History is alive, widely diverse
and interesting . . .
The following articles are intended to evoke interest in local historical events that will broaden one's understanding of who we are, where we came from and (possibly) where we are heading . . .
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|Another Historic house to be moved . . .|
|Colonel Josiah Parker ... Our Patriot||Ham Maker and More ... Charles Henry Gray|
|Isle of County Homes on the National Registry||IWC .. Pictures in Time|
|Assessors Books for 1778 from Isle of Wight County|
Assessors Books for 1778 from Isle of Wight County; Wm. and Mary Qrtly., Vol.
25, No. 3
Transcribed by Kathy Merrill for the USGenWeb Archives Special Collections Project
Assessors Books for 1778 from Isle of Wight County
William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Vol. 25, No. 3.
(Jan., 1917), pp. 168-170.
ASSESSORS BOOK FOR 1778 FROM ISLE OF
In the clerk's office of Isle of Wight County there is a book recording re-
turns from three districts in Isle of Wight County made under the tax law of
October, 1777. (Hening's Statutes at Large, IX., 349-368.) Under this law a
tax rate of ten shillings on every hundred pounds value, or 1/2 per cent, was
levied on lands, slaves, mulatto servants to 31 years of age, horses, mules,
plate and money in actual possession exceeding 5L. In addition, a rate of two
shillings was levied on every pound of annual interest received on all debts;
ten shillings a wheel upon all riding carriages, four pence per head on all neat
cattle, and five shillings per poll upon all free tithables above the age of 21.
It is noticeable that no tax was laid on any farming utensils nor on hogs,
sheep or goats or fowl.
In the three districts there were 216 property owners, of whom 138 were land
owners. There were 186 free white tithables above 21 years which included all
the white men perhaps in the three districts. Of the land owners only 19 had
tracts under one hundred acres of land, and 36 land owners were not counted in
the free tithables on account of being women, or residents of other counties.
Since it is to be presumed that some of the tithables above 21 years of age, who
had no land themselves, had expectant interests in the same, dependent on the
death of a father or other near relative, the proportion of land owners to the
population was very large.
Twenty of the land owners had 500 acres or more: Thomas Scott 500, Samuel
Wilson 800, Goodrich Wilson 737 acres and lots, John Jennings Wheadon 600 acres,
Lawrence Baker 1175, Nathaniel Burwell 1040, James Dering 750, Richard Hardy
1075, John Harmanson (Eastern Shore) 1260, Joseph Fullgham 510, Brewer Godwin
752, Tristam Norsworthy, Sr., 522, Tristram Norsworhty, Jr., 1608, Nicholas
Parker 500, John Applewhite 525, Jonathan Godwin 532, John Pitt 1200, Joseph
Parker 1200, Mills Wilkinson 910, James Peden 500.
There were 1012 slaves, divided among 164 slave owners, of whom 44 owned ten
or more. William Barlow 12, Jesse Barlow 11, Lawrence Baker, Esq., 37, Nathaniel
Burwell 41, James Dering 17, Jesse Glover 12, Richard Hardy 21, Joseph Hill
13, William Hollowell 10, Henry Harrison 13, Timothy Tyne 12, Samuel Wilson 17,
Francis Wrenn 10, John Jennings Wheadon 36, Goodrich Wilson 20, Charles Burgess
15, John Driver 10, Edmund Godwin 10, Ralph Gibbs 14, Brewer Godwin, gent. 30,
Martha King 13, Josephe Lawrence 10, Tristam Norsworthy, Sr. 16, Tristram
Norsworthy, Jr., 14, George Norsworthy 12, Thomas Parker 14, Nicholas Parker 10,
Henry Pitt 12, John Applewhite 24, John Bridger, Jun., 19, Jeremiah Cutchin 13,
Priscilla Cutchin 16, Joseph Fullgham 15, Jeremiah Godwin 19, Samuel Godwin 17,
Jonathan Godwin 24, Richard Jordan 18, John Smelly 11, Ralph West 13, James
Wells 11, Ann Weston 10, Mills Wilkinson 26, James Pedan 18, John Harvey 11.
Nathaniel Burwell had the largest number of slaves 41, Lawrence Baker came
next with 37, John Jennings Wheadon came third with 36, Brewer Godwin came
fourth with 30, John Applewhite came fifth with 24 and Richard Hardy, father of
Hon. Samuel Hardy, of the continental Congress, came sixth with 21. No one
else had more than 20.
The following 19 owned riding carriages (all two wheeled): John Jordan 1,
James Jordan 1, Lucy Miller 1, Francis Wrenn 1, Goodrich Willson 1, Elizabeth
Applewhite 1, Charles Burgess 1, John Driver 1, Edmund Godwin 1, Brewer Godwin
1, Hezekiah Holliday 1, Nicholas Parker 1, Henry Pitt 1, John Applewhite 1,
Priscilla Cutchin 1, Joseph Fullgham 1, John Godwin 1, James Wills 1, and
James Peden 1.
The following fifteen were returned as owners of silver plate: Lawrence
Baker, Esq., 10L, 12s., jesse Barlow, 10L, 5s., Nathaniel Burwell 135L, Richard
Hardy, gent., 7L, Henry Harrison 2L, 10s., John Oliff 11L, 5s, Samuel Wilson
10L, 10s., John Jennings Wheadon 1L, 5s., Goodrich Wilson 10L 10s., Elizabeth
Applewhite 7L, 10s., Jeremiah Godwin 8L, 10s., Brewer Godwin 36L, George
Norsworhty 15L, Nicholas Parker 14L, Thomas Smith 14L.
