Henricopolis, Henrie Town, Henrico
|Present Country||United States of America|
|Founded by||Thomas Dale|
|Named for||Prince Henry|
|Nearest city||Dutch Gap, Chesterfield County, Virginia|
|Area||12 acres (4.9 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||72001400|
|Added to NRHP||April 13, 1972|
|Designated VLR||December 21, 1971|
The "Citie of Henricus" — also known as Henricopolis, Henrico Town or Henrico — was a settlement in Virginia founded by Sir Thomas Dale in 1611 as an alternative to the swampy and dangerous area around the original English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. It was named for Prince Henry, the eldest son of King James I.
The site of Henricus later became part of the Shire of Henrico (1634), renamed Henrico County in 1637. In 1749, the portion of Henrico County that lay south of the James River was detached to form the present-day Chesterfield County.
Today, the settlement is interpreted via Henricus Historical Park, a living history museum.
Henricus was one of the first successful English settlements in the New World and was located on the James River, just a few miles southeast of the modern city of Richmond, Virginia, but at the time, one of the westernmost outlying developments from the Colony of Virginia's fortified capital at Jamestown.
In 1612-1613, a facility known as "Mt. Malady" was built nearby, becoming the first hospital in the English colonies of North America.
This city is near where Pocahontas grew up among the Appomattoc tribe, where Reverend Alexander Whitaker converted her to Christianity during captivity and where she met John Rolfe, who married her on April 5, 1614. Rolfe's longtime friend, Reverend Richard Bucke of Wymondham officiated their wedding. They lived together across the river at the Varina Farms Plantation. Their son, Thomas Rolfe (named for Sir Thomas Dale, deputy governor of the colony of Virginia), was born on the plantation.
College at Henricus
The early seventeenth-century settlers tried to found the first institution of higher education in British America. In 1618, a royal charter was obtained for the University of Henrico, and in following years land was set aside for its use. By 1622, nothing more than a school for Native Americans existed when the town and much of the English settlement were destroyed in the Indian Massacre of 1622. By 1623, there were more settlers on the college land than before the massacre. The next year King James dissolved the Virginia Company and its college, seizing its assets and transforming the proprietary colony into a royal one.
The area later saw action during the American Revolutionary War. During the American Civil War, the narrow neck of land on which Henricus was located was excavated in an attempt to bypass Confederate defensive batteries along the James River, which resulted in Dutch Gap. The channel was later widened, and the old river channel silted-up, forming what is now the 810-acre (3.28 km2) Dutch Gap Conservation Area.
Eventually the exact location of the former town of Henricus was forgotten. The 12-acre (4.9 ha) archeological site in Chesterfield County was listed as Henrico on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Though archaeological evidence of the actual settlement has not been found (due to the creation of Dutch Gap and other disturbances nearby), a reconstruction based on historical evidence of the settlement has been created nearby as a living history museum, Henricus Historical Park.
- David A. Price, Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Start of A New Nation, Alfred A. Knopf, 2003
- Philip A. Bruce, Institutional History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century (Volumes I and II), Kessinger Publishing, 2006