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On Saturday, July 28, enjoy special programming for the First Assembly Commemoration at Historic Jamestowne. Programming is included with the cost of general admission. Living history interpreters will reflect on the significance of the First Assembly in 1619 and its impact on the residents of the Virginia Colony.
Join Governor Sir George Yeardley and Secretary John Pory for the first meeting of the General Assembly to discuss and debate the laws affecting the colony.
This interactive program will take place a short distance from the Memorial Church, which was constructed in the early 20th century to protect and memorialize the location of the original church where the first Assembly was convened 399 years ago.
The programming will take place at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. This event is part of The World of 1619.
This is the 399th anniversary of the First Assembly
Much like modern investments, the Virginia Company encouraged investments in the colony through offering land to Englishmen if they came to Virginia. This was referred to as the “Great Charter” by Sir Edwin Sandys. Along with the land, the Great Charter provided a system of government that gave colonists a chance to participate in government.
The first representative assembly met in the church at Jamestown Island on July 30, 1619. This General Assembly consisted of the Governor, his council, and 22 representatives serving as a House of Burgesses, who were elected by the colonists.
The burgesses served from each of the following areas: James Citty, Charles Citty, Citty of Henricus, Kiccowtan, Martin Brandon, Smythe’s Hundred, Martin’s Hundred, Argall’s Guiffe, Flowerdiew Hundred, Captain Lawnes Plantation, and Captain Warde’s Plantation.
While the Governor still had veto power, the representatives were allowed to pass laws. The authority that this self-governing body possessed evolved through the 17th century aided by some of the royal governors, who convened the Assembly once a year.
The General Assembly continued to meet at Jamestown until 1699 when Williamsburg became the capital of the colony.