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Lt. Col. Bridges FREEMAN
 1603 - 1655

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  • Title  Lt. Col. 
    Birth  Abt 1603  Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England
    Gender  Male 
    Immigration  1622  To Jamestown
    Died  1655  Jamestown or York Co., VA
    Person ID  I001119  Herring
    Last Modified  29 Jan 2010 08:49:32 
    Father  Thomas FREEMAN, b. 7 Feb 1578/79, Preston, Crowmarsh, Oxfordshire, England 
    Mother  Frances BENNETT, b. Abt 1585, Norden, Surrey, London, England 
    Family ID  F000783  Group Sheet
    Family  Bridget Evelyn FOWLER, b. 1606, Surry, England 
    Married  Abt 1635  Jamestown, VA
    • Bridges Freeman 01
      Lt. Col. Bridges Freeman, whose biography already has been presented, was born in Oxfordshire, England in 1603. In all probability he was the oldest son of a family of good standing which had lost its money. The fact that at least two of the family are mentioned as merchants indicates that this was another example of country gentry, else they would not have borne arms, whom the times had forced into merchant class, not then so well looked upon as now. When seventeen or eighteen years of age, the family bade him Godspeed and sent him off to the New World to seek his fortune. He may have been brought over by Captain Martin of Martin's Brandon, for there he seems to have taken abode with another young man, James Sleight. His story, duly annotated has already been told. He married, ca. 1635, Bridget Fowler, daughter of Francis Fowler, prominent in early Virginia history. Fowler was evidently married before coming to America. In all probability he had left his family in England. It would be intensely interesting to know how these two came to be married. It is exceedingly doubtful if they had met prior to the day she disembarked, yet she may have been a boyhood sweetheart. Had they written? Did she come specifically to marry Freeman? Was it her father's accounts of the character of this youth that had attracted her? Here is fertile for some skilled writer to work out a great novel.

      from Freeman Forebears by Garland Evans Hopkins (circa 1942-43)
      edited by Virginia Lee Freeman Taylor and Robert Brant Taylor (1995)
    >1. Bridges Freeman, Jr., b. Abt 1637, James City Co., VA
    >2. Henry FREEMAN, Jr, b. Abt 1640, James City, Jamestown Co., VA
    >3. James Freeman, b. 2 Feb 1649/50, Jamestown, James City County, VA
    Family ID  F000779  Group Sheet
  • Notes 
    • Biographical Sketch of
      Lt. Col. Bridges Freeman

      One of the most typical of early Virginia's gentleman settlers was Lieutenant-Colonel Bridges Freeman. In a sense, he is a prototype of the great mass of early Virginians. He was prominent, yet not so well-known as to ever heretofore had the facts of his life collected together into a biographical sketch. He was rich, only after a long struggle up from poverty. He was influential, but not until the years had proven that he could master each task assigned him; each small task done well leading to some new and large public responsibility. His career was certainly not meteoric, but he was one of many like him who built solidly and firmly the foundations of American democracy.
      Born in England around 1603 he came to America as a lad in his later teens in 1622. He may have served an indenture period with Capt. Martin in Martin's Brandon. At any rate, he and James Sleight, evidently a youth of his own age, rented a cabin and parcel of land in 1627 at Martin's Brandon for which they were to pay a rental of two capons and two pullets. Their contract seems to have been supposed to run until the end of the year but the Court for James City County gave them permission to move "from Martin's Brandon unto some place or plantation where they may live more secured", May 21, 1627. At the General Court, January 22, 1628, Freeman was ordered to pay for curing the wounds of David Minton whom he had given a very sound thrashing. Minton sued for damages, but was given none because the Court held he had provoked the fight with "bad words". This was evidently not held against Freeman, for on March 7, 1628, he was named to his first public office, Commander of the Magazine.
      It is entirely probable that he had already had military experience against the Indians, and that this and subsequent military titles he was to hold, signified his position in the military establishment of early Virginia. No definite records are available to prove this, but his steady advance as noted by his titles indicates that he must have proven himself a skilled warrior. He was successively Commander of the Magazine, Adjutant, Captain and Lieutenant-Colonel.
      At the same time he was rising in military life, he was also rising in civil affairs. On March 4, 1629-30 he first took his seat as a Burgess, sitting as a representative of Pasbyhoy (also spelled Pasbeyhoigh). At this time he was about twenty-six years of age. In September, 1632, he was a member from Checohominey (Chickahominy) while John Corker was representing his erstwhile constituency at Pasbeyhoigh.
      The chief contributions of these sessions of the Assembly were associated with the religious development of the colony. Most of us today would disagree heartily with the statutes as written, but would agree that it was through the interest of men who could phrase such statutes that American democracy became so closely allied to religion. At the Assembly in 1630, among the laws passed was one which bade all ministers of the Colony to conform to the canons of the Church of England. In 1632, additional laws were passed which set up penalties for not attending church and for disparaging a minister. At that Assembly, it was also voted to allow ministers the following fees:

