Legend of Thomas Hendrick in 1699 Virginia

The idea that a Thomas Hendrick was in Virginia in 1699 stems from a misreading of old handwriting.  The source is Lewis des Cognets’ transcription of a list of claimants to land in King William County that included a name he rendered as “Thomas(?) Hendrick”.1


This faulty legend is discusse elsewhere in this website, but it is worth devoting a separate page due to the pervasiveness of this legend.  Briefly, a committee was formed in 1699 to deal with disputed claims for land in Virginia’s Pamunkey Neck.  One dispute centered around the disposition of a large tract that Richard Yarborough had leased from the Pamunkey Indians.  Although Yarborough himself was dead by 1699, seven persons plus Yarborough’s son John claimed rights to several adjacent tracts by virtue of purchases from him. The seven persons were William Morris, John Oakes, William Rawlins, George Douglas (as orphan and heir of Robert Douglas), Peter White, Andrew Mackallaster, and two tracts claimed by “Thomas (?) Hendrick.”

“Thomas Hendrick” was Hance Hendrick

It seems clear that “Thomas Hendrick” was actually a mis-transcription of “Hance Hendrick”.  The abstracter, des Cognets, wasn’t sure of the name for he inserted a question mark and wrote it as “Thomas (?) Hendrick.” All the other given names in the committee’s report were common in England, so des Cognets was surely expecting to find a common English name and not one as unusual as Hance.

“Hance” looks remarkably like “Thomas”when handwritten.  Consider this entry for Hance Hendrick Jr. (the son of the immigrant) taken from the 1751 Amelia County tax list. Most people would probably read this as “Thomas (?) Hendrick”.


Indeed, the original document that des Cognets uncovered must have difficult to read, as one of the other names was slightly mis-transcribed as well.2

Finally, consider that the persons listed in des Cognets’ abstract were all awarded patents for the lands they had bought from Yarborough.  Together these patents comprise one large contiguous tract. The two tracts claimed by “Thomas(?) Hendrick” in 1699 lie roughly in the middle and were patented by “Hance Hendrick” in 1701 and 1702.  The 1701 patent, in fact, refers to “Hance’s old plantation”, clarifying that he had living on the tract for some time.

  1. English Duplicates of Lost Virginia Records, Lewis des Cognets, Jr., (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1981), p58. []
  2. The transcription reads “George & Douglas, orphans” but the patent was issued to “George Douglas”, orphan and heir of Robert Douglas. []