Colony Research Group
Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology
of our most popular items has been Nancy's Tidbits.
Often someone drops us a note telling us that they've used her
tidbits and how helpful they have been.
Nancy, thanks so much for this very popular ongoing series!
Geography in UK Genealogy
of the most important aspects of genealogy is knowing the area that you
are researching. When asked
where they lived, most people would give the name of their Parish, not the
name of the village in which they lived.
Sometimes, but rarely, a note is made in a parish register of the
actual village where the family resided and that is really helpful in
establishing where the family you are researching lived within the parish.
rely heavily on one website for this type of information.
The URL is http://maps.familysearch.org/.
You can zoom in on the parish you wish to look at and overlay the
Ordinance Survey map of the 1850s on top of the parish.
The OS often shows the names of farms and estates.
maps can be saved as .pdf or printed out with or without the OS map. I save them and then print them out later.
Once I have located the area where my family actually lived, I will
then save all the surrounding parishes as well.
it’s a lot of space on your hard drive, but if you want to really get a
feel for where your ancestors lived, I find these maps a necessity.
course, this is just the first step.
Once you have the maps, then you have to research the History of
the area and Google is the place to go.
You never know when your particular family is going to be mentioned
in documents or books. These
are valuable resources in pinpointing your family’s place in history.
The likely sites that will come up on Google are British History
and the UK National Archives (http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/)
as well as Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org/index.php).
Thomas Spencer's "Molatto" Wife in
to R.S. Spencer for sending the Thomas Spencer Currituck County Court
records. In the NC General
Court Minutes, July 1726 - August 1726, Mr. Spencer found the following
records from the July session:
v Blacknell, Information - the information made by the Reverend Mr. John
Blacknall of Edenton in Chowan precinct clerk to Christopher Gale Esqr.
Cheif (sic) Justice against himself for joyning together in the holy
estate of matrimony Thomas Spencer and Martha paul (sic) a Mulatto Woman
at the motion of the Attorney General is continued to the next Court on
the last Tuesday in October, next.
entry is followed by another one:
v Spencer, Information - The information made by the Reverend Mr. John
Blacknall of Edenton in Chowan precinct Clerk against Thomas Spencer of
Curratuck precinct for joyning himself in Marriage to Martha paul (sic) a
Mollatto Woman at the motion of the Attorney General is continued to the
next court on the last Tuesday in October next.
is Thomas Spencer?
Spencer tells us that there were two Thomas Spencers in the area at the
time. One Thomas who died in
1725 had a wife named Sarah. This
Thomas clearly did not marry in 1726.
Thomas who married in 1726 had died by 1736.
R.S. Spencer believes that this was his ancestor who had a son
named William and a daughter named Ann who married Henry Gibbs. William
had a son Christopher who the third-great-grandfather of R.S.
Spencer. R.S. believes that
Martha Paul was a second wife for Thomas Spencer and his children, were by
his first wife, of whom there is no record.
Some researchers show his first wife's name as Sarah.
book "A Coat of Many Colors: Religion and Society Along the Cape Fear
River" by Walter Conser tells us a bit more about this unusual
record. It seems that the Reverend Blacknall knew that marrying a
white man and a mulatto woman was illegal, and he clearly knew the
consequences, but he apparently, for some reason, opposed this policy,
whether it was on ethical grounds or maybe because Thomas Spencer, or
Martha Paul, were his close friends.
In any event, he joined them together in the holy estate of
matrimony, then he turned himself in and collected half of the 50 pound
fine that went to the informer. He
was never prosecuted, but he did quietly leave his post at the Anglican
Church in Edenton and returned to Virginia, infuriating Governor Everard
and leaving the church in Edenton without a priest.
is the Spencer family who, within a generation or so, had expanded to both
current Hyde and Dare Counties, in the Lake Mattamuskeet area as well as
on Hatteras Island. We know
that by in 1716, Thomas Spencer had a land grant for 640 acres on Hatteras
Island and Henry Gibbs, the same year had a grant for 540 acres.
Both of these men were on the 1718 tax list, but Thomas does not
have the "1" beside his name, possibly indicating a man of
advanced age who was no longer required to pay taxes on himself.
Spencer, daughter of Thomas and sister of William, married Henry Gibbs. He was born about 1693 and died between 1759 and 1763.
Both the Spencer and Gibbs family were found in very early
Currituck County records, living adjacent, and both carry the oral history
of having Native heritage. Both are found on Hatteras Island as soon as
the land was available, which may indicate they were living there as
squatters before the land was available to be applied for in land grants.
the oral history of Native heritage began with Thomas Spencer marrying a
"mulatto woman" who could have been Native or mixed Native,
we'll likely never know. Perhaps
his first wife had been mixed as well.
oral history could also stem from the longstanding association of both of
these families with the Native people, interacting with them and living as
neighbors. It's certainly
possible that living in such close proximity, romance bloomed in later
generations and there were additional or later marriages with Native
people or Native descendants as well.
can see more about the Gibbs family here:
and the Spencer family here:
William Eaton's Muster Roll - Granville County
Saponi Indians were allied and grouped with the Eno, the Shakori, the
Totera and others especially after their time at Fort Christanna in from
1714-1716. William Eaton was
a well known trader and he obtained land in Granville County, NC.
