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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Carolana to Carolina: Imperialism, Science, and Early Huguenot Interest in Bath County

The pirate base of "Carolana" began an imperialistic endeavor to steal Spain's territory and wealth in 1629, but stalled because of the vagaries of aristocracy and politics. Finally, "Carolana" moved geographically and dissipated as an English attempt to settle Louisiana ahead of the French, both vying for more pieces of Spain's weakened and treasure-laden empire. "Carolina" took Carolana's place where we find it now in 1663. 

Bath County got a slow, but attentive, start and was eventually settled by the turn of the eighteenth century. Still, the original "Carolana" issue probably invigorated naturalist and author John Lawson to come to "Carolina" (especially to Bath County) and a group of French Huguenot refugees to land in Virginia that same fall of 1700. Huguenot refugees had been intimately involved with Bath County's development long before most of us realized and with only a few years in Virginia. Some reset their sights upon Bath County, North Carolina.

1651 map of Virginia by John Farrar; it includes the "Carolana" patent of Sir Robert Heath.

Elizabeth I used Sir Francis Drake, Sir John Hawkins, and other of her "Sea Dogs" to pirate Spain's wealth in America. The Stuart King James I succeeded Elizabeth I upon her death and he resisted Elizabeth’s imperialist and pseudo-criminal policies against Spain. James’ son, King Charles I, however, rekindled England’s imperialistic ambitions.
As King Charles saw it, the proprietary sister colonies that would be Carolina and the Bahamas were England’s best opportunity to raid Spain’s treasure fleets leaving from the Caribbean. 

In April, 1629, Charles granted the Caribbee Islands to his favorite, Sir James Hay, first earl of Carlisle. The Caribbees controlled traffic entering the Caribbean east to west from Europe and thus was certainly a strategic location. The Florida Straits, another important strategic location, allowed maritime traffic from the Caribbean to reach Europe by the northern trade winds that traveled west to east in higher latitudes. Spanish treasure galleons depended upon this channel to sail their bullion home to Seville from the New World. It was essentially the only way back to Spain and the only reasonable route for their flota and galeónes fleets to leave the Caribbean, brimming with treasure and greatly coveted by the English Crown. 

Very likely with this in mind, Charles I also granted his chief justice Sir Robert Heath all the land in mainland America between the latitudes of 31 deg [modern Florida state line] and 36 deg [approx. Virginia's modern border with North Carolina] in the same year, land claimed at that time by his most Catholic Majesty, Phillip III of Spain.  The king hoped to prevent Spain’s recovery of Virginia as well as establish a foothold on Spanish Florida territory. This grant of “Carolana,” then including the Bahamas, straddled the Florida Straits and gave England full control of traffic leaving the Caribbean. Spain mightily resisted this intrusion for they knew the English king was after their silver and gold shipments!

1740 Charles Leslie map of the Bahamas-Caribbean - note the southern boundary for the more recent Carolina as opposed to the former Carolana. At included the already 100-year-old Spanish town of St. Augustine.
For decades from the 17th and early 18th centuries, using English bases in the West Indies, buccaneers, privateers, and other pirates in the Caribbean managed to reduce Spain’s ability to maintain their empire in the New World. Spain had weakened to the point of launching larger flotillas of treasure shipments at longer and more irregular intervals. Capturing those flotillas became the primary goal of English privateers, while the English Crown essentially ignored crimes and indiscretions committed by Englishmen in America. 

On the other side of the Atlantic, Protestant Huguenots originally escaped Catholic France; they joined England's efforts against Catholic Spain. Monsieur de Belavene, the Huguenot refugee who had initially proposed the earlier "Carolana" to provide a colony for protestant French refugees, also proposed that the colony could serve as a base against Spain. Belavene made this argument by using the strategic importance of Carolana to the English. He told the English that “if the Spaniard can hinder it, he will do it.”  As historian Paul E. Kopperman writes:
Dudley Carleton, 1st Viscount Dorchester
On June 24 Belavene wrote an unnamed addressee, likely [Secretary of State Dudley Carleton, Lord] Dorchester, that it would be in England's best interests to establish a colony in "Florida," that is, in the land south of Virginia. Belavene's scheme was ambitious. At the outset, the plantation was to include 2,000 men. These settlers would soon come to prosper through agriculture and manufacture. Their main function, however, would be to prepare their colony to serve as a base for an offensive against Spain in the Caribbean. Within four years, Belavene predicted, the fleets based in the proposed plantation would be capable of sealing off the passage of the Spanish treasure convoys, a state of affairs that would promote England's prosperity and Spain's ruin. [Paul E. Kopperman, "Profile of Failure: The Carolana Project, 1629-1640," North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. 59, No. 1 (January, 1982), pp. 1-23.]

Heath was one of the original members in the Council for New England. From 1619-1621, he had also been fairly active in the Virginia Company. Kopperman wrote "In 1620, on his petition, the company had granted him and several partners title to a tract of land in Virginia, and, although it appears that they had failed to settle it, he had throughout the 1620s retained an interest in the colony, so much so that crown officials in Virginia had looked to him as a prime advocate at court."

