1591 - 1657
A French Hugenot and military engineer, he came to Virginia in 1620 as the representative of the Earl of Huntington. After the 1622 massacre at Jamestown, he built fortifications at several strategic locations. Included was a high wooden palisade extending from the James River to the Charles (York) River. For this prodigious undertaking, completed in the late 1620's, he was awarded land along the York River. This well-to-do landowner and Burgess expanded his holdings to 1300 acres, centered near his family burial plot.
In the 1630's a settlement grew up just outside of Fort Yorke that anchored the palisade to the river. Nearby a wooden church was built, the principal church of the newly formed Charles River Parish. It was rebult of brick about 1665. Within its walls Major William Gooch was buried in 1655. His tombstone still exists. The site is now within the USCG Training Center.
Old Yorke Village and its church were abandoned in the 1690's when Yorktown was founded. Needing a county Court House site and a Customs House located on deep water, the Crown purchased 50 acres of land in the 1691 from Benjamin Read and platted the town of Yorktown. Here was built in 1697 the Parish's new (3rd ) church structure, now Grace Episcopal Church
by courtesy of D. W. Conner