The Planters of Colonial Virginia


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Genealogical Publishing Company


Professor Wertenbaker here explains how the headright system, tobacco cultivation, and the importation of slave labor transformed the colony of Virginia from largely a society of yeoman farmers to a planter aristocracy. At the turn of the eighteenth century, however, most Virginia landowners were still self-sufficient small farmers holding a few hundred acres of land. This is borne out by the Rent Roll of Virginia, 1704-1705, a county-by-county breakdown of all landowners and their acreage in the Colony. The closest thing to a census of Virginia for the period, the Rent Roll identifies upwards of 7,000 Virginia landholders. The genealogical importance of this document, of course, cannot be overstated, so it is with much delight that we find it appended to Professor Wertenbaker’s narrative. The remainder of the book relates how all of this would change.


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