Comberford Map - 1657
The South Part of Virginia Now the North Part of Carolina
For over a half century after the failure of the Roanoke Island colony the Carolina coast was but little troubled by the activities of the European colonizing powers. Searches for the remnants of the Lost Colony by the English at Jamestown, made under specific orders from England, were unsuccessful. Reports have survived of sporadic attempts to settle land in the region around Albemarle Sound in the first half of the 17th century, but the undertakings were apparently not permanent. Around 1650, however, English settlers in Virginia began to show increasing interest in the ill-defined area to the south of the James River in Virginia. Purchase of land from the Indians and grants for settlement by the General Assembly of Virginia along the Roanoke, Chowan, and other rivers flowing into the sound were recorded in the years shortly prior to the granting of the Carolina Charter in 1663 to the Lords Proprietors. The Comberford map is concrete evidence of the interest in the area which was developing. The provenance or source of information on the Comberford map is not known, but the topography is more accurate and detailed than in any previous map of the southeast coast from such a large area. Many English names which survive in present-day nomenclature are found here for the first time. "Luck's Iland" on the coast is the only extant identification of this Banks Island, which was referred to in the 1663 Charter to the Lords Proprietors as the northern limit of this grant at 361/2 degrees north latitude. The inlets which made Lucks Island have since disappeared.
Of special interest is the drawing of "Batts House" on Salmon Creek (Fletts Creek on the map). Captain Nathaniell Batts was an important pre-proprietary settler in this region. Batts may have been a major source for the new information found on the Comberford map; he was given "special priveleges" by the General Assembly of Virginia as a reward for "discovery of an inlet to the southward" on June 11, 1657. This may have been a rediscovery by Batts of Ocracoke Inlet or a report of the inlet to the north of "Lucks Iland", later called Mosquito Inlet on the Ogilby map. Batts married Mary, the widow of Colonel Henry Woodhouse, in 1656. On September 24, 1660, he purchased a large tract of land on the west bank of Pasquotank River from its mouth to New Begin Creek. This, the earliest known recorded land grant in North Carolina, is registered in the deed book of Lower Norfolk County, Virginia, which then had jurisdiction over the land to the south of Virginia in Lord Maltraver's patent. Before the end of the century the land between Salmon Creek and the Roanoke River became the property of Nathaniel Duckenfield, whose descendants owned it until after the Revolutionary War.
© 2008 Kay M. Sheppard