Friday, October 3, 2014

Famous Friday: Thomas Warren, the House of Burgesses, and the Warren House

What were you doing when you were 22?

My 8th great grandfather, Thomas Warren (abt 1625 - 1670), became a member of the House of Burgesses in Jamestown, Virginia, on 1 Oct 1644, at the age of 22 [1].  He would go on to serve at numerous times in 1645, 1658-59, 1662-1663, and 1666. [2]   His ability to reach this office at such a young age was no doubt due to his family's gentry status back in his native Kent, England.

The House of Burgesses set a crucial tradition for a popularly elected legislative (law-making) assembly in the English colonies early on.  The Virginia government in Thomas Warren's time was somewhat recognizable as it took a similar arrangement the Federal Government and the various states have today:
  • a Governor, 
  • the Governor's Council (precursor to today's Virginia Senate as well as the Virginia Supreme Court), and
  • the House of Burgesses (precursor to the Virginia House of Delegates),
or in other words,
  • Governor
  • State Supreme Court
  • State Senate
  • House of Representatives.
In fact, later members of the House of Burgesses include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry [3].  Their experiences in this body helped shape their ideas and views on governance, and greatly informed their decisions on the structure of the new government of the United States [4].

There is a place called the Warren House on Smith's Fort Plantation (.pdf map), across the river from Jamestown in Surry County, Virginia.  It was long thought to have been built and occupied by Thomas Warren, but evidence in the 1930's indicated the house that now stands was built sometime in the 1760's and was originally inhabited by the Surry County Clerk, Jacob Faulcon.
From what I gather Thomas Warren did buy land in that spot around 1651 from Thomas Rolfe (famous son of Pocahontas) [5], but no structure of his making and habitation is left to visit.

[1] Boddie, John Bennett. 1966. Colonial Surry. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 67.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Gottlieb, M. S. House of Burgesses. (2012, November 6). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from
[4] Ibid.
[5] Boddie, John Bennett. 1966. Colonial Surry. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 66.

© 2014 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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