Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Interesting Phenomena in Our Family Trees–Traveling Through Time Together? Coincidence? Six Degrees of Separation? Part 3—The Burgesses and Pryors


In this series of blog posts, I’ve been discussing connections to my neighbors found in my family tree. Having moved into a cul-de-sac about ten years ago, it has amazed me that I have discovered either relationships, or connections by marriage with several of my neighbors! All of us were new to this neighborhood, and new to each other. I had never done any genealogy so we became acquainted through shared interests and proximity, then I discovered the genealogical connections.

My next door neighbors were a delightful couple, named John and Dora Burgess Pryor. John was an accomplished genealogist at age 92! He’d been researching for years the old-fashioned way– no internet! He and his wife had traveled the towns and states, and spent many hours in libraries and courthouses, poring over tax records, marriage and death records and the like. They’d walked cemeteries and taken copious notes!  I was impressed with what John had accomplished and he inspired me to think about creating my own family tree.

Many of my readers know I have severe heart disease and can’t walk far or stand long. I had always loved to garden, but unable to bend over or stand for any length of time, I thought my gardening days were finished. John was  in his nineties as mentioned. He could not stoop or bend over either, so he sat on the ground and scooted or crawled to where he wanted to go, gardening up a storm!  I watched him work and again was inspired! If this 92-year-old man could sit on the ground and garden, I could too! What a pair we made. Other neighbors got used to seeing us crawling around our gardens! I loved it, and hadn’t had as much fun in years–playing in the dirt! We both had beautiful flowers to show for it as well. Not that we could take all the credit! John’s wife Dora was quite a bit younger than John, and she could and did work rings around both of us!  She was the true gardner! Her yard was spotless and beautiful! I didn’t even try to keep up, just tried to enjoy what I could do. My own husband didn’t consider himself a gardener, but he was the labor end of our efforts! Dora and I became great friends! Unfortunately, John passed away a few years ago, and even though he has left a hole, we love Dora with a passion! John passed away shortly after I started my own genealogical work, so we had only a couple of opportunities to compare notes! What a loss.

Just like with the Voorhees and McLaughlins, it wasn’t long until I was seeing Pryors and Burgesses in my tree! What’s up with this?! My neighbors thought I was crazy as they heard me saying again, “Dora, I think we are kin to each other…and I might be kin to John as well! LOL Like before, I asked Dora to let me work on her tree a bit so that I could check out these things I was finding! The “coincidences” are amazing in my book, and unfortunately, I can’t even remember them all! I wasn’t thinking I’d ever write about them, so I noted them, talked about it with Dora, then went on with my research.

But look at this. As you know, my paternal grandmother’s line is Hogue on one side. Hogue is Scottish, and Pryor is generally English in origin. However, I found the name Pryor all over my Hogue family tree! My neighbor John was named John Hamilton Pryor. Right there in my tree was a John Pryor Hogue, a Pryor Hogue, and a John Hamilton Hogue! My neighbor John was born and reared in West Virginia, and I could trace my Hamilton Hogues right to West Virginia! I could never quite prove the kinship however.  After John passed, I took a dna test to aid with my genealogy research. As I learned more about the Hogue dna, I discovered that the Pryor and Hamilton Hogues were not  in my Hogue haplogroup! Hard to believe, but definitive. Nevertheless, what are the chances we’d have these name connections moving in next door to each other from different states and backgrounds?

Dora and I not only shared the love of gardening, we became red hatters together and played like there was no tomorrow!  She and Linda and I shared our strong faith as well, we were great “pray-ers”!  Dora and Linda were avid volunteers in the community, at their church and in other endeavors. I couldn’t believe the blessing of moving next door to such a dynamic, loving woman.

Burgess and McKay (pronounced McCoy) were her main two genealogical lines. Her McKays were from Scotland like my Hogues, and I saw them everywhere, along with Burgess!

After I got my dna done, I began to zero in on my exact relationship to her Burgesses! We shared a third cousin! However, we were kin to that same person  by opposite sides of the family, so we were still only kin by marriage. But, hey, it seemed amazing to me!

Thomas Burgess (1814 – 1871)
is your 3rd cousin 4x removed
father of Thomas Burgess
father of Thomas Burgess
father of William Burgess
father of John Burgess
son of Edward Burgess
son of William BURGESS
son of William Burgess
son of John Burgess
son of Ezar Asa Burgess
son of William Henry Burgess
son of John Edward Burgess
You are the daughter of Alton Cleveland Burgess –
Thomas Burgess (1814 – 1871)
is your 3rd cousin 6x removed
mother of Thomas Burgess
mother of Wynna Caudle Key
father of Agnes WITT
father of William (Guillaume) Witt
son of John Witt
daughter of John Witt
son of Sarah Witt
son of Abner Harbour
daughter of Moses Harbour
daughter of Joyce Harbour
son of Nancy J Houchins
daughter of Walter Houchins
daughter of Katherine Steptoe Houchins
You are the daughter of Margaret Steptoe Kerse
Thomas Burgess was born in 1814, He was one of fourteen children –so we share 14 third cousins!  LOL  Just think, 200 years ago, Dora’s family and mine were the same, our families , or our kin folks lived together in West Virginia!
If that isn’t enough, our families were together again in Jamestown, Virginia! Dora’s eighth great- grandfather, John Chew, 1587-1668, has an illustrious history in  the colony of Jamestown, Virginia, and qualifies her to join the Jamestown Society.  We can verify in The Genealogy of the Chew Family  by Robert L. Chew,published by the Gloucester County Historical Society, Woodbury, N. J. that John Chew was a Burgess in Jamestown for almost twenty years starting in 1624. He also served as a Justice for York County. Quoted from this same source: “John Chew of Jamestown, VA (1587-1668) was born in Whalley Parish, Lancashire, England. A wealthy merchant, he may have been with John Smith as early as 1607, when the first permanent English settlement in the new World was founded at Jamestown. It was certain that John Chew received land granted from the Virginia Company in 1618. He married Sarah Gale in England, and returned to Virginia in 1622 on the ship Charity, which was owned by his wife’s family. He operated a tobacco plantation on Hogg Island, across the James River from Jamestown. His wife, indentured servants and oldest children immigrated from Chewton, Somersetshire, England on the ship Seaflower to join him in 1623. John built a house, warehouse and store in Jamestown, where he dealt in wine, corn and tobacco. He was a member and secretary of the Virginia House of Burgesses. By 1642, he also owned 1200 acres in York County. When the Virginia Governor oppressed
Puritans in support of the Church of England, the family migrated to Anne Arundel County, Maryland. John used Virginia tobacco to buy 500 acres near Annapolis. When his wife died in Maryland, John returned to Virginia. He was the oldest son of John Chewe of Bewdley, Worcestershire, England.”
When you look at the history for my own 9th great-grandfather, Nicholas Martiau (blog post here), the similarities are striking and the shared experiences so strong, they surely must have been acquainted!  From John Baer Stoudt’s book entitled Nicolas Martiau –Adventurous Huguenot, we learn that Nicholas “left England and sailed for Virginia arriving in June, 1620. His construction of a fence or palisade around the Jamestown Fort helped the settlers survive an Indian uprising in 1622. He …was elected to the House of Burgesses from the colony. Later he served as a Burgess from Elizabeth City, Yorktown, and Isle of Kent. Nicholas also served as a Justice for the early court system of Virginia–with court sometimes being held in his home.”  It seems they must have known each other, I cannot imagine how they would not have.
How can we explain Dora and I moving next door to each other and becoming close friends, 400 years after our grandparents worked and played together as well?!  It certainly seems as if our families are connected. Add to that my connections to the Voorhees and McLaughlins across the street…well, what do you think?  Is it serendipity, reincarnation-traveling with our tribes, or coincidence–the definition given us saying “coincidence — a miracle where God’s presence is invisible?” Kind of feels like that to me–like a miracle of friendship!
John Chew (1587 – 1668)
is your 8th great grandfather
son of John Chew
daughter of Col Samuel Chew
son of Sarah Chew
son of William BURGESS
son of William Burgess
son of John Burgess
son of Ezar Asa Burgess
son of William Henry Burgess
son of John Edward Burgess
You are the daughter of Alton Cleveland Burgess

