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Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Major General Abraham Wood. Williamson Line

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello Williamsons,
I'm enjoying the extra time I have to add to a few more names to our family history. In our virtual gathering today we are going to talk about our 8th Great Grandparents Major General Abraham Wood and Margaret Llewellyn. This is a long read but well worth your time, especially the section on the great sea battle he witnessed as a young 10 year old crossing the Atlantic.

Remember, with 100% certainty we know the Williamson line back to our 3rd Great Grandparents Matthew Williamson and Selina Jeffries. From that point on that certainty level drops to 90%. It is my firm belief that Matthew Williamson is a descendant of Cuthbert Williamson and Elizabeth Allen (see relationship chart below). I'm not 100% certain that relationship goes through Cuthbert Williamson Junior and Susanna White.



Relationship Chart
8th Great Grandfather Major General Abraham Wood and Margaret Llewellyn
to
Mary Wood and Thomas Chamberlayne
to
Rebecca Chamberlayne and John Williamson
to
Cuthbert Williamson and Elizabeth Allen
to
Cuthbert Williamson and Susanna White
to
Matthew Williamson and Selina Dandridge Jeffries
to
George Matthew Williamson and Margaret Willis
to
William Jonathan Williamson and Effie Helen Victor
to
Vennie, Ima, Inez, Lille, Josie, Emmett, Walt, Charles and Maurice
to
US

How Abraham might have looked on the sea crossing. Ten years old
crossing without family, coming to Jamestown as an indentured servant.


In 1620 Thomas Osborne paid the fare for 10-year-old Abraham Wood (our 8th Great Grandfather) to come to Virginia on the ship Margaret and John, commanded by Capt. Anthony Chester. On March 14, 1620 the ship was attached by two Spanish war ships. Although they mortally wounded Dr. Lewis Bohun, a Virginia surgeon, Abraham and the ship escaped unhurt. Ten year old Abraham came to Jamestown, American as an indentured servant to Capt. Samuel Matthews.

An Account of the Sea Battle our Great Grandfather Survived in March 1620.
The Spaniards deeply resented the settlement of the English on the North American continent, and would, if they had dared, have made an attempt to wipe out the colony at Jamestown. They, however, kept a constant lookout for the vessels of the Virginia adventurers. The sea fight of the Margaret and John caused much excitement in England, and the English were very proud of the exploits of the ship, which was small and not well provided. In the latter part of March 1621 (1620, O.S.) this vessel had a severe battle with two Spanish men-of-war in the West Indies, in which she was fortunate enough to come out the victor. Two accounts were published. One is given below:

VOYAGE OF ANTHONY CHESTER on the Margaret and John. To Virginia in the year 1620, as narrated by a distinguished passenger; translated into Dutch and published by Peter Vander Aa, bookseller at Leyden, in 1707.

In the beginning of February 1620 I left England in the ship Margaret & John, our ship was of 160 ton burden, our Captain was Anthony Chester a brave seaman. Besides the crew we had on board a good many passengers of whom I was one, our ship carried 8 cannon with a valconet, our
destination was Virginia where we hoped to transact some profitable business. About the 14th of March we came in about 20 miles off Mettalina; the next day we passed Dominica and neared Guadaloupe where we intended to take in fresh water. Nearing this place we observed two vessels lying at anchor which we took to be Hollanders, not only because the ships were built after the model of that nation, but more so because the Admiral had the Dutch flag flying from the mizzenmast.

Expecting no harm we kept straight on &
anchored in their immediate vicinity; but so as not to be taken by surprise we sent some sailors in a boat towards the Admiral's ship to reconnoitre, who returned in a very short time with the report that they were two Spanish men of war. Notwithstanding this we sent the boat out a second time to make a more thorough investigation while we commenced busying ourselves to make things ready in case it should come to a fight. But our ship was so full of household goods that we could not place our cannon as we wanted to, and so we had to make out the best we could. Upon our boat reaching the Vice Admiral's ship our men inquired from whence the ship, but instead of receiving a polite reply the Spaniards demanded their surrender which of course our men declined and rowed back to our ship as rapidly as possible.

