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Monday 21 November 2011

Hampton Roads - an Interesting Aside

an e-mail from a dear friend who runs a fabulous B & B in Colonial Williamsburg. Virginia
(the best B & B I've ever stayed in by the way -  comfortable and welcoming, lovely host & hostess _and_ chock full of Colonial period history!)

Dear Helen,

Hampton Roads
 For many years, I have been asking people I thought ought to know the answer, when was Elizabeth City, Virginia re-named Hampton, Virginia, because certain historical novels and other books will need to call it by the right name for their given era. No one ever knew. Finally, yesterday, I learned the answer: 1706, the year before the Union of the 2 British Parliaments. I remember when I drove you down there to have a look I mentioned that I didn’t know whether you should call it Hampton or Elizabeth City in your pirate novels, so now we know. This year is the 400th anniversary of the founding of Hampton/Elizabeth City, the oldest place where English-speaking people have lived continuously in the New World. Unfortunately, some brilliant Confederate general in the Civil War thought the best thing he could do would be to burn it to the ground. As a result, only one house survives 

Fredericksburg, by the way, has lots of history itself. One aspect that most people don’t know is that a Scottish merchant captain, John Paul, had to shoot two of his crew for mutiny as he was arriving in Tobago in 1774. The Governor of Tobago told him he’d have to stay there for 11 months so the case could be handled properly by a court, but if he disappeared in the mean time … So, Capt. Paul added Jones to his name and took passage on another ship up to Virginia, where he went to visit his brother in Fredericksburg. Shortly after, the brother croaked, so John Paul Jones inherited his brother’s house, the only piece of real estate he ever owned in America, or perhaps anywhere. The house still stands opposite the railway station, privately owned and occupied, but it does have a plaque on it.

Best wishes, John

At Newport House you will get closer to feeling the real, 18th Century Williamsburg  than at any other accommodations in the area.


Cathy Millar is a Registered Nurse; her hobbies include gardening, beekeeping, needlework, and making 18th century clothing.

John Fitzhugh Millar is a former museum director and captain of an historic full-rigged ship. John is also the author and publisher of many historical books. Currently, John is working on a book about Lady Elizabeth Wilbraham (1632-1705), the world’s first woman architect.
Both are descended from people living in the Williamsburg area in the 18th century. Their son Ian was born in 1991. Also in residence is the pet rabbit, Josephine Bunnyparts

"We could not have had a more pleasant stay anywhere else in Williamsburg – in-house costume-rental, country dancing, history lessons, nutmeg syrup, and … a rabbit! The two of you excel in charm, courtesy, and hospitality, and helped our vacation be truly memorable. Huzzah!"

The New England Chamber -
this was the room I had

 The New English Chamber - one of the two guest bedrooms - is finished to museum standards with numerous period pieces. The New England Chamber has central air and a private Bath Room. For increased privacy, both chambers are above stairs (upstairs).
A full breakfast usually includes delicious dishes made from authentic Colonial recipes with fruit and honey from our garden, and interesting historical conversation with your hosts.
The Queen bed with stop-fluting was designed by architect Peter Harrison and made by John Townsend of Newport RI about 1770. The extra-long twin bed with barley-sugar turnings was made of English walnut in Boston about 1700. The dressing table with block-front decorated by carved shells was designed by Harrison and made by Edmund Townsend of Newport. The bonnet-topped highboy with carved shells was designed by Harrison and made by the Townsend-Goddards of Newport. A 1760 side chair by Harrison and John Goddard of Newport has elaborate tracery.


John Millar built the 24-gun Revolutionary War frigate ROSE in 1969-70, which had a 15-year career of successful adventure/sail-training on the East Coast into the Great Lakes, and the Caribbean, as well as one glorious Summer in Europe, educating up to 31 subscribed trainees per week ranging in  ages from 8 to 80..until she sailed to the West Coast to co-star with Russell Crowe in Master & Commander: to the Far Side of the World. She is now permanently on display as Surprise at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, leaving a big hole in the East Coast sail training scene.

He also designed the brig LADY WASHINGTON (copy of the first American  vessel to reach the West Coast in 1787) in the 1980s for the non-profit organization in Aberdeen, Washington, that uses her for port visits and adventure/sail training cruises. She has starred in Star Trek Generations and the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie (The Interceptor).
"It's a very fine boat ...ship"
Now named "The Official Ship of the State of Washington," She was recognized for 16 years of service as a goodwill ambassador to the nation and the world and as a floating classroom for young people from across the country.

The State of Washington was named after the ship, not after George.

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