Undaunted Pioneers Our immigrant ancestor, John Chew (1587-1668), may have first come to the new world in 1607 with Captain John Smith when the first few hundred settlers landed in Virginia. If he did, he then returned to England, married and started his family. There is evidence to show that he was planning his permanent move for several years, as early as 1618.

Immigration records of Virginia show that in 1622 John Chew, "merchant from Somersetshire England," arrived at James Cittie (now Jamestown) with three servants aboard the barque 'Charitie,' which was owned by his wife Sara's father. She followed in 1623 on the ship 'Seafloure' with several of her children and servants. Click the ship to see a large photo of recreated ships in Jamestown.

Leading Businessman John Chew was a wealthy settler in the new world, with land granted to him in Jamestown, near the Governor's mansion, and a plantation on Hogg Island across the river from Jamestown. Some say he built the first brick house in Jamestown.

He also had a store and warehouse there and was later granted 1,200 acres in York County for helping develop that area. Governor Harvey in 1725 called John Chew "one of the ablest merchants in Virginia." Click the link or photo to the right to see some Jamestown ruins. Who knows, maybe John Chew's house is in the photo.

As a well-established businessman, John Chew became involved in politics shortly after arriving in Virginia. For a period of almost 20 years, starting in 1624, John Chew served Virginia in the House of Burgesses and also served as a Justice for York County.

Religious Issues In 1649, however, after the Church of England began to persecute the Puritans and similar problems arose in the colonies, John Chew left Virginia with his family and moved to Maryland where Lord Baltimore granted them 500 acres in Ann Arundel/Calvert County (near today's Annapolis). Click the map to the right to see the route of the move.

There is no evidence that the Chews were Puritans or that they left England because of that. It seems more like they made the move for business reasons and to help establish the colonies for the crown. More than likely they were or became Quakers because a generation later John Chew's son and grandson are recorded as active Quakers in Maryland, donating land on which the Herring Creek Meeting House was built. For a brief description of how one family genealogist describes the move from VA to MD, click the 'Religion' link to the right.

Maryland Lands Thanks to some good detective work by Mildred Hatmaker (pre-computers) we were able to find several of the Chew holdings that are still standing in Maryland, including Maidstone which was in the family from 1676 to 1745 and Letchworth's Chance.

Maidstone is a beautifully preserved historic site and the owners say they have a number of 'Chew' visitors each year. Click the top house to read about Maidstone and see more photos. Letchworth's Chance was not it such good shape when we visited in the early 1990s. Click the lower house to see a poor copy of the photo that appears in the historical records for Letchworth's.

One source says John Chew was 'the founder of Ann Arundel and Howard Counties" in Maryland. Not long ago in the mid 1990s, there was a "Lost Towns" archeological effort underway in Anne Arundel County and one of the targets of this effort was to determine the location of Herrington. Herrington is the town that Samuel Chew (son of John) laid out upon his arrival in MD in the 1650s after leaving Virginia. You can see a listing of Chew holdings in Maryland in 1783 by clicking the 'Property' link.

Pioneers Into Leaders From the first Chew to land in the new world (and at least five sons) sprang even more pioneers who carried the Chew name throughout the colonies and then westward as the country expanded. Among these relatives are military Colonels, physicians, religious leaders, many Quakers, wealthy landowners, statesmen, lawyers and politicians.

An early ancestor Samuel Chew, was a member of the Council of Maryland and a Justice of the Provincial Court. Benjamin Chew of Philadelphia, a brother of one of our ancestors, became Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. His home 'Cliveden' was the site of the Battle of Germantown in 1777 and headquarters to George Washington at one point. Cliveden is now a museum and historical site but was owned and lived in by Chews up until 1972. Click the 'Clivedon' house or link to learn more about it.

Namesake Another distant Chew relative, Mary Chew (1740-1774), who was the daughter of one of our ancestors' brother, married Pennslyvania Governor William Paca, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and is the namesake for our direct ancestor William Paca Chew. Click either photo to the right to see large versions.

Many Chews fought in the War of 1812, the Indian Wars and then fought each other as some joined the Union and others the Confederate sides in the Civil War of 1861-5.

Chew Dispersion Some Chews stayed in the Virginia and Maryland areas but many more pushed on with the Chew pioneering spirit, setting off in all directions. Some went north to Connecticut and then settled on Long Island, New York. The New Jersey Chews probably followed William Penn's Quaker migration from Long Island and then remained in New Jersey for many generations. A few moved further north to Canada and some on to Iowa.

Another group headed for New Orleans where in the 1800s a family member became postmaster then customs agent then Vice Consul to Russia. One Chew family from Virginia helped settle West Virginia then moved on to Ohio and Illinois. And some went south and then west to Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma, which is where we catch up with our direct ancestors. You can click the 'Continue Story' link or use the navigation buttons at the top.


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