In the second quarter of the 17th-century, merchant George Menefie developed a 1,200-acre plantation just east of here he called Littletown. In March 1633, Dutch trader David DeVies observed that his two-acre garden was “full of Provence roses, apple, pear and cherry trees,… with different kinds of sweet-smelling herbs, such as rosemary, sage, marjoram, thyme.” Richard Kemp later acquired the tract and called it Rich Neck. Rich Neck was home to three generations of the Ludwell family and Ludwell’s Mill (at modern Lake Matoaka) was an important 18th-century landmark.
The Middle Plantation is considered to be the area between the York and James Rivers. Rich Neck was a plantation started by George Menefie on July 2, 1635 (Agbe-Davies), and contained a total of 1,200 acres under it. He recieved the land by paying 24 immigrants to come into America, and he then gained another 3,000 acres by paying for the passages of 60 individuals. Menefie, however, did not live on that land. It was then sold within a year to another wealthy colonist, Richard Kemp (McFaden et al, 5-6).
This would start a pattern of this land being owned by the wealthy. The main crop that was grown was of course tobacco, and the landowners used enslaved Africans as labor. Also, all subsequent owners would live on the property (Agbe-Davies). Richard Kemp had owned the land until 1650, when he died and his estate was left to his wife. She then remarried, making the next owner Sir Thomas Lunsford. He then died three years later (McFaden, 7).
This pattern of wealthy owners would continue on, as it was then passed down in the Ludwell family until 1814. The land was then divided into seperate tracts for sale, and the 600 acre portion known as Little Neck was a private family-owned farm (McFaden et al, 5).
Agbe-Davies, Anna. “A Brief History of the Rich Neck Plantation.” http://www.daacs.org/resources/plantations/background/6/ (Accessed March 11, 2012).
McFaden, Leslie, Philip Levy, David Muraca, and Jennifer Jones. Interim Report: The Archaeology of Rich Neck Plantation. Williamsburg: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation: 1999.
Historical Marker “Littletown W-48,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.
“Location of Rich Neck Plantation in present-day Williamsburg,” Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, www.daacs.org (accessed May 2, 2012).