Denbigh Plantation

Submitted by FHMaster on Sun, 12/18/2016 - 11:50

Denbigh Plantation Site, also known as Mathews Manor, is a historic archaeological site located at Newport News, Virginia. Mathews Manor was built about 1626 for Captain Samuel Mathews. The post-medieval Mathews Manor included a projecting porch and center chimney, both characteristic of Virginia's earliest substantial dwellings. Mathews's house burned about 1650 and was replaced with a smaller house nearby, probably by his son, Samuel Mathews, Jr. (1630-1660), governor of Colonial Virginia (1656-1660). The property was referred to as Denbigh Plantation since the 18th century.[3]

Denbigh Plantation Site was one of the 17th-century sites excavated by Colonial Williamsburg's renowned archeologist Ivor Noël Hume during the 1960s. His findings revealed much about early domestic life in the Virginia colony. In addition to the manor house, the site also includes several 17th-century industrial sites and the archeological remains of the 18th-century home of the Digges family. The foundations of both the Digges and Mathews houses have been capped and delineate their outlines. An 18th-century dairy and early 19th-century kitchen associated with the Digges homestead are still standing. The earliest known porcelain in Virginia, as well as other early artifacts, were found here during excavation. Although now surrounded by residential development, these sites are preserved within a neighborhood park.[3]

Denbigh was named for Denbigh Plantation, which was patented by Captain Samuel Matthews, who came to Virginia before 1618, filled several important posts, and became the father of Lt. Col. Samuel Mathews, a royal governor of the Virginia Commonwealth from 1656-1660. His son John Mathews (b. 1659 - May 1, 1706) married Elizabeth Tavernor on March 24, 1684 and they also made their home at the Denbigh Plantation.

The first courthouse and jail were located nearby, at Warwick Towne, established in 1680. The colonial port was located at Deep Creek and the Warwick River on 50 acres (200,000 m2) of Samuel Mathews' land.[1] In 1790, Warwick County recorded 1,690 persons in the Federal Census, making it the third smallest county population-wise in Virginia. After the American Revolution, in 1809, Warwick Towne was abandoned, and the county seat was moved to the area of Denbigh Plantation, near Stoney Run.

The town of Denbigh was the county seat of Warwick County from 1810 until 1952, except for a short period from 1888 to 1896 when the courthouse was located in what is now downtown Newport News. It was moved back to Denbigh when Newport News became an independent city in 1896.


Samuel Mathews
Samuel Mathews, Jr.
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