The smaller eastern tribes were quite unsettled after Fort
Christanna was closed and tried living in different locations. Eventually, all of these people were simply called the Saponi.
In 1730 the group went to live with the Catawbas in South Carolina
on the North Carolina border, but in 1733, they were back in Virginia
again. In 1742, they returned
to the Catawba, but returned a second time in 1748.
During this time, the Catawba were absorbing a number of remnant
tribes who were not strong enough to protect themselves.
Indian numbers were dwindling due to constant warfare and disease.
Unlike the English, with a new supply of colonists constantly
arriving from Europe, there was no replacement mechanism for the Native
William Saunders in the "Colonial Records of North Carolina"
report that a group of 30-40 Saponi had settled on the lands of William
Eaton in Granville County, NC.
would have it, Janet Crain discovered the "Muster Roll of the
Regiment of Granville County under the command of Colonel William Eaton as
taken as a general muster of the said Regiment October 8, 1754."
list are several surnames that are recognizable as families associated
with Native heritage such as Harris, Chavers, Alford, Cade, Nichols,
Hedgeparth, Gowen and others. Several
are also associated with Melungeon heritage such as Gowen, Mullins,
Collins, Bolton (Bollin) and Moore.
the question is whether or not there is anything on the muster list that
might identify who is Native and who is not, and indeed, there is.
Several people are noted at either negro or mulatto, as follows:
Edward Harris, negro
William Chavers, negro
William Chavers Jun., Mul.
Gilberth Chavers, Mulatto
Nut Bush (I'm just going to leave this alone)
Thomas Gowen, mulatto
Mickael Gowen, mulatto
Edward Gowen, mulatto
Robert Davis, mulatto
William Burnel, mulatto
Smith's note of "nut bush" could be an indication of a location.
One man is noted by a creek name and one says "up the
river". Or it could
possibly be an indication of a Native group association.
If we exclude this individual, as he is not noted as being negro or
mulatto, there are a total of 9 men "of color."
Only free people could serve in the militia, so we know these men
man had a wife and one child, that would be 27 people, 2 children would be
36 people and 3 children would be 45 people.
This fits the 30-40 Saponi stated to have gone to live on William
Eaton's land. Of these, the
Chavers and Gowen families are known to be Lumbee as well as Tuscarora.
Harris is the primary Catawba surname, although being a very common
surname, may not be related. Gowen
(Goins) is a Melungeon surname as well.
using the muster roll and the NC colonial records, together, we've just
identified a number of Saponi families.
By this time in the historical record, the name Saponi could
represent any of the eastern remnant tribes' members.
Hatteras Indians in New Bern, NC???
paper, "Cherokee communities of the South", written in 1978 and
published a year later, he analyzes and discussed the various groups of
people of Native ancestry in the Eastern US who are not part of the
official Cherokee tribe, but claim affiliation with or descent from the
Cherokee. It is a very
interesting paper and can be downloaded for free at this link:
Thomas makes two very interesting statements in his paper.
Unfortunately, he is deceased, or I could ask him about his
sources. But since I can't,
I'm asking if any of you have any information that might be useful.
Let's take a look at what he says.
is a third and early small migration of Indians into the Appalachian
area. It came into the region of Asheville, then went north along
the French Broad River into east Tennessee. It appears to have
"petered out" at this point. I am not clear as to the
source of this stream. There are some indications that it came from
a settlement of largely Hatteras Indians on the Neuse River near New Bern,
North Carolina, on the coast. It may have originated in Granville
County, or in both communities. There is evidence that there was
intermarriage and movement between the Indian settlement in Granville
County and the one on the Neuse. This is not an important stream in
the history of Appalachia and we will have to wait for further
investigation to be sure of its source.
numerous years of Native research focused on the eastern tribes, I was
surprised to see this comment, as I've never heard of this before.
I would love to be able to find and track some confirmed Hatteras
families, but who are they?
know that for years, the Lumbee have claimed Hatteras ancestors of course,
and that the older people could go back to the coastland and knew where
their land was. Of course,
those "older people" were "older people" a long time
ago, in the late 1800s, so now that knowledge, whatever it was, is long
gone. But maybe these two
items are related. If anyone
knows any specifics about the Lumbee and their eastern coastal relations,
please, please, let me know.
