Friday humour: Being a (brown skinned) Englishman in Boston

Funny how a song can prompt a thought-stream. I just caught Sting’s An Englishman in New York on the radio and I couldn’t help but laugh knowingly. Being me, I mentally upped the ante:. I wanted to tell Sting: be a browned skinned Englishman in Boston.

This post is a bit off topic for the subject of this blog. It’s about me, so I don’t feel too badly about that. And for a Friday, I hope it makes you either smile, laugh out loud – or both.

I’m lucky to be a dual national American-Brit. I think I inherited the best of both worlds. My American-instilled “I can do anything I set my mind to doing” attitude served me very, very well in the UK. It enabled me to carve out quite the career in the British entertainment industry. Here in the US, I have that unquantifiable thing called “Englishness” which serves me quite well. Call it manners, bearing, that British sense of fair play – whatever it is -it’s something that makes me stick out in people’s memories (in a positive way) on this side of the Pond.

And my accent. Oh, blimey, there’s my accent.

My accent is pure Home Counties British. Not quite what the British would call “posh”…but something like posh’s next door neighbour. In American terminology, I speak “well”. But it’s mostly just the accent and the vocabulary. It causes no manner of confusion in my adopted home of Boston. And when you have someone who looks like me – cue the brown skinned bit – well, it’s a show stopper. Brows wrinkle. Head’s tilt in that way that they do when people try to comprehend the incomprehensible. There are looks of confusion, from vague to downright comical. It’s like witnessing reality taking a holiday or finding yourself in an episode of the Twilight Zone. You’d be forgiven for thinking that I’d just shown them a picture of Queen Elizabeth sporting a Mohawk. It hits my funny bone, hard, every time. There’s no malice in this. It is genuinely funny. And rest assured that the British half of me takes over and I don’t laugh, for that would be impolite. It’s just not the done thing.

This, I hasten to add, is pan-racial. By that I mean the reaction is universal…the exception being the other Europeans and Brits I’ve met in Boston.

I was in Home Depot yesterday discussing the merits of galvanized deck nails and the man I was speaking with blurted out “You sound just like Downton Abbey”. This time I did laugh. He caught me off guard. All I could say was “Until I’m annoyed or angry, then I sound like I should be on Eastenders.” He didn’t quite get the analogy so I let rip with a bit of pure Walthamstow (that is to say, a very, very East End accent). He then asked the inevitable. “Do all, you know, black people in England -?”

“No,” I replied. And I know myself well enough to know there was something of a twinkle of mischievousness in my eyes. “Some have West Country accents, you know, they talk like pirates. Others have Liverpudian accents, then there’s Glaswegian accents, Ulster accents, while others have hardcore Essex accents.” I couldn’t resist. I went on to say if he really wanted his mind blown he should go to a Chinese takeout anywhere in Scotland and hear what accent a Scottish person of Chinese descent had.

Then, of course, there’s the UK to US English translation. Car boots, notes, lifts, braces, jumpers, shopping trollies, cash tills, ground floors, trainers, pants, spanners, aubergines, courgettes, settees, sitting rooms, loos, a score (money) – these, and many more, are a regular part of my vocabulary. I will, eventually, learn how to call these things by their American counterpart. For now it just adds more humour to an already funny situation.

Using cockney rhyming slang is an admittedly bad habit. But it is second nature.  So cockney slang like “I’ll have a cup of rosy lee” (translation: ” I’ll have a cup of tea, ta”) just takes it to a whole other planet. Asking for builders’ tea (cue, tea that’s as strong as you can make it) is gold dust.

In the right hands, there’s comedic TV gold here somewhere. Channel 4 or E4, thank you. The Beeb would just make it too polite and, well, Middle England. The lead writers for the original British Misfits TV series would have a field day.

In the meantime, this particular brown-skinned British-American bloke with a somewhat posh UK accent will continue to astound and amaze Bostonians. And no doubt other Americans when I start travelling around the US more. Honestly? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Tracing slave ownership for the Scots-Irish Roane family of Virginia

My thanks to my cousin Lewis S – who has so kindly shared slave-related documents with me from his side of the Roane family. And my thanks to another cousin, Mia F, who has spent quiet some time over the past few months visiting the Virginian archives in search of information and documents about our enslaved Roane and Price ancestors. This post wouldn’t be possible without their generosity.

I’m hoping this post will enable other African American Roanes trace their family ancestry. Or help people whose enslaved ancestors were owned by members of the earlier generations of the Scots-Irish Roane family in Virginia.

I’ve debated about how best to present the information that follows below. Should I do a series of posts? Should I put everything together in one post? In the end, to show a clear progression of ownership, I opted to put all of the information I have in one post in chronological order.

Some slaves, like Orange, have such unique names that they are easy to race from generation to generation. Most others, however, share such common names that I haven’t been able to confidently trace the transfer of ownership from one Roane to another.

I will continue to update and re-post this as I find more information about Roane family slaves.

The slaves of William Roane, Sr

William, the son of Sir Archibald Gilbert Roane, was born in 1701 (County Antrim, Northern Ireland) and died in 1757 (Bloomberg, Essex County, Virginia).

The document below shows his purchase of 3 slaves from John Seayres on 17 March 1746:
Matt;
Kingston(e); and
Richmond (Rich). (This may be the same Richmond mentioned in William Roane, Jr’s Will, in which case, he was deeded to William Roane, Jr’s son Spencer Roane. Alternatively, the Richmond mentioned in William Roane, Jr’s will may be the son of this Richmond).

1757 Will of William Roane, Sr.

William’s will was proved December 20, 1757; his wife Sarah Roane’s will was dated 1st day of August 1760, and was proved December I5th, 1760.

Will of William Roane Essex County Virginia Will proven 20 December , 1757

In the name of God Amen I William Roane of the Parish of Southampton in the County of Essex Gent. Being sick and weak of body but of Perfect Sense and memory Blessed by Almighty God therefore Calling to mind the uncertainty of this Transitory Life so make this my Last Will & Testament in manner following first I will that my body be buried in a decent manner at the discretion of my Executors hereafter named trusting through the merits of my blessed Savior Christ for the Salvation of my Soul and for the disposal of my worldly Estate with which it hath pleased God to bless me

I Give devise and bequeath the same as followeth Viz; Imprim is I give and bequeath to my son Thomas Roane the tract of land I purchased of Philip Vase whereon he now lives also the tract where his Quarter won Piscataway formerly Doctor Philip Jones’s and also the Ordinary tract with their and each of their appurtenances to him and his heirs forever

Item. I give and bequeath to my son William Roane all that tract of land that was John Haul’s (Haile) also the tract I purchased of Thos Gatewood joining it , and all the tract I purchased of Henry Crittenden with their and each of their appurtenances to him and his heirs forever

Item. I give and bequeath to my son John Roane all my land in Culpeper County Viz: one tract containing by estimation thirteen hundred and fifty acres purchased of Joseph Bloodworth also the tract of land I purchased of Charles Cavenaugh and also a tract adjoining Cavanaugh’s lately purchased of John Williams with their and each of their appurtenances to him and his heirs forever

Item. I give to my daughter Mary Ritchie as much money as will make her fortune eight hundred pounds current immediately inclusive of what she hath already received being upwards of six hundred pounds as per my ledger and at my wife’s decease I give her two hundred pounds more .

Item. I give to my daughter Sarah Roane eight hundred pounds current money to be paid her at the age of eighteen or day of marriage and two hundred pounds more at my wife’s decease

Item. I give to my daughter Lucy Roane eight hundred pounds current money and two hundred pounds more at my wife’s decease

Item. I lend my loving wife Sarah Roane all the tract of land I live on with the piece I bought of Robert Johnson and my water grist mill with all their appurtenances during her natural life and after her decease I give it to be equally divided between my three sons Thomas, William & John and their heirs forever

Item. I also lend my said wife twenty negroes , her choice, all my household furniture except half the Plate, all the stock that belongs and is on this my dwelling Plantation during her life and after her decease to be equally divided amongst all my children and heirs forever

Item. I give and bequeath all the residue of my estate to be equally divided amongst my three sons Thomas, William & John and their heirs forever

Item. My will and desire is that if either of my children die before they attain to age of marriage that their part or parts be equally divided amongst all my children & their heirs forever .

