Our first ancestor to immigrate to Virginia
by Charles Chaney
Nothing has been documented about Lawrence before he received a land grant in Northumberland County, Virginia, in 1652. Lawrence was perhaps the son of George Dameron and Joan Ashley. There was a Lawrence baptized in April of 1615, at St. Clements parish, Ipswich, Suffolk, England, but nothing documents that this is the same Lawrence. During the English Civil War, Suffolk County was heavily pro-Cromwell. Lawrence’s family apparently, although undocumented, supported the Cavaliers or Royalist party driven out of England by Cromwell. It is known that he settled in Northumberland County, Virginia, an area populated by a large number of supporters of the crown. It is also noted that his name does not appear on a 1652 loyalty oath signed by Northumberland County men. He is first documented in Northumberland County, Virginia, that year when he received a land grant there.
Information on his life before he received the land grant in 1652 must be considered speculative! There are several web sites listing his ancestry in England. The details vary and are entirely circumstantial and frequently contradictory. Such sites should be examined with strong skepticism. No definitive evidence has yet been uncovered that provides enough information to warrant any claims thus far presented. If such evidence has been found it should be immediately announced since Dameron-Damron researchers have spent years searching for such material.
One of his land patents reports that he was granted land for transporting some fourteen people which included himself, his wife and children. He claimed to have brought nine servants which probably constituted part of the fourteen people. He bought two more tracts of land so that when he died his holdings in Wicomico Parish totaled about 2,000 acres. It is possible that he had made a previous trip from England to Virginia and selected a site for his home and arranged for the construction a house. A spit of land jutting out into Chesapeake Bay retains the name Dameron Marsh. The first house was probably built of cedar slabs. In his will, Lawrence mentioned the Great Roome. His estate was called Guarding Point, which later became Garden Point. This 500 acres of land and swamp was purchased from Peter Knight in 1657. Its name originated from the fact that it served as a lookout post for lower Northumberland from the time of Bacon’s Rebellion.
Lawrence evidently died in 1657 since a court record, dated 9 March 1658, shows that “Dorothy, the relict and executrix of the sd Lawrence Dameron dec’d shall make payment…” for 4,100 pounds of tobacco. In his will, not proved until 1660, he left, upon the death of his widow, among other bequests, one-half of 500 acres in Wicomico parish to his son, Bartholomew, and the other half to George, his second son. Dorothy successfully managed and developed the increasingly valuable estate. She died in 1691 as that was when Bartholomew and George petitioned the court that the land left to them be properly divided and turned over to them. Some researchers have reported that there was a son named Samuel. This appears to be due to a record that read “Sam. George and Bar. Dameron” meaning “Samuel George and Bartholomew Dameron” but it was transcribed as Samuel, George, and Bartholomew Dameron and a non-existent son was created.
In 1700, a grandson of Lawrence, Thomas, erected a brick house near the original home site that, after Dameron ownership, was known as Brick Walls. The land bequeathed to George remained in the family until 1849 when it was sold to the Harding family which still owned some of the original Dameron property in the last decade of the twentieth century. Brick Walls was pulled down after it came into possession of the Harding family. When the field where it stood is plowed, brick remnants are visible.
Many descendants left Northumberland County, Virginia, to western Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and on to the west. It appears that during the Revolutionary War some dropped the “e” from the name although some later reinstated it. Today there are Damerons and Damrons in most parts of the United States especially the South, Midwest and Southwest.
NOTE: A major source for the material was Helen Foster Snow in her work The Dameron-Damron Family Genealogy which she assembled in mimeographed forms starting in the early 1950s until sometime before her death in 1997.