Richmond Virginia

I started today by going to see the Richmond Museum of History and Culture. The theme of indigenous peoples and indeed of Livery Companies continues in Virginia.

My main reason for including Virginia in my travels related to my chaplaincy to the Worshipful Company of Tobacco Pipemakers and Tobacco Blenders. They were first founded in 1619 to regulate clay pipe making. As I explored the museum, whilst I can find no reference to the company, it was a good reminder of how early this date is. The Virginia Company of London was set up in 1606, to organise and govern the colonisation of the new world. It was given a charter by King James the first and the investors included about 50 Livery Companies. The Tobacco Pipemakers were not part of the initial investors, even after their foundation dates, presumably because they were not rich Livery. Plus ca change! Tobacco was, however, a driving force in the colonisation. WCTPMTB will celebrate the 400th anniversary of their first charter next year.

The indigenous Indians were at war with the colonists. The first major war was resolved when Pocahontas married John Rolfe in 1614. She is, of course, famously buried in the church at Gravesend, just East of London. Further conflicts followed, ending in much death and mayhem. In 1677 the Indians were given reservations: again a polite term for getting them out of the way. Perhaps the most surprising fact is that their rights as federal citizens in the State of Virginia were acknowledged finally for 6 tribes in 2015 and for a 7th in January 2018. Yes, you read that date correctly!

The turbulence of Virginia and the new world did not end with the Indian reservations. After that the French, Spanish, Dutch and English all fought each other over land rights. And then , of course, the war of independence followed, until the 1776 declaration of Independence.

Lot’s to think about there.

My host Julian then picked me up at lunch time and drove me out to the farm in the countryside. A beautiful setting. We chatted along the way and it is amazing how many odd links there are. Their home is named Applegarth Farm. This is because they lived in the road of the same name in Hammersmith, where WC Girdlers have their roots. Julian’s wife Mary is away, as there has been a family bereavement. You might remember her in your prayers. It turns out she has an ancestor who was Sheriff of London and a member of WC Haberdashers, another of my Livery Companies. A small world indeed.

This afternoon I am relaxing and blogging and then this evening we have the meeting of the Tobacco Pipemakers Livery sub-group in Virginia, or in other words Julian’s son is joining us for dinner!

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