Conditions in England before the Departure of the Lost Colonists
decisions of the families, who went to the New World with Raleigh, to
leave the country of their birth and start a new life in a place unknown
to them, must be considered in light of the conditions in England prior
to their departure. Here
are some of the things I found out in my research.
the early 1500's the people of England all practiced the Roman Catholic
religion. The practices of the Catholic religion were questioned during
the Reformation and the beliefs of men such as the German Martin Luther
(1483 - 1546) prompted a new religion called Protestantism.
what George P. Fisher D.D. says in his book published in 1900:
the Reformation in its distinctive character is a religious event, it is
not an isolated phenomenon. It
is a part and fruit of that general progress of society which marks the
fifteenth century and the opening of the sixteenth as the period of
transition from the Middle Ages to modern civilization.
This was the period of inventions and discoveries; when the
magnetic compass coming into general use enabled adventurous mariners to
steer their vessels into remote seas; when gunpowder revolutionized the
art of war; when printing by movable types furnished a new and marvelous
means of diffusing knowledge. It
was the era of great nautical discoveries; when Columbus added another
hemisphere to the world as known to Europeans, and Vasca da Gama,
sailing to India round the Cape of Good Hope, opened a new highway for
commerce. It was likewise
the era when the heavens were explored, and Copernicus discovered the
true system of the universe.
Protestantism in its origin was not an isolated event, so it drew after
it political and social changes of the highest moment.
Hence it presents a twofold aspect.
On the one hand, it is a transformation in the Church in which
are involved contests of theologians, modifications of creed and ritual,
new systems of polity, an altered type of Christian life.
On the other hand, it is a great transaction in which sovereigns
and nations bear a part; the occasion of wars and treaties; the close of
an old and the introduction of a new period in the history of culture
era of the Reformation, if we give to the term this comprehensive
meaning, embraces the interval between the posting of Luther's Theses in
1517 and the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
VIII decreed the Act of Supremacy in 1534 establishing the Church of
England as the only legal religion in England.
Referred to as Protestantism.
daughter Mary reigned from 1553-1558 and
restored Catholicism. Protestants
were persecuted and 300 burnt at the stake – Bloody Mary.
I came to the throne in 1558 and restored Protestantism but allowed
Catholics to practice their religion so long as they didn't cause any
1569 the Nevilles of Durham and Percys of Northumberland plotted to
overthrow Elizabeth I and reinstate Roman Catholicism in “The Rising
of the North”. Pope Pius
V heard of the revolt and decided to help the rebels by deposing
Elizabeth. The rebellion
failed but the Pope's action increased her distrust of Catholics.
1570 Pope Pius V (1566-1572) issued a bull excommunicating Queen
Elizabeth I for her actions in separating the English Church from the
Roman Church and her persecution of Roman Catholics in Britain.
Irish War also known as the Desmond Rebellions - A series of Rebellions
regarding control over the province of Munster over three decades
1560's, 1570's and 1580's. The
Irish family of the Earl of Desmond was fighting for the control of
Munster from the English. Religious
reasons - Catholics in Ireland against the Protestant England.
Catholic Spain supported the Desmond rebellion
In France on 24 August 1572 the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre occurred
when French Protestants were massacred by French Catholics in Paris
which was witnessed by Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir
Francis Walsingham. Similar atrocities elsewhere in France resulted in
thousands of deaths, and caused panic in England with fears of a
1580 Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) conspired to have Queen Elizabeth I
assassinated after his initial failure to get Emperor King Philip II of
Spain to attack Ireland, the Netherlands and then England.
March 1581 - The English Parliament passes strict legislation against
Roman Catholics with heavy fines for hearing Mass.
- The Protestant William of Orange is murdered and England sends aid to
War with Spain from 1585 - 1603 exploded due to
various conflicts surrounding the wealth and power to be gained from
trade from the New World, and the differences in religion.
The fanatical Catholics in Spain saw a war, and the conquest of
England, as a religious crusade which had been given Papal blessing.
escapades of the Elizabethan seamen, or pirates, included attacking
Spanish vessels and taking any gold and silver.
Not surprisingly Elizabeth made no real effort to chastise these
escapades! Drake, Hawkins, Raleigh and Frobisher hated the Spanish and
the Catholic religion.
December 1585 - Robert Dudley leads the English army to fight the
Spanish forces who are occupying the Netherlands.
- The Babington Plot - Sir Francis Walsingham discovers a plot to
assassinate Queen Elizabeth and replace her with Catholic Mary Queen of
25 1586 - The Catholic Mary Queen of Scots is convicted of involvement
in the Babbington Plot.
April 1587 - Drake destroys the Spanish fleet at Cadiz.
August 1588 The Catholic Spanish Armada of 132 ships is defeated by the
English fleet of 34 ships and 163 armed merchant vessels.
At the time that Raleigh formed his plans to search for a place in
America for his new Colony, he had already been present at The St.
Bartholomew's Day Massacre in Paris.
