred tons, one hundred pounds of tobacco per ton; if above one
hundred tons, two hundred pounds per ton. Provided the vessel is not
sold except to an inhabitant of this country in three years."

Other encouragement by Virginia to owners of vessels, built by them,
was the exemption of the two shillings export duties per hogshead of
tobacco; the exemption from castle duties; the reduction to two pence
per gallon on imported liquor from the four pence required of foreign
vessels; and the exemption from duties imposed on shipmasters on
entering and clearing, and for licenses and bond where necessary.

The English government discouraged manufacture in the colonies that
would compete with home manufactures, but the building of ships was an
exception. England needed ships and granted the colonies the right to
build as many as they could. Throughout the whole period of royal
government, there were enacted various laws remitting the duties on
imports brought in on native ships and remission of tonnage duties.
This aroused the resentment of the English shipbuilders, who had
endeavored to put a stop to the building of ships of any size in the
colonies. They were alarmed, too, at the laws passed in the colonies
to encourage shipbuilding and complained that they had been
discriminated against. Resolutions were passed by Parliament to
investigate such laws framed in the colonies, and a bill, based upon
these resolutions was proposed, but never introduced.

However, in 1680, Governor Culpeper was ordered to annul the laws
exempting Virginia owners of vessels constructed in the colony from
duties on exported tobacco and castle duties. The grounds upon which
this order was based were (1) the injustice of granting privileges to
Virginia ship owners, not enjoyed by the owners of English vessels,
trading in Virginia waters; (2) the success of the navigation laws
would be impaired by creating a Virginia fleet, able to transport
tobacco, without the assistance of English vessels; and (3) owners of
English ships might be tempted to order them as belonging to
Virginians. Since the Virginia fleet in 1681, was composed of two
ships, as mentioned by John Page, in a petition to Lord Culpeper, the
English were thought to be unnecessarily alarmed.

During the 1660's, following the laws of the General Assembly, a
number of Virginia built ships were recorded. There was much
shipbuilding activity on the Eastern Shore. The mate of the _Royal
Oake_, when caught trading illegally, stated that the owner had
another boat in the house of a Mr. Waters, and also had a sloop being
built there. About this time, a shipwright agreed to build between May
and October, for William Whittington, a sloop of twenty-six feet keel,
and breadth in proportion, receiving for his work 4,400 pounds of
tobacco. In 1666, John Goddon entered a claim for a vessel of
twenty-five tons built for him in Accomack. John Bowdoin built a
brigantine which he named _Northampton_.

The size of the vessels built in Virginia had been increasing
steadily. Thomas Ludwell, Secretary of the Colony, reported, in 1655,
that there had been built recently, several small vessels which could
make voyages along the coast, presumably sloops. Again, in a letter to
Lord Arlington, Secretary Ludwell made the following statement: "We
have built several vessels to trade with our neighbors, and do hope
ere long to build bigger ships and such as may trade with England."

Colonel Cuthbert Potter of Lancaster County, who was sent on a mission
to ascertain the truth of the reported Indian depredations in
Massachusetts and New York, was an early settler in the colony, and
had acquired large land holdings in Middlesex County. About 1660, he
removed to Barbadoes in his own sloop, the _Hopewell_.

In 1665, James Fookes agreed to build for the widow, Mrs. Ann Hack, a
sloop that would carry thirty-five hogsheads of tobacco, if Mrs. Hack
would supply the plank and a barrel of tar; Fookes agreed to finish
the job by the 25th of December. The following summer, at the
plantation of Mrs. Hack, Fookes made a formal contract with the
brother of Mrs. Hack, Augustine Herrman of Bohemia Manor in Maryland,
to build a sloop and have it ready by the following October. Herrman
is well-known for his 1673 map of Maryland and Virginia. Twenty years
later, the dimensions of the _Phenix_, another vessel built by Fookes,
were given: length of keel, forty feet; breadth, fourteen feet, nine
inches inside; depth, eight feet, ten inches.

In the English _News Letter_ of March 12, 1666, was carried an
encouraging news item: "A frigate of between thirty and forty [tuns?],
built in Virginia, looks so fair, it is believed that in a short time,
they will get the art of building as good frigates as there are in
England." At that time, a new fort was being erected at Point Comfort,
and it was ordered that every ship riding in the James River should
send one carpenter with provisions and tools to work on this fort.

In 1667, Mrs. Sarah Whitby, widow of John Whitby, petitioned the King
in Council as follows: "The petitioner with other planters in Virginia
are owners of the ship _America_, built in Virginia by Captain Whitby,
and pray for a license, for the said vessel with six mariners, to
proceed to Virginia." The workmanship of the _America_ and her fine
appearance had aroused the interest of the English, and expectations
arose that Virginia might soon become skillful in building large

In a reply by Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, to an
inquiry by the Lords Commissioners of Foreign Plantations, in 1671, as
to the number of ships that trade yearly with the colony, he answered
that there were a number of ships from England and Ireland and a few
ketches from New England, but never at one time more than two
Virginia-owned vessels, and they not more than twenty tons burden. He
stated further that the severe Act of Parliament which excluded the
colony from commerce with any other nation, was the reason why "no
small or great vessels are built here." But other records of the time
contradict Berkeley's statement as to the number and size of vessels
built in the colony. In addition to those mentioned above, there is
found in the records of York County, an itemized cost of building a
sloop, the total amount being 4,467 pounds of tobacco. The various
materials were furnished by the owners: Richard Meakins, 950 feet of
plank; Mr. Newell, the rigging; Captain Sheppard, the sail; and Mr.
Williams, the rudder iron. About four months were required to complete
the vessel, charges for food running that length of time, during which
a cask of cider was consumed. Some sloops were made large enough to
hold as many as fifty hogsheads of tobacco, and could sail outside the
coast. The sloop _Amy_, with fourteen hogsheads of tobacco, sailed
from Virginia to London in 1690.

Dr. Lyon G. Tyler in _The Cradle of the Republic_ wrote that as early
as 1690, ships of 300 tons were built in Virginia, and trade in the
West Indies was conducted in small sloops. Lieutenant John West of the
Eastern Shore, stating that he had built a vessel of forty-five tons,
decked and fitted for sea, petitioned the court for a certificate to
the Assembly as encouragement for so doing. Two other shipwrights,
Thomas Fookes and Robert Norton, testified as to the weight of the
vessel. West was evidently seeking the subsidy of fifty pounds of
tobacco for building a vessel "above twenty and under fifty tons,"
under the law of 1662.

John West was evidently considered an excellent boatwright and
carpenter, for in an indenture of the year 1697, made between him and
Robert Glendall, late of Elizabeth City County, West is enjoined by
the court to do his utmost to instruct Glendall in sloop and boat
building, and in such other carpenter's work as he was "knowing in."

In his testimony before the Board of Trade on September 1, 1697, as to
the manufactures in Virginia, Major Wilson stated that very good ships
were built in Virginia of 300 tons and upwards; but cordage, iron, and
smith's work were "brought thither." During that year, a group of
merchants in Bristol, England, had a number of ships constructed in
Virginia. They were influenced by the fine quality of timber and the
small cost of the work, as compared with the cost of similar work in
England. Also, a matter of no small importance, a cargo of tobacco was
ready for each completed ship.

The wills of deceased persons sometimes revealed ownership of vessels.
Of particular interest is the will of Nathaniel Bacon, Senior, in
which he left to his wife and his nephew, Lewis Burwell, "all ships or
parts of ships ... to me belonging in any part of the world." These
were to be disposed of by Abigail, his wife, and the nephew as they
saw fit. An inventory of the estate of one Thomas Lloyd of Richmond
County, on October 27, 1699, lists one decked sloop on the stocks,
unfinished, of about thirty tons; one small open sloop newly launched,
not finished, of twenty-five tons; one new flat, one old ditto; one
old barge; one parcel of handsaws, etc.

Sir Edmund Andros, Governor of Virginia, in answering the inquiries of
the Council of Trade and Plantations, the clearing house for colonial
affairs, in the year 1698, stated that there were 70,000 inhabitants
in Virginia, and the number of vessels reported by the owners were
four ships, two barks, four brigantines, and seventeen sloops. His
report for the previous year had named eight ships, eleven
brigantines, and fifteen sloops that had been built for which
carpenters, iron work, rigging, and sails had been brought from


The building of ships, barkentines and sloops in Virginia, during the
early years of the eighteenth century, had so increased that the
Master Shipbuilders of the River Thames addressed a petition to the
King in 1724, stating that by the great number of ships and other
vessels lately built, then building, and likely to be built in the
colonies, the trade of the petitioners was very much decayed, and
great numbers of them for want of work to maintain their families, had
of necessity left their native country and gone to America. They felt
that not only British trade and navigation had suffered thereby, but
danger existed in fitting out the Royal Navy in any extraordinary
emergency. This petition applied to the northern colonies
particularly, as they were far ahead of Virginia in shipbuilding, but
the southern colonies were included. As we have seen, many shipwrights
came to Virginia and acquired large tracts of land and became

In the narrative of his travels in Virginia, with some companions
early in the eighteenth century, Francis Louis Michel of Berne,
Switzerland, related that when he was within fifty miles of the coast,
he saw two ships, the larger, one of the most beautiful merchantmen he
had ever seen. Because it was built in Virginia, it was named _Indian
King_ or _Wild King_, he did not remember which. Three years before,
it had fallen into the hands of pirates, so the narrative related, but
had been rescued by the British warship _Shoreham_, and sixty pirates
of all nations taken prisoners, all of whom were hanged in England.

How many vessels were built or repaired at the Point Comfort shipyard
is not known. At a meeting of the Council of Virginia in May, 1702, a
letter from Captain Moodie stated that he had fitted up a very
convenient place at Point Comfort for careening Her Majesty's ships of
war, or any other ships that came to the colony; and he proposed that
some care be taken and some person appointed to have charge of the
situation. This arrangement was confirmed by a letter from Lieutenant
Governor Alexander Spotswood to the British Admiralty on October 24,
1710, in which he wrote that for the convenience of careening, there
is a place at Point Comfort which, with a small charge, could be
fitted up for that purpose; H.M.S. _Southampton_ had careened there,
and there may be served the largest ships of war, which Her Majesty
will have occasion to send to Virginia as cruisers or convoys. This
careening site at Point Comfort provided long-needed facilities for
careening vessels for repairs and scraping bottoms. As early as 1633,
David Pietersz de Vries from Holland, arrived at Jamestown with a
leaky ship, but found no facilities in the colony for careening
vessels. He found it necessary to sail to New Netherlands for such
repairs. As late as 1700, when the _Shoreham_, a fifth rate frigate,
was the Chesapeake Bay guardship, Captain Passenger, her commander,
wrote to Governor Nicholson: "I have only to offer (may your
Excellency think convenient) about the latter end of September to
careen the _Shoreham_. She is at present very foul, and the rudder is
loose, which I fear before the next summer, may be of dangerous
consequences which cannot be removed, without careening or lying
ashore, which I presume there is no place in Virginia, that will admit
of." It is thought, however, that there must have been careening
places in the colony for the smaller vessels, or how else could the
pinnaces and sloops have been kept in repair.

Sloops became popular in the eighteenth century, and a number of them
were built in Virginia to be disposed of in the West Indies. After the
sloop was finished, she received a cargo of tobacco, and vessel and
tobacco were sold together. Because of the danger from pirates and
Spanish interference, the sloops for the West Indies trade were
designed especially for speed and maneuverability. The pilot boat
evolved in the colony quite early. An advertisement appeared in the
_Virginia Gazette_, on July 22, 1737, for a pilot boat stolen or
gone adrift from York River. The boat was twenty-four feet keel, nine
feet beam, with two masts and sails, and was painted red. Another
advertisement in September, 1739, concerning a boat stolen from
Newport News, on the James River, by one James Hobbs, a carpenter. The
boat was about fifteen feet keel, had two masts, and was payed with
pitch. It had a new arch thort of black walnut, and a tarpaulin upon
the forecastle.

Norfolk became one of the busiest ports in Virginia, both in
shipbuilding and ship repair work. A shipyard had been established on
the Elizabeth River in 1621 by John Wood and work had been almost
continuous, though at times very slow, throughout the seventeenth
century. An inventory in 1723, listed one brigantine, three sloops,
and three flats owned by Robert Tucker. One of the sloops was forty
feet in length and valued at 230 pounds sterling. Captain Samuel
Tatum owned the ship _Caesar_, which was said to be worth 625 pounds
sterling, and the sloop _Indian Creek_ valued at twenty-five pounds.
William Byrd in his _History of the Dividing Line_, states that he saw
at Norfolk, in 1728, twenty sloops and brigantines. Some of them were
quite evidently of English origin. In 1736, the sloop _Industry_,
"lately built in Norfolk," was loaded with tobacco in the James River
to take to London.

