For many years we wanted to go to Jamestown Island.

Jamestown Island today is a relatively well-manicured park where tourists can visit the remains of the original settlement.

Yet, if one looks behind the reconstructed area, the essential wildness of the place is still visible: Swamp, wooded thickets, which coupled with the hot, humid air of the Virginia summer must have been unbearable at first to the English settlers. And this indeed is where it all began.  Trip 020

Sometime before 1660 the Norvell family arrived in Virginia. The records are now lost. There are several Norvells (Nowells) on the early manifests. The name could easily be confused as Norvell in script often looked like Nowell.

As we walked around the park, we could imagine these newcomers and what it must have meant to them to be there.   We could stand on the shore and see across to the beckoning land see the promise it held for them.

Below, the shore of the James River.jamestown

Later the family would established a foothold at Skiffes Creek, below,  one of the first Norvell grants.

Skiff's Creek Va

Others settled along the York River to the right.

Riverview Plantation York River

A John Norvell or Nowell arrived on Ship Margaret and John in 1624 and was a principal of the company – according to Land Grants in Virginia 1607-1699, initial grants were made for each principal and then additional acreage could be purchased for 12 pounds for 50 acres. John Norvell arrived and disappeared almost as quickly as he came. Most likely he was a gentleman as other records indicate that he had a firearm. Other early arrivals included George Norvell, Thomas Norvell, Lydia Norvell, a widow of a John Norvell who died before 1665.

The precise location of these places is not possible today.  But from the descriptions that have been found, we can get an idea of the approximate locations.

wbLike so many of their time, they came here for new lives and opportunities.  Some succeeded, some did not.  It was a difficult time.

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, Jamestown, Virginia History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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