Edward Bland (bap. 1614–1652)

Edward Bland was an explorer whose extensive landholdings were inherited by his brother Theodorick Bland, progenitor of the Bland family in Virginia. Born in England to an investor in the Virginia Company of London, Bland managed family interests in Spain and the Canary Islands before he moved to Virginia by 1646. He expanded his family's property, as well as his own holdings, and he helped organize an expedition to the colony's western frontier with explorer and trader Abraham Wood in 1650. He described his journey in the pamphlet The Discovery of New Brittaine the following year. MORE...

 

Bland, the fifth of seventeen children of John Bland and Susanna de Deblere Bland, was born probably in London, where he was christened in the parish of Saint Stephen Coleman Street on February 5, 1614. Bland's father, who died in 1632, was a prominent London merchant and shipowner, an investor in the Virginia Company of London that founded the colony of Virginia, a member of its London council, and one of the proprietors of Martin's Hundred.

When Edward Bland was about twenty years old, he married his cousin Jane Bland. They had one known son. Bland spent much of the decade before 1646 in Spain and the Canary Islands managing parts of the family's far-flung commercial interests. His elder brother John Bland traveled to Virginia in the mid-1630s to look after and enlarge the family's landholdings, and his brother Adam Bland probably also visited the colony. By July 7, 1646, Edward Bland had moved to Virginia to take charge of the family's property there. He acquired several large tracts in the vicinity of Lawnes Creek in what is now Surry County and by 1652 owned about 14,700 acres, either outright or with other family members.

Even with the growth in Bland's Virginia landholdings, his family was in serious financial difficulty at the end of the 1640s. John Bland had lost property worth almost £14,000 at the outset of the English Civil Wars and was unable to collect on a large loan he had made to Parliament, while other pressures were also undermining the family finances. In the summer of 1650 Edward Bland joined Abraham Wood, a noted Indian trader and a close friend of Governor Sir William Berkeley, in planning an expedition to the southwest of the settled parts of Virginia. Wood hoped to open up new trading opportunities, and Bland probably hoped to establish a family claim to a large part of the Piedmont of what is now North Carolina.

Bland and Wood, together with Sackford Brewster, Elias Pennant, two servants, and an Appamattuck guide named Pyancha, left Fort Henry (approximately the present site of Petersburg) on August 27, 1650. The seven men returned nine days later, having traveled more than 175 miles. Their route has been the subject of historical conjecture, but they probably reached the Roanoke River below the site of what is now Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Bland named the place New Britain and described it as lush and fertile. After his return to Jamestown the General Assembly endorsed his plan to colonize the region. He wrote a detailed history of the expedition that contained much new information about the native inhabitants of the area. John Bland had The Discovery of New Brittaine (1651), the resulting sixteen-page pamphlet, published in London.

The Bland family did not gain title to any Carolina land or otherwise profit from the expedition. Edward Bland died shortly thereafter, most likely early in 1652 at his residence near Lawnes Creek. On May 9, 1652, his widow received a patent confirming a previous grant of 4,300 acres of land near the head of Chippokes Creek. To take charge of the family's large Virginia interests after Edward Bland's death, his youngest brother, Theodorick Bland (1630–1672), moved to the colony and became the progenitor of the distinguished Bland family there.

Major Work

  • The Discovery of New Brittaine (1651)
  • Time Line

    • February 5, 1614 - Edward Bland is baptized on this day in parish of Saint Stephen Coleman Street. He is the son of John Bland and Susanna de Deblere Bland.
    • ca. 1634 - Edward Bland marries his cousin Jane Bland. They will have one son.
    • 1636–1646 - Edward Bland spends much of this time in Spain and the Canary Islands managing parts of the family's far-flung commercial interests.
    • July 7, 1646 - By this date, Edward Bland has moved to Virginia to take charge of his family's property there.
    • Summer 1650 - Edward Bland joins Abraham Wood, a noted Indian trader and a close friend of Governor Sir William Berkeley, in planning an expedition to the southwest of the settled parts of Virginia.
    • August 27, 1650 - Edward Bland and Abraham Wood, together with Sackford Brewster, Elias Pennant, two servants, and an Appamattuck guide named Pyancha, leave Fort Henry. The seven men will return nine days later, having traveled more than 175 miles. After his return, the General Assembly endorses Bland's plan to colonize the region.
    • 1651 - John Bland has his brother Edward Bland's The Discovery of New Brittaine (1651), a sixteen-page pamphlet about his exploration of Virginia, published in London.
    • Early 1652 - Edward Bland likely dies around this time at his residence near Lawnes Creek.

    References

    Further Reading
    Bland, Charles L. A Vision of Unity: The Bland Family in England and America, 1990 ed. Williamsville, New York: C. L. Bland, 1982.
    Briceland, Alan Vance. "Bland, Edward." In Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 2, edited by Sara B. Bearss, et al., 5. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2001.
    Briceland, Alan Vance. "The Search for Edward Bland's New Britain." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 87, no. 2 (April 1979): 131–157.
    Briceland, Alan Vance. Westward from Virginia: The Exploration of the Virginia-Carolina Frontier, 1650–1710. Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1987.
    Williams, Neville. "The Tribulations of John Bland, Merchant: London, Seville, Jamestown, Tangier, 1643–1680." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 72, no. 1 (January 1964): 19–41.
    Cite This Entry
    • APA Citation:

      Briceland, A. V., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Edward Bland (bap. 1614–1652). (2015, October 9). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Bland_Edward_bap_1614-1652.

    • MLA Citation:

      Briceland, Alan Vance and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Edward Bland (bap. 1614–1652)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 9 Oct. 2015. Web. READ_DATE.

    First published: May 2, 2013 | Last modified: October 9, 2015