Captain Goodrich, master of the ship _Betty_ of Liverpool, which
was built on the Elizabeth River for the Maryland trade, was permitted
by the Council of Virginia, to sail to Liverpool without the payment
of the usual port duties. The firm of John Glasford and Company
contracted with Smith Sparrows in 1761, for a ship built at Norfolk,
sixty feet in length, sixteen feet in the lower hold, and four feet
between decks, the price being fifty shillings per ton.

Many of the shipwrights, who came to Virginia and became land owners,
settled in Norfolk. That port was especially known for this kind of
citizen, ranking next to the merchant in wealth and influence. Among
house owners were some ship-carpenters who carried on their trade,
receiving for a day's work four shillings and a pint of rum, more
wages than the salary of some clergymen. Several shipwrights listed in
Lower Norfolk were large property owners. Abraham Elliott owned land
both in Virginia and England. One John Ealfridge owned one-half
interest in a mill, and acquired a plantation for each of his two sons
in addition to his own.

To secure a large sum of money due Robert Cary of London, Theophilus
Pugh of Nansemond County mortgaged his lands, slaves, and vessels with
all their boats. The vessels were listed as follows: ships, _William
and Betty_, _Prosperous Esther_; sloops, _Little Molly_, _Little
Betty_; schooners, _Nansemond Frigate_, _Pugh_. If the average planter
had owned the equivalent of two ships, two sloops and two schooners,
the total number of vessels in Virginia in the middle of the
eighteenth century would have far exceeded any inventory reported.

The frame of a snow, which was to have been built by Thomas Rawlings,
a ship-carpenter, for Mr. John Hood, merchant of Prince George County,
was advertised for sale in 1745. The snow was to have been sixty feet
keel; twenty-three feet, eight inches beam; ten feet hold; and four
feet between decks. Also advertised for sale about the same time was a
schooner, trimmed and well-fitted with sails and rigging to carry
fifty hogsheads of tobacco. In March, 1746, the sloop _Little Betty_,
burden fifty tons, was offered for sale with her sails, anchors,
furniture, and tackle.

The advertisements of Virginia-built vessels in the 1750's, and in the
1760's, show a steady increase in the size of sloops and ships. The
following are mentioned: a brig of eighty tons; several snows, one to
carry 250 hogsheads of tobacco; and several schooners. Schooner rigged
boats appeared in the colony early in the eighteenth century, and
gradually increased in size and importance. During the second half of
the eighteenth century, the schooner displaced the sloop as the
principal coastwise vessel, and emerged during the Revolution as a
distinctive American type. "The most spectacular event in the history
of naval architecture in the eighteenth century was the emergence of
the Chesapeake Bay clipper-schooner," says Arthur Pierce Middleton.

In April, 1767, John Hatley Norton came from London to be his father's
agent with headquarters in Yorktown. He wrote home that his cousins,
the Walker Brothers, had a shipyard at Hampton, and were building
ships of new white oak, well calculated for the West Indies trade. A
letter from John M. Jordon & Company, London, in 1770, reads in part
as follows: "Mr. William Acrill desires you will make insurance of his
brig, _America_, Captain William C. Latimer; in case of loss to
receive four hundred pounds. She is chartered by a gentleman on the
Rappahannock; and is now in Hampton Roads, and will sail tomorrow or
next day; and in case she arrives safe, you are to receive her
freight, and sell the vessel, provided you can get four hundred pounds
for her."

Occasionally, we find an account of the use of a vessel of some kind
or other for pleasure. In Fithian's _Journal and Letters_, the author
writes in 1773, that his employer, Mr. Robert Carter of Nomini,
prepared for a voyage in his schooner _Harriot_ (named for his
daughter), to the Eastern Shore of Maryland for oysters. The schooner
was of forty tons burden, thirty-eight feet in length, fourteen feet
beam, six feet in depth of hold, carried 1400 bushels of grain, and
was valued at forty pounds sterling. Again from the _Journal_: "From
Horn Point, we agreed to ride to one Mr. Camel's, who is Comptroller
of the customs here. Before dinner, we borrowed the Comptroller's
barge, which is an overgrown canoe, and diverted ourselves in the
river which lies fronting his house."

  [Illustration: _Susan Constant._ Replica of the Ship that
  brought the first settlers to Jamestown, 1607
    Photograph by W. T. Radcliffe.]

  [Illustration: Interior of the _Susan Constant_
    Photograph by W. T. Radcliffe.]

  [Illustration: The manner of makinge their boates. XII.

  The manner of makinge their boates in Virginia is verye wonderfull.
  For wheras they want Instruments of yron, or other like vnto ours,
  yet they knowe howe to make them as handsomelye, to saile with whear
  they liste in their Riuers, and to fishe with all, as ours. First
  they choose some longe, and thicke tree, accordinge to the bignes of
  the boate which they would frame, and make a fyre on the grownd
  abowt the Roote therof, kindlinge the same by little, and little
  with drie mosse of trees, and chipps of woode that the flame should
  not mounte opp to highe, and burne to muche of the lengte of the
  tree. When yt is almost burnt thorough, and readye to fall they make
  a new fyre, which they suffer to burne vntill the tree fall of yt
  owne accord. Then burninge of the topp, and bowghs of the tree in
  suche wyse that the bodie of the same may Retayne his iust lengthe,
  they raise yt vppon potes laid ouer cross wise vppon forked posts,
  at suche a reasonable heighte as they may handsomlye worke vppó yt.
  Then take they of the barke with certayne shells: thy reserue
  the innermost parte of the lennke, for the nethermost parte of the
  boate. On the other side they make a fyre accordinge to the lengthe
  of the bodye of the tree, sauinge at both the endes. That which they
  thinke is sufficientlye burned they quenche and scrape away with
  shells, and makinge a new fyre they burne yt agayne, and soe they
  continue sometymes burninge and sometymes scrapinge, vntill the boate
  haue sufficient bothowmes. This god indueth thise sauage people with
  sufficient reason to make thinges necessarie to serue their turnes.

  From Hariot's _Virginia_.

  Indian Dugout Canoe]

  [Illustration: Rose's Tobacco Boat, 1749]

  [Illustration: Rucker's Tobacco Boat, 1771
    From Percy's _Piedmont Apocalypse_.]

  [Illustration: Shallop
    From a sketch by Gordon Grant.]

  [Illustration: _Discovery_. Replica of the pinnace that
  accompanied the _Susan Constant_, 1607
    Photograph by W. T. Radcliffe.]

  [Illustration: Construction of the _Discovery_, after
  Seventeenth-Century Shipbuilding
    Photograph by W. T. Radcliffe.]

  [Illustration: An Early Shipyard
    From Abbot's _American Merchant Ships_.]

    From Ralamb's _Skeps Byggerij_, 1691.
    Trans. by J. Aasland, Jr., Hampton, Va.

  Early Shipbuilding Tools used in Sweden and Other Countries

  1--English Broad Axe. 2--Compass. 3--Compass with Chalk Holder.
  4--Chalk Line on Roller. 5--Compass. 6--Axe for Holes. 7--Ruler.
  8--Tongue on Ruler 1-1/2 ft. 9--Dutch Ruler. 10--Tongue on Ruler for
  Ship layout. 11--Swedish Cutting Axe. 12--Trimming Hatchet. 13--Hook
  for removing old calking. 14--English Adz. 15--Adz. 16--Swedish or
  Dutch Adz. 17--English Handsaw. 18--Handsaw with Handle. 19--Mallet.
  20--Hammer. 21--Claw Hammer. 22--Circle Saw. 23--Auger. 24--Dutch
  Brace Auger. 25--English Wood Chisel. 26--Wood Chisel. 27--English
  Mallet. 28--Gouge. 29--Swedish Mallet. 30--Gouge. 31--Gouge.
  32--Gouge. 33--Calking Mallet. 34--Calking Tool. 35--Spike Iron.
  36--Calking Tool. 37--Calking Mallet. 38--English Gouge. 39--Calking
  Iron. 40--Lubricating Tool, also for removing pitch. 41--Hook for
  removing oakum or old calking. 42--Calking Iron. 43--Calking Iron.
  44--Tool used to clean out seams. 45--Calking Iron. 46--Calking
  Iron. 47--Scraper.]

  [Illustration: Shipwrights Drawing, 1586
    From Pepysian MSS in Magdalene College, Cambridge, England.]

  [Illustration: H.M.S. _Mediator_, a Virginia Sloop of about
  1741, Purchased for the Royal Navy in 1745
    Drawn by H. I. Chapelle from Admiralty Records.]

  [Illustration: Sloops in the York River between Yorktown and
  Gloucester Point
    From an original drawing, 1755.]

  [Illustration: Chesapeake Bay Log Canoe under construction
    From Brewington's _Chesapeake Bay Log Canoes_.]

  [Illustration: A Virginia Pilot Boat with a view of Cape Henry
    From _Naval Chronicle_, 1815.]

  [Illustration: American Schooner off Coast of Virginia, 1794
    From a watercolor by G. Tobin in the National Maritime Museum,

  [Illustration: British Schooner
    From a painting of Curacao, 1785.]

  [Illustration: Seventeenth-Century Shipyard in England
    From the Science Museum, South Kensington, London.]

  [Illustration: Careening Ships in England, 1675
    From the Science Museum, South Kensington, London.]

  [Illustration: English Ketch, about 1700
    From R. C. Anderson's _Sailing Ships_.]

  [Illustration: Brigantine, about 1720
    From Williams' _Sailing Vessels of the Eighteenth Century_.]

  [Illustration: Brig
    From Williams' _Sailing Vessels of the Eighteenth Century_.]

  [Illustration: Snow
    From Williams' _Sailing Vessels of the Eighteenth Century_.]

  [Illustration: Small Galley-built Vessel, Ship-rigged, 1714
    From the Archives in the Custom House, London.]

  [Illustration: SS _United States_, Built at the Newport News
  Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. Latest shipbuilding in Virginia,
  to compare with Seventeenth-Century Craft
    Photograph by W. T. Radcliffe.]


In the early days of the colony after tobacco had become a commodity
for export, ships moored at the wharves of the plantations along the
James, York and Rappahannock rivers and their estuaries. As trade
increased, larger ships were used which anchored in the channels of
the rivers, and the tobacco and other exports were carried to them by
small boats--shallops, sloops, and barges. The government complained
that it was losing revenue by this individualistic and unorganized
shipping of the planters, and steps were taken to correct this. In
1633, it was enacted by the General Assembly that all goods entering
in any vessel--ship, bark or brig, should discharge at Jamestown. This
Act applied to the colonists in their exports as well, but the law was

In 1680, places were selected in the different counties that had the
advantage of accessibility and deep water where ships could gather to
receive and discharge their cargoes. The establishment of these
trading towns, as they were called, was by an Act as follows:

    The General Assembly having taken into consideration the great
    necessity, usefulness and advantages of cohabitation ... and
    considering the building of storehouses for the reception of all
    merchandizes imported, and receiving and laying ready all tobacco
    for exportation and sale ... that there be in every respective
    county fifty acres of land purchased by each county and laid out
    for a town and storehouses....

The price of the fifty acres of land was set at 10,000 pounds of
tobacco and casks. Lots of one-half acre were to be sold to
individuals by a stated time at the price of one hundred pounds of
tobacco. Twenty places were named in the counties where trading towns
were to be established:

    Henrico, at Varina. Charles City, at Flower de Hundred opposite
    Swinyards. Surry, at Smith's fort. James City, at James City. Isle
    of Wight, at Pate's Field, Pagan creek. Nansemond, at Huff's
    point. Warwick, at the mouth of Deep creek. Elizabeth City, west
    side of Hampton river. Lower Norfolk, on Nicholas Wise's land.
    York, on Mr. Reed's land. New Kent, at the Brick House.
    Gloucester, at Tindal's point. Middlesex, west side of Wormley's
    creek. Rappahannock, at Hobb's hole. Stafford, at Peace point.
    Westmoreland, at Nomini. Accomack, at Onancock. Northampton, north
    side of King's creek. Lancaster, north side of Corotomond creek.
    Northumberland, at Chickacone creek.

The towns were building up. Warehouses, churches, and prisons were
erected in many of them, as well as private dwellings. An occasional
court house could be found where legal proceedings were enacted. In
1691, however, an Act of the General Assembly changed many of the
trading towns to ports, but was suspended later until the pleasure of
the King and Queen on the subject should be learned. No definite
action was taken until 1705, when Queen Anne, who ascended the throne
in 1702, expressed approval. Then an Act for ports of entry and
clearance was passed to be in use from the 25th of December, 1708.
This Act provided that naval officers and collectors at the ports
should charge Virginia owners of vessels no more than half of the fees
required for the services of entering and clearing. The sixteen towns
to become ports were named as follows:

    Hampton. Norfolk. Nansemond. James City. Powhatan (Flower de
    Hundred). Yorktown. Queensborough, at Blackwater. Delaware, at
    West Point. Queenstown, at Corrotoman. Urbanna, at Middlesex.
    Tappahannock, at Hobb's hole. New Castle, at Wicomico. Kingsdale,
    at Yohocomoco. Marlborough, at Potomac creek. Northampton, at
    King's creek. Onancock.

