As we've seen elsewhere on this site it seems likely that Thomas Avent came to Virginia in 1701 to work as an agent for a London and Virginia-based merchant named John Nicholls, and we know he was living on Nicholls' plantation in 1702. It wasn't long, though, before Thomas was buying up substantial tracts of land in Virginia and North Carolina, in the area between present-day Emporia, VA and Roanoke Rapids, NC.
His earliest recorded land purchases (from 1712) were in North Carolina, along the Roanoke River north of present-day Roanoke Rapids, Northampton Co., NC (there may likely have been other land purchases made by him prior to 1712, but those records have not apparently yet surfaced).
It appears that in 1716 Thomas sold much of his land along the Roanoke and began buying up property in Virginia. (He still retained some property in Northampton Co. as his son, William, was living there by the 1730's and inherited it upon Thomas' death. Other children and grandchildren of Thomas' settled in Northampton Co., NC, as well. Author Douglas S. Brown, in "Sketches of Greensville Co., VA" (1968) stated that in March of 1720 Thomas Avent and Capt. Robert Hicks received a Royal land grant of 2000 acres along the Roanoke River.)
from "Chowan Precinct, NC 1696-1723 Genealogical Abstracts of Deed Books", by Margaret M. Hofmann:
pg. 357: "16-July 1716 - Thomas Avent, weaver to Jacob Coleson, carpenter for 4 pounds, 270 a. more or less at Mount Royall on Morattock River..."
(The late Garland Avent, one of the pioneers in Avent genealogy, placed "Mount Royall" at the site of the present-day town of Gaston, NC, and the "Morattock" river was the present-day Roanoke River.)
pg. 358: "16-July-1716 - Thomas Avent, weaver, to Robert Green for 10 pounds, 370 a. more or less at Mount Royall...as by patent to me (i.e., Thomas Avent) 29-July-1712..."
The reference to "Thomas Avent, weaver" has mystified many Avent researchers, as there is no other indication that his profession was weaving. Adding to this mystery is the following entry:
pg. 363: "Elizabeth Avent of Surry County, Virginia, Spinster, to Robert Hicks of North Carolina..."
A "spinster" can be defined as "a woman whose occupation is spinning", so it appears Thomas and his wife had something to do with weaving and spinning, but nothing more is known of this.
Thomas Avent received four Royal Patents of land in what is now Greensville Co., VA (then Surry Co.) ("VPB" = Virginia Patent Book):
31 October 1716 - "a tract of new land containing 400 acres in Surry County, on the east side of Otterdam Swamp...is granted to Thomas Avent." You can view a copy of the original land grant to Thomas Avent by Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood here. (Warning: file is hard to read. Thomas Avent's name is on the third line from the top, on the right, and is highlighted in red.) (VPB 10:300)
14 July 1718 - 190 acres on the northeast side of Three Creeks (VPB 10:405)
7 July 1726 - 625 acres on both sides of Fountain Creek (VPB 12:515)
22 September 1739 - 1675 acres on both sides of Otterdam Swamp. Includes the 400 acres granted in 1716. (VPB 18:417)
Where was Otterdam Swamp and the Three Creeks? If you've ever driven on Interstate 95 near Emporia, VA, 10 or so miles north of the NC line then you've driven over the Otterdam Swamp, and passed very near to the likely site of his home. One leg of the swamp crosses I 95 at the 17 mile marker, 6 miles north of Emporia. Where is Emporia, VA? Note the red circle on the map below:
Thanks to the excellent book Royal Patents and Commonwealth Land Grants of Greensville County Virginia by Ray Sasser (1998), we can pinpoint the location of the property listed above.
It seems likely that Thomas' home was located in the first tract he purchased, in 1716, which is highlighted in red above. This idea is reinforced by the fact that in 1739 he purchased 1675 additional acres surrounding this 400 acre tract. Interestingly, the current route of Interstate 95 passes through about a mile of the 1739 land grant. (The point where I95 crosses Rt. 301 is at approximately mile marker 17, and Thomas' land would run from around mile marker 15 to marker 16.)
The 190 acre tract purchased in 1718 was sold by Thomas Avent on 19 July 1721, to a John Davis. ("Surry County, VA, Deeds and Wills (1715-1730) Part 2", pg. 353).
The 625 acre tract on both sides of Fountain Creek he purchased on 7 July 1726 was located about 15 miles south of the above property and, then as now, straddles the VA/NC line. When William Byrd of Westover laid out the VA/NC line in 1728, this property was mentioned in the final report:
Colonial Records of NC, Vol. II. A Journal of the Proceedings of the Surveyors Appointed for Determining the Bounds Between the Colonies of Virginia and Carolina, p. 809:
"20 September 1728 - ...the division line of Isle of Wight County from Brunswick. The line of division is N. to Meherrin River, which is judged to be 11 miles distant...to Jack's Swamp...1 mile...North to Joseph Jordan's...1 mile...to low grounds of Fontain's Creek...2 miles...out of low grounds...2 miles...to a road at right...3 miles...John Bradfords...3 miles...to Thomas Avings over Fontaine's Creek..."
Like the property above, it is very near to the current route of Interstate 95: