Prestwould Plantation

Historical Significance

Prestwould Plantation was built for Sir Peyton Skipwith and Jean Miller Skipwith after their marriage in 1788. Prestwould was among the largest plantations in the state. The papers and records kept by the Skipwiths provide insight into the daily lives of the enslaved individuals on the plantation. Slave deeds, lists, and sales agreements reveal the trajectory of many enslaved individuals from around the18th century through the Civil War. Other archival papers document the training and use of enslaved individuals as skilled stone masons, wagoners, weavers, and woodsmen. This includes a 1785 list of enslaved boys who rolled hogsheads of tobacco to market. One letter, dated June 27, 1875, refers to a white woman who was jailed for the murder of one her slaves.

Sir Peyton Skipwith kept ledgers where he listed tradesmen, artisans, laborers, relatives, and enslaved individuals who were paid for services and goods between 1762 and 1801. These ledgers include entries that document the work of slaves, slave hires, and free blacks in Virginia. The entries also contain lists of food and clothing provided to enslaved individuals and blacksmith accounts for putting irons on slaves. These documents are on file at the Earl Gregg Swem Library located in The College of William and Mary. The description of archival materials is taken from Kenneth M. Stampp's guide to "Records of Ante-Bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War." 

Physical Description

Among the buildings still standing at Prestwould is a 1790's slave house, an early plantation store converted to workers' housing after the Civil War, and a circa 1825 loom house with slaves' room upstairs. The wood-frame slave house, the last standing building at the home quarter, is considered by architectural scholars to be the earliest known slave house in Virginia and perhaps the South. The slave house began as a single room structure measuring 12 feet by 16 feet. About 1820, the house was remodeled as a duplex quarter of the variety that became conventional throughout the South by the middle of the nineteenth century.

Geographical and Contact Information

429 Prestwould Drive
Clarksville, Virginia
Phone: 804-374-8672