War with Spain was imminent and started about the time of his
first exploratory trip in 1585. As
a Merchant he would know that trade always made money during wartime.
His reasons for wanting to plant a colony in Virginia were many.
the colonists have the same reasons for wanting to leave England?
Perhaps they too felt they could become wealthy in the New World.
But they may also have been looking for some place where their
future would be more secure and they would be free to practice whatever
religion they chose.
we work through the Hatteras families in the DNA project, looking for
colonist matches of course, I've searched for the oldest information
about each family that can be found.
are very fortunate that Kay Lynn Sheppard is a Midgett by birth and has
made a "genealogy career" of collecting every snippet of
Midgett or Midyett information that is to be found.
I found an old article that had been printed some decades past
and asked her about the authenticity of the contents, and she shared
with me some distressing news.
article referred to the Thomas Midyett Bible, and well, to put it
bluntly, it was a fake. Never
existed. Furthermore, Matthew had parents in this article, and to
quote Kay, there is "not one shred of evidence" for that claim
either. Lastly, while she
does have a copy of the Matthew Midyett will, the original is now
missing from the North Carolina State Archives.
these issues led me to ask the question, what do we know about Matthew
Midgett or Midyett? Kay was
kind enough to send me ten page of notes.
She does preface these notes by saying that the birth, death and
marriage dates for all individuals involved, with the exception of items
such as Matthew Midgett's will, were taken from the nonexistent Thomas
Midgett Bible. Therefore,
while these are probably nearly correct, they cannot be proven and
should be viewed as speculative at best, and possibly outright fakes at
was born on April 10, 1676 and died on December 25th, yes, Christmas
Day, 1734 on Bodies Island in what was then Currituck County, NC.
He married Judith "Judy" White on July 13th, 1702 in
Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the daughter of Samuel White, as proven
by his will. Judith was
born August 3rd, 1681 in Anne Arundel County and died September 26, 1744
on Bodies Island.
1703, we discover from the court records that Matthew is a ship's
carpenter. At the January court, William Killburne was bound to Matthew
Midiate to learn the skill of ship's carpenter.
June of 1703, Mathew Midget registered his livestock "mark",
for "cattle a crop and two slips in the left ear".
At that time, livestock roamed free and grazed.
The only way to be able to determine your livestock from the
livestock of other farmers was via your registered ear marks.
1703, Judith's father died, naming Judith and Matthew Midgett in his
will, leaving them 10 pounds sterling.
1704, Matthew Midiate, a shipwright, was sued, and referenced as
"late of Anne Arundel County", so he had apparently moved on.
However in March 1704, the sheriff caught up with him and he was
brought to court to answer to William Bateman for trespass. Trespass at that time was more likely related to farming
another man's property than to trespass as we think of it today.
In June of 1704 the court noted that Matthew owed William 1 pound
10 shillings "for cakes and beer and punch and wine".
Sounds like one heck of a party.
was again in trouble in January of 1707 along with Thomas MacNamara for
breaking into a tobacco barn and stealing one sheep
In June Matthew posted bond for his later appearance, but he did
not appear and the bond was forfeited.
June of 1708, Charles Kilburne sued Matthew for debt.
Matthew was not found "in the bailiwick" whereupon the
court ordered Matthew's goods attached.
That indeed got Matthew's attention.
Matthew was in North Carolina by this time and appointed Richard
Johnson and William Nicholson to represent him in the Kilburne suit.
Kilburne promptly sued both men as well as Midgett.
Matthew had left Maryland in 1707 or 1708, in 1716 Matthew was ordered
to pay William Bladen 24 pounds of tobacco for representing him in the
1704 suit. William was
apparently a very patient man.
move to North Carolina removed Matthew from the Queen's jurisdiction and
put him under the much looser jurisdiction of the Lord's Proprietors.
1711, Matthew was living in Chowan County where he became a bit of a
hero when he apprehended a brigantine belonging to Emanuel Low who had
fired upon then Governor Edward Hyde and his supporters.
It's good to have saved the governor!
long after that, in February 1712, Matthew received his first land
patent on the south side of Albemarle Sound, 341 acres, land commonly
known as White Oak Island, "joining the sound, the swamp and the
pocoson and the great swamp".
This had been surveyed by Jonathan Bateman who assigned it to
April of 1712, Matthew received another 360 acres on the northwest side
of the Alligator River in Chowan precinct of Pasquotank County.
This grant was signed by Governor Hyde.
thereafter, in an unexpected turn of events, the widow of Governor Hyde
sued Matthew for failure to deliver goods including 40 yards of blue
linen and Indian corn.
1713, Matthew sat on a grand jury.
later in 1713, Matthew was once again in trouble, accused of
underhandedly making a patent on another man's land, knowing that the
man had cleared the land but had not gotten the papers filed.
