The Pocahontas tradition

The Pocahontas Tradition

Do some Mabrys descend from Pocahontas?

The first serious attempts to research the early history of the Maybury family in the United States took place in the 1930s and 1940s. Copies of the compiled notes of Mrs. Martha Strark Draper and Mrs. Margaret Camp and others continue to turn up among those researching the Maybury, Mayberry, Mabry family to the present day. While these sources contain many helpful notes, they also contain numerous errors and misinterpretations which continue to be passed on from one generation of researchers to the next. For example, a story continues to turn up which claims that those who descend from Hinchia Maybury's daughter, Anne, who married Henry Jackson, "are related to Chief Powhatan and Pocahontas through Anne's mother, Anne Clack Courtney". The various arguments given are convoluted to say the least. However, they all come down to the claim that the line of descent is through Jane Rolfe, daughter of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. The problem with this is that John Rolfe and Pocahontas did not have a daughter named Jane! In fact, they didn't have a daughter at all! They had only one child, Thomas Rolfe, who was born about 1615 and married Jane Polythress. Furthermore, Thomas and Jane Polythress Rolfe had only one child, Jane Rolfe who married Col. John Bolling.

Those whose family roots go back more than a few generations in the United States usually find themselves increasingly fascinated by American history and the historical roles, major or minor, played by their ancestors. Most of us hope to find that we are descended from an American president or some other important figure in our nation's history. Because of all the traditions which have grown up around the figure of Pocahontas (many of them untrue) there are many who claim her as an ancestor. Some, for example, claim to be Pocahontas descendants through Anthony Rolfe, son of Thomas Rolfe. This, however, is an error based on a statement in Henry F. Waters' book, Genealogical Gleanings in England, which credits Thomas Rolfe with another son, Anthony. Waters was apparently not aware that Thomas Rolfe was not born until 1615, fifteen years after the birth of his presumed son, Anthony! The fact remains that those who claim to be descended from Pocahontas must also descend from Col. John Bolling since Pocahontas had only one child, Thomas Rolfe, who had only one child, Jane Rolfe, who married Robert Bolling and had only one child, John Bolling.

There is yet a third claim of descent from Pocahontas in another branch of the Mabry family. It is that Dolly Clack who married Hinchia4 Mabry (Hinchia3, Hinchia2, Francis1) in May 1787 in Brunswick County, Virginia. Dolly Clack was a daughter of John Clack, born about 1720, and Mary Kennon, born about 1728. Mary Kennon was a daughter of Richard Kennon, Jr. and Agnes Bolling. The claim of those would be Pocahontas descendants is that Agnes Bolling was the connection. However, a close examination of the complex inter-marriages between the Bolling, Stith, Clack, Kennon and other early families, led to two lines of Bollings. The first, known as "the red Bollings" are descendants of Pocahontas and her father Chief Powhattan. The second, known as "the white Bollings" do not descend from Pocahontas. Agnes Bolling the ancestor of Dolly Clack was from "the white Bollings" and was thus not related the Pocahontas.

Those who research these families, especially on the internet where genealogical mis-information spreads like wildfire, will continue to find claims that those who descend from Anne Clack Courtney and/or those who descend from Dolly Clack are descendants of Pocahontas. But such claims are not true. They are, rather, the fantasies of amateur genealogists, who are either sloppy researchers or don't mind bending the truth to satisfy their understandable need for a claim to fame.

However, there is a consolation prize for those of us who are disappointed not to have the blood of Pocahontas cursing through out veins! All who descend from Francis Maybury and Elizabeth Gilliam may claim an indirect connection to Pocahontas through our ancestors' close association with Col. John Bolling, who as we have noted earlier, was the great grandson of John Rolfe and Pocahontas and the ancestor of all true Pocahontas descendants. John Bolling, born 27 Jan 1675/76, was, not only a younger contemporary and neighbor of Francis and Elizabeth Maybury but a good friend as well. He is called John Bolling "of Cobbs" because he lived at Cobbs plantation on the Appomattox River, a short distance from the home of Elizabeth Gilliam Maybury's father, John Gilliam, and not far at all from the Swift Creek neighborhood where Francis and Elizabeth Maybury spent the early years of their married life. Clearly the Mayburys close connection with John Bolling continued even after they moved to Surry County. In 1713 John Bolling made his way to nearby Surry County where he was one of the three witnesses to the will of our ancestor, Elizabeth Gilliam Maybury.

August 2014