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The Lost Colony Research Group

Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology



September 2011


Many people contribute to LCRG.  The primary focus of research for the group is to study Hatteras Island through standard genealogical analysis, including deed records (paired with Dare County GIS data), logs, diaries, wills, court records, and archaeology in an effort to understand the families who lived on the island and how they arrived there.  Nancy Frey contributes her expertise on UK genealogy, a valuable asset for later DNA comparison.  Ultimately, the group employs DNA analysis and genealogical data correlation (LCRG president, Roberta Estes’ expertise) of Hatteras Islanders to be compared to members of John White’s final “abandoned” (not exactly “lost”) colony of 1587 in order to determine whether or not native Hatteras Islanders today are the result of “blending” between White’s colonists and Algonquian inhabitants of then-called “Croatoan” Island, today’s Hatteras Island.   Finally, LCRG employs archaeology (organized by Anne Poole and George Ray) to verify the physical existence of Croatoan villages and hopefully, to find actual evidence of the “Lost” Colony. 


All of this study is backed up by historical records and analysis provided by ECU Maritime Studies graduate student, Baylus C. Brooks and Andrew Thomas Powell, former mayor of Bideford, England and author of the recently-published Grenville and the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  Other contributing members of LCRG include our web-mistress Nelda Percival, blog administrator and librarian Janet Crain, blog and DNA project administrator Penny Ferguson, NC genealogist Jennifer Shepherd, with the contributions of myriad others. 


Hopefully, the preponderance of data from these varied disciplines and analysis of LCRG’s many more devoted scholars and support staff will finally prove that White’s colony is still among our state’s citizenry today and that the colony was, after all, successful and not “lost” as previously supposed.


Dare County Geographic Information Systems Database (GIS) provides valuable information in the search.  For instance, the “Elks Indian” Grant of 1759 is still visible and fairly intact on similar graphic representations.  Photo: Dare County GIS.



Dawn and Clara.jpg

Dawn Taylor and Clara Scarborough at the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” Museum. 

Photo: Baylus Brooks


Another goal for the two intrepid adventurers this steamy July involved the study of local Hatteras Islanders themselves and their families.  That is where Dawn Taylor steps into her role as the president of Hatteras Island Genealogical and Preservation Society (HIGPS).  One of the more significant finds was the John W. Rolinson “Wreck Log,” which holds a great deal more than information on simply wrecks which were quite common on Hatteras.  There are details about many local people, illnesses, marriages, deaths, and details of their maritime businesses in the Trent/Frisco area of the island.  Fishing for porpoise and trade with exotic Caribbean locales for sugar and molasses seem commonplace features of the book Rolinson kept. 


The pair of researchers stopped at Hatteras’ public library and also at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras Village for a visit with Clara Scarborough who guided them through the facility’s conservation and archives area in search of log books and local history.  The conservation lab contained many artifacts from old wrecks, including the Corolla wreck, the oldest known to our coast and originally surveyed by ECU’s Maritime Studies Program before its transportation to the museum by cooperating agencies where it is to be conserved and displayed.  The “Graveyard” Museum in Hatteras Village is one of three North Carolina Maritime Museums that also include Southport and Beaufort. 


Two excellent days of research and study ended with the perfect dinner cooked by Dawn Taylor’s culinary couplet, her father Kenneth Dickerson and her cousin Edith Jennette Bradley.  Perhaps the heat and humidity were made more bearable by the constant island breezes and the tropical atmosphere.  Then again, maybe it was the food!  Either way, a lot of work got done pleasantly despite the heavy heat of this July’s summer.  

Lost Colonist Surnames in London 1666

By Nancy Frey


In 1666 parts of London were totally destroyed by a great fire.  At that time, a list of all inhabitants of five of the Parishes was compiled in connection with the fire.  Below are the surnames found on the list of Lost Colonists that appear on this list and the number of people with that surname.  The people are individually named on the list but it is much too long for the Newsletter.  If anyone wishes a copy of the entire list please contact me at


