Family Histories

Family Histories for the Rose and Kirkpatrick Families

Friday, June 17, 2016

52 Ancestors: Capt. William Tucker 1589 - 1644

My newest genealoby project is researching my earliest ancestors in America; I was surprised to find that I have several who were among the earliest immigrants to this country and were among the settlers in Jamestown.

Capt. William Tucker was born in England in January 1589, the son of John Tucker, a clothworker,  and Alice Pelham.  William was a merchant, which would indicate he had risen several levels above his father socially.  He was an early investor in The Virginia Company and had kinsmen that made the trip to the Virginia colony before him.  The book Colonial Virginians and Their Maryland Relatives: A Genealogy of the Tucker Family (Norma Tucker, pub. 1994) says that William arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1610.  Another account says he came aboard the "Mary and Thomas" in 1610 with the fleet that brought Lord de la Ware to the colony.  Others show him arriving in 1618 and 1620, as the Captain of the "Mary and James."  If he immigrated in 1610, he would have arrived at the end of The Starving Time, when many of the Jamestown settlers died of starvation and Indian attacks.  I think it's more likely William arrived later; however, he may also have made trips back and forth during that time period.  He appears to have married Mary Thompson in 1618 in England and she followed him to Virginia in 1623, along with three of her brothers, on the "George."  William is also a member of the House of Burgesses (for Elizabeth City)  in 1619, so he was certainly in the colony before 1620.

After an Indian attack in 1622, William was placed in charge of Elizabeth City's inhabitants.  In May 1623 he led an expedition up the Potomac to rescue some male colonists the Indians had captured. He was given authorization by the Governor to board departing ships to detain debtors attempting to leave without paying their debts and to levee taxes on tobacco.  In 1624, William patented 150 acres on the James River in Elizabeth City, where he and his wife, their infant daughter Elizabeth, and 18 servants (including Mary Tucker's brothers) resided among three residences and a palisades.  William appears to have held a position of authority in Elizabeth City over the next few years, making a number of court appearances, settling debts and disputes.  He made several voyages between the colony and England over the next few years and was in England in 1639, where he said he had been detained for three years due to charges made by Sir John Harvey.  (Harvey was Governor of the Virginia Colony and appears to have charged several prominent people of overstepping their authority.)

Unfortunately, there are some less admirable incidents in the life of William Tucker.  He was involved in an infamous incident where natives who had come to sign a peace treaty were served poisoned wine.  At the end of negotiations, William proposed a toast with the wine poisoned by Dr. John Potts.  Two hundred Powhatan Indians died from the poison and 50 more were slaughtered, ending the threat from the Indians to the colonists.

William Tucker also has the (dubious) distinction of being the owner of the first black American born in the Virginia colony.   William came to Virginia with two African indentured servants, Antonie and Isabelle; their son William, born in 1624, was the first black child born in Virginia.   Antonie and Isabelle were among 22 African servants who were brought to Virginia with settlers.  

William and Mary had at least four children:  Elizabeth, William II, Mary and Thomas (some accounts list more children).  He made his will in London in 1642,  leaving his estate to his sons William and Thomas, and his daughter, Mary (no mention is made of Elizabeth, indicating she had probably died).  His will also names a wife named Frances; I have found no marriage record, but this would indicate that Mary Thompson was dead and William had remarried.  The will says that he is soon to sail for Ireland.  This is the last record for William.  His death is recorded as having been in Elizabeth City, with burial in the Tucker Family Cemetery, and also as being at sea off the coast of Ireland.  The Tucker Family Cemetery in Hampton City, Virginia does list William among those interred there. 

1 comment:

  1. Evidently, I am also a descendant of this man. I recently was given family research and find that my great grandmother Frances Emily Tucker born 1845 was descended from William Tucker.