Heath had the support of several influential courtiers. "Perhaps most helpful of all was [the earl of] Carlisle, [James Hay,] Heath's patron, a director of the Virginia Company, and a man who, as a fellow proprietor, was to link Carolana closely to the Caribbees."

Even before 1629, Heath enfeoffed George, Lord Berkeley, with the northern half of Carolana. He also invested Sir Richard Grenville with the lower three degrees of his tract which may have included the Bahamas.  On October 30, 1629, at Westminster, the official grant was issued:
Grant to Sir Robert Heath, Attorney-General of a territory in America betwixt 31 and 36 degrees of North Latitude, not inhabited by the subjects of any Christian King, but partly inhabited by barbarous men who have not any knowledge of the Divine Deity. Sir Robert Heath, being about to lead thither a large and plentiful colony of men professing the true religion, and applying themselves to the culture of said lands and to merchandising, the King grants to said Sir Robert all that river of St. Matthew on the south side, and of Passamagno (the Great Pass) on the north side, with all lands between the same to the ocean east and west, together with the Islands of Veajus and Bahamas, and all other islands lying southerly or near upon said continent, with all ports, creeks, rivers, lakes, fisheries, minerals, precious stones, &c.; and furthermore, the patronage of all churches there to be built, with as ample privileges as any Bishop of Durham ever had within his See, to said Sir Robert, his heirs and assigns, as absolute Lords and Proprietors, with the intention that said Sir Robert should plant the same according to certain instructions signed by his Majesty of the date of these presents and remaining with his Majesty's Principal Secretary... And further, his Majesty erects and incorporates said territories into a province to be called for all time Carolana and the Carolanean Islands....

Hugh Lamy, chief negotiator for the Huguenots, indicated a tract of land between the 34th and 35th parallels of Carolana, including the future Bath region of North Carolina (see map). By February 24, 1630, Carlisle had already secured an appointment for Lamy as receiver-general of Carolana and the Caribbees.

34th to 35th parallels including the future Bath region of North Carolina
Lamy's associates included Antoine de Ridouet, baron de Sancé and M. de Belavene, another Huguenot, Pierre de Licques, and a Puritan merchant of French ancestry, Samuel Vassall. Vassall, in particular, would play an important role in the earlier Carolana venture, actually attempting to plant the colony - a venture, however, which got no further than being stranded in Virginia. Sancé in particular, desired the 35th parallel, most easily identified as the Bath region, or "the Landis betwixt the river of Roanack and the river of News [Neuse] in Carolana...." Through Sir James Hay, earl of Carlisle, he gained a grant for it in March 1630, but was never able to settle it, partly due to an unrealistic intention to base their profits on the then lucrative salting industry. Salt was important for preserving meat. Sugar was still a couple of decades away from being recognized as the lucrative product that it would be - which drew attention toward plantations in the Caribbean as opposed to the mainland (Carlisle already laid claim to the Spanish possession of Barbados at the time of the Carolana grant, but Jamaica was taken from the Spanish in 1655 primarily for the purpose of sugar plantations - it also became a strategic point from which to launch pirate invasions against the Spanish fleets).

Heath's Carolana venture fell by the wayside, Sir James Hay died in 1636, and finally, Charles I was beheaded in 1649, beginning the Interregnum, or an eleven-year period in which England had no monarch, but a "Protector," Oliver Cromwell. The "Carolana" patent, however, survived in the hands of many and would later resurface. Heath passed his patent over to 24-year-old Henry Howard, Lord Maltravers, son of the earl of Arundel and Surrey in 1632 and it remained in the Howard family for decades. "The Howard family," tells Kopperman, "was highly influential, and Heath, like all courtiers, knew the importance of having powerful friends." At the same time, Maltravers became a councilor for New England, acquired a tract there and another in the West Indies, and attempted to found an English West Indian Company in 1637 that, unfortunately for him, failed.

King Charles II of England
When King Charles II returned from exile in France upon restoration to the English monarchy in 1660, he would continue the same imperialist policies of his father, to establish bases to attack Spanish treasure fleets in America. In 1663, with such a base in mind, Charles II granted eight Lords Proprietors of Carolina: Edward Earl of Clarendon, George Duke of Albemarle, William Lord Craven, John Lord Berkley, Anthony Lord Ashley, Sir George Carteret, Sir William Berkley, and Sir John Colleton:
… all that territory or tract of ground, scituate, lying and being within our dominions of America, extending from the north end of the island called Lucke island, which lieth in the southern Virginia seas, and within six and thirty degrees of the northern latitude, and to the west as far as the south seas, and so southerly as far as the river St Matthias, which bordereth upon the coast of Florida, and within one and thirty degrees of northern latitude, and so west in a direct line as far as the south seas aforesaid.
In 1663, Carolina extended nearly 325 miles north to south and over 2,500 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the “South Seas,” or the Pacific.   Of course, neither the Lords Proprietors, nor the king could have imagined the sheer immensity of that grant. Except for the Bahamas, this grant was identical to Heath's. 

The Carolina proprietors met for the first time on May 23, 1663. In only two weeks, petitions presented to the king claimed a right to the earlier Heath grant (now, Carolina), through Lord Maltravers, duke of Norfolk's heirs. Samuel Vassell claimed the 31st and 33rd parallels. Sir Richard Grenville claimed to own the 34th, 35th, and 36th parallels. The proprietors argued that "Neither hath Sr Robt. Heath, Mr. Howard or any of his Ancestors Mr. Rich Greenefeild or Mr. Vassell or any of their Assigns planted any part of this Province, there being about 35 years past since ye grant," thus the Vassal and Grenville grants were declared void. This may have been acceptable to Vassell and Grenville at the time, but the deed would remain in circulation, passed from hand to hand until finally recognized by the Crown once again three decades later.

The Carolina Charters of 1663 and 1665 – These charters of King Charles II of England claimed millions of square miles of Spanish territory known as La Florida and Mexico.  It included the already established Spanish towns of Pensacola and St. Augustine (est. 1565). Map by Baylus C. Brooks.

The Carolina Charter was extended two years later to the current Virginia-North Carolina state line in the north and to well-below St. Augustine, Florida, founded 100 years before by the Spanish in 1565. The Spanish had abandoned Pensacola two years earlier, but reoccupied it in response to this increasingly invasive charter.

The Great Seal of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina was used on all official papers of the Lords Proprietors. The reverse side depicted the eight heraldic shields of the Proprietors surrounding a Cross of Saint George

The North Carolina Manual describes in detail the Great Seal of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.  This seal represents clear imperial intent. The obverse side showed a “shield bearing on its face two cornucopias crossed, filled with products.”   Two Native Americans support the shield, on the “sinister side,” carrying a spear and the opposite an “Indian squaw with a papoose by her side and one in her arms.”  The unknown author of this sketch offered the note, “These natives, I imagine are supposed to be bringing tribute.”   

Charles II bequeathed his royal approbation as “Magnum Sigillum Carolinœ Dominorum." The proprietors’ primary instructions read as Domitus cultoribus orbis, “to dominate and conquer the world,” to piratically take all. Again, this motto reflected the primary intent: to dominate Spain’s possessions, including the produce of their silver and gold mines. King Charles II proudly styled his aristocratic pirates as the “Corporation of the Barbadoes Adventurers,” alluding to the pirate-capitalist connection.  

Carolina was divided into three largely self-governing legislative districts. Albemarle, where a loose settlement of runaway Virginians mixed with itinerant merchant mariners and Indian traders already existed and sat below Virginia on the northern extent of the Carolina grant. Clarendon, skipping the Bath region, was the next southward on the Cape Fear River where the first failed attempt to settle Charles Town was made by Puritans and Barbadians.  Craven was the third, on the Cooper and Ashley Rivers, where the final settlement of Charles Town was made in 1671, also by Barbadians. 

Carolana was forgotten for decades though the patent was passed from owner to owner. Carolina under the Proprietors began to grow, first in the Albemarle with its Virginian "runaway" settlers. 

Interestingly, the Bath region as well as the Bahamas were ignored in this second attempt of "Carolina." The Bahamas were re-introduced in 1671, but not Bath. But, soon, the idea of Bath County grew to fruition once again. In 1696, a new county formed south of Albemarle, first called “Bath” for Lord John Granville, earl of Bath. Bath Town, incorporated in 1705, became the major settlement and Port Bath the favored port of entry there because of its greater depth than Roanoke Inlet, the gradually closing entrance to the Albemarle Sound." This area became an important region in the new Carolina, probably first recognized by Huguenots nearly a century earlier. Under renewed attention, Huguenots again eyed the Pamlico and Neuse River basins as a possible new home. 

About the same time that the Lords Proprietors had obtained Carolina, Andrew Lawson of St Andrew's Parish, Newcastle Upon Tyne (a North Sea seaport), in Northumberland, England had two children: the first a daughter by the name of Isabel in December 1664 and the second, a son by the name of John, born in April 1667. The year after John was born, on January 3, 1668, his sister Isabel died and was buried in Northumberland in a nonconformist ceremony. It may be that Andrew Lawson had converted to Quakerism. 

Thomas Howard, Lord Maltravers
William Howard, of Naworth Castle

Andrew Lawson was probably the son of Robert and Isabella Lawson and the nephew of John Lawson, captain of the guard of horse for Charles I and owner of Brough Hall in County York. During the Interregnum, Capt. Lawson lost his estate for his Toryism and support of Charles I, then beheaded. Upon restoration, "In consideration of his great sufferings, he was created a Baronet by King Charles II., 6 July 1665." Sir John Lawson, now an admiral in the king's navy, married Catherine, daughter of Sir William Howard of Naworth (younger brother of Thomas Howard, duke of Norfolk and known as "Lord Maltravers," who bought Carolana from Sir Robert Heath's estate) and sister to Sir Charles Howard, the next earl of Carlisle after James Hay [John Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the British Empire].

Naworth Castle, Cumberland, England. The seat of the Barons Dacre, currently occupied by Philip Howard, brother and heir presumptive of the 13th Earl of Carlisle.

Will of John Chandler (21 Dec 1676, St Sepulchre, London) - note particularly the flourish on the end of the "w" in Lawson's name. Remember also that Chandler's will was witnessed by an almost 9-year-old John Lawson as his apprentice and he was 41 years old when he signed Lionel Reading's will. By the time he came to Carolina, Lawson had developed a distinctive signature that differed greatly from his usual writing - used especially on official documents. This was also a common practice among learned men of the time.

