Rivers, creeks, ponds, swamps, and things can be used to help identify the location of various patents that have been surveyed. In 1622 VA, a survey required it to be described by key landmarks that would help locate and register the patent. A method I have used over the years is contained in this notebook. A page for "Rivers" is shown.
Using the index from Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants 1623 - 66, I began a chronological outline of the names given to rivers. The page numbers are shown along with a date that the river was first used as a survey marker. A flow into time in more ways than one.
For example, "Back River" was used very early in the survey of land. [p.2] "Lynhaven River" was not used in surveys until 1632. [p. 34] It took roughly a decade to get from "Back River" to "Lynhaven River". In like manner, one can follow the progression of land expansion and settlement by the naming of the rivers involved.
In my own JONES family, "Rappahannock River" became the avenue for settlement. It is first listed on p. 311 beginning around 1655. This was after the English Civil War, and during what is called "The Commonwealth Period". This fact helped me shake a few family tree branches. What a deal!