A large proportion of the planters in Virginia were simply small land owners. Previous to 1650, the average size of the patent did not exceed four hundred and forty-six acres, and after that year, six hundred and seventy-four. Most of these small estates were settled by men of small means and whose names were obscure. They were, in fact, as inferior, socially, to the gentry of Virginia in those times, as the same class in contemporary England were to the principal English landowners. Source: Lancaster County Records, Vol. 1652-56, pp. 64.