Anthony Alexander asked to have Matthew's right to the land
forfeited. The jury ordered
that Anthony be granted the patent to the land and that Matthew could
"take up any vacant land if there is any left".
seems that Matthew and Emanuel Low were not done being at odds with each
other. In volume 2 of the
Colonial records, which begins in 1713, Emanuel Low accused Matthew of
breaking into his storehouse when Edward Hyde was governor and taking a
quantity of rum and sugar. The
board determined that Low's petition was 'altogether scandalous,
injurious, seditious and false'. Maybe
Emanuel never quite forgave Matthew for the 1711 event.
volume 5 of the colonial records, which begins in 1709, we find this
very interesting entry regarding Matthew:
Upon complaint of Jno. Durant, a
Yawpim Indian, setting forth that when he was out against the Indian
enemy under the command of Mathew Midgett, he the said Durant, tooke an
Indian slave woman and the said Mathew Midgett took her away from him
without any sattisfaction: And the matter being heard it is the
opinion of this court that the said slave woman did belong to the said
Durant, wherefore it is hereby ordered and decreed that the said Mat.
Midget doe pay unto the said Durant, ten pounds in consideration of the
event likely took place between 1709 and 1713.
During this time the local Indians were very much involved in
Indian slave practices whereby they would capture Indians from other
tribes, enslave them, especially women and children, and sell them to
English planters for plantation work.
Given that this John Durant was an Indian, and he owned a female
Indian slave, and obviously cared that he was paid, not about her
personally, this is likely an example of Indian slave practices.
Matthew may have felt that Durant would never challenge him in
court, but he was wrong and had to pay Durant for the slave.
The Tuscarora War erupted in 1711, interrupting Indian slave
practices until the end of the War when many of the Tuscarora were
themselves enslaved and transported elsewhere.
1715, Matthew obtains another 1500 acres on the south shore of Albemarle
Sound and in 1712 and 1714, he sold some of his earlier patented lands.
1717, Matthew was listed in Currituck County for 150 acres of land upon
which he had not paid taxes. Even
back then, death and taxes were both inevitable.
1717, we finally find Matthew on the Outer Banks chain of islands.
He patented 100 acres "on
the Sand Banks to the southward of Roankoke Inlet, joining the sound
side, the seaboard and the sea shore".
1721, both Matthew and a Samuel Midget witness a deed from Thomas
Peartree to John Fitzpatrick. Matthew
writes his name but Samuel
signs with a mark. Kay does
not know the identity of this Samuel Midgett.
However, Matthew's son Samuel would probably have been over the
age of 16 at this point, born approximately 1704, and could possibly
have signed as a witness if no other adults were available.
1722, Matthew patents another 80 acres on "an
island commonly called Bodyes Island, between Roanoke Inlet and his
1727 he patents another 1900 acres on Cow and Bodyes Island the entire
length of the nine and a half miles for a breadth of 100 poles.
December 21st, 1834 Matthew made his will.
In the will, he named his son Samuel who received the 100 acres
on Albemarle Sound, son John who received the "great periaugar and
sails", son Joseph "the part of the island where he now
lives" and "one old canoe named the Seaflower", and sons
Matthew and Thomas who received the part of the island where Matthew
'now lives'. Then daughters
Ann, Cateran, Judy and Dina each received a feather bed.
Matthew also received two slaves.
John and Joseph Midyett were executors and witnesses were Tulle
Williams, Joseph Oliver and Mary Hunter.
days later, Matthew died.
an usual entry in 1739, John sold his mother, Judy a tract of land
containing 70 acres for 20 pounds.
Whatever the genesis of this transaction, I'm sure it made for
lively family conversation.
of Matthew Midyett and Judith White, married July 13, 1702, were
(remember, birth and death dates are speculative:
Samuel Midyett, Sr., b.
December 06, 1704; d. January 29, 1780, Bodies Island, Currituck, Co.,
NC. May have married Mary
Paine? Or Brooks?
John Midyett, b. February
10, 1706/07; d. August 1735, Currituck Co., NC.
Ann Midyett, b. May 16,
1709; m. William Daniels, Jr., July 30, 1736, Currituck Co., NC; b.
September 16, 1702, Boston, Suffolk Co., MA.
William was possibly the son of William "Danil" &
Dorothy Bud who were married in Boston, Massachusetts on September 27,
1699 by Mr. Benj. Wodsworth
Joseph Midyett, Sr., b.
March 30, 1712; d. March 10, 1771, Chicamacomico, Currituck Co., NC.
Married Elizabeth Margery ???.
Matthew Midyett, Jr., b.
April 16, 1715, Bodies Island, Currituck, Co., NC; d. January 1738/39,
Catherine Midyett, b.
October 10, 1716, Bodies Island, Currituck, Co., NC. Supposedly married Ezekiel Hooper but no proof of that.
Thomas Midyett, Sr., b.
November 14, 1717, Bodies Island, Currituck, Co., NC; d. April 1788, at
sea. Married Bethany ???.
Judith Midyett, b. August
12, 1719, Bodies Island, Currituck, Co., NC. May have married William Daniels, Jr. of Boston,
Dinah Midyett, b. June 10,
1721, Bodies Island, Currituck, Co., NC; m. Thomas Morris, July 19,