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September 9, 2009


What a busy summer we’ve had. It’s hard to believe that fall is upon us again with colorful leaves, football games and apple cider. 


As the time comes that the air outside takes on a chill, we will be spending more time inside, and hopefully returning to our genealogy and research.  Winter is a good time for that.  My family gets a “book” each year at Christmas about one of the families in my tree.  It makes a great gift and is a wonderful way to preserve your family history for those in the future.


Hopefully, you’ll make your Christmas gift for your family a Lost Colony surname book and you’ll send a copy to us as well so we can post it with your surname and your DNA results.  What a wonderful tribute to your ancestors!


Eastern NC County Research


Speaking of research, I’ve been assembling a prioritized research plan that will hopefully include all available resources for each early coastal NC county that might be involved with the lost colony.  I was working on Tyrrell County (which includes the early mainland area now Dare County) and let’s just say I got carried away and began doing records extractions.  A new paper titled “Beechland – Oral History versus Historical Records” will be forthcoming soon as a result.


The primary counties whose records we need to have extracted for all of the colonist surnames plus our surnames of interest are as follows:










Initial emphasis will be on the first 4 counties.  Hyde County is our best candidate as it includes the early records for Hatteras Island which is the original land of Croatoan.  If the colonists survived, the early records clearly indicate we’ll find them there and living along the coastal areas.  Other counties will be added to the list as we complete these first 4.


Using the map below as a guide, we’ll be working our way along the old coastal counties and then inland.  Some counties such as Dare, formed in 1870 are too new to house any records that would be interest to our research.  The area currently covered by Dare County will be addressed by the older records of its parent counties, Currituck, Tyrrell and Hyde.

Map of North Carolina Counties

If you’re interested in more maps, check out this site where I found this nice NC county map. 

Albemarle County

Let’s focus on the oldest County first. It’s also the easiest with the fewest records because Albemarle was formed in 1663, from 1700 forward was Pasquotank and was abolished in 1738. Albemarle included everything within 10 leagues of the sea (Albemarle Sound). Miscellaneous records exist from 1678-1737. 

I’ve created a list of available records by record type, meaning wills, deeds, tax lists, etc.

Many of the early records are published and the books are available for purchase. Some records are available online.

However, some are unavailable and I’m hoping that one of you will have these books in your own library and will be willing to do the various surname extracts.

· Albemarle Co. NC, quit rents in arrears 1729-1732 (includes index)

· Province of NC 1663-1729 Abstracts of Land Patents by Margaret M. Hofmann; copyright 1979 [Land patents from Patent Books 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 13.] (If you own this and you’re not available to do lookups, please contact me anyway as I have some questions about this book.)

· Old Albemarle County, North Carolina, Perquimans precinct, Births, Marriages, Deaths & Flesh Marks 1659 thru 1820 by Weynette Parks Haun, Durham, NC, 1980.

· Albemarle County: the South Shore Settlement by Jim Gay-Lord

· The Early Times and Men of Albemarle: an Oration at Elizabeth City, NC on 7th August 1877 at the request of the “Albemarle Historical Society” by John H. Wheeler (16 page speech)

If you can help with these or any other Albemarle resource, please let me know. 

How Many Colonists Were There?

You’d think with a readily available roster, there would be agreement on how many colonists there were, but I see varying numbers from 110 to 117. One of John White’s own records says there were 150 men, but the roster certainly doesn’t reflect 150 people in total, let alone 150 men.

The Colonist List is available here along with the names of people on Raleigh’s other voyages as well, at least the ones that have been recorded for posterity: 

However, I keep my own “cheat sheet” that is sortable by voyage and lists each individual separately. The roster itself includes 115 individuals, without the ship’s captains who were not expected to remain. Two infants were born before John White left for the return trip to England, Virginia Dare and a Harvie child whose name and gender were not recorded. So that’s 117. John White was recorded on the roster, and he returned to England, so now we’re down to 116. Let’s not forget poor George Howe who was killed by the Indians while crabbing alone along the beach, which brings us to 115. 

