Tuesday, May 19, 2020

30 Mothers in 30 Days: Isabella

Little did they know, when Richard Pace married Isabella Smythe at St. Dunstans Church, Stephney, Middlesex, England on October 5, 1608, that they would be the founding couple of an American Dynasty.

Untitled (South east view of Stepney Church, from the graveyard ...
Southeast view of the Church from olden days

And little did I know, until my brother Vin took a YDNA test in 2018, that we were descendants of this couple. But we, without doubt, are.

Wikipedia states that St. Dunstans Church at Stephney is an Anglican Church that sits at a spot that has been used for human worship for over a thousand years. It is currently located on Stephney High Street, squarely in London, just south of the Tower Bridge. But at the time of the marriage of Richard and Isabella, it was in a village called Wapping Wall.

1932 Print Wapping Wall London England River Thames Historical ...
1932 Print of Wapping Wall

Richard was a Carpenter and he and Isabella were Protestants. They soon would have a son George and were shareholders in the Virginia Company. Part of a company of young families who bravely sought to trust their fate as colonists to the new world. Richard and Isabella arrived in Jamestown by 1616, and given 100 acres each as headright. As such, they were called "Ancient Planters", being among the earliest, but not first, arrivals.

Richard was not so much in tune with the vigorous restraints and judgement eyes of Jamestown, itself, so he established a home on a high bluff above Jamestown and across the river and with the help of a few other men, who worked with him and for him, he established a plantation called "Paces Paines", paines meaning acreage or property.

Jamestown Colony Facts and Story (With images) | Jamestown colony ...

It was unusual in those days for women, especially married ones, to own property in their own right, but Isabella did. There was a reason, as in a Petition of the First Assembly of Burgessess in 1619, it was said shares for wives were necessary because, "in a new plantation, it is not known whether a man or woman be the most necessary."

Richard brought over six more people to obtain more acreage for himself due to the headrights and would own 400 acres and Isabella 200. Among those that helped him work the land was a young indigenous boy we know only by the name, "Chanco". Chanco had been adopted by the Pace's, perhaps as a playmate for their son, George. It is written in the old records that Richard "used him as a son".

Richard Pace, Jr., Ancient Planter (c.1580 - 1624) - Genealogy

Relationships with the Natives were not always on good terms. Chanco's tribe was growing irritable due to the invasion and growth of the English colony. He was taken aside by his tribesmen and ordered to murder Richard Pace during a planned invasion. Instead, overcome by his love of the man and the family that treated him as a son, he betrayed his own people and warned Richard of the impending attack on Jamestown. Richard set up the men at Pace's Paines to defend the plantation and then himself rowed 3 miles across the James River to warn the colonists on the island.

The warning enabled the English to prepare themselves better for the attack. The massacre was still vicious, of about 4000 persons spread out across the colongy, 375 perished. But the body count would have been much greater had it not been for Richards warning. Chanco and Richard Pace remain heros of Jamestown Colony.

The first "Thanksgiving" in America was in Virginia - and it's in ...

The Paces remained in the safety of the fort for 4 months until Richard petitioned to return to his plantation, with a company of good men, to restore the property, which was granted. In the end, Richard ended up dying in an attack from the Native Americans in 1623.

Jamestown Massacre, 1622 Stock Photo: 135045372 - Alamy
Sttock photo: Jamestown Massacre

Pace's Paines was located where Mt Pleasant Plantation is now located.

We get a better look at the actual persona of Isabella after Richards death. She, as a widow, testified at a witchcraft trial. She also showed herself a shrewd businesswoman and investor who seems to unshell all the norms. She was intelligent and vigourous and shrewd, yet still a woman. Widowed in her mid-thirties, she would soon remarry to Captain William Perry. Remarriage, in the colonies, especially of younger women, was an act of survival and continuity.

William Perry, like the Pace's, was an Ancient Planter, having arrived in 1611. He may have been a neighbor of the Pace's, across the river from Jamestown. In 1622, he had helped clear land on Hog's Island with a team. Two years later, he returned to England to seek relief from the Virginia Company, as he and his neighbors had suffered great loss in the 1622 attack by the Powatan, and could not pay their taxes. He had taken with him a Tappahannah child, a boy he wished to adopt and asked for the funding to raise the child as a Christian.

After marrying Isabella, she and Henry Perry would have one son, they named Henry. In February of 1624, Isabella and the baby were living in the safety of Jamestown Island in a place called New Towne. Isabella was called to testify in court. I've seen it said that this was in London and they had to remove to London for the trial. It could be true as neither Henry, Isabelle or the boys were in the Februay 1625 muster and Isabella testified in court on May 9th of that year. The records state, "

"Isabell, wife of William Perry, merchant of Virginia, age 40, deposes ....that about Christmas last one John Riley of London, merchant, died in the house of examinator."