The names of some of the trading towns were changed when they became
ports, and soon became important and well-known throughout the
country. Hampton, known first by the Indian name Kecoughtan (spelled
in various ways) was settled in 1610. Although the name had been
changed to Elizabeth City by the Company in May, 1620, upon the
petition of the colonists, the old Indian name was still in use
occasionally in the 18th century. In papers relating to the
administration of Governor Nicholson is a list of vessels about to
sail from "Keccowtan" in July 1705, sixty-seven sail of merchant ships
bound for various ports of Great Britain. The names Kecoughtan,
Elizabeth City, Lower James, and even Southampton were used
interchangeably, and shown on records of the colony, until the Act of
1705, named the port Hampton. In British colonial records of 1700, we
find Hampton Town, Elizabeth City and Keccowtan used in the same

F. C. Huntley in his _Seaborne Trade in Virginia in Mid-Eighteenth
Century_, published in the _Virginia Magazine of History_, vol. 59,
makes the statement that in the 18th century, Port Hampton handled the
largest amount of shipping of all the Virginia ports, judging from the
total tonnage of vessels entering and clearing as given in the records
of the Naval Officers. He uses 1752, as a normal trade year of which
he gives interesting statistics. He states that the tonnages that
entered and cleared the Port Hampton naval office were distributed
among five different types of rigging. Cleared: 64 sloops, 46
schooners, 16 ships, 20 brigs, 10 snows. Entered: 59 sloops, 40
schooners, 40 ships, 18 brigs, 12 snows. Of these a goodly portion
were built in Virginia.

After taking part in laying the dividing line between Virginia and
North Carolina, William Byrd II wrote on March 28, 1728:

    Norfolk has most the air of a town of any in Virginia. There were
    more than 20 brigantines and sloops riding at the wharves and
    ofttimes they have more. It has all the advantages of a situation
    requisite for trade and navigation. There is a secure harbor for a
    goodly number of ships of any burthen. The town is so near the sea
    that a vessel can sail in and out in a few hours. Their trade is
    chiefly to the West Indies whither they export abundance of beef,
    pork, flour and lumber.

In the _Journal_ of Lord Adam Gordon, Colonel of the 66th Regiment of
Foot, stationed at the West Indies from 1763 to 1775, is extracted the
following: "Norfolk hath a depth of water for a 40-gun ship or more,
and conveniences of every kind for heaving down and fitting out large
vessels; also a very fine ropewalk. There is a passage boat from
Hampton to Norfolk and from York to Gloucester." In the third quarter
of the 18th century, Norfolk became the principal seaport of Virginia.

Yorktown was founded on land patented about 1635 by Nicholas Martiau,
a Walloon who had come to Virginia in the summer of 1620. His
grandson, Benjamin Read, sold fifty acres to the colony in 1691, and
here Yorktown as a port built the first custom house, not only in
Virginia, but in the country. A two-story brick building, erected
about 1715, by Richard Ambler, who occupied the building as collector
of customs for Yorktown in 1720. It became a port of entry for New
York, Philadelphia and other northern cities, the importance of which
was destroyed by the Revolutionary War. York County was one of the
eight original shires in 1634, under the name, Charles river, changed
in 1643 to York. The old custom house is still standing and is used as
a museum for colonial and revolutionary relics.

The location of Alexandria on a large circular bay in the Potomac
river soon gave that town great importance as a port and shipyard. For
generations, tobacco and grain were shipped from there, and imports of
many kinds brought in. Master shipbuilders turned out vessels manned,
owned and operated by Alexandrians. From her ropewalk came the rope
to hoist the sails made in her sail lofts. On May 19, 1760, George
Washington went to Alexandria to see Col. Littledale's ship launched.
He tells of another launching he attended there on October 6, 1768,
when he "stayd up all night to a ball."

The two creeks flowing from near Williamsburg to York river on one
side and the James on the other, played an important part in early
colonial history. From York river sloops, schooners, barges and all
manner of flat-bottomed craft sailed up Queen's creek to Queen Mary's
port with its Capitol Landing within a mile of Williamsburg. The same
kind of watercraft sailed from James river up College creek to Queen
Anne's port with its College Landing near the city. Cargoes of
mahogany, lignum vitae, lemons, rum, sugar and ivory were discharged.
Received in return were tobacco, grain, flour and other commodities.
Vessels on Queen's creek were required to pass through the custom
house at Yorktown after that office had been established.

Because of a general complaint by masters of ships that there were
neither pilots nor beacons to guide them in Virginia waters, the
General Assembly appointed Captain William Oewin chief pilot of James
river in March, 1661, to be paid five pounds sterling for the pilotage
of all ships above eighty tons if he be employed, and if not employed
due to the presence of the ship's pilot who guided the vessel, he
received forty shillings. The pilot was required to maintain good and
sufficient beacons at all necessary places, and toward this expense,
the master of every vessel that anchored within Point Comfort, having
or not having a pilot, was required to pay thirty shillings. Later the
pilot or the company to which he belonged was required to keep one
pilot boat of 18 foot keel at least, rigged and provided for use at
all times.


During the first quarter of the seventeenth century, the settler in
Virginia used any kind of craft he possessed to cross the streams that
separated him from his neighbor or for transacting business. Canoes,
flatboats, scows, even sailing boats were pressed into service. These
he propelled himself until he acquired a slave or two. Communication
was aided by bridges across the smaller streams, and when horses
became available, by crossing the rivers at the fords whenever

The steady increase of settlers, however, created a demand for public
transportation across creeks and rivers at the most travelled points.
One of the first public ferries on record was started as a private
enterprise in 1636, by Adam Thoroughgood. A skiff was rowed by slaves
across the waters of Lower Norfolk, between what are now the cities of
Norfolk and Portsmouth. In a few months the demand for transportation
became so strong that the ferry was taken over by the county,
increased to three hand-powered vessels and supported by a levy of six
pounds of tobacco on each taxable person in the county.

A second early ferry was that of Henry Hawley in 1640, when he was
granted a patent by the court to keep a ferry at the mouth of the
Southampton River in Kequoton, now Hampton, for the use of the
inhabitants and other passengers during his natural life, not exacting
above one penny for ferriage according to the offer in his petition.

"For the more ease of travellers," it was enacted by the General
Assembly in January 1642, that the country provide and maintain
ferries and bridges and the levy for payment to the ferrymen be made
by the commissioners where the ferry is kept. This Act, establishing
ferries at public expense, was repealed later and the court of each
county given power to establish a ferry, or ferries in the county
where needed at the instance of individuals. The court had authority
to appoint and license the ferry keeper, to require of him a bond of
twenty pounds sterling payable to His Majesty as security for the
constant use and well-keeping of the boats. It was the duty of the
court to order and direct the boats and hands in use at the ferries.

To encourage men to engage in operating ferries, it was enacted in
1702 that all persons attending on ferryboats should be free from
public and county levies and from such public services as musters,
constables, clearing highways, impressment, etc., and should have
their licenses without fee or paying a reward for obtaining them. And
if the ferryman desired to maintain an ordinary (public inn) at the
ferry, he should be permitted to do so without fee for the license,
but should be required to give bond for security. No other person
should be permitted to establish an ordinary within five miles of such
a ferry keeper. A warning was issued that any person not a ferryman
who for reward should set any person over the river where there was a
ferry, except for going to church, should pay for every such offense
five pounds sterling, one-half to go to the ferryman and one-half to
the informer, the full amount to the ferryman should he be the

The county court was authorized in 1705 to make an agreement with the
keeper of the ferry to set over the county militia on muster days and
to raise an allowance for this in the county levy. All public messages
and expresses to the government were to be allowed to cross ferry
free. The adjutant general with one servant and their horses were
exempted in 1738 from any payment on any ferry in the colony.
Ministers of the church were likewise exempt from paying ferriage.

Dugout canoes of the Indians were among the first ferries used in
Virginia and when more space was needed, two canoes were lashed
together and secured by means of heavy cross pieces. In the _Journal_
of Thomas Chalkley, a traveller in Virginia, he tells of a ferry
crossing made at Yorktown in 1703: "We put our horses into two canoes
tied together, and our horses stood with their fore feet in one and
their hind feet in the other." Later, flatboats, scows, barges, and
more carefully planked boats were put into use. Rope ferries were
necessary wherever the current was swift, but used as little as
possible on navigable rivers because of the obstruction to navigation.

The number of ferries in the colony increased steadily from year to
year. At nearly every session of the General Assembly some law was
enacted "for the good regulation of ferries." In 1705, the Assembly
published a list of ferries with corresponding rates of ferriage that
crossed the James, York, and Rappahannock Rivers and their branches.
The ferries but not the rates are given herewith as follows:

Ferries on JAMES RIVER and branches thereof--

    Henrico county at Varina.

    Bermuda hundred to City Point.

    Charles City county at Westover.

    Appomattox river near Col. Byrd's store.

    Prince George County at Coggan's point, and Maycocks.

    Powhatan town to the Swineherd landing.

    Surry county, Hog island to Archer's Hope.

    Sicamore landing by Windmill point to the widow Jones's landing at

    Mouth of the Upper Chipoake's creek over to the Row, or Martin's

    Swan's point to James Town.

    Crouche's creek to James Town.

    James City county at James Town to Swan's point.

    James Town to Crouche's creek.

    Williamsburg, Princess Ann port to Hog island.

    Chickahominy, at usual place on each side of river.

    John Goddale's to Williams's neck, or Drummond's neck.

    Nansemond county, Coiefield's point to Robert Peale's near Sleepy

    Elizabeth City county at Hampton Town from Town point to Brookes's

    Hampton Town to Sewell's point.

    Norfolk town to Sawyer's point or Lovet's plantation.

Ferries on YORK RIVER and branches--

    New Kent county, Robert Peaseley's to Philip Williams's.

    Brick House to West point.

    Brick House to Graves's.

    King William county, Spencer's over to the usual landing place.

    Thomas Cranshaw to the usual landing place.

    Philip Williams's to Peaseley's point.

    West point to Brick House.

    Abbot's landing over Mattaponi river.

    West Point to Graves's.

    York Town to Tindal's point (Gloucester Point). This ferry was in
    continual operation until 1952 when a fine new bridge was opened
    for travel across the York. The ferriage in 1705 was seven pence
    half penny for a man, fifteen pence for man and horse.

    Queen Mary's port at Williamsburg to Claybank creek in Gloucester

    Captain Matthews's to Capahosack.

    Tindal's point to York town.

    Capahosack to Matthews's landing or Scimmino creek.

    Bailey's over the Peankatank.

    King and Queen county, Graves's to West point.

    Graves's to Brick house.

    Burford's to old Talbot's.

    Captain Walker's mill landing.

    Middlesex county, over Peankatank at Turk's ferry.


    Middlesex county, Shelton's to Mottrom Wright's.

    Brandon to Chowning's point.

    Essex county, Daniel Henry's to William Pannell's.

    Bowler's, at the usual place, to Sucket's point.

    Tappahannock to Webley Pavies, or to Rappahannock creek.

    Henry Long's to the usual place.

    Richmond county, William Pannell's over the Rappahannock.

    Sucket's point to Bowler's.


    Stafford County, Col., William Fitzhugh's landing to Maryland.


    Port of Northampton to the port of York.

    Port of Northampton to the port of Hampton.

Rates on these ferries were fixed by courts and varied according to
distance. Across the Southampton River in Hampton the rate was one
penny, while from the Port of Northampton to Hampton, the price was
fifteen shillings for a man and thirty shillings for a man and horse.

In 1740, the ferry from Hampton to Norfolk was described as follows:
"From the town of Southampton, across the mouth of the James River, to
the borough of Norfolk and Nansemond town; from the borough of Norfolk
and Nansemond town, across the mouth of the James river, to the town
of Southampton." The fare for this trip for a man passing singly was
seven shillings, six pence; for a man and horse, five shillings each.

By February 1743, the ferries across the Chesapeake Bay had been
expanded, and were described as follows: "From York, Hampton and
Norfolk towns, across the Bay to the land of Littleton Eyre on
Hungar's river in Northampton County; from the land of Littleton Eyre
on Hungar's river in Northampton County, across the Bay to York,
Hampton and Norfolk." The rate for a man was twenty shillings, for a
man and horse, fifteen shillings each.

