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Burwell family of Virginia facts for kids

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The Burwells (known as the Burls among Virginians) were among the First Families of Virginia in the Colony of Virginia. John Quincy Adams once described the Burwells as typical Virginia aristocrats of their period: forthright, bland, somewhat imperious and politically simplistic by Adams' standards. In 1713, so many Burwells had intermarried with the Virginia political elite that Governor Spotswood complained that " the greater part of the present Council are related to the Family of Burwells...there will be no less than seven so near related that they will go off the Bench whenever a Cause of the Burwells come to be tried."

The family was closely associated with the Fairfield Plantation in Gloucester County, Virginia, but several Burwells also built and operated other Virginia and North Carolina plantations, some buildings of which survive today and are on the National Register of Historic Places. Lewis Burwell III built Kingsmill Plantation's manor house beginning in the 1730s. A few years later, Carter Burwell built Carter's Grove immediately to the east in what became the modern-day Grove Community. Nathaniel Burwell built Carter Hall circa 1795 in eastern Frederick County, Virginia on the approach to the Shenandoah Valley. Place names deriving from the Tidewater aristocrats include Burwell's Bay in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.

While patriot Burwells served in the American Revolutionary War and War of 1812, and many Burwells served in the Virginia House of Delegates until the constitutional revision of 1850, the only politically significant Burwell of the post-Civil War period was Armistead Burwell, a former Confederate officer who became a North Carolina state senator and associate justice of that state's Supreme Court. The most militarily significant member of the family served in the 20th century: Lewis Burwell Puller, (a.k.a. Chesty Puller) from West Point, Virginia became a war hero and Lieutenant General of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Lewis Burwell I

Maj. Lewis Burwell (1621–1653), was bap. 5 Mar 1621/22 at Ampthill, Bedfordshire, England; he married Lucy Higginson. Maj. Lewis Burwell was buried at Abington Church, Gloucester County, Virginia. He resided at Carter's Creek (also in Gloucester county). He later resided at 'Fairfield Plantation, Gloucester County, Virginia' starting in 1648. When he died, his wife (Lucy Higginson) remarried twice; first, to Col. William Bernard, son of Francis Bernard and Mary Woolhouse, and later to Col. Philip Ludwell, son of Thomas Ludwell and Jane Cottington; 3rd husband. Known children of Maj. Lewis Burwell and Lucy Higginson were: Hon. Lewis Burwell, b. c. 1652; m. Abigail Smith; m. Martha Lear.

Lewis Burwell II

Hon. Lewis Burwell (1652 – c. 1710) was the son of Maj. Lewis Burwell and Lucy Higginson, born c. 1652. He was married twice, first to Abigail Smith (11 Mar 1656/57 – 12 Nov 1692, cousin of Nathaniel Bacon), daughter of Anthony Smith and Martha Bacon, 1672 at Gloucester Co., Virginia and second to Martha Lear, daughter of Col. John Lear.

He resided at King's Creek, York Co., Virginia. He resided at Carter's Creek, Gloucester Co., Virginia. He was a governor of the College of William and Mary in 1702. He was a member of Council between 1702 and 1711 at Virginia. he died c. 1710. He is the namesake of "Burwell's Bay" in Isle of Wight County This bay was originally called Warascoyack Bay (alternatively spelled Warrasqueak, Warrosquyoake, Warraskoyack, after Warrosquyoake Shire, the original name for Isle of Wight County) until Burwell acquired significant land upon its shores.

Known children of Hon. Lewis Burwell and Abigail Smith were as follows:

  • Joanna Burwell, b. 1674/75; m. Hon. William Bassett.
  • Elizabeth Burwell, b. Jun 1677; m. Hon. Benjamin Harrison III.
  • Hon. Nathaniel Burwell, b. 1680; m. Elizabeth Carter (daughter of Robert "King" Carter of Corotoman
  • Lewis Burwell; b. 16 Oct 1682 at Gloucester Co., VA; d. Sep 1696 at age 13.
  • Lucy Burwell; b. 21 Nov 1683 at Gloucester Co., VA; m. Col. Edmund Berkeley, son of Edmund Berkeley and Mary, 1 Dec 1704; d. 16 Dec 1716 at age 33.
  • Martha Burwell, b. 16 Nov 1685; m. Col. Henry Armistead.
  • Bacon Burwell; b. 22 Feb 1687 at Gloucester Co., VA; d. before 1692; bur. at 'Carter's Creek', Gloucester Co., VA.
  • Jane Burwell; baptized 16 Nov 1688; d. before 15 Mar 1691/92; bur. at 'Carter's Creek', Gloucester Co., VA.
  • James Burwell; b. 4 Feb 1689/90 at Gloucester Co., VA; m. Mary Armistead, daughter of William Armistead and Anna Lee; 1st husband; d. 6 Oct 1718 at age 28. He resided at 'King's Creek', York Co., VA. He was a member of the House of Burgesses at Virginia.
  • ___ Burwell; b. after Mar 1691/92; m. Harry Seaton; 1st wife.

Known children of Hon. Lewis Burwell and Martha Lear were as follows:

  • John Burwell; b. c. 1695; d. 5 Apr 1763.
  • Mary Burwell; b. 1697; d. 20 Jul 1701.
  • Lewis Burwell; b. 1699; m. Martha Armistead in 1715, b.1695; later married her younger sister, Elizabeth Armistead born in 1699; d in 1745. Frances Thacker, daughter of Edwin Thacker; d. 6 Sep 1744. He resided at 'Kingsmill', York Co., VA.
  • Jane Burwell; b. c. 1701; died young.
  • Martha Burwell, b. 1703; m. Col. John Martin.
  • Armistead Burwell; b. 1703; d. 1754. He was a member of the House of Burgesses at Virginia from Williamsburg 1753-1754

He resided at 'Stoneland', Mecklenburg Co., Virginia.

