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.