George Washington: A Biography - Vol. 1

By Douglas Southall Freeman | Go to book overview

APPENDIX 1-1
THE NORTHERN NECK PROPRIETARY TO 1745

THE ROOTS of the Northern Neck proprietary1 ran back to the early autumn of 1649, eight months after the execution of Charles I, when his older son, Charles II, was at St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. War in England had gone against the Royalists, but Montrose in Scotland and Ormonde in Ireland had armies that still would fight for the Stuarts. In both countries Charles 11 had been proclaimed King. With him in France, urging him to raise again the royal standard, were men who had fought at Edgehill and at Bradockdown, at Stratton and at Landsdown, at Adwalton Moor and at Lostwithiel. Some of them remembered all the bitterness of Marston Moor and Naseby and Prestoii. On the strength of what Montrose had achieved at Inverlochy and at Auldearn, they still hoped for new victories in Scotland and for the restoration of the monarchy, but at the moment some of them were selling or pawning their jewels to buy food and to pay for shelter.2

In a knowledge of their sacrifices for him, Charles decided that before he left France he would allot to a few of his most faithful supporters some of the unoccupied lands of Virginia, where, as in Ireland and in Scotland, the people were loyal to him. Such an act would have numerous precedents. Virginia colonials themselves had said, more than a decade previously, that the award of frontier lands to deserving soldiers was "the usual custom and policy of all Nations, but in more especial manner of the state of England."3 This principle, Charles might have reasoned, he could apply in behalf of none more justly than for those defenders of the throne he named in his grant.

The first of these "right trusty and well-beloved companions" of the exiled King was Ralph Lord Hopton, Baron of Stratton, then about fifty-one years

____________________
1
At the outset, acknowledgment must be made of the extent to which this appendix is based on the researchers of Fairfax Harrison, who died in 1938. In his Virginia Land Grants and in his Landmarks of Old Prince William, Mr. Harrison published much of the essential material, which he had collected with great assiduity. Contributions to the Virginia Magazine included additional facts that were obtained through expensive investigation in England. Although he concerned himself little with the lower Northern Neck, Mr. Harrison gathered many more data concerned used and he most thoughtfully placed in the VHS the copies of the transcripts of the Gooch Papers which are in the Library of Congress.
2
This continued a chronic state until the Restoration. Cf. Sir Edward Nicholas, Oct. 5, 1659: "We are [in Brussels] for want of money due H.M. The creditors are importunate and the necessities of the family incredible" ( Cal. State Papers, Dom., 165-60, p. 223).
3
Patent of July 6, 1636, quoted in Va. Land Grants, 51.

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