The number of colonists who were left on Roanoke Island during the 1587 voyage was 115. However, we know they were not the only folks who were lost. 

Who Else Was Lost?

At least 3 men were left behind when the military colony abruptly left for England with Sir Francis Drake in 1586. Sir Richard Grenville left 15 men behind a month or so later to “hold the fort”. Skeletal remains of one was found and the Indians tell us of between 2 and 4 others who were killed. Another source says Grenville actually left 18, not 15. In any event, we know that at least 18 men, possibly 21 in total were “left” and that at least one was killed.

Sources from the Spanish archives hint that Amadas and Lane may have left two English hostages with the Natives in 1584 when they returned with Manteo and Wanchese to England. If so, we have no record of what happened to these men.

The Spanish archives also state that at one time they found 2 hanged bodies, one Indian and one English. Was this one of the men left behind? The record isn’t clear about when this event occurred.

During the Grenville expedition of 1584, Captain Stafford “set down” thirty two men on Croatoan Island and a month later, two of them were brought to Roanoke Island. What happened to the other 30?

In case you’ve lost track, we have the following:


Left Behind  Colony



133 - 136 




1587 Colony

Lane’s 1586 Expedition

Grenville’s 1587 Resupply


Possible exchange hostages 1584

Sailors unaccounted for 1584


155 -158


We know that at least 133 Europeans were left, abandoned in one form or another on the Outer Banks. There may have been as many as 158.

In addition, we haven’t even discussed the possibility that Drake did in fact deposit some of his South American Indians, slaves and Moors that he had “rescued” during his privateering with every intention of leaving them on Roanoke Island with the military colonists. Instead he found the colonists in desperate straits, not having enough food for themselves, let alone more individuals. 

The only record we have of Drake’s bounty of humans is that the Turks were returned to England and ransomed back to their home country. The rest are unaccounted for. Some scholars feel that the majority drowned during the hurricane encountered by Drake. Others feel that some or many were deposited on either Roanoke or Hatteras Island, although just five days after Drake’s departure, Raleigh’s relief voyage arrives, finds the area deserted, and leaves. Grenville arrives another three weeks or so later and finds the area completely devoid of humanity, including the Indians, and leaves his 15 men to hold the fort.

The Problem with Surnames

Aside from the lack of records between 1587 and the formation of Albemarle Precinct in 1663, we have an issue with surnames. Let’s suppose that the colonists did survive by intermarrying with the Croatoan Indians, later called the Hatteras. There were 17 females among the colonists (not counting newborn Virginia Dare). There were also a few children, but this leaves approximately 100 men. Assuming that 17 of those men were lucky enough to procure one of the English women as their wives, that leaves about 80 men without partners. Their option was to intermarry with the Native women. 

The Algonquin Native society was maternal in nature. Within a generation or two, the idea of surnames may well have disappeared as the generations of colonist/native children became increasingly Native in customs, having never seen England. The colonists assimilated with the Indians, not the other way around. Eventually, all of the older colonists would die, and more than 100 years later when the English were once again settling the area and surnames began to be adopted by Native people, the old paternally inherited surnames would not be in place in the same way they once were. If they were remembered at all, they may not have been paternally passed from generation to generation. How the Native men adopted European surnames is a matter of conjecture. Hopefully, a few of them did indeed adopt their proper English surname that would have been passed paternally. We won’t know until we find the correct English families that the colonists belonged to.

The Needle in the Haystack - Finding the Colonists in England

It’s simply incomprehensible to me that more than 130 English people disappeared, together, on a colonization effort and no one in England cared or remembered. With all of the oral history here relating to the colonists survival, isn’t there a family in England with the same kind of oral history? Oral history aside, those with property would have had an estate to be handled upon their being declared “dead” which would have taken seven years. 

Nelda found the guardianship and estate records for Ananias Dare’s son John, so apparently Ananias was declared dead in 1794, seven years after the colonists were abandoned on Roanoke Island. Whether people really thought they were dead, or this was an expeditious legal move to benefit John Dare, is unknown.

