Friday, August 14, 2015

Not Quite Ancestor in the News

As I've noted before, many of my maternal European lines of genealogy have been in America since the 1600's.
So far the ancestors who qualify me for membership in "The Jamestowne Society"  that I directly descend from on my 8 maternal great grandparents' lines are........

* Walter Aston
* Francis Clements
* Richard Foster
* Benjamin Harrison I
* Bartholomew Hoskins
* William Hunt
* Francis Mason
* Samuel Matthews
* Frances Greville West Peirsey Matthews
* Nicholas Meriwether
* Thomas Sheppey
* Armiger Wade

I also have a Tabitha Edloe which may go back to Matthew Edloe(who is on the Jamestown list)but that line requires more research.
And if anyone can ever figure out IF Nicholas Meriwether's wife Elizabeth was in fact a WOODHOUSE and then can get to the bottom of whether she is the daughter of Thomas Woodhouse OR the granddaughter of Henry Woodhouse(who both are qualifying ancestor's for the Jamestowne Society) then I'd have another line to chalk up on my list.

But I digress......

I want to talk about the ancestors named William Hunt from the list above and an exciting recent find at Jamestown, the site of the first permanent English Colony in Virginia.

I am descended from William Hunt through my great grandfather Robert William HARPER.

This photo was taken at a family reunion type gathering in June of 1955. It shows my mother and brothers standing with mom's father, Wirt Ross Harper(left) and his dad, Robert William Harper(center).  This Harper line is the one that takes me back to William Hunt.  I never knew/don't recall this great grandfather Robert Harper since he died in 1961 when I was not quite 2 years old.

Then going back in the line, we go from Robert HARPER's mother Mary Agnes DRISKILL, from her mother Sarah MASON, from her father Joseph H. MASON, from his mother Jane PARHAM, from her father Ephraim Stith PARHAM, from his father William PARHAM, from his father Thomas PARHAM,, Jr., from his mother Susannah HUNT, from her father William HUNT.

Got that all?
Good. '-)

This line at William Hunt starts out in Jamestown. the VA Colony and removes to Charles City County, Virginia with William sometime before his death in 1676.   Charles City(or Citie) County was an area east of present day Richmond and west of Jamestown(and present day Williamsburg), a more inland area. 

Within a couple of generations of the PARHAMS, the line removed to Sussex County Virginia which is more south and east from the coast.  Joseph MASON III married Jane PARHAM(the widow of William THWEATT)in Southampton County Virginia(which had been part of Sussex County).

This line stayed there until Jane PARHAM's husband Joseph MASON moved into Campbell County Virginia.  the next 5 generations on this line bounced back and forth between Campbell, Charlotte and Prince Edward Counties in Virginia, until my grandparents moved with my mother from Charlotte County to the Norfolk Virginia metro area.

I find it interesting to see the migration patterns of family lines and it IS helpful sometimes when you are stuck on an ancestor as to whether it makes sense to question the validity of whether they belong in your line or not when faced with a lack of confirming documentation as well.

Anyway, I saw a news article last week online HERE.
Through the use of DNA scientists have proved that the remains of 4 of the original colonists exhumed from graves on Jamestown Island recently are--

Captain Gabriel Archer-He didn't care for Capt. John Smith and unsuccessfully attempted to have him executed.  He led early expeditions from Jamestown up the James River looking for gold and silver.

Sir Ferdinando Wainman-He came to Jamestown in the 1610 expedition of Thomas West, 3rd Baron Lord De La Warr, which arrived in the nick of time with supplies to save the remaining inhabitants of the Colony.  Being a military man he took charge of the colony's defenses.
His work was short lived however as Wainman died from disease a few months after arriving and is the first English Knight to be interred in American soil.

Captain William West-A relative of Wainman accompanied him on that 1610 ship to Jamestown.
He was killed by natives near the present day location of Richmond VA.

Reverend Robert Hunt-Chaplain in the original expedition in 1607 that founded the Jamestown Colony.

I want to talk about this Robert Hunt a bit as many trees on Ancestry and elsewhere have linked him to my Hunt line as the father of my William Hunt.
There is not one inkling of fact to proof that this connection is accurate however.
But he is an interesting figure in our country's earliest history.

What is known about Robert Hunt at this point......

Robert Hunt was born circa 1568 in England.
He was a vicar(minister)in the Church of England which was the Anglican religion formed when Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church in order to divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn.
This Anglican religion when brought to America morphed into what is the Episcopal Protestant faith on these shores. 

Robert was the vicar of the congregation in Reculver, Kent, England.  He was forced to leave this congregation due to his unfaithful wife who was accused of adultery or as they put it back then, "seeing too much of that John Taylor".

Rovert left in disgrace in 1602 and his wife and two children remained behind.  He was moved to Old Heathfield church in Sussex, England.

In 1606 he was removed from this situation due to being accused of having an affair with his servant, Thomasina Plumber.  He was also accused by Church officials of abandoning and neglecting his  flock.

So what is a twice disgraced man of the cloth to do?
Why sail off to a new place and start fresh!

Rev. Hunt was offered a place on board the first ship of a new business venture, due to set sail for North America presently.

