The Immigrant John Basse and the Nansemond Tribe

[Note: Since I wrote this post, I have heard from other researchers on the Nansemond and Bass Facebook pages that some of this information -which has been widely accepted – is actually not as clear as one might wish. Specifically, I have been told that yDNA has proven that my ancestor Richard Basse’s ASSUMED descendants do not match the rest of John Basse’s descendants. Therefore,  I do not plan to continue researching this line.]

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 [was originally believed to be] from the immigrant John Basse (b. 1616),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.  [However, I have since learned that Thomas Bass was not a son of Richard, therefore, not a grandson of John the Immigrant. I have been told that Thomas Bass’s mother, Mary Burwell, was Native American.] 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

49 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. How do I see your tree? I am also from the Basse Nettles line,not sure how. I hope to get a response. Sincerely Shana Dines

        1. Shana, I will send you an invitation to my private tree. Do you have access to If not, I will figure out another way to share my information.
          If you read my whole article about John Basse, you can see that my connection has been called into question.


        2. If you find my tree using the link I sent you, look for John Basse under the “Tree Search” tab because I have disconnected him from my tree.
          If you are not familiar with the way the trees on Ancestry work, I suggest you choose the horizontal option (upper left) instead of the vertical option.

  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 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.

    2. Hello Carlos! I would love to communicate with you! I just found out that I am a descendant of John Basse on my mother’s side and I am trying to learn more. I am new to the ancestry journey and would appreciate any information you can provide 🙂

    3. Dear Carlos,I am sorry to interrupt your thread but have been trying to straighten out my tree in regard to the Basse family. My name is Celeste Jordan – -Polk. I believe I am related to Temperance Jordan Bass. She was married to James Bass Sr. My Great-Grandfather esteemed his roots but he couldn’t explain much to my Grandfather. My Grandfather was born in Nelson County Virginia. I think this was near Bear Mountain . If possible I would appreciate any help you can give. Thank you so much.

  2. Be careful! A DNA test can tell you what you are, but cannot tell you what you aren’t. A DNA test, for instance, can’t tell you what you are, culturally. Take the Cherokee Nation, for instance. If someone is a member of the Cherokee Nation, but is only 1/4096 Cherokee by blood, do they stop being Cherokee? I mean, by that point, Indian DNA is not going to show up on DNA tests (and yes, there are members of the Cherokee Nation with that blood quantum)

  3. Greetings!

    We are related, our common Ancestors were John and Elizabeth, and my relative was Richard’s brother, William Bass, my 9th GGfather.

  4. Hello,
    We are related through Richard and Dorcas Foster. Their daughter Ann Elizabeth Foster Carraway was my ancestor ‘s sister.
    Great work on your site. It has been very help and extremely interesting.
    Dixie Cain

    1. Thank you for commenting. I have very little information about Richard and Dorcas Foster, so I would love to find out more. If you have an online tree, how can I access it? I will be emailing you.

  5. My 8th G Grandmothr is Elizabeth the Nansemond,
    My Lineage is from her Son William Basse DOB 3/29/1654 Haplogroup A1-M31

    1. Thanks for writing, Danae. I know several people who are descended from that line. Do you have a tree posted online? In case you did not know, there are Facebook groups for Bass families, as well as for Nansemond descendants.

    2. Hello Dana’s I’m also a Elizabeth Of Nansemond Tribe linens through her son William. I’m on Ancestry as well and Facebook as well would to here your side.

  6. Great page, thank you for shareing here is my heritage.

    Starting with John Basse Sr Married to Elizabeth,
    William Basse
    Edward Bass
    James Bass
    Betram Bass
    Robert Bass
    Mary Medlock (nee Bass)
    Silas Medlock
    Berger Medlock
    Victor Medlock
    Me Scott Medlock

  7. Hi my name is Regina Fenner , the great granddaughter of Annie E Dudley, her mother is Mary Blackledge and her father is Richard Blackledge and her mother is Mary Hatch. William S Blackledge is Richard B Blackledge father . The are related to the Basse and Fonvielle family.

  8. Hello my name is William Bass and my Y DNA A-M31 links me to John Basse who married Keziah Elizabeth Tucker the princess of the Nansemond Tribe confirmed by Nansemond genealogy and research. I’ve been researching my ancestors and would love to know more about them.