Since it’s unclear whether the male Indians in the 1700s would have adopted their “correct” paternal surname (based on the English custom of the surname being passed from father to son) that will allow us to connect the DNA with the surname, we need to find the correct English families who were related to the colonists. If we can identify the proper English Dare family, for example, and we find a male here with a different surname whose ancestors came from the correct area and place and were known as “Indian”, then we can attempt to match their surname against the data base of known colonist families in England and hopefully, we’ll find that Dare match. Of course this Dare example presumes that Ananias survived, produced male children who survived to produce males in the current generation, regardless of their current surname. It also presumes we can find the correct Dare family in England and they will be willing to DNA test.

The issue of Indians adopting surnames and how they would have selected those surnames makes the task of identification more difficult, certainly, but not impossible. However, it now becomes critical to find those English families.

I’m by no means an expert in English research, but Nelda along with a few others have a great deal of experience. Nelda has been working to help me prepare an English research plan, thankfully. 

While we in the States keep our records, for the most part, in centralized locations (county seats), the English keep their early Parish records in nearly inaccessible towns and villages within their counties. In Devon alone, there are between 600-700, and each jealously guards their parish register. Why? Because genealogists want to see that register which holds birth, death, burial and marriage records, so municipalities rent access to the register by the hour, with appointments made months in advance. Making the situation even worse the parish registers are often written in a type of shorthand called “secretarial script” and sometimes much or part of the records are in Latin as well. 

Thankfully, there are other avenues available to us for research. I’ve asked Nelda to prepare a short lesson for us on English research so we can each research our own surnames and add those records to our compiled surname information on the Lost Colony website. 

For an example of what can be done, please take a look at the Dare surname at this link: 

All of the colonist surnames have a research section and this is the type of information we’d like to include here for all families, but we need help obtaining the records to put on the website for all to use. Now, with Nelda’s lesson below, you’ll be able to extract those English records for your surnames!

Researching English Records from America via the Internet for Free

Remember England has hundreds of years of documents, remember also that England was bombed during WWII. What they lost may never be replaced, but don’t just give up. If you don’t look you will never find it.

The very first step is to join a mailing list for the areas in England your ancestor seems to have immigrated from.

At there are both mailing lists and message boards. Not all people use both.

1. Rootsweb Mailing Lists -  
Use the old method of finding a list at . This way you can see the different listings. 

For England, go to the international section and using the country “England” you would go to: . Here you have to decide which county you want to join. This isn’t always easy as some counties can be referred to by the name as in Devon, but just may be listed as Devonshire, instead… but it’s the same place. If you have questions after reading the description on the individual list’s page, I suggest writing the list administrator for a better explanation. Their address is on that page. After receiving your welcome letter, and possibly viewing the list’s archives, then write your request for help.

I don’t know that there is an actual set of directions on what an email must contain, but after 11 years of using rootsweb, I have found that being precise and to the point gets more help then rambling on, so… 
a. In the subject line: name of person, place of birth, dates of birth and death.
b. The body can have the reason or what you need and restate the vitals on the person, listing additional information such as parents/ spouse/ children.

2. Rootsweb Message boards - 

Here I use localities, and United Kingdom and Ireland. The next step is to open the England folder and pick a county. We used Devon before, let’s use Devon here. Under Devon there only seems to be a general category.

Using the same format (subject, body) that you did for the lists will give you a better chance of obtaining a reply.

Some message boards at are gatewayed to the mailing list. This will show on the board’s page. What does gatewayed mean? It means that a copy is automatically sent from the message board to the mailing list.

3. Genforum - 

Don’t forget the Genforum message boards. 

The second step is to visit the WorldGENWEB and the GENUKI .

1. WORLDGENWEB - World Genealogy Web  

The WorldGENWEB Project is a non-profit, volunteer based organization dedicated to providing genealogical and historical records and resources for worldwide access! Here you have a link to BritishIslesGenweb, then England. Again, pick your county.

