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Major Thomas Walker of Gloucester County was the first generation of Walkers at Locust Grove. In 1665 the Office of the Secretary of the Colony granted his petition to take over 2350 acres of a patent granted in 1653 to Edward Diggs who had deserted it. The land was called Fort Mattapony and was located on the north side of the Mattaponi River in New Kent County, which later became King & Queen County.

Patents were issued based on a “headright system”. Each person who came to the Virginia colony could obtain 50 acres of land if they paid their own expenses. In addition, for each emigrant for whom they paid transportation expenses they could receive fifty acres of land. The person applying for the land had to first receive a certificate of entitlement from a county court (proof of transportation expenses) and then take it to the Office of the Secretary of the Colony to obtain a certificate for the headright(s). The holder of the headright(s) would then engage the county surveyor to survey the land. The survey and the headright certificate would then be taken to the capital to obtain a patent. When the patent was issued, the names of the immigrants, or headrights, were often included in the text of the document. The immigrants weren’t required to settle on or near the patent. Also, there was no limit to the number of headrights that a person could amass and those acquiring them did not need to claim their allotted acres immediately. Many people collected headrights over a number of years, until a substantial piece of land could be claimed.

Within three years after the patent was issued, the land must be “seated” which meant a structure must be built on the land; three acres of land cultivated for every 50 acres of land owned; and the annual Quitrent of land tax must be paid. The Quitrent was one shilling for each fifty acres of land. If the title to the land lapsed, as land was called that had not been settled within three years, it returned to the crown, and could be claimed by the first person to petition the General Court. As the land had “lapsed”, Major Thomas Walker must have petitioned the Court for his patent.

There is also a subsequent record of the patent being resurveyed in 1687 for Thomas Walker, then a Lt. Col., and 300 acres added for a total of 2650. Although there is no definitive source that can correlate the actual names in the patent to creeks flowing into the Mattaponi River, oral history in today’s terms relates that the patent extended from London Swamp above Canterbury Farm to the creek between Loudon and Peach Blow downriver from Locust Grove, giving a river front of approximately five miles and running back a mile/mile and a half. This included the older county places, such as Canterbury, Whitehall, Walkerton, Haybattle, Mt. Elba, Orange Grove, and Peach Blow. For almost 100 years, the Walkers called the patented land “Rye Field”, but in the mid-18th Century it was changed to “Locust Grove” by Baylor Walker.