In 1748, another list of ferries, published in Hening's _Statutes_,
showed that the number had more than doubled since 1705. The Potomac
river had added fourteen to the number given at that time. Two ferries
had been established on Nottaway: "From Thomas Drew's land to Dr.
Brown's, and from Bolton's ferry to Simmons' land." The ferries in
addition to those of 1705 are the following:

JAMES RIVER and branches--

    Land of Henry Batte in Henrico County, to the Glebe land at

    Westover in Charles City county, to Maycox, or Coggins point, and
    from Maycox to Westover.

    Kennon's to Maye's on Appomattox river, and from Maye's to

    Joseph Wilkin's or John Hood's land in Prince George county, to
    John Minge's land in Wyanoke.

    Hog-Island, in Surry county, to Higginson's landing on Col. Lewis
    Burwell's land.

    Jamestown to Swan's Point.

    Cowle's to Williams's.

    Cowle's to Hamner's point.

    Crawford's to Powder point.

    Boiling's point in Henrico county, over Appomattox river.

    City point to Shirley hundred, at the ship landing, and from the
    said landing to City Point.

    Ship landing at Shirley to Bermuda hundred.

    Bermuda hundred to City Point.

    Hemp landing at the falls of James river, to Shocoe's, on the land
    of William Byrd, esq.

    Land of Stephen Woodson, in the county of Goochland, to Manacon

    Henry Cary's land, over the river, to the land of the said Cary.

    Henry Batte's, in the county of Henrico, to Alexander Bollings, in
    the county of Prince George.

    Land of Col. Richard Bland, in the county of Prince George, to the
    land of Mrs. Anderson, in the county of Charles City.

    Land of William Pride called the store landing, in the county of
    Henrico, to Anthony's landing, in the county of Prince George.

    Store landing over Persie's stile creek, to the land of Peter

    Warehouse landing at Warwick, to the land of Thomas Moseley.

    Mulberry island point in the county of Warwick, to Cocket's in
    Isle of Wight, and from Cocket's to Mulberry island.

    Land of Richard Mosby in Goochland county, to the land of Tarlton
    Fleming, opposite to Mosby's landing.

    Land of Tucker Woodson, to the land of Paul Micheaux near the
    court house.

    Land of Bennet Goode to the land of Col. John Fleming.

    Land of James Fenly to the land of William Cabbell, cross the

    Charles Lynch's plantation in Albemarle county, on the Rivanna,
    cross the said river, to the land of Richard Meriwether.

    Land of Mr. Benjamin Cocke, cross the said river, to the land of
    the said Benjamin Cocke.

    Land of Ashford Hughes on the north side of James River, near the
    mouth of Willis Creek, cross the river to the land of Robert
    Carter, and from the said Carter's to the said Hughes's.

    Land of Lemuel Riddick, adjoining the public wharf in Suffolk,
    cross Nansemond river, to Samuel Jordan's land.

    Land of William Pride in the county of Herrico, on Appomattox
    river, above the narrow falls, to the land of the said Pride over
    the river, in Prince George county.

    Land of William Cabbell, in Albemarle county, at the mouth of
    Swan's creek, over the Fluvanna, to the land of Samuel Spencer; or
    from the said Cabbell's, over Tye river, to his land opposite.

Additional ferries on the YORK RIVER--

    Chamberlayne's to Williams's.

    Brick House to Dudley's, or Dudley's to Brick House.

    Webb's to Lyde's, formerly Spencer's, in King William county.

    Temple landing, over Mattaponi river.

    West Point to Dudley's, or Dudley's to West point.

    Capahosic to Scimino.

    Seaton's over Piankatank.

    Frazier's to Broach's, and from Broach's to Frazier's.

    Walker town to Waller's, or Waller's to Walker town.

    Turk's ferry over Piankatank.

    Robert King's over Pamunkey to Blackwell's, or from Blackwell's to

    Sweethall to Claiborne Gooch's, or from Claiborne Gooch's to

    George Dabney's over Pamunkey river.

    Taylor's in King William to Garland's in Hanover.

    William Pulliam's in Hanover, to John Holliday's in Caroline.

    Richard Littlepage's to Thomas Claiborne's land, over Pamunkey, and
    from Claiborne's to Littlepage's.

    Todd's warehouse landing, in King and Queen, to the land of Robert
    Armistead Bird, in King William.


    Whiting's to Gilbert's.

    Land of Thomas Ley to Robinson's, or from Robinson's to Ley's.

    Byrd's to Williams', or Williams' to Byrd's.

    Tappahannock town to Carter's, or to Rappahannock creek, on either
    side thereof.

    Tankersley's over Rappahannock river, to the usual place.

    Germanna over the Rapid Ann.

    Ray's plantation to Skinker's.

    Urbanna to Chetwood's.

    Urbanna, from the ferry landing to Locust point, on the land of
    Ralph Wormley, esq.

    Johnston's plantation in Spotsylvania, to Washington's in King

    Taliaferro's plantation of the Mount, to the land of Joseph Berry.

    Philemon Cavenaugh's ford.

    Wharf above the mouth of Massaponax creek, to the opposite landing
    upon Mr. Ball's land.

    Fredericksburg warehouse to the land of Anthony Strother, or from
    Strother's to Fredericksburg.

    Roy's warehouse to Gibson's warehouse.

    William Lowry's to the land of Benjamin Rust, or from Rust's to

    Falmouth to the land of Francis Thornton, in Spotsylvania.

    Hackley's land in King George to Corbin's in Caroline.

    Lot of Joseph Morton, in Leeds town, to the lands of Mrs. Brooke.

    Lower side of Parrot's creek to Teague's creek, on the land of

    Matthews Smith, and from that creek to the lower side of Parrot's

Ferries on the POTOMAC RIVER--

    Col. William Fitzhugh's land at Boyd's hole, over to Maryland.

    Hoe's to Cedar point.

    Tripplet's land below the mouth of Quantico creek, over to
    Brooks's land.

    Robert Lovell's in the county of Westmoreland, over to Maryland.

    Land of William Russel on Sherendo, cross into the fork, or cross
    the main river.

    Kersey's landing on Col. Carter Burwell's land, to the land of
    Col. Landon Carter.

    Gersham Key's land, to the land of the Honourable William Fairfax.

    Williams' Gap, from the land of the Right Honourable the Lord
    Fairfax, where John Melton now lives, to the land of Ralph
    Wormley, Esquire.

    Plantation of George Mason, opposite to Rock creek, over to

    Plantation of John Hereford in [Doegs?] neck, over the river, to
    the lower side of Pamunkey in Maryland.

    Hunting creek warehouse to Frazier's point, or Addison's.

    Land of Ebenezer Floyd to Powell's.

    Evan Watkin's landing, opposite to Canagochego creek, to Edmund
    Wade's land in Maryland.

    Land of William Clifton to the land of Thomas Wallis.

    Land of Hugh West to Frazier's, or Addison's.

The county courts were required to appoint proper boats to be kept at
the ferries where needed for the transportation of wheeled
vehicles--carts, chaises, coaches and wagons. The rates for these
vehicles were based upon the rates for horses. For every coach,
chariot or wagon, the price was the same as for the ferriage of six
horses; for every cart or four-wheeled chaise, the price was the same
as for four horses; and for every two-wheeled chaise or chair, the
same as for two horses. For every hogshead of tobacco, the rate of one
horse was charged. For ferrying animals, every head of neat cattle
rated as one horse; every sheep, lamb or goat, one-fifth part of the
rate for a horse; for every hog, one-fourth of the ferriage of a

Should the ferryman exceed the legal rates, he was penalized by having
to pay to the party aggrieved, the ferriage demanded and ten
shillings. In February 1752, a free ferry for any persons and their
commodities was established from the town of Port Royal over the
Rappahannock river to the land of John Moore in King George County. In
1757, there were five ferries from Norfolk over her various bodies of
water, one of which was established as a free ferry supported by the
county to enable the poor people of the community to have free passage
to market.

In the _Virginia Gazette_ for March 31, 1768, the following
advertisement appeared: "I have boats for the use of my ferry equal to
any in the government, and can give ferry dispatch greater than any
other ferry keeper on the Potomac river." In the late seventeenth
century, the Henrico county ferry was run by a woman. The county levy
for that year was the sum of 2,000 pounds of tobacco to be paid to
Mrs. Sarah Woodson for keeping the ferry for one year.

The county courts continued to establish new ferries and to
discontinue others through the Revolution and after. Now and then
bridges would take the place of ferries across the smaller streams.
An interesting instance of such a change is told in the _Richmond
Times-Dispatch_ for August 20, 1939. "For a century from 1650, ferries
were maintained across the two branches of Pagan river at Smithfield
in Isle of Wight county. In 1750, these ferries were abandoned for
toll bridges." From year to year, ferries gradually gave way to
bridges and now, when we have passed the middle of the twentieth
century, there are few ferries left in Virginia. These are large, fine
steamboats capable of carrying hundreds of passengers, but are no more
necessary to the welfare of the people than were the little dugouts in
the early days of the colony.


At a Convention of delegates and representatives of the counties and
corporations of the Colony of Virginia on July 17, 1775, there was
established a Committee of Safety consisting of ten prominent men for
putting into execution the ordinances and resolutions of the
Convention. That committee was authorized to provide as many armed
vessels as they judged necessary for the protection of the Colony in
the war that seemed to threaten. Advertisements for ship-carpenters
and other operatives were made, and every inducement held out to them
in order that the building of vessels might immediately commence.

Between December, 1775, and July, 1776, the Committee established a
small navy by purchase of several armed, schooner-rigged vessels from
the owners of the merchant fleet; and contracts were made for a number
of galleys to be constructed on the different rivers of the Colony.
The Potomac was to be protected by the construction of two row-galleys
and the purchase of three boats. George Minter was elected master of a
row-galley to be built on the James River under the direction of
Colonel Cary. He was requested to recommend proper persons to be mate,
two midshipmen, gunner, and to enlist forty seamen.

John Herbert, a master shipbuilder, was employed to engage any number
of ship-carpenters that he could procure upon reasonable terms, and to
examine such places upon the James River or its branches as he thought
proper and convenient for erecting shipyards, and to report to the

Caleb Herbert was retained as the master builder of a shipyard on the
Rappahannock River, and Reuben Herbert for such a yard on York River.
Each of them was desired as soon as possible to engage a proper number
of workmen for building two row-galleys to be employed in the two
rivers to transport troops. It was recommended that a committee at
Norfolk engage a proper person to take direction and employ a number
of ship-carpenters for at least a year, to build vessels for the

George Mason, in a letter to George Washington on April 12, 1776,
mentioned that he had under his charge two row-galleys of 40 or 50
tons burden, each to mount light guns, three and four pounders; and
the sloop, _American Congress_, a fine stout vessel of 110 tons
burden, mounting fourteen carriage guns, four and six pounders, and
was considering mounting two 9-pounders upon her main boom.

On June 6, 1776, the Committee of Safety appointed Christopher Calvert
to superintend the building of two row-galleys for the protection of
Virginia and North Carolina, to engage a master workman and as many
men as he should need to work expeditiously. The two vessels,
_Caswell_ and _Washington_, were built at the South Quay Shipyard
on the Blackwater River near the North Carolina line. A North Carolina
sloop had been seized in Ocracoke Inlet in April, 1776. Sometime
later, a warrant for £100 was issued to Argyle Herbert for the use of
Captain Calvert upon account to pay the carpenters employed on his

At the convention of delegates held at the Capitol in Williamsburg on
May 6, 1776, resolutions were passed dissolving the Government from
Great Britain, establishing Virginia as a Commonwealth or State. A
Board of Navy Commissioners composed of five members was appointed to
superintend and direct all matters relating to the Navy. Their
peculiar duties were defined as follows: To superintend and direct the
building and repairing of all vessels; provide the necessary outfits,
ordnance, provisions and naval stores; control the public rope walks;
erect dockyards; contract for and provide all timber necessary for
building purposes; and supervise the shipyards.

On September 12, 1776, this Commission was requested to engage the
proper persons for building "in the most expeditious manner", 30 boats
for the transportation of troops on the rivers, each boat to be the
proper size for carrying a complete company of 68 men with their arms
and baggage. Those were small boats without masts but broad and strong
enough to transport troops across rivers and to carry from point to
point large quantities of ammunition and provisions as they were
required. The small boats had been found indispensable in retreats, in
rapid marches, and in concentrating land forces.

