23rd Edition                                                  August 1997

23rd Edition                                                  August 1997


                The purpose of the newsletter is to share information among those interested in the Ancestry of the Hembree family lines. I have attempted to do this with information, which I could prove out, by documentation or by enough other means to be able to state with a high degree of confidence that the data was factual, or I stated it lacked proof. Aware that I share only a small part of the data obtained by my research, some have asked that I share data whether proven or not.

            Knowing we are all mortal beings, my brother Edward is encouraging me to document all data I believe important, as an aid to others who may pursue the chase at a latter date. Our ancestry is not of common interest to all family members, but the problem of research being wasted, is common to all who share the interest in genealogy, thus this being the seventh year of the newsletter, and the encouragement to preserve more of my findings, even if incomplete, I shall attempt to follow some good advice. Hopefully it will be a benefit, even if it is sometimes only bits and pieces. 

Embre, Embry, Emery, Emory, Embree, Emry, Amry, Hembree 

            While it may seem simple to know the name of a family. The name of Hembree has so many variant spellings, that I think it worth some discussion to understand why the early records of the family seem to bounce around, making it difficult to be certain of the correct family line. Once mastered, each spelling is some help in where to look for them. i.e., search Quaker Society records for Embree. It should be understood, that while a name is given to a child, there is no obligation for that person to retain the name. He/she may change it as often as they like, usually with little or no trouble to do so. Since I chose to trace the lineage of all Hembree’s in America, the importance of sifting through the variant spellings cannot be overstated. 

            The usage of the variant spelling of the name by different siblings is more than an accident, or colloquial pronunciation. All things considered, I think some of it reflects the different thinking of individuals, following great events which only time would heal, such as: 

  1. Departure from Europe and the desire to start anew.
  2. Religious persecution, a major reason immigrants left Europe. (Review the action of the states and the nation toward the Quakers. Special status of taxation, no land grants without proving family status, etc.) and
  3. The Wars, which taxed the loyalty to Great Britain, (Revolutionary War and the War of 1812). The battles were over but the feelings toward the loyalist were not. 

While they may have wanted to free themselves of different problems, nonetheless, none really wanted to break from their ancestors, by taking a completely different family name. A break for any reason could be a drastic step, but to say the least, often neighbors were friendly only when they were of homogeneous beliefs. The Rev. War, and the Civil War, both had neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother. Strange as it may appear today, it seemed reasonable to disassociate oneself by changing the spelling in a minor way, to be recognized as a different family. Or to simply clarify who you were, or were not, without breaking the strong family ties to your ancestors. There was also the problem of illiteracy, and many probably did not realize a change was made. Despite the variant spellings of the name, most were of English origin, but with varying opinions of loyalty and freedom to or from England.

In contrast to some state policies, many Quakers moved to different areas to enjoy special tax privileges and or religious freedom from persecution, for belonging to the Quakers. Or you could simply change and e to o, Emery to Emory, and not have your land claim questioned for being a Quaker. Later in the 1880’s the name spelling was further confused, when many were given an English version of the name as they passed through immigration facilities. We can be certain that within family lines, the different spelling of the name was more than illiteracy or mere colloquial pronunciation. It was a way to be, or not be, recognized for different beliefs while retaining the family heritage. 

Some might say that the mere colloquial pronunciation, resulted in only a rare misspelling of the name, however, the early Hembree families were southerners, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri. A look at the census records and you find that often the census taker could hardly write, and spelling certainly was not a talent. A census taker with little education recording the names of an illiterate family, hardly resulted in accurate name spelling. It was not a rarity, it was a common situation. Even if highly educated, the census taker could only record the name as he heard it. One example, to prove a point, In a Revolutionary War Pension Application of Abraham Hembree, the name is spelled Hembree, Emery, Embree, Emory, Emmery, Emree, Emmory and Emry. The first name is shown as Abram and Abraham. His son, signed his name Isaac Hembree, while his son James signed James Emry. The spelling of two grandsons, Isaac and Hampton was Hembree. Abraham, was illiterate so he could not have known that he gave oath, taken by court clerks, as Hembree and Emery, and stated he was also known as Embree. I believe the eight different spellings, mostly in documents under oath, given to different court clerks and Justices of the Peace or courts, recorded in three different states, prove beyond doubt that the variant spellings of the name were not the exception but common occurrence. I may have taken the long way around to stress that the spelling of the name is in no way a certainty that it is or is not the same family line. It takes a lot of effort to prove out the lineage of the various spellings, but it is an absolute must. Otherwise you wind up with people you have no relation, or you miss generations of the family bloodline.

The names Emery, Emory and Embree, Emry are family lines, which most often prove out to be Hembree, but each is also a distinct line today. Some added the H, some dropped the H, and some of the same families that dropped the H, later added it back, and dropped it again. That combined with illiteracy and colloquial pronunciation, gives us the many variations of the name that exist today, Hembree, the American version of Hembrow, which was the family name in England. The first American record to use the H in the spelling, was: “Thomas Hembrow of Lamport, England to Barbados 1655.” 

Some recent work on the Quaker line answers some who have stated they understood their ancestors were French… It was the French Hugenot who changed the name from Embro to Embree. Many of them were Quakers in the early period of the country, but many of them broke from the Quaker Society, and added the H to Embree, so we have that group in the Hembree family of today. It is also found as d’Embree in Hugenot records.

One of the three major spellings of the name of Emery, and that name is easier to document, because Thomas Emery was a member of the 1st permanent settlement in America. Jamestown, Virginia 1607. He was a carpenter on one of the first ships to land there, and is named in letters of Capt. John Smith, written to the owners in England. If Emery was the actual spelling of his name or merely the way Capt. Smith spelled it, I do not know, as the records, also show it as Thomas Emry, Carpenter. A search of the records of Old England is needed to chase Thomas ancestors, but he was likely a son of Thomas Emery of Hunt or Northampton County, England, as those are the counties mentioned in the Will of William Bedell of Greate Catworth, Hunt, England on 27 May 1612, and a Thomas Emery was a witness to that Will.

Hopefully that bit of information will assist in understanding the use of the different spellings as I write about the subject: 


            Although there is yet work to be done before we can document this line to prove the exact linkage of the early Hembree family or families, that the Hembree family came to America by way of Barbados is known from several sources, and the first immigrate to use the H in the name, was “February 16, 1655 Thomas Hembrow of Lamport, England, husbandman, bound to Malachy Seward of Barbados, planter to serve 3 years” Information is confirmed by: Bristol Records – “Emigrants to America”.

Record of First Colonies 1654 – 1685

“Servants to Foreign Plantations, page 8, Records of Tolzey (Council) House, College Green, Bristol, BS1, 5TR, England.”

“Passenger and Immigration Lists”, - Filby Vol. 2, pg. 876.

“Emigrants to America 1654 – 1679, Bristol Records, date February 16, 1655. 

            The use of the spelling here as Hembree is my work but it clearly comes from Hembrow, and while space prevents me from reciting all the records which support this, it is important to note that the name is also given as Thomas Emery. Other researchers show the name also spelled Amry, and they are probably correct, but at least two spellings of the name are documented Emery / Hembrow, who we know are the Hembree family.

            We know Thomas came as a servant, generally young boys 10 years of age or younger. However, the fact that he was only bound for 3 years, and he is identified as a husbandman, indicates he was probably a young adult. The age is important in identifying him as the father of Edward, (See Later on).

            Also, since his passage would have been paid by the master Malachy Seward, we should not expect to find land grants or head rights to Thomas Hembrow / Hembree. Following the Hembrow / Hembree / Emery line through Barbados and on to America is confusing, but there can be no question that at least the earliest Hembree’s came through and / or resided at Barbados.

            Assuming Thomas was 20 yrs of age when he left England, (February 16, 1655) he was born about 1635. Unless he returned to England, he would not have had a young son there in 1679. Thus the John Hembury, (shown in the same Tolzey House, Bristol Records “1679 31 July Ticket to Va. via Barbados, as servant to Lt. Col. Hallett, in the ship Young William for Va., Thomas Cornish, Commander”) and later found as Emery, was likely related but would not have been a son or brother of Thomas ca 1635.

            It was a common practice for young children to be sent to America with those they served, and while we do not have the ages of Thomas and John, we do know that both were listed as servants to Foreign Plantations, but likely John was only a young boy when he left England. The fact that the records show the length of the bonded servitude, may give us the time period they were in Barbados before going on to Virginia. Even if Thomas was a servant he could have had a young son Edward born in 1666, and it would not be pushing the time line, as Thomas would have been thirty-one. I mentioned John Emery above because a Deed dated 1713 (Isle of Wight Co. Va. Bk. 6, pg. 160) states Johns wife was Susannah Green, and this appears to be a mix-up, with a Susannah Green who married Thomas. (Others have mixed up the Thomas b. ca 1635 with the Thomas b. ca 1684 and it was that Thomas whose wife was Susannah Green). I believe Thomas ca 1684 was a g-son of Thomas ca 1635. The Will of a man named Oliss, in Virginia in 1676, named as Legiatee one, Edward Amry, a horse. (This assumes those who claim Amry is the same as Hembree, are correct). It states “Edward, son of Thomas Amry”, and from it we know he was an apprentice or servant, and assuming him to be about 10 yrs. of age, he was born ca 1666. We know Thomas left England in 1655 and went to Barbados. If he served out an apprenticeship, it only gave him 11 years, between England and a family in Virginia. However, his apprenticeship ended in 1658. Thus he could have married either in Barbados or Virginia and still meet the time line to have a son Edward being about 10 in 1676. This clearly allows for the generation time period before we pick up the Emery’s, (Amry) whom I believe were Edwards sons, in 1696 in Surry County, Virginia. Tax records for several years; show that both an Edward ca 1685 and Thomas Hembree ca 1684 (spelled Emery, Embry, etc.) served the widow Ezell in Surry County, Virginia, from 1696 to 1704. The other known Emery’s in the area, John and William were not old enough to be the parents of Edward ca 1685 and Thomas ca 1684. Location, naming patterns, etc. place Thomas ca 1684 and Edward ca 1685 as sons of Edward ca 1666 who inherited the horse. Thus making Thomas ca 1684 a grandson of Thomas ca 1635. In summary we have Thomas ca 1635, father of Edward ca 1666, father of Edward ca 1685 and Thomas ca 1684. 