Item. I do hereby appoint my three sons Thomas, William & John Executors of this my Last Will and Testament . In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand ~~~ this 17th day of November Anno Dom. 1757

W Roane

Signed Published declared by the dc William Roane in & for his Last Will & Testament in presence of us

Jno Clements
John Upshaw
James Upshaw

At a Court held for Essex County at Tappahannock on the 20th day of December 1757 This Last Will and Testament of William Roane Gent. Dec’d was presented into Court by the Exors herein named who made oath thereto according to law the same being proved by the oaths of John Upshaw & James Upshaw two of the witnesses thereto , is ordered to be recorded & on the motion of the said executors and their performing what the Law in such cases require a Certificate is granted them for obtaining a Probate thereof in due form

Test John Lee Jun D Clk

Know all men by these presents that we Thomas Roane, William Roane , and John Roane and John Upshaw , James Upshaw and Thomas Waring and John Lee Senior are held and firmly bound to Francis Waring, Simon Miller, James Hibbard, Robert Brocke Gent. Justices of the Court of Essex County now sitting, in the sum of ten thousand pounds current money to the payment whereof well and truly to be made to the s’d justices and their heirs ——— we bind ourselves and each of us and each of our heirs Executors Administrators Jointly and Severally firmly by these presents Sealed with our seale this 20th day of December in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and fifty seven and in the 31st year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the second .

The condition of this obligation is such that the above bound Thomas Roane, William Roane & John Roane Executors of the Last Will and Testament of William Roane Gent. Deceased , do make or cause to be made a true and perfect inventory of all and singular the Goods, Chattels & Credits of the said deceased which have or shall come to the hands possession or knowledge of the said Thomas , William and John or into the hands and possession of any other person or persons for them and the same so made, do exhibit into the County Court of Essex at such time as they shall be hereunto required by the said Court , and the same goods, chattels , and credits and all other goods, chattels, and credits of the said deceased which at any time after shall come to the hands possession or knowledge of the said executors or into the hands and possession of any other person or persons for them do well and truly administer according to Law and further do make a true and just account of their actings and doings therein when thereto required by the said Court and also shall —– truly Pay and deliver all the legacies contained and specified in said Testament as far as the said goods, chattels and credits will thereunto extend and the same shall charge then this Obligation to be void & of none effect or else to remain in full force and virtue

Thomas, Roane, William Roane
John Roane, John Upshaw
James Upshaw , T Waring
John Lee Junior

At a Court held for Essex County at Tapp’a the 20th day of December 1757 this bond was acknowledged by the parties and ordered to be recorded & is truly recorded

John Lee Junr Clk

1757 William Roane Sr., estate inventory (excerpts, with valuations in Pound Sterling, designated by the letter “L”)

Filed in court 1758 0321

“An Inventory with Appraisement of the Estate of William Roane Gentleman decedent in Essex County Anno Domini 1757

Slaves named:

Richmond 50L
Bought from John Seayres in 1746 – see the first record in this article.

Stafford 50L

Lancaster 50L

Sam 50L

Ben 50L
Owned by William Roane, Jr and deeded to William Jr’s son Spencer Roane in 1782

Little George 50L
Deeded either to Col Thomas Roane, Sr or William Roane There are too many George’s to be able to clearly identify who he was deeded to

Hanover 50L

Isaac 40L
Deeded to son Col Thomas Roane. Col Thomas Roane deeded Isaac to Richard Barnes, husband of his daughter Rebecca Roane

Dick 40L

George 50L
Deeded wither to Col Thomas Roane, Sr or William Roane There are too many George’s to be able to clearly identify who he was deeded to

Nero 40L

Letty 45L

Caroline 35L

Jamey 60L

Beauty 45L

Brunswick 45L

Kate 40L

Hannah 50L
Owned by William Roane, Jr and deeded to William Jr’s son Spencer Roane in 1782

Betty 32L
“Bett”owned by William Roane, Jr and deeded to William Jr’s son Spencer Roane in 1782

Lame Letty 10L

Austin a boy 40L
Deeded to William Roane, Jr.

Moll a girl 30L

Ambrose a boy 25L

Nell a girl 37L

Great Jammy & Child Ann 65L

Nan & Child Rachel 55L
This could be the same “Nan” cited in William Roane, Jr’s 1782 slave deed to son Spencer Roane in 1782

Young Philio, a girl 30L

Phil a boy 18L

Lucey a girl 30L
There are too many Lucy’s to confidently assess which child she was deeded to.

Pegg a girl 22L

January a girl 30L

Rose a Woman 50L
This could be the same “Rose” cited in William Roane, Jr’s 1782 slave deed to son Spencer Roane in 1782

Amey & Child 10L
There are too many Amy’s to confidently assess which child Amey and her child were deeded to.

Liddey a small girl 15L

Charles a boy 35L

Old Philio 8L 10s

 

At the Stafford Quarter:

Mulatto Ham (to be bound)

Negroes:

Norfolk a man 50L

Liddie a young woman 50L
This may be the same Lydia that Col Thomas Roane, Sr deeded to daughter Sarah Roane Campbell

Hannah & Child Harry 55L
This may be the same Hannah that Col Thomas Roane, Sr deeded to his daughter Patsy Hipkins Roane Ritchie

Sarah a girl 35L
Two Sarahs are mentioned in Col Thomas Roane, Sr’s will. It is likely this Sarah is one of those two.

Bulley a Boy 27L 10s

Betty a Girl 22L 10s

Norfolk a boy 12L 10s

Tom a boy 40L
This may be the same Tom McGeorge mentioned in Col Thomas Roane, Sr’s will

Jack a boy 27L 10s

Chance a boy 12L 10s

Dinah a girl 25

London a Man 15

Princess a Lame Woman 0

At Georges Quarter:

George a man 40L
This may be the same George mentioned in Col Thomas Roane. Sr’s will

Roy a man 30L

Surrey a Woman 40L

Hannah a woman 25L

Phebe (latters child) 10L

At Lancaster Quarter:

Glasgow a man 20L

Peter a man 50L

Prudence a Woman 25L

Chloe a Woman 45L
Deeded to son William Roane, Jr

At Gloucester:

Gloucester a man 50L

Orange a Woman 45L
Deeded to son William Roane, Jr

Winney a girl 45L

Frankey a girl 40L
This could be the same “Frank” cited in William Roane, Jr’s 1782 slave deed to son Spencer Roane in 1782

Alice a girl 40L
Owned by William Roane, Jr and deeded to William Jr’s son Spencer Roane in 1782

Patty a girl 22L
This could be the same “Pratt” cited in William Roane, Jr’s 1782 slave deed to son Spencer Roane in 1782

Grace a small girl 13L
Deeded to son William Roane, Jr, who deeded her to his daughter Sally Roane

Gloucester a child 15L
Owned by William Roane, Jr and deeded to William Jr’s son Spencer Roane in 1782

Total value of Estate: 5,215L 6s 10d

Note 1: Neither Kingston or Matt appears in this estate inventory list. Presumably, they were either sold or died before 1757.

Note 2: I don’t know what the word “Quarters” signifies. At present, Quarters seem to indicate the different properties and tracts of land owned by William Roane, Sr..

 

The slaves of Sarah Upshaw Roane

Sarah Upshaw was the widow of William Roane, Sr. Upon William’s death, she inherited his slaves.

No slaves are cited in either her will or her inventory. However, I include both below for transparency – and to save people the time and effort of trying to track them down. Presumably, the slaves she owned were divided between her children as per William Roane’s will of 1757.

I would suggest looking at the wills and estate inventories of William & Sarah’s children to trace the slaves cited in William Roane’s estate inventory. Their children were: Col Thomas Roane (died 1799 in Fairfax, VA. His will follows further below in this post), Mary “Molly” Roane (died 1800 in King & Queen County, VA. She married Andrew Archibald Ritchie, hence the name Mary “Molly” Roane Ricthie), John Roane (died Oct 1805, Uppowoc, King William County, VA), Lucy Roane (died 1801 in Richmond, Wise, VA. She married Richard Barnes, hence the name Lucy Roane Barnes), Sarah Upshaw Roane (died 1810 in Richmond, Wise, VA. She married Dr John Brockenbrough, hence the name Sarah Upshaw Roane Brockenbrough). William Roane (his estate information follows below).

Will of Sarah Roane
Essex County, Va. Will proven 15 Dec 1760 Will Book 11 Page 287

In the name of God Amen I Sarah Roane of the County of Essex being sick & weak of body but of sound & perfect mind & memory & considering the uncertainty of this transitory life do make and ordain this my last will & testament in manner & form following viz.

Imprimis I give to my daughters Sarah & Lucy each of them two gold rings.

Item. I give to my granddaughter Margaret Ritchie one stone ring of about fifteen shillings sterling price and to my niece Hannah Hipkins I give ten pounds currency.

Item. I give & bequeath all the residue of my estate to be equally divided between my three sons Thomas, William and John Roane to defray the expenses of bringing up and educating their two sisters and I do constitute and appoint them my said three sons, executors of this my last will & testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 11th day of August 1760.

Sarah Roane

Signed sealed and acknowledged to be her last will & testament in the presence of us
John Upshaw
Daniel Sullivan Junr.

At a Court held for Essex County at Tapp’a the 15th day of December 1760, this last will & testament of Sarah Roane dec’d was this day produced in Court by Thomas Roane one of the executors therein named who made oath thereto according to law and was also proved by the oaths of the witnesses thereto and admitted to record and is recorded.

Test. John Lee Jun. D.C.E.C.

Know all men by these presents that we Thomas Roane and John Upshaw Gentlemen are held and firmly bound to John Clements, William Mountague, Charles Mortimer and William Brooke Gent. Justices of the Court of Essex County now sitting in the sum of five hundred pounds to the payment whereof well and truly to be made to the said Justices and their Successors, we bind ourselves and each of us and each of our heirs, executors and administrators jointly and severally, firmly by these presents, sealed with our seals this 15th day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty and on the 34th year of the reign of our sovereign Lord George II.

The condition of this obligation is such that if the above bound Thomas Roane Executor of the last will and testament of Sarah Roane deceased do make or cause to be made a true and perfect inventory of all and singular the goods, chattels and credits of said deceased which have or shall come to the hands, possession or knowledge of the said Thomas or to the hands or possession of any other person or persons for him and the same so made do exhibit into the County Court of Essex at such time as he shall be thereunto required by the said court; and the same goods, chattels and credits and all the other goods, chattels and credits of the said deceased which at any time after shall come to the hands, possession or knowledge of the said Thomas or the hands or possession of any other person or persons for him do well and truly administer according to law and first do make a just and true account of his actings and doings therein when thereto required by the said Court and also well and truly pay and deliver all the legacies contained and specified in the said testament as far as the said goods, chattels and credits will thereunto extend and the law shall charge; then their obligation to be void and of none effect or else to remain in full force and virtue.

Thomas Roane
John Upshaw

At a Court held for Essex County at Tapp’a the 15th day of December 1760, this bond was acknowledge by the parties hereto admitted to record and was recorded.

Test John Lee Jun. D.C.E.C.

Note:  I have not been able to find an inventory for Sarah Upshaw Roane

The slaves of Col Thomas Roane

There is quite a bit of information about Thomas Roane’s properties and plantations. These might indicate why certain ancestors lived where they did at the close of the Civil War.

WILL OF COL. THOMAS ROANE.

Note: I haven’t found an estate inventory for Thomas Roane upon his death. I have compiled a list of his slaves cited in his will below.

Slaves named:

Billy “The Blacksmith” – deeded to widow Mary Ann Hipkins Roane

James – deeded to daughter Sarah Roane Campbell

Jerry Bland – deeded to daughter Sarah Roane Campbell

Winney – deeded to daughter Sarah Roane Campbell

Lydia – deeded to daughter Sarah Roane Campbell

Suckey – deeded to daughter Sarah Roane Campbell

Pitt – lent to Hugh Campbell, Sarah Roane Campbell’s husband. Hugh Campbell sold to unnamed person

Jenny – lent to Hugh Campbell, Sarah Roane Campbell’s husband. Hugh Campbell sold to unnamed person

Dixon – lent to Hugh Campbell, Sarah Roane Campbell’s husband. Died prior to Col Thomas Roane’s death.

Amey (Amy) + her 2 unnamed children – deeded to daughter Margaret Roane Garrett

Peter – deeded to Sterling Clack Ruffin, husband of Thomas’s daughter Alice Roane.

Sam – deeded to Sterling Clack Ruffin, husband of Thomas’s daughter Alice Roane.

Anthony – deeded to Sterling Clack Ruffin, husband of Thomas’s daughter Alice Roane.

Charles – deeded to Sterling Clack Ruffin, husband of Thomas’s daughter Alice Roane.

Violet – deeded to Sterling Clack Ruffin, husband of Thomas’s daughter Alice Roane.

Judy – deeded to Sterling Clack Ruffin, husband of Thomas’s daughter Alice Roane.

Sarah – deeded to Sterling Clack Ruffin, husband of Thomas’s daughter Alice Roane.

Young Sarah – deeded to Sterling Clack Ruffin, husband of Thomas’s daughter Alice Roane.

Sally Pickles – deeded to Sterling Clack Ruffin, husband of Thomas’s daughter Alice Roane.

Isaac – deeded to Richard Barnes, husband of Thomas’s daughter Rebecca Roane.

Gilbert – deeded to Richard Barnes, husband of Thomas’s daughter Rebecca Roane.

Robin – deeded to Richard Barnes, husband of Thomas’s daughter Rebecca Roane.

Amy – deeded to Richard Barnes, husband of Thomas’s daughter Rebecca Roane.

Jany – deeded to Richard Barnes, husband of Thomas’s daughter Rebecca Roane.

Judy – deeded to Richard Barnes, husband of Thomas’s daughter Rebecca Roane.

Nancy – deeded to Richard Barnes, husband of Thomas’s daughter Rebecca Roane.

Phillip (Phill)- deeded to Richard Barnes, husband of Thomas’s daughter Rebecca Roane.

Pegy – deeded to Richard Barnes, husband of Thomas’s daughter Rebecca Roane.

George – deeded to son Thomas Roane, Jr

Dick – deeded to son Thomas Roane, Jr

Billy – deeded to son Thomas Roane, Jr

Jany – deeded to son Thomas Roane, Jr

Kate – deeded to son Thomas Roane, Jr

Janet – deeded to son Thomas Roane, Jr

Easther – deeded to son Thomas Roane, Jr

Mary – deeded to son Thomas Roane, Jr

Robin – deeded to son Thomas Roane, Jr

George – deeded to son Samuel Roane

Nelson – deeded to son Samuel Roane

Tom McGeorge – deeded to son Samuel Roane

Charles – deeded to son Samuel Roane

Nancy – deeded to son Samuel Roane

Tilloh – deeded to son Samuel Roane

Lydia – deeded to son Samuel Roane

Sarah – deeded to son Samuel Roane

Charles – deeded to daughter Patsy Hipkins Roane Ritchie, wife of Archibald Ritchie

Godfrey – deeded to daughter Patsy Hipkins Roane Ritchie, wife of Archibald Ritchie

Hancock – deeded to daughter Patsy Hipkins Roane Ritchie, wife of Archibald Ritchie

Aggy – deeded to daughter Patsy Hipkins Roane Ritchie, wife of Archibald Ritchie

Hannah – deeded to daughter Patsy Hipkins Roane Ritchie, wife of Archibald Ritchie

Patience – deeded to daughter Patsy Hipkins Roane Ritchie, wife of Archibald Ritchie

Venus- deeded to daughter Patsy Hipkins Roane Ritchie, wife of Archibald Ritchie
His widow, Mary Ann Hipkins Roane – rec’d 39 unnamed slaves

Archibald Harwood – Margaret Roane Garrett’s son. Would receive share from Amy and her children’s increase upon his mother’s death + 1 boy and 1 girl of his own age

Thomas Harwood – Margaret Roane Garrett’s son. Would receive share from Amy and her children’s increase upon his mother’s death + 1 boy and 1 girl of his own age

Patsy Hipkins Roane Ritchie – 2 unnamed slaves

Lucy Roane Upshaw (wife of Edwin Upshaw) – unknown number of unnamed slaves

Catherine Roane Ruffin (wife of Archibald Ruffin) – unknown number of unnamed slaves

John Roane – unknown number of unnamed slaves

The slaves of William Roane, Jr

William Roane, Jr gifts slaves to son Spencer Roane in 1782

1782 11 08 Roane, William gifts Spencer Roane some 20 Negro slaves

Deed of Gift.

William Roane of South Farnham Parish, Essex County, gent. for natural love and affection gave to his son Spencer Roane of same place all the Negro slaves following, to wit:

Frank

Patt & her children

Nan

Gloucester (Gloster)

Jude

Cork

Ben

Alice & her children

Will

Luce

Rose

Bett

Hannah

Richard

Yorah

together with their future increase and all other emoluments to them belonging….

Witnesses:

Henry Clements

John Gardner

Ralph Mitchell

Ackn 21 April 1783 & recorded

Attest: Hancock Lee, Clerk

(page 138, Essex Co. records)

William Roane, Jr’s Will dated 1785

Slaves named:

Richmond – Deeded to son Spencer Roane

Joe – Deeded to son Spencer Roane

Grace (the daughter of Frances) – Deeded to daughter Judy Roane

Rachel (the daughter of Chloe) – Deeded to daughter Sally Roane

Sons Thomas and Spencer Roane received unknown number of unnamed slaves.

1785 estate inventory for William Roane, Jr, dated 1785

1785 12 26 Roane, William – Estate Appraisal after death

[note: 55 named slaves, across the three different plantations owned by William Roane and included in his estate]

In Obediance to an order of the Worshipful Court of Essex County made in December 1785 We the Subscibers, being first duly sworn, have appraised as of the negroes & personal Estate of William Roane Esq. dec’d this 26th Dec. 1785, the following

———

[Note: I’ve omitted all other property items except for the names of the slaves]

Austin 50L

Hanover L20

Moses L80

Reuben L60

Bristoll 65L

James L60

Will L60

Jerry L50

Joe L50

Peter L35

Betty L80

Bob L20

Jenny L40

Lydia & Child 30L

Lewis L12

Chloe L40

Jenny L70

Beck L15

Maysy L50

Charlotte L50

Lotta L70

Billy L60

Winney L80

Phillis & Child Caesar L90

Amey L80

Frank L40

Fanny L15

Lucy L60.

At King & Queen Quarter:

negroes:

Gawin 20L

Rachel 35L

-

At Meadow Quarter:

negroes:

Will L70

Harry L50

Bob L30

Charles L30

Nell L50

Daphne L15

Grace L45

Cyrus L0

Roy L0

Orange L0

-

At the Mill:

negroes:

Richmond and Joe L50 (deeded to Spencer Roane)

Mrs. Ann Roanes negroes (Widow of William  Roane dec’d):

George L80

James L80

Caty L50

Betty L45

Lucy L75

Moses L60

Jacob L55

Bristol L25

China L75

Giles L15

(Molly dead since W. Roane)

 

Thomas Dix

Ambrose Greenhill

Jno. Haile

At a Court held for Essex County at Tappahannock on the 21st day of February in 1791, This appraisement of the Estate of William Roane esquire deceased being returned to Court, the same was ordered to be recorded. Test, John S. Lee, Clerk

To-date, a Will for Spencer Roane has yet to surface. This, along with his probate tax inventory, is a key document to find. Indeed, there are many missing Roane family Wills among Spencer Roane’s siblings and cousins.

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Finding the right DNA testing company for your requirements

This post is a follow on from yesterday’s post Can you really pinpoint DNA Ancestry in Africa to one tribe? and an earlier post Using the right DNA testing tool to answer the right ancestry question.

I took my first DNA test to answer one basic question: who in the world am I genetically connected to? I knew the question I wanted to have answered. This, in turn, helped me research a mind-bewildering option of DNA testing facilities to find one that I felt could best deliver the right answer.

Researching DNA testing facilities and companies took me around 6 months. When it comes to spending money, I am exceedingly cautious. I can’t tell you how many online reviews I read through. That’s all kind of a blur now. I wanted a service that was respected in the DNA/genetics community, scientifically robust and would stand up to close scrutiny. This was partly for personal reasons – I wanted to know that the information I was paying for would be accurate. It was also for professional reasons. After all, I planned to turn this adventure into a television series. That second point was (and remains) an important consideration.

When I had a shortlist of 5 companies, I asked DNA specialists for their thoughts and opinions. In the end, the list was narrowed down to two companies. To be honest, there wasn’t that much difference between them in terms of price, service, reputation and perceived quality. And I’ll admit it, in the end, the final choice came down to me flipping a 50 pence coin. It came up heads…so that’s the company I chose.

I am in no way plugging here, but the winner was a company called Genebase. This isn’t an advertorial. I don’t get a commission. I’m citing it and providing examples to illustrate my understanding of my own DNA results specifically. As well as how I gained an understanding of human genetics, admixtures and the human journey out of Africa and around the globe in general.

Genebase, as I’ve said previously, was an excellent choice for me. It’s not suitable for everyone. It doesn’t offer handy little pie charts or percentage breakdown overviews. You have to work those out for yourself. But what it did give me was the science behind the results it provided, which was (and remains) invaluable to me.

So let’s have a gander at how this particular service works using my YDNA test results.

So here we have my YDNA test result broken down into segments.

genebase1

click for larger image

Users can analyse each segment in turn. So let’s look at my Option 12. In this option, my results are going to be compared to data sets for 19 specific populations. Here are the 19 populations this segment is being compared to and the number of YDNA samples each population contains:

  1. US African American 253 samples
  2. US Hispanic 139 samples
  3. US Caucasian 242 samples
  4. Jordan, Middle East 221 samples
  5. Iran, Middle East 80 samples
  6. Egypt, Middle East 84 samples
  7. Smyrna, Greece 45 samples
  8. Abkhaz, Caucasus 51 samples
  9. Avar, Caucasus 114 samples
  10. Chechen – Chechnya, Caucasus 108 samples
  11. Chechen – Dagestan, Caucasus 98 samples
  12. Chechen – Ingushetia, Caucasus 108 samples
  13. Dargins, Caucasus 100 samples
  14. Kaitak, Caucasus 33 samples
  15. Kubachi, Caucasus 65 samples
  16. Lezghins, Caucasus 80 samples
  17. Ossets-Digor, Caucasus 125 samples
  18. Ossets-Iron, Caucasus 226 samples
  19. Shapsug, Caucasus 97 samples

Running my analysis, these are the results. With a possibility of 19 matches, I match 14 of the populations in the list. The degrees of the matches vary wildly:

 

click for larger image

click for larger image

The report also generates various appendices, which provide additional information. I still marvel that there is an appendix which shows the number of genetic matches for this segment within the data sets used. You can see these appendices below (this is a series of images, click on each on to see the larger image).

genebase2-2genebase2-3genebase3genebase4-1genebase4-2

Last, but not least, are the peer-reviewed journal articles that analyze the various populations. These articles are scientific/academic…which is a polite way of saying very, very, very dry. Nonetheless, they have helped shape my understanding of DNA transference among various populations, the migration patters out of Africa and, in some cases, illustrate how seemingly unconnected tribes are actually offshoots of an “umbrella” tribe which reached a migration crossroads – with different groups within that tribe going off in different directions.

These were the accompanying papers for the results within this analysis. They’re freely available online, if you’d like to have a look:

US African American , US Hispanic & US Caucasian (the same paper covers all 3 populations): http://www.cstl.nist.gov/biotech/strbase/pub_pres/Schoske2004.pdf

Egypt, Jordan & Iran (the same paper covers all 3 populations):
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312577/?tool=pubmed

Smyrna (Greece) results:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068964/?tool=pubmed

Ossets-Iron , Ossets-Digor, Lezghins, Abkhaz, Chechen – Ingushetia, Avar & Shapsug populations in the Caucasus region: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21571925

With all of the different segments with their own analysis reports and reading, for my YDNA and mtDNA tests…you can imagine the level of reading that I’ve done. Which, in turn, led me to other journals and papers.

What I have is a better understanding of some of the more ‘out of the blue’ results I’ve had in my YDNA and mtDNA tests. As I’ve mentioned previously, this kind of test, the test that I was quite clear about wanting, stretches back millennia. I have a good grounding on how certain populations came to be present in these two forms of DNA. And, in some cases, some fairly sound hypothesis on when certain admixtures became part of my DNA (this will more than a little help from geneticists).

I will be the first to raise my hand and state that gaining this level of insight and understanding into my YDA and mtDNA wasn’t cheap. I didn’t want a quick fix answer and blimey, I didn’t get one. Yet, I’m thankful for the experience. It’s given me a glimpse and an understanding into the most intrinsic part of who I am. I’ve loved sharing what I’ve uncovered and discovered with my family. And, at the end of the day, it sent me down a remarkable road of discovery.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll sign off saying it again with some pointers about DNA testing.

  1. Before taking a DNA test (either autosomal or YDNA/mtDNA) – be ruthlessly clear in your own mind about what question you want to have answered. This will determine the best type of DNA test for you .
  2. Do your research on DNA testing companies and facilities. Read every comment and review. Ask family and friends or Facebook family history/genealogy groups for their opinions.
  3. Read the fine print. Find out all of the limitations for each and every DNA testing company you research. What information, exactly, can they provide. Don’t be afraid to email a company and ask for confirmation of this in writing.
  4. Understand that DNA testing is still in its relative infancy. This is a nice way of saying manage your expectations. DNA is still a relatively unknown country. If you approach your results as being indicative/relative – and not absolute truths – you won’t go too far wrong. Always be skeptical about ‘big’ claims.
  5. Keep an open mind about what you will discover. If you’ve ever been whisked away on a surprise magical mystery jaunt – think of DNA testing like that. Just sit back, buckle up and enjoy the journey without thinking too much about what the final destination is. Just know it’s going to be good/interesting.

 

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Can you really pinpoint DNA Ancestry in Africa to one tribe?

If you’re African American, can you really know what tribe you come from? It’s a question I’ve been fielding via email and through comments on my blog. My posts about Gedmatch’s admix tools seem to have prompted this question, which I’ve been happy to field. So I decided to blog about it.

I look at the question this way. Each of us has sixteen 2x great grandparents. We also have thirty-two 3x great-grandparents. Even if all of these people were 100% of African descent , the chances of all of them being from the same tribe is, well, exceedingly, incredibly, rare. To the point of being impossible.

We are the children of many tribes.

I get the psychological need for the children of former slaves throughout the Americas to identify with a tribe. It’s a pretty basic psychological need for any people without an ancestral identity to reclaim a lost and stolen past.

However, as I recently pointed out to a Mrs C from Chicago, even those from a European background aren’t off the hook either in this regard. I’ll explain using the analogy I used for her.

Say Joe Blogs, whose immediate ancestors were born and raised in Inverness, Scotland, had an Etruscan ancestor (the modern Tuscan region of Italy). That ancestor had descendants who, in turn, became Romans – still in the Tuscan region. Think about all the myriads of peoples and cultures that were a part of the Roman empire and who either moved to Italy or were brought back to Italy as slaves. The chances are, Joe Blogs’s Roman ancestors would have intermingled with any number of people and cultures without ever having to leave the region of their birth. Say, for instance, one of these Roman Tuscan descendants entered the Roman army and was sent off to Gaul (modern France) and stayed and took a wife from the local population there. Over the centuries their descendants would come to be part of the kingdoms of the Franks (proto France) and the Germanic tribes. And let’s not forget the Celts lived there too.

In a few generations, some of these Franco-Germanic-Celtic ancestors moved to Normandy, where they intermingled with the Viking populations who had settled there. And one or two descendants of these Normans hopped across the English Channel with William the Conqueror when he invaded England. They’re still Norman however, chances are, they inter-married with the conquered Anglo-Saxons to keep the local and regional peace. One or two generations down the line and some of their descendants make the move to Scotland and Ireland.

And, that’s not throwing in the added mixtures of Pict and Scandinavian that were floating around Scotland.

So what does that make Joe Bloggs, who self-identifies as Scottish? Technically, it makes him an Etruscan-Roman-Frankish-Germanic-Celtic-Norman-Anglo-Saxon-Irish-Pict-Scandinavian Scotsman. Along the road to become Scots, his ancestors would have had vastly different senses of identity.

Or to use a very simple example, even if you identify as French or German – what kind of French or German are you? Looking at the map below, it’s worth bearing in mind that most countries are relatively modern inventions. Each one of these Franco-Germanic kingdoms in the map below would have been distinctly different from one another. Each would have had its own identity, customs and tribal affiliations.

It all serves the point that Europeans can’t claim a single identity either. In all likelihood, only the most ancient and remote tribes dotted around the globe can make such a claim.

My point? There isn’t a DNA test available that can answer that one question so many African descended people in the Americas so desperately seek an answer to: what tribe do I belong to? With so many of our ancestors contributing to our DNA from all over Africa, it’s a fundamentally impossible question to answer.

America is indeed a melting pot. For those with an African heritage, it is most definitely an African melting pot.

I think the most honest answer that any such test can offer is a percentage breakdown: x% of your DNA comes from ancestors who lived in what’s now ‘Country A’, Y% of your DNA comes from ancestors who lived in what’s now ‘Country B’ – and so on and so forth. It may, in all likelihood, connect you to many tribes who share a common language (e.g Bantu speakers).

Which is why I have problems with articles like this one: Pinpointing DNA Ancestry in Africa http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2011/10/tracing_dna_not_just_to_africa_but_to_1_tribe.html

My African DNA has travelled from East Africa through Northern Africa (YDNA) and through Central Africa (mtDNA). If I limited myself to the era when Africans were first transported to the Americas, I’m still genetically connected to an area spanning from Angola, up the western coastline, and all the way around to Tunisia. That’s the result of generations of marriages among my African-American ancestors whose ancestors came from so many different parts of Africa. I honestly believe that as more African descended people from the Americas test their DNA, a more reflective picture of the African diaspora will emerge.  Western Africa may have been the main egress point for Africans to the New World. That, however, doesn’t  mean the vast majority of slaves had to come solely from this region.

The various images below show long-established ancient land and sea trade routes within Africa. People, spices, precious metals, minerals, food, etc were all transported throughout the continent.