    1. Nice to hear from you. Do you know which of their sons you are descended from? I have gotten most of my Bass information from other researchers, but I would be happy to share my tree with you if you’re interested.

    2. John Bass 1616 does not carry the A Haplogroup.
      His y-DNA is R1b-269-L47
      I descend from his son Richard and Jane Bryant.
      Richards snps just like John 1616 shows English and French.
      When Richard married Mary Burwell..
      There is no way her son’s were Richards.
      The snps on Mary Burwell sons are of Scottish ancestry.

      1. Yes, I know. Thank you for confirming that. If you want to take another look at my article, you’ll see that I had added a note after first publication. Here it is: [Note: Since I wrote this post, I have heard from other researchers on the Nansemond and Bass Facebook pages that some of this information -which has been widely accepted – is actually not as clear as one might wish. Specifically, I have been told that yDNA has proven that my ancestor Richard Basse’s descendants do not match the rest of John Basse’s descendants. Therefore, if you have a particular interest in this family, let me know, and I will direct you to more knowledgeable researchers. I do not plan to continue researching this line.]

        1. Hello, I have been working this line for several years but I lack confidence that it is correct since there is so much confusion surrounding the Bass family. I know there is a another Uriah Bass (1755). Yes, I want to be a descendent of John and Elizabeth but it is more important to me that I have my tree correct. Thanks for any help.

          My line as I have it now….

          John Bass 1616 (Elizabeth)
          Richard 1658 (Mary)
          Andrew 1698 (Elizabeth)
          Richard 1732 (Sarah)
          Uriah 1766 (Sarah)
          Ackies 1794 (Mary “Polly”)


          1. Hi, Brenda. Thanks for writing. I thought I had replied to you already, but I must not have saved it. I need to let you know that none of Mary’s children were fathered by Richard Bass. Others have proven this with DNA. Mary’s sons did not have the same Y DNA as John’s other descendants. Please reread my article and the comments for more information. Also check out the Nansemond and Bass Facebook pages. Researcher Tanna Bass has posted significant information on this line. Unfortunately, she passed away not long ago, and I do not have access to her sources.

        2. Thanks! I am a descendant of Richard, through his son Thomas, who married Sophia Susanna Cordwainer. I am trying to connect Richard to John and Elizabeth and, then, to Nathaniel and Mary. Can you help me?
          Elizabeth Chesnutt McEnery

          1. Please go back and read my article and read the comments other people have made. As I have stated, I accept the view of other researchers that Thomas was NOT actually Richard’s son. His line does not carry the Basse DNA. Also Thomas married Sophia Roe, not Cordwainer. “Cordwainer” was her father’s PROFESSION, which was listed next to Henry Roe’s burial record in “West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1512-1812”, at Ancestry dot com.

        1. Christi, I apologize for not being more proficient at answering questions like this. First of all, I have stopped working on this line. An accomplished researcher, Tanna Jo Bass (now deceased) on the Bass family Facebook page, informed me before she died that the y-DNA of Richard’s descendants with his first wife does not match the y-DNA of Richards’ supposed descendants with Mary Burwell. R-M269 does not match other descendants of the original John Basse. If this is true, then Mary Burwell’s sons are not descendants of John Basse.

    3. Hi
      Your y-DNA does not link to to My 9th great grandfather John Bass 1616.
      His y-DNA is R1b-269-L47 or M269-L47.
      Elizabeth the Nansemond had a child with a black man that supposedly came in on one of the ships.
      That son was William 1654.
      He is not a Bass.
      William 1654 ydna is A Haplogroup.
      Who’s is rare.
      Only the male descendants of William 1664 carries this y-DNA.
      There’s also proof that Richard Bass that married Mary Burwell was not the son of John 1616.
      I descend from Richard and Jane Bryant.
      There’s no proof the Mary Burwell who married the other Richard Bass was a native woman.
      No one knows who her parents are.
      The y-DNA from Mary Burwell sons show they are of Scottish descent.
      The y-DNA of Richard and Jane Bryant sons show they’re of French and English descent.
      William 1654 line is tri-racial.
      We call them the Black Basses.
      My line is bi-racial.
      Please Google Nansemonds of Granville North Carolina.
      It starts with John Bass and Elizabeth the Nansemond, then goes straight down William 1654 line and children.
      They’re well documented.

