Eighteenth-Century Hampton

Eighteenth-Century Hampton (HM1GE9)

Location: Hampton, VA 23669
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 1.47', W 76° 20.606'

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Virginia Most Important Town

Hampton entered its second century as Virginia most important town. With merchant ships calling at its docks, paying customs duties and taking on hogsheads of tobacco, the growing village bustled with activity. Crews and ship captains, dockworkers and shipwrights crowded its wharves. Ships brought manufactured goods from England and slaves from Africa. Local shipyards were busy turning out wooden vessels, including the 284-ton Virginia Packet that slipped down the ways at George Hope Shipyard.

The busy port became a magnet for pirates, and the most notorious of the time, Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, owed his comeuppance to the town. In 1718, a Royal Navy squadron sailed from Hampton and cornered Blackbeard and his brigands near Ocracoke, N.C. In a fierce battle, Blackbeard was killed and his severed head brought back and placed on a pole at the entrance to Hampton River.

During the Revolutionary War, the Hampton area rang with the sound of clashes. On Oct. 24, 1775, British ships slipped into Hampton River and, sitting off the end of King Street, bombarded the town. But local militia, with weapons normally used as hunting rifles, fired on the ships so effectively that the British were forced to withdraw. There were other battles and heavy losses sustained by the patriots, but each time the enemy designs on the Peninsula were frustrated. Among the heroes of the war was Cesar Tarrant, a Hampton slave who, as a pilot aboard a Virginia Navy vessel, performed with such gallantry that the General Assembly passed a special act granting his freedom.

As tobacco declined and the main port shifted to Norfolk, the formerly dominant seaport became a small village. Noted architect Benjamin Latrobe declared in 1796, "Little or no business is done and many of the houses are uninhabited and are tumbling down."


(left) The Kings? Arms Tavern building as it appeared years after Hampton colonial heyday. - Courtesy of the Hampton History Museum

(center) An artist rendition of the Battle of Hampton during the American Revolution. The drawing was published in Mary Tucker Magill 1873 schoolbook, History of Virginia. - Courtesy of the Hampton History Museum

(right) A German stoneware "Westerwald" tankard, excavated in Hampton. These large mugs were commonly used in taverns. - Courtesy of the Hampton History Museum
HM NumberHM1GE9
Year Placed2010
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 15th, 2014 at 9:38am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 380501 N 4098433
Decimal Degrees37.02450000, -76.34343333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 1.47', W 76° 20.606'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 1' 28.2" N, 76° 20' 36.36" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling East
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 704 US-60, Hampton VA 23669, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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