George Washington Papers

Enclosure: Members of the Dismal Swamp Company, 24 January 1784


Members of the Dismal Swamp Company1

[24 January 1784]

David Jemeson for Samuel Gist & Self Shares2 1
David Mead for Self & Mr[s] William Waters3 1 ½
Mr John Lewis for his Father & Nathaniel Bacon4 2
Thomas Newton for Colo. Tucker & Major Fairly5 2
Mr Man Page of Mansfield6  ½
Mr William Nelson & Brother 1
Mr Secretary Thomas Nelson7 1
Your self 1
Thomas Walker & Joseph Hornsby8 1
David Jemeson york
David Mead near Westover
Mr Lewis Fredericksburg
Thomas Newton Norfolk
Man Page near Fredericksburg
William Nelson york
Secretary Thomas Nelson near Hanover Court House
Joseph Hornby Williamsburg
Thomas Walker Castle Hill Albemarle

AD, in Thomas Walker’s hand, DLC:GW.

1GW’s copy of the Dismal Swamp Land Company’s Articles of Agreement, 3 Nov. 1763, has the names of ten men signing as members of the company: William Nelson, Thomas Nelson, Robert Burwell, GW, Thomas Walker, Fielding Lewis, John Syme, Samuel Gist, Robert Tucker, and William Waters. John Robinson and Anthony Bacon & Co. were the other two original members, making a total of twelve shareholders. On 11 May 1771 John Robinson’s share was surrendered to the company, leaving outstanding the eleven shares that Walker lists here. See an undated memorandum in NcD:Dismal Swamp Land Company Papers. See also note 1 in Walker to GW, this date.

2David Jameson was a well-to-do planter and merchant living in Yorktown, Virginia. As lieutenant governor of Virginia he acted as governor in the summer and fall of 1781 during the absence from Richmond of Gov. Thomas Nelson. As his account with the Dismal Swamp Company suggests and as Thomas Walker confirmed, Jameson assumed the “cheif mannagment” of the company during the Revolutionary War years (see undated memorandum, NcD: Dismal Swamp Land Company Papers, and Walker to GW, 29 Aug. 1784). Samuel Gist (d. 1815) was a London merchant who owned property in Hanover County, Va., and was living in Virginia at the time the Dismal Swamp Company was organized. In 1782 the Virginia legislature vested all of his Virginia property in his daughter Mary, wife of William Anderson of Hanover County. Anderson became active in the company for Gist, who awarded him one quarter of his one share.

3David Meade (b. 1744), originally of Nansemond County, lived at Maycox (Maycock), across the James River from William Byrd’s Westover, in Prince George County, Virginia. He was married to the daughter of William and Sarah Prentis Waters of Williamsburg. Mrs. Waters was the daughter of William Prentis (d. 1765). Her deceased husband William Waters (d. 1769)was for a time a partner in trade with John Blair. He also had large landholdings in York, Northampton, and Halifax counties in Virginia. William Waters transferred one-half of his share to his son-in-law David Meade on 27 April 1764, and in May 1766 Meade acquired one-half of Robert Burwell’s share. See the undated memorandum cited above.

4Anthony Bacon & Co. was one of the original members of the Dismal Swamp Company. Anthony Bacon (c.1717–1786) was a British merchant with whom GW briefly had dealings in the 1750s. He began as a ship captain and by this time was an important commercial figure in London. See Papers, Colonial Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series. 10 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1983–95. description ends , 1:218–19. Perhaps Walker intended to write Anthony rather than Nathaniel.

5Thomas Newton, Jr. (1742–1807), who conducted business for GW in Norfolk in the 1780s, was the son of a merchant in Norfolk and was himself a Norfolk merchant as well as a leading citizen of the area. He was married to the daughter of Robert Tucker, Jr. (d. 1767), another Norfolk merchant, whose father (d. 1723) and son (d. 1779) were also Norfolk merchants and also named Robert. The mill owned by Robert Tucker, Jr., was on the northeastern edge of the Dismal Swamp. Francis Farley of Antigua in the 1730s bought a tract of 26,000 acres in North Carolina from William Byrd II, and his son James Parke Farley married a daughter of William Byrd III. Francis Farley’s plantation in Norfolk County, Va., was just to the north of the Dismal Swamp about fifteen miles east of Suffolk.

6This is Mann Page (1749–1803), of Mannsfield near Fredericksburg, whose father, the former owner of the stock in the Dismal Swamp Company, was Mann Page (b. 1718) of Rosewell in Gloucester County, Virginia. The senior Mann Page acquired the one-half share from Robert Burwell in May 1766. See undated memorandum, cited above, but see also Appraisement of Dismal Swamp Slaves, 4 July 1764, n.1.

7The original Nelson members of the Dismal Swamp Company were Thomas Nelson (1715–1787), known as the secretary, and William Nelson (1711–1772), president of the Virginia council. “William Nelson & Brother” listed here are presumably the two sons of President William Nelson: Gov. Thomas Nelson (1738–1789) and William Nelson (1754–1813). The Nelsons were merchants in Yorktown, Va., and the owners of numerous plantations and slaves in Hanover, Prince William, York, James City, and other counties.

8Joseph Hornsby, like David Jameson, was not an original member of the Dismal Swamp Company but became one before the Revolution. The Joseph Hornsby named here is probably Thomas Walker’s son-in-law. He may be, however, the son-in-law’s English-born father who married Mary (or Marie)Rind of Williamsburg and reported for the tax roll of 1783 in Williamsburg ten slaves and a town lot. Thomas Walker transferred a one-half share to Hornsby in the 1770s, perhaps in 1775 (see the undated memorandum cited above).

Index Entries