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First to Arrive

Dunnock Johnson Family ~ Dorchester & Washington DC

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Virginia's Eastern Shore

Levin Denwood is one of the first in our family in America. His daughter married Roger Woolford (I) who arrived about 1660. They established our Woolford line that continues today.

Levin is said to have been a Friend. The first Quaker meeting house at Nassawadox was built in 1657 and credit is given to Levin Denwood. He is known to have had family who are recorded as Friends in Meeting records. He moved to Somerset after leaving Virginia when the laws against "non-conformist" religions led to harrassment of Friends and their supporters.

In 1642 William Cole bought 100 acres from Levin Denwood in Accomac County, Virginia. [Virginia's Eastern Shore, Whitelaw, 1951] On June 29, 1647 Liven Denwood is appr of estate of Henry Peddenton [Northampton Deeds, Wills, IV, No.4, 1645-1651, page, 20].

The Eastern Shore of Virginia was being settled, and it is the land records that show her earliest citizens as they trade land, witness wills, and quietly build lives. The area we know today as the Eastern Shore of Virginia was called Accomac then Northampton and finally divided as we see it today. Even the landscape has changed as nature has taken much away much land from the barrier islands here and from Hoopers, Holland, Smith and other islands to the north.

The calm of early Virginia was soon broken by events in far away London.


1652 - Virginia under Cromwell

After Cromwell gained control of the "rump" Parliament and disposed Charles 1, his forces arrived in March, 1652, at
Jamestown. They demanded the surrender of the colony to the reconstituted Parliament. The surrender was ratified on the 12th of the month. The colony of Virginia was made subject to the Commonwealth under Cromwell.

The council appointed for the Commonwealth of Virginia sent its two members from Northampton County, Nathaniel Littleton and Colonel Argoll Yeardly, back to collect signatures of the residents of Northampton affirming loyalty to the new English government. One hundred and sixteen people (see partial list below) signed the document. They were most likely the entire male English population. The document stated:

The Engagm't tendered to ye Inhabitants of Northampton County, Eleaventh of March, 1651 (O.S.)

Wee whose Names are subscribed; doe hereby Engage and promis to bee true and faithfull to the Commonwealth of England as it is nowe Established without Kinge or House of Lords.

Edm. Scarburgh
Allex Addison
James Barnabye
Jno. Pannell
Sam'll Sone
Jno. Denman
Jeffery Minshatt
Georgine Hacke
Rich. Hamby
Edw. Harrington
Nich. Waddelone
Argoll Yeardley
Wm. Waters
Wm. Jones
Thos. Sprigge
Jno. Dye
X'ofer Major
Wm. Munds
Francis Flood
Stph. Stringer
Ankh. Hodgskins
Jno. Nuthall
Wm. Whittington
Wm. Coake
Ben. Cowdrey
Levyne Denwood

Soon thereafter, the first American petition of protest and claim to representation and self-government was signed and published. They ask for "free voting" and elected Colonial government, and no taxation without representation.

Six men were chosen to sign on behalf of all Northampton. Again Levin Denwood was a signer as was William Whittington, ancestor of Cornelius Johnson.

The xxxth of March, Ano. 1652

Wee whose names are und written this daye made choyce of by the Inhabitants of Northampton Countie in Virginia to give Informacons and Insruccons to ye gent Ellected Burgesses for this prsent Grand Assemblie (in relacon to such matters as conduce to our peace & Saftie). And For ye Redresse of those aggreevances wch (att prsent) wee are capable & sensible of in our Countie of Northampton.

Imprmis. Wee the Inhabitants of Northampton Countie doe complayne that from tyme to tyme (pticular yeares past) wee have been submitted & bine obedient unto the paymt of publeq Taxacons. Butt after ye yeare 1647, since yt tyme wee Conceive & have found that ye taxes were very Weightie. But in a more espetiall manner (undr favor) wee are very sensible of the Taxacon of fforty sixe pounds of tobacco p. poll (this present yeare). And desire yt ye same bee taken off ye charge of ye Countie; furthermore wee alledge that after 1647, wee did understand7 suppose or Countie of Northampton to bee disioynted & sequestered from ye rest of Virginia. Therefore that Llawe wch requireth & inioyneth Taxacons from us to bee Arbitrarye & illegall; fforasmuch as wee had neither summons for Ellecon fo Burgesses nor voyce in their Assemblye (during the time aforesd) but only the Singlur Burgess in September, Ano., 1651.

Wee conceive that wee may Lawfullie ptest agt the pceedings in the Act of Assemblie for publiq Taxacons wch have relacon to Northmton Countie since ye year 1647.

The Gent who are (att prsent) to speak inour behalfe can sufficiently declare what is necessary to bee expressed to this effect wch wee referr to them.

Our desire is that there may bee an annual Choyce of Magistrates in Northmton. And, if our Countie may not have ye privilege of a peculir govrmt & propriety (att prsent) granted wth in our prcincts that then you Request and plead that all Causes, Suit of Tryalls ( of what nature soevr) may bee concerned (for future tyme), determined in our sd Countie fo Northampton.

If there bee a free & genr. all vote for a Governor wherein they shall Ellect Mr. Richard Bennett Wee the inhaitants of Northampton Countie wth unanimous consent & plenary aprobacon Rendr our voyce for te sd Esq. Bennett.

The people doe further desire that ye Taxacons for fforty sixe pouds of tobac a heead maye not bee collected by the sheriffs (until ansrw of the questions form the Grand Assemblie nowe summoned).

Witness our hands subscribed the day & yeare aforesd.

Stephen Charlton
Wm. Whittington
Llevyne Denwood
Jno. Ellis
Jno. Nuthall
Steph. Horsey

(from Wise. Ye Kingdome of Accawmacke, pp 139-140)