In November 1618, The Virginia Company instructed Governor George Yeardley to set aside 3,000 acres of land "in the best and most convenient place of the territory of Jamestown" to be "the seat and land of the Governor of Virginia."
This land, known as Governor's Land, incorporated "lands formerly conquer'd or purchased of the Paspeheis" and was to be settled and worked by tenants. In exchange for their labor, tenants received a year's supply of food and cattle, as well as "apparel, weapons, tooles, and implements both of house and labor;" and were entitled to half the profits of their labor. After seven years, tenants could stay at Governor's Land or seek work elsewhere. According to the 1624/5 muster, there were two primary settlements on Governor's Land, the Maine and Paspahegh, where at least 78 people resided, including 13 families, 18 servants, and 10 of the Governor's men.
Archaeological excavations at these sites identified houses, refuse pits, and graves, and recovered artifacts documenting daily life on the frontier and the boom and bust cycle of tobacco production in Virginia. Both the historical and archaeological records indicate that life on the Governor's Land was difficult.
Citing "the barreness of the ground whereon they plant,"
"the badness of their utterly decayed houses" and "their small strength & ability to hold & defend the same place," residents petitioned the General Court to leave, and in 1625 were granted permission "to remove themselves from that place."
This 1937aerial shows the portion of the original Governor's Land tract where the Maine and Paspahegh Settlements were located, and the site of the 1970s archaeological investigations.
This large refuse pit excavated at the Maine (44JC0041) contained discarded household items, food remains, arms, and armor, including a sword hilt and cabasset helmet.
In 1622, colonists were sent arms and armor they deemed "altogether unfit, and of no use for modern service," perhaps explaining why a helmet like this was found in the refuse pit.