Of “Reputed Natural” Sons

As a P.S. to the entry titled “Of Mulattos and Mariners,” two posts back, it should be noted that the expression “natural” son or “reputed natural” son (or daughter) is generally assumed to refer to an illegitimacy.  The term “natural,” in a literal sense, means that the son or daughter is not adopted. The implication in old genealogical records, however, tends to be that the son of daughter is illegitimate.

We’ve discussed Catharine Annesley, daughter of James Annesley and his wife Catharine Darnley. Catharine Darnley was the “natural” daughter of King James II. Her daughter Catharine Annesley married William Phipps in 1718.

In the 1753 will of James Phipps on St. Kitts, he referred to one “reputed natural son,” Charles, who was “begotten of Mary Pickett.” Since Charles is not referred to as mulatto, and since the woman’s name is given, with her surname, we can assume that Mary Pickett was white or was considered white.

The other children, however, are all described as mulatto and as “reputed natural” sons. Their mother is named as Parthenia, with no surname, which indicates that she was black. This is further made clear by the statement by James that he was setting her free.

It would be interesting to know what became of the 3 mulatto sons, James, Thomas, and William. Did they marry white women or black women? Did their children remain in mulatto status, during an era when mulattos were subjected to slavery, or did descendants eventually reinvent themselves as white, as discussed in the previous post?

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