Admiral Sir John Lawson
Admiral Sir John Lawson was allegedly a great-uncle of Dr. John Lawson (married Grace Love of St. Andrews, Holborn in 1663) of London, and this couple were formerly alleged by many to be the father of naturalist John Lawson (note that no children have yet been identified for Dr. John and Grace Lawson through genealogical records). His cousin Andrew Lawson, however, may be the one who later as a "Citizen and Salter of London" apprenticed his son, John (probably the Carolina naturalist who would have been seven years old if born in 1667) to John Chandler in 1675 to learn the trade of an apothecary. Chandler died after two years and John Lawson, possibly at nearly nine years of age, signed as a witness to his will [Raymond Phineas Stearns, Science in the British Colonies of America - Note that this information generally contradicts other genealogies supplied for naturalist John Lawson, but Stearns researched in London with access to most British records. Even though he published his findings in 1952, he had more definitive resources at his command. Today, those resources are made readily available to researchers with access to the internet, even in America].

The Worshipful Society of London Apothecaries reassigned Lawson to James Hayes (later Sir James Hayes of Bedgebury, Kent), another member of the Royal Society and son of James Hayes of Beckington, Somerset (what relationship he may have had, if any, to James Hay, earl of Carlisle is unknown). The younger Hayes attended St Paul's School of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, matriculated and joined Lincoln's Inn in 1649. Hayes was called to the Bar in 1656, became MP for Marlborough in 1659, a Recorder of Marlborough (1659), and Secretary to Prince Rupert (FRS 1665). By May 20, 1663, he had been elected a member of the Royal Society. [].
Founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, the Chelsea Physic Garden is, besides  the Oxford Botanical Garden, founded in 1621, the oldest botanical garden in England. Its guide describes it as "at its peak, during the 1700s, the most important centre for plant exchange on the planet." []
Other members of the Royal Society at this time were Henry Howard, later duke of Norfolk (donated the Arundel Library to the Royal Society which replaced Gresham Hall as their usual meeting place) and then owner of the Carolana patent, Sir Hans Sloane, Dr. Daniel Coxe, and Sir James Shaen. From the time that John Lawson first became apprenticed in 1675, Sir James Hayes had become the deputy governor under governor Prince Rupert of the Hudson Bay Company.
Sir Hans Sloane
Dr. Hans Sloane, whose collection founded the British Museum, was a physician who had apprenticed as an apothecary. Petiver, who had dozens of corresponding collectors and whose contribution made up more than a third of Sloane's final collection, was an apothecary, "at the White Cross, near Long Lane in Aldersgate Street." The apothecary was where people went for help with their health, for information on their world.... Sloane's own story makes the case. Well-enough known to enlightenment luminaries like philosopher John Locke and naturalist John Ray to be a member of the Royal Society in 1685, Sloane traveled to Jamaica as a court physician; while there he encountered a local combination of water and chocolate that he called "nauseaous." An apothecary doesn't leave poor enough alone. He allegedly discovered that by adding milk he made the beverage delightful and thereby created what we call hot chocolate, which took England by storm []. [Note: The actual origins of milk chocolate, however, are possibly much earlier.]
It is significant perhaps that the Hudson Bay Company early corporate venture had four members of Carolina proprietors as its shareholders: Albemarle, Craven, Shaftesbury, and Colleton. Hayes served as deputy-governor until 1685. John Lawson's apprenticeship to Hayes should have lasted until 1683, so his five years under Hayes would have been spent involved in that early American project, as well as in Hayes' Irish properties and duties. Another property Hayes picked up from the duke of Norfolk (Lord Maltravers' son and heir of the Earl of Arundell) in 1678, was the old patent for "Carolana." Hayes kept this patent for the remainder of Lawson's term as apprentice until 1683 when he sold it to Sir James Shaen. 

Soon, Hayes became involved with Christopher Monk, duke of Albemarle, Virginia governor Francis Nicholson and others to fish the Spanish wreck of La Concepcion, resulting in £200,000 of treasure, which made them all rich men. Hayes then rebuilt his manor at Bedgebury, Kent from his part of the wreck's proceeds. A few years later, Hayes served as apothecary-general for the forces going to the West Indies. Nothing is known of Lawson's activities following his apprenticeship with Hayes. Shaen held onto the Carolana patent for fourteen years until his death in 1696 when his heirs sold it to Dr. Daniel Coxe.

