Further Insights Into John Fontaine and The First Germanna Colony, Part Iⓒ
By Craig M. Kilby
In 1853, Miss Ann Maury (1803-1876)1  wrote Memoirs of a Huguenot Family which included a much abridged version of John Fontaine’s journal, which she had transcribed from the original.
It was published and reprinted several times by G. P. Putnam. This book was last reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Company in 2002, but is now out of print.2  (Parts of it are on Google Books.3 )
Until 1972, it was considered to be the definitive source on his various trips and journeys, and was the source for John Wayland’s version of the journal first published in 1957 as Germanna, Outpost Of Adventure 1714 – 1956 and reprinted in 1989 as Germanna Record No. 7 by the Memorial Foundation of the Germanna Colonies in Virginia, Inc.4 
Miss Maury stated in her 1853 book that she had obtained John Fontaine’s journals from two of John Fontaine’s great-granddaughters who lived near London.
In 1972, Edward Porter Alexander, working under the auspices of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, set out to find the original journal in order to complete the journal and annotate it. He was able to track it down up to 1915.
When the person to whom it had been bequeathed died in 1959 it was not among his papers or effects.
With considerable sleuthing, however, Alexander was able to find the original hand-written transcript made by Miss Maury whose handwriting, he says, “is as legible as any typewriter.”
Considerable parts of the full journal had been left out of the 1853 version of Miss Maury’s book.
In 1972, Alexander published The Journal of John Fontaine, An Irish Huguenot Son in Spain and Virginia 1710-1719 (Williamsburg: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation ).
For the first time, the full unabridged of version of John Fontaine’s journal was published and fully annotated with scores of historical insights.
Some sections of the the 1853 version left out considerable passages, some of them relating to the Germanna colony, to which Mr. Wayland did not have access in 1957.
This article is written not to supplant, but to augment, Wayland’s book. It does not attempt any description of the Spotswood expedition itself, but those interested in the details are much encouraged to obtain a copy of Alexander’s book, as much new thinking had taken place since the time Wayland wrote his book in 1957.5 
There has been quite a bit of recent debate about which of several possible ports the First Germanna Colony first landed, and whether or not they were engaged in mining under Spotswood while at Fort Germanna, and if so whether it was for iron ore or silver, or both.
The primary objective of this article is to offer some insights into these questions. It therefore explores Fontaine’s own route to and from Virginia as well as the parts of his journal that relate to his visits to Germanna.
The reader will please note the manner of style used in this manuscript. Fontaine’s journal entries, when quoted in full, are in italics. Clarifications within the journal entries added by the writer are in [brackets].
Items relating to Fontaine’s visits to Germanna that are not included in Wayland’s book are in bold italics.
Clarifications within the narrative, when quoting a writer, are in [plain italics.]
To avoid having to use the always-annoying sic, words that are misspelled within the journal have not been altered but will appear as plain text instead of italics. When citing an author, the footnote will refer to the bibliography.
It should be noted that in many cases, the quotes from the journal used by Wayland differ in wording and style from the transcript of the journal published by Alexander.
In such cases, when the wording does not alter the meaning or interpretation, I have used the Alexander version without comment. Last, points of particular interest to this article are underlined by the compiler. Nothing was underlined in the original journals.
John Fontaine was born in Taunton, Devonshire, England on 28 April 1693.6  He led a most remarkable life of travel and adventure.
He was the son of James (or Jacques) Fontaine and Anne Elizabeth Bourisquot, French Huguenots who had fled to England in 1685 where they married the next year in Barnstaple, Devonshire.7 
The family moved to Ireland in 1694, first at Bear Haven (now Castletown Berehaven) in County Cork on the Southern coast of Ireland and eventually, in 1709, to Dublin.8 
As a lad of 15 years in 1708, his family’s home was attacked by French privateers and destroyed. His father and brother Peter were taken captives and held for ransom but eventually released. It was following this catastrophe that the family moved to Dublin.9 
As a young man, he spent a little over two years under General Ingoldsby in Spain (1710-1713) during the War of the Spanish Succession. There, he contracted malaria but saw no serious fighting. His time there is chronicled in his journal.10 
Upon the conclusion of the War by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, by which England gained important concessions in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Gibraltar, he returned from Spain to Dublin in February 1714 (n.s.).
