the first of the family to settle in Virginia.
by Charles C. Chaney
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Nothing has been found to document Lawrence before he received a land grant in Northumberland County, Virginia, in 1652.   Lawrence was perhaps the son of George Dameron and Joan Ashley. There was a Lawrence baptized in April of 1615, at St. Clements parish, Ipswich, Suffolk, England, but nothing documents that this is the same Lawrence. During the English Civil War, Suffolk County was heavily pro-Cromwell. Lawrence's family apparently, although undocumented, supported the Cavaliers or Royalist party driven out of England by Cromwell.  It is known that he settled in Northumberland County, Virginia, an area populated by a large number of supporters of the crown. It is also noted that his name does not appear on a 1652 loyalty oath signed by Northumberland County men. He is first documented in Northumberland County, Virginia, that year when he received a land grant there.

Information on his life before he received the land grant in 1652 must be considered speculative!  There are several web sites listing his ancestry in England.  The details vary and are entirely circumstantial and frequently contradictory.  Such sites should be examined with strong skepticism.  No definitive evidence has yet been uncovered that provides enough information to warrant any claims thus far presented.  If such evidence has been found it should be immediately announced since Dameron-Damron researchers have spent years searching for such material.

One of his land patents reports that he was granted land for transporting some fourteen people which included himself, his wife and children. He claimed to have brought nine servants which probably constituted part of the fourteen people. It had been reported that bought two more tracts of land so that when he died his holdings in Wicomico Parish totaled about 2,000 acres.  This unlikely as it now appears that he did not claim the headrights for his children thus his total land holdings was much less. So he did not get the 50 acres per person as origigally thought. It is possible that he had made a previous trip from England to Virginia and selected a site for his home and arranged for the construction a house. A spit of land jutting out into Chesapeake Bay retains the name Dameron Marsh. The first house was probably built of cedar slabs. In his will, Lawrence mentioned "the Great Roome." His estate was called "Guarding Point," which later became "Garden Point." This 500 acres of land and swamp was purchased from Peter Knight in 1657. Its name originated from the fact that it served as a lookout post for lower Northumberland from the time of Bacon's Rebellion.

Lawrence evidently died in 1657 since a court record, dated 9 March 1658, shows that "Dorothy, the relict and executrix of the sd Lawrence Dameron dec'd shall make payment..." for 4,100 pounds of tobacco. In his will, not proved until 1660, he left, upon the death of his widow, among other bequests, one-half of 500 acres in Wicomico parish to his son, Bartholomew, and the other half to George, his second son. Dorothy successfully managed and developed the increasingly valuable estate. She died in 1691 as that was when Bartholomew and George petitioned the court that the land left to them be properly divided and turned over to them.

(Some researchers have reported that there was a son named Samuel. This appears to be due to a record that read
"Sam. George and Bar. Dameron" meaning "Samuel George and Bartholomew Dameron" but it was "transcribed as "Samuel, George, and Bartholomew Dameron" and a non-existent son was created.)

In 1700, a grandson of Lawrence, Thomas, erected a brick house near the original home site that, after Dameron ownership, was known as "Brick Walls." The land bequeathed to George remained in the family until 1849 when it was sold to the Harding family which still owned some of the original Dameron property in the last decade of the twentieth century. Brick Walls was pulled down after it came into possession of the Harding family. When the field where it stood is plowed, brick remnants are visible.

Many descendants left Northumberland County, Virginia, to western Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and on to the west. It appears that during the Revolutionary War some dropped the "e" from the name although some later reinstated it. Today there are Damerons and Damrons in most parts of the United States especially the South, Midwest and Southwest.

NOTE:  A major source for this article was Helen Foster Snow's The Dameron-Damron Family Genealogy that she assembled in Mimeographed forms starting in the early 1950s until sometime before her death in 1997.

The area where Lawrence Dameron lived in Virginia
This map is derived from a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) topographical map.
The area in Northumberland County, Virginia, where Lawrence Dameron received his first land grant in 1652 is at the eastern edge of the county a few miles east of Wicomico Church and south of Reedville across Ingram Bay.  He amassed about 2,000 acres before his death.  The property stayed in the family until about 1845 when it was sold to the Harding family.  The cemetery still exists although there are no marked graves for Damerons.  The original house was located nearby.  A subsequent house, "Brick Walls," replaced that house.  "Brick Walls" no longer exists, the location is a plowed field.  It is said that pieces of brick from "Brick Walls" are sometimes unearthed when the field is plowed.

Helen Foster Snow quoted Mrs. O. A. Keach in Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, by Lyon Gardiner Tyler. Richmond, Va. : Whittet & Shepperson, Printers, 1919-1952, page 117, “One long tongue of marshy land called afterwards Dameron Marsh, covered for the most part with reeds and marsh grasses, was a covert for wild game and a resting place for waterfowl, and the tidewater rivers and creeks were full of fish and oysters."