African trade routes in the early Islamic Era

I’m going to use a simple analogy.  It’s a crass analogy and a bit brutal. Followers of this blog are pretty savvy readers, so I trust that you’ll get why I’ve used it. In it’s heyday, the Mississippi River transported all manner of goods from the northern states to ports in the south. Just because the goods left from a major port like New Orleans, doesn’t mean that all of the goods were produced in Louisiana, Alabama or Arkansas.

I would be highly skeptical of any company making claims it can provide a sole tribal result. Again, DNA just doesn’t work that way.

All I do know is where I would have been born In Africa, had my ancestors not been enslaved, is anybody’s guess. There are some cool places that are contenders. I’m resolved to never knowing a specific country or tribe. I’m just enjoying finding out more about the African countries my DNA is tied to. Understanding this, my sense of identity doesn’t come from a tribe, but through uncovering my family’s American history. It comes from re-connecting lost branches of my parents’ families to the overall family tree. And meeting relations from these lost branches. This, in and of itself, has been a powerful and transformative experience.

Being able to slowly and steadily undo what centuries of American slavery accomplished – the breakdown and destruction of enslaved families – has been largely cathartic. It’s like giving slavery the finger: My enslaved ancestors do have a history. I am connected to something far greater than myself. Try as hard as the American slavery system did to erase their identities, my African descended ancestors did leave footprints. Those footprints may have been hard (sometimes nigh on impossible!) to find…but I found them. And I’ve shared them so they’ll never be forgotten. For me, this is as valuable, more valuable, than having the name of a tribe. It’s what I mean by giving slavery the finger.

The video below has the worst title imaginable. Bear with me and just ignore the poorly thought-through title. The video itself makes a good point. You can visibly see how important reclaiming identity is for African Americans. DNA testing companies need to provide far more transparency about the information they provide in terms of African results.

DNA testing is an invaluable tool. I’ve written often enough about my own experience. The value of the outcome depends on what your objectives are. You could be stitching your family tree together and re-connecting with lost family. Or you might want to have an understanding of the peoples and cultures you’re connected to through your DNA . Testing is a powerful experience for either of these goals.

If, however, you are seeking a tribal identity, it’s best not to spend your money.

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The one about finding George Henry Roane’s father

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the ladies in my family tree have provided some jaw dropping discoveries. One such lady unveiled my missing 4x Scots-Irish Roane grandfather. As if that wasn’t good enough, her family’s lineage has left me scarcely able to breathe.

So, I’ve written about how I’m descended from Sir Archibald Gilbert Roane (681 – 1751), born in Argyllshire, who was granted an estate in Grenshaw, Antrim Northern Ireland. He was the ancestor of my 3 x great grandfather, George Henry Roane. The question was, who connected these two men?

Using some lateral thinking and steely determination worthy of a CSI detective, I decided to revisit Archibald Gilbert Roane’s line in search of my dear old 4x great granddad. This would be the father of George Henry Roane. I decided to refine the technique I used that uncovered the identity of my missing 4x Sheffey great-grandfather…by looking at the family lines of the women who married into the family.

This is the blessing of autosomal DNA. This type of DNA is like a cocktail. It mixes and mashes DNA from your maternal and paternal lines. It does so generation after generation after generation. Autosomal DNA down the male Roane lines wouldn’t reveal anything other than I was indeed a descendant of Archibald Gilbert Roane. I would match all of his male descendants. I needed a match on a woman who married into the family – a woman whose autosomal DNA couldn’t be in any other Roane line of descent. And trying to find this match really is like looking for a needle in a haystack; especially for a family as large as the Roanes.

Sir Archibald Gilbert Roane, his wife Jennet, and their sons

Sir Archibald Gilbert Roane, his wife Jeannet, and their sons

I worked up preliminary lines of the women who married Archibald Gilbert’s sons. After careful research, and comparing my DNA results to these ladies’ ancestral trees, there was only one who provided a match: Sarah Upshaw, the wife of William Roane, Sr (1701-1757). The Upshaws weren’t the best autosomal match to have – there have been a few marriages between Upshaws and Roanes. This means more than one Roane line would have Upshaw autosomal DNA. What clinched it was Sarah’s maternal Gardener line. This is where the necessary unique DNA match confirmed and narrowed the Roane line I needed to investigate.

Next up was researching all the wives who married Sarah And William’s sons.

William Roane, Sr, his wife Sarah Upshaw and their children

William Roane, Sr, his wife Sarah Upshaw and their children

Discarding Upshaw marriages further back in the female lines, one by one, no DNA matches resulted. Except for one woman whose family provided a DNA match: Elizabeth Judith Ball 91740-1767), wife of Colonel William Roane (1740-1785). Elizabeth’s maternal Mottrom line and her father’s maternal Spencer line were two of her lines where I had a DNA match.

Now I was beginning to get excited. I started to ask myself, “Could I really do it? Could I actually, finally find the final piece of the puzzle that was frustrating the heck out of me?”

Colonel William Roane, his wife Elizabeth Judith Ball and their children

Colonel William Roane, his wife Elizabeth Judith Ball and their children

I rolled up my proverbial sleeves and got stuck into researching the women who married Sarah and William’s sons. Thankfully, with only two sons, the research at this level took a fraction of the time it had taken so far.

It soon became apparent that I only had a DNA match with one of the wives: Anne Henry (1767 – 1799), wife of Judge Spencer Ball Roane (1762-1822) – and daughter of the American Revolutionary hero, Patrick Henry. My DNA matched on her paternal Henry, Winston, Roberston and Pitcairn lines. I also matched on her maternal Sheldon line.

The Pitcairn name jumped out at me immediately. Let’s just say nearly 30 years living in the UK spent in the company of a number of friends from a certain sphere – you learn something about the really old English families. I noted the Pitcairn name, put a question mark against it, and proceeded to look at Anne and Spencer’s sons. Or, more accurately, I researched the families of the women they married.

Spencer Ball Roane, his wife Anne Henry and their children

Spencer Ball Roane, his wife Anne Henry and their children

William Henry Harrison RoaneAfter weeks tracing the descendants of Spencer Roane, there was only one line that produced matches on the maternal and paternal side that were closest to me in terms of generations than all the others: the descendants of William Henry Harrison Roane (1787-1822). I finally had him, my 4x great grandfather…the father of George Henry Roane.

I had a feeling about Spencer Roane years ago, when I first started this journey. My direct Roane line is the only line to make heavy use of the name ‘Henry’ as a middle name. I’d always felt this to be a clue. George Henry Roane also named his first born Patrick Henry Roane – allowable if the mulatto George was a family member. I couldn’t imagine the Roane family ever allowing a slave, not related to the family, to name a child after so venerated a Roane family member. And there it was in the DNA, the reason why he was allowed to do so. Patrick Henry was George Henry Roane’s great-grandfather.

Having searched for so long, I can’t even begin to describe the elation of finally having a name. And, with that name, I hope to find either personal or estate, deeds or personal papers from William Henry Harrison Roane that will reveal who George Henry Roane’s enslaved mother was. Discovering her story is going to be one of my top priorities.

It so happens that the Virginia Historical Society has quite a stash of personal papers and plantation records for Spencer Roane and William Henry Harrison Roane.

I basked in the afterglow of this discovery for about half the day. The name Pitcairn popped into my head while I sat sipping on a celebratory latte. I knew that name.

So I hit Burkes Peerage. In a matter of a few hours I had gone from the Pitcairn family to the Sinclair family and there I was in 8th Century Norway and Scotland, in the form of Thebotaw (Theobotan), Duke of Sleswick and Stermace. I was firmly in Viking territory. On that journey back into time, names such as Robert Bruce, Edward I Olaus, Charles the Fat, Thorfin “Skullcleaver” Hussakliffer, Brian Biorn and Kiaval appeared along the way. And then, with further work, there I was in the 7th Century Kingdom of the Franks. I couldn’t – and still can’t – quite wrap my head around it. Never, not once, did I suspect that Patrick Henry came from a line anything like this one.

When you add my Scottish Josey/Jowsie line, the autosomal map below, from AncestryDNA, begins to finally make sense:

autosomal dna countries

The European thumbprint if my autosomal DNA. The areas with purple circles (southern Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland & Western Russia) represent trace DNAmarkers between 3% – 5% – basically, Viking territory

I sent one of my oldest British friends (I’ll call him Lord B) an email outlining my discovery. He rang within 10 minutes, barely able to speak for laughing. Turns out we’re distant cousins – both descended from Robert Bruce. He confirmed what Burke’s and an old book about Scottish peerages already had …the research leading from Robert Bruce to Patrick Henry was indeed correct. Turns out, more than a few of my dear old British chums are my distant cousins. We’ve shared some chuckles over the weekend about that. This certainly explains quite a bit about my love of certain British country pursuits and my sense of ‘home’ when I lived there. And probably explains why certain British and Irish places resonated with me while many did not: The Highlands and the Scottish Isles; Mayo, Cork and Clare in Ireland; and the West Country, Yorkshire and Northumberland in England.

As I’ve shared with my own family, the irony of all of this is not lost on me. Not one iota of it. I am a descendant of Patrick “Give me liberty or give me death” Henry…through a slave. That is one tough nut to try and wrap your noggin around. I’m a descendant of a man who, in that speech, also said:

“For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country.

And:

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”

I am elated to finally have an answer to a fundamental familial question. Have no doubt about that. Although that answer is not without a twist.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under ancestry, genealogy, Genetics, Roane family, virginia

The online etiquette of meeting newly discovered relations from different ethnic groups

So you take a DNA test. And you discover that you have fairly close relations of a different race/culture. What on earth do you do? Ok, what I actually mean is what do you do if you’re American. Emily Post and The Lady didn’t see this one coming. They offer no pearls of wisdom.

You can always start with a friendly ‘Hello’.

There are no etiquette guides to steer one through making contact with newly found family members when they’re of a different ethic group or culture from your own. Especially for Americans. So I let that stalwart of British virtues guide my hand – good old fashioned common sense.

Meeting Sheffey and Roane relations from the white side of the family tree has been a most excellent adventure. And affirming. All those quirks and foibles I thought were inherently my family’s is, actually, fairly common among the Sheffey clan: free thinking & outspokenness (sometimes to our detriment), the fighters of good fights, an entrepreneurial drive and a bent towards being socially minded…and a seemingly mystical  reverence for the Sheffey name. All of these qualities are shared on the European descended and African descended sides of the family. Both sides of the family have embraced one another. It’s been a brilliant thing to see so many branches of the family meeting each other online and sharing laughs as well as family stories.

I haven’t met many Roanes from the European descended side of the family. Those that I have met online have freely shared what they know about their Roane ancestors. By that, I mean wills and tax lists which cite the names of the slaves that their ancestors owned. This has made my family research a thousand times easier. With each new document, I continue to  narrow down the potential candidates that could be my 4x Roane great-grandfather. The Roane family’s tastes for refinement, a certain élan, observance of proper conduct and again, a pride in the family name, also resonates strongly with me. If this is indeed part of my Roane family inheritance, it probably explains my ability to get on rather well in Britain.

I haven’t met many European descended Joseys online. The few I’ve met live in Scotland, the Josey’s homeland. Oh yes, and a Josey descendant in Australia. Meeting Josey family descendants and chatting to them online leads me to believe it is from them that I inherited a fascination for science. In their day, the Joseys held some of the highest medical and scientific offices in the British Empire, generation after generation. In the tine of the Scottish and English Stuart Kings and Queens, they were also savvy courtiers and politicians.

I think the key to establishing these successful cross-ethnic contacts successful was down to my initial approach. There’s no getting around it, when it comes to my American European-descended relations, the slavery issue is an awkward one. This is largely due to how America has chosen to address it, or rather how it has chosen not to address it (oh how I can hear Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter et al gnashing their teeth!). It’s tricky enough making contact with the descendants of people who owned peoples’ African descended ancestors. But when the owners of those enslaved ancestors were also their blood kinsmen and kinswomen, well, that just adds an extra special twist. Just let that idea rattle around inside your head.

It’s like that awkward moment on a date when both parties are thinking ‘are we going to kiss or not’.  I like to get the awkwardness out of the way early on rather than have it hang like some proverbial Sword of Damocles. The longer you leave it, the longer you ignore the elephant in the room, it just becomes this thing that it shouldn’t be. It kind of takes on a life force of its own, that thing that’s ignored. So what I say usually runs along the lines of:  ‘Look, the world was what it was in those times. That was then and this is now. I’m just saying hello and I hope to find out more about our family.” And that ‘our family’ is important. For me, it sets the context of everything. It frames the conversation. And it puts the recipient at his or her ease. They understand where I’m coming from.

One thing about online etiquette, I suggest always re-reading what you want to send someone (email, in-box messages on ancestry or whatever family tree service you use, DNA testing sites, etc) before you send it. Even read it out loud. I receive so many messages – too many, actually – that have an aggressive tone. The majority of the time this tone isn’t intended. Just remember that the person on the other end of the message doesn’t know you, hasn’t ever met you and can’t see or read your facial expression when they open that message or email. Politeness, respectfulness and friendliness go a long way. See – pure Roane right there!

One last bit of genealogy etiquette advice. So you’ve done a DNA test and you’ve emailed people you’re genetically matched to. And someone doesn’t respond to your email or message. Let it go. Their silence doesn’t mean they aren’t excited or intrigued to hear from you. There’s a reason that holds them back from responding. It’s that simple. Frustrating for you, no doubt, but we have to be respectful of other people’s privacy and reasons. Focus on the people who do respond.

In closing, what’s been truly amazing is corresponding with people I’m genetically linked to who live in a completely different part of the world. My Genebase mtDNA and Y-DNA results have linked me people literally all over the globe. I’m in touch with a Jewish cousin who lives in a small town in Hungary, an Egyptian cousin who lives just outside of El-Mahalla El-Kubra, a cousin who lives in the Dominican Republic and one more who lives in Belo Horizonte in Brazil. The last two are also descendants of enslaved Africans. Given the DNA data, it would appear that I share a common Tuareg male ancestor with the chap in Brazil and a common Berber female ancestor with the lady who lives in the Dominican Republic.

We’ll never know the names of the common ancestors we share. The common ancestors I share with each of these cousins were alive anywhere from 25 generations ago (the case with the cousins in Brazil and the Dominican Republic) to 50+ generations ago (the others I mentioned). If you take a generation as being 25 years, that’s a common ancestor who lived around 625 years ago. In the case of 30 generations of separation, that’s an ancestor who lived 1,250 years ago. I have one match on my father’s side who lives in Iran and we’re separated by around approximately 99 generations – 2,475 years ago. I’d love to hear from my Iranian cousin but respect that he hasn’t replied to my email. Given that he lives in Iran, there are probably all manner of reasons why he hasn’t.

So, when making an initial approach to a newly discovered relation…how you say something is as important as what you say.

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In search of: The British Roane family

Most of the time I share a completed family history story. You know, it has all the wrapping, bows ribbons and finishing touches. This isn’t one of those posts. It’s a good thing, really. It’s the perfect illustration for what we all have to go through when researching our ancestors.

Some background to this tale…

Right. So, in previous posts I’ve explained how two different Roane families arrived in the American colonies around the same time in the early 1700s. One Roane family is English and is connected to Charles ‘The Immigrant’ Roane from Surrey, England. Dear old Charles settled in Virginia. This is the chap I thought I was directly descended from. A DNA test has proven otherwise.

The second Roane family is Scots-Irish. This Roane family is connected to Sir Archibald Gilbert Roane, who lived in Argyllsire, Scotland. He was granted an estate in County Antrim due to his service to William III of England. His sons settled in Lebanon County, PA and Essex County, VA. It is from him that I am descended.