Thomas's second statement is as follows:
appears that when these people from Granville County first came into
Appalachia, they were known to whites as Melungeons. In fact, some
whites in southwest Virginia and east Tennessee still refer to these
people as Melungeons. I would guess that this term was used by these
Indians when whites asked their nationality. There is some evidence
that his term was applied to early Indians in Robeson County, as
well. It appears to have been a term that originated around New
Bern, North Carolina. It was coined by the French speaking settlers
of that section. It connotes a population that is mixed, coming from
the French word melange, "to mix"; thus, Melungeons.
sure, there are just about as many origin stories or hypothesis for the
word Melungeon as there are drops of rain, but Thomas was an academic with
no horse in this race. He
obviously had found something, but what?
The first written account of the word Melungeon is found in the
Stoney Creek Church Minutes of Russell (now Scott) County, Virginia in
1813. According to various
court records, the term was apparently used in both the Robeson County
areas of North Carolina and the adjacent border counties of South Carolina
in reference to people living there in the late 1700s.
So it's entirely possible that the term might have originated in
the New Bern area.
two statements, combined, if in fact that can be associated, certainly
generate more questions than answers.
Does anyone have any research that might suggest what it was that
Mr. Thomas came across?
Ye First Council of Bideford
December a good friend of mine made an amazing discovery..... an obscure
book held in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, written in 1792, contains the
record of the First Town Council of Bideford set up by Sir Richard
Grenville in 1572.
information was lost in 1851 when the then Town Clerk burnt all the old
records he considered to be cluttering his cupboards.
first time ever known to be in the public domain, I can hereinforth record
that the Aldermen of that first council where:
John Salterne (Merchant
Adventurer and elected First Mayor of Bideford)
Sir Richard Grenville
five men then duly elected the following as Burgesses of the Town:
Richard Burgin (Gent)
John Suzan (Gent)
George Stafford (Gent)
John Salterne as elected
Mayor, then chose as his private Alderman:
Richard Willott (Gent).
piece of history...now recovered.
comment: Note that Edward
Stafford was one of the 1585 military colonists.
comment: If you like Stafford
then we won't mention the Berry, Harvie or Browne who were also Mayors or
Aldermen of the town during the following years then..... nor perhaps the
Smith or the Lacie or Allen or Martyn or Coffin or Chapman......
Wrecking on Hatteras: A Long Tradition
Lumberd was a mariner from Maine who once sailed the Dove
to England, claiming to be of the “North Carolina trade” and left
his name upon “Lumberd’s Marsh” on a later Hatteras deed; Erasmus
Harfleet was a mariner who wrecked on Cape Hatteras in spring 1708;
William Reed, he was a Justice of the Peace and wealthy speculator in
North Carolina property, later the "president of North Carolina"
and obtained the first deed on Hatteras in 1712; John Neale was a virtual
unknown of some pecuniary significance who lived near or with Hatteras
Indians; Patrick and John Mackuen lived nearby; Thomas Bilton, a
shipwrecked mariner on his way from Lisbon to Virginia… what do all of
these people have in common? They
visited Hatteras Island before the first recorded deeds in 1712-16.
They also left a pile of glorious garbage near Buxton and probably
elsewhere for later archaeologists to find.
That’s why we’re looking!
October 30, 1707, a ship sailed from Lisbon, Portugal to arrive upon the
“Virginia” sand banks. It
encountered “hard Gales of Wind” and anchored off Cape Hatteras, where
the crew “spoke to the Virginians on shore.”
They beat the coast for several months, finally wrecking in the
latitude of Bermuda. From
there, nine persons, including Thomas Bilton, made their way in a ship’s
boat to Anguilla in the West Indies.
After the wreck, they were thirty-one days at sea and
“constrained to drink their own urine.”
This comes from the account of Thomas Bilton in “A Voyage from
Lisbon to Virginia,” published in London in 1715.
It is one of the few accounts of contact with the Englishmen living
on Hatteras Island prior to recorded settlement.
record of a shipwreck only two months or so later, following similar
routes from London to Lisbon to America, tells the names of some of these
Englishmen upon Hatteras’ shores. The
ship America sailed from London to Lisbon, Portugal, and then ran aground
on Cape Hatteras before March 1708. Erasmus
Harfleet survived the wreck and attempted to salvage what he could while
on Hatteras Banks, but was stopped by Justice of the Peace William Reed
who just happened to be in the vicinity.
A petition was filed by Harfleet on March 11, 1708:
of Erasmus [Harfleet] who states that he is a mariner belonging to the
ship America which apparently wrecked at Cape Hateras upon the sand banks.
