Walter Chiles, I

Walter Chiles, I

Bristol, England
Death 6 Jul 1653 (aged 44–45)
Jamestown, James City County, Virginia, USA
Burial James City County, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 162564555 · View Source
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Walter Chiles I's (1608-1653) English family was from Crowle, Worcestershire and Bristol, England.
1) Great-Grandparents: His great-grandfather was likely Richard Childe who was buried at Crowle, Worcestershire on the 6th of May 1540. His great-grandmother was possibly Isabel Childes who was buried on the 10th day of February 1545/6 or Margaret Childes listed as deceased in October 1547 in Crowle.
2) Grandparents: William Childes married at Crowle on 21 January 1543/4 to Alice (__?__). William Childes was buried the 24th of May 1563 at Crowle and Ales Chiles, "widdow was buried ye 7th day of January 1598/9 at Crowle". The above includes all of the known instances of the Childes/Childs/Child family of Crowle, Worcestershire in the Crowle Parish Registers.
3) Parents: John Childs, a textile merchant, one of three siblings, was baptized at Crowle, Worcestershire on 20 October 1555. John Childe and Katherine Johnes were married on 12 Jan 1582 at Temple Parish (Bristol). Katherine Childe died of the plague about 1602. John Childe married secondly Alice Wellstedd on 06 Feb 1603 at Temple Parish (Bristol). She was the mother of Walter Chiles I (1608-1653) who was baptized in the church of Saint Mary Redcliffe in Bristol, England on 20 March 1609. The last record of John Childes alive was 1628. It appears significant that the last three records of John Chiles in 1605, 1628 and 1632/3 spelled his name "Chiles", without the "d" as is the spelling of Walter Chiles I, his son. In 1632/3, in his High Court of Admiralty (HCA) deposition (see below) of 24 July 1637 and in almost all of the records of Virginia his name is spelled "Chiles". (Reference: "A complete Revision of the Ancestry of Walter Chiles (1608-1653) of Bristol, England and Jamestowne, Virginia" by Arden H. Brame, Jr., 2014, pp110, 111, 114 ("The English Genealogist of The Augustan Society").

NOTE: The early genealogical literature concerning Walter Chiles mistakenly concluded that Walter Chiles I and his son, Walter Chiles II, were a single entity (1608-1671) which has led to much confusion in the genealogical literature. This has been proven to be incorrect and is confirmed by several accepted sources including, "A Timeline for Structures at Jamestown Related to the Chiles Family" by Lee Pelham Cotton, 2006. (Lee Pelham Cotton was a Park Ranger for the National Park Service when he wrote this article.)

In the Public Record Office in London, among the "High Court of Admiralty (HCA) Libels and Depositions" was found the record of "Examination No. 301, Vol. 53" which stated: "Case of Phillip Luxon (Luxton) versus William Harris dated 24 July 1637. Deposition of Walter Chiles of Bristol, clothworker, aged 29 or thereabouts, examined on behalf of William Harris and Nicholas Jollye." (Significantly, Walter Chiles I signed his own name to the document.)

"This deponent (Walter Chiles I) was a passenger in the ship "Blessing" out of Falmouth and was employed by William Harris and Nicholas Jollye (merchants) to be the assistant to the witness, HENRY TUTTON, then chief purser of the said ship, to help sell and dispose of their goods in Virginia. Walter was employed to serve 12 months." [Walter Chiles gave evidence in his deposition about the cargo including the gin and whiskey that the Master of the "Blessing", Phillip Luxon, was accused of drinking during the voyage]. The "Blessing" returned from Virginia to England via Kinsale in Ireland and Falmouth in Cornwall. Chiles served on her from 26 Sep 1636 to 24 Jun 1637 and the ship stayed 14 weeks in Jamestown, Virginia. Note: This record confirms that Walter Chiles I was born about 1608 in England and that he was the same Walter Chiles who emigrated to Virginia in 1637/8 as he lists as one of his headrights in his first grant of land (01 Mar 1638) one HENRY TUTTON, his former boss, the chief purser on the "Blessing".

