Armistead was the second of three sons and one of at least four children of William Armistead and Anne Armistead, of Kirk Deighton, Yorkshire, England. He may have been born in Virginia, his parents having settled in Elizabeth City County in the mid-1630s, which is the most likely approximate time of his birth. When he reached adulthood he moved to Gloucester County, where he lived and farmed for the rest of his life. His father had prospered so rapidly after immigrating to Virginia that both of his surviving sons began their adult lives as substantial planters. He may have sent John Armistead to Gloucester County in the 1650s to manage the properties he acquired after that section of the colony was first opened to English settlement.
Destruction of most of the records of Gloucester County has obscured the details of Armistead's participation in politics. He probably became a vestryman of Kingston Parish within a few years of moving to the county, and by 1670 he was a member of the county court as well as a colonel in the county militia. He became sheriff in 1676 and again in 1680. In 1682 he arrested several local women who were destroying tobacco plants. This put him in opposition to Robert Beverley, the putative instigator of the plant-cutting riots, by which the perpetrators hoped to reduce the supply of tobacco and thereby raise its price. Armistead differed from Beverley on political issues, too. Beverley grew increasingly outspoken in his opposition to English policies designed to control Virginia after Bacon's Rebellion, while Armistead inclined favorably toward the new order.
John Armistead may have been dead by that date, but he could also have been alive and in political retirement in Gloucester County while continuing his refusal to forswear his oath to James II. The date and place of his death are not recorded.
1650s - Sometime during this decade, John Armistead's father William Armistead sends him to Gloucester County to manage the properties he acquired after that section of the colony was first opened to English settlement.
1660s - Sometime during this decade, John Armistead becomes associated with Robert Beverley. Armistead will marry Beverley's sister-in-law Judith Hone.
1670 - By this year, John Armistead is a member of the Gloucester County court and a colonel in the county militia.
1676 - John Armistead becomes sheriff in Gloucester County.
1680 - John Armistead is elected to the House of Burgesses.
October 18, 1688 - John Armistead in sworn in to fill a vacant seat on the governor's Council.
April 1691 - Following the Glorious Revolution, John Armistead refuses to swear allegiance to the new monarchs, William and Mary, and loses his seat on the council.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Billings, W. M., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. John Armistead (fl. 1650s–1690s). (2019, October 7). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Armistead_John_fl_1650s-1690s.
- MLA Citation:
Billings, Warren M. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "John Armistead (fl. 1650s–1690s)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, 7 Oct. 2019. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: May 29, 2013 | Last modified: October 7, 2019