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The Lost Colony Research Group

Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology


May  2012


The Amadas Family

By Andy Powell


Mention the name Philip Amadas to an American and any recognition will surely be of ‘the’ Philip Amadas who sailed with Arthur Barlowe in 1584 and set in motion America’s greatest mystery, the ‘Lost’ colony of Roanoke. Mention the name Philip Amadas to an Englishman however, and chances are, most will respond with a blank look and a shrug of the shoulders, for the story of Roanoke is barely known in England. Ask if they have heard of the name Robert Amadas however, and there might just be a glimmer of recognition among history enthusiasts; for Robert was the Court Goldsmith to King Henry VIII and through his skill and connections, became the richest Goldsmith in England. 

Robert’s arrival at the Tudor Court though, announced the first recognisable event in what little we know of the Amadas family, for their arrival in England appears something of a mystery itself, and their reign as a prominent westcountry family, like so many other names from that area, lasted only briefly, dying out barely 200 years later. Even the family seat has only ever been loosely described as Launceston or Tavistock, with a branch of the family residing for a short while in nearby Plymouth.


The arrival of Robert Amadas at the court of Henry VIII though is more fondly remembered by English historians for the antics of his wife Elizabeth, whose Grandfather Court Goldsmith Hugh Brice, Robert Amadas had apprenticed to.


In 1532, Robert’s wife, who described herself as a 'witch and prophetess', alleged that she had once been King Henry VIII's mistress. She called Anne Boleyn (Henry’s second wife) a harlot, and said that men should not be able to set aside (divorce) their wives, as Henry VIII was trying to do to his first wife, Katherine of Aragon; so that they could take a younger wife. It transpired that Robert Amadas, perhaps realizing that his wife was probably something of a lunatic (or possessing a certain death wish in criticizing the King,) had already left her by this time. She was arrested for her treasonous comments but later released. The Amadas family never recovered their place in the Royal Court.


Robert and Philip were not the only noted Amadas family members though. Joan Amadas, a name few would be expected to know, married one John Hawkins of Plymouth. It was her grandson that became the infamous Sir John Hawkins, one of Elizabeth I’s famous Privateers. Alas, Sir John made much of his fortune from Slave Trading. Indeed, such was his impact on this trade that, four and a half centuries later in 2006, his ancestor Andrew Hawkins made a public apology for his ancestor’s involvement in Slavery.


Perhaps we should also record one more femme fatale in the Amadas family, Agnes Amadas. She was married no less than four times; first to Thomas Mohun a Sergeant-at-arms at the Court of Henry VIII; then Thomas Stafford (also known as Thomas Kelloway) who was an associate of the Raleigh family, then a John Charles, and finally William Abbot who owned Hartland Abbey, in North Devon. Perhaps of note is that her son by this last marriage, Justinian, married one Katherine Grenville, daughter of a certain Sir Richard Grenville.


It seems likely that it is through the marriages of Agnes that Philip Amadas came into contact with Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Richard Grenville. However he came to be embroiled with the Roanoke voyages though, it seems certain that he captained ships to Roanoke on probably four occasions… and that makes him the most experienced captain of the entire Lost Colony saga, something he has probably never been recognized for.



Wandering Off While Researching your Family History

By Nancy Frey  


When I’m researching my family history, I am as interested in what they did as much as when they were born, married & died. Sometimes, I wander off researching people I find interesting who are not really connected to my family tree -- yet. 


One day I was researching the JEFFERIES families in the Bristol area. I came across a Robert JEFFERIES who is shown as an Innkeeper in the village of Bridge Yate [now Bridgeyate] Gloucester in the 1841 Census. An aerial view of the village from Bing Maps shows it isn’t a very large place, so I Googled ‘Inn+Bridgeyate’ and came up with pictures of the place as it is today.




The Griffin Inn, Bridgeyate, Gloucester

Here’s what the owner Joanna Wierzbicka-Matczak 

has to say about her Inn.

The Griffin in Bridgeyate, Bristol is situated on a busy main road. Traditional in style, it has one main bar area and three fireplaces although no real fires. Our customers cover the complete age spectrum and we have a good number of passers by, due to our location. Food is served from an extensive main menu and can be enjoyed anywhere in the pub. The food offer is a particular favourite, as is the choice of real ales to accompany it. Entertainment is dominated by Sport with football being shown on the four screens. A pool table and darts board give variety to all. There is a relaxed, easy going, trouble free atmosphere here so come along soon and meet the great staff and friendly clientele.


My paternal grandmother’s sister married a JEFFERIES but I have not yet been able to include Robert in his family tree. But that’s one more entry for my places I’d like to visit on my next trip to the UK. 


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