James City county was one of the eight original shires that were formed in 1634 in the state of Virginia. The first claim to land was made in 1619, where it was proclaimed by the Governor Samuel Argall:
“To all to whom these presents shall come, I Samuel Argall, Esq., and principal Governor of Virginia, do by these presents testify, and upon my certain Knowledge hereby do make manifest the bounds and limits of Jamestown how far it doth extend every way that is to say the whole island, with part of the main land lying on the East side of Argall town, and adjoining upon the said Island, also the neck of land on the north part, and so to the further part of Archer* ‘s Hope ; also Hog Island ; and from thence to the four mile Tree on the south, usually called by the name of Tappahannock, in all which several places of ground I hereby give, leave and license for the inhabitants of Jamestown to plant as members of the corporation and parish of the same. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand the 28 the day of March [0. S.] in the year of our Lord 1619, and on the 12 the year of the plantation” (Brown, 287-288).
This was then passed on to the General Assembly, which set up the then-final placement of James City County borders. According to the census, there were approximately 886 people living there at this time (Foley, VI-VII). Prior to its division by the royal crown, Virginia had been settling Jamestown in 1607. They were a business venture that had gone poorly within the first set of years, developing diseases and disorders, such as malaria or intestinal issues. It was not until 1619 that a government had sprung up into the area, but five years later, the charter was revoked and the crown owned all of Virginia (Lewis, 9).
Brown, Alexander. The First Republic in America. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1898.
Foley, Louise Pledge Heath. Early Virginia Families Along the James River. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1990.
Lewis, Sarah. James City County. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2009.
Historical Marker “James City County Z-266,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.
“Map of the 8 Original Shires,” Original Shires of Virginia, http://lawsondna.org (accessed May 2, 2012).
“Sir Samuel Argall,” Find a Grave, www.findagrave.com (accessed May 2, 2012).
This marker and James City County Z-266 share the same marker text and info. Click here for James City County Z-266.