Coxe became the first to successfully settle Carolana; however, with the Carolina patent already in place of the older Carolana one, the boundaries had to be reinterpreted. Coxe intended to settle French refugees on this patent, at first, west of Carolina on unplanted territories of its patent along the Gulf of Mexico. Carolinians hoped that the Mississippi region (then part of Carolina) may be peopled with Englishmen, in order to prevent the Catholic nation of France from gaining control of the backcountry, or beyond the Appalachian Mountains. Lest we not forget that Spain still claimed this land, by then, for almost two centuries; later they were, however, more accepting of a fellow Catholic nation like France moving into the territory. In 1698, the French, learning of Dr. Coxe's plans to explore and people the Mississippi, sent an expedition to counter Coxe's plans:
Dr. Daniel Coxe sent two ships to Carolana/Florida in October 1698. As he tells it, there were "in both Vessels, besides Sailors and Common Men, above Thirty English and French Volunteers, some Noblemen, and all Gentlemen." Among the French Huguenot refugees were Olivier de la Muce and two sons of Charles de Sailly. The voyage from England to Charleston, their initial destination, lasted around three months. If the two ships had left England in October 1698 they would have arrived at Charleston in January 1699. The ships and passengers wintered at Charleston from January 1699-May 1699. One of the two ships on the Coxe expedition remained at Charleston. The other ship apparently was shipwrecked on its return to England. It is not clear why it returned early. Sometime during this winter interval, a locally-built vessel, the Carolina Galley [Capt. William Bond], was readied for the exploratory trip to find the Mississippi River...

A crucial segment of this entire voyage was the portion from Charleston to the Mississippi River. Commanded by Captain William Bond, the Carolina Galley set forth from Charleston in May 1699, rounded Florida, and proceeded westward along the Florida coast, and, after some confusion in finding the mouth of the river, arrived at the Mississippi on 29 August 1699. The English vessel commanded by Captain Bond (with French Protestants on board) met a French party (the Catholic ones, serving King Louis XIV) commanded by Bienville on the Mississippi River. The spot on the river where they met has since that time been called the English Turn. Evidence of this meeting is provided in the journal Of the ship Renornmée, in which overall French commander Iberville reported the results of the meeting his brother, Bienville, had with Bond on the Mississippi: "Those ships were sent out on behalf of a company formed at London by some Englishmen and French refugees [Huguenots]. On this ship was a man [Olivier, Marquis de la Muce] representing the interests Of those two groups; the Frenchman was greatly distrusted by the English; he told my brother about it and testified that he wished with all his heart, as did every single one of the French refugees, that the king would permit them to settle in this country, under his rule, with liberty of conscience. He guaranteed that many would soon be here who were unhappy under English rule, which could not be sympathetic to the French temperament, and he begged my brother to ask me to bear their petition to the king; and he left for me his address in Carolina and in London, so that I can write them the king's will about it." [David E. Lambert, Studies in Church History, Volume 12 : Protestant International and the Huguenot Migration to Virginia].
Daniel Coxe Jr.
De la Muce and the Huguenot refugees tried to play Catholic France against the English, but unsuccessfully. They could not be settled in today's Louisiana, though Coxe would continue to plan its settlement, but the French would eventually win the early game. In October 1699, Coxe laid his revised claim for Norfolk, Virginia, before the newly-formed (1696) Board of Trade. Some discussion involved the Bath region of North Carolina once again, but that idea again did not come to fruition, most likely because the proprietors did not wish to lose a part of Carolina that they had just recently planned to settle themselves. 

Samuel Swann, surveyor-general of North Carolina was known to offer an opinion of this and may have been the one to suggest Norfolk in the disputed region between Virginia and North Carolina. Unfortunately the details of his letter are no longer extant. It was well known that North Carolinians and Virginians alike both claimed the Norfolk area. This interpretation might have been seen as settling that issue. 

A Map of Carolana and of the River Meschacebe [Mississippi] (1722) by Daniel Coxe, Junior.
By November 1699, Coxe "is ready to resign his Government and dispose of his interest on such terms as will encourage gentlemen merchants to subscribe £50,000 towards planting and settling it. He prays His Majesty to add a tract of land to the Northern bounds of Carolana, and incorporate subscribers as the Florida Company [an openly hostile intention towards the Spanish], and grant them a man-of-war." Only two years later, Gov. James Moore would launch an invasion of St. Augustine, Florida, taking 800 Apalachee captives as his prize - at that time, Carolinians mostly prized slaves over territory. But, they would be back.

The Post Man and the Historical Account reported that Capt. Bond had returned the French refugee Huguenots to London on April 12, 1700. Without hesitation, they immediately transferred to other ships waiting there, one of which was the Mary and Anne, Capt. George Haws:

London Post with Intelligence Foreign and Domestick (London, England), April 15, 1700 - April 17, 1700; Issue 135 - The Marquis "de Lura" is actually the Marquis de la Muce and Francis Nicholson in Virginia had changed their intended planting in Norfolk to Manakin Town, somewhat further inland.

