For many years the question of an early Norvell plantation was raised.

In a 1937 issue of the William and Mary Quarterly, a picture of a house called Riverview appeared that was attributed to having been the Norvell home.


Riverview House










But this house was clearly not from the colonial era as a plantation would have been.  It appeared to have been built in the late 19th century and the two side wings were added in 1914, according to property records.

Yet, where did this idea come from.

One source appears to have been a 1934 Sunday supplement of the Richmond Newspaper which featured an article,  “Homes That Have Seen Centuries Pass,” by Priscilla Williams.

In it Ms. Williams states that Riverview was owned by Thomas Norvell and his wife Lydia Tucker in 1683 and that it ultimately passed to William Norvell, the member of the House of Burgesses during the Revolutionary period.  Since William and his wife Rebecca Johnson Norvell had no children, it was left to William’s niece  Catherine Norvell Lightfoot, the grand-daughter of  Sarah Norvell and William Lightfoot.

The house is located near Norges, Virginia above Williamsburg on the York River.   Other than these two documents in the 1930s, no other sources seem to confirm this  tale.

Yet there may be some truth to this story as early maps of Virginia show settlements on the York as early as the 1680s, and  one intriguing feature on the property is a small pond called “Lake Norvell.”


Lake Norvell Riverview


One can imagine that in an earlier time, the Norvells sat in another home on this site and viewed the York River as it leisurely flowed beyond their doors.


Riverview Plantation York River


And, what a wonderful thing it must have been.



About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, Ancestry, Colonial History, Family History, Genealogy, Norvell Family History, Social History, Virginia History, Williamsburg and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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