—Colonial National Historical Park —
"I hope your Lord will think fit to move His Majesty to appoint another Councillor...I humbly recomend to your Lord for that Purpose Mr. Cole Digges a Gentleman who lives very convenient to the Seat of Government, of an ample Fortune, good Parts & a fair Character..."
Governor Alexander Spotswood to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, February 24, 1718
On September 15, 1720, Cole Digges of Yorktown was sworn in as a member of the royal governor's council, a powerful and prestigious political position in the colonial government that he held for 24 years. Digges' wealth, his position as a representative in the colonial legislature and his apparent support of the royal governor, Alexander Spotswood, combined to make him an attractive candidate for the council. Digges' success came at a time when Yorktown was reaching its zenith, and the colony was still loyal to Great Britain. Cole Digges was born in 1691, the same year Yorktown was established. His family's wealth came primarily from producing a well known brand of "sweet scented" tobacco, called "E.Dees.," named after his grandfather, Edward Digges. As Yorktown slowly grew into a prominent tobacco port, Cole Digges, only in his early 20s, became a merchant, purchasing a town lot in 1713. As the town prospered, so
did Digges' enterprises. At his death in 1744, he owned two plantations, this house, a warehouse, storehouse, wharf and other lots in Yorktown. Cole Digges witnessed the expansion of Yorktown from its early beginnings to a thriving community. His son Dudley Digges, whose home is one block east on Main Street, saw the town decline. Sidebar:Thomas Pate
In 1699, ferryman Thomas Pate purchased this town lot and constructed his home here. The house was sold twice before Cole Digges acquired the property in 1713. Originally thought to be Pate's house, research and the building's architectural details indicate that the house was constructed around 1720, when Cole Digges owned the property. The interior of the house represents the colonial revival style of 1925. Captions:
This broadside from a British merchant advertises some of York's "sweet scented" tobacco. Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Cole Digges' signatureCourtesy of the British Public Records Office