Walter Chiles must have been very impressed with the future possibilities of this new land after his brief visit to Jamestown aboard the "Blessing". Shortly after his return to England in 1637, he and family emigrated to Virginia, reportedly in his own ship (which could possibly have been the "Fame of Virginia" mentioned later in this narrative) sometime between 24 July 1637 when he gave his HCA deposition in England and 01 March 1638 when his and his family's headrights were recorded. The first record we have of Chiles actually living in Virginia was recorded in Nugent, Nell M., "Cavaliers and Pioneers", 1934, pp103-4 as: "Walter Chiles, 400 acres, Charles Citty Co. (now Prince George County), 01 Mar 1638, West upon Apomattuck [sic] River, North upon the land of Edward Tunstall and South toward the falls. 200 acres for the personal adventure of himself, his wife, Elizabeth Chiles, his sons: Walter and William, and 200 acres for transportation of 4 persons (headrights), namely: HENRY TUTTON, Jonathan Gerry, Jonathan Shaw and Sarah Cole." (One wonders if Walter's former boss, Henry Tutton, worked off his indenture or paid him.) NOTE: Elizabeth Chiles maiden name has yet to be proven although "Maury" and "Sanders" are suggested without documentation in the genealogical literature. Their son, William Chiles, does not appear again in Virginia records (He may have died shortly after arriving in Virginia or perhaps he may have returned to England).

Other land owned by Walter I included:
1) On 02 May 1638 he received a further grant of 250 acres on the Appomattox River (Land Book I, 551 and 625) This grant was described as "westerly from ye river and easterly, &c, upon the land of Edward Tunstall; 50 acres for his own personal adventure and two hundred for the transportation of four other persons, viz: William Webb, Stephen Gorris, John Kimberlin and Ann Polory".
2) In March 1638, 613 acres in Charles City (Land Book I, p859).
3) 813 acres purchased from William Thomas located upon the southerly side the Appomattox River in Charles City County (Land Book II, pp193 & 203); "Cavaliers and Pioneers", by Nugent, Vol. 1, pp186-187, Patent Book, No. 2).
4) Walter Chiles I also acquired 70 acres of land at Black Point, located near the easternmost tip of Jamestown Island. “Black Poynt” is the long tip of Jamestown Island and was the first point of the island seen by the settlers when they sailed up the James River. Very early there was a road to the Point which wound two and one half miles from James City (later called Jamestown) at the other end of the island. Today, the National Park Service has built a road which circles the island, with a path to Black Point. The land of Walter Chiles encompassed the end of the island, between Pitch and Tar Swamp and Goose Hill, both identified on the island road today. As one looks at a map of Jamestown, the land can be identified as being between Passmore Creek and Kingsmill Creek. (Cavaliers and Pioneers, by Nugent, Vol. 2, p. 112).

In June 1641, in hope of expanding his business, Chiles joined three other men, Walter Austin, Richard Hoe and Joseph Johnson and "such others as they shall see fit to join them, in petitioning the General Assembly for permission to "undertake the discovery of a new river or unknowne land bearing west, southerly from Appomattake [sic] river." The assembly granted them a license in January 1642 and renewed it in 1643, but the Anglo-Powhatan War of 1644–1646 temporarily halted exploration and closed trading opportunities in the west. They did not attempt to obtain another license. (Ref: "A History of the Settlement Virginia 1400-1800" by Danny Dixon, 2002)

In the genealogical literature there is confusion as to whether Walter Chiles I or his son, Walter Chiles II, was referred to as Lieutenant Colonel. Which ever case, it was probably an honorary title. Through hard work and dedication to the colony, Walter I became a wealthy man and was held in high esteem by his fellow colonists. Walter excelled in business and took an active part in the affairs of the Virginia Colony by becoming very politically active. He was elected to the House of Burgesses from Charles City County for the assembly that met on January 12, 1642, and signed a declaration against a revival of the Virginia Company of London. He represented the county again in 1643 and took part in the last meetings of the General Assembly as a unicameral body and the first sessions of the House of Burgesses as a separate branch of the assembly. Further, he subsequently moved to James City County, which he represented in the assemblies of the House of Burgesses that began on November 20, 1645; October 5, 1646; and October 10, 1649. It is possible that his absence from some of the intervening legislative sessions was a consequence of trips to England. He was a member of the Council (Assembly), the upper house, in 1651 where he was elected speaker in 1652 but didn't serve (see explanation below). ["Northumberland Records and Virginia Historical Magazine", Vol. VIII, p197].

Walter was also a ship owner who regularly traveled between Virginia and England transporting merchandise and immigrants and may have carried messages between the governor and the Crown. After the future king, Charles II, fled England for the Netherlands, Walter probably carried messages between the government in Virginia and the court in exile. On the 24 Jan 1651, Walter I sailed for Rotterdam in his ship, the "Fame of Virginia". On returning from Rotterdam in 1652 and upon reaching Chesapeake Bay, he first put into port in Accomack County, VA. After being for a time in Accomack waters, the ship sailed bound for James City, VA (Jamestown) but was pursued and captured by Capt. Robert Henfield, who held a commission from the "Protectors of the Liberties of England" (Read: Oliver Cromwell). A second English ship, the "Hopeful Adventure", commanded by Captain Richard Husband arrived about 3 hours later and seized the "Fame of Virginia" under the pretext that Chiles had no license from Oliver Cromwell's English Parliament to trade with the Netherlands.