            Thomas Emery ca 1684 died in Southwark Parish, Surry County, Virginia in 1734 and his Will was probated May 6, 1734, which gives us the family makeup. His wife was Susanna Green, and they had four sons, namely Green, John, Benjamin and Thomas Sr., (Identified as Thomas Sr. because he is so identified in certain documents to distinguish him from his son, Thomas Jr.)

            Two of Greens sons, John and Thomas Sr. were minors in 1734, which places their birth between 1713 and 1734. The Will of Thomas Jr. was probated 1777, Surry County, Virginia and Greens Will was probated in 1762 Granville County, North Carolina. The family makeup of each as shown herein is from information contained in the Wills, or probate. The probate of Thomas Sr. names his brother John and informs us John’s wife was Mary. So we can add a son to Edwards (1666) family and we now have brothers Edward ca 1685, Thomas ca 1684 and John whose wife was Mary. 

            The Edward who received the horse in 1676 is shown with a family, 3 Tithes, on June 10, 1693 in Southwarke Parish, Surry County, Virginia (Va. Gen. Society Vol. 23, Nov. 1985 #4, pg. 68) so we know he is not the same Edward as his son Edward who served the widow Ezell and we know he was still having children after 1693, as we picked up John for sure. I am also certain he had another son James, but I must state here that, at no point in this line, have I been able to make a linkage, by means of a written document between Thomas Hembree and James Hembree ca 1700 but I know it exists.

            Ellis and Ezell and James Hembree and Thomas Hembree, are listed in Deeds as neighbors and shown in militia records as Foot Soldiers (Same group), in the same Va. Militia. Ellis is shown in Surry County, Goochland County, Lunenburg County and Halifax County, Virginia and the Ezell found in Surry County and later Halifax County is the family that Edward and Thomas were servants to the Widow Ezell. When you find one you can locate the other in the neighborhoods. In fact, we find James and Thomas Emery / Hembree with the Ezell and Ellis families more than we do Edward. It is the Ellis and James Hembree in Goochland & Lunenburg County, Virginia that I am certain is the James Hembree ca 1700, as we have Deed records showing him owning land there by 1733. (I formerly showed James as ca 1710 but think it is more correctly ca 1700).

            Thus, the father of James 1700 was Edward 1666. It also proves that James ca 1700 and his son James ca 1730 both had brothers named John. There was a least 2 generations of brothers James and John. An important thing to remember about this line is the occupation or trade, which runs through the family line. Carpentry, or wood products. Thomas Emery who went up river with Capt. John Smith was a Carpenter. John Emery that is found in Caroline County was a Master Cooper, (Wood Trade). John Hembree, who owned land in S.C. with Joshua Pettit, was a Fort Builder, etc. It should also be noted that John and Anthony emery, (Carpenters of Romsey), shipped themselves from Hampton, England on the James of London in April 1635. Left Southampton June 1635 for America. (Passengers to America, Tepper pg. 46, also listed in New World Immigrants pg. 59.) This Emery family may or may not have been related in England, but it is a different Emery family in America, from the Emery families of Virginia. They arrived in Massachusetts and remained in the New England area, but they were also carpenters.

            In Genealogy, location is a most important element in tracking families in the early period of this country. The Hembree’s discussed in this newsletter other than John and Anthony who went to Massachusetts all track out in the same general areas, what was then, Surry, Goochland and Lunenburg Counties of Virginia and in the same time periods.

            If correct as I believe it is, this extends the James Hembree family line back to Thomas b. ca 1635 from Lamport, England. However, I still need that written proof connecting James as a son of Edward, son of Thomas. 

            For what it is worth, other than Thomas Emry, 1607, the first Emery / Hembree to arrive in America, was Henry Embrie, age 20, per Certificate from the Minister of Town of Gravesend on the conformity to the Orders of Discipline of the Church of England. From London to Virginia arrived June 23, 1635. (Also spelled Emberie).

            Three years later in 1638, Andrew Emery arrived in James City, Co., Virginia but I have been unable to prove his whereabouts after his arrival, or if his family line was the same as the Hembree families. 

NEW:  HEMBREE BOOK by Fred and Clara Davis Hembree 

            This recent work is the line of Old John Hembree, and is primarily the family and descendents of Uriah Hembree, b. August 4, 1805. Anyone who is a descendent of Uriah, certainly will want a copy of this. Contact, Fred and Clara Hembree, 2013 Hutchinson Drive, Kingsport, Tennessee 37660. (423) 288-5389. You’ll enjoy the letters, pictures and documents as well as the family group sheet information. 

My time being spent on important matters such as fishing, is my only excuse for being so late with this edition, but I thought I should advise that you did not miss an issue of the newsletter. 

On to Roots Branches & Leaves #24

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