      for marriages 2/0
      for churchinge 1/0
      for burryinge 1/0

      Other significant actions of these Assemblies in which Freeman participated were the vote to establish a fort at Point Comfort and a vote to continue war on the Indians, "and that no peace be made with them". In 1632, monthly courts of justice were set up.
      In 1635, he arranged for the transportation of his wife-to-be, Bridget. From references made in Surry County records, it is evident that she was a daughter of Francis Fowler, Burgess in 1642, with whom Freeman was closely associated in business. Accompanying Bridget to the New World was Bridges' brother, Bennett.
      With his marriage, Freeman began to settle down to the accumulation of an estate. On December 1, 1635, he patented one hundred and fifty acres of land in James City County
      On August 11, 1637, he and Francis Fowler patented nine hundred acres, probably on the Chickahominy. On August 12, 1637, he patented one hundred acres on the east side of the Chicahominy. On August 5, 1640, an additional one hundred acres was patented, "lying in the woodyard, adjoining Southerly unto four hundred acres now in possession said Freeman." Later we find that eight hundred acres granted to both Freeman and Fowler is patented solely by Freeman. This land was originally allowed for transporting eighteen people to Virginia.
      "Captain" Freeman was a Burgess from James City County in 1647. In that same year he was named as Collector of Public Levies for Chickahominy and Sandy Poynte.
      "Adjutant" Freeman served on a Court held at Jamestown, November 6, 1651.
      Freeman was named to the Virginia Council of State, April 30, 1652. After this he is usually referred to as "Lieutenant-Colonel", or "Colonel", or "Councillor". He was re-elected in 1655. How long he served or when he died is not known.
      Undoubtedly much more could be uncovered about this early American if more intensive research were made. Even the small amount of data here presented shows him to have been a man of ambition and energy, endowed with a good business mind and one who inspired trust and confidence in his fellows. It was by Bridges Freeman and men like him that the American way of life was established.

      from Freeman Forebears by Garland Evans Hopkins (circa 1942-43)
      edited by Virginia Lee Freeman Taylor and Robert Brant Taylor (1995)

      Was a burgess for Pashbahay in 1629-30, before which date nothing is known of him. His lands lay on the east side of the Chickahominy river, and in Sept., 1632, he represented Chickahominy in the house of burgesses. In November, 1647, he was again a burgess, this time for James City. It was in the same month that the assembly appointed him collector of public levies at Chickahominy and Sandy Point. He was a member of the council, and present at the board, Sept. 30, 1650, and was reelected a member, April 30, 1652, and again, as "Colonel Bridges Freeman," on March 31, 1654-55. It is probable that for a time he was adjutant general of the colony, as "Adjutant Freeman" was present as a councillor, Nov. 6, 1651.

      Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Volume I
      III--Colonial Councillors of State


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