He soon began making plans to sail to Virginia. Though Fontaine’s journal does not provide any reasons for such a voyage, his father’s autobiography is very explicit on the topic:
John, the officer, was without employment, it was therefore determined that he should make a voyage to America, travel through every part where the climate was temperate, and purchase a plantation, in such situation as he judged would prove in all respects the most advantageous.11
He sailed for Virginia out of Cork, Ireland aboard the Dove, Captain William Shapley commanding, on 7 December 1714, with four servants. This voyage nearly resulted in the ship’s sinking off the Azores, and it had to turn back to port at Appledore, Bideford, Devon for repairs.
Finally, on 28 February 1715 (n.s.) the Dove set sail for Virginia.12 
Fontaine spent only four years in America. All but six weeks of that time was spent in Virginia. In 1715 he took a six week trip to New York.
During his stay in Virginia, he took part in three important expeditions, two of them involving visits to Germanna.
We commence with his journal upon arriving to Virginia, none of which is included in Wayland’s account.
Landing in Virginia and On To Williamsburg
May 28, 1715. Saturday. Potomac River, Virginia. In the morning about 10 of the clock I landed in Virginia and walked about four miles to the collector one Mr. McCarty to land my things, which cost me an English crown [1/4th of a Pound]. I enquired if my men would do well here, but I found no encouragement. A guinea passes for 26 shillings and all foreign coins go by weight. An ounce of silver passes for 6/3; and four pennyweight gold for 20 shillings.
The basic old English monetary units are no longer in use, but in this period they were penny (plural pence, symbol “d”), shillings (symbol “s”), and pounds (symbol £), with varying degrees in between. Below is a brief monetary explanation:
Farthing: 1/4th of a penny
Penny: plural pence
Shilling: 12 pence
Crown: 5 shillings (1/4th of a Pound)
Pound: 20 shillings (4 crowns, or 240 pence)
Sovereign: a gold coin equal to one pound
With respect to currency in general, foreign coins were indeed simply weighed for the amount of silver or gold. A Dutch trader may arrive with currency from France and Spain. This was readily accepted as currency.
Thus the reason for Fontaine saying it was worth its weight. The clerk or merchant would weigh it. It could be cut into pieces to make change, or simply taken at full weight for payment (depending on the amount due) and later traded for its weight, or even melted down into its basic base metal.
In his footnote to this date’s entry, Alexander did not specify where this port of landing was, though he speculated that it was between the Nomini and Yeocomico Rivers in Westmoreland County. In this he was mostly correct. He also states that the customs collector was Daniel McCarty.
A more much more exhaustive study was published by Dr. William M. McCarty and Kathleen Mulch in their epic book, The McCarty’s of the Northern Neck (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 2005).
The authors make the definitive statement that the only port town in Westmoreland County at this time was at Kinsale, founded in 1705 on the Yeocomico River, and is the oldest town on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.
They also state it was named for the small Irish seaport town of the same name in County Cork. Daniel McCarty was one of six Commissioners of Customs in Virginia.13  He was appointed to that position in 1712.
Their duties were to collect an import and export tax, including a tax of 2 shillings per each hogshead of tobacco being exported, and a poll tax for incoming passengers from England and Wales (i.e., Britain)14  of 6 pence per person.
Including Fontaine and his four servants, this would have amounted to 2 shillings and six pence. The balance seems to be for the rest of his goods.
29 May 1715. Sunday. About 8 of the clock we came ashore and went to church which is about 4 miles from the place we landed. The day was very hot and roads very dusty. We got to church, but came a little late. We had part of the sermon.
The people seemed to me very pale and yellow. After the minister had made an end and every one of the men pulled out their pipes and smoked a pipe of tobacco. I informed myself further about my own business, but found that Williamsburg was the only place for my design.
I was invited to dinner by one Mrs. Hughes. She lent me a horse and the master of the ship another and we went to her house where we dined, after which we went on board. I am resolved to hire a sloop and go to Williamsburg.
Here we have several interesting comments, and much to conjecture upon. If indeed the Dove had landed at Kinsale, the nearest Anglican church would have been Yeocomico Church in Westmoreland County.
