Friday, December 10, 2010

When Genealogy becomes Geography

The complexity of doing genealogy multiplies as one goes further back in time. As the world changes from what we know and experience, to that of our ancestor's world, understanding their world becomes invaluable. Each generation furthur back in time, becames a new world with new places to examine and learn. How did they live? How did they love? How did they survive? You will reach a point where the ancestor's world will becomae completely different from the world you know and think you understand. There will not be cell phones, regular phones, world as we know it! At some point, genealogy becomes our new way of understanding our old way. What fun!

One key area is geography. Genealogy will often become geography. Understanding the survice of the earth; its land, sea, and air, and how our ancetor's lived within it, will often be the way around many brick walls. This is especially true when one reaches the "frontier" where our ancester's began their lives. For me, it was in Virginia with Griffin Jones, Jr. and Sr. Owning land was the highest social symbol indicating that you had made it. In many places you had to own land to be able to vote and join the political process that ran the place. To control the land and its distribution was one of the most powerful positions. In Virginia this was done by the central government under the control of the monarchy. The central government was the "Kings" government since 13 May 1625, when "A Proclamation For Settling the Plantation of Virginia" was made by James I. This proclamation stated:

"And that our full resolution is, to the end that there may be one uniform course of government in and through our whole monarchy, that the government of the colony of Virginia shall immediatley depend upon ourself...".

A surveyor had already been sent in 1621 to make a survey of the Virginia Companies' land, and to make a map of the country. Making maps is essentially a way to understand the geography. In 1624, all rights and powers to the land were taken by the "Crown". [The Crown meaning the King's Government!] Making surveys became the law of the land. (more will be said about this)

Now the foundational references to understanding of this "land patent" process are a series of books titled: "Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants...". The first book starts 1623 and runs until 1666. It was originally published in 1934, and reprinted in 1963. I obtained my first copy just out of high school, and have used this series of books more than any other! Thank you Nell Marion Nugent. Land surveys, an aid to understanding geography.


  1. I think we have posted before but I am intrigued by your line of Jones in VA.
    Would they go back to the JONES of Maryland. Captain William JONES
    Father of Elizabeth Duvall whom mar Capt John Duvall.

  2. Susi, what date is your William Jones? Virginia and Maryland shared many early families. [1650s]