The 1733 Edward Moseley map of North Carolina, above, shows the Meherrin Indian Village to the left.
Around the same time, this note from William Byrd was recorded in 1728 while surveying the dividing line between North Carolina and Virginia:
In this camp three of the Meherrin Indians made us a visit. They told us that the small remains of their nation had deserted their ancient town, situated near the mouth of the Meherrin river, for fear of the Catawbas, who had killed fourteen of their people the year before; and the few that survived that calamity, had taken refuge amongst the English, on the east side of Chowan. Though, if the complaint of these Indians were true, they are hardly used by our Carolina friends. But they are the less to be pitied, because they have ever been reputed the most false and treacherous to the English of all the Indians in the neighbourhood.
Sadly, I think this information from Byrd is the swan song for the once vibrant Meherrin. It allows us to peer uncomfortably at the death throes of a Native nation. It sounds like there may have been fewer in the tribe in 1728 than the 14 that were killed the year before. While it’s easy to blame the demise of the Native tribes on the Europeans, it’s also obvious that their decimation was not entirely at European hands nor through European diseases. However, these people could not survive multiple attacks on different fronts, reducing the number of their population and separating them from their home lands and villages.
In 1731, 20 Meherrin families were documented, so the tribe was quite small. The current Meherrin Tribe, comprised of descendants, provides additional historic information on their website.
Hat tip to Justin for the map and Byrd info.