The presence of “Mrs. Hughes” is quite an interesting remark. She was the wealthy widow of Capt. Richard Hewes (d. 1714) of nearby Cherry Point in St. Stephen’s Parish, Northumberland County. Was she attending church at Yeocomico? If she lent Fontaine and the Captain two of her horses, how did she get home? Why did she have two horses with her in the first place? Fontaine’s journal does not answer these questions.
“Mrs. Hughes” was none other than Mary —– Johnson Ball Hughes, the mysterious and thrice-married mother of Mary Ball who was the mother of George Washington.15  She was also a very accomplished horsewoman.
At this time, Mary Ball was only a child of about six years of age. Little could Fontaine have imagined that the little girl he undoubtedly met at dinner was destined to be the mother of America’s first president.
Last, we see here that Fontaine has quickly made up his mind to go directly to Williamsburg, apparently on the advice of Daniel McCarty, people he met at church, and at the dinner at Mrs. Hughes.
It is very possible that George Eskridge was at the dinner at Mrs. Hughes. Mary Hewes (various spellings) and George Eskridge, her attorney of Westmoreland County and the Northern Neck, were on intimate terms.
Eskridge became her executor and the guardian to young Mary Ball in 1721. He is often credited with introducing her to Augustine Washington.
May 30, 1715. Monday. In the morning I went to one Captain Eskridge and bargained with him for a shallop to go to Williamsburg. I am to give him £5 for the hire of her and to maintain my people. I went with the sloop on board and loaded my goods on her and made all things ready for this second voyage. I lay on board where we had several planters that got drunk that night.
Captain Eskridge is Capt. George Eskridge: planter, attorney and burgess of Sandy Point, Westmoreland County. He died there in 1735.
Again we see the speed with which Fontaine landed on the Potomac River and is so soon on his way to Williamsburg.
May 31, 1715. Tuesday, Virginia. This morning Captain Eskridge came on board our ship [the shallop Fontaine had rented from Eskridge the day before] and I agreed to pay him £5 in goods at 50 pr. cent. I gave him
One piece of Linen containing 20 yards which came to £3, 6s, 8d
Eight pair of shoes at 4/ a pair £1, 12s, 0d
One pair of gloves I gave him £0, 1s, 4d
Total £5, 0s, 0d
and so we left the ship and went that day as far as a place called Cone and here we remained the night. We had a gust but it did no damage.
(“Cone” is the Coan River in Northumberland County.)
Alexander notes in his footnotes for June 1st and June 3rd that Fontaine reversed his entries in the journal, and this was also noted by Miss Maury when she transcribed his journal.
The next day, June 1st, his journal states he gets as far as New Point Comfort (Hampton). On June 2nd, the winds were contrary to traveling, so he and his group went hunting.
On June 3rd, he reached Wicomico in Northumberland County nearing the Chesapeake Bay. He would have reached Wicomico first, and then Point Comfort.
On Saturday June 4th they reached Yorktown and he says “we landed at Gloucester and there we supped and lay that night. This town is on one side of York River and Yorktown on the other side opposite to it.”
June 5, 1715. Sunday. We set sail in the morning and we had a fresh gale, as much as we could carry sail.
About 12 we came to Queen’s Creek and about 3 we came to the landing of Williamsburg [Capitol Landing] and I left the men in the boat and went up to the town which is a mile from the landing place.
There were two navigable landings at Williamsburg which made it an ideal location for the capitol of the Virginia colony.
They were College Landing off of Queen’s Creek from the James River, and Capitol Landing off of College Creek from the York River.
Fontaine again wastes no time in getting organized.
June 6, 1715. Monday. In the morning I hired two carts and brought my goods up to town and agreed for a lodging for myself for diet and all for twenty-six shillings per month. I hired a shop and a house for my people and I writ to my father.
June 7, 1715. Tuesday. I waited on [i.e., met with] Governor Spotswood and he assured me of all he could do and after I had been with him some time I took my leave of him. He invited me to dinner which I accepted of and I afterwards settled Morriset [his servant] in his shop. I went to my lodgings and so to bed. Here I remained until September 6, 1715, and made several acquaintance[s]. I met with an old brother officer, Mr. Irwin. He did me a great deal of service. 16 
This was an important meeting. Spotswood took an immediately liking to the young enterprising Fontaine.
