Special to the Mirror by Charles Landis
Since publication of my book, An introduction to the History of Virginia’s Eastern Shore, I have often been asked if I grew up on the Shore and/or if my ancestors were among the earliest settlers. I confess, no one from my family, over the past 400 years, ever settled on the Eastern Shore until I became a come-here in 1992.
However, I can claim a linkage to the Eastern Shore that is not Native American but preceding that of the earliest settlement families. In researching my family history for a book I am currently writing, I discovered my roots are, perhaps, unique among all who have ever settled here:
In 1641, my ancestor, Colonel Thomas Ligon, at age 18, came to Jamestown with his cousin Governor Sir William Berkley. (There are six different connections between the Berkley and Ligon families including Governor Berkley’s grandmother, a daughter of Sir William Ligon, Earl Beauchamp, of Madresfield Court, England).
Governor Berkley was a favorite at the court of King Charles II and was granted his request he be appointed Governor of the colony of Virginia. Thomas Ligon was the son of the second grandson of Sir William Ligon and thus had very little chance of receiving any of the appointments given to nobility. He had, however, received an inheritance and Governor Berkley invited him to come with Berkley to Virginia. Thomas Ligon believed this was the only way to make a place for himself since it was not possible in England.
Both the Berkley and Ligon families were investors in the London Company, Virginia Company, and the Plymouth Company. One of their employees was an apprentice/indentured servant named Thomas Savage who was the first permanent settler on the Eastern Shore.
It is a well know that Thomas Savage played a very important role during the early settlement period as interpreter and establishing friendly relations with the Indians on both the Eastern Shore and the western colony.
From this, it may, therefore, be reasonably concluded that my people made it possible for the early families to settle on the Eastern Shore. They, and kinsmen, engaged in the financing of settlement, paying for their transport to the Colony, providing for employment, food, and shelter and established a friendly and welcoming reception by Indians on the Eastern Shore, Following Thomas Savage settlement in 1619, in 1624, 76 other employees settled along Plantation Creek and the rest is history.
As to my coming here, 400 years later, my purpose was simply to report to the family back in England what y’all been doing. My book is the report card and I am pleased to report , y’all done good.
Charles Landis lives in Onancock and is author of An Introduction to the History of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Contact is firstname.lastname@example.org