Chiles immediately applied to the Northampton Co., Virginia authorities for assistance, maintaining that the seizure was illegal. The Court of Northampton concurred and ordered an immediate release of the ship but Capt. Husband ignored the order and sailed away with the vessel (William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. I, pp16,152,153). The economic damage to Chiles was estimated as 2000 pounds sterling, a very large sum. Governor Bennett, on July 5, 1652, sent a note to the House of Burgesses, which happened to be convening the same day, advising them not to vote Lt. Col. Walter Chiles as Speaker of the Assembly due to the incident of his ship being seized because of his involvement in illegal trading with the Netherlands. The Burgesses did not accept the advice of the Governor and the next day by a plurality voted him Speaker of the Assembly. To the honor of Col. Chiles, he at once declined to serve. The House of Burgesses then granted him the ship "Leopoldus of Dunkirk" as a replacement for his seized ship, with all of its equipment, guns, etc. for 400 pounds sterling. The larger "Leopoldus of Dunkirk" had been confiscated for violation of the Navigation Laws. ("William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. I No.17, Hening, Vol. I, pp377-78)

An interesting aside concerning Lt. Col. Walter Chiles I relates to his residence, "Kemp House", on Jamestown Island. In 1638-9, Richard Kemp, who served as Governor's Councilor and Secretary of the Virginia Colony built his "brick house" on 3 1/2 acres of land. At the time, Governor Sir John Harvey identified Kemp's house as the first brick dwelling at Jamestown and thus "THE FIRST BRICK HOUSE IN AMERICA". Governor Harvey described the house as "the fairest that ever was knowen [sic] in this countrye [sic] for substance and uniformity". Richard Kemp fell on hard times and sold his house to Governor Wyatt in 1641. Around 1644, Governor Sir William Berkeley purchased the property and in March 1649 sold it and its acreage to merchant and Burgess Walter Chiles I for the sum of 26,000 pounds of tobacco. NOTE: See attached transcription of the 1649 deed transferring ownership of "Kempe House" from Governor Sir William Berkeley to Walter Chiles I. Sometime prior to his death in 1653, Walter Chiles I, as noted above, also acquired 70 acres of land at Black Point, located near the easternmost tip of Jamestown Island. When Walter Chiles I died, his widow, Elizabeth, retained a dower interest and remained in the "Kemp House". It isn't known when and where Elizabeth Chiles died. Their son, Walter Chiles II, inherited the estate including the 70 acres of land at Black Point on Jamestown Island from his father. The more than 1600 acres of land that Walter Chiles I owned along the Appomattox River in Charles City County were also part of his estate. There is speculation that Walter's short life was somewhat related to the very unhealthy conditions he experience from residing on Jamestown Island.

The will of Walter Chiles I has not been found, but it is known that he made a will from a 20 Nov 1673 deed drawn up by Susanna Chiles Wadding, the widow of Walter Chiles II, to sell the "Kemp House" to Col. John Page, the father of Walter Chiles II's first wife, Mary Page. To identify the "Kemp House" that had been bought by her father-in-law, Walter Chiles I, and passed down to her husband, Walter Chiles II, the deed identified Walter Chiles I, the father, as having died "in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred fifty three". This also confirms that it was Walter Chiles I who originally purchased the house in Jamestown (Ref. Amblar Manuscript No. 24, Library of Congress, Personal Papers, V.S.L., Acc. No.33142).

The children of Walter and Elizabeth (_____) Chiles I were:
1) Walter Chiles II b. Abt. 1630 England, d. 1671 Jamestown, Virginia.
2) William Chiles b. England, d. Unknown

Walter Chiles I is a qualifying ancestor for membership in the "Jamestowne Society".

1) "The Chiles Family in Virginia" by W. B. Cridlin, "The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography", Vol. 19, No. 1 (Jan. 1911), pp104-106.
2) "A Timeline for Structures at Jamestown Related to the Chiles Family" by Lee Pelham Cotton, 2006. (Lee Pelham Cotton was a Park Ranger for the National Park Service when he wrote this article.)
3) "Genealogies of Virginia Families from the William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine", Vol. I (Adams-Clopton), 1982, pp734-736
4) Kukla, Jon, "Speakers and Clerks of the Virginia House of Burgesses", 1643–1776. Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1981.

Bio by Gresham Farrar.

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  • Created by: Gresham Farrar
  • Added: 13 May 2016
  • Find A Grave Memorial 162564555
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Walter Chiles, I (1608–6 Jul 1653), Find A Grave Memorial no. 162564555, citing Chiles Family Cemetery, James City County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Gresham Farrar (contributor 47643741) .