The Immigrant John Basse and the Nansemond Tribe

Having traced my mother’s ancestral line back to John Basse’s wife, of the Nansemond Indian tribe, I was certainly curious as to whether this would show up in my DNA.  When I got the report, there was no Native American DNA identified, but I know this happens often to people of Native American descent. The reason for this is that less and less of a specific ancestor’s DNA is passed on over time, so you may very well end up with none of it. There is a very tiny “unassigned” portion of my DNA (0.1%) that cannot be identified. I guess that is the Nansemond Indian portion, but I don’t know for sure and probably never will. The Native American ancestry did show up in my brother’s DNA.

The English immigrant John Basse, born in 1616, was brought to the New World as  a child by his father, Nathaniel.  John later married a Nansemond Indian chief’s daughter, Elizabeth, and kept a record in his prayer book that proves family relationships and provides insight into their sincere Christian faith. It’s a fascinating story that would make a great television show or movie and has been told quite well by Billy Pittard on his blog.

This is the family record that John kept in his prayer book:  “John Basse was born ye 7 day of September in ye year of our Lord 1616 ye son of Nathll Basse and Mary his wife … he married Elizabeth dafter of Robin the Elder, King of ye Nansimuns kingdom, a Baptized xtian, in Holy Matrimonie accdg to ye Canons of ye Church of England, ye 14th day of August in the Year of our Blessed Lord 1638.”

My descent from the immigrant John Basse (b. 1616) is Richard Basse (b 1658), Thomas Bass (b 1719), Lucy Bass (b 1742), Joshua Nettles (b 1770), James Nettles (b 1796), Margaret E. Nettles (b 1831), Margaret Johnson (b 1871), and then my maternal grandfather. The colorized photo is Margaret E. Nettles. With every generation, it seems they moved farther west until they ended up in Texas.  As you can see, I am many generations removed from the Native American ancestor. Even if I don’t have Native American DNA, I’m proud they are part of my family.

Copyright ©2018 K Steele Barrera All rights reserved

4 Replies to “The Immigrant John Basse and the Nansemond Tribe”

    1. Thanks, Dixie! Nice to hear from you again. I was looking at your tree yesterday, and I am going to go back to it again to update some of my information.

  1. That is so interesting! John and Keziah Elizabeth Bass are my 11th great-grandparents. I have been working on my family tree since 2018 through Ancestry.com. They are through my great-grandfather’s lineage. I am African American with a lot of Native American ancestry because my great-grandmother’s family were descendants of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe in NC. They married free blacks in the early 1900s and joined that community.

    Mary Bass (my 7th great-grandmother and a descendant of William Bass) had a few of her children also marry free blacks. I have a wealth of knowledge about that side of the Native American/African American family. If you want to discuss more about it, I would be more than glad to help!

    1. That is great to hear. I have your email so I will contact you. I have recently found out that John and Elizabeth’s son Richard, whom I thought was my ancestor, was actually not the father of wife Mary Burwell’s children. This was determined because yDNA of Richard’s supposed descendants does not match the yDNA of other male descendants. I don’t know what to think about that. A Nansemond researcher on the Nansemond Facebook page told me that Mary Burwell was a Nansemond herself but her parents are not known. Lots of questions! That’s one of the important things to remember about genealogy: You have to be ready for surprises.

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