Pirates, Sea Captains, and Indian Traders

In a relation to a couple posts back, it does seem odd that a family which appears to stem from prominent and high society roots, populated with lawyers, political figures, surveyors, merchants, and sea captains, would end up in a short time somewhat reclusive and secretive, and with, in some cases, outlaw tendencies. There’s probably a tale to be told here, but what was it?

The possibility of involvement with the Roanoke (Virginia and North Carolina) to South Carolina Indian trade was cited as a possibility. Mentioned earlier was the association of the Phips or Phipps family with the family known as Turberville, Turbyfield, etc.

A recent post mentioned that the Bolling family had appeared repeatedly in recent research, but that where, exactly, would take some backtracking to determine. A partial answer would be that they were associated with the Eppes family and with the Poythress family, both of which are families we’ve extensively discussed in recent posts.

Secondary sources refer to the Bolling family as having been Indian traders, in addition to the Turbevilles. Some online discussion suggests that members of the Turbevilles, at least, may have originated from Brunswick County, Virginia from where they may have migrated to Halifax County, Virginia and from there into North Carolina.

This sounds like it could have been similar to a trail followed by some of the Phipps family. A map, linked below, showing Indian trading routes, looks as though some of those routes could potentially have passed by the front doors of several Fips or Phipps homes.

As far as Halifax County is concerned, this is where the Eppes family maintained a strong presence. The Bolling family was closely associated with the Eppes in southeast Virginia, and the Bollings also show up in connection with Melungeons, which may suggest Indian trader involvement.

We discussed the Indian trader connection to Sandy Bluff in South Carolina in a recent post. The Turbevilles are specifically mentioned by secondary sources as coming into Halifax County, Virginia (along the North Carolina line), and then into Sandy Bluff.

Also mentioned in connection with these traders are members of the Reves or Reeves family as well as the Lang or Long family. We’ve discussed the Reeves (also Rives and Reaves) connection numerous times.

The Long family was extremely closely connected to the family of Samuel Phipps of Ashe County, North Carolina and his descendants, not only in that location but also in Indiana and in Iowa. A William Reeves and a Robert Lang, also Long, are specifically mentioned in literature in connection with Indian traders who evidently came into the Carolinas.

Another factor which comes to mind is involvement in piracy of some kind, and some evidence suggests that there might possibly have been some sort of historical connection between Indian trading and piracy. We’ve discussed in the past the family connection to John Blackmore, the pirate, or sort of pirate, or reformed pirate, or whatever he was.

John Blackmore had a very direct relationship to the Phipps family, but the exact nature of that relationship is not entirely clear. Also, is it possible that John Blackmore of Anne Arundel County, Maryland was involved in some way with the family of John Phripp and Matthew Phripp of Norfolk, Virginia?

And is there some reason why John Fipps, Phips, or Phipp generally went by “Phripp?” And is there some reason why the Taylor family, with which Matthew Phripp was closely associated, was likely connected to the Tayloe family, which we know was earlier called Taylor but which decided, for some reason, to reinvent itself as Tayloe?

The records pertaining to Blackmore as “pyrate” are very strange indeed. Essentially, the colonial government in Maryland told him and his associate William Cotter to cease being pirates, if they were in fact engaged in such activity.

Blackmore responded, in effect, by saying, we’re not admitting that we were pirates, but if, perchance, we were, we won’t do it any more. This sounds like some sort of “slap on the wrist” response to what the government must have seen as actual piracy.

Here are some points which appear to connect, at least potentially, and which might warrant further investigation:

  • Unconfirmed Phipps claims place them in St. James Parish, Anne Arundel County, Maryland as early as 1689.
  • John Blackmore of Anne Arundel County, along with William Cotter, were arrested in 1698 on suspicion of being pirates. This was in response to Maryland governor Nicholson’s proclamation against piracy. In the case of Blackmore and Cotter, however, they were dealt with and not dealt with, suggesting that the government wished to give the appearance of having squelched piracy, when in actuality all that was done was to require the men to post bond.
  • In 1698 at the port of Annapolis, a bond was deposited to ensure that John Blackmore would now engage in acts of “good Behaviour” instead of “any Acts of Pyracy.” The court recognized John Blackmore and William Cotter, “together with Gabriel Parrot of Ann Arundel County Gent,” or gentleman. Blackmore and Cotter, along with Parrot or Parrott who was their security, paid £500 each, for a total of £1,500. Clearly, actual piracy was more than suspected, yet no one was being hindered from continuing to operate as merchants and mariners, let alone imprisoned.
  • According to a secondary source, Cotter testified that he and Blackmore sailed to Jamaica, “Carolina,” Pennsylvania, and Maryland.
  • Blackmore is supposed to have given power of attorney in 1712 to a certain Katherine or Catherine Phips. The relationship is unclear, but she is said to have apparently been the wife of a George Phips.
  • Blackmore is believed to have “left the province” by 1726.
  • A Capt. Samuel Phripp, involved in trade between the Caribbean and Virginia in 1755, may have been the same person as Capt. Samuel Phipps of Charlestown, Massachusetts. If so, this could suggest a family trading involvement linking southeast Virginia with Massachusetts. Such a link, at some point, would seem highly likely just on the basis of economics alone.
  • The Dismal Swamp Company was formed in 1763 as a land speculation company. Involved in the project was, evidently, the firm of Phripp & Bowdoin out of Norfolk, as well as some of the Galloways. This is presumably the same Galloway or Gallaway family which was closely associated with John Blackmore. Blackmore came to own an estate called Cumberstone which was later purchased by the Galloways.
  • John Phripp of Norfolk died by 10 November 1766. His son Matthew then became administrator of John’s estate. Matthew, at least, was also known as Fipps, Phips, and Phipp, although he more generally went by Phripp.
  • Ann Phripp, sister of John Phripp, died in 1796 and left a 1795 will. A 1761 marriage bond shows her as marrying Stephen Wright. Stephen Wright was associated with both Matthew and John Phripp. He was also associated with Preeson Bowdoin of the Bowdoin family in business partnership with the Phripp family.
  • A certain Stephen Wright witnessed a 1704 Anne Arundel County, Maryland deed signed by Gabriel Parrot. While he could hardly be expected to have been the one who married Ann Phripp, could he have been related?

See the following:


One thought on “Pirates, Sea Captains, and Indian Traders

  1. Can you help with my Robert Lang/Long family? Wold love to hear fromyou.
    Would like to find the place of origin for Robert Lang/Long.
    Robert Lang I and Robert Lang II were Indian traders in Virgina, North Carolina, and South Carolina from the early 1700’s.
    From the Early Clarks of Carolina by Doug Tucker
    Edward Clark Jr’s immediate neighbors included many of the so called
    Chickasaw Indian Traders, e.g. Robert Lang, John Pace, Thomas Whitmell,
    Etc. Who settled near Occoneechee Neck between 1713 and 1725. These
    traders would take Indian trail south in the late fall to the Chickasaw
    and Cherokee winter camps along the bluffs of the Broad River.

    George III to Robert Lang Junior, 150 acres in Saxegotha Township in
    Berkley County on Santee River, adj. land laid out to Robert Lang
    Senior, dated 5 June 1742.

    A memorial exhibited by William Seawright to be registered…150 acres in
    Berkley County on Santee River adj. land laid lout to Robert Lang Senr,
    originally granted 5 June 1742 to Robert Lang Junr and was by said
    Robert Lang and Melasante his wife 11 May 1744 conveyed to Thomas Brown


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s