Indian Thomas, First Indian with a Christian Name

In Jamestown in 1663, we see the first instance of an Indian being given a Christian name, except for Pochahontas who was renamed Rebecca after her 1614 married to John Rolfe.  Prior to this, the Indians, when mentioned, were either simply referenced as an Indian slave or their Native name was used.  They were probably given Christian names or nicknames on plantations all along since Native names would have been difficult for Europeans to pronounce.

In 1663, an Indian man is referenced as Thomas, but no surname is used at this point.  In this record, Thomas complains of illegal detention by Mr. Hoe.  The court orders Rice Hoe to provide Thomas, the Indian, with two new canvas shirts and one pair of new canvas drawers; and pay all costs of suit.


About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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3 Responses to Indian Thomas, First Indian with a Christian Name

  1. stevie says:

    Here is another enteresting story of how the Norris name became a christian indian name too.
    And as My paternal grandmother was indian as well as a borris prior to marriage, I find it quiet

  2. stevie says:

    I meant “Norris” not “Borris.”

  3. Ted Thomas says:

    I was trying to find out my native Cherokee name, Thomas is my Christian name.I read where there was an Indian man named Thomas in 1663, My grandmother and grand father were both Cherokee. My great grand 7 th back was a Cherokee woman and she died in the 1800 hundreds and buried in Virginia on a Indian burial ground. If you have any info into this please let me know. Thank you.

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