Lewis Burwell III

Lewis Burwell; (unknown – November 19, 1743) m. Elizabeth Armistead, the sister-in-law of his half-brother James Burwell. In the mid-1730s, British Colonel Lewis Burwell III established a 1,400-acre (5.7 km2) plantation which he named Kingsmill Plantation. It included a mansion, outbuildings and garden. He was the colonial customs inspector for the upper James River. Along the river, Burwell's Landing, site of his inspection station, also featured a tavern, storehouse, warehouse, and ferry house. Quarterpath Road extended between Burwell's Landing and Williamsburg.

Lewis Burwell I/II (1711–1756)

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During his year as president, the General Assembly never met, but Burwell I/II did commission the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia.

Lewis Burwell, often referred to as President Lewis Burwell (because he served as president/acting Governor of Virginia for a year November 1750 – 1751). His mother was Elizabeth Carter (making King Carter his maternal grandfather) and he was the oldest son of Nathaniel Burwell (1681–1721) (his paternal grandfather was Lewis Burwell II (1652 - c. 1710) ). Shortly after his father's death in 1721 he was sent to school in England. He returned quickly upon hearing of King Carter's death in 1732 and assumed the role of plantation owner and politician (serving in the House of Burgesses (1742) on behalf of Gloucester County. Within five years of his return he had married Mary Willis, the daughter of a wealthy neighbor, and joined their two estates into a massive 7000 acre plantation. He and Mary Willis resided in 'Whitemarsh', Gloucester Co., VA. Quickly rising among his peers, he was named to the governor's council (1743–1756). He became acting governor of Virginia on Thomas Lee's death (November 14, 1750), and remained such till the arrival of Governor Dinwiddie (November 20, 1751). During his year as president, the General Assembly never met, but Burwell did commission the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia. Ill health limited his role in later years, and he died in 1756.

Carter Burwell

Carter Burwell (1716–1756) was the son of Hon. Nathaniel Burwell (1680-1721) and younger brother to Lewis Burwell I/II. Carter Burwell inherited property from his grandfather King Carter, and built the house at Carter's Grove in the 1750s on the James River six miles east of Williamsburg, on what was by then a 1,400-acre (6 km2) estate. Carter married Lucy Ludwell Grymes (1720–?). Lucy was the daughter of John Grymes (1691–1749) and Lucy Ludwell (1698–1748). Carter and Lucy lived in the completed house for six months before Carter died in 1777. Carter had a son, Nathaniel Burwell (1750–1814), who

Lt. Col. Nathaniel Burwell (1750–1814)

Colonel Nathaniel Burwell (1750–1814) moved to Carter's Grove in 1771 and raised corn and wheat. Nathaniel Burwell married Susanna Grymes (1752–1788) on November 28, 1772. He later moved to Carter Hall (Millwood, Virginia). He was buried in the cemetery at Old Chapel. George Burwell (1799–1873) inherited the Carter Hall estate in 1814 and added the large portico, which is "by tradition" ascribed to a design of William Thornton, architect of the United States Capitol.

Carter's Grove remained in the Burwell family until 1838.

Fairfield Plantation, Gloucester County, Virginia

Quick facts for kids
Fairfield Site
Nearest city White Marsh, Virginia
Area 220 acres (89 ha)
Built 1692 (1692)
Built by Burwell, Lewis
NRHP reference No. 73002019
Added to NRHP July 16, 1973

Fairfield was first patented by Lewis Burwell I on June 12, 1648. Lewis Burwell I and his family moved to Gloucester (from nearby York County) some time before 1651. The size of the plantation and the slave population grew in tandem at the end of the seventeenth century as Lewis Burwell II inherited land, political connections, and slaves from relatives and business associates. Lewis II took sole control of the property after his mother's death in 1677. As a tobacco plantation and focal point for trade along Carter's Creek, Fairfield was profitable and perfectly situated in a fast-growing county just over a half day's travel from the new capital of Williamsburg. Fairfield reached its apex as a prominent Virginia home and plantation during the first half of the eighteenth century. The land was managed by five different people over that time, but all were focused on maintaining the agricultural profitability of the plantation while experimenting with crop diversification and introducing large scale cattle and animal husbandry. By the end of the century, though, the Burwell family was overwhelmed by debt. The plantation's enslaved population adapted to their new roles in the fields and around the manor house, but many were sold to plantations in the west and south. As surrounding tracts were sold to pay creditors, Fairfield shrank, consolidating the remaining labor force on a much smaller parcel surrounding the manor house. Little is known about the fate of Fairfield's slaves when the plantation was sold in 1787, although some were purchased by neighbors and may have remained in the area.

dates of ownership Owner
1648-1653 Lewis Burwell I (1621–1653)
1653-1665 Lucy Higginson Burwell (d. 1675) and William Bernard (d. 1665)
1665-1675 Lucy Higginson Burwell Bernard (d. 1675) and Philip Ludwell
1675-1710 Lewis Burwell II (1650–1710) (moved to Kings Creek c. 1707)
1710–1721 Nathaniel Burwell (1680–1721) (managed beginning c. 1707)
1721–1734 Robert “King” Carter (d. 1732), administrator of Nathaniel Burwell’s estate
1734–1756 Lewis Burwell I/II (1710–1756)
1756–1779 Lewis Burwell II/II (1737–1779)
1779–1787 Lewis Burwell III/II (b. 1764)
1787–1816 Robert Thruston (1759–1816)
Government offices

Preceded by
Thomas Lee
Colonial Governor of Virginia
1750-1751 (acting)
Succeeded by
Robert Dinwiddie
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