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Milk Pan

Ward, Thomas
Place Made:
Probably Martin’s Hundred Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 5″; WOA: 10 1/2″; DOA: 14″
Accession Number:
This milk pan is an example of the work of Thomas Ward (b.1578), the earliest potter in English North America. Ward arrived in Virginia in 1619. He was among the 266 persons dispatched to the Virginia Colony by the Society of Martin’s Hundred. Ward, a potter, was indentured to the bricklayer John Jackson.

Though the Society of Martin’s Hundred intended for their men to be settled on their land, they were initially settled at Pasbehay, part of Governor’s Land outside of Jamestown. In 1618 the Virginia Company instructed Governor George Yeardley to set aside 3,000 acres of land near the capital at Jamestown “to be the seat and land of the Governor of Virginia.” This land was to be farmed by tenants and provide income and support to the Governor and the Virginia Company. The Martin’s Hundred settlers were not moved to the Society’s land until March 1620. Two years after they began work at Martin’s Hundred a Native uprising reduced that settlement to ashes. The survivors, Ward among them, were relocated to Jamestown. In 1623 Martin’s Hundred was resettled. Ward continued there as a potter at least through the 1630s.

This milk-pan, recovered from Pasbehay, may have been made during Ward’s brief tenancy there. More likely, it was made at either Martin’s Hundred or Jamestown following the arrival of marriageable women and dairy cows in the early 1620s. The 1624 Muster shows 43 persons living at “Pasbehaighs” including eight women.

REFERENCES: Martha W. McCartney, “The Martin’s Hundred Potter: English North America’s Earliest Known Master of His Trade” in The Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts (Winter 1995)

Beverly A. Straube, “The Colonial Potters of Tidewater Virginia” in The Journal of Early Southern Decorative Arts (Winter 1995)

Ivor Noel Hume, “Martins Hundred” (Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 1991)

Alain Charles Outlaw, “Governor’s Land: Archeology of Early Seventeenth-Century Virginia Settlements” (Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 1990)

Excavated at the Pasbehay’s Tenement site on Governor’s Land outside of Jamestown, Virginia, between 1976-1977 by Alain Charles Outlaw and the Virginia Research Center for Archeology, a branch of the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission.
Credit Line:
Loan courtesy of Department of Historic Resources of the Commonwealth of Virginia