Publisher's Note: This article originally appeared in the Beaufort Observer.
Hood Richardson: Eugene Bowers Grant, Jr. examined the history of the Pamlico region while researching land holdings passed down within his family for more than three hundred years. He studied history, genealogy, public records and the writings of Kevin Duffus and John Oden to fashion his version of historical events. His conclusions are based on common sense and a practical interpretation of human behavior. Grant's interpretation of Pamlico history is based on certain historical facts along with accepted versions of the somewhat uncertain interpretations of local history. Grant's use of common sense is difficult to refute. His writing is not so much dependent on historical references as it is to a practical interpretation of events and recorded documents.
Grant's conclusions are unique and interesting. They are on the same order of interest as recent postulations that the members of the Lost Colony cohabitated with local Indians as a necessity for survival. Survival both biologically and economically was perched on a knife edge during the first 150 years of settlement in the Pamlico area.
In The Beginning
Settlement of he Pamlico area of eastern North Carolina was first attempted by the English when the Lost Colony was established on Roanoke Island in 1585. Permanent settlement on the Albemarle Sound was started by Virginians in 1653. A governor of the Albemarle was appointed by the English in 1601. By 1712 the Albemarle area had a population of 4,000 people. The Spanish influence along the East Coast of North America began to wane about the time Lord "Grenville" (changed to Granville) claimed almost the entire East Coast of North America in the name of the Queen of England in 1663.
Kevin Duffus gives us a summary of conditions.
Anyone who has studied the history of the Pamlico region knows that early settlers were attracted to this area for its economic potential. They came because of the broad, navigable river and sound, which led to a centrally located passageway though the Outer Banks, connecting the great trading ports of the North Atlantic.
All seemed to go according to plan for the brave and hopeful pioneers. Then, unexpected disasters befell them---war, disease, divisive political conflict and a devastating drought.
By 1715, the promise and potential of the Pamlico seemed lost and the colony was on the brink of economic collapse. So it was that privateering, pirating and smuggling contributed to the survival of the colony."
The first English claim for title in the new world was made by Lord Granville in 1663. Queen Elizabeth sent her ship the "Tiger" to do this job. The ship went aground in Ocracoke Inlet. It was finally floated to the site of the well on the island at what became known as Teach's Hole to be repaired.
At this time Lord Granville claimed all land 600 miles north and south to have English title belonging to Queen Elizabeth. Subsequent English descriptions to claims of title in North America are many and varied.
While repairs were made to the Tiger, Lord Granville did four things: (1) Visit Lake Mattamuskeet, (2) Went hunting, (3) Made war on the Indian tribe that controlled the present Pungo River Basin, and (4) Visited the present day Town of Bath. Lord Granville returned to England. His claim to these lands, also claimed by Spain, contributed to more war with Spain.
The Pungo River splits into Pungo Creek and Pantego Creek at the Town of Belhaven. Pungo Creek has a shape which a ship cannot sail up without coming to a stop. Up this creek was a safe site for an alternate retreat site to hide from the Spanish.
The development of the new world involved the various land titles to the Lords Proprioters. There were both divided interests and undivided interests. All for the purpose of selling land to settlers and furthering the commercial interests of the British. Many came for opportunity and a new beginning. The Lord Granville heirs surrendered their last land title claims to the British Crown in exchange for the Granville Grant. This grant was a 60 mile wide strip on the south side of the Virginia line extending to the Pacific Ocean
The Colonial Barrows of Beaufort County
John Barrow moved to the Albemarle Colony before 1662. He lived from 1643 to 1718. He was active in politics. He served as a member of the council of the Albemarle Colony and a justice of the Court of Albemarle, as a justice of the Perquimans Precinct of the Lower House of the Assembly. He owned at least 300 acres of land on "Yawpim" Creek. He was a Quaker. He had nine children. Two of his children, John, Jr., and James died about one week after John, Sr.'s death on or about June 7, 1718. The records indicate Johannah and Joseph were the only children surviving past June.
John Barrow was a Quaker in a high position in government. Therefore, he must have had connections in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At that time Pennsylvania was not a state. It was a country with no connections to Virginia or Carolina. The banking system was totally run by Quakers and Boston merchants.
