"The first settlement on Virginia’s Eastern Shore was started by Sir Thomas Dale in 1614. Shortly after he became governor under the Virginia Company, Dale “bought from the Indians the southern part of the Eastern Shore peninsula…on a body of water given the name Plantation Creek."
“At first there were only seventeen men there…whose labor was to make salt and catch fish in the spring and fall.” The new settlement “shortly developed a plantation or garden…’private gardens’ for each man and …’common gardens’ for hemp, flax, and other seeds."
"Governor Dale developed a portion of land solely for the profit of the Virginia Company, a “Plantation”or “Garden”. He proceeded “with great zeal to the good of the Company (to) sett up the Common Garden to yield them a standing revenue…”
For several years Dale’s Gift seemed to be an epitome of a typical plantation.
Due to mismanagement by Captain Argall , a subsequent governor, by “…Easter 1619 there was not left to the Company, the Garden, or any tenant, servant, rent, tribute corn, cow, or saltwork – only six goats…”.
“One thing only remained to the settlement, and that was the term commonly used by the planters in referring to it, namely: ‘the Plantation’.”
Something of importance, at that time, of the settlement on the Eastern Shore, both in securing for those inhabitants a regular and sufficient supply of fish and salt and in securing for the Company an annual revenue, may be gathered from peer tributes to Sir Thomas Dale’s ability in managing the affairs of the Colony, and also from the fact that the name given to the new settlement was Dale’s Gift, a name indicative of its value to colonists and company.
The Company's Garden: Dale's Gift, by Susie M. Ames, Phd., published for the Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society