The Commissioners were authorized in October to provide the necessary
plank and timber for the building of four large galleys fit for river
and sea service, and to be mounted with proper guns. And for manning
these galleys and others being built, the Commissioners were requested
to raise the number of men needed, not to exceed 1300 to serve three

The Continental Congress directed that two frigates of 36 guns and of
500 tons burthen be built in Virginia, and the Navy Board ordered the
work done at Gosport Shipyard in Norfolk County. The following
excerpts from a letter of Richard Henry Lee of the United States
Congress to James Maxwell, Chief Superintendent of Construction on
December 1, 1776, give directions for building the frigates:

    The Congress has resolved upon building two ships-of-war of 36
    guns each.... You, Sir, have been recommended as a person of great
    fitness for this business.... I do, in the name of the committee,
    request you will ... determine a most fit place to put these ships
    upon the stocks at. Safety against the enemy is a very necessary
    object, proper water for launching, and convenience for getting
    timber you will consider.... A master builder with four or six
    workmen will soon go hence to Virginia for this business, and I
    have no doubt other workmen will be had in that State to carry on
    the work briskly.... The builder desires that trees be felled
    immediately whilst the sap is down, that a quantity of locust
    trunnels be split one and one-half inches and from 18 to 30 inches
    in length; that sawyers be employed to get out white oak plank of
    3-1/2 inches. These things and whatever else may be immediately
    necessary for this business you will take care to have done....
    The builder tells me that cedar, locust, pitch pine, or wild
    cherry will be the proper timber for the upper works.

On Wednesday, December 18, 1776, it was resolved by the General
Assembly that the Governor be desired to write to the Maryland Council
of Safety to inform them that four galleys of eighty odd feet keel,
intended for the protection of Chesapeake Bay and adjacent capes and
coasts, were then building in Virginia and in great forwardness, and
that the General Assembly have directed four more galleys, much
larger, be immediately built and equipped for the same purpose. The
hope was expressed that the sister state, equally interested in mutual
defence, would supply a proper quota of galleys to act in concert with
those of Virginia. Chesapeake Bay was the chief theatre of action by
the enemy because of the principal tories residing near its waters. To
watch their movements and prevent intercourse with the enemy became
the duty of these galleys.

Two galleys, the _Accomack_ and _Diligence_, were built in 1777 on
Muddy Creek near Guilford in Accomack County, and stationed on the
Eastern Shore. These large galleys were about 90 feet in length and
each carried two 18-pounders, four 9-pounders, and several swivels, in
all ten guns.

The State built and operated in 1777, a ropewalk at Warwick in
Chesterfield County about five miles below Richmond, where ducking,
sail-cloth, and rope were manufactured under the charge of Captain
Charles Thomas. Several important warehouses had been established
there. The place was totally destroyed in the British raid of April,

There were numerous places in Virginia where shipbuilding was carried
on during 1776 and 1779. Vessels were built and equipped on the
Eastern Shore, the Potomac, the Rappahannock, Chickahominy and James
Rivers; at Hampton, Gosport in Norfolk County, South Quay on the
Blackwater near the Carolina line, Frazier's Ferry on the Mattaponi,
and Cumberland on the Pamunkey. This last shipyard was discontinued at
the suggestion of Thomas Jefferson in 1779 because of the enormous
expense attending its support. There was also a shipyard in Gloucester
County owned by John Hudgens. Construction was carried on chiefly at
the Chickahominy and Gosport yards.

The shipyard on the Chickahominy was located about twelve miles from
its mouth and chosen partly because of its sheltered location and the
fine timber that grew near by. The Navy Board had purchased 119 acres
of land for the sum of £595 in April, 1777, and it became one of the
busiest shipyards in the State. The ship _Thetis_, and the armed
brig _Jefferson_, and many others were built in this yard. This
establishment suffered the same fate as the Warwick ropewalk during
Arnold's raid in 1781. A few posts are still standing in the water to
mark the spot.

Just before the breaking out of the Revolution, the British Government
had established a marine yard at Portsmouth, Virginia, for the use of
its Navy, and named it for the dockyard Gosport near Portsmouth,
England. This yard was confiscated by Virginia when the war began, and
enlarged in 1801, by the purchase of 16 acres of the estate of Andrew
Sproule, the British Navy Agent, for $12,000. The ship _Virginia_
was built here and the two frigates laid on the stocks, with a number
of other vessels.

Early in May, 1779, a British fleet with a large force of frigates and
transports passed through the Capes and on into Hampton Roads, under
the command of Sir George Collier. Unable to meet such a formidable
enemy, the Virginians withdrew their small fleet up the river for
safety. The following extract is said to be from the _Journal_ of
H.M.S. _Rainbow_, commanded by Sir George Collier:

    When the troops under General Matthews took possession of
    Portsmouth, Norfolk and Gosport Navy Yard had been abandoned.
    Before leaving, the Virginians had set fire to a ship-of-war
    of 28 guns ready for launching, belonging to Congress, and two
    French merchant ships loaded with bales of goods and tobacco....
    The quantities of naval stores found in their arsenals were
    astonishing. Many vessels of war were on the stocks in different
    stages of forwardness; one of 36 guns, one of 18, three of 16, and
    three of 14, beside many merchantmen. The whole number taken,
    burnt, and destroyed while the King's ships were in the river
    amounted to _one hundred and thirty-seven_ sail of vessels....
    [Evidently, James Maxwell's two frigates were included in this
    group.] Five thousand loads of fine seasoned oak knees for
    shipbuilding and an infinite quantity of plank, masts, cordage,
    and numbers of beautiful ships-of-war on the stocks were at one
    time in a blaze and totally consumed, not a vestige remaining but
    the iron work.... Quantities of tar were found in the warehouses,
    and in Suffolk, 8,000 barrels of pitch, tar, and turpentine were
    seized. Much was carried away but great quantities were set on
    fire and left behind.

Early in 1780, it was learned that the enemy intended another invasion
of the coast of Virginia, and the General Assembly took measures for
defense. In addition to land forces, the Navy was ordered to assemble
a small fleet consisting of the ships _Thetis_, _Tempest_, and
_Dragon_, the brig _Jefferson_ and the galley _Henry_ for the purpose
of defending Hampton Roads and adjacent waters. In October, the
situation seemed much more critical and Acts were passed to build two
more galleys of the same construction as built by Congress in 1776,
carrying two 32-pounders in the bow, a like number in the stern, with
6-pounders at the sides. The rigging, sails, guns, and other materials
to be provided while the galleys were on the stocks that no time be
lost in preparing them for the cruise.

Captain James Maxwell addressed a letter to Governor Jefferson on
December 7, 1780, informing him that the Lieutenant of the _Jefferson_
thinks it will take £14,000 [in continental money] to pay her up to
the present time. There was also due the workmen of the Gosport
Shipyard on the last of October, £18,679-14_s._-6_d._ Clothing was
wanting for 26 men--52 shirts, 26 jackets, and breeches, stockings,
shoes and hats or caps.

Governor Jefferson wrote to James Maxwell on January 16, 1781, as
follows: "I enclose you a plan for building portable boats,
recommended by General Washington, and shall be glad that you will
take measures for having about twenty of them made without delay. We
have doubts that they will suit our waters, and will be glad to confer
with you on any suggested improvement."

General Lafayette having arrived at York on March 13, 1781, Governor
Jefferson wrote him that there would be ready for him at the
Chickahominy Shipyard four boats well-fitted to his purpose, and
others were collecting in the rivers to rendezvous at Hood's. These
were for lookout boats placed in the Rappahannock, Piankatank, and
York Rivers. Hood's was a battery on the James in Prince George
County, opposite Weyanoke, now called Fort Powhatan. Later, Maxwell
notified the Governor that he was building a few boats at the
Chickahominy Shipyard. The Governor had requested that a good bateau
builder be sent there to superintend some carpenters in building
bateaux for the river above the Falls, and the rest of the carpenters
be set to building boats for navigating the lower parts of the river,
boats so light and of such form they could be moved on wheels.

On April 21, 1781, the traitor Arnold and Phillips made their raid up
the James River, penetrating as far as Richmond. A detachment under
Lieut. Col. Ambercrombie destroyed the shipyard at Chickahominy
including a large number of naval craft, among them an unfinished ship
of 200 tons, and important warehouses. On April 27, the Virginia fleet
composed of six ships, eight brigs, five sloops, two schooners and
several smaller craft, met the British fleet in battle a few miles
below Richmond, but had to give way. A number of vessels were scuttled
or set on fire, but the enemy captured the rest, and the fleet was
practically wiped out. Only one armed vessel remained, the brig

After the surrender of Cornwallis, the General Assembly met on May,
1782, and appointed three Commissioners to superintend the work of
protecting the Bay. The ship _Cormorant_ and the brig _Liberty_ were
prepared, and plans made for building two galleys and two barges or
whale boats. The Commissioners managed to keep a small naval force
together during 1782 and 1783, until the war came to an end. When
peace was declared in 1783, the Commissioners had in different stages
of construction the schooners _Harrison_ and _Patriot_, the barges
_York_ and _Richmond_, and the pilot boat _Fly_. Virginia dispensed
with all her fleet except the _Liberty_ and _Patriot_ which were
retained, with the approval of Congress, as revenue cutters.

Among the various types of vessels mentioned here, galleys are
generally thought of as having been rather insignificant. On the
contrary, they were among the important vessels constructed for the
Virginia Navy. While they were so built that they could easily retire
up the creeks out of range of British guns, they were capable also of
sailing out in the broad waters of the Bay. They were broad in
proportion to their length which varied from 60 to 90 feet, and not
drawing much water could support immense weight upon their decks, as
in transporting troops with their horses and baggage, and in carrying
guns of the largest size. Generally they had two masts and were rigged
as schooners, but an occasional galley carried three masts as in the
case of the _Gloucester_. Some were without masts and were called
row-galleys. These were only half decked, were provided with high and
strong bulwarks for the better protection from marksmen, and were
propelled by oars only.

The armaments of these galleys were much more formidable in proportion
to their tonnage than were those of any other vessels. In November,
1776, two large galleys for river and sea service were ordered to be
built to carry four 24-pounders, and fourteen 9-pounders each. Also,
in October, 1780, two more large ones were ordered to carry two
30-pounders in the bow, the same in the stern, with 6-pounders at the
sides, for the protection of the Chesapeake Bay.

The _Gloucester_ was one of the largest galleys built. Judging from
the order sent to Captain Charles Thomas on April 30, 1777, for rope
and cables from the ropewalk at Warwick, the galley had a foremast,
a mainmast, a mizzen and a bowsprit. All the rigging was to have a
rogue's yarn in it, that it might be distinguished from merchant rope.
A rogue's yarn was a single thread of red or blue which was twisted in
the rope at the manufactory, and served to distinguish it from all
others. The _Gloucester_ was used as a prison ship.

Two accounts of the development of the schooner in use by Virginia
during the Revolution are worth recording:

    (a) It is from this time perhaps that we may date that new era in
    the art of shipbuilding which now produced the firstlings of that
    brood of fast-sailing clippers that afterwards were to astonish
    and charm the naval world with their brilliant performance. The
    Americans were the originators of this improved naval
    architecture. It was developed by that spirit of invention and
    love of adventure so characteristic of a young and vigorous
    people, urged by necessity.... The far-famed Baltimore clipper
    soon established the reputation of that long, low, rakish-looking
    craft, which has ever since been the cynosure of the seaman's eye.

    (b) The most spectacular event in the history of naval
    architecture in the 18th century was the emergence of the
    clipper-schooner which became famous during the Revolution. This
    was a trim, rakish craft known as the Virginia-built schooner, an
    exclusively Chesapeake type prior to the Revolution. The war
    created a demand for this fast-sailing vessel and builders all
    along the coast constructed vessels on the clipper lines thereby
    converting it to a national type. The war made the
    clipper-schooner internationally known, however, and before the
    end of the century, the French, Dutch, and British built schooners
    on the clipper lines.

The pilot boat used in the Virginia Navy was a small fast-sailing
craft used as "lookouts", only two of which, the _Molly_ and the
_Fly_, were armed. Their duties were attended with many hardships
and extreme peril. They were obliged to hover along a dangerous coast
in all weathers to give notice of the approach of every sail whether
friend or foe. They acted as a flying sentry at the gates of the
Chesapeake, but constantly exposed to the broad Atlantic outside.

Although the war virtually eliminated Virginia's trading fleet as well
as her Navy, her shipbuilding capacity was at its best. Her many
shipyards, abundant supplies of available shipbuilding timber, and her
skilled craftsmen soon put her trading fleet in operation and it
became an integral part of the American Merchant Marine.


(as defined by authorities)

_Shallop_--A nondescript type of small boat, from the French
"chaloupe," open or half-decked, sometimes with one or two masts for
use if needed. It was the most popular boat used in the colony for
collecting corn from the Indians, fishing, oystering, and exploring.

_Pinnace_--"An old name in English marine nomenclature." A light
sailing vessel from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, decked
and having one or more masts, from twenty to thirty tons Burden. The
pinnaces _Virginia_, _Discovery_, and the two built at Bermuda,
_Deliverance_ and _Patience_ were sea-going vessels.

_Barge_--"A term applied to numerous types of vessels throughout the
ages." In Virginia it meant a ship's boat, or a flat bottom freight
boat used on inland waterways and for loading and unloading ships.

_Bateau_--The Chesapeake Bay bateau in colonial times was a
double-ended boat having a V-bottomed hull, built in lengths to forty
or fifty feet, and was primarily a rowing or poling boat used for
rivers and creeks.