No doubt their mutual backgrounds in the military and the War of Spanish Secession gave them much to talk about.
His zeal for adventure and ambitions for wealth were the very traits Spotswood would have admired greatly.
Fontaine’s journal does not tell us what he was doing after September 6, 1715. His next journal entry is another meeting with Spotswood 9 November 1715 in Williamsburg, and this begins his first trip to Germanna.
1 Ann Maury was the great-granddaughter of John Fontaine’s sister Mary Ann Fontaine and Matthew Maury. Her father, James Maury, was the United States consul in Liverpool, England from 1790 to 1829. Another descendant of this family was Matthew Fontaine Maury, “Pathfinder of the Seas” to whom a monument was erected on Richmond’s famed Monument Avenue in 1929.
2 See http://www.genealogical.com/content/products_catalog.html  for more information.
3 See http://books.google.com/books… , visited 9 May 2009.
4 In what format it was first published, or by whom, is not stated in Germanna Record No. 7. On page 88 of the Record, Wayland says “This book is given to the public at the beginning of 1957.” This was the 350th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement, which was Queen Elizabeth II’s first visit to the United States.
5 When Wayland wrote his book in 1957, there was already much debate about exactly which route the Spotswood expedition took over the Blue Ridge. The matter was more or less considered closed in 1951 when Randolph W. Church, the Virginia state librarian, made a careful study of the records and physical examination of the sites, though it made some modifications to the routes that had been proposed before. This debate was “heightened considerably” in 1965 when Delma R. Carpenter produced yet a new hypothesis. Alexander provides an excellent discussion of both. A map showing both theories is given in a pull-out section of the book.
6 Alexander, 7, 130.
7 Ibid, 6.
8 Alexander, 4-9, 146 (footnote no. 35.)
9 Ibid, 3-4.
10 Alexander, 9. Alexander does not mention which war this was, but it is obvious from the context, time frame and geography that he is referring to The War of Spanish Secession (1701-1713) which pitted most of the major European powers against France, who claimed the right to the Spanish throne and of its possessions which was left vacant upon the death of the childless King Charles II, last of the Spanish Hapsburgs.
11 Alexander, 146, footnote no. 36 to pages 44 to 61, citing James Fontaine’s autobiography published in Memoirs of a Huguenot Family, p. 238.
12 Alexander, 46-66, 67.
13 There were six customs districts in Virginia at this time: James, Lower James, York, Rappahannock, Potomac sometimes called Lower Potomac, and Accomac sometimes called Eastern Shore. See Jones, 241-242.
14 Alexander uses the term “England and Wales” in his footnote as a legally correct term which came into use during the rise of Welsh nationalism in the 1950s. The term “England and Wales” was adopted in 1955 to describe the areas to which English law applied (Under the Act of Union in 1704, Scotland retained its own separate legal system.)
15 The maiden name of much-married Mary has been debated for nearly two centuries. George Washington did not know anything about his mother’s family. She was the widow Mary Johnson with two children when she married Joseph Ball, Sr. of Lancaster County ca 1707 (his 2nd wife). The most prevalent and competing theories are that she was (1) a Montague or (2) a Mary Bennett, widow of William Bennett of Middlesex County. Neither of these can be proved, and both theories are implausible. The Montague theory is mainly based on wishful thinking and false statements that George Washington’s family crest was splayed with the Montague crest. That simply is not true. Digging further, one reads that that myth grew out of a griffin used on his signet ring. Even if that were true, which it isn’t, it would not signify anything. There is no Mary Montague as a member of the Montague family of this area in this time frame. The Bennett theory likewise suffers from a lack of coherence, as William Bennett died a pauper and was a simple poor man. No record of his having any children exists in the Christ Church , MIddlesex Parish records. A granddaughter of Joseph Ball I, at age 82, merely wrote that “she was an Englishwoman.” Like all myths, once set to print, they become “fact” and roll along time’s eternal path.
16 Probably John Irwin, who was a lieutenant in the 9th Regiment from 1709-1714 in Ireland, and the same John Irwin who signed a memorial of the Virginia Indian Company in favor of Spotswood on 23 July 1716, and possibly related to Henry Irwin who was appointed naval commander at Hampton on 12 June 1716. Alexander, 152.