Early History And Archaeology Part 3

One early colonist who took advantage of the new Virginia Company policies was Richard Pace, who came to Virginia with his wife Isabell sometime before 1616. Initially, the Paces, who as “ancient planters” in Virginia prior to 1616 and thus eligible for a dividend of 100 acres per person, were granted 200 acres of land along the southside of the James River. Although the Paces Paines plantation lasted little more than a decade before it was subsumed into the larger Swann’s Point plantation, Richard Pace and Chanco, an Indian servant living at Paces Paines, had an everlasting effect on the course of American history for their roles in the Uprising of 1622.

Pipe bowls found in the East field at Paces Paines.

Pipe bowls found in the East field at Paces Paines.

By 1622, the English had taken over the land of all the tribes along the James River. The inevitable reaction to the relentless English encroachment on Indian lands was the well-known uprising of 1622. On the morning of March 22, 1622, the Powhatans under the leadership of Opechancanough, who became the paramount chief upon the death of his brother Powhatan in 1618, attacked English settlements along both sides of the James River. Nearly one-quarter of the English population in Virginia was killed by the coordinated raids. However, when Chanco learned of the plans the uprising, he told Richard Pace. Pace then immediately informed Jamestown of the plot, which was thus prepared to defend itself. The following is a contemporary account of the events:

Virginia Indian Massacre of 1622 - Gottfried.

Virginia Indian Massacre of 1622 – Gottfried.

The slaughter had been universall, if God had not put into the heart of an Indian belonging to one Perry, to disclose it, who liuing in the house of one Pace, was urged by another Indian his Brother (who came the night before to lay with him) to kill Pace, (so commanded by their King as he declared) as hee would kill Perry: telling further that by such an houre in the morning a number would come from diuers places to finish the Execution, who failed not at the time: Perries Indian rose out of his bed and reueals it to Pace, that vsed him as a Sonne: And thus the rest of the Colony that had warning giuen them, by this meanes was saued,

Pace vpon this discouery, securing his house, before day rowed ouer the Riuer to James City (in that place neere three miles in bredth) and gaaue notice thereof to the Gouernor, by which meanes they were preuented there, and at such other Plantations as possible for a timely intelligence to be giuen.


A 1625 muster of the Virginia colony indicates that here were four separate households at Paces Paines. The archaeological survey of Mount Pleasant has discovered one of the four Paces Paines’ sites in the downriver or east field. The artifacts collected from the site are the same types that have been excavated at Martin’s Hundred including clay tobacco pipe bowls (one with markings identical to a pipe from Wolstenholme Town), fragments of Rhenish stoneware Bartmann or “bearded man” jugs, Iberian costrel sherds, and pieces of Staffordshire butterpot.

In 1635, William Swann patented 1200 acres that included the Paces Paines tract. Thomas Swann I inherited the plantation in 1638, which then descended in 1680 to Samuel Swann. Thomas and Samuel both had their homes across “Mount Swamp” on the eastern half of the property along Gray’s Creek. The seventeenth-century Swann house site, which has been archaeologically tested, is not far from the Swann family cemetery.

Swann House Site


The south field at Mount Pleasant contains a large archaeological site that apparently originated sometime in the late seventeenth century during the Swann era. The only test excavation in the site revealed a twelve-foot wide chimney base for a frame building. The chimney base has a significant northeast-southwest orientation, unlike the true north-south orientation of the present dwelling at Mount Pleasant. It is conceivable that this site marks the dwelling that stood prior to the construction of Mount Pleasant, and perhaps the home of John Hartwell.

Swann Family Cemetery.

Swann Family Cemetery.