ALLEN (Alen, Aleyn, Allein, Alleyn) – 28

BAILEY (Baille, Bailly, Bally, Bayle, Bayley, Baylie, Bayly, Baylye) – 10

BENNETT (Benet, Benett, Bennet) – 18

BERY (de Beri, Berrye), see also BARRY, BURY – 3

BISHOP (Bishopp, Bisshop, Bisshope, Byshoppe, Bysshop, Bysshope, Bysshopp) – 11


BROOKE (le Brok, Broke, (atte) Brook, Rooke) – 6

BROWN (Bron, Brouen, Broun(e), Browne,(le) Brun, Brunne, Brunnus) – 20


CAGE (Caige) - 16




COLEMAN (Colman) - 3

COOPER (Couper, le Coupere, Cowper) - 9

DUTTON (de Duton) - 2

ELLIS (Elys) - 3

ENGLISH (Inglish) - 2

FARR - 2

GIBBES (Gippes, Gipps) - 3

HINDE (Hind, Hynde) - 8

HARVEY (Harvie, Harvy(e)), see also HERVY - 10

HEWETT (Heuet, Hewet) - 5


JONES (Joanes, Jounes) - 11

LACY ( de Lacie, Lacye) - 2


MARTIN (Marten, Martyn) - 17

NEWTON (Neuton) - 5

NICHOLLS (Nichole, Nicholl, Nicholles, Nicolls, Nicols, Nicholas) - 27

PAYNE (Pain, Paui, Payn) - 18




SAMSON (Sampson) - 2

SCOTT (Scot, Scotte, Skott) - 8


SMITH (Smithe, Smyth(e)) - 56

SOLE (Sell, Sool) - 1

STEPHENS (Steevens, Stevens, Stevyns) - 12

SUTTON (de Sutton) - 15

TAVERNER (Le Taverner) - 3

TAYLOR (Tailier, Taillor, le Taillour, Taillur, the tailor) - 21


WARREN (Wareyn, Waryn) - 7

WHITE (Whyte, de Wyght, Wight) - 22

WILKINSON (Wilkenson) - 4

WOTTON (Wootton) - 2

WRIGHT (Wryght) - 9

WITHERS (Wythers) - 4

WOOD (atte Wode) - 16


While many of these surnames are common throughout England, I found it interesting that so many of them appeared in London.



“Cheapside; parishes of All Hallows Honey Lane, St Martin Pomary, St Mary le Bow, St Mary Colechurch and St Pancras Soper Lane” Keene, D.J.; Harding, Vanessa. (1987) - Detailed property histories for five parishes in the central Cheapside area of London, from the 12th to the late 17th century. It includes accounts of the parish churches, and information about the people and buildings associated with the properties. London Record Society, 22 Derek Keene & Vanessa Harding (editors) (1985)


Croatan Barber


The Barber family of Hyde County is known to be of Native heritage, specifically Mattamuskeet.  The Hyde County marriages have been neither transcribed in their entirety nor published.  Some are on the Hyde County rootsweb site.  Only three Barbour marriages were found but one of them is particularly remarkable and perhaps quite telling.


Spencer Barber married Mary Ann Mackey, another Native surname.  Mackey is among the males who signed the Mattamuskeet deeds in the 1700s.  Spencer and Mary Ann obtained a marriage license on November 15, 1851 and were married on November 27th by George Carawan.


Croatan Barber married Charity Spencer.  They obtained their license on Feb. 23, 1866 and were married on Feb. 25th by James Watson. 


Spencer Barber married Anne Coval in March of 1856, obtaining the license on March the 1st and marrying the next day.  The minister was W. B. Tooley. 


The Mackey's and Barber's lived adjacent from as early as the 1780s when they are found on tax lists adjacent, so intermarriage within and between the families is not only not surprising, it is to be expected. 


What is unexpected is the name Croatan.  By 1701, the Indians on Hatteras Island were being referred to as the Hatteras.  The Mattamuskeet were called that or Machapunga.  Croatan was a placename on a map, not a name for an Indian tribe in the 1700s.  Was the first name, Croatan, a way to connect or honor the ancestors in general, or his ancestors specifically, or was this man named after a location?  That would be highly unusual. 


Attempting to find Croatoan Barber with his parents in 1860 was not successful, nor was a search in 1850.


Unfortunately, we don't find either Croatoan or Charity in the 1870 census, so we may never know what happened to Croatoan Barber, or why he was named with such a historically tantalizing name.  Perhaps it was a nickname, but the real question might be why.

The Last Hatteras Indian Deed


During the summer of 2010, Baylus Brooks took a road trip to Carteret and Currituck Counties.  He was researching Nathaniel Pinkham for his article, "Nantucket Whalers in NC - The PInkhams" that appeared in the September 2010 edition of our newsletter which is online at  Nathaniel Pinkham had died in July of 1821, and Baylus copied his estate records. 


We had heard rumors that the Elizabeth Elks deed below existed, but a copy had never been produced.  Baylus found the deed registered in Currituck County.  It's contents are quite interesting.  