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Nicholas Martiau, Ancestor of George Washington and Jamestown Colony Engineer– 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks




Correction and Update, April 24, 2018. Upon researching more thoroughly I discovered that I had made a mistake in my research for this blog post. As it turns out, Nicholas Martiau is not my 9th Great-Grandfather.  I can only apologize and set the record straight for those who used this blog post as evidence for their own relationship to Nicholas Martiau.  As it turns out, while Nicholas Martiau’s daughter Mary Jane Martiau, 1631-1701 did marry my 8th great-grandfather, John Scarsbrook, b. 1627.  they only had two daughters together.  My ancestor John Scarsbrook born  1676, was the son of John Scarsbrook, 1627, and his second wife Elizabeth, unknown maiden name. (Note: 1. 1679: Mrs. Elizabeth BUSHROD wrote her will. She names Elizabeth, wife of Col. John SCARSBROOK.
2.  1679, 18 Apr: John SCASBROOK of York Co. wrote his will. He named his two oldest daughters Jane DUKE and Elizabeth CONDON executrices and directs that anything recovered from Mrs. BUSHROD’s estate be divided among his four minor children, Martha, Mary, Hannah and John SCASBROOK. )  Even though Nicholas Martiau may not be my direct ancestor, he is an important figure in American history, and I am pleased to have learned about him.  The rest of the history included in this post about Martiau is correct, only our relationship was incorrect.

In working on my genealogy of ancestors from the Jamestown Colony, I learned of a man named Nicholas Martiau, 1591-1657, who holds a strong place in American and Virginia history! He was a French Huguenot, a military engineer appointed by King James I (King James VI of Scotland) of England, at the express petition and sponsorship of the Earl of Huntington, to come to America and help build the fort at Yorktown, Virginia. He served as a Burgess from Jamestown in 1623. Many, many stories are written about Nicholas Martiau on ancestry.com, some of which contradict each other, unfortunately. However, between these and the scholarly works like that of John Baer Stoudt’s book entitled Nicolas Martiau–Adventurous Huguenot, certain facts emerge. 

Nicholas was born in 1591 on the Ile de Re, France, and raised a French Huguenot who learned to speak English by reading the Bible. Due to the religious persecution of Huguenots, his family escaped to England where he was naturalized English and was registered in a Huguenot church there. He left England and sailed for Virginia on the ship Francis Bona Ventura (sometimes seen as Francis Bonadventure) arriving in June 1620. His construction of a fence or palisade around the Jamestown Fort helped the settlers survive an Indian uprising in 1622. He was also instrumental in constructing the palisades at Yorktown, Fort Story, and Old Point Comfort, Fort Monroe. He can be seen in the first census taken in Jamestown in 1624 and was elected to the House of Burgesses from the colony. Later he served as a Burgess from Elizabeth City, Yorktown, and the Isle of Kent.  Nicholas also served as a Justice for the early court system of Virginia–with court sometimes being held in his home. 