Meanwhile several shots were fired at
them striking and breaking some of their oars, but not a man of them was hurt. When within about a musket shot frm our ship, there were fired at from a big cannon, and as soon as our men were on board of our ship, the Spaniards hoisted sail preparatory to attack us. We on our part anticipated a bloody encounter and were much troubled by our inability to properly place our guns for reason mentioned above. The Spanish Admiral took down the Dutch flag and hoisted the Spanish colors weighed anchor and sailed towards us, but before firing upon us they spoke us enguiring what nationality we were, we replied we were English and had no intention of harming them unless we were forced to do so and that it was our desire to proceed peacefully on ourvoyage. Hereupon, the Spaniard demanded that we take down our mainsail which according to him was required by the rights of the King of Spain and marine usage, whereupon our Captain replied that he could not subject himself to any such rights nor did he intend to harm the subjects of the King of Spain.

While friendly relations existed between ther respective sovereigns
he wished the same to exist between their subjects. After exchanging a few more words, our Captain went down in the cabin, tired of listening any longer to the unjust demands of this Spaniard, but at the request of the Admiral our Captain came again on deck and was ordered to come on board the Admiral's ship to show his papers, but this our Captain refused to do saying if they wished to see them they could come on board his ship and he would show them his papers. But what happens? Instead of answering by word of mouth, they saluted us with two pieces of cannon and a hail storm of musket balls, drew their swords, threatened to cut us to pieces, and calling us dogs, grappled us and thought they had subdued us already, when, at a sign previously agreed upon, our men sprang forward with their muskets and received them so well, supported by our 4 pieces of cannon, that they had to retreat. It was not long though before they returned attacking us with a loud noise, grappled us again, and began to come on board our ship but our men led by our brave and courageous Captain received them so well with their muskets, spears, and grappling axes that we drove them off a second time sending many of them to a watery grave. This, however, did not satisfy the Spaniard, they attacked and grappled us a third time and during the fierce hand to hand fight, which now ensued, we had the good luck to shoot their Admiral down upon which they raised such a hue and cry that it astonished all of us, and they immediately took to flight leaving us the victory.

In this fierce and bloody encounter we, for reasons mentioned before, could
not bring but 4 of our 8 cannon into use, but these were handled so rapidly and skillfully that several times the Spaniard would have gotten away from us but for their ship being lashed to ours until finally one of our men, with orders from our Captain, cut the ropes with his grappling axe upon which they immediately took flight giving us several volleys from their big and small guns as they retreated. The Vice Admiral, seeing we did not pursue his Admiral, acted as if he wanted to fight us again, but we did not mind him much, and set to work to face them both if they were so inclined. But the admiral's ship held off and we now attacked the Vice Admiral so furiously that we disabled his ship to such an extent that the whole crew had to take to shore to save themselves from a watery grave.

The night following this battle, all on board our ship, passengers as well as
crew, were busy filling cartridges, cleaning cannons and muskets repairing damages etc. so as to be ready in case the Spaniard should feel inclinced to attack us again, and by dawn of day it looked as if we had not been working all night in vain, the Spaniards seemingly preparing to attack us again. However, after looking at each other for about two hours with frowning faces, the Spaniard hoisted sail and took their course towards the nearest island, their movements being such that it was plain that they must have had a good many dead and wounded.

