Chippoakes Creek, Lawnes Creek, and the Blackwater River, Virginia


Since many of my relatives settled in this area in the early 1600’s, I have accumulated some information about these locations, which I share here.  I will try to provide links back to this page when the area is mentioned in any individual ancestry line, as I get around to putting those online.  (I have a massive amount of information in my files.  This will take awhile.)

First, a few maps to locate these tributaries as they empty into the James River in Virginia, then the commentary from a number of sources.

Notice where Jamestown, the earliest settlement, is in relation to these waterways.

The map is from Mary McCarthy’s book, Virginia Adventurers and Immigrants 1607-1624.

Google Maps

Google Maps

Chippeoakes, Lawnes Creek, and Blackwater, a History, edited by Glenda Taylor

From Wikipedia:

“Shortly after establishment of the settlement at Jamestown in 1607, English settlers explored and began settling the area…Captain John Smith in 1608 crossed the James River and obtained fourteen bushels of corn from the Native American inhabitants, the Warrosquyoackes or Warraskoyaks. They were a tribe of the Powhatan Confederacy, who had three towns in the area of modern Smithfield. The Warraskoyaks were driven off from their villages in 1622 and 1627, as part of the reprisals for the Great Massacre of 1622.[1]

I have a great deal of information about this time period which I will post elsewhere.  Here I am focused on Chippoakes and Lawnes Creek and Blackwater.

“The site of the town of Claremont (Claremont Plantation, which was built by our ancestor, Arthur Allen, gt), across the James River from Jamestown, was explored by Capt. John Smith as palisades were being built on the island. Smith described meeting the Indian chief on the south side of the river, climbing the “mountain” above the shore, and the straight rows of corn under cultivation by the “Chippoacks” Indian tribe. Tribal boundaries were the Upper and Lower Chippokes creeks.

“Plantations were quickly seated along the Upper Chippokes. The loss of Virginia Company records leaves uncertainties, but many owners are identified in the census of 1624, in land grants that often trace renewed patents to the original owner, and in wills found in England.[2]

Enter Christopher Lawne and Richard Bennett:

“The first English plantations along the south shore within present-day Isle of Wight were established by Puritan colonists, beginning with that of Christopher Lawne in May 1628. Several members of the Puritan Bennett family also came to settle the area, including Richard Bennett who led the Puritans to neighboring Nansemond in 1635, and later became governor of the Virginia Colony.[3]

Some of our Ancestors came with Bennett and also moved with him to Nansemond.

 “The first English settlement in Isle of Wight county was made by Capt. Christopher Lawne (for whom Lawne’s Creek is named) and Sir Richard Worsley, knight baronet, and their associates, vis.: Nathaniel Basse, gentleman; John Hobson, gentleman; Anthony Olevan, Richard Wiseman, Robert Newland, Robert Gyner, and William Wills.[4]

We will find this Basse, gentleman, in connection with our ancestors.

“On April 27, 1619, they arrived at Jamestown, with one hundred settlers, in a ship commanded by Capt. Evans.  They immediately settled near the mouth of a creek on the south side of the James River, still known as Lawne’s Creek (sometimes improperly written Lyon’s Creek…

“Capt. Lawne and Ensign Washer represented the settlement known as Lawne’s Plantations in the first House of Burgesses, which met on the 30th day of July 1619.

Within a year Capt. Lawne died.

“The London Company, in Nov. 30, 1620, ordered that ‘In regard of the late mortality of the persons transported heretofore by the late Capt. Lawne, his associates be granted till midsummer, 1625, to make up the number of persons they were disposed to bring.’

“It also declared that the plantation was to be henceforth called Isle of Wight Plantation…” Its former name had been variously spelled Warrosquoyoke, Warrosqueak, Warrasquoyke, etc. and was often called that for a number of years before the new name became well known.[5]

Richard Bennett and Edward Bennett were also closely connected with several of our ancestors.  Some of our ancestors came with the Bennetts in 1621:

“…On Nov. 21, 1621, Edward Bennett, a rich merchant of London, was granted a patent for a plantation upon the condition of settling two hundred emigrants.  Associated with him in that patent were his brother Robert Bennett, and his nephew Richard Bennett, Thomas Ayres, Thomas Wiseman and Richard Wiseman’ and in Feb., 1622, the ‘Sea Flower’ arrived with one hundred and twenty settlers, under command of Cpt. Ralph Hamor, one of the Council.  Among them were Rev. Wm. Bennett and George Harrison, kinsmen of Edward Bennett.  Their place of settlement was called Warrosquoyacke, or sometimes ‘Edward Bennett’s Plantation…’   [6]

The ship Sea Flower had been captained by one of our relatives in trade in the East Indies.  That ship is not be confused with a similarly named ship that wrecked off the coast of Bermuda in 1609.  That reference will be in another post.

“…On the day the patent last mentioned was granted, Arthur Swaine, Capt. Nathaniel Basse and others undertook to establish another plantation in the same neighborhood.  Capt. Basse came over in person and his plantation was known as ‘ Basse’s Choice,’ and was situated on Warrosquoyacke (now Pagan) River.

