Derwent in Powhatan County
Byrd Pendleton Jervey


* Byrd Pendleton Jervey (Mrs. William Palmer Jervey) has for several years past been making a detailed study of the old houses in Powhatan County; accumulating a great amount of valuable facts in regard to their construction and numberless photographs of exteriors and interiors of the houses. When her investigations have been completed Mrs. Jervey expects to publish her work, which would indeed be a marked contribution to the history of Virginia homes.

1 Richmond Daily Times (Richmond, Virginia), Thursday, June 29, 1865, page 5, column 1—“General Lee—This distinguished gentleman and his family left Richmond yesterday afternoon on the packet boat for Cartersville. We understand that it is his intention to remain away from the city most of the summer.”

2 For a full account of General Lee’s days at “Derwent” see Freeman, R. E. Lee, A Biography, Volume IV, pages I88 et seq.; and Lee, Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee, pages 170 et seq.

3 Lee, Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee . . . pages 171–2.

4 See extract from address delivered by The Right Reverend J. P. B. Wilmer, Bishop of Louisiana, at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, after General Lee’s death; in Lee, Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee, pages 182–3.

5 The ceilings of the hall and two rooms on the first floor of the house are 9 feet high.

6 This room was veritably the heart of the house, for in it Mrs. Lee, practically an invalid from rheumatism, spent many of her hours tenderly cared for by her husband and daughters. In the cupboard in this room it is said that General Lee kept his books and valuable papers.

7 The ceilings of these upstairs rooms are 7 feet high.

8 In a letter to his son, Robert E. Lee, Jr., General Lee thus describes the house at “Derwent”: “We are well and established in a comfortable but small house, in a grove of oaks, belonging to Mr. Thomas Cocke. It contains four rooms, and there is a house in the yard which when fitted up will give us another.” General Lee does not here account for the basement dining room and the small closet-like room on the second floor of the house.

9 The facts in regard to the descent of this property from its conveyance in 1880 by the Cockes down to the present ownership of the Trents are contained in deeds recorded in Powhatan County records, Powatan, Virginia. We are indebted to Charles C. Cocke, Esquire, of Richmond, for this information. Mr. Cocke is a son of the late Thomas L. P., and Mary (Curtis) Cocke.

10 The family name of Sarah, first wife of Bowler Cocke I (died 1771), the mother of Bowler Cocke, II (who died in 1772), is as yet unknown. Bowler Cocke, II, married Elizabeth Fauntleroy; their son, William Cocke, married Jane Armistead of “Hesse,” Gloucester County, whose ancestry extends through generations of the Armistead, Burwell, Carter and Byrd families. Their son, William Armistead Cocke, married Elizabeth Randolph Preston, daughter of Thomas Lewis Preston and his wife, Edmonia Randolph, daughter of the Honorable Edmund Randolph (1753–1818), Aide-de-Gamp to General Washington during the Revolutionary War, Governor of Virginia, Attorney General of the United States and Secretary of State. Mrs. Elizabeth Randolph Preston Cocke was descended from the families of Preston and Lewis of the Valley of Virginia, and Randolph, Nicholas, Beverley, Jenings, Corbin, Carter and Cary of Tidewater, Virginia. For the families here mentioned see notes on the families of these names published in former volumes of Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.

11 For the account of “Oakland” and its descent in the Cocke family we are indebted to Robert A. Lancaster’s Historic Virginia Homes and Churches, pages 173 et seq.

12 For General Lee’s occupancy, with his family, of the house at 707 East Franklin Street, Richmond, see W. G. Stanard’s “The Homes of the Virginia Historical Society . . .” in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume XXXIV, Number 1 (January 1926); Freeman’s R. E. Lee, A Biography, Volume IV; and Lee’s Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee. Now known as #&8220;The Lee House” this house is the headquarters of the Virginia Historical Society, having been presented to the Society by the heirs of John Stewart, Esquire.

13 This print was first used as an illustration in Weddell and McElroy, Richmond, Virginia, in Old Prints 1737–1887. Our illustration has been made from the original print in Harper’s Weekly.