This company was the London Company(also known as the Charter of the Virginia Company of London)which was founded by royal decree by James I in 1606 for the purpose of founding English settlements in the New World.
Robert Hunt was recruited by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Bancroft, Richard Hakluyt, Jr. and Edward-Maria Wingfield(all early organizers and promoters of this venture)to be the expedition's and subsequent colony's chaplain.

Rev. Hunt sailed on the headship for the expedition, the vessel the Susan Constant(also referred to sometimes as the Sarah Constant), captained by Christopher Newport.  Also in the fleet to American were the ships Discovery and the Godspeed.

Here's the current replica of the ship moored on the James River near Jamestown Settlement.

"JamestownShips" by Warfieldian - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

After 144 days at sea the 3 ships made landfall in the New World on 26 April 1607 on a point of land at the southern edge of where the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay meet.  They named this location Cape Henry for the then current Prince of Wales, Frederick Henry, the eldest son of King James I.

Cape Henry today is located in the town I spent some of my childhood years in, Virginia Beach, VA.
The brick Cape Henry lighthouse was constructed near this site in 1792 and it's replacement was built 350 feet away from the first one in 1881.
Both remain standing today.........

But I digress.....

After making landfall at Cape Henry the Rev. Robert Hunt conducted the first religious service for the 105 Jamestown colonists in a makeshift shelter on 29 April 1607.

This area in Virginia Beach became a military base, Fort Story in 1914, and part of a state park opened in 1936.  The park was called Seashore State Park until 1997 when the name was changed to First Landing State Park to honor the first colonists who landed here before establishing Jamestown further up the Chesapeake Bay to the James River.

There is a memorial commemorating Robert Hunt at Jamestown.

After about a month living on the shores of the Chesapeake at Cape Henry the colonists boarded their ships and sailed inland to a location northwest of there on the banks of the James River and founded the Virginia Colony on a peninsula. (Due to erosion the peninsula has become an island today.)

Reverend Hunt was to die within that year at Jamestown in the Spring 1608 from disease. 
The location chosen to found the Colony was less than ideal in many way.  There was no fresh water supply, surrounded on 2 sides by swamps which were breeding grounds for malaria carrying mosquitoes and there was little suitable land for farming.  The only asset to the location was it's defensive positioning against enemies by land and by water.

Death was the fate of many of those 105 first settlers as well as the 140+ settlers who came via the 2 Supply ship voyages in 1608.  By 1610 about 80% of these early colonists had died from either disease, hunger or having been killed in skirmishes with the native peoples.  1609-1610 is referred to in Jamestown history as "the Starving Time".  By the end of the Winter of 1610, 500 total settlers had made the voyage to Jamestown but only 60 survived to that Spring.

As for my William Hunt, the "Baconite", my 10 x Great Grandfather, there is no proof to this point that he is the son of Rev. Robert Hunt of the original Jamestown settlers.

My William was born in 1599 and it's speculated the location of birth was Heathfield, England the same location as Rev. Hunt's congregation but no one has come forward with any paper records to prove the familial connection.
When Robert Hunt was removed from his parish in Kent, England there is no mention of a second son(much less a son named William).  If Robert left his wife back in Kent I doubt that another child was born to them(and there is no mention of Robert having a child with his servant he was accused of sleeping with in the Sussex parish).
It is known that William Hunt sailed to America on the ship "Abraham" in 1635, landing in Virginia.  He was a planter in Virginia and a merchant importing/selling goods from England in the colony.
Could William have been a son of Robert, born in Heathfield, who removed to America in 1635?
Possible since there is no known documentation on William's life before he left England.

There are 2 trees on Ancestry that have William's father as either Richard Hunt or John Hunt but with no supporting documentation as well.   The rest all have Rev. Hunt as his father.
I suppose we will never know for sure unless someone digs up and tests the remains of William and compares his with those of Robert Hunt.

Even if Robert Hunt is not my 11 x GGrand, it's exciting news to know that his remains have been identified.

I guess it's because I am a nerdy genealogist type.  8-)



  1. Hey - my last name is Harrison - maybe we're 10th cousins very much removed lol!

  2. Oh I just love this sort of stuff !

  3. Hey, Shuggy...

    Thanks for the clarification re Robert Hunt. Yeah, I pretty much came to the same conclusion, but it is fascinating.

    I'm more puzzled with William's wives - Judith Burton and Sarah Anne - and who had which kid...

    Today is my grandfather, Drew Adam Hunt's (1902-1952) birthday.

    Curtis DeHaven (b1958)

  4. This is cool. Thanks. I too am a descendant of William. Today is my grandfather, Drew Adam Hunt's (1902-1952) birthday. :)

    I'm a bit confused with the wives of William - Sarah Anne and Judith Burton. And who was the mother of who... I believe my William II was a son of Judith Burton.

    Curtis DeHaven (b1958)

  5. Hey, cousin 😂! That’s as far back as I can trace my Hunt ancestry, as well. I am a descendent of William Hunt of Isle of Wight. It’s a shame we can’t determine his parentage (whether or not Robert is his father or if not Robert, who?).

    As an aside, I grew up in VB just a few miles from where Robert Hunt planted the cross at Cape Henry.

    Liz Millinor


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