The houses of Capt. Basse’s Plantation were building when…” the great Indian Massacre occurred against 80 settlements on the north and south sides of the James River.”  (1622  gt)[7]

One of the survivors of the big Indian massacre was a man named Pace, who was associated with our relatives.

…” A converted Indian who resided with Mr. Pace and who was treated by him as a son, revealed the plot to him in the night of the 21st.  Mr. Pace immediately secured his house and rowed himself up to Jamestown, where he disclosed the plot…’

“…The census of 1623-24 at Warrosqueak and Bassett’s choice 53 persons, 26 having died since last April.…[8]

Among those who had died was Mr. Robert Bennett, the brother of Edward Bennett, the rich London merchant, and first minister Mr. Wm. Bennett, doubtless one of the same family.   Richard Bennett lived and would soon move with many of our relatives to Nansemond County.

“…From the beginning of 1626 the colony entered upon a more prosperous era, and from then on a continuous stream of emigrants were granted patents.

“…By 1635 the population of the county was 522.  In 1658, 23 years later, it was about 2019.’[9]

Within and overlapping counties were “parishes.”

Here this post briefly gets “into the weeds” with boundary lines, etc.ounty and parish boundaries, but will be of interest to genealogists who have to sort out just where their relatives were in terms of these overlapping titles for the same places.  One parish carved out of another, one county divided into another, etc.  Difficult to sort out starting at county names as they are now.  So, if you are not someone working into the weeds about all this, feel free to navigate elsewhere for now…

Lawnes Creek Parish

“…Lawne’s Creek Parish had been established by the General Assembly in 1640 in that part of James City County south of the James which would later become part of Surry.  It bore the name of Capt. Christopher Lawne who settled in 1619 in the area which was referred to as Lawne’s Plantation and Lawne’s Creek.  This parish was small, beginning ‘from the Mouth of Hogg Island Creek along by the James River to Lawnes Creek and from Lawnes Creek to the head of the uppermost branches of the said creek and from the head of the brances of Lawnes Creek to the branches of Chippokes Creek westerly and then to the mouth of Chippokes Creek and thence to Hogg Island.Creek.”  [10]

While early acts also described a Chippokes Parish, it seems to have been absorbed by Lawne’s Creek.

More about Lawnes Creek Parish

An Act of March, 1643, relieved the inhabitants of the burden of supporting James City Parish, because they were living within Lawne’s Creek Parish.. .

Southwark Parish was created in 1647 and described as encompassing all the territory extending from “the colledge” [College Creek] to (and including) the Upper Chipoaks [Upper Chippokes Creek]. Surry County was cut off from James City County in 1652, and Lawne’s Creek and Southwark Parishes then lay within it.

Upon the organization of Brunswick County in 1732, Lawne’s Creek and Southwark Parishes were divided at the Blackwater River. Their areas south of the river were combined into the new Albemarle Parish. Their areas north of the river were combined into Southwark Parish, so that Lawne’s Creek Parish ceased to exist as a separate entity. [11]

 Southwark Parish:

“Southwark Parish was established in 1647 by the General Assembly (spelling original) ‘Upon the petition of the inhabitants of all territory extending from the colledge to the Upper Chipoaks, including the said Upper Chipoaks, that there might be granted unto them the priviledge of a parish which they desire may be called Southwark parish.” As College Run (doubtless named for Thomas Colledge, an early settler) parallels closely Lower Chippokes Creek, we see that Southwark Parish covered the large area between the two Chippokes and that Lawne’s Parish covered the relatively narrow area between Lower Chippokes and Lawne’s Creek. … [12]

Surrey County

In 1652 Surry county was created out of that part of James City south of the James and thus included the parishes of Lawne’s Creek and SouthwarkBrunswick County was created in 1720 with portions of Isle of Wight and Surry Counties falling within its bounds.  Portions of Lawne’s Creek and Southwark Parishes thus became part of St. Andrew’s Parish in Brunswick County.[13]

I will be posting more material with links back to this post.

Onward with our explorations.

[1] Wikipedia

[2] “Chippokes Settlers Joined Bacon’s Rebellion,” By Virginia H. Rollings Columnist,

[3] Wikipedia

[4] History of Isle of Wight County by E. M. Morrison,

[5] History of Isle of Wight County by E. M. Morrison

[6] History of Isle of Wight County by E. M. Morrison,

[7] History of Isle of Wight County by E. M. Morrison,

[8] History of Isle of Wight County

[9] History of Isle of Wight County

[10] From Surry County Virginia Tithables, 1668-1703  By Edgar MacDonald, Richard Slatten:

[11] References: Charles Francis Cocke, Parish Lines Diocese of Southern Virginia (1964, Richmond, VA) 56-61;
William Waller Hening, The Statutes at Large…, vol I (Charlottesville, 1969) 277 cited by Cocke.

[12] From Surry County Virginia Tithables, 1668-1703  By Edgar MacDonald, Richard Slatten:

[13] From Surry County Virginia Tithables, 1668-1703  By Edgar MacDonald, Richard Slatten: