Before Virginia: Finding the Origins of Colonial Immigrants – Vic Dunn
SESSION: NGS2104-VIR-02 TRACK: Virginia
I have a number of New England ancestors, including several who came over on the Mayflower. I am always impressed about how many have been traced back into England and typically find one or two articles a year regarding a break though in one of my lines that has been published in one of the major genealogical journals. Conversely, I have far more Virginia ancestors, but have found that it is very difficult to make the “leap back over the pond.” Why is this?
Unlike my New England and Pennsylvania immigrants who often came to America with family members, early Virginians tended to migrate individually. While some did come as family units such as the Royalists recruited by Governor Berkeley, the majority came individually as indentured servants. This makes identifying origins in Europe or in the colonies more difficult. Most of the settlers in Tidewater Virginia in the seventeenth century were Anglicans from England with a few Irish, Scottish, and Quaker immigrants in the mix. In the eighteenth century other ethnic and religious groups began settling in the Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley areas such as Germans and French Huguenots who came directly from Europe as well as a number of Scotch-Irish, Germans, and Quakers who came from the northern colonies. This lecture will focus on the challenges of identifying who is the immigrant ancestor including the challenges and limitations of headright records. Focus is also centered on the published and unpublished record groups that are available to research these various immigrants including government and church records as well as the use of DNA in determining pre-Virginia origins. This lecture is recommended for all researcher levels.
BIO: Vic Dunn, CG, is IGHR’s Virginia track coordinator. A Mosher Award recipient, he is a past board member of BCG, NGS, and the Virginia Genealogical Society.
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