Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Working on Wednesday: Cheney Boyce (About 1591 - About 1643), Survivor, Ancient Planter, Member of Virginia House of Burgesses

Unlike the passengers on the Mayflower in 1620 who were seeking the freedom to practice their religion in peace (and to impose it on others), the people who went to Virginia and founded the first permanent English settlement in North America in 1609 were looking to make money for themselves and their investors. After all the Spanish had done very well with their New World colonies.
[“Gentlemen of Elvas.” Virginia richly valued by the description of the maine land of Florida. Translated from Portugese by Richard Hakluyt. Source: Library of Congress]

[Heading for the Broadside issued by The Virginia Company, London, 1615
Photo by Virginia State Library. From photograph in Virginia Historical Society.]

No records survive to tell us when this paternal ninth great grandfather first arrived--the earliest record we have lists Chyna Boyse as a 26-year old passenger on The George which anchored off the coast of Virginia in May of 1617. However because he was later named as an "ancient planter"* and as such received a special grant of land, we know that he was returning to the colony this time.**
[Cavaliers and pioneers; abstracts of Virginia land patents and grants, 1623-1800 by Nugent, Nell Marion; Virginia State Library; Virginia Genealogical Society, 1934. Source: Internet Archive; original contributor: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.]

Here is a 1622 broadside listing items that prospective Virginia settlers should plan on taking with them.
[Unknown author, 1622, from A Declaration of the State of the Colony and Affaires in Virginia. Source: Library of Congress via Learn NC]

We don't know where he was during the "Barbarous Massacre" when 347 men, women and children representing at least a quarter of the English population of Virginia were killed in a surprise attack on March 22, 1622. Cheney wasn't the only Boyce*** in the colony at the time and Sarah, the wife of John Boyce (exact relation to Cheney unknown), was one of 19 women kidnapped and held prisoner for a year by the native people.****
[Original Author: Matthäus Merian; Created: 1634. Courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation*****]

Cheney represented Shirley Hundred Island in the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1629 and 1632.

Records state that Cheney "Boyes" received his patent of 100 acres in 1636/37. He also was given 1440 acres at the same time for transporting 29 people to Virginia.He never settled on the land which led to a court case regarding ownership in 1662.

Later records place Cheney as a resident of Merchant's Hope Plantation (much of which is now part of the James River National Wildlife Refuge) and it's likely that's where he died in about 1643 when he would have been in his early 50s.

My descent from Cheney through my great great great grandmother Sarah Heath Chappell qualifies me to become a member of The Order of Descendants of Ancient Planters if I was so inclined.

*Authorized by Sir Thomas Dale for those persons (men and women) who arrived in Virginia before 1616, remained for three years and paid their own passage.
**Apparently it was common for settlers who had connections with shipping or could afford to pay for their passage to make multiple trips to and from Virginia.
***This has led to many errors in published stories about Cheney Boyce, conflating him with the other men of the same surname.
****It seems that the Indians considered Sarah "the chief of the prisoners" and came home "attired like a native queen."
*****Note that the German artist who created this engraving had never been to Virginia and used his imagination in depicting the event. The attacks actually took place on plantations away from Jamestown.

© 2015 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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