That bit of land that is now the Fredericksburg Country Club is rich in both history and people. Prior to the arrival of the first white settlers, Native Americans of the Algonquin tribes hunted and fished on the grounds and waters bounding the Club property.
In 1671, Charles II of England granted about 5,000 acres to a Major Lawrence Smith of Gloucester County, Virginia. In 1676, the early settlers built a fort in the vicinity of the club's 10th tee, to protect themselves from these same Indians. After an abortive effort to establish a settlement here, Smith broke the grant into parcels, one of which was sold in 1730 to Francis Taliaferro. In the mid-eighteenth century the property was inherited by a relative in the then prominent Brooke family, who built a home thereon and named it Smithfield in honor of the original owner of the land.
Richard Brooke raised four sons who all fought in the War of Independence and later gained prominence in the new nation. Laurence Brooke, the eldest, sailed with our nation's first naval hero, John Paul Jones. Captain Jones, a citizen of Fredericksburg, appointed Laurence surgeon of the Bon Homme Richard and both participated in the famous engagement with the Serapis. After the Revolution Laurence became one of the most respected doctors of our new nation. Robert Brooke, the second son, was captured by the British and sent to England by Lord Howe. He escaped via Scotland and France, returned to Virginia, joined a volunteer troop of cavalry and was captured again at Westham, seven miles above Richmond. In 1794 Robert was elected Governor of Virginia, and later served as Attorney General for the state. Francis and John Brooke were twins and the youngest of the family. Both served as officers at the age of sixteen for Generals Lafayette, Harrison and Spotswood. John later served in the House of Delegates from Stafford for many years. Francis served in the House of Delegates until he became a Judge in 1804 and served until 1849.
The Smithfield property was purchased by John Pratt of Caroline County in 1814. Shortly thereafter, the original dwelling burned down, and by 1822 the present mansion house was built.