The following persons were classed as "recusants", who had declined or neg-
lected to take the oath of allegiance to the State, and were therefore subjected
to double taxes: William Braswell, Rev. William Duncan, William Hollowell,
William Outland, Thomas Scott, George Scott, Josiah Outland, Dick Bowzer, James
The State has a complete set of the different County Assessors books from
1782 to the present, but this is the only complete report known to me for any
county, or part of a county, previous to that year.
Following a very successful Smithfield “Patriot’s Day” it is well to reflect on the exceptional life of perhaps our county’s most notable patriot, Colonel Josiah Parker.
For the record, he was born at his family’s homestead “Macclesfield” on the James River in northern Isle of Wight County 11 May 1751 and also died there 11 March 1810. The name reflects the Parker Family’s ancestral estates in England and, also for the record, is pronounced “mack-suls-field” from the English practice of differentiating between twin consonants. The name for this area on “Smith Neck” in present-day Carrollton is often misspelled and therefore pronounced incorrectly. The Parker Family had established themselves here in 1638 by land grant only four years after the founding of our county.
To put Josiah Parker’s renown into context, please call to mind the famous historical painting of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze. Josiah Parker is portrayed immediately behind George Washington in that famous overcrowded boat in which they should have all been seated rather than standing. This painting symbolizes the Continental Army’s brilliant Christmas attack on a Hessian garrison in winter quarters at Trenton, New Jersey. Lieutenant Colonel Josiah Parker heroically lead Virginia’s Fifth Regiment of Foot across the Delaware River to be the first to engage the German grenadiers who were quickly routed. This epic battle on a cold December morning included many soldiers from Isle of Wight County and was an unbelievable American victory, which turned the tide of revolution in favor of the colonists. For his gallant efforts Josiah Parker received the sword of surrender from the defeated commander Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall. This event is also reflected in another famous period painting by John Trumbull: “Capture of the Hessians at Trenton.” Copies of both paintings are on display in Boykin’s Tavern at Isle of Wight, Virginia.
But even before the “embattled farmer’s…shot heard ‘round the world” on Lexington Green which started the whole thing, Parker was a staunch supporter of “independency.” In January of 1775, he was elected, at age 23, a founding member of Isle of Wight County’s first revolutionary “County Committee” whose purpose was to secure guns and powder for the militia to enforce the boycott of British imports. In December of 1775 he commanded Virginia Militia troops at Great Bridge and when the Continental Army was established he received a Major’s commission and then was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in August of 1776.
Immediately following the fighting at Trenton, Parker gained George Washington’s praise when three Virginia regiments under Parker’s command held the Assunpink Bridge against Lord Cornwallis thus enabling Washington’s Army to successfully defeat the British at Princeton. The brilliantly led battles of Trenton and Princeton “…fanned the dying embers of the Revolution into lively flame.” Parker was then promoted to Colonel in April of 1777 and went on to be called “a hero” in the Virginia Gazette for his extraordinarily brave leadership at the Battle of Brandywine Creek in September when his regiment was the only patriot unit capable of standing against the British thus saving the rest of the Continental Army.
Returning to his home in Isle of Wight in early 1778 to care for his family he was called to duty again in 1780 when the British Army’s southern campaign reached Suffolk. He became commander of all Virginia Militia units south of the James River in January of 1781 and helped counter the invasions of Southern Virginia by Benedict Arnold and Charles Cornwallis. Although he was unable to stop the British and German incursion into Isle of Wight County at the fighting at Mackie’s Mill just south of Smithfield, Parker subsequently defeated British forces under Banastre Tarleton at Scott’s Old Field in Nansemond County on 24 July 1781.
During the War for American Independence, Josiah Parker was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates to represent his district in 1779, 1782 and 1783 and following the war he was selected Naval Officer of the Elizabeth River District at Portsmouth because of his long-time passion and experience in Navy affairs. He was elected to the US Congress in 1789 and served four terms through 1801. Parker participated in the vote to pass the Bill of Rights and from 1793-99 was Chairman of the House Committee for Naval Affairs. On this committee he received congressional approval in 1796 to build America’s first three frigates: USS Constitution, Constellation and United States and as a result of his advocacy for a strong navy, congress established the US Navy in 1799. For his efforts, Josiah Parker has been called “the father of the American Navy.”
During his tenure in Congress, Parker was the first Congressman to verbally oppose the practice of slavery. Although a slave owner himself by inheritance, he expressed the hope that “Congress would do all in its power to restore to human nature its inherent privileges; to wipe off, if possible, the stigma under which America labored; to do away with the inconsistency in our principles…and to show by our actions the pure beneficence of the doctrine held out to the world in our Declaration of Independence.” At his death in 1810, the Parker Family slave holdings at Macclesfield had dwindled to eight, possibly one family. The historical record is not clear as to their disposition but we do know that Josiah himself was instrumental in the freeing of slave Saul Matthews who assisted the patriot cause in 1781.
At the local level, Josiah Parker also served almost twenty years as a magistrate for Isle of Wight County. Magistrates or “Justices of the Peace” were the predecessors of our current county Board of Supervisors, who functioned then as both a judicial and legislative body.
In the last years of his life, Josiah Parker engaged in business and family pursuits in Isle of Wight and its’ new Town of Smithfield. This most notable and favorite son of Isle of Wight County rests today in an unmarked grave near the site of his beloved family farm at Macclesfield.
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1 Windsor Castle --- 301 Jericho Rd --- Smithfield
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This Page Updated:October 31, 2019