Some Notes on the Nansemond Indians

Helen Haverty King (and others) compiled Historical Notes on Isle of Wight County Virginia, published by the County Board of Supervisors in 1993. She skillfully combined family tradition and lore, local legends, and excerpts from county records of the entire Tidewater area. Evidently, she also compiled “Historic Isle of Wight Map of every pre-Civil War Building in Isle of Wight County, 1608-1865.” (The Family History Library does not have this map.)

The family of Nathaniel Basse of Bower’s Hill long had a rumor that Basse was married to a Nansemond Indian. Turns out that his son John Basse married the Indian–John was born 7 Sep 1616 and died 1699 in Virginia. He married a Christianized Nansemond Indian, Keziah Elizabeth Tucker in 1638.

These are the  sources used to prove the lineage as reported in the Virginia Pilot and Ledger Dispatch, the Sun 17 Aug 1986, as reported by Nell Kraft:

  1. Great-grandmother’s death certificate.
  2. Old family Bible.
  3. Copy of a Norfolk County Court document, dated 1797, which answered the question: How do you know you are of Indian descent?

    “This doth certify that Wm. Bass is of English and Indian descent and is not a Negroe nor a Mulatto as by some falsely and maliciously stated. His late mother was a vertuous woman of Indian descent lawfully begotten.” Affidavits sworn in court were accepted as evidence of truth. Sometime later, Virginia required sworn testimony from a white relative to certify Indian ancestry.

  4. Registers of births and deaths.
  5. Cemetery tombstones and sextons’ records.

The claim was accepted for membership in the  Jamestown Society and Old Dominion University, Department of Anthropology.

I am curious to view King’s map for Isle of Wight County and I’ll keep you posted on my search for it. Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS Stay tuned as I turn my research efforts on hard-to-find and undocumented Virginia ancestors.

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