The settlement of the Huguenots in Virginia proceeded as planned and on April 23, 1700, 500 French refugees left in four ships from the Thames intending for Virginia. The Marquis de la Muce, interestingly styled as "Deputy Governor of Carolina," accompanied the fleet, leaving England the following day. The ships arrived in New York in late July and then made Lynhaven Bay of Virginia by July 23, 1700. There, Gov. Francis Nicholson wrote to the Board on August 1st that:
The 24th of the last moneth [travel time lag] I had the great honour to receive His Majesty's letter, March 18th, and your Lordships' letter, April 12th, concerning the French Protestant Refugees. As I have, so I will endeavour to obey his Majesty's commands about ym [them]. They were on board the ship Mary and Anne of London, George Haws, commander, who had about 13 weeks' passage [left ca. mid-April], and the 23rd of the last moneth arrived at the mouth of this river. I immediately went down to Kikotan to give directions in order to their coming hither, some of which came on Sunday in the evening, the rest the next day [ships separated and arrived at different times]. I writ to Col. Byrd and Col. Harrison to meet ym [them] here, which they did; and we concluded that there was no settling of ym [them] in Norfolk nor thereabouts, because 'tis esteemed an unhealthfull place, and no vacant land except some yt [yet] is in dispute now betwixt us and North Carolina; so we thought it would be best for ym [them] to go to a place about twenty miles above the Falls of James River, commonly called the Manikin Town.
Lawson probably knew De la Muce, Charles de Sailly, both agents for the refugees, and Dr. Coxe, member of the Royal Society. He later had discussions with apothecary James Petiver, royal gardener, George London, and others in the circles of Sir Hans Sloane, also members of that distinguished scientific body. He presented his book, New Voyage to Carolina, in 1708 while in constant communication with the Society in London. Most interestingly, a 33-year-old naturalist John Lawson (1667-1711) may have been aboard one of these ships carrying the French refugees. He arrived in Charleston in mid-late August after following a similar route and leaving approximately on April 20th: 
In the Year 1700, when People flock'd from all Parts of the Christian World, to see the Solemnity of the Grand Jubilee at Rome, my Intention, at that Time, being to travel, I accidentally met with a Gentleman, who had been Abroad, and was very well acquainted with the Ways of Living in both Indies; of whom, having made Enquiry concerning them, he assur'd me, that Carolina was the best Country I could go to; and, that there then lay a Ship in the Thames, in which I might have my Passage. I laid hold on this Opportunity, and was not long on Board, before we fell down the River, and sail'd to Cowes; where, having taken in some Passengers, we proceeded on our Voyage, 'till we sprung a-leak, and were forc'd into the Islands of Scilly. Here we spent about 10 Days in refitting; in which Time we had a great deal of Diversion in Fishing and Shooting on those rocky Islands... On the 1st Day of May, having a fair Wind at East, we put to Sea, and were on the Ocean (without speaking to any Vessel, except a Ketch bound from New England to Barbadoes, laden with Horses, Fish, and Provisions) 'till the latter End of July, when the Winds hung so much Southerly, that we could not get to our Port, but put into Sandyhook-bay, and went up to New York... After a Fort-night's Stay here, we put out from Sandyhook, and in 14 Days after, arriv'd at Charles-Town.
It is indeed interesting that John Lawson ended his "New Voyage" through Carolina in the newly-formed Bath region. It is also interesting that he named his daughter Isabella, perhaps for his deceased sister that he was never able to know. He had perhaps discussed the Bath area many times as part of the original intent of the grant held by his master Sir James Hayes. It seems that every proprietor of the original Carolana had Bath, or the 35th parallel, most on their minds when planning for any future settlement. Lawson may have been involved in these discussions and had numerous opportunities to ponder upon the natural wonders available there. He may have been drawn to Bath since the early days of his apprenticeship from 1675-1683. Also, what influence might this have had on the later settlement of Swiss Palatines in New Bern in 1710? 

Huguenots from Mannakin Town who had originally arrived there when Lawson came to Carolina, left in only a few years to settle the new burgeoning port region of Bath. writes:
Into this vicinity [Bath] also, about 1704 or 1705, came a group of French Huguenots from Virginia where they had settled in 1699 [1700?] at a place known as Mannakin Town on James River. Discontented over economic conditions there, this group moved into Bath County, attracted by its fertile and plentiful lands. Here they proved an industrious people noted for the excellent linen cloth and thread which they made and exchanged “amongst the Neighborhood” for other commodities which they desired. 
Perhaps these Mannakin Town Huguenots were not so discontented with Virginia as much as they were eager to arrive in the Bath region, with the added opportunities afforded by the new port of entry. It was, after all, their originally-intended home for several decades. Another band of Huguenots led by their pastor Phillipe de Richelieu came to North Carolina about the same time; part of them also settled in Bath.

Indeed, Heath's early grant of Carolana and the durable attention of Huguenots invigorated Bath County, North Carolina's history far more than we have realized. The English effort to expel the Spanish from their own territory might simply have been an excuse for Huguenot refugees, desiring a home of their own. Moreover, Lawson's work is still very much with us today. No doubt that he had long planned and investigated the settlement of Bath County while still in England, like Surveyor-General of the Southern Colonies Robert Quarry, who owned a trading post in Bath County and with whom Lawson resided when in Philadelphia. The association of London merchant Micajah Perry also had a significant contribution to these same events and men through the Pennsylvania Company which involved many North Carolinians. Alas, however, we must leave this rather tantalizing prospect for another discussion.

Article updated 8-28-2019.

 Lawson Trek:

"John Lawson's journey of 1700-1701 provided the first scientific descriptions of the Carolinas. His resulting book cataloged everything from flora and fauna to the native populations and their languages and practices. Considering "the Latitude and convenient Situation of Carolina," he wrote, "our Reason would inform us, that such a place lay fairly to be a delicious Country."

Come with us -- writer Scott Huler and a changing cast of scientists, historians, and anybody else who wants to join in -- as we retrace his trek through what is now a better known -- but still delicious -- country.


