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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Indian Slave Trade and the Generic Negro

Hi Nick. I do not recall ever coming across a case in any of the colonial court records of Virginia, North Carolina or Maryland in which someone of Portuguese descent was treated as anything but white.

That was the very reason mixed-race people claimed to be Portuguese--so they could avoid racist laws regarding people of African descent.

I think it far more likely that the Watkins family descended from white woman Catherine Watkins of Northumberland County who is listed in the inventory of the estate of John Coppedge between 1743 and 1749 with "Molatto children" Robert, Jeane and Michael Watkins [Record Book 1743-9, page 131]. Michael shows up in Brunswick County (from which Greensville was formed in 1780) in 1779 when the court ordered his poor children William and Robert bound out. William and Robert were called "Mulattoes" and children of Ann Watkins when they were ordered bound out earlier in 1771. Michael is listed with (his apparent wife) Ann as "Mulatto" in the 1813 Greensville County tax list, and he was head of a Greensville County household of 5 "free colored" in 1820.

Moses Watkins travelled with James Nickens from Northumberland County to Culpeper County where they rented land near each other. Moses married James' daughter Judy. In James' free papers, she is said to have been born of a free woman in Northumberland County.

A family descended from someone born in 1650 would have had hundreds of members by 1800--like Chavis, Sweat, etc.

As to people recalling their origins over a 250-300 year period and through some 80 years of Jim Crow, I do not know of any family that retained their family history of descending from a white woman by a slave when there were probably about 1,000 cases of this in colonial Maryland and Virginia.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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