Too many trees mis-represent that Archibald Roane is the son of Robert Roane (Charles’s father) and/or Charles ‘The Immigrant’ Roane. He is the son of neither.

A Coat of Arms answers one question

Interestingly, the Scot-Irish Roane family and the English Roane family share the same coat of arms. So there is a link between them somewhere in the mist of Medieval British history. Their common ancestor remains elusive.

Roane Coat of Arms

There is a variation with eagle’s head online, however, I haven’t actually seen that variant associated with the Roane family.  In crypts and in the houses associated with the British Roanes, I have only ever seen the Coat of Arms given above.

At this point, I’m going to quash the fabled link to the ancient Norman noble house of Ruan. The clue that there isn’t a connection between these two families is in their coat of arms. The main de Rouen coat of arms is below:

de-rouen

The coat of arms for la Maison de Rouen (senior branch)

Typically, a ‘cousin branch’ or junior/minor branch of a noble house will share at least one element with the senior branch. There are no such common or shared elements between the two coat of arms. For instance, there is no doubt of the relationship between the senior house of de Rouen and the junior branches of the family in France through the motifs used in the families’ crests.

While the Roanes more than likely did come from Normandy (as suggested by DNA test results), this is about all I can find that they share in common with the noble house of de Rouen.

Coats of Arms can answer important questions

Having a coat of arms opens up some interesting research opportunities. The fact that a Yeoman, or ‘gentleman’, was granted a coat of arms says something about his progress in English society (I’ll get to the Yeoman thing in a bit). When a coat of arms is granted, all manner of information is recorded with that grant. This information will be held at the College of Arms in England http://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/ and perhaps the Heraldry Society of Sctland http://www.heraldry-scotland.co.uk/beginners.html

Please do not email either of these organization asking for information. You must make an appointment with them and visit in person. I can’t stress that enough. Really. It doesn’t matter that you don’t live in the UK or anywhere near their respective offices. You must, must make an appointment and visit them in person.

These organizations will have information about who the coat of arms was granted to, the date it was granted, where he was living – and perhaps why it was granted.

The Roanes of Northumberland and York – and being Yeomans

Now, as far as I can see, the oldest known British areas of residence for the Roanes are Northumberland and York. Which, given Norman English history, doesn’t come as a surprise. Land, probate and parish records show Roanes in these two counties as early as the mid-1300s. These Roanes, however, were of the Yeoman class. Yeomans were a kind of ancient prototype for the Middle Classes, without the power or prestige. Yeomans manoeuvred a kind of netherworld, they weren’t peasants owned by the local lord – but they weren’t knights or nobility either. They owned land and/or business and paid taxes which gave them a measure of respectability.

This isn’t to say that there wasn’t a minor noble in the family in the early Norman period of English history.  I just haven’t found one. What I’m finding may either be junior branches; descendants of a minor noble who became commoners. Or, Yeoman was all they ever were.

Tracking this family from Northumberland and Yorkshire, I can see where they branched out and came to reside in southern England, notably in Sussex and Surrey.

I haven’t found a trail that shows them going further north. That isn’t to say one doesn’t exist, I just haven’t found it. Scotland is, after all, really only a hop skip and a jump from both York and Northumberland. They are actually closer to Scotland than they are to London.

Roanes in Scotland

Now what is interesting are some factoids that I’ve found about the Scottish Roane family.

I came across the first snippet when I was searching the Scotland’s People website http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

Margaret Roane record on the Scotland’s People website

Margaret Roane record on the Scotland’s People website

So there was a definite Roane presence in Scotland as of 1583, approximately 2 generations previous to that of Archibald Gilbert Roane. Sadly, the Scotland’s Peoples website isn’t very generous with free previews, so I was unable to find out more about this Margaret Roane. Surprisingly, there are very few Roanes or Roans cited in its records. But this, at least, gave me something to go on.

The second snippet was this little gem I found on a site about Crogo and Holm of Dalquahairn in Scotland (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~alanmilliken/Research/ScottishRecords/Kirkcudbrightshire/CarsphairnParish/RecordsDocuments.html ):

[55] James Milligane in Nether Holm of Dalquhairn

April 14, 1698: Obligation by James and Roger McTurke in Upper Holm of Dalquhairn as principal and Robert Grierson, now in Glenshimmeroch, as cautioner, to pay to James Roane in Manquhill the sum of 300 merks and £50, with a terms annual rent, at Lammas 1698, with the ordinary annual rent and £50 of penalty. Dated at Glenshimmeroch and witnessed by James Milligane of Nether Holm of Dalquhairn and John McTurke in Little Auchrae, brother to the granters. Obligation registered Kirkcudbright August 16, 1698.

[Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court Deeds 1676-1700, no. 3132]

Naturally, I was curious about the correlation between Glencairn (for Margaret) and Moniaive (the closest place name Google Maps had for James Roane) – and generated the map below:

Scottish-Roanes

click for larger image

 As you can see, Margaret and James are within the same region of Scotland. So this, it would seem, is another area associated with the Roane family in Scotland. It gives me a specific casement area to do further research.

Now the other area of Scotland is Argyllshire for Archibald Roane. I plotted the distance from Moniaive to Argyll, and, as you’ll see below, there is a bit of distance between the two.

argyll

click for larger image

It gives a rather large search area to investigate.

I’ve begun concentrating on the Argyllshire area. Now whether it has to do with the scarcity of Roanes in the county, or from Archibald’s family’s status, I haven’t found anything about the family through the records for this county. Posterity was definitely the preserve of the Upper Classes.  However, I am surprised that I haven’t been able to find any mention of King William III’s warrant granting Archibald 1) the title of Sir (which is typically associated with a knighthood and garter of some sort) or 2) the landed estate King William III provided Archibald. It’s not unheard of – not finding a digitized record for either…but it is unusual. There’s no question that both of these things happened, I’ve seen it referenced in a Northern Irish account.  However, what I’m after is the holy grail – the actual records.

I feel tempted to apologize for the random snippets of information, But I’m not going to. It’s on honest reflection of an active family history research project. Sometimes all we have to go on are seemingly random threads which may or may not have anything to do with each other. It’s what I love about the process – the quiet little thrill of the chase…and the victory dance (yes, I do have one) when everything finally falls into place.

If you’re going to research this family…

My thoughts on research both the English and the Scots-Irish Roanes are this:

If you’re planning to research the Scots-Irish Roanes, there are a few places to physically go to for research:

  1. Glasgow’s Central Records Office. This should have records and documents pertaining to the family in the area.
  2. Visit Edinburgh: National Records of Scotland
  3. Visit Argyll:  with luck, this will have information about Archibald Gilbert Roane.
  4. Visit Belfast: The Public Records Office of Northern Ireland
  5. Visit Antrim, NI: The records office will definitely have information about Archibald Roane, his estate and, hopefully, his daughters and their descendants as well as any extended family members.
  6. Parish records in the towns and villages where they lived will have records of baptisms, marriages and deaths.

Truly, with the staggering amount of misinformation for this family, physically going through the original records is what’s required to stitch together the history of this family.

If you’re planning on researching the English Roanes:

My thoughts are along the same line as the Scots-Irish Roanes – physically going through the original records. .

  1. London: National records Office and the College of Arms
  2. Visit York: Central Records Office
  3. Visit Ashington, Northumberland: Northumberland Archives Office
  4. The above, in turn, will provide information about the towns and villages the Roanes of Northumberland and York lived in and/or owned property in. The local parish church will have records covering baptisms, marriages and deaths.

I’ve been thinking about using one of those online fundraising services to raise funds to spend a month ding all that I’ve outlined above. Having lived in England for nearly 30 years, I more than understand the British bureaucratic system. And it’s something I would love to do. Who knows!

With this family, I have the feeling that the truth will be far better, and more interesting, than the fiction.

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