NOTES ON SURRY COUNTY'S HISTORY
Surry County, Virginia, was named for the English County of Surrey. County court records begin with 1652, when Surry was formed from the part of James City County that lay southwest of James River. Mr. William Thomas, Mr. William Edwards, and Mr. George Stephens were Surry County's first representatives in the House of Burgesses (the General Assembly) that year.
Samuel Argall, Esquire, "principal Governor of Virginia," set the boundaries of Jamestown by proclamation on 28 March 1619 to include the whole island, with part of the main land lying on the east side of Argall Town adjoining the 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." All settlers within these boundaries were considered members of the corporation and parish of Jamestown.
James City County was one of eight original shires designated in 1634. At that time it extended toward the southwest between Charles City and Isle of Wight (then Warrosquyoake), being terminated later by the boundary with North Carolina. South of the James River it was separated from Isle of Wight county by Lawne's Creek and from Charles City County (later Prince George County) by Upper Chippokes Creek. James City was made the capitol of the colony in 1639 by an Act of the Assembly.
Richard Pace was only one of the settlers on the south shore of James River. In May 1625 The Virginia Company of London listed sixteen settlers in the area that became Surry County. The Virginia Company's development of Virginia did not meet the expectations of the company stockholders or the English government. Sir Francis Wyatt, the last governor under the Virginia Company, became the first crown appointed governor 24 May 1624.
The crown honored patents issued by the Company and granted more lands to encourage settlement. Individuals could acquire one headright by paying the transportation cost of one person into the colony. One headright could be exchanged for fifty acres of Virginia land. Soon headrights were being sold, the system became corrupted, and in 1705 the General Assembly attempted to reform it. The 1705 act explicitly stated that individuals could not claim an individual headright more than once or claim headrights for sailors, and land claimants were required to submit sworn statements verifying their headright lists in county courts.
By 1640 James City County's population south of James River was sufficient to support a new parish, and Lawne's Creek Parish was established. Southwark Parish was separated from James City Parish in 1647, and Surry County was separated from James City County five years later. Soon afterward Arthur Allen built his Jacobean brick house, now known as Bacon's Castle because it was occupied as a fort or "castle" during Bacon's Rebellion in 1676.
Reports to the Bishop of London by the ministers of Lawne's Creek and Southwark parishes in the year 1724 were recorded by Bishop Meade. They were not prosperous parishes. In 1738 Albemarle Parish was created from those parts of Lawne's Creek and Southwark parishes that lay southwest of Blackwater River. The remaining parts of Lawne's Creek and Southwark were united into Southwark Parish. The entire area of Albemarle Parish was incorporated into Sussex County when it was formed from the southwestern end of Surry County in 1754.References