Pictured: The Virginia House of Burgesses, which became the Virginia House of Delegates following the American Revolution, is the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere.
At the recent groundbreaking for the new Eastern Shore Public Library, Governor Northam said “we need to know about our history. Some of it is good and some of it is not good but if we know the truth we can move forward.” The Governor’s remarks cited the significance of the new Eastern Shore History wing at the library.
The House of Burgesses originally met in 1619, which was before the Eastern Shore had any significant number of English settlers. Thomas Savage arrived in 1621 and over the next eight years more settlers also arrived. By 1629 it was decided that an Eastern Shore resident should become a member of America’s first legislative body.
Here’s a historical fact that many may not know. In 1629 Thomas Graves of Northampton County made his way across the Chesapeake Bay and up the James River to Jamestown to serve as the Eastern Shore of Virginia’s first representative in the House of Burgesses. Since that time the Eastern Shore residents have traveled to Jamestown, Williamsburg and Richmond to serve in the House of Burgesses and the House of Delegates for 390 years.
This has been the case for the last 390 years and if it continues, we will have our own 400th anniversary in 2029.