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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Colonial era Hathcocks

I have sent the following to Paul Heinegg, but because it may be of wider interest, I am also posting it on this forum.

I am (most likely) a descendant of Edward Hathcock, who appears in Paul's excellent work. I am also involved in a Hathcock/Heathcock/Hathcoat Y-chromosome DNA study group.

There are to date 14 men in the study group who have close matches on our Y-chromosome markers. Chances are that we all share a single male ancestor in genealogical time. These 14 men include five with some obvious variation of Hathcock as surname. The other nine have different surnames--Johnson, Jacobs (3), Reynolds, Scott, and Norton (3).

All of the five Hathcocks have pretty strong paper trails back to about 1800 and we believe that they all converge on Thomas Hathcock, two through his son John Hathcock Sr. one through his son Hosiah Hathcock, and one through Barnabus Hathcock, who may have been another son of John Hathcock Sr., but who also could have been a son of Thomas himself. The five Hathcocks who have the same DNA pattern are not close relatives--the common ancestor was at least seven generations back.

The three Nortons trace their lineage very definitely back to James Norton Sr., who married Martha Hathcock, daughter of Edward Hathcock and sister of Thomas Hathcock. We speculate that James and Martha reared a son of one of her brothers, probably Isham Norton.

We have not yet sorted out just how the Johnson, Jacobs group, Reynolds or Scott acquired Hathcock Y-DNA, but they all have ancestors who lived in the North Carolina-Georgia area in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Here is how this is relevant to this forum: The Hathcock Y-chromosome haplogroup is E1b1a. Following is the description of this haplogroup from FTDNA: "Haplogroup E1b1a is an African lineage. It is currently hypothesized that this haplogroup dispersed south from northern Africa within the last 3,000 years with the Bantu agricultural expansion. E1b1a is also the most common lineage among African Americans. It is an old, diverse haplogroup with many branches and is found distributed throughout Africa today. It is also found at a very low frequency in North Africa and the Middle East." There are several possible implications of this hapolgroup with regard to the Hathcock male line.

Although our Hathcock family tradition is of European heritage, at least the surname line seems to have been in Africa only a couple of thousand years ago--we have a European surname linked with African Y-DNA.

This raises the interesting possibility that the Virginia or North Carolina Hathcock that all of we modern Hathcocks are descended from was himself a man of color and descended from a 17th century male slave. We know that there were early Hathcock immigrants from England, most notably a Thomas Hathcock who came from London to Virginia as indentured servant in 1635 and another Thomas Hathcock who came in 1672. So it is likely that the surname came to the US with one of those two men, who would have been father or grandfather of the 18th century Edward Hathcock of Northampton Co NC.

If Edward himself was a man of color, this would mean that Edward Hathcock's mother or Hathcock grandmother would have had union with a male slave yet raised Edward or his father with the Hathcock surname. I gather from Heinegg's research that this was not unheard of, but certainly not common (I think he speculated on the order of 1% of the colonial era Free African Americans originated this way.

I have been trying to piece together a possible scenario and it would have to go like this: European Y-DNA male Thomas Hathcock immigrates in 1635 and marries. It doesn't matter whether he married a white or a woman of color. However, once married he raises male children sired by a black, thus joining the European surname to the African DNA. It could also have been his son or his grandson, but it probably would have happened pretty early to set the pattern that (so far) all Hathcock surname males tested have the same African Y-chromosome.

A second possibility is that the original Hathcock immigrant was Thomas Hathcock (1635), who may have been descended from a line of English males who trace back to an African male who was taken to England in Roman times. I suppose that it is even possible that this original immigrant was himself a free man of color, although I haven't read anything about the possibility that blacks may have been included in the early importations.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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