In the 1700s, the governor of Virginia had the power to provide land grants as he pleased. The governor at the time, Alexander Spotswood, was known for granting land to fellow Englishmen. In return these Englishmen were expected to persuade more colonists to move to Virginia and use the provided land to improve Virginia's economy.
Although this was a popular practice, it was not always well received. Many colonists in Virginia, especially those not from England, were unhappy that land was simply given to people of the governor's choosing. Another point of conflict was that the land gifted through grants was often already owned or inhabitated. Robert Beverly is one such person.
This is a petition of Robert Beverley, on behalf of Harry Beverley, to Alexander Spotswood, Lieutenant Governor, & the Council of State asking for a caveat against the granting of a patent for lands in Essex County joined on the lower side of Pewmansend Creek & Swamp and the land of Harry Beverley to one or more of the orphans of renowned English author, Thomas Thorpe, deceased.
Citation: Petition of Robert Beverley, 1710 Oct. 19. Transcription, Acc. 36138, Colonial Papers Collection, Library of Virginia.
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In Their Shoes: Imagine you are one of the people who owns land that Governor Spotswood has granted to an Englishmen. Write a story explaining this conflict and how it is resolved.
Political Plans: Pretend you are in Governor Spotswood's shoes. You need to get new colonists in Virginia, but people don't like your current system of land grants. Design a new plan to attract more English colonists to Virginia.
Social Media Spin: Create a hashtag in response to Governor Spotswood's land grants.