Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Yorktown in York County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Custom House, circa 1720

 
 
Custom House, circa 1720 Marker image. Click for full size.
By David Graff, September 20, 2014
1. Custom House, circa 1720 Marker
Inscription. …collectors are hereby impowered to demand, secure, and receive all…the duties, customes and imposts…with full power to go on board any boat, ship or other vessel, or into any house…where he shall have just cause to suspect any fraud…collectors…shall…in Aprill and October…render a true and just account upon oath, and make payment…of money as they…shall receive and collect for the duties…" An Act for Ports &c., April 16, 1691, Virginia Legislative Assembly

In 1691, Virginia's colonial legislature passed "An Act for Ports," in an effort to better regulate trade for the collection of import and export fees and duties. The act called for the creation of several ports, including Yorktown, and the appointment of Collectors of Ports by the royal governor. During Yorktown's peak as a commercial port in the mid-1700s, Richard Ambler, and later his son, Jacquelin, served as a collector of ports.

In 1721, Richard Ambler built this large, brick storehouse and from here he and his son handled their collector duties. Ship captains recently arriving and merchants arranging for transport of goods would convene at Ambler's storehouse to complete the required paperwork and pay associated fees.

The outbreak of the American Revolution brought an end to many port activities, including the collection of customs. In 1776,
Custom House, circa 1720 image. Click for full size.
By David Graff, September 20, 2014
2. Custom House, circa 1720
Virginia militia troops were using the Custom House for barracks and two years later, Jacquelin Ambler sold the property.

In 1924, the Compte de Grasse Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution purchased the Custom House and restored it five years later. Today the Custom House still continues in use as a Chapter House and Museum.
 
Location. 37° 14.096′ N, 76° 30.469′ W. Marker is in Yorktown, Virginia, in York County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street and Read Street, on the left when traveling west on Main Street. Click for map. Some blocks of Main Street, including this location, are generally closed to motor vehicle traffic. Marker is in this post office area: Yorktown VA 23690, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Early Colonial Custom House (here, next to this marker); Cole Digges House, circa 1730 (a few steps from this marker); Cole Digges House, circa 1925 (a few steps from this marker); Charles Cox House (within shouting distance of this marker); Somerwell House (within shouting distance of this marker); East Along Main Street (within shouting distance of
<i>First Custom House in America, Yorktown, Va.</i> image. Click for full size.
Postcard by the Detroit Photographic Co., 1903
3. First Custom House in America, Yorktown, Va.
this marker); West Along Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker); Nelson House, circa 1730 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Click for a list of all markers in Yorktown.
 
Regarding Custom House, circa 1720. The marker includes the following images:
Portrait of Elizabeth Jacquelin Ambler, wife of Richard Ambler Image courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society

Pictures of a label ("EDWARD's best York Tobacco ...BRISTOL"), a fan, a pewter teapot, and persons (slaves?) moving along a road — with the caption "While tobacco was a primary export, imports consisted of such items as British manufactured products and slaves. Images courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation"
 
Categories. Colonial EraWar, US Revolutionary
 
Additional marker at the Custom House to Comte de Grasse image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, October 23, 2016
4. Additional marker at the Custom House to Comte de Grasse
This large marker is mounted directly above the entry door to the Custom House. It reads:
In honor of
Comte de Grasse
Admiral
of the French Fleet
whose landing of troops
and blockade of the
Chesapeake Bay
were decisive factors
leading to the surrender
of the British Forces at
Yorktown, Virginia
October 19, 1781
This tablet was erected by the
National Society of the Sons of
the American Revolution, 1931
Three additional markers on the Custom House image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, October 23, 2016
5. Three additional markers on the Custom House
These three additional markers are mounted to the left side of the Custom House. They include markers from the DAR dedicated to the Custom House (separate HMdb entry), the NRHP and a USGS survey disk.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This page has been viewed 186 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia.   3. submitted on .   4, 5. submitted on , by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on October 24, 2016.
Paid Advertisement