New state historical marker to be dedicated in Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A state historical marker honoring Col. John Thorowgood Jr., who was elected to Virginia’s Convention of 1776 and led Princess Anne County’s militia during the Revolutionary War, will be dedicated in Virginia Beach  on Friday.

According to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.,  John Thorowgood Jr. lived on an 840-acre plantation on Little Creek, a portion of which is now the Little Creek–Fort Story naval base. In the lead up to the Revolutionary War, Thorowgood played an active part in colonial Virginia’s push for independence from Great Britain.

“He was elected to the Convention of 1776, which adopted Virginia’s resolutions for independence, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and the state’s first constitution,” the marker reads. He also represented Princess Anne County—present-day Virginia Beach—“in the inaugural session of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1776.”

A direct descendant of Adam and Sarah Thorowgood, early colonists to Lower Norfolk County, Col. Thorowgood Jr. became a prisoner of war by 1781 during the Revolutionary War. In his 1786 will, “he directed that his enslaved African Americans be freed after the deaths of his siblings, to whom they were bequeathed,” the marker concludes.

The Thorowgood name—by way of its modern spelling, Thoroughgood—is associated with one of the largest residential neighborhoods in Virginia Beach, and the National Historic Landmark, circa-1720 Adam Thoroughgood House. The house was owned by a cousin of Col. John Thorowgood Jr, according to the research of Ms. Jorja Jean, who worked with the department in drafting the marker text. Today, in addition to its NHL status, the house is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

The dedication ceremony will take place Friday, July 7 at Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area at 5381 Shell Road. There will be Revolutionary War re-enactors, as well as several featured speakers.

The markers are issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The cost for manufacturing the marker has been covered by the Virginia Beach Historic Preservation Commission, which also sponsored the research for the marker conducted by Ms. Jean, a recently-retired art teacher at Thoroughgood Elementary School.

Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Route 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,500 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, as well as by local partners

Location of Lake Lawson/Lake Smith Natural Area