These were people of affairs, people who owned land and slaves (a great consideration in that day), and left the impress of their characters on succeeding generations. The majority of our forefathers were "tillers of the soil" Surely we should not be ashamed of it, especially when Pliny relates, in his Natural History, in what high honor agriculture was held in the early days of Rome, when the highest compliment was to call a man a good agriculturist or a good husbandman; how the rural tribes held the foremost rank while those of the city had discredit thrown upon them as being an indolent race.In characterizing one generation after another, we must compare the work to the woof in the web, for the cross threads will always make flaws. It was after slaves became plentiful and were extensively employed in all departments of industry that labor became to be regarded as servile.Here her Governor and chief officers resided; here her Council repaired and her Burgesses met annually. Neither were they in any great numbers the devotees of kings – the rich, gay, military, cavalier adherents of Charles I, or the non-juring believers in the divine right of kings in the days of Charles II and James II.Some of all of these there were in the Colony doubtless."These did not spring up great men, in a day or a night, on touching the Virginia soil."Some of the best families of England, Ireland, Scotland and France formed at an early period a large part of that basis."Noblemen and their elder sons did not come over, but we must remember how many of the younger sons of noblemen were educated for the bar, for the medical profession and the pulpit, and turned adrift on the world, to seek their own living without any patrimony.Some of those and many more of their enterprising descendants came to the New World, especially to Virginia, in search of fortune and honor and found it here.
In 1775, the Virginia Legislature during its first session under the new Constitution passed Mr.Methinks I can see a wry mouth when he did it, for the usual oath to His Majesty’s person and government was a "Test" oath – "I, the subscriber, do subscribe to be comformable to the doctrine and discipline of the church of England as by law established." It was a hard oath for a Scotchman, may God forgive him.Some who had taken it were invited to leave the county just prior to the Revolution, it being discovered that their room was better than their company.Numbers of Virginia families, who are almost ashamed, or afraid, in this republican age, to own it, have their genealogical tree or traditionary records by which they can trace their line to some of the most ancient families in England, Scotland, Ireland and to the Huguenots of France."Where this is not the case still they can derive their origin from men of education either in law, physics or divinity, which things are too costly in the old countries to be gotten by the poorer classes, except in some few instances where charity was afforded.