Vivion #6116

Thomas Vivion (1635-1670)

Born in England.  Arrived in Virginia after 1655 and

Mary Alice Owin (1635-1700)

Born in England.

Vivion #6116

Thomas Vivion was born 1635 in St Columb Major, Cornwall, England and died 1670 in Virginia.  He married Mary Alice Owin.  She was reportedly born in 1635 in Charles City, Virginia, but I find this unlikely.  The son of Thomas Vivion and Mary Alice Owin is John Vivon, born 1655 and died in Middlesex, Virginia, between 14 Mar 1705 (the date of his will) and 4 Jun 1705 (the date his will was proved).

John Vivion, who settled at Middle Plantation, Williamsburg, Virginia, first came to the colony as an emissary of Charles II of England[1].  His official mission was to inquire into and report to the King the causes of the disturbances between Governor Berkeley of Virginia, and Nathaniel Bacon, who at that time commanded all the military forces of the Province.  The “disturbances” known as Bacon’s Rebellion occured in 1676, and it must have been around this time that John Vivion arrived in Virginia.



William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia (1641-52 & 1660-77)

William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia (1641-52 & 1660-77)

Bacon’s Rebellion

In the spring of 1676, Nathaniel Bacon agreed, without obtaining a commission from Governor William Berkeley, to lead an attack on some Indian groups that had been raiding farmsteads along the fall lines of Virginia’s rivers.  Ultimately, his actions led to an open war on the Indians of Virginia (including those who had previously been alles of the English against hostile tribes) and an internal struggle for control of Virginia and its citizens.  During the course of the conflict, both Indians and colonists led raids and attacks and committed atrocities for various reasons, emphasizing the fragility of their peaceful coexistence.  It was a pattern that had continuously replayed during the seven decades of English settlement and expansion in Virginia.

Worried that events would cause a general rebellion among all the Indians, Berkeley was restrained in addressing the Indian threat at the falls of the James.  He called a special session of the assembly, and they took measures for the erection of several forts along the frontier to be manned with a standing force of 500 soldiers.  However, these measures would be extremely costly, especially to the poor farmers, and many felt that they would be unlikely to have much effect on the Indians.  Some farmers requested a force to subdue the Indians, and when it was not forthcoming, they were compelled to take matters into their own hands and organized a military force.  When Berkeley refused to go against the Native Americans, the group struck south until they came to the Occaneechi tribe.  After getting the Occaneechi to attack the Susquehanock, Bacon and his men followed by killing most of the men, women, and children at the village. Upon their return, they discovered that Berkeley had called for new elections to the Burgesses in order to better facilitate the Indian problem.

The recomposed House of Burgesses enacted a number of sweeping reforms.  After passage of these laws, Bacon arrived with 500 followers in Jamestown to demand a commission to lead militia against the Indians.  The governor, however, refused to yield to the pressure.  When Bacon had his men take aim at Berkeley, he responded by “bearing his breast” to Bacon and told Bacon to shoot him himself. Seeing that the Governor would not be moved, Bacon then had his men take aim at the assembled burgesses, who quickly granted Bacon his commission.  While Bacon was at Jamestown with his small army, eight colonists were killed on the frontier in Henrico County (where he marched from) due to a lack of manpower on the frontier.

On 30 Jul 1676, Bacon and his army issued the “Declaration of the People of Virginia.”  The declaration criticized Berkeley’s administration in detail. It accused him of levying unfair taxes, appointing friends to high positions and failing to protect frontier settlers from Indian attack.  Beginning to move against the Indians, Bacon and his men attacked the innocent (and friendly) Pamunkey tribe, which had remained allies of the English throughout other Indian raids.  After months of conflict, Bacon’s forces, numbering 300-500 men, moved to Jamestown.  They burned the colonial capital to the ground on 19 Sep 1676.  Outnumbered, Berkeley retreated across the river to await the arrival of an English naval squadron to aid his forces.  However, Bacon died from dysentery on 26 Oct 1676. John Ingram subsequently took over leadership of the rebellion, but many followers soon drifted away, and the rebellion didn’t last long after that.  Berkeley was able to launch a series of successful amphibious attacks across the Chesapeake Bay and was able to disarm and defeated the rebels.

Governor Berkeley returned to power, seizing the property of several rebels for the colony and executing 23 men by hanging, including the then-governor of Virginia, William Drummond. After an investigative committee returned its report to King Charles II, Berkeley was relieved of the governorship and recalled to England.  John Vivion may have been involved with this committee.

The daughter of John Vivion and Margaret Smith is Diana Vivion, who married Garrett Minor (1679-1720) in 1706.  Here, the lineage of Thomas Vivion merges with that of Meindert Doodes (1617-1677).

[1] This implies that John was born in England and sent to the colonies.  If this is the case, his mother was not likely born in Virgina, as some sources indicate, since she must have been in England in 1655 at the time of John’s birth.


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