On our side we had 8 dead,* and of the 16 wounded 2 died
afterwards; how many of the Spaniards were killed we never knew but certain it is that during the encounters we saw many of them fall and not a few find their grave in the water which was actually red with their blood. Among the dead was Dr. Lawrence Bohun, who was educated "among the most learned surgeons and physitians in the Netherlands." He came to Virginia with Lord Delaware in 1610. December 13, 1620, being in London, he was appointed by the London Company physician general to the colony; and soon after he sailed for Virginia on the Margaret and John with Captain Anthony Chester. During the battle Dr. Bohun received a mortal wound. Capt. Chester embraced him and exclaimed, "Oh! Dr. Bohun, what a disaster is this." The noble Doctor replied, "Fight it out, brave man, the cause is good, and Lord receive my soul." (Brown's Genesis U. S., II., p. 830.) The Amiral's ship was also of 300 ton burden and carried 16 big guns with a correspondingly ample supply of men and ammunition; on the other hand ours was a small ship, as stated before, with 8 big guns of which we could only use 4, notwithstanding which we were so fortunate as to come out victorious. We now proceeded on our voyage and landed without further accidents in Virginia. Soon thereafter Captain Chester obtained a return cargo and set sail again for England.



Abraham rose rapidly to public prominence. He was a justice of Charles City County. He was a member of the House of Burgesses (1644-46, 1652, 1654-56) and a member of the Council of Virginia (1657-80). In 1646 they made him captain of Fort Henry, at the site of today’s Petersburg, and by 1658 he was colonel of the militia of Charles City and Henrico counties. The land at Fort Henry, and all the houses, boats, and ammunition there were granted to Capt. Wood for keeping a garrison there for three years to defend the Colony. In 1671 he was one of four major generals commanding the military establishment of Virginia.


A Phamplet Written and Published by Abraham Wood

In 1671 Abraham sent out expeditions westward to explore the country and sent the first expedition known to have crossed the Appalachian Mountains led by Thomas Batte and others. The men of this expedition crossed the Allegheny Mountains 45 years before the expedition of Governor Spotswood in 1716. In 1680 Wood negotiated a treaty with the Indians.
in 1671, Batts and Fallam

Fort Henry was built in 1646 to mark the legal frontier between the white settlers and the Native Americans, and was near the Appomattoc Indian tribe with whom Abraham Wood traded. It was the only point in Virginia at which Indians could be authorized to cross eastward into white territory, or whites westward into Indian territory, from 1646 until around 1691. This circumstance gave Wood, who commanded the fort and privately owned the adjoining lands, a considerable advantage over his competitors in the "Indian trade".

Several exploration parties were dispatched from Fort Henry by Wood during these years, including one undertaken by Wood himself in 1650, which explored the upper reaches of the James River and Roanoke River.

The first English expeditions to reach the southern Appalachian Mountains were also sent out by Wood. In 1671, explorers Thomas Batts (Batte) and Robert Fallam reached the New River Valley and the New River. The New River was named Wood's River after Abraham Wood, although in time it became better known as the New River. Batts and Fallam are generally credited with being the first Europeans to enter within the present-day borders of West Virginia.

In 1673 Wood sent his friend James Needham and his indentured servant Gabriel Arthur on an expedition to find an outlet to the Pacific Ocean. Shortly after their departure Needham and Arthur encountered a group of Tomahitan Indians, who offered to conduct the men to their indian village across the mountains. After reaching the Tomahitan village Needham returned to Fort Henry to report to Wood. While en route back to the Tomahitan village Needham was killed by a member of the trading party with whom he was traveling. Shortly thereafter, Arthur was almost killed by a mob in the Tomahitan settlement, but was saved and then adopted by the village's chief. Arthur lived with the Tomahitans for almost a year, accompanying them on war and trading expeditions as far south as Spanish Florida and as far north as the Ohio River.

Other accomplishments of Abraham Wood:

  • Served as Justice of Charles City.
  • Commanding officer of the "trained bands" of Charles City and Henrico.
  • Member of the House of Burgesses from Henrico 1644-1646 and from Charles City 1652-1656.
  • With Edward Bland, Sacheverell Brewster and Elias Pennant, he undertook in 1650 a voyage of discovery along the Chowan and Nottaway Rivers, which was documented by Bland in "The Discovery of New Brittaine."Source: Extracted from "Adventurers of Puse and Person, page 362-363
Read a letter written by our 8th Great Grandfather: