Four Mile TreeEdit profile
Four Mile Tree is the name of a plantation near Jamestown, Virginia. Encompassing two thousand acres (8 km²), it was situated on the south side of the James River opposite Jamestown, four miles (6 km) further north. On a hill near the water's edge a handsome old house overlooks the river. This house with the whole plantation, was the estate of the Browne family where they lived for two hundred years. The first owner, Colonel Henry Browne, was a member of Sir William Berkeley's Council in 1643. The house remains preserved in its original historical state. In a nearby garden is the second oldest tombstone in Virginia, dated January 7, 1650. It marks the grave of Alice Miles, daughter of John Miles, of Branton, Herefordshire, and wife of Colonel George Jordan, Attorney General of Virginia in 1670. The tombstone of Colonel William Perry of Westover, who died in 1637, is the oldest in Virginia. The Four Mile Tree Plantation House is a brick structure, one-and-one-half-stories with hip-on-gambrel roof, pedimented dormers and four interior end chimneys. The brick is laid in Flemish bond above the beveled watertable raith English bond below. The entire brick surface was stuccoed and scored in imitation ashlar in the nineteenth century but the stucco has deteriorated on portions of the facade and fallen off. All openings on the five-bay facade, except for the central entranceway, were altered in the late nineteenth century or early twentieth century and have two-over-two sash; the entranceway, sheltered by a nineteenth-century Roman Ionic porch, consists of a transom over three-paneled double doors, the top panel of each being scrolled. A modillioned cornice is used on the eaves. Four Mile Tree's oldest interior woodwork is in the central stairhall where the turned balustrading on the stair, the heavy hand rail and the high dado place the date in the first half of the eighteenth century. The southwest room, which probably dates from the early nineteenth century, has two framed niches flanking a simple mantel and overmantel topped by an architrave, frieze and cornice; only the cornice and a paneled dado ornament the other walls of the room. The remaining rooms have mantels which seem t o date from the first half of the nineteenth century but only in the southeastern room is there a paneled room. Four Mile Tree is a successor to two of the earliest plantations in Virginia ("Burrow's Hill" and "Pace's Paines"). It is "ancient" in its own right having been founded in the first half of the seventeenth century; its grave-site contains the oldest legible tombstone in Virginia (1650). Four Mile Tree was the seat of the Brownes, a leading Surry family, from the Reign of Charles I until the death of their last male heir in 1799. The plantation, named for its distance from Jamestown, was one of Surry County's more prosperous; its owners served as viewers of tobacco and had slaves from an early period. The Brownes were regularly Justices of the County Court throughout the colonial period. Several members of the family served on the Governor's Council or in the House of Burgesses during the seventeenth century. During the War for Independence, William Browne was a member of the Surry Committee of Safety and Lieutenant Colonel of Militia. H i s son, the l a s t of his name to be Master of Four Mile Tree, was a lieutenant in the revolutionary militia. The British sacked the plantation during the War of 1812 according to the then Colonel of county militia. In 1815 the plantation passed to William Browne, Jr.'s granddaughter, Sally Elizabeth Bowdoin, and her husband, General Philip St. George Cocke.