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
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
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
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