Blackbeard's family records discovered - press release:

from BBC Radio Bristol

300 years ago on Thursday - 22 November 1718 - Bristol born Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard, the most famous pirate in the history of the world), was killed in a violent battle off the coast of North America. And after 300 years we can finally separate the truth from the myth. You can hear the whole story this Thursday at 9am in a one off BBC Radio Bristol special: BLACKBEARD: 300 YEARS OF FAKE NEWS. With new research by Baylus C. Brooks, narrated by Bristol born Kevin McNally - Joshamee Gibbs in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, and produced by Tom Ryan and Sheila Hannon this is a very different Blackbeard from the one in the story books...

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Blackbeard's Family? You've got to be Joking!

By now, many of you probably realize that I have written something of a controversial article. It's not controversial anywhere else - just here in North Carolina - but with good reason. This article, titled “Born in Jamaica, of Very Creditable Parents” or “A Bristol Man Born”? Excavating the Real Edward Thache, “Blackbeard the Pirate,” in the July 2015 North Carolina Historical Review contradicts much that we North Carolinians have come to believe about our most popular pirate rock star. 

NOTE: This article has been reprinted as Blackbeard Reconsidered: Mist's Piracy, Thache's Genealogy, available on 

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It was never my intention to rebut our state's most "treasure"d history (little pun there). It is. You only have to call the Beaufort Maritime Museum and listen to their phone message that says "Home of the Queen Anne's Revenge," Blackbeard's 40-gun frigate.  It's not my imagination. 

I'm particularly aware of this problem - almost as disappointed as all of you. Still, before the Jamaican records discovery, none of us had a solid clue about Blackbeard's true origins, except for one somewhat unreliable source from 1724. Still, on his second try, Capt. Charles Johnson (actually, Nathaniel Mist) was right - Blackbeard probably was born in Bristol and he did live on Jamaica! But, owing to the lack of supporting evidence, Blackbeard's true name has, since 1724, become wide open to speculation and debate, as I explained in my article, in fact. 

Recent work on Blackbeard's family in North Carolina relied on the work of Beaufort County genealogists: the late John H. Oden III, Jane Stubbs Bailey and Allen Hart Norris. Their original theory that "Black Beard" may have been named "Edward Beard" and was the son of James Beard of Bath and Goose Creek, SC was an enticing idea and theory. Moreover, it explained many details. Not only that... it made Blackbeard one of our own! 

I loved this fresh idea! Alas, it was too good to be true. I definitely will miss that son of North Carolina part. Still, Lt. Gov. Spotswood murdered the guy in our backyard and the Queen Anne's Revenge is still lying on the bar of Beaufort, in our waters! So, we still own the guy, right? Right!

In fact, the story of how I found the Jamaican records intimately involved this same enticing Beard theory. It was August of last year (2014). I'm not really sure of the exact day, but I was actually working on an article for my blog. That article involved the social history of James Beard and his family. Like I said, I loved the Beard idea, too.

Let me just say that I have expertise in Colonial North Carolina's history, but I never saw myself as a pirate historian. I never sought to be a Blackbeard scholar. I liked social history far too much than to concentrate on anything of such violence as piracy entails. Besides, there is a lot of confusion in pirate history, most owing to Capt. Charles Johnson's A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates and of course, Treasure Island. Still, a significant portion of that confusion is directly owed to the plethora of unsubstantiated legend and speculation that has evolved throughout the last 125 years or so. So, to avoid the mess, I would study coastal communities, slavery, etc. - things that don't necessarily relate to murder, theft, explosions, and other popular and uniquely-American cinematic fare. 

Well, I was intrigued by the Beard possibility and, that one day in August, I thought I'd write about it - in my own social historian way - telling the genealogy of the Beard family. I never dreamed that I would one day (actually within the next few hours) be able to tell the Thache family history! 

Note: A fabulous result came through Blackbeard's brother, Cox Thache's Kingston family.

As I was writing this article, it occurred to me that someone may have a dispute about the Beard theory (had already heard about many) and wanted to be sure that there was no obvious record out there about any bloke named "Edward Teach" or appropriate variation living on Jamaica in the first two decades of the 18th century. If there was, there would be no point to writing the Beard blog entry, would there? I just hate it when someone nails me on something I should have caught - seeing as how I have two degrees (almost) and a reputation as a professional historian. It happens because I make mistakes, but the fewer I can get caught making... you know. So, I drive myself nuts trying to avoid these mistakes. I may need medication for this, too.

So, I carefully explored (as I said, I am a social historian and have a world subscription to their site). I checked for "Edward Teach" on Jamaica between 1700 and 1720. To my complete and utter surprise and shock, I found one - well, "Thatch" anyway! I mean, I was just looking to cover my own tender backside - with damn good reason, as it turned out!

First record that I found on Jamaica for Edward "Thatch" and his family.

I checked the source: it was the Church of Latter Day Saints (well, of course!) and I found out that it came from microfilm (recently digitized, but available in Utah since the 1960s! - In Jamaica since the early 18th century!). These were baptism, marriage, and burial records bound in volumes and stored in the Anglican Cathedral in Spanish Town, Jamaica (shown below). I emailed the inter-library loan guys at ECU and asked if we could get those reels - they told me that it was already online!