The first house, probably built of cedar slabs, was very likely commodious and comfortable.  It was built in an area known as Guarding Point but later called "Garden Point."  In his will Lawrence Dameron mentions the ‘Great Roome.’ He bequeathed "unto my sone Bartholomew Dameron one halfe of five hundred acres of land situated in Great Wicocomoco which I bought of Mr. Peter Knight to be delivered to him at the death of his mother, with one cedar Bedstead, one long table with forme and benches to it, and one Couch, all which stands in the Great Roome.  I give unto my son George Dameron, the other half of 500 acres of land above described."  He also bequeathed three silver spoons, a good feather bed, fixed (?) guns and one iron pot, but the names of the remaining legatees are in a section of the record that has deteriorated beyond legibility.  His widow Dorothy is named his executrix.  She evidently was a woman of intelligence and independence as she managed the estate, which suggests that the fortune was on her side of the house originally, as it was not common for the wife to be left to manage an estate of any size.

Lawrence probably died late in 1657.  He was buried within sight of the ‘manor house,’ probably in the Dameron burying ground that still exists although no Dameron gravestones survive.  Most existing stones in the cemetery are for members of the Harding family who later owned the property.

Col. Thomas Dameron, grandson of Lawrence, built a brick manor house known as "Brick Walls" on the "Guarding Point" plantation.  This was probably in 1735 because it is reported that a brick in the chimney bore that date.  This manor home was said to be the largest and finest dwelling at that time in Wicomico parish and was a center of social life.  It was built of red "English brick," two full stories tall and wider than it was long.  It stood some distance back from the road.  The entrance was up two or three steps from what might be called a brick terrace and through double doors.  The grounds were planted with lilac bushes, roses and hollyhocks.  At the rear, overlooking the Chesapeake Bay, which was about three-quarters of a mile distant, was the garden that was the pleasure and pride of the ladies of the manor.  It had brick walks edged with boxwood, flowers, shrubs, and herbs.  Further down the slope, toward the bay, was an orchard.  Nearby was the family burying ground.

Helen Foster Snow wrote that she had copies of two letters which spoke of "Brick Walls:"
    "Mrs. Louisa Hurst Ball, born September 29, 1817, daughter of Capt. James Hurst, an officer in the Revolutionary War; and wife of Thomas Ball, lived her married life at 'Bayview' and died about 1910.  Her mind was clear, and she retained a wonderful memory until she died.  The last owner of the manor house was Mr. Robert J. Dameron, a great-grandson of Col. Thomas Dameron.  In his later years he was quite generally called 'Uncle Robert.'  Mrs. Ball wrote, 'Uncle Robert's house was called, after it was sold, the 'Brick Walls.'  I remember two very large high-pitched rooms, with a wide entrance hall between.  The entrance doors to the hall were double, large and tall.  The whole home had the effect of spaciousness, and the windows were unusually large and deep with seats in them.  The staircase was wide and, as it opened on the second floor, a more extensive apartment or hall spread out, giving an idea of airiness and space.  On this hall opened the sleeping chambers.  In the old days there was much gaiety here and tradition tells of the candle lighted 'great hall,' where the minuet was danced, while the negro fiddlers played and a generous hospitality was dispensed, with laughing colored servants looking on and serving the guests, with genuine enjoyment.  The negroes were treated indulgently always among Virginians.

    "Mrs. Sarah Wooters raised in this old house and a ward of her great-uncle Mr. Robert Damron, mentioned above writes, 'The front of the dwelling faced toward the highway, and the back to the sea.  As I remember, the 'house' had ten rooms--including the big halls.  There was a kitchen away from the house, and the little colored children used to come running across the yard with the dishes of food.  This was always a source of great pleasure and excitement to them.

    "I remember best the old fire place at the end of the hall, so large that you could put a fence rail in it.  Uncle Robert used to have family prayers in the hall, with all the negroes gathered in.  His prayers were long and the youngsters always went to sleep.  There were fruits of all kinds on the place.'

    "After the death of Uncle Robert Dameron, as he was called, the place passed into the possession of John H. Harding.  A new home was built on another site and the old brick manor house that had stood for about 125 years was pulled down, though it remains a landmark in the affectionate memory of the country side now called Ball’s Neck."

The above is based on material appearing in THE DAMERON-DAMRON GENEALOGY by Helen Foster Snow.

The only geographical site in Northumberland County that still carries the Dameron name is Dameron Marsh, a hook-shaped spit of salt water marshland jutting into the Chesapeake Bay.  The 316-acre Dameron Marsh Natural Area Preserve is one in a series of protected lands that line the western and eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.  There is a Dameron Road near Kilmarnock.
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Updated 28 July 2014

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