jamestown, early virginia immigrants, virginia company

Unprecedented Biographical Dictionary of Early Virginia Immigrants

Martha McCartney uses recent historical scholarship as she sets the stage in her remarkable book, Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635: A Biographical Dictionary. We’re focusing on this unprecedented trove of information, formatted as an easy to use biographical dictionary of early Virginia immigrants, and sharing an excerpt from the book. 

Soon after the fateful landing of 1607, thousands of immigrants flocked to Jamestown and surrounding areas on both sides of the James and York rivers, where they struggled to maintain a foothold. This book, Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635: A Biographical Dictionary, brings together a remarkable variety of primary sources concerning every significant detail known about colony’s earliest European inhabitants. Moreover, maps provided here identify the sites at which Virginia’s earliest plantations were located and enable genealogists and students of colonial history to link most of the more than 5,500 people included in this volume to the cultural landscape.

From the earliest records relating to Virginia, we learn the basics about many of these original colonists: their origins, the names of the ships they sailed on, the names of the “hundreds” and “plantations” they inhabited, the names of their spouses and children, their occupations and their position in the colony, their relationships with fellow colonists and Indian neighbors, their living conditions as far as can be ascertained from documentary sources, their ownership of land, the dates and circumstances of their death, and a host of  fascinating details about their personal lives – all gathered together in the handy format of a biographical dictionary. In all, Ms. McCartney’s biographical dictionary provides annotated sketches of more than 5,500 persons linking the majority of them to a specific locality (a “hundred” or plantation) and a precise timeframe between 1607 and 1635. Continue reading…

Holland Land Company map of Western New York.

Holland Land Company Records: Land Research in Western New York State

Editor’s note: The following post from our archives, written by author Karen E. Livsey, provides insight into the information contained in her two volume work, Western New York Land Transactions: Extracted from the Archives of the Holland Land Company. Ms. Livsey is the Library/Archivist at the Fenton History Center in Jamestown (Chautauqua Co.), New York, and she serves as the Ellicott (N.Y.) Town Historian. She has previously appeared as a member of the Genealogical Publishing Company booth staff at national genealogical conferences.

It has been over 200 years since Joseph Ellicott completed a two and one-half year survey of the Holland Land Company’s holdings and the main land office opened in Batavia, New York. My two-volume Western New York Land Transactions: Extracted from the Archives of the Holland Land Company (Volume 1 and Volume 2) provides detailed information that can solve land research problems in western New York State. An understanding of these records and their contents, however, is a must for their successful use.

Individual settlers accounted for the majority of the sales of land in western New York State by the Holland Land Company during its thirty-plus years of operation. In the 1790s, the Dutch banking houses that created the Holland Land Company had purchased large tracts of land from Robert Morris totaling 3.3 million acres. Today that land is all of Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, and Cattaraugus counties, most of Orleans, Genesee, and Wyoming Counties, and the western part of Allegany County. Many of the early settlers coming into that area of New York State were from New England and eastern and central New York, in addition to some from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. They were followed by immigrants from Europe. Continue reading…