Nicholas received land patents for bringing people over from England, and later as rewards for his work.  He settled on a 1300 acre plantation on the York River. His home apparently sat on a bluff overlooking a curve in the York River where it connects with the Chesapeake Bay.  What a beautiful place to live that must have been! Nicholas did not live to see his land become the modern-day site of Yorktown, Virginia, but his grandson donated or sold, depending on the report, 50 acres of land for the original site of that vibrant town in 1691.  The town’s creation established Yorktown as the principal location for shipping and receiving tobacco, and other goods via the port.  Wharves, warehouses, and other business buildings were established at the riverfront. In 1931, a monument was dedicated to Nicholas Martiau by the Martiau-Washington Memorial Association commemorating his accomplishments and his illustrious descendants like George Washington; Governor of Virginia, Thomas Nelson;  and Confederate Commander Robert E Lee.  An eleven-foot tall slab of Vermont granite, the monument sits on Ballard Street in Yorktown near where Martiau made his first home upon arrival in Virginia. Nicholas Martiau,  le buste de Nicholas Martiau, oeuvre du sculpteur Desire Bardot

We know that Nicholas was married three times. unfortunately, the name of his first wife and perhaps even two children are not recorded or at least have not been discovered at this writing. They are recorded as having arrived after him on  a separate ship. It is assumed that they died soon after arriving as did so many settlers.  In 1625, Nicholas married Jane Page Berkeley, the widow of a prominent man named Lt. Edward Berkeley–marrying her increased his social status.  Together they had a son Nicholas who died without children as well as a son Richard who died at age ten. Their three daughters, however, grew to adulthood and made great matches leading to the founding of many prominent Virginia families. His will can be found in the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia and names his three daughters as Elizabeth,b. 1625 who married George Reade and leads to George Washington;  Sarah, b. 1629 who marries Capt. William Fuller; and Mary Jane, my own 8th great-grandmother who marries my 8th great-grandfather (convenient) John Scarsbrook. Nicholas marries a third time after Jane Berkeley’s death to Isabella, the widow of both Capt. Robert Felgate and George Beech with no children from this marriage.

Less you think Nicholas was a mild-mannered man, I’ll share one story that tells us more about his character. In 1635, Nicholas was a leader in a revolt against the tyranny of Royal Governor, Sir John Harvey. This was the first revolt against British authority in Virginia.  For his efforts, he was arrested and confined –but only for a brief while as Governor Harvey was deposed and Martiau released! He was a strong patriot, and it is interesting that his daughter Mary Jane married John Scarsbrook who was a leader in the Bacon rebellion! 

Nicholas is credited as the earliest American ancestor of President George Washington.  We can see the relationship in this descendancy chart:       

President George Washington (1732 – 1799)

is your 3rd great-grandson

father of President George Washington

mother of Augustine Washington Sr,

mother of Mildred Warner

mother of Mildred Reade

 Nicholas Martiau                                                                                                                                      You are the father of Elizabeth Martiau  

 In  St. Martin de Re, France, where Nicholas Martiau was born, in a garden behind the Ernest Cognacq Museum, there is a statue of George Washington, with the base of the monument featuring  a crest representing Martiau and his relationship to George Washington–dedicated by the American ambassador to France in 2007!     
Nicholas Martiau, George Washington statue,statue of George Washington w crest,  featuring Nicholas Martiau as Washington's earliest American ancestorNicholas Martiau Crest on George Washington Statue
Another caveat of being a descendant of Nicholas Martiau is that it qualifies them to join several “historical” organizations. One is “First Families of Virginia”, because Martiau arrived before the first census was taken in 1624.  His living in Jamestown qualifies his descendants for membership in the Jamestown Society also. Another important group to preserve our ancestor’s history is the “Nicolas Martiau Descendant Association”.  If I were going to join these groups however, my favorite I believe would be to belong to the august group of women with ancestors dating to early colonial Virginia called the “Grand Dames of Virginia”!
Here’s wishing you the most fun as you trace your own family tree! Helen
After writing this blog post, in May, 2014, my daughter Ali Holshouser Orcutt and her husband Greg Orcutt took their children to Yorktown where Greg took this picture of the plaque in Yorktown, Va. honoring Nicholas Martiau.
     Nicholas martiau plaque , pic. by Greg Orcutt, May, 2014





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