Currituck County, Deed Book16, page 140

Elizabeth Elke, Deed of Gift to Nath Pinkham


To all people to whom these presents shall come greeting know that Elizabeth Elke Native Indian of the county of Currituck and State of NC for and in consideration of the natural love and affection I have towards my well known trusty friend Nath Pinkham and many other causes sufficient me thereunto moving Me I have given, granted, conveyed and released and forever quit claim and I do by these presents put the same into his possession that is to say a certain tract or parcel of land situate lying and being in the aforesaid county of Currituck known by the name of the Indian lands beginning at the westernmost corner or line on the sound side running along that line to the sea to the extent of said line, then running the length of all the lines so as to include the whole of the Indian right to the first named westward bounding to have and to hold the said tract of land to use occupy and enjoy all the profits of the said lands and timber without any molestation let or hindrance of any white person whatever during his natural life provided my son should live to the age of 21 years then and in that case the land shall be at my sons disposal and for his only use but in case he should not live to the age then the above granted land shall belong to my beloved above named friend Nath Pinkham and his heirs and assigns forward.  Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this 27th day of March in the year 1802, signed, sealed and delivered in the presents of George Pinkham and William Sharp.



Currituck County, March 3, 1823, Personally appeared before me Richard Chapell of the county aforesaid, school master, who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelist deposeth and sayeth that he was acquainted with the handwriting of George Pinkham whose signature is annexed to the within deed as a subscribing witness and the signature aforenamed is of the proper handwriting of the said George Pinkham to the best of this deponents knowledge and belief, this deponent further sayeth that the said George Pinkham and that William Sharp the other subscribing witness all have died and Elizabeth Elke whose name is ?? as grantor of the deed one and all dead let the deed aforesaid be recognized.


Registered May 27, 1823


This deed provides us with lots of information but ultimately, it begs more questions than it answers.


Here's what we know. 


Elizabeth Elke, elsewhere know as Elizabeth Elks, was alive in 1802.  She was not enumerated by that name in the 1790 or 1800 census on Hatteras Island or elsewhere, so she was apparently living in another household, or was not enumerated because she was Indian living on Indian land.  Indians "not taxed" were not to be enumerated, and typically, Indians living on Indian land were not taxed.  The land was granted to the Hatteras Indians as a whole, and not as individuals, so they should not have been taxed.  This would also imply that they if they were living on Indian land in 1790 or 1800, they would not have been enumerated in those census years.  However, any Indians not living on Indian land would be taxable. 


Based on this deed, it appears that perhaps Nathaniel Pinkham was concerned with and wanted the timber.  He probably didn't care one way or another if Mary Elks lived there or not, so the conveyance may have been in exchange for allowing her to live on the land the rest of her life.  Or perhaps the relationship was closer than a mere land transfer.


In 1802, Elizabeth was young enough to have a son under the age of 21.  Of course that means he could have been anyplace from newborn to age 20, but more likely a younger man.  Had he been age 20, she likely would have simply not conveyed the land, expecting him to live.  He may have been sickly, and she may have expected that her son would not live to maturity.  She may have assured that with the conveyance of this land in this fashion.  Devastating hurricanes in the early 1800s took many lives and the Elks may have been among those who died.


Elizabeth Elks, based on this deed, in 1802, was an adult, over the age of 21 and under the age of 60, so born sometime between 1741 and 1781.  If this is the same Elizabeth Elks who sold land in 1788, along with Mary Elks, that would put her birth at 1767 or earlier, so her birth year would be bracketed between 1741 and 1767.  Given that, in 1802 she would have been between 35 and 61, still a pretty broad range.  However, the descendants of Nathan Midgett, the man who bought the Indian land in the 1788 conveyance, always said that he bought the Indian village from an old Indian woman.  Of course, the "old woman" could have been Mary, not Elizabeth.  Mary is apparently dead by 1802 leaving Elizabeth and her minor son the only Hatteras Indians remaining.


This deed is written in a form too familiar for a traditional conveyance.  My suspicion initially was that perhaps Nathan Pinkham might have been Elizabeth's son.  Baylus proved that theory wrong, but there is still an untold story waiting to be uncovered, if we can just figure out what it is.  We don't know the name of the father of Elizabeth's child.  Was it Nathaniel?  Was the child of Nathaniel Pinkham and Elizabeth Elks the George Pinkham that witnessed the transaction?  This tells is that George would have been age 16 or older to witness a deed.


However, we also know that they had "forms" or standard language for conveyances of deeds, and the "form" for a gift was written for a conveyance normally from parents to children or from one family member to another.  It looks like perhaps they just substituted "friend Nath Pinkham" after the words "my beloved above named".  Normally words like son or daughter along with their name would be inserted into those "blanks".  Perhaps I was reading too much into the wording of the conveyance.  Perhaps not.  Why would she simply give this land to Nathaniel with nothing in return?


We know that in 1823 this deed was registered in Currituck County where it was conveyed initially, not in Carteret where Nathaniel Pinkham's estate was probated in 1822.  Why was this deed not included in this assets in 1822?  Baylus made copies of his estate records and this land does not appear.  Of course, if it was not registered into his name, was it legally an asset?  Did anyone know about it? 


