As soon as he returns to the Colony, Yeardley calls a Council of Estate consisting of John Pory, Captain Francis West,
Captain Nathaniel Powell, John Rolfe, William Wickham and Samuel Macocke. They then put into effect the instructions of the
London Company to convene a General Assembly. It will be known as the House of Burgesses and modelled on England’s legislature.
(1) House of Commons – Burgesses; (2) House of Lords – Council; (3) Executive – Governor.
So it is that the most important
event in Anglo-American history takes place in Virginia, since Wingfield, Newport, Gosnold, Ratcliffe and Smith stepped ashore
in 1607. Governor Yeardley calls the Assembly to meet on July 30 in Jamestown Church, it being the most suitable building
in the Colony. The session continues until August 4, with the exception of Sunday, August 1st and becomes a sweating
inferno, the heat and humidity so dreadful that one participant dies. It’s not surprising, considering the men’s
heavy clothes and that they all wear their hats, as is the custom back in London’s Parliament.
Those attending come by invitation
only. The Council of Estate takes its place seated round the Governor in the chair whilst twenty-two Burgesses, elected by
their fellow landowners, sit in the body of the church, two from each of the following: JAMES CITY: CHARLES CITY: THE CITY
OF HENRICUS: MARTIN’S HUNDRED: MARTIN BRANDON: LAWNE’S PLANTATION: WARD’S PLANTATION: ARGALL’S GIFT:
FLOWERDEW Speaker, John Twine is appointed Clerk of the General Assembly
The new House of Burgesses produces dramatic changes in Virginia.
(1) The end to the absolute rule of the Governor.
(2) All ‘Ancient’ settlers, pre-1619, now get 100 acres.
(3) All people coming over at Company expenses and working for 7years are free to
go on their own (indentured servants).
can inherit – not just the eldest child.
(5) Everyone paying their own way gets a ‘headright’ of 50 acres and extra grants for
every person whose way they pay.