_Scow_--A large flat-bottomed vessel having broad, square ends and
straight sides, sometimes flat-decked. Probably from the Dutch term

_Flat_--An old form of boat, simple to build, with flat bottom, ends
boarded over, used for heavy freight and ferrying, sometimes having a

_Skiff_--A light swift open boat, generally double-ended for rowing,
but sometimes equipped for sailing.

_Frigate_--Originally a light vessel propelled by both sails and oars
with flush decks. A "frigott" was constructed at Cape Comfort by
Captain Argall in 1613. Later the term was applied only to a type of

_Punt_--A small flat-bottomed, open boat, usually with a seat in the
middle, and a well or seat at one, or each end for use in shallow
waters, propelled by oars or poles.

_Yawl_--A small sailing vessel rigged like a sloop with a small
additional mast in the stern.

_Canoe_--The evolution of the Chesapeake Bay canoe and the Chesapeake
Bay bugeye from the Indian dugout canoe, is one of the most
interesting developments in the history of shipbuilding in America.

_Piragua_ or _Periagua_--A large dugout canoe fitted with sails.

_Tobacco Boat_--The double dugout canoe generally referred to as the
tobacco boat, was "invented" by the Reverend Robert Rose, rector of
St. Ann's Parish in Albemarle. The boats were from fifty to sixty feet
in length, from four to five feet in width, clamped together with
cross beams and pins, two pieces running lengthwise over these, with a
capacity of from five to ten hogsheads of tobacco. The first mention
of this boat was in Rose's diary for March 14, 1749. (2) The James
River bateau or tobacco boat was invented by Anthony J. Rucker in
1771, and is mentioned in Jefferson's _Notes on Virginia_. The bateaux
were made of boards from forty to sixty feet long and flat-bottomed.
They were constructed so that either end could be poled against the
river bank and the hogshead rolled aboard. Each craft required a crew
of three, one to steer and one each for the sideboards, the full
length of the gunwales.

_Sloop_--A craft with a single mast and fore-and-aft rig, in its
simplest form a mainsail and jib. It is said to have appeared in the
colony from England before 1630, and became the most common colonial
rig. It was the fast-sailing craft for coastwise and West Indies
trade. It became very popular as a pleasure boat.

_Schooner_--A two or more masted vessel, fore-and-aft rigged. The
essentials of the schooner are two fore-and-aft sails and a headsail
(jib), any other sails being incidental. This type of rig was not
known until the last quarter of the seventeenth century, appearing in
America by 1700, or shortly after. During the second half of the
eighteenth century, the schooner displaced the sloop as the principal
colonial coasting vessel, and during the Revolution emerged as the
most distinctly American type.

_Pilot Boat_--In 1661, the General Assembly passed an Act creating the
office of Chief Pilot of the James River. A specific type of vessel
evolved for use as pilot boats--fast, weatherly boats, somewhat on the
mold of the already developing clipper schooner, about 1745. This boat
soon acquired schooner rig and all the characteristics of a clipper
schooner. This trim craft, distinguished for speed and sea worthiness,
proved ideal for yachting. Almost all schooner yachts until about
1870, were built on the lines of pilot boats. The best known example
was the victory of the yacht _America_ in 1851.

_Brig_--A seagoing vessel having two masts and square rigged.

_Brigantine_--A seagoing vessel having two masts, one square rigged,
the other fore-and-aft.

_Snow_--A seagoing vessel having two masts similar to a brig, and an
additional mast abaft the mainmast which carried a spanker or driver
(a gaff-headed trysail).

_Ship_--A sailing vessel having three or more masts, square rigged,
the largest seagoing vessel of the period. A term frequently applied
to any vessel.

_Bark_ or _Barque_--A sailing vessel having three or more masts,
square rigged, the after mast, fore-and-aft rigged. A term frequently
applied to any vessel.

_Barkentine_--A sailing vessel with three or more masts, the fore mast
square rigged, the other masts being fore-and-aft.

_Galley_--A long, single or partially decked vessel of light draft,
fitted for rowing and having one or two masts to raise for use when
needed. They ranged in size from forty to seventy-five feet in length,
and were used as warships by Virginia during the Revolution when they
carried from one to twelve guns.

The planters and shipbuilders of Virginia had a wide choice in the
selection of timber for building their boats and ships:

    Virginia yielding to no known place in the known world for timbers
    of all sorts, commodious for strength, pleasant for sweetness,
    specious for colors, spacious for largeness, useful for land and
    sea, for housing and shipping. For timber, we have the oak, ash,
    poplar, black walnut, pines and gum trees.

Frequently several kinds of wood were used in the construction of a
boat, and the color combinations of the natural woods, with the use of
turpentine and pitch, was pleasing enough to some shipbuilders. For
others, however, the vessels were painted in bright colors, often a
combination of several colors. The larger vessels were usually built
of white oak, but due to the rapid growth of the tree, Virginia oak
was not as good or lasting as the oak grown in England. Ships built
from the American live oak, helped much to improve the reputation of
colonial vessels.

As a general rule, vessels built in the colony were without
ornamentation of any kind, utility being the watchword, and speed
important. It has been reported, however, that a few billet heads and
figureheads were placed on ships, and carved figureheads imported from
Boston by a planter appeared on his vessels.


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The following advertisements of vessels TO BE SOLD were selected from
the _Virginia Gazette_ as showing types and sizes of watercraft in

1739, MAY 4. ... a small shallop about five years old in Yorktown,
will carry between 400 and 500 bushels of corn. William Rogers.

1745, ... by the executors of Mr. Thomas Rawlings, a ship carpenter,
lately deceased, the frame of a snow which was to have been built by
the said Rawlings on account of Mr. John Hood, merchant, of Prince
George County, of the following dimensions: 60 feet keel, 23 feet 8
in. beam, molded, 10 feet hold, 4 feet between decks. To be sold at
the plantation of the deceased near Flower de Hundred. Also, a
sizable, useful boat and a vessel called a schaw.

1745, JUNE 18. ... To the highest bidder, schooner belonging to the
estate of the Rev. Adam Duckie, deceased, trimmed and well-fitted with
sails and rigging, some parts new, close docked, carries 50 hogsheads
of tobacco ... Also, a 12 hogsheads flat lying at Hobb's Hole.

1746, MARCH 27. ... The sloop _Little Betty_ lying at Suffolk town in
Nansemond county, burthen 50 tons, with her sails, anchors, furniture,
tackle, will be sold on Wednesday, 9th of April.

1751, SEPTEMBER 26. ... by the subscriber living in Norfolk county, a
new schooner, now on the stocks and will be launched by the last day
of November next, or sooner if required; the dimensions, 49 feet keel,
21 feet beam, 9 feet 6 inches hold. She is a well built vessel, her
plank being well seasoned and sufficiently secured with iron work,
being to be finished to a cleat, at 50 shillings per ton. William

1754, JUNE 20. ... the brig _Lucy and John_, burthen 80 tons together
with guns, rigging, tackle, apparel and furniture, at York Town,
Friday, the 26th instant, to the highest bidder. Thomas Dickinson.

1755, MAY --. ... at public auction May 22, at the landing of Mr.
Thomas Scott in the borough of Norfolk, a new ship on the stocks,
dimensions: 62 feet keel, 23 feet beam, 11 feet hold, and 4 feet 6
inches 'tween decks. Joshua Corprew.

1766, JUNE 27. ... at Norfolk, a ship on the stocks, dimensions: 63
feet keel, 23 feet beam, 9 feet 8 inches hold, 4 feet 4 inches between
decks, together with the rigging, sails, cables, anchors, etc.,
provided for her. She will be completely furnished and ready to launch
by the 20th of next month. For terms apply to Thomas McCullock.

1766, SEPTEMBER 19. ... On the 16th day of October next at public
auction to the highest bidder ... a new ship about 170 tons burthen,
well calculated for European or West Indies trade, and built with the
best white oak complete and ready for launching with the full stock
and rigging complete. Apply to administrators in Norfolk for William

1766, SEPTEMBER 26. ... To be let on charter for Europe the snow
_Nancy_, John Ardis master, now lying at Norfolk, a new vessel,
burthen about 270 hogsheads. Apply to John Greenwood.

1766, NOVEMBER 6. ... a new ship, 180 tons, built of white oak, for
the West Indies or tobacco trade. Apply to Joseph Calvert, or to
George Walker at Hampton.

1767, MAY 7. ... a new ship now lying at Suffolk wharf, burthen about
350 hogsheads of tobacco, well built with best white oak timber and
plank. The purchaser may have long credit for part of the money. Any
person inclinable to purchase may be shown the vessel by applying to
subscriber, living in Kingston Parish, Gloucester county. Thomas

1767, MAY 11. ... a new ship of about 236 tons, well calculated for
the tobacco trade, built of the best seasonal plank and timber, and
can be launched in a little time, if desired. Two month's credit will
be allowed for two-thirds or three-fourths the value. Any person
inclinable to purchase may be shown the vessel by applying to
subscriber, living in Kingston Parish, Gloucester county. Thomas

1768, MARCH 15. ... a well built snow, carpenter's and outside work
finished, dimensions: 51 feet keel, 21 feet beam, 9 feet clear lower
hold, 3 feet 6 inches between decks. Norfolk, executors of Joshua

1768, JUNE 9. ... a new schooner that will be launched in August next
or sooner if required; burthen 71 tons, and will carry about 3000
bushels of grain; built of the best white oak plank and timber. Also,
for sale, a sloop, 25 tons, one year old, together with her sails,
anchors, etc. Apply to Edward Hughes, living on the head of East river
in Gloucester county.

1768, JUNE 16. ... at Rocket's Landing, one-third, one-half or the
whole of a schooner to be launched in a fortnight. Samuel du Val.

1768, AUGUST 4. ... a sea schooner, 80 tons, two years old. Also a
sloop, 50 tons, now on the stocks, launched in three weeks. Kingston
Parish, Gloucester county. Robert Billings.

1768, AUGUST 28. ... a new vessel on the stocks, double decked, about
300 tons, might be launched in 24 days. John Greenwood, Norfolk.

1768, SEPTEMBER 29. ... a new vessel now on the stocks, of about 176
tons, tobacco or West Indies trade, built of the best seasoned plank,
and can be launched in a few weeks. She may be made a ship, a snow, or
a brig as may best suit the purchaser. Apply in Norfolk. Edward H.

1768, OCTOBER 20. ... a double decked vessel on the stocks, 110 tons,
will carry a great burden and is esteemed a very fine vessel. Benjamin

1770, MARCH 7. ... the brig _Little Benjamin_ about 110 tons burthen,
double decked, has made but two voyages, is extremely well built and
completely fitted. Credit will be given until the 10th of December
next on giving bond with a good security to Ben: Harrison.

1770, MARCH 11. ... anytime between this and the 10th of April next,
the brigantine _Fair Virginian_, only one year old, just sheathed and
now ready for to take a cargo on board, burthen about 100 tons. Any
person inclinable to purchase such a vessel may know the terms by
applying to the subscriber in Charles City and be shown the said
vessel now lying near Sandy Point on James river. Cash or bills of
exchange any time in the April General Court, will be accepted for
payment. Robert McKittrick, William Acrill.

1770, APRIL 13. ... ready to launch being completely finished, a
schooner, 41 feet keel, 18 feet 4 inches beam, and 8 feet hold; her
beams, carlings, and top timber of cedar, and built by a compleat
workman. Any person in want of such a vessel may be supplied by the
subscriber on paying one-half the purchase money on delivery of said
vessel, and the other half in October next. Also, a sloop, burthen of
about 4000 bushels, will be ready by the first of May, and wants a
freight for any part of the West Indies. Any person in want of such a
vessel is desired to make it known to Carter Tarrant.

1776, SEPTEMBER --. ... the sloop _Industry_, now lying at
Fredericksburg, with her sails, rigging, etc. She will carry upwards
of 4000 bushels of grain. J. Watson and R. Dickinson are authorized to
sell her.

Although the following contracts for building vessels were made when
Virginia was no longer a colony but had become a state, they are
included here because of the descriptions of the vessels and the
interesting contracts:

    (1) Contract between the owner and builder of a vessel in
    Gloucester county on July 31, 1777:

    It is this day agreed on between Mathias James of the one part and
    John Fowler of the other part ... That the said Mathias James for
    and in consideration of the sum of 35 pounds to him in hand paid,
    the receipt whereof he hereby acknowledgeth, doth oblige himself
    to begin, finish, and complete all the joiner's work properly
    belonging to the sloop he is now building, in a neat, convenient
    and workmanlike manner. The steerage must be sealed that the whole
    shall be finished as soon as possible. In witness whereof we have
    hereunto set our hands and seals, the day and year above written.
    N.B.--There is to be no State Room in the above cabin.

