History of Nansemond County and Driver

     Nansemond was first visited by the White Man in 1608 when Captain John Smith and his followers sailed up the Nansemond River. They found it inhabited by a large and powerful tribe of Indians who called themselves the Nansemums. They belonged to the Powhatan Confederacy and Nansemond River and its branches.

     Captain John Smith wrote in his history: "Heaven and earth never agreed better to frame a place   for man's habitation.
The Indian word Nasemum means "fishing point or angle".

     About 1630, the land on the Nansemond River began to be patented and plantations   established. Many of the original patents were dated from 1635, and by 1704 practically all the and in Nansemond had been patented and was being settled.

     Among the early settlers were Captain James Knott and Richard Bennett. If Richard Bennett were a contemporary figure, he probably would be described as "First Citizen of Nansemond County". He was granted 2,000 acres on the Nansemond River for having imported forty persons.

     As benefited a man of property, Richard Bennett served as a burgess and became member of the Governor's Council. He was the first governor of Virginia under the Puritan Commonwealth from 1652 to 1655. Dr. W. H. T. Squires wrote that Bennett planned a great Puritan Colony for the county, and he also fell under the influence of John Fox, who founded the Society of Friends, or Quakers, many of whom lived in the vicinity of Deanes on Shoulder's Hill Road. Sir William Berkeley frustrated Bennett's plans and drove the Puritans, Quakers, and non-conformists out of Nansemond. Many of these people moved to Albemarle, North Carolina and later a migration of Puritans went to Maryland and the place where they settled became known as Annapolis.

     Presumably, Richard Bennett was buried in Nansemond County on his own land, close by the creek that still bears his name. 

    Captain James Knott, from who Knott's Creek and the neck of land between the said creek and Bennett's Creek, took their names, was an Englishman who succeeded in obtaining a grant of land under the English Crown during Colonial Days. More than likely, he held all the land in that peninsula. He sold off the lands to different parties, retaining the farm where Miss Mary Love Green and her brother, R. Old Green live.

     An English gentleman named John Yeates more than likely lived on the Pig Point Farm at the mouth of the Nansemond River. He was an educated man of philanthropic views and became very wealthy. He wanted to do what he could for coming generations so he established two public, free schools; one near where Driver now is and one in Belleville. Most appropriately, the local high school is named "John Yeates High School", and recently renamed John Yeates Middle School.

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   Monday, 09. September 2013