“Cathedral, Spanish Town,” National Library of Jamaica Digital Collection , accessed July 15, 2018,
“Spanish Town, from Beacon Hill,” National Library of Jamaica Digital Collection , accessed July 15, 2018,
Duperly, A., “Kings House: old and new,” National Library of Jamaica Digital Collection , accessed July 15, 2018,
“Abolition of slavery in Jamaica,” National Library of Jamaica Digital Collection , accessed July 15, 2018,

After I picked myself off the floor - actually, I was still seated in my lounge chair, but astounded nevertheless - I explored those records and was able to put my genealogy talents to work (30 years in that). I had Blackbeard's family figured out in about two hours. Even more amazing, there was only one Thache family on the island, so if this was Blackbeard's home, like Johnson said in 1724, these simply had to be his kin. I was still in my lounge chair... and, by now, very hungry. 

I called the Registre General's Department in Spanish Town and asked them if they had any deed records on Edward Thache. This brought a few giggles on the receiver. How many times, I reacted, had some amateur pirate fan asked for records for "Blackbeard" on Jamaica - the archivists in Spanish Town had obviously dealt with them for decades!

A few months later, I tried a different tact and emailed a freelance researcher on Jamaica, adding a full family chart that I had assembled for the Thache family. I immediately received a much more serious response! This researcher explored the deed and will records for me, providing me with scans of documents ( ) at the Register General's Department in Spanish Town, Jamaica based on this family. One showed a deed from whom I believe to be the famed pirate himself:

Theache to Theache, 17 Dec 1706
Imagine my surprise when this elder Edward Thache had a son named Edward and he was in the Royal Navy in 1706!! Yep, a mariner... I was beyond saving, now!

I was in shock. I thought for sure that someone was playing a really nasty trick on me. Thus, the title exclamation: "Blackbeard's family! You've got to be joking!!" Why didn't this happen thirty years ago? Well, no internet or record digitization back then... still, why couldn't this happen to Lindley Butler or Colin Woodard or David Cordingly or - you get the idea - someone recognizable that no one would lynch or take after with pitchforks?

Anyway, I bravely went forward - nothing else I could do. Damn the torpedoes... er... pitchforks! 

Anyway, these days, I spend a lot of time working on the Thaches of Perquimans County, not just to restore Blackbeard to North Carolina, but they may actually belong to his Jamaican family - at least, there's some slight circumstantial evidence that may link them - still, no more real evidence than that which supported the Beard theory. Shall we expect a whole new set of theories and legends for Perquimans County? Yeah, probably...

So, my apologies to all those who got burned. Yes, I was one, too.

By the way, it turns out that a social historian can actually find social history in piracy. I learned that, thanks to Capt. Edward Thache of Spanish Town and his family. Thus, the book that I'm writing on... the families of pirates and what this actually means for how we perceive them in our world. 

Incidentally, early Anglican ministers in Jamaica are really to blame for our losing Blackbeard - they had the gall to record the births, marriages, and burials of his family - but on a remote island of the West Indies!!! And, maybe the LDS Church deserves some of that blame for hiding the microfilm from us in their vaults in Utah for the last half century and kept us from knowing long ago! Damn them!

I understand if you don't want to believe me - some guy you haven't even heard of - or the records' existence, but you have to believe David Stick. The eternal North Carolina conservationist, folklorist, and writer spent a lifetime studying and living in the Outer Banks. Stick well understood the lessons of history: Blackbeard was not North Carolinian. “The truth is, however,” he wrote, “that Edward Teach, or Blackbeard, was not born in North Carolina, or even in North America, and his activities around the Outer Banks lasted less than a year.”  

The facts even then, and as we now better understand them, do not support such a North Carolina origin. Still, he wrecked his ship here and we still  guard the gold dust and cannon with piratical precision!

Note that this article has been edited from its original content. 7/15/18

Blackbeard Reconsidered: Mist's Piracy, Thache's Genealogy on

Today's popular image of the pirate Blackbeard as a bloodthirsty criminal, "a Devil incarnate," has its origins in Nathaniel Mist's A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (1724). Mist's narrative only accounts for the last two years of Blackbeard's life, yet subsequent historians and scholars accepted and promoted this colorful but unsubstantiated image for three centuries. In Blackbeard Reconsidered, historian Baylus Brooks examines the myth of Blackbeard in the light of official government records in Jamaica and Church of England records. This new evidence allows Brooks to present the immediate lineage of Edward Thache, a respected resident of Spanish Town, Jamaica, and to place the gentleman's actions within an accurate historical context that successfully challenges the violent image of Blackbeard.

Was Blackbeard a GENTLEMAN? Historical records show feared pirate was actually an aristocratic family man who gave up his wealth to help his brother and sister


If you still feel so inclined, read more about the family of Edward "Blackbeard" Thache and the world in which he lived in the book Quest for Blackbeard: The True Story of Edward Thache and His World, to be released around Christmas of 2015. 

Get the poster of Blackbeard's family history and other gift ideas at this address:

Come see my website at - don't bring any pitchforks! Please. :)