By 1629, Col. Perry had been placed in command of a territory that extended from Pace's Paines, past Burrows hill and down to Hog Island. In 1633, the Perry's picked up some land in Charles City, from his service on the Governor's Council, where he created a plantation he called Buckland. Isabella had held interest in her former husbands property as an inheritance for her older son George.

By 1637, George fell ill. He wrote his will on August 5, 1637, and just in time, as the next day found him deceased, and Isabella was widowed once more. He mentions only his wife, Isabella and his son, Henry, in the will. Capt. Perry was buried at Westover Church in Charles City.

Now, this is where it gets a little murky.

Now, it is known that George Pace, Isabella's son by Richard Pace, patented his father's 400 acres in 1638 and married Sarah Maycock, the daughter of Rev. Samuel Maycock, who had been killed in the 1622 raid. George died in 1655. And that her son, Henry Perry Jr, by Capt. Perry, had married the daughter of George Menefie, an attorney and businessman known as the richest man in Jamestown.

Some say that the widow, Isabella Smythe Pace Perry, also married her son's father-in-law. Some say no. There are a few details that give creedence to the theory.

First, it is recorded that he married 4 times, the first to Jane Pierce Rolfe, widow of John Rolfe and the last to Mary Potts, who is named in his will. Isabell is said to have died in 1639, at the age of 52, so George outlived her.

George was an agriculturist and merchant who specialized in land, tobacco and laborers. The laborers at this point in history consisted of Indians, Irish and Inmates, ie convicts ,as the Americas were a bit of a penal colony as well, but not as long or as recent, as in that of Australia and New Zealand. There were even street urchins stolen off the streets of London and boarded on to ships to supply labor to the new colony, hence the term, "kidnapping" was born. Only 1 out of 10 children survived to adulthood and one of those is a William in my family tree. His last name fails me at the moment. This era was all about class rank and the street children were seen as a hinderance to the 'better' citizens of London and other cities and could be rendered useful by relocation. Much like the City of New York bussing their homeless down to North Carolina to help clear their streets today. Oh, what to do with the  burdonsome unwanted?

Littletown, George Menefie (Menefee) property described by Dutch ...

He originally lived in Jamestowne, itself, but by 1634, he lived at a place called "Littletown",  just south of Jamestown. These men of worth would soon remove themselves from the prying eyes of city dwellers to live their lives as they pleased, and George wanted to live abundantly. His garden was said to contained fruit from Holland and Roses from Provence. He had an orchard with apples, pears, cherry and peach trees. He was the first person to cultivate peaches in America. He grew many herbs and spices around the estate, including rosemary and thyme.

But in time, George Menefee would leave the splendor and garden of Littleton and move to Buckland Plantion in Charles City County. Why would he do that? Sure, it was massive, 8000 acres, but why the move.

Second, George took over the guardianship of the Tappahannah child, now aged 10, that William Perry and Isabella had been raising. From "The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography", page 281, from June 10, 1640, " Mr. George Menifye, Esqr., this day presented to the court an indian boy of the country of Tappahannock, Christend and for the time of ten years brought up among the english by Captain William Perry, deceased..."

It makes sense to me, that if George had married Isabella, he would have moved to the plantation of her deceased husband to be with her and to then take over her adopted child, the Tappahannock child that they had been raising.

Isabella died before George, who named his wife Mary, in his will, who was one Mary Potts. Some have Mary Potts as the mother of George's only daughter, Elizabeth. But he also names Henry Perry, Jr. as his son-in-law in his will, and Elizabeth would not have had time to be old enough to married if she had been the daughter of Mary Potts. So, therefore, I am inclined to believe Isabella was George's third wife, and his second wife was the mother of Elizabeth Menefee Perry. George, born in 1596, died in 1646, aged 50. They were fortunate to make it to 50 in those days.

Insert: I found the following information on George Menefee with the names of his wives and his sons who predeceased him:


Jane Pierce Rolfe (1600-1624)
Elizabeth Clements (1603-1637)
Isabella Smythe Pace Perry (1587-1639)
Mary Potts (1604-1654)


Married first to widow of John Rolfe whose maiden names was Jane Pierce
Married second to Elizabeth Clements
Married third to Isabella Smythe Pace Perry
Married fourth to Mary Potts


George Menefee
William Henry Menefee
Elizabeth Minifye who married Capt Henry Perry by Mary Potts

I've even seen it claimed that Isabella was a widow when she married Richard Pace at St. Dunstans, but they could have had her mixed up with another Isabella. One thing I do know for sure, she is my ancestor through her son George.

Happy Mother's to my 12th Great Grandmother, Isabella Smythe Pace (etc.)

No comments:

Post a Comment