Thomas Merrett, an Indian or Not?

Whoever thought a comma could make such a difference.  One of our subscribers, Mavis, sent me this document for the Native Names project, thinking that Thomas Merrett was an Indian.  At first glance, I thought so to, and then I took another look.

Caleb Calloway is entering head rights.  This means he gets credit, generally free land, or free except the surveying and associated filing fees, for each person he imports into the colony.  The word “imports” is also often misunderstood.  It can mean from across the seas, the British Isles, or elsewhere, but it can also mean from Virginia, which is just up the coast a bit, or another state.  The idea of course is that these people will be coming to what was then Carolina to live, to homestead, to work, etc.

The record we are interested in is at the end of this document. I left the irrelevant parts because as with all old records, you often need to look at the rest of the records to get an idea of context.  So, take a look at the use of commas, or lack thereof, and then read the last record.

My thoughts are that Thomas Merrett was one of the 4 headrights, as were Daniel Pembrooke and Arthur Long.  The fourth was an Indian boy without an English name, so he was just referred to as an Indian boy.  His name was not important to this transaction, but the fact that he was “imported” means money to Caleb Calloway.

Why would an Indian boy be being imported on a boat with white people in 1693?  Indians typically transported themselves wherever they wanted to go.  The exception, of course, was people who were enslaved or apprenticed.  This Native boy was probably not in control of his own destiny, whether by virtue of slavery, apprenticeship or because he was an orphan.  It would be interesting to follow these three white men to see if any of them had slaves, and if so, if we would be lucky enough to find another description someplace indicating one of them was an Indian.

If Thomas Merrett was the name of the Indian boy, he is not known to have been mentioned later.  The only further mention in the Colonial Records of Thomas Merrett was in 1766 as a jailer in Edgecombe County, so not likely to be the same Thomas Merrett.

Minutes of the Perquimans Precinct Court

North Carolina. Precinct Court (Perquimans Precinct)

February 05, 1694

Volume 01, Pages 392-396

[Records of Perquimans Precinct Court.]



Alexandr Lillington Esqr

Caleb Calloway Esqr

John Barrow Esqr

Thomas Lepper Esqr

Wilkesons Vers Lillington & Hartley

A Judgmto Confest by Major Lillington & Mrs Susanna Hartly as Attorneys to Capt George Clarke for £35: s19: wth Cost alias Execution: Ordered that Major Alexander Lillington & Mrs Susanna Hartly in their Capacityes aforesaid doe pay unto Colloll Wm Wilkeson ye Sume of £35: 19 Cost as aforesaid

Wilkeson Exer to Jno Davis Vers Lillington Att to Holland

A Judgmte confest by Major Lillington as Attorney to John Holland of Virginia for ye Sume of £4: s2: d6. due to ye sd Wilkeson Executor to Mr John Davis disceas: Ordered yt Major Lillington in his capacity aforesaid pay unto Collll Wilkeson ye Sume of £4: s2: d6. wth Cost Alias Execution.

Mason vers White

In an action of ye Cace referred to ye Jury following Mr John Philpott Mr Patrick Henly Mr Richard Smith Mr John ffendall Mr John Tweegar Mr Timo Clare Mr Wm Butler Mr Richard Chested Mr Thomas Horton Mr Roger Snell Mr Robert Beasley Mr Cornelious Lerry: Ordered

——————– page 393 ——————–

that the defendt pay unto the plantt: s17: d6: wth Cost alias Execution

Philpott vers Nowell

Mr John Philpott wthdrawes the action agt Rich Nowell.

Mr Tho Lepper has proved Ten rights whose names are as followeth Tho. Kent Ann Kent Sarah Kent Rebecca Kent Ann Kent John Thomas Wm Brown Wm Brickstone Tho Lepper Nicholas Robeson

Caleb Calloway enters ffoure Rights: Danll Pembrooke Tho Merrett an Indian Boy in all ffoure. Arthur Long

About Roberta Estes

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

2 Responses to Thomas Merrett, an Indian or Not?

  1. Dee says:

    I don’t think Thomas was “Indian” although it’s easy to see why one would think that. I was wondering what the “in all ffour” referred to-I wondered if all four men were Native.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.