Bath County was created in 1696 by the Lords Proprietors governance. John Barrow was a council member and a judge in the legal system that helped make the decision to create the new County of Bath. A measure of his influence is shown by the selection of his son, William, to build the new center of government. William was sent to establish a location that was safe, with a harbor, on which a courthouse, a customs house and a home could be built.
When William Barrow arrived at the site on Machapungo Creek it was an Indian village with an existing landing and clearing. He imported 19 people from England on a ship of which he was the Captain. This gave him head rights to 900 acres of land. The British government awarded 50 acres of land for each person, whether free, slave or indentured servant in order to attract settlers. He used part of these rights to legally own the site. John Lawson was employed as surveyor.
By 1701 William Barrow had built a dock for ocean going ships. He also built a large house in which the Bath County Court was held until Bath Town was established. He built a customs house of brick for the storage of gunpowder. The entire complex was fortified with log walls.
William Barrow then somehow becomes a rebel against the local government headed by Governor Hyde. He does not rebel against the Crown of England. He is on a single mast sloop in the Albemarle Sound attacking Governor Hyde on land. The sloop has six cannons; the land forces have two cannon commanded by Mathew Midyette. Midyette's cannon hits and de-masts the sloop. Midyette captures the sloop and William Barrow. Governor Hyde rewards Mathew Midyette with land. He gives him from Nags Head to Oregon Inlet. Common descendants of both Mathew Midyette and William Barrow reside in Beaufort County today.
William Barrow is thrown out of the colony. In 1715 a Captain Barrow is reported to be with Blackbeard in the Caribbean. On June 4 1702 William Barrow is given a power of attorney on a ship called a "Pink" named "Adventure". A "Pink" is a type of vessel used in the Caribbean. Home port for the "Adventure" was the Custom House on Pungo Creek. Blackbeard is thought to have served on the "Adventure" as a young man.
During 1715 the Hyde Precinct collected taxes on 2,440 acres of land from W. Barrrow in the amount of 3 pounds one shilling and again in 1716 from a widow of W. Barrow for 2,440 acres in the amount of three pounds and one shilling.
During the appraisal of the estate of William Tomson in October of 1702 the bill for "plastering Mr. Barrows house" in the amount of 1 pound 15 shillings was noted.
In 1718 a Spanish ship re-named "Adventure" returns to its homeport, the customs house on Pungo Creek, with a Captain named Blackbeard. He returns to his friend, William Barrow, who is now dead. He builds a close friendship with William Barrow's son, John Barrow. William Barrow lived from 1672 to 1716
Indian Wars, Yellow Fever, Drought
On Sunday morning September 22, 1711 the Machapungo or Bay Indians rebelled, and killed half of the Bath County people (estimated to be 130 killed). Settlers were un-organized and not prepared. Bands of Indians approached farms innocently and when in close range attacked killing all in sight. William Barrow's home site with customs house and a log walled fort survived but did have damage. It was used as a base of operations until the Indians were defeated after three years of fighting. They were placed on a reservation on Lake Mattamuskeet.
The population of North Carolina in 1720 is reported to be 21,720 people. This includes coastal and piedmont populations. Help to put down the Indian uprising came from South Carolina. The war lasted until 1715 but eastern North Carolina residents were at risk from Indians during the late seventeenth century and early 18th century.
By 1775 the North Carolina population had increased to 345,652.
Payouts for service during the Indian uprising were made to Major Barrow in 1713 in the amount of 6 pounds 9 shillings and 5 pence.
During this same period there was an outbreak of yellow fever, spread by mosquitoes. Yellow fever at this time was almost always fatal. Colonists were greatly weakened by loss of life and the death of Governor Hyde to Yellow fever.
As if there were not enough problems, eastern North Carolina suffered a drought during the Indian wars and yellow fever epidemic.
Political disagreements arose as to the compensation due to the South Carolina militia for coming to the aid of Bath County. Indian wars, drought, yellow fever, diminished population, and the death of Governor Hyde brought financial hardship to Bath County. The Indian uprising was wide spread across eastern North Carolina. Fortunately contributions in money and militia were made from the Albemarle, Cape Fear, and Neuse settlements.
Consider the situation in the Bath to Pungo Creeks area around 1712. The Indians killed half the people believed to be about 130 deaths. That meant only about 130 were remaining. Most of these people were Quakers and would not fight. They had to hire it done for them. A yellow fever out break happened. The governor is dead. A temporary governor is in charge but the new governor will not take office until 1714 and he will choose to spend most of his time in a safer place, Edenton. The temporary governor is begging for assistance from Virginia to put down the Indian uprising. Virginia wants heavy payment to help. Finally two different militias on two different occasions arrive from South Carolina. There is no money to pay them and disputes arise. Undoubtedly the drought had a heavy impact on crops. The lack of availability of labor both slave and domestic reduced living standards and income. There was little money for medicine and other basic items.
With this background some families moved away, mostly toward Virginia. What were residents to do? Fortunately a new growth industry had been invented by the royal leaders of Europe. They used it on each other and found it to be very profitable. It was called privateering. All privateers were supposed to work under a commission from a royal government. They were directed as to whom they could attack and pillage. For the most part it depended on who the monarch was at war with at that moment. Privateering was another way to make war. Taking the enemy's property definitely slowed down his war effort. Supplies are the lifeblood of war. Besides, the Spanish were hauling all that loot from South America to Spain.
Privateering was a business. Companies and partnerships were formed, funds were raised to buy ships and arms, hire crews and captains. Privateering becomes piracy when one goes into business without the approval of the monarch. When this happens the monarch is unhappy for two reasons, (1) He has lost control over who can be attacked, and (2) He no longer gets a cut of the treasure.
The golden age of piracy began in 1689 and ended in1718. We still have piracy today. Cargoes then as is the case today were very valuable. Shiploads of medicine, sugar, gunpowder, silks and manufactured tools were more valuable in sustaining life then than they are today.
Citizens of the Bath area had a lot of the things required to enter the privateering or piracy business. They had marine supplies, tar pitch, fiber, and wood. They could provide food for crews. They could provide crews. Almost all travel in eastern North Carolina was by boat. Everyone could sail. And they had one of the most important ingredients of all. They had a native son who was skilled in piracy, having worked himself up to the rank of captain in the "pirate navy". His name was Blackbeard. They had another thing going for them. Fellow Quakers ran the banking system. Letters of credit could be used. There was no need to bury all that treasure. Most of it was in the form of perishable goods any way.
The fourth edition of "The Last Days of Blackbeard the Pirate" by Kevin P. Duffus lists many family names connected to Bath County. The following is a partial list.
Susanna Beard Frank
Mark Frank Worsley
We do not think of Quakers and merchants as being murdering thieving pirates. Desperate times cause desperate decisions to be made. Quakers and merchants could provide all of the services and goods required to enter the business of piracy, they did not have to pull the trigger or swing the cutlass. Blackbeard was known for his compassionate treatment of captives. The business of piracy only wanted the value in the gold, silver, goods and ships.
It is said, "There is no trust among thieves". That is true unless the thieves know and trust each other. Bath County had close blood relationships. But, they had a stronger bond. They all suffered from poverty, loss of loved ones killed by Indians or Yellow Fever and the bad crops. Pirates always used a system of shares and so did Blackbeard. Blackbeard was well known with a history of family and business dealing in Bath County.
There is conjecture that Blackbeard's real name is Edward Teach born in Bristol England. It is more likely that he was the son of a Bath area resident. Blood bonds would have allowed him to live in the Bath area without challenge. Although he did have a long black beard the name "Blackbeard" may have been a coincidence with the family name of Beard. The June 20, 1706 "List of Patents, Pamptico By Gov. Cary" lists a James Beard with 910 acres of patented land. Also on this list is William Barrow with three patents totaling 535 acres. William Perkins, the grandfather of Blackbeard's wife is listed with a 160-acre patent. Another person is Thomas Worsley, with two patents totaling 655 acres. Thomas Worsley was Blackbeard's father in law.
Thomas Worsley also had power of attorney for Captain James Beard, the father of Blackbeard. Thomas Worsley's wife is the daughter of William Perkins. Blackbeard married the daughter of Thomas Worsley. Governor Eden performed the marriage ceremony at William Barrow's house on Pungo Creek also known as Port Pamlico.
Copyright, 2014, Eugene Bowers Grant, Jr., All rights reserved
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This post appears courtesy of our sister site, Beaufort County NOW, with their expressed permission.