James City

James City County Genealogy, Wills, Estates, Settlers to Jamestown

James City County was created in 1634 as James City Shire by order of King Charles I. The county seat is Williamsburg which was first settled in 1607 by English colonists. Jamestown, which evolved into James City County, was named for King James I. When King James revoked the charter of the London Company in 1624, Virginia became the first royal colony of the king. By 1634, the colony was divided into eight counties, among them were James City and the Charles River, now known as York. The division into counties laid the foundation for strong local government that later served as a model to states as they were admitted into the union. Every year until 1632, the Assembly met at the Jamestown church. The Assembly is believed to have met in the home of the governor until about 1699 when the capital was moved inland to Middle Plantation, which was renamed Williamsburg. Moving the county seat was unpopular with local residents, however in 1715, it was moved from Jamestown to Williamsburg. Some very historical events occurred in Jamestown. For one thing, the rebellion of Nathaniel Bacon and his followers in an effort to get the governor to prevent Indian raids and massacres burned Jamestown.

James City County Records available to members of Virginia Pioneers
  • 1607 Settlers of Jamestown(list of names)
Digital Images of Will Book No. 1, 1865 to 1887

Testators: Allen, William ;| Ashlock, Richard |Barnes, William H. | Bennett, Abel | Bragg, Hugh | Bratcliff, George | Browning, A. J. | Browning, Absalom, estate | Bush, William, estate | Canaday, Jonathan | Chapman, Aaron | Clowe, John, estate | Davis, Benjamin Allen | Debriss, William | Dibble, A. S. | Fielding, Jeremiah, estate | Fox, George W. | Hankins, George | Harrell, Burrell | Harris, Abby | Hazlewood, George | Henley, Thomas | Hinson, John | Hockaday, Susan | Hockaday, William, estate | Hubbard, Charles M. | Hubbard, William B., estate | Hundley, Judith | Hundley, Thomas | Jackson, John | Jones, Henley (trust) | Jones, John W. | Jones, William M. | Knight, Garrett | Marston, Dandridge | Merridith, John | Minor, William J. | Moore, Horace, estate | Moore, Moses | Morris, James S. | Mulford, Furman | Peggott, Nathaniel | Pierce, Elizabeth B. | Pitts, Simeon | Post, Christopher | Power, H. S. B. | Ratcliffe, John | Richardson, B. M., estate | Richardson, Elizabeth | Russell, Simon, estate | Scarborough, James | Slater, Beverly | Spencer, Martha | Stewart, George W., estate | Spraggins, S. B., estate | Taylor, Frances P. | Taylor, Mathew, estate | Taylor, P. A. | Taylor, Robert P. | Taylor, Thomas | Turner, Archer | Vaiden, Ann | Van Horne, Cornelius | Waller, Littleton | Wallis, Archer | Walls, William B. | Whitaker, R. H., estate | Wilbern, William | Wilkins, John W., ward | Wise, David, estate | Wynne, Thomas | Yerby, William, estate

Miscellaneous Documents

Broadribb, William, LWT, transcription
Madison, James, LWT (1812), transcription
Randolph, John (Sir) of Williamsburg, LWT (1735), transcription
Rolfe, Johis, LWT, transcription
Sherwood, William, LWT, transcription
Taliaferro, Richard, LWT, transcription


  • 1704 Quit Rent Rolls

Traced genealogies and family histories of James City County are available to Members!


The early James City County records did not survive, however, all subsequent records are available to members

The First Houses in Jamestown

During the spring months of 1608, the settlers cut cedar logs and prepared “clapboards” to be returned in a Supply vessel and sold in England. Later, when settlers discovered some golden-colored soil, there seems to have been a mild ” old rush.” This all delayed early spring clearing and planting, and boded ill for the coming summer when Smith undertook additional explorations.

