The Formation of a Society on Virginia's Eastern Shore, 1615-1655
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Publisher: Omohundro Institute and University of North Carolina Press
Cloth/Hardcover Publication Date: 12/1990
Cloth ISBN: 9780807819272
DescriptionThe dissolution of the ill-starred Virginia Company in 1624 left Virginia -- now England's first royal colony -- without a formal raison d'etre. Most historians have suggested that the nascent local societies were anarchic, under the thrall of violent and unscrupulous men.
James Perry asserts the opposite: The Formation of a Society on Virginia's Eastern Shore, 1615-1655 depicts emergent social cohesion. In a model of network analysis, Perry mines county court records to trace landholders through four decades -- their land, families, neighborhoods, local and offshore economic relations, and institutions. A wealth of statistics documents their development from rudimentary beginnings to a more highly articulated society capable of resolving conflict and working toward communal good.
Perry's methodology will serve as a model for analyzing other new settlements, particularly those lacking the close-knit religious bonds and contractual foundations of New England towns. His conclusions will reshape notions of the development of early Chesapeake society.
Originally published in 1990.
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ReviewsIn one of the most richly detailed accounts of early Virginia society yet written, James R. Perry provides a vivid portrait of how English settlers adapted to conditions along the Chesapeake Bay and their remarkable achievement in creating a stable and orderly society in the face of severe demographic disruption and an intractable environment. The result is a model of painstaking social history at the local level.--James Horn, Brighton Polytechnic
The effect of James R. Perry's book will be considerable. As a work of scholarship, it is impeccable, drawing as it does on a considerable array of manuscript sources. As a piece of historical writing, it is well crafted and soundly argued. As an interpretation, it will be debatable, and that quality is what invests The Formation of a Society on Virginia's Eastern Shore, 1615-1655 with significance.--Warren M. Billings, University of New Orleans, Lake Front
This solid, well-written monograph is yet another useful contribution to the growing historical literature on the Chesapeake colonies in the seventeenth century.--Maryland Historical Magazine