The early settlers of Virginia

From The Word-Book of Virginia Folk-Speech, by Bennett Wood Green, 1899

”We find many of the men connected with the early settlement of Virginia from Southwest England.  Of course there were many from London, Kent and other parts, but there were Cabot, Raleigh, Drake, the Gilberts, Somers, Basset, Botetourt, Cary, and others of the principal men from the Southwest.

Moreover, the west, above all districts of England, seems to have had a numerous gentry bound by constant intermarriages into a great clan, strongly animated by local pride and a peculiar love of country. These are striking characteristics of Virginians. In Virginia, essentially the whole of the white blood is English, that has been on the soil for over two hundred years.  It is not believed that there is any body of folk of as purely English stock as the white population of Virginia, and the States descended from here; and it amounts to about three millions of people, and there is scarcely any admixture of other blood. Nothing in their history shows the least falling off from the qualities that have always distinguished their race in all times and all places. The Virginian has a good opinion of himself, is calm, well-balanced, is self-reliant and has the English quality of not being afraid to take responsibility.”

[Emphasis above is mine.]

Of course, the above was written 118 years ago, and the Virginia of that day is not the Virginia of the 21st century. But it’s useful to look back at the origins of Virginia, and by extension, the rest of the South (‘and the States descended from here’), and to read that the original settlers of Virginia were overwhelmingly English by ancestry.

I plan to return to this book in future posts about the English language as it developed in the Virginia colony.

 

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