Jamestown Colonists Slaughtered by Indians in 1622/3

Hardships in the Colony: Crop: A Field of Flax. More than 300 Englishmen, women, and children died in the massacre of 1622. Effectually, their settlements were reduced to six or seven in number. The several children who survived the massacre had hidden themselves in the woods. A great hunger and hardship settled upon the English. The glass-making houses could no longer be built at Jamestown, and the iron works planned at Falling Creek after some ore was found on the ground, slipped into oblivion. King Charles, being informed of the slaughter and ruination of the colony sympathized and dissolved the Virginia Company in 1626. The result was that the country and government were reduced, and he appointed the governor and council himself, this time directing that all patents and processes to issue in his own name, and he would receive a quit rent of two shillings for every hundred acres of land. He established a constitution to be by a governor, council, and assembly for apportioning land and granting patents to particular adventurers. The libery of taking up land, and the ambition each man had of being lord of a vast, though unimproved territory, together with the advantage of the many rivers, which afford commodious roads for shipping at every man’s door, made the settlement of towns difficult. Source: The History of Virginia by Robert Beverley.

1619 Immigrants from Newgate Prison to Kikotan

When the English colonists arrived in Jamestown in 1607, there was a tribe of Algonquian Indians residing in the vicinity of Hampton Roads. The natives were treacherous under Chief Powhatan, who had slain the weroance at Kikotan in 1597. He then appointed his young son Pochins as his successor at Hampton Roads. Some of the tribe had escaped and resettled along the Plankatank River, but Powhatan found and annihilated them in 1608. Actually, the English explorers were welcomed in 1607 by friendly Indians. However, two years later, after John Smith sent Captain Martin to take over the island inhabited by the Nansemonds, while he was doing so, seventeen men mutinied and went to Kikotan to purchase corn, but were killed. Martin abandoned his cause to take Nansemond Island and returned to Jamestown. The colonists then built Fort Algernon at Old Point Comfort beside their main village in October 1609. Although unwelcome at Kikotan, the English continued to land at Hampton Roads. In 1619 the English ship Margaret from Bristol landed at Kikotan on November 30th. A list of names is available to members of 8 Genealogy Websites under ” Immigrants”

What is a Magazine Ship?

The magazine is the name of a place where ammunition is stored on board a vessel and included explosive materials. The London Company was quite strict in the weapons sent to the colony and the affairs of the magazine were administered by a director who was assisted by a committee of five counselors. One the cargo was received into the colony, the accounts thereof were required to be passed upon by a team of auditors specially nominated in a Quarter Court. Thus, the weapons received into the colony for defensive maneuvers were carefully guarded as they were sorely needed by the colonists as a defense against a huge population of marauding Indian tribes in the region. This means that the adventurers held separate meetings to conduct all routine business affairs. During the settlement of Jamestown, no outside trader was permitted to ship supplies into the Colony. The first vessels were referred to as Supply ships because they transported supplies into the Colony as well as a those passengers proposing to reside in Virginia. Fevers, dysentery and Indian attacks were a way of life and restricted the settlers to reside within the confines of a palisade fence. In the first ten years or so, a number of Supply ships arrived in the colony and it was not uncommon for the settlers to assume the return voyage to England in search of a new wife to replace the one which had died. After the year 1619, the vessel which conveyed articles and supplies into the Jamestown settlement was called the magazine ship.

 The articles purchased by the adventurers who entered into a joint stock (known as the magazine) were conveyed by the magazine ship to the New World. Also, its cargo was confined to necessities. Several immigrants were appointed to take charge of the goods both before and after the vessel arrived in Jamestown. The first magazine vessel was called the Susan, a small vessel whose cargo was restricted only to the clothing that the Colonists needed the most. The goods of the Susan were placed in the care of Abraham Piersey as the Cape Merchant, both during the voyage and after Virginia was reached. As the struggling colonists commenced their chores, the only commodities produced were those which assured a profit when sold in England, such as tobacco and sassafras. The exported cargo was then exchanged for the contents of the arriving magazine ship.