One of the historic homes of Virginia – still standing, still in private hands.
The classic early colonial home at Mahockney Plantation, patented in 1663, stands at the center of 1,200 acres of farmland in Upper Mount Landing, Virginia, on Mount Landing Creek just above the spot where it feeds into the Rappahannock River. That’s also the very spot where Capt. John Smith encountered the Rappahannock Indians on his initial 1608 exploration upriver from Jamestown.
Mahockney was patented as such in 1663 with 518 acres by Thomas Rosson (variously spelled Rason, Rawson, Roson), incorporating an earlier 1653 patent by Andrew Gilson of 200 acres. The name was used early; a 1721 deed for the property refers to it as “land formerly granted to Thomas Roson by patent bearing date 1663 which is grant of 600 acres commonly known by the name of The Mehockney.”
That 1721 deed places Mahockney as the plantation of Martha Tomlin, daughter of Robert Tomlin (var. Tomlyn, Thomlin, Thomaline) who had acquired the property from Rosson in 1671, beginning a half-century of ownership by the Thomlin family. Robert Tomlin is recorded as sheltering Rappahannock Indians in his home here in the early 1680’s during the tumult sparked by Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676. The historical record so far is uncertain on whether that structure is (or more likely constitutes part of) today’s Mahockney. A dwelling identified as “House of Mr. Thomaline” does appear at this very spot on the 1680 Map of Hobbs Hole (Tappahannock) in the State Library of Virginia; a copy of the map is also held in the Essex County Museum.
The current structure consists of three sections: first, either the brick-foundation frame southern portion of the house (on the left in this photo), where at least the chimneys, basement, and foundation may date back as early as Bacon’s Rebellion; or perhaps first on the north end a substantial brick two-story (on the right); and third, a substantial addition behind dating from the early part of the 20th Century. The grounds also feature several dependencies of the 19th and 20th centuries. (For more on the architectural history and evidence click here.)
The name Mahockney is of Indian derivation. The Mahocks, also known as the Manahoac, were a Siouan tribe in Virginia during the pre-colonial days and the 17th century, when Mahockney was patented, though not known to have been nearby. Most likely the decision by early plantation owner Robert Tomlin to use the name “Mahockney” is related to the explorer John Lederer’s famed 1670 encounter with the Mahocks in their village of “Mahock” in central Virginia above the falls of the James River. Lederer left on that (third) voyage westward with cartographer John Catlett, from the home of Robert Taliaferro, near Mahockney’s location in Old Rappahannock County. Tomlin knew Catlett, who in 1666 had mapped the Mahockney patent, and Tomlin likely knew Taliaferro, and Tomlin may even have been on the expedition itself, in which Lederer and crew became the first Europeans to climb the Blue Ridge and see the Shenandoah Valley. According to linguists, “-ney” was a common Anglo-Saxon suffix typically meaning a placename or “island” formed from a tribe or person’s name.
So the name “Mahockney” likely was chosen by Robert Tomlin, not long after that 1670 expedition, to commemorate the encounter at Mahock and the riches it symbolized as a gateway to the treasures of “the Spanish mines.”