    Matthew James, John Fowler. Witness, William Lilly.

    (2) Contract between the owner and builder of a vessel on November
    20, 1779:

    I, Joseph Billups, Sr., of Gloucester county, Kingston Parish, do
    agree to build a boat 34 feet keel, with proper width of beam and
    hold, for John Avery.... I do hereby oblige him first to pay me,
    the said Billups, 120 gallons of good West India rum, and 300
    pounds of lawful money.... The said Avery to oblige himself to pay
    the said Billups 100 pounds per ton, to supply the said Billups
    with suitable iron at ten shillings per pound.... To furnish him
    with money if wanting to carry on the said boat....

    Joseph Billings, John Avery. Teste, Joseph Billups, Jr.

Various statistics were given by different writers for the number of
Virginia owned vessels in the period just before the outbreak of the
Revolutionary War. In _Shipyard Statistics_ by H. C. Smith and L. C.
Brown, one of the articles that comprises _The Shipbuilding Business
in the United States of America_, edited by F. G. Fassett, Jr., and
published in 1948 by the Society of Naval Architecture and Marine
Engineers, there are given lists of vessels owned by the several
provinces in the years 1769, 1770, and 1771. Virginia is listed as
having in 1769, 6 ships, 21 sloops and schooners--27 vessels of 1269
tonnage; for 1770, there were 6 ships, 15 sloops and schooners, 1105
tons; and for 1771, 10 ships, 9 sloops and schooners, 1678 tons. We
notice that the report of 27 vessels for 1769, is the same number
reported by Governor Andros in 1698, which is rather surprising, and
shows how inadequate the statistics were, and how careful a writer
must be in using them.


The items on shipping given below were selected from the _Virginia
Gazette_ to show some details of Virginia shipping in the eighteenth
century: the home ports, the ports entered and cleared, the types of
vessels and various kinds of cargo. Sailings are given from September
3, 1736, when a Virginia owned vessel was first mentioned in the
_Gazette_, to June 28, 1768, and is by no means a complete list, even
in the copies of issues now extant; it is well to recall that copies
of many issues have never been found. Later sailings in the _Gazette_
have frequently omitted the type of vessel. A large number of vessels
here named were Virginia owned and many of them Virginia built.

1736, SEPTEMBER 3. Ship _Priscilla_ of Virginia, Richard Williams,
entered at the port of York river from Barbadoes.

1736, NOVEMBER 9. Ship _John and Mary_ of Virginia, Richard Tillidge,
entered the port of York river from Barbadoes.

1737, FEBRUARY 9. The brigantine belonging to Col. Benjamin Harrison,
arrived in James river last week from London, but last from Salt
Islands loaded with salt.

1737, FEBRUARY 9. Cleared out of York river the schooner _Grampus_,
John Briggs, for Madeira with 870 bu. wheat, 1451 bu. white pease,
1914 bu. red pease, 40 bu. beans, 1 hhd. beeswax, and 600 staves.

Cleared out of York district the following vessels:

1737, MARCH 2. Sloop _Medford_ of New England, James Hathaway, for New
England with 1000 bu. com, 100 bu. pease, and 600 ft. of walnut plank.

MARCH 3. Ship _Hanover_ of Bristol, Roger Rumney, for Bristol with 294
hhd. tobacco, 50 tons iron, and 5280 staves.

1737, MARCH 3. Schooner _Swallow_ of New England, John Atwood, for
Boston with 1500 bu. corn, 100 bu. pease, 20 bu. wheat, and 60 ft. of

1737, MARCH 14. Sloop _Francis_ of Bermuda, William Mallory, for
Bermuda, with 2000 bu. corn, and 30 bu. pease.

1737, MARCH 18. Sloop _Mary_ of Bermuda, Samuel Nelms, for Bermuda,
with 5000 bu. corn, 56 bu. pease, 1 mast, and other pieces of timber.

1737, MARCH 19. Ship _Micajah and Philip_ of London, James Bradley,
for London, with 734 hhd. tobacco, 7500 staves, and a parcel of plank.

1737, MARCH 31. Brig _Abington_ of Virginia, John Upcott, for Madeira,
with 1170 bu. pease, 1617 bu. corn, 162 bu. wheat, beeswax and hemp.

Entered in the York District, with sundry European goods:

1737, MARCH 4. Ship _Catherine_ of London, William Taylor, from

1737, MARCH 9. Ship _Haswell_ of London, John Booch, from London.

1737, MARCH 18. Sloop _Southampton_ of London, Robert Angus, from

1737, MARCH 23. Sloop _Betty_ of Virginia, Thomas Hamlin, from

1737, APRIL 22. The ship _Johnston_ of Liverpool, James Gillart, is
lately arrived at York from Angola, with 490 choice young slaves. The
sale of them began on Tuesday the 12th instant, and continues at York
river. Thomas Nelson.

1737, MAY 2. Entered York river schooner _Lark_ of Virginia, John
Thompson, from Jamaica with 31 casks molasses, 6 puncheons rum, 3 bags
cocoa, and 200 pounds [sterling] in cash.

1737, MAY 12. Entered York river, the sloop _Molly_ of Virginia, Simon
Handcock, from Barbadoes, with 32 hhd. 64 tierces and 70 bbl. rum, 61
bbl. sugar, and 1 bag ginger.

Cleared from Upper District of James river:

1737, JUNE 16. Sloop _Betty_ of Virginia, George Cabanis, for Bermuda,
with 764 bu. corn, 60 bbl. pork, 10 bbl. beef, 7 bbl. tallow, and 3
bbl. lard.

1737, JUNE 17. Sloop _Phoenix_ of Virginia, Lemuel Portlock, for
Barbadoes, with 696 bu. corn, 144 bu. pork, and 7000 staves.

1737, JUNE 18. Sloop _Molly_ of Virginia, John Thompson, for
Barbadoes, with 2534 bu. corn, 182 bu. pease, 38 bbl. pork, 1000
headings, and 4000 shingles.

1737, JULY 1. Entered York District, the brig _Priscilla_ of Virginia,
Richard Williams, from London and Madeira with 23 pipes and 1 hhd.
Madeira wine.

1737, JULY 18. Entered York District the sloop _Industry_ of Virginia,
John White, from Maryland; cleared for Maryland with 400 bbl. salt and
7 doz. bottles Madeira wine.

1737, JULY 29. Cleared from York river the brig _Mary_ of Virginia,
Stephen Swaddle, for London with 105 hhd. tobacco, 1000 staves, a
parcel of sassafras, 13 pipes Madeira wine, 16 lbs. beaver skins and 6
doe skins.

1737, SEPTEMBER 17. Cleared out of York river, the brigantine
_Priscilla_ of Virginia, John Langland, for Bristol with 126 hhd.
tobacco, 7 bbl. turpentine, 18 tons iron, 47 walnut planks, 49 gum
planks, 7350 staves, and 1 bag wool.

1737, OCTOBER 28. Entered York river, the sloop _John and Mary_ of
Virginia, J. Briggs, from St. Christophers with 5 tierces, 1 hhd.
molasses, 600 bu. salt, and 102 pounds [sterling] in cash.

1737, DECEMBER 9. The brigantine _John and Mary_, Richard Tillidge,
now lies at Mr. Littlepage's wharf on Pamunkey river ready to take in
tobacco on freight at the usual rate for Bristol. It is intended to
sail in March. Orders sent to Captain John Perrin, owner, of
Gloucester or Captain Tillidge.

1737, DECEMBER 16. The ship _Industry_, John Brown, now lying at Bull
Hill in James river, will sail shortly for Cadiz, and is to call at
Madeira in his return thither for wine and freight if sufficient
encouragement is shown. Send orders to Captain John Hutchins of
Norfolk, the owner of the ship, or to the master.

1738, MAY 1. Entered York river, the sloop _Molly_ of Virginia, John
Thompson, from Jamaica, having on board 45 casks molasses, 200 gal.
rum, 1 hhd. sugar, 1 bag ginger, and 100 pounds in cash. She belongs
to Captain Francis Willis.

1738, MAY 1. Entered York river, the sloop _Coan_ of Virginia, John
Kerr, from Dublin, having on board 1 chest linens, provisions, and 53
passengers. She is in the employ of Colonel Martin, who arrived in

1738, JUNE 7. Cleared from Upper James, the snow _Phoenix_ of
Virginia, William Spry, for London with 200 hhd. tobacco, 5 hhd.
skins, 4 hhd. ipecacuane, 1 box sundry goods returned, 6000 staves,
and 1 hhd. sassafras.

1738, JUNE 12. Entered York river, the brig _Abingdon_ of Virginia,
Thomas Southwick, from Barbadoes with 6 hhd., 80 tierces and 116 bbl.
rum, 42 bbl. sugar, 16 hhd. and 1 tierce molasses, and 2 bbl. ginger.

1738, JUNE 30. The schooner _Fanny_ lying at Mill creek near Hampton,
will soon be higher up the James. Persons apply for freight to Mr.
Jacob Walker or to Messrs. Cherrington and Whitten near the Falls of
James river.

1738, JUNE 30. Goods on board the ship _Harrison_ at Swinyards in
James river, Thomas Boiling, owner of goods unknown. Any person
sending for them with bills of lading may have them.

1738, JULY 27. Entered in York river the sloop _Molly_ of Virginia,
John Thompson, from Barbadoes with 45 hhd., 8 tierces, and 9 bbl. rum,
69 bbl. sugar, 1 bag cotton, and 3 Negroes.

1738, JULY 28. A ship belonging to Mr. Theophilus Pugh of Nansemond is
lately arrived in Nansemond, 13 weeks from Bristol.

1738, AUGUST 7. Entered Upper District of James river, the brigantine
_Little Molly_ of Virginia, Thomas Hamlin, from Jamaica with 7 hhd.
sugar, 8 puncheons rum, 4 bags and 3 casks of cocoa.

1738, AUGUST 17. Cleared at York the schooner _Grampus_ of Virginia,
John Briggs, for Boston with 900 bu. pease, 600 bu. corn, 180 bu.
wheat, 400 ft. walnut plank, 300 pipe staves, and 1 hhd. Madeira wine.

1738, OCTOBER 4. Cleared from York the ship _Harrison_, Captain
Bolling, for London.

1738, OCTOBER 26. Arrived in York river the schooner _Grampus_ of
Virginia belonging to Colonel Lewis of Gloucester, John Briggs, from
Boston with 6 bbl. cider, 5 bbl. train oil, 6 bbl. codfish and
mackerel, 1 cwt. iron, 4 bbl. cranberries, 30 bu. apples, 1 tierce
molasses, 5 hhd. and 6 bbl. rum, a Negro slave and 250 lb. cheese.

1738, OCTOBER 26. The snow _Catherine and Lenora_, James McCullock,
belonging to Messrs. Spaulding and Lidderdale, loaded with tobacco and
bound for London, will sail from James river in 3 or 4 days.

1738, OCTOBER 27. Arrived in York river last Monday the snow _John and
Mary_ belonging to Captain John Perrin, Richard Tillidge, from

1738, OCTOBER 28. Cleared from Upper District of James river, the
sloop _Nancy_ of Virginia, James Griffin, for Boston with 1307 bu.
wheat, and 153 deer skins.

1738, NOVEMBER 6. Cleared from Upper District of James river, the snow
_Kitty and Nora_ of Virginia, James McCullock, for London with 223
hhd. tobacco, 16 casks skins, 1 parcel beaver skins, 4200 staves, and
400 ft. oak plank.

1738, NOVEMBER 13. Cleared out of Rappahannock District the ship
_Brothers_, Robert Hall, for London with 471 hhd. tobacco, 40 tons pig
iron, and 7000 staves.

1738, NOVEMBER 23. Cleared out of York District, the ship _Molly_ of
Virginia, Thomas Wilson, for Madeira with 1014 bu. wheat, 130 bu.
corn, 107 bu. bonnevelts, 2 hhd. and 2 bbl. beeswax, 4 bbl. flour, and
100 hhd. staves.

1738, NOVEMBER 23. Cleared out of Upper District of James river, the
sloop _Charming Anne_ of Virginia, Thomas Goodman, for Lisbon with
3765 bu. wheat.

1738, DECEMBER 6. Entered in the Upper District of James river, the
snow _John and Mary_ of Virginia, Richard Tillidge, from York river in

1738, DECEMBER 9. Cleared from York river the schooner _Grampus_ of
Virginia, John Briggs, for Madeira with 2300 bu. of wheat, 1200 pipe
staves and 143 lb. beeswax.

1739, JANUARY 1. Cleared from York river the brig _Abingdon_ of
Virginia, Thomas Southwick, for Madeira with 2709 bu. wheat, 152 bu.
pease, 112 bu. corn, and 2000 lb. bread.