He was allowed to work upon the sand banks to save what he could from the
wreck. He complains that Wm. READ [Reed] came and threatened him if he
took anything belonging to the wreck. Salvage from the wreck was the only
wage that the petitioner would receive for his wages from London to the
City of Lisbon in Portugal. Asks for resolution. [Back:] Patrick MACKANNE,
John NACKOUNE, John NEALE, Laruence MARTINSON, witnesses. 11 Mar 1707/8
should probably be noted that some years later, Erasmus Harfleet was
accused of purposely wrecking a ship in the sound off of Roanoke Island
while en route to the area then called “Croatan” (known formerly as
“Dasamonquepeuk” and today, as “Mann’s Harbor”) in 1714.
Harfleet was hired by Joseph Parker to pilot the ship, but when the
ship ran aground, Harfleet began salvaging the wreck and refused to “get
the sloop off” the shoals, who “cursed and said he would never go on
board.” Harfleet had already unloaded a boatload of goods onto the
mainland before refusing to go back, so he did not seem to mind going
aboard the sloop while there were valuables on her.
[CCR-192, 26 Apr 1714].
Harfleet may have been a ner’do’well and justifiably stopped in his
“salvage” activities by William Reed that early spring day in 1708.
Still, that encounter with Reed and other “Virginians” on
Hatteras Banks tells us something valuable about the activity on that
island before its recorded habitation by Englishmen.
Most Hatteras deed records occurred in 1716, although the earliest
record we have is a deed for Col. William Reed in 1712 and several others
in the following years, so we know he spent a good deal of time there.
At least, he was around to justifiably harass our Mr. Harfleet a
few years earlier.
David Sutton Phelps (archaeologist from ECU) found a “workshop” locale
on Hatteras near the present town of Buxton during his excavations in 1998
that he dated from 1650-1720. Coins
that he found indicated its use by 17th-century Englishmen.
I have postulated before that settlement of Hatteras might have
begun as early as the first Virginians arriving south of the Dismal Swamp
in the mid-1600s, maybe earlier. You see, with no roads and numerous creeks inland, travel by
water was far easier in those days and Hatteras made a perfect “first
stop,” yet, not always a chosen one.
first “official” record we have is for Indian trader Nathaniel Batts
in 1654/5. Still, Virginians
had most likely filtered into North Carolina for years before that and
certainly, mariners on their way to New England, the West Indies, London,
or Portugal found the shores of Hatteras Banks whether they wanted to or
not. The earliest arrivals
likely sought the opportunities for whaling off of Hatteras.
Yes, there were whales here before the twentieth century.
The earliest possible European encounter with Hatteras probably
occurred in the mid-1500s by the Spanish.
Later, more encounters came from English fishing and New England
can be certain without written proof, however, but the constant English
shipping that began in 1607 with the founding of Jamestown in Virginia and
that ran past Cape Hatteras on its way from the West Indies and on to
London most likely deposited frequent and hapless visitors to Hatteras
Island. Many of them
remained. This was the normal
trade route, a clockwise voyage from London, to the Canaries, Portugal
(long allied with England), across the Atlantic on the trade winds to the
West Indies, along the American coast, again picking up the trade winds in
the North Atlantic, and then back to England.
This was fed by a desire to deprive the Spanish of their gold and
silver, then later, for the sweet white gold of sugar from the Caribbean.
No product was ever more valuable than sugar.
money is what prompted men like Bilton and Harfleet to brave the obvious
dangers of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” and caused over 2,000 known
shipwrecks (actual numbers vary around 5,000).
Ships have found the bottom of these waters since early in the
sixteenth century. Hatteras
was not simply an island in North Carolina.
It was a maritime hazard, entrepôt, whaling and porpoise center,
and supply station for shipping all along the eastern seaboard.
It frequently encountered visitors like Bilton and Harfleet.
Wreckage on Hatteras Island - Photo
by Collier Cobb, circa 1900.
names mentioned in Harfleet’s petition in 1708 were John and Patrick
Mackanne/Nackoune [Mackuen], and John Neale [O’Neale].
These are names also found later in the official deed records of
Hatteras Banks. Both are
found in the “Trent Woods” area (today’s Frisco) where we also find
the Elks band of Hatteras Indians:
bk 8, pat 2771, p 132 Anna
MacKuen Dec 19 1716 155 acres
between William Rowlason and Patrick Callahan joining ye sea side and ye
sound. Wit Charles Eden,
Thomas Pollock, Fra. Foster, N. Chevin, T. Knight
MacKuen is probably the wife of John or Patrick MacKuen.
Her husband must have died before 1716 when she was granted the
land that the family had lived on for years.
Patrick Callahan’s name will appear again.
For now, we should focus on “John Neale.”
He is an important name when it comes to the Hatteras Indians.
It was in 1720, after the Tuscarora War, that John O’Neale was
entrusted with the delivery of gunpowder, lead shot, and flints to the
Hatteras Indians. O’Neale
was perhaps chosen because his land may have included the “Indian
Town” once visited by explorer John Lawson: