Ancestor of the Month
2007 will be the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in 1607, we thought that it would be fitting to
feature one of our Jamestown ancestors.
b.1613-d. before 31 March 1680
many of our ancestors’ lives, William Hatcher’s has some disputed facts.
His parents are not known and although a number of researchers have attached him to the Hatcher family of Careby, England,
there is no definite proof that he is a descendent of this family. About the
only concensus is that he was born in 1613 in Careby, Leichestershire, or Lincolnshire,
England. His birth date was determined by a legal document he signed 1 Aug 1676
in which he stated he was 63 years old. All the male Hatchers in Careby with
the exception of Henry Hatcher have been proven not to be the father of William.
Henry simply “vanished” from public documents and so far nothing has been found to prove definitely that
he was or was not William’s father. Early accounts tend to
list William Hatcher, brother of Henry, as our William’s father.
1635 when he was 22 years old, William Hatcher left England and came to the Jamestown Colony in Virginia. Established in 1607, Jamestown was located on an island in the James River, and in its first years was
a place of starvation, disease, and death. In 1609 the colony had about 500 citizens;
by 1610, there were only 65. Fortunately the people turned to agriculture rather than relying on help from the Indians or
ships from England, and the colony began to succeed. Then, when the colonists
discovered that the land was good for tobacco, that crop helped Jamestown to prosper.
William arrived after tobacco was “the” established crop. He brought
with him three “importees,” and by paying for their passage to the new world, he was awarded 50 acres of land
for himself and 50 as compensation for each of those with him, giving him 200 acres in Virginia. These three importees were Alice Emmerton, Richard Radford, and John Winchester. In 1637 William
again imported 3 people--Benjamin Gregory, Thomas Browne, and Charles Howell--giving him additional property. As late as 1674
he was still using this method as one way of acquiring land for on September 26 of that year, he was given 227 acres in Henrico Co on the South side of the James
River between. Gilbert Elam and Henry Lown’s property for the transport
of five more people:: Thomas Childers, Sarah Poynter, Henry. Davernett, Edward Stringer, and Ann Fryer. It is possible that these people served as indentured servants to pay for their passage. The lands he received for
the imported people were just the beginning, for William continue to amass property.
This method of land acquisition would indicate that William Hatcher was rather well-to-do when he arrived in Jamestown. This might be evidence that he was part of the
Careby Hatchers if they, too, were wealthy.
In addition to showing
William’s possible wealth and his desire to accumulate property, the patents of land also show that William was apparently
single when he came to Jamestown, for a wife would have meant an additional 50 acres of land, and, if they had had children
with them when they arrived, William would have received 50 acres for each child. (See
September “Ancestor of the Month” Benedictus Kuhn for a similar practice in South Carolina)
Exactly when William married
is not known; neither is the name of his wife who has been variously listed as Alice, Mary, Sarah, Marion, and Mary
Sarah. Her surname has been given as Emmerton, Smith, and Newport. Whatever her name, the couple probably married fairly
soon after William’s arrival in Jamestown and eventually established a home they called Varina on the James River.
(The plantation still exists.) It is interesting to note that several court sessions
were held at Varina during William’s lifetime. The reason for this is unclear,
though the court officers may have held sessions there to take depositions or as a matter of courtesy to an important man.
One Version of William’s Marriage
One of the stories concerning
William’s wife has the bit of romance that a long ago ancestor needs to have attached to him. According to this story, William married a woman named Marion Newport on 27 Dec 1632 in
Ogburn, St. George County, Wiltshire, England. Marion was the daughter of Captain
Christopher Newport (1563-1618) of Boynton, Yorkshire, England. Captain Newport died at sea on an East Indies voyage to Java Indonesia.
Marion’s mother was Elizabeth Glaufield (c.1575-?) from Suffolk, England.
Marion was born 1613 in Puddleton, Dorsetshire, England and died in Varina Parish, Henrico County, VA. William
is said to have been the son of Henry and Elizabeth Livingstone Hatcher. None
of this has been proven, but it is a nice story, especially the part concerning the adventurous and romantic ship’s
captain. Hopefully someone will find the evidence we need to bring that ship’s
captain into our ancestral tree.
The William Hatchers—whoever she was—had six children:
Edward, (1637-1711), William (1638-1661), Henry (1639-1677), Jane (1641-before
1710), Benjamin (1644-bef.1727), and Susannah (1646-aft.1699). It is from Edward
that we descend.
Election to the Virginia House of Burgesses
William became quite active
in Henrico County, Virginia. As a successful tobacco planter and landowner he
had position and power. (Barter rather than actual money was the practice of the day in most cases.) William’s family was considered “well-to-do,” perhaps because of the large amount of
land he managed to accumulate. He was obviously held in high regard
for he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses a number of times: 1644,
1645, 1646, 1649, 1652,1658, and 1659 The last two terms he was elected--1658
and 1659--were the last of William Hatcher’s public service in elective offices.
He was first elected at age 31 and was about 47 years old when he left office for good.
The House of Burgesses was the first elected political body in the colonies.
The Virginia Company--which had established the colony of Jamestown as an investment--wanted the colony to prosper
so that they, in turn, could profit as
much as possible. For this reason they allowed the colonists to own their own
land and to govern themselves. The resulting govermental body was a bicameral
legislature The upper house was the Governor’s Council and consisted of about eight men in its first years. The first representatives (or Burgesses) of the people numbered about twenty-two based on two representatives
for each of the eleven plantations along the St. James River. Over time the name House of Burgesses came to represent
the entire official legislative body of the colony of Virginia. The Burgesses could make laws--which could be vetoed by the
governor or the directors of the Virginia Company—but even at the risk of being vetoed, the colonists had some control
over their destinies, and the Virginia Company thought that this “control” would help keep the colonists happy.
Hatcher’s outspoken nature
William had quite a temper and a reputation for speaking his mind. At the
1654 Session of the House of Burgesses he was forced to apologize—on his knees—to Colonel Edward Hill, Speaker
of the House of Burgesses. William was brought to this humiliating position
for defaming Col. Hill, a popular man who had been unaminously elected Speaker. William’s defamation included calling Hill “an atheist and blasphemer.” The charge further
stated that “ the said William Hatcher... hath also reported, that the
mouth of this house [Col. Hill] was a Devil.” Because of these
unwise remarks, “it [was] therefore ordered by this house, that the said
William Hatcher, upon his knees, make an humble acknowledgement of his offence unto the said Col. Edward Hill and Burgesses
of this Assembly….” In addition to the apology, William also had
to pay a fine. Since William was not a member of the House of Burgesses at that
time, his punishment must have been particularly galling.
Hatcher’s fiery spirit
came into play again in 1676 when he was involved in Bacon’s Rebellion, an uprising of small farmers in Virginia led
by Nathaniel Bacon, Jr. Bacon’s Rebellion is usually mentioned as an early
example of American resistance to British control. The fact that it occurred
in 1676, 100 years before the Revolution in 1776, is often pointed out as particularly fitting. Modern scholars have discovered, however, that Bacon’s rebellion was based largely on two men of
hot temper Both behaved like spoiled schoolboys who didn’t get what
they wanted and then acted out of spite.
In the beginning of the colony
of Virginia, every free adult male could vote, but by the 1670’s this practice was changing. First, a new law allowed only large property holders to vote. Next new heavier taxes were levied to defray the expenses of running Jamestown. Finally
the people had not been allowed to elect representatives to the House of Burgesses for fifteen years. William Hatcher’s last term occurred just about the same time the elections stopped. Seeds of discontent grew among the colonists. When Indians
attacked the outer areas of the colony in 1676, Governor Sir William Berkeley (pronounced bark’ lee) did nothing
to defend the farmers. As a result, the farmers on the frontier of the colony
banded together to protect themselves and elected Nathaniel Bacon, Jr. to lead them against the Indians.
Bacon’s farmers defeated
the Indians, but his success so infuriated Berkeley that the governor charged Bacon and his men with being rebels and threatened
reprisals. As a result, Bacon’s “army” invaded Jamestown, took
over, and made changes. They forced the governor to hold an election. The newly elected representatives reinstated the law that all free men could vote. Dishonest sheriffs and officials were punished. Members of
the governor’s council were to be taxed like everyone else. Other reforms
overturned measures that Berkeley and his cronies had installed to insure more profit for themselves.
Berkelely vs Bacon
Now we see the pettiness of
the two major participants. Though they were slightly related, they were in almost every other way opposites. Berkeley was old, about 70. He was intelligent--a scholar
and playwright--and he had earned a reputation as a soldier in the English Civil Wars and the colonial Indian wars on the
frontier. King Charles I had been pleased with Berkeley’s work as Gov.
of Virginia during the 1640’s. Though Berkeley had been ousted as governor
when Charles I was beheaded, he was unanimously reelected governor by the Virginia colonists
when Charles II came to the throne. All in all, Berkeley was admired and
respected. On the other hand 29-year old Nathaniel Bacon, Jr. had a somewhat
tarnished reputation He was an intelligent, eloquent man, but he had also been
a young troublemaker who had so vexed his father with his schemes, misdeeds, and aversion to work that the elder Bacon had
sent him to Virginia to “grow up.”
Virginia was chosen because
the Bacons were slightly related to Governor Berkeley. The governor’s wife,
Lady Berkeley (Frances Culpepper) was Nathaniel’s cousin. As such, the
governor had given him special treatment when the young man first arrived from England.
He gave him a large choice land grant “next door” to William Hatcher’s plantation and had made him
a member of the governor’s council in 1675. This was not enough for Bacon,
however. He asked for a commission in the militia which Berkeley
refused. Some think that Bacon, like a sulking youngster who didn’t get
what he wanted, used the Indian attack as an excuse to seize power.
After the “first”
Rebellion, Bacon demanded and did receive a commission to fight the Indians, but he was still not satisfied as he wanted to
be declared general over all the militia. As soon as Bacon began to fight again,
the governor once more declared his nephew a rebel. Perhaps this came about because of the two men’s opposite views
on Indians. Bacon wanted to kill them all; to him there was “no
such thing as a ‘good’ Indian.” The governor made a distinction
between Indians who were his allies and Indians who shot at him. The young man
returned to Jamestown with his men and burned the town. Governor Berkeley escaped
and fled to the Virginia shore.
End or Outcome of the Rebellion
For a brief time Bacon “ruled”
Virginia, but he suddenly became sick and died. (His death was reportedly horrible—“bloody flux” and
the “lousy disease” [dysentery and lice] Stories say that his men burned his body.) With him gone, the rebellion fell apart. The governor returned to Jamestown and had his turn of playing spoiled schoolboy when he overreacted in
seeking revenge. He hunted down Bacon’s followers, took their property,
and executed several men. Finally Charles II sent troops from England, replaced
Berkeley, and recalled him to England where he died soon after. Both Berkeley and Bacon had good and bad points. Historians
cannot seem to agree on the two.
Bacon’s plantation was
next door to William Hatcher’s and Hatcher participated with Bacon in the rebellion.
He was fortunate that he escaped Governor Berkley’s revenge and retribution, but he did not escape unscathed. He had to go to court and was fined:
for uttering divers
mutinous words tending to the disquiett of this his Majesty's countrey, and it being evidently made appeare what was layd
to his charge by divers oaths, and a jury being impanelled to assesse the damages, who bring in their verdict that they award
the said Hatcher to pay ten thousand pounds of tobacco and caske, which verdict of the jury this honourable court doth confirme:
but in respect the said Hatcher is an aged man, the court doth order that the said Hatcher doe pay with all expedition eight
thousand pounds of drest porke unto his Majestie's Commander of his forces in Henrico county. for the supply of the soldiers,
which if he fayle to doe, that he pay eight thousands pounds of tobacco and caske the next cropp, and pay costs. (Notice that the fine is not in currency but in goods.)
Even with this sizeable
fine, William was much more fortunate than many of his neighbors who had also participated in the rebellion. His age at the time—63—had given him leniency
and likely his participation was largely verbal (“uttering divers mutinous
words”) Many of his neighbors were given prison sentences and had all or
most of their property condemned and taken as punishment. The seized land was
given to friends and supporters of the King.
William Hatcher and other
neighbors who were punished for their participation in Bacon’s rebellion sent a list of grievances to Charles II. The grievances were signed by Will Hatcher, Wilber Elam, John Pleasants, and Solomon
Knibbe. His spirit was definitely not broken.
Land and tobacco were not the
only means of William Hatcher’s acquisition of wealth. In 1658 or
1659 at Newport, Rhode Island, William and two of his friends, George Potter and Henry Randolph bought a ship called the Blackbird.
The vessel was fairly good size and cost three hundred pounds British sterling. (Here
we have money exchanging hands.) Descriptions of the ship say that it was
painted red. Exactly what the three men did with the ship is not specified, but they probably used it for shipping tobacco
or for other trade with Boston.
Thomas Burton, Jr.
In any event, William’s
grandson Thomas Burton, Jr. was apparently using the Blackbird between
1686-1691 after his grandfather had died, for he mentions it in a letter
to his mother. In another letter Thomas’ wife Elizabeth indicates
that she does not know how her husband died. Many assume that he may have died
aboard the Blackbird about 1691 in one of his voyages to or from Boston.
Thomas, the son of Thomas and
Susannah Hatcher Burton, must have been a special grandson of William, for after
his grandfather’s death, the young man was not only apparently in charge of the Blackbird, his grandfather had
made other provisions for him as well. For example, William made a gift
of deed in his will for the then
thirteen-year-old Thomas. None of William’s children or other grandchildren
were mentioned in the will.
I give unto Thomas
Burton, Jr. the plantation between the land of Mr. Henry Lound and the land of Gilbert Elam to wit: two hundred and
twenty-six acres, his choice of all my horses or mares, one heifer called Blackchops, a young ewe, and a year’s schooling
and clothes, till he reaches the age of seventeen years, to the confirmation of which I have hereunto set my hand and affixed
my seal this two and twentieth day of February, 1676/7. (Note: this plantation
is the land he received for transporting five people to the colony in 1674.)
added a final memorandum to his will:
Memorandum before the signing and sealing hereof, I do bequeath
unto the above mentioned Thomas Burton, Jr. the second choice of all my furniture thereunto belonging. s/Will Hatcher
died sometime before 31 Mar 1680. His
estate was handled as if he had died intestate since his will was more of a gift of deed than it was a regular will. No executors were named, but surviving sons Edward
and Benjamin gave their deceased brother Henry’s minor children cattle and other property from the estate. Brother William
had died without marrying. Edward and Benjamin then signed an agreement to divide
the remaining property and specified who was to get what. Robert Sharpe, one
of the founders of Henrico Co., VA, laid claim to the planatation Varina, which had fallen to Edward. Sharpe and Edward agreed to divide the property in half and agreed that Sharpe should have first choice. (Just why Sharpe would have a claim to this land is a mystery, but I’ll keep looking.) Sharpe later sold the land to William
Byrd, Esquire, of the famous Byrd family of Virginia.
William Hatcher was one of
our “lucky” ancestors who came to the New World and really prospered.
He served his new homeland as an elected representative and built a home and family of which he could be proud. We, in turn, can be proud of him.
William Hatcher is Mamaw’s
7greats grandfather. If you are Elizabeth “Betsy” Hatcher McCarter’s
great great grandchild, William Hatcher is your 11 great grandfather
Line of Descent from William
Hatcher to Mary Elizabeth Hatcher
William Hatcher (1613-1680)
+ Unknown (?-?)
Edward Hatcher (1636-1711)
+ Mary Ward (c1641-aft.1711)
William Hatcher (1660-c1736) + Ann
William Hatcher, Jr. (1695-1770)
+ Obedience Unknown (1700-1772/1773)
Edward Hatcher (1726-c1782)
+ Sarah Heil (1732-1775/1779)
William Hatcher (1769-1820)
+ Mary Elizabeth Crowson (1770/1780-1838)
Reuben Hatcher, Sr. (1798-1870)
+ Marthew (Martha) Magill (1802-1875)
James H. (Pete) Hatcher (1839-1911)
+ Mary Elizabeth McInturff (1837-1915)
Israel Alexander Hatcher
(1860-1950) + Susannah Ann Sutton (1866-1903)
Mary Elizabeth Hatcher (1889-1969)
+ Rev. Eli McCarter (1886-1955)
Bacon’s Rebellion. www.nps.gov/colo/Jthanout/BacRebel.html
of Abraham Childers, (the emigrant)[sic]
Hatcher group sheets, pedigree charts,
Nel. The Hatcher Family Resource Center.
“House of Burgesses.” www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1151.html
Jensen, Merrill. “Bacon’s Rebellion.” Colliers
Encyclopedia. Sierra, 1998.
Lineage Quest Organization “Ancient and Early
Colonial Virginia.” lineagequest.org/
“Sharp, Robert.” www.colonist.com (information on 5th generation of Robert Sharp.)
“Terrible Transformation, The: Bacon’s Rebellion 1675-1776”