1739, JANUARY 26. Cleared out of Upper District of James river, the
brig _Little Molly_ of Virginia, Thomas Hamlin, for Georgia with 2551
bu. corn, 269 bu. pease, 33 casks pork, 8 casks beef, 2 casks lard,
8,314 shingles, 1 Negro, and 30 sheep.

1739, JANUARY 29. Entered the Upper District of James river, the
brigantine _Robert and John_ of Virginia, John Cooke, from the Lower
District in ballast.

1739, JANUARY 30. Cleared out of Upper District the snow _John and
Mary_ of Virginia, Richard Tillidge, for York river with 4977 bu.

1739, FEBRUARY 4. Cleared out of York river the snow _John and Mary_,
Richard Tillidge, bound for Madeira, having on board 4977 bu. wheat,
144 bu. pease, and 2000 lb. bread.

1739, FEBRUARY 5. Entered in the Upper District of James river, the
sloop _Nancy_ of Virginia, James Griffin, from Rhode Island with 6
bbl. train oil, 545 lb. cheese, 9 hhd., 8 tierce rum, 4 hhd., 4 tierce
molasses, and a bundle of European goods.

1739, MARCH 8. Cleared out of James river, the brig _Robert and John_
of Virginia, John Cooke, for Madeira with 5400 bu. wheat.

1739, MARCH 9. Cleared out of James river the sloop _Robert_ of
Virginia, Samuel Rogers, for Barbadoes, with 47 bbl. pork, 800 bu.
corn, and 53 bu. pease.

1739, MARCH 23. Last Friday, the brig, _Pretty Betsy_ belonging to
Colonel Lewis of Gloucester county, James Robinson, bound for London
with 202 hhd. tobacco, sailed out of Severn river and on the same day
met with disaster on the Middle Ground between the Capes.

1739, MAY 3. Entered in York river the brig _Pretty Betsy_, Anthony
Mosely, for London with 202 hhd. tobacco, 5000 staves, 1 pipe Madeira
wine, and 22 tons iron.

1739, MAY 21. Entered Upper District James river, the snow _Kitty and
Nora_ of Virginia, James McCullock, from London via Madeira with
sundry European goods and 12 pipes, 1 hhd. Madeira wine.

1739, MAY 21. Entered in York river, the brig _Abingdon_ of Virginia,
Thomas Southwick, from Madeira and Barbadoes with 10 pipes wine, 15
hhd., 50 tierces and 63 bbl. rum, 37 bbl. sugar, and 9 pounds 8
shillings in cash.

1739, JUNE 1. Cleared from York river the schooner _Grampus_ of
Virginia. John Briggs, for Madeira with 2460 bu. corn, 80 bu. pease,
1200 pipe staves, and 150 pounds beeswax.

1739, JUNE 4. Entered the Upper District of James river, the ship
_William and Betty_ of Virginia, John Turner, from the Lower District
with 323 hhd. tobacco.

1739, JUNE 14. Entered in York river, the snow _John and Mary_ of
Virginia, Richard Tillidge, from Madeira and Barbadoes with 98 hhd.,
21 tierces and 20 bbl. rum, 86 bbl. Muscavado sugar, and 12 pipes
Madeira wine.

1739, JUNE 16. Entered York river the snow _Mary_ of Virginia, James
Hume, from James river with 64 bbl. pork, 5600 shingles, 4200 pipe
staves, and 4200 ft. 1-inch plank.

1739, JUNE 22. The snow _John and Mary_, Richard Tillidge, belonging
to Captain Perrin, now lying at Mr. Littlepage's on Pamunkey river, is
ready to take on freight for Bristol.

1739, JULY 6. Cleared from Upper District the snow _Kitty and Nora_ of
Virginia, James McCullock, for London with 228 hhd. tobacco, 9 hhd.
skins, 182 deer skins, 149 beaver skins, 56 walnut planks, and 4200

1739, AUGUST 11. Entered York river the brig _Little Molly_ of
Virginia, James Cox, from James river with part of her lading for the
West Indies.

1739, SEPTEMBER 8. Cleared York river, the brig _Abingdon_ of
Virginia, Thomas Southwick, for Madeira with 1861 bu. wheat, 1096 bu.
corn, 118 pounds beeswax, and 1 case cloths.

1739, NOVEMBER 30. Last Saturday arrived in James river the sloop
_Charming Anne_ belonging to Colonel Benjamin Harrison, Captain
Taylor, from Jamaica. Left James river for Jamaica on June 25, with
4000 staves, 487 bbl. pork, 37 bbl. beef, 2 bbl. tongue, 15 bbl. lard,
58 bbl. flour, 250 bbl. pease, and 70 bu. corn.

1745, APRIL 12. Cleared at Hampton, the snow _John and Mary_, Thomas
Bradley, for Liverpool with 106 hhd. tobacco, 500 bbl. tar, 60 walnut
stocks, and 5600 staves.

1745, APRIL 19. Entered at Hampton, the sloop _Little Molly_, Crawford
Conner, from Philadelphia.

1745, MAY 17. Entered Hampton, May 3 to 17, 7 vessels.

1745, DECEMBER 4. Cleared Upper District from September 20 to December
4, 14 vessels.

1745, DECEMBER 27. Entered Upper District from September 20 to
December 27, 20 vessels.

1746, JULY 31. Entered York river the snow _Two Brothers_, with
upwards of 200 fine healthy slaves, the sale of which will begin at
West Point on Monday, 4th of August. The said ship is not two years
old, well-fitted and manned, and will take in tobacco for Bristol at
14 pounds per ton. Such gentlemen as are inclined to ship to Thos.
Chamberlayne & Co., from York or James river, are requested to send
their orders on board to John Lidderdale.

1746, JULY 31. Arrived from Gambia, the ship _Gildart_ with 250 choice
Gambia slaves, the sale whereof will begin at Hobb's Hole on the
Rappahannock, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, the 5th, 6th, 7th of
August; and in Brown's church the Monday following, where the sale
will continue until completed. The said ship is a new vessel mounted
with 20 guns, navigated with 45 men, and will take on tobacco for
Liverpool at 14 pounds per ton. Apply to John Lidderdale, Harmer &

1751, JANUARY 1. Entered in York river the snow _London_ of Virginia,
Alex Leslie master.

1751, JANUARY 14. Cleared from York the sloop _Merry Fellows_, Thomas
Perrin, for Barbadoes.

1751, JANUARY 18. Cleared from York the snow _London_ of Virginia,
Alex Leslie master.

1751, JANUARY 24. Cleared from York the snow _John and Mary_, of
Virginia, Anthony Allen.

1752, SEPTEMBER 21. Cleared from the Upper District of James river:
(1) the ship _Bobby of Virginia_, John Cook, for London with 322 hhd.
tobacco, 20 tons pig iron, and 7500 staves. (2) The snow _Phoenix_ of
Virginia, Samuel Kelly, for London, with 238 hhd. tobacco, 22
elephant's teeth, 1400 staves, 3200 heading, 50 pine planks, 100 hand
spikes, and 14 oars.

1752, NOVEMBER 4. Cleared from the port of South Potomac, the _Caple_
of Virginia, Samuel Curle, for Hampton, with 300 bu. Indian corn, 30
casks molasses, 17 bbl. and 6 tierce sugar, and 5 hhd. rum.

Entered at the port of Accomack the following Vessels:

1768, MAY 13. Schooner _Anne_, William Wainhouse, from New York with 2
boxes chocolate, 800 wt. ham, 6 bbl. cordial, 3 cases and 2 half-bbl.
rum, 6 cases and 1 bbl. loaf sugar, 1 quarter box glass, 6 hhd., 3
tierces, and 1 bbl. molasses.

1768, MAY 17. Sloop _Nancy_, Johannes Watson, from Philadelphia.

1768, MAY 18. Sloop _Endeavor_, Edmund Joyne, from Maryland.

1768, MAY 31. Schooner _Betsey and Esther_, Stephen Sampson, from
Barbadoes with 24 hhd. rum, and 13 bbl. Muscavado sugar.

1768, JUNE 6. Sloop _Nancy_, Johannes Watson, from Philadelphia with
200 bu. salt, and a parcel of earthen ware.

1768, JUNE 10. Schooner _Little Betsy_, Zephaniah Brown, from Rhode
Island, with one-half ton hollow iron ware, 2 hhd. rum, 20 bu. salt, a
parcel of earthen ware, 2 riding chairs, 2 desks, 2 saddles, half-doz.
house chairs, 2 trunks European goods, and 1 hhd. molasses.

1768, JUNE 11. Sloop _John and Betsey_, W. B. Hunting, from
Philadelphia, with 1 box loaf sugar, 250 bu. salt, 2000 wt. cordage, 3
bbl. limes, 3 boxes European goods, 1 cask nails, 1 quarter-cask gun
powder, 8 bolts duck, and a parcel of earthen ware.

1768, JUNE 13. Schooner _Jeany and Sally_, Reubin Joyne, from Nevis
and St. Eustatia, with 7 hhd. rum, 1 hhd. molasses, 3 bbl. sugar, 3
hhd. foreign brown sugar.

1768, JUNE 20. Schooner _Old Plantation_, Laban Pettit, from
Philadelphia, with 6 boxes chocolate, 2 boxes soap, 2 crates earthen
ware, 4 saddles, 4 anchors, 3 doz. scythes, 1 bbl. loaf sugar, 2
tierces and 16 pieces of English duck, 1 trunk of European goods, 1
chest sweet oil, 1 cask nails, 3 kegs pipes, 1 tierce empty bottles, 1
box looking glasses, 2 bolts oznabrigs, and 1 piece sheeting.

Cleared at the port of Accomack:

1768, MAY 24. Sloop _Nancy_, Johannes Watson, for Philadelphia, with
1300 bu. corn, 5 bags feathers.

1768, MAY 28. Schooner _Friendship_, Daniel Sturgis, for Halifax with
3000 bu. corn.

1768, MAY 28. Sloop _Endeavour_, Edmund Joyne, for Boston, with 1600
bu. corn, and 200 bu. oats.

1768, MAY 28. Sloop _John and Betsy_, W. B. Bunting, for Philadelphia,
with 1000 bu. corn, 20 bu. wheat, 60 bu. oats, 400 wt. feathers.

1768, JUNE 1. Schooner _Leah_, John Bradford, for Barbadoes, with 2000
bu. corn.

1768, JUNE 4. Sloop _Polly_, Thomas Alberton, for Philadelphia, with
900 bu. corn, 5 bbl. pork.

1768, JUNE 9. Sloop _Nancy_, Johannes Watson, for Philadelphia, with
1350 bu. corn, and 20 bu. oats.

1768, JUNE 9. Schooner _Skipton_, William Patron, for Maryland, with
700 bu. corn, 1000 wt. bacon, 2 cwt. feathers, 10,000 shingles.

1768, JUNE 27. Schooner _Old Plantation_, Laban Pettit, for
Philadelphia, with 1200 bu. oats.

1768, JUNE 28. Schooner _Little Betsey_, Zephaniah Brown, for Rhode
Island, with 1650 bu. corn, 12 bu. wheat, 10 bu. pease, 10 bu. rye, 4
bags feathers, and 1 bag cotton.

An analysis of these items shows that the vessels entered and cleared
at the York river, Lower James river, Hampton, Upper District of James
river, Rappahannock, Pamunkey, Nansemond, and Severn river. At least
half of the entries and clearances were made in the York river. It
will be noted that the same vessel made a number of entries and
clearances. In the list are brigs, brigantines, sloops, schooners,
snows, and ships, most of them Virginia owned, and we like to think
they were Virginia built as well. Only six ships are listed as
Virginia owned, yet the names of some of the others are so strictly
Virginia names--_Braxton_, _Harrison_, _Virginia Planter_--that is
seems highly probable that they too were Virginia owned. The names of
only ten owners are given.

The information received by the _Gazette_ was not always accurate.
Occasionally a vessel is listed as two vessels of different rigs, but
having the same name and the same master was evidence enough that they
were one and the same. The _John and Mary_, Richard Tillidge master,
is listed as a brigantine for two trips, a snow for eight trips, and a
sloop, John Briggs master, for one entry. The _Robert and John_, John
Cooke master, is listed both as a brig and a brigantine. Sometimes the
name of a vessel was changed after its first appearance as in the case
of the _Katherine and Lenora_ which appeared on three trips thereafter
as the _Kitty and Nora_, James McCullock master.

The cargoes of vessels clearing for Europe and the West Indies
contained for the most part tobacco, corn, wheat, beans, pease,
beeswax and staves. The cargoes from vessels entering from Europe
would contain goods of various kinds; vessels from the West Indies
would bring rum, molasses, sugar, ginger, salt, and occasionally a
slave. In 1746, two ship loads of slaves were brought to the colony
and sold, a part of the sale being conducted in a church.

Transcriber's Note:

Research indicates the copyright of this book was not renewed.

Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.

Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have been retained as

Words printed in italics are marked with underlines: _italics_.

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