2. GENUKI - Genealogy United Kingdom and Ireland  

GENUKI is also a non-profit, volunteer based organization dedicated to providing genealogical and historical records and resources for worldwide access! Read the “Guidance for First-Time Users of These Pages”. Now pick your county. 

Now let’s look at some additional resources available.

3. FamilySearch - The genealogy website of The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – the Mormons.  

There are many different ways to use this site. Although primary records (meaning original, official records from courthouses, churches, etc., not contributed genealogical data) are the only sources I’m willing to copy.

This tool allows you to extract only original records, parish by parish, plus a few other goodies as well.  

4. English BMD – Birth Marriage and Death records  

FreeBMD is an ongoing project, the aim of which is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records. It is a part of the FreeUKGEN family, which also includes FreeCEN (Census data) and FreeREG (Parish Registers). To search the records that have been transcribed to date by FreeBMD click on the “Search” button. 

The recording of births, marriages and deaths was started in 1837 and is one of the most significant resources for genealogical research. The transcribing of the records is carried out by teams of dedicated volunteers and contains index information for the period 1837-1983. Please Note: The entire index has not yet been transcribed.

5. The Doomsday book  

William the Conqueror who invaded England in 1066 commissioned the Doomsday Book in December 1085. The first draft was completed in August 1086 and contained records for 13,418 settlements in the English counties south of the rivers Ribble and Tees (the border with Scotland at the time). 

6. England genealogy forum  

7. Linkpendium - UK and Ireland Genealogy and Family History 

With Linkpendium there are many resources available for each category below:
British Empire Colonial Records and History (80) 
British Isles (817) 
Channel Islands (51) 
Commonwealth Nations Records and History (6) 
England (5,160) 
Ireland (804) 
Isle of Man (46) 
Northern Ireland (303) 
Scotland (773) 
Wales (214)

8. Cindi’s Genealogy List at:  

9. We have a list for English research right on our own Lost Colony website at  Any website you find that offers genealogical information for England needs to be included on our website, so let us know if you find a new one.

10. Devon GenWeb -  

The aim of Devon Gen Web is to provide links to Genealogy and Family History resources to help researchers find local resources and reference material.

11. GENUKI/Devon -  
Devon Family History Society – (Similar to Genealogical Societies in the USA) 
a member of the Federation of Family History Societies Each county has its own Family History Society.

12. Price and Associates Links 

Although Price and Associates sells genealogical services, their list of resources is excellent and free.

13. Search Engines –  

Using a search engine is your next step. There are many different search engines, is probably the most well known, although; there are others just as good. The best way to find other search engines is to “google” the words “search engines”. I got about 151,000,000 hits for “search engines”. 
Why would I need a different search engine? Think of how many millions of website are generated just in the USA. Not all search engines, even as powerful as Google, can find everything. So take advantage of different ones.

This link allows you to search both Google and Microsoft’s new Bing search engine at the same time. 

Say Please and Thank You

When you are researching for free, you should always express your thanks to who ever helped you. Never expect answers, people helping you are volunteers, and do so only if they want to.

Non-Free English Research
(You will need a credit card so you can pay in Pounds or Euros.)

England doesn’t appear to have a Vital statistics department as we have in the US at County, State, and Federal levels. Here is what England does have:

1. England government offices: 
Internet link: 
It seems that governmental control is separated into districts:
East Midlands, East of England, London, North East, North West, South East, South West, West Midlands, Yorkshire and The Humber.

2. General Register Office: For genealogical records at a governmental level:
Order certificates online from the General Register Office, including birth, marriage, civil partnership, death, adoption and commemorative certificates.  

For recent events registered within the last 18 months, applications for certificates should be made to the Register Office in the district where the birth, death or marriage took place. 

Costs: not available with out ordering.

3. England National Archives:  
The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU. Tel: +44 (0) 20 8876 3444. Contact us: (An online contact form)

Records available, but not inclusive to:
Births, marriages and deaths, (BMD) Census records, Citizenship and naturalization, Divorce, Passenger lists, Wills

The Catalogue - contains 11 million descriptions of documents from central government, courts of law and other UK national bodies, including records on family history, medieval tax, criminal trials, UFO sightings, the history of many countries and many other subjects. 

