Weyanoake Indian Tom Freeman

By Fletcher Freeman

The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Second Series, Volume VII entitled “Records of the Executive Council,” on page 416, has a deposition given by Richard Booth in which he states that in the year 1667  he took a canoe with trade goods to the Meherrin Indian Town down the Blackwater River.  On his right the Weyanoake River joined in about 13 miles north of the Meherrin River.  Accompanying him on this journey was “a Certain Weyanoake Indian Called Tom Freeman.”  Also accompanying him was a man named John Browne.

Our John Freeman, is first mentioned as being a landowner in Norfolk County,Va. in 1675.  Could he be related to Indian Tom Freeman?

In his deposition, Richard Booth states that the Weyanoake Indian Town was very near a plantation owned by Colonel Harrison.  There was a William Harrison who owned a 600 acre plantation due west across the Great Dismal Swamp from our John Freeman who owned a 400 acre plantation on the Eastern side of the swamp.

1708 deposition by Robert Lawrence of Nansemond County, VA. told of “ a large Creek on the said South west side of Chowan (river) commonly called and known both by the English and Indians by the name of Weyanoake Creek Which Creek issueth into Chowan about twenty five miles above Morattock Rivers mouth and according to the best of this Deponents Judgement about twenty miles below the mouth of Maherine River.”

The Weyanoake River or Creek is apparently known today as the Nottaway River.

Later maps of North Carolina indicate that the Meherrin Indian Town was in what is now North Carolina and was on the west side of the Chowan River opposite the Chowan Indian town.

The Weyanoke’s lived for a while in Bertie County, NC south of Meherrin Indian Town and west of the Chowan River and Chowan Indian Town.

The son and grandson of John Freeman of Norfolk, Va. moved to Chowan County NC and in fact bought land from the Chowan Indians.  It is further theorized that his grandson, John Freeman, married the daughter of the Chiefman of the Chowan Indians, Tabitha Hoyter.

The Weyanoake Indians were part of the Powhatan Confederacy as early as 1607 and were members in the Algonquian Language Group.  The name Weyanoake, in Algonquian, means “Land of the Sassafras.”

John Freeman of Norfolk had three known children—William, John, and Thomas.  Was Thomas named after his grandfather or uncle?

Another coincidence relates to the John Browne who accompanied Weyanoke Indian Tom Freeman in the canoe.  John Browne was the son of Col. Tom Browne who owned over 1200 acres of land on the west bank of the Elizabeth River in Norfolk Cty., VA.  John had a sister named Anne Browne. She married Richard Cording and had a son Thomas Cording.  He had a daughter, Mary Cording who married William Freeman, Sr., the son of John Freeman of Norfolk, VA who is first shown there in 1673.  John Freeman also owned land on the west bank of the Elizabeth River.  Hence William married the Great-Niece of John Browne and, if related, would have been the Grandson or great nephew of Indian Tom Freeman.

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Chowan, Meherrin, Weyanoke. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Weyanoake Indian Tom Freeman

  1. I think this is my family

  2. rcleonard says:

    Roberta, these are the FREEMAN lines that my Mother’s DENNIS brother(s) and nephew match as Q1a3a FREEMAN’S. Thanks for sharing! – Revis

  3. Kay says:

    i believe John Freeman is my many great grandfather. My great grandmother was A Freeman from NC

  4. Rae says:

    This is fascinating! I wish I came across this earlier. I think I need to contact Fletcher Freeman! I know my ancestors are Freeman. I was always given an oral history of our Freeman relations and I have now traced them with documentation back to Abraham Freeman in NC who married Eady Jacobs. Every aspect of the oral history provided has now been documented. Abraham Freeman had land grants on record. Many recognize his presence in NC as of 1787, but I have documentation going back to 1765 in Bladen County. He had a son Jacob and a grandson Thomas Freeman. Thomas was a family name that has continued until today. I am still working on researching my Freeman ancestors beyond Abraham and may be doing so until the day I die. My hunch is that my Abraham Freeman who was born about 1730, may have been a son or a grandson of the John Freeman mentioned. Another family name that was abundant in this region was Jacobs, Eady/Eadie, Locklear, Pagett/Pegett, and Boone.

  5. billy jo koonce says:


  6. A says:

    William Freeman and Mary Cording confuse me. On WikiTree there are 2 people listed as his possible descendants. One is from his alleged son, Samuel, and I don’t know who the other descends from because his profile is private. One is haplogroup R and the is I. At least some descendants of John and Tabitha are Q, specifically descendants of their grandson, Aaron Posey Freeman. I wish there was a giant tree of all their descendants and known haplogroups. It would help make sense of everything. So far all I find is bits and pieces of scattered information. Everyone claiming descent from William and Mary can’t all descend from them with the different haplogroups. It doesn’t help that people trace William Freeman to English immigrants. It’s all so confusing.

    • Timothy Freeman says:

      My Great, Great GF was Grey Lathan Freeman – Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 25 Dec 1865, Died 17 Mar 1939. One of my distant cousins (who I’d never met, nor heard of, before) located me somehow and asked me to do a Y-DNA test. It came back that I had the Q-M3 Haplotype – which is exactly what she was trying to determine. This indicates that somewhere back in my heritage line, my paternal ancestors were of Native American descent. I highly suspect that the “Tom Freeman” referenced in Richard Booth’s deposition is my ancestor.

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