Or perhaps the young Elks male was not yet dead in June of 1821 when Pinkham died or in 1822 when the estate was probated.  If Elizabeth's son reached the age of 21 before death, then this deed should have been in the young Elks man's estate (assuming his surname was Elks), not registered to Nathaniel Pinkham.  The time difference between when this deed was registered in May of 1823 and when it was signed in March of 1802 is 21 years and 2+ months.  So for the son to have lived long enough to prevent the deed from being registered with Nathaniel's estate, but before he arrived at the age of 21, he would have been a newborn child in 1802 and died at the age of 19 or 20 after June of 1821 and before March of 1823.


If Elizabeth Elks child was indeed George Pinkham, he would have had to at least been the age of 16 to sign, which put his birth in 1786 or earlier, but after 1781.  And if George Pinkham were indeed Mary Elks son, then it would also explain why the testimony about George Pinkham's death was so important.  Not only was he a witness, but potentially the land owner.  Proving his signature and his death may have been important in two capacities, and explains why nothing more was said in the transactions about the death of Elizabeth's son.  It would seem that proving the death of Elizabeth's son would be the first step to registering the deed, and proving the witnesses and signatures secondary.


Of course, many deeds were never registered.  Registration wasn't free, and deeds often were passed for generations from hand to hand, especially within families.  So it's possible that the deed was only discovered during the estate process, and registered at that time, or afterwards, as a result of the estate.


It would be helpful if we could discover what happened to that land.  Unfortunately, we have been unable to track it any further forward in time.  There seems to be no conveyance from any Pinkham in Currituck County.  Of course, if an administrator conveyed the land, or the husband of a married daughter, we would lose the name Pinkham, and the result is that we can't track the conveyance. 


Perhaps in time, during our Hatteras Island Neighborhood reconstruction project, we will be able to rediscover find this land, going backwards in time, until we once again meet up with Nathaniel Pinkham.



"Common Land" and "Commoners"


Sometimes it's just amazing how an innocent conversation will yield a historical gem.  Late one night, I was musing about the Mattamuskeet Indians and their land to some of our researchers.  Andy sometimes isn't copied on this stuff, as his area of expertise is in English history and all things British, not American early land records.  However, this was just one of those hot, steamy August nights, ones that we call the "dog days of August", and my musings were just that to a small group of friends.  However, Andy's reply was so interesting that I thought I'd share it with you.


I've been working on a Mattamuskeet Paper now for several months.  Writing complete and accurate historical papers take an unbelievably long time and many resources.  One of the quandaries of the Mattamuskeet land grant for their reservation is the phrase in the grant that says they must pay, yearly, the "fee rent of one shilling" for every hundred acres.  This rather unusual in and of itself, but I'll save that discussion for the paper itself. However, it does beg the question of how this compares to what others must pay.  Was it high, low, the same?  This is what I was musing about, out loud, so to speak.  I really didn't expect a reply from Andy, but his comments were both surprising and enlightening - and it never occurred to me to think about our quitrent system here in relation to the English.  However, that is clearly where it came from, as Andy points out in the following exchange.


Land at one shilling per acre per year, equates to 1d per month, which is one penny in old English.  For a primer on old English money, refer to the December issue in which we will have a special article titled "Early Coinage of England."


This was a very typical rate for the time and was usually applied to what is still termed ‘Common Land’.


‘Common Land’ was usually land that was mediocre in quality but would sustain a living. Often it would include woods, lakes etc as well as fields for crops.


‘Common’ because the land would be shared by those who physically lived on it…. i.e. sitting tenants if you wish.


In England today, there are still large tracts of ‘Common Land’ (e.g. The ‘New Forest’ in Hampshire) where those who live on it can graze their animals for free. The only difference over the centuries has been the introduction of limits on number of animals per family and that charges have risen modestly.


All ‘Common Land’ in England is owned by the Crown and/or enshrined in an Ancient Deed or Grant and administered by a Court made up of the tenants or ‘Commoners’ as those who live on the common land are correctly termed. 


For example, the New Forest, England’s largest area of ‘Common Land’, has a Court called ‘The Court of Verderers’ but the land is still largely owned by the Queen. It has been ‘Common Land’ since 1698 after the Crown relaxed its control over what had been a Royal Hunting Ground since William the First created it in 1079.


It occurred to me that this is probably where the phrase "commoner" came from.  Andy said that was almost right, but not exactly.  He goes on to say that in British law, there are two definitions:


1.  A commoner is someone who is neither the sovereign nor a peer. Essentially under this law, Kate Middleton was a ‘Commoner’ before her marriage to Prince William.


2.  The ancient term of ‘Commoner’ referred to someone who, “by right of landholding or residence, holds a common right in a given manor (or estate)”. The ‘New Forest’ for example was a Royal Hunting Estate and therefore it’s residents, ‘Commoners’.


And now, you know the rest of the story.


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