Can I see and search the text of the records? No, The Catalogue does not contain images of the documents themselves. It is not possible to search the full text of the actual records held by The National Archives (approximately 160 kilometres of storage space).

Access to Archives (a2a) - The A2A database contains catalogues describing archives held locally in England and Wales and dating from the eighth century to the present day.

The ARCHON - Directory includes contact details for record repositories in the United Kingdom and also for institutions elsewhere in the world which have substantial collections of manuscripts noted under the indexes to the National Register of Archives.

Cabinet Papers - a unique collection of conclusions and reference materials that detail the role of Cabinet and its history. This section presents a selection of cabinet papers using thematic and chronological historical overviews, covering three main themes of British Governance in the 20th century.

Census Records - Census records for England and Wales from 1841 to 1911 are available online.

Documents on line – All documents using a different approach to the records
National Register of Archives - The NRA contains information on the nature and location of manuscripts and historical records that relate to British history.

Passenger lists and other migration records - The following resources may help you to trace ancestors who left or came to the United Kingdom.

Your Archives - These pages are for you to contribute your knowledge of archival sources held by The National Archives and by other archives throughout the UK. 
The content on these pages has mainly been contributed by users and is designed to offer information additional to that available in the Catalogue, Research Guides, DocumentsOnline and the National Register of Archives
Other search tools 

When you've found a reference, you can visit us in person to view the records free of charge or, request copies to be sent to you for a fee.

Costs range from: 3 or 4 pounds upwards… depending on what you order and how many pages. You will need to add in postage.

4. English Record Offices and Archives on the Web, Arranged Alphabetically by County  

Normally you can find the information to a county records office by looking at the county GENUKI website.

There is a separation between a records office and what we think of as a vital statistics office.

This is an example:

County: Devon:
Our contact numbers | Fax: 0845 155 1003 | SMS: 0777 3333 231
Devon County Council, TopshamRd., Exeter,EXQ 42D
Devon County Government Offices  
Devon County Council - 

This site has a link to local libraries, if you use the search and in put “records office” you get 1000 results – quite interesting. Within that search is Sources for Family History.


The Record Office also holds the original registers for most of the parishes in the north Devon area covered by the Archdeaconry of Barnstaple. Covering dates and the location of registers in the three Devon record offices are given in Parish, Non-parochial and Civil Registers in the Devon Record Office (price £2.50). 

Indexes and transcripts of a number of parish registers are held in the Local Studies Centre. Marriage bonds and allegations used for licence applications are held in the Devon Record Office, Great Moor House, Bittern Road, Sowton, Exeter (01392) 384253.
Costs Pounds 2.50 and up wards and can be ordered online at a government sponsored site:  


In the United States of America, if you created something original, you own the copyright, although; many things are not copyrightable. Facts are one of the items that you cannot copyright. What you say about facts is copyrightable, because it’s your original work. Yes you could extract facts from a document, but why? If someone in the file is a relative then most likely the person who did the work to put the file together is your relative too. So introduce yourself and ask them.

Copyright laws pertaining to anything generated outside the United States are different. If you are ever in doubt, always err on the side of being conservative. 

Here’s what wiki has to say about Copyrights - 

Try Your Hand at English Research

Are you inspired? I hope so! Why not pick your favorite Lost Colony surname and try Nelda’s list of tools? Be sure to save your research so you can provide it to Nelda for the website for the surname you’re researching! Also, be sure to document where you found the info, the source (full book title and author for example) and page number as well in case someone needs to look it up. It’s important to list what you were looking for as well. It’s much different if you’re looking for a specific name, such as Steven Jones, or you’re extracting all Jones records in a particular timeframe and location. Also, if you don’t find something, document that you looked in a particular location and did not find it. Sometimes that’s equally as important to know. 

Remember - if we all contribute a little, no one has to do a lot!!!

Happy Hunting!!!


Roberta Estes

copyright 2009


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