Essex County History
1682: Establishment of Tappahannock

Virginia's expanding population reached around 40,000 in the 1670s. A stratified society had emerged with an established aristocracy, former indentured servants, slaves and native tribes on the frontiers.

Tensions boiled over in 1676 in what would later be called Bacon's Rebellion. Nathaniel Bacon led disgruntled, smaller planters in a vigorous war against local tribes in defiance of Governor Berkeley. Around the former Rappahannock village of "Topahanocke", Thomas Goodrich and his son Benjamin were supporters of Bacon. The war spread to attacks on Berkeley's supporter and the Governor fled. Royal troops and ships soon arrived to crush the rebellion.

Retribution by Governor Berkeley was harsh for some, but the House of Burgesses did take measures to address the rebellion's causes. The total reliance on a single cash crop was recognized as a critical problem. Diversification of Virginia's economy and social structure by the creation of towns was considered the solution.

In 1680, Virginia law required each county to create a town. In old Rappahannock County, 50 acres was purchased from Benjamin Goodrich for 10,000 pounds of tobacco to create the town of Tappahannock on March 25, 1682. A small village named Hobbs His Hole already existed, but the chartered name was New Plymouth. In 1705 the name was changed to Tappahannock. In 1706, Harry Beverley mapped out the town lots and street names that are still in use today. The name Hobbs Hole persists even now, but town growth was slow to come.

1. Settlers, Southerners and Americans: The History of Essex County, Va.. 1985, by James B. Slaughter (available at the Essex County Museum and Historical Society)

2. Essex County Historical Society Bulletin. The Establishment of Tappahannock with Sketches on it Founders: Bartholomew Hoskins, Thomas and Benjamin Goodrich, Thomas Gouldman & Harry Beverley. November 1971

a: Historic Homes, 2002. by Anita and Gordon Harrower and Robert LaFollette (available at the Essex County Museum and Historical Society)
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