      1. Based on the research of skilled genealogists I have corresponded with, Richard, husband of Mary Burwell, WAS the son of John and Elizabeth the Nansemond. However, Mary Burwell’s children did not carry the BASS DNA. So some of your information matches what I have, but some of it does not. Anyone who may be affected by this should seek out additional sources. There are a couple of Facebook groups that have had wide ranging discussions on these details. One is the Nansemond group and the other is the Bass Family group. I would appreciate it if you could supply additional sources. I never heard anything about Elizabeth having a child with a black man, but I know some Basses did intermarry with blacks in later generations. This may have some relevant information:

      2. You said, “There’s also proof that Richard Bass that married Mary Burwell was not the son of John 1616.” This is incorrect. Richard WAS the son of John, but his children by Mary Burwell appear not to have been his children. As you say, his children with Jane Bryant carry the John Basse DNA.

    4. Hi I wouldnt discontinue that research if I were you. There are several ways you could be descendant of the Bass line and not have the same Y DNA as the Basse immagrant, example a descendant example a great granddaghter with the Bass name could have given her child the Bass name. I have a DNA a match a male Bass sirname and he have a Native American haplogroup. The match has less than 1% Native American DNA in his Autosomal chromosome region but he has a direct paternal line Haplogroup I think its Qm3 or some mutation of Qm3.

      1. Thank you. I have discontinued that research because I don’t care if I have Native American ancestry or not or how I have it. I’ll wait and let someone else figure it out! But I really do like the points you make.

        1. I have been researching the Bass line for 15 years…An early dna test showed a 2% value was native American, the remainder being European.; a more recent test labeled that 2% Oriental, plus another 2% African, the remainder still European…??? How and why did it change?

    5. This DNA is from William basse who was not related to John Basse. He was a subsaharan African. Elizabeth would be mother. This Is my line of DNA. See the Facebook page for “Bass haplogroup”, you’ll find files there with proof

      1. I have no idea what you are talking about. What you are saying does not agree with what other qualified researchers have said about William Basse. I am not interested in joining another Facebook group. Do you want to explain it here or provide a link to a public source?

  9. I’ve found a deed and will stating that my 5th great-grandfather, Revolutionary War veteran Augustine Sledge, was married to Celia Ann “Sealey” Bass, a possible descendant of Robin the Elder. My DNA does *not* show indigenous American ancestry, and my haplogroup is R1B.

    Any info/guidance would be appreciated.

    1. Thanks for your question. Those names are new to me, so I don’t have any more information for you, but the absence of Native American DNA does NOT mean that you had no Native American ancestors. As you probably know, we get less and less DNA from each line with every generation. What’s more important is to try to find the genealogical proof because the genetic proof is not helpful after so many generations.

      I will try to see if I can find anything to add. I’m particularly interested in your Sledge ancestor. I’m not related to the Sledges, but my grandchildren have Sledge ancestry through their mothers who married my sons. I also have a lot of Hicks in my tree, and they are very hard to trace.

    2. Hello again. I found the connection to my line using the tree at Ancestry dot com of Donna Rogers. You are a descendant of Richard Bass, son of John, by his first wife, Jane Bryant. So, if this is correct, you are genealogically connected to the Nansemond wife of John. I am descended from Richard’s second wife, Mary Burwell. However, researcher Tanna Bass, now deceased, helped me with my line by saying none of Mary Burwell’s children were fathered by Richard. My notes say, “Tanna Jo Bass (Nansemond researcher, now deceased) says: Richard 1658 married Mary Burwell in 1695.. she had 7 children beginning in 1698 with Andrew 1698.. then Richard 1707.. however, none of Mary’s children were fathered by Richard 1658. The unknown father of Mary Burwell’s children are ydna R M269 – L21 not R M269 L47 Basse.” I will send you an invitation to my private online tree. Maybe that will help you fill in some blanks. Keep in touch.

  10. I am not sure how to tell what my male hapalog is, or how I tell. It is all very confusing. I am a descendent of Mary Burwell and supposedly Richard Bass and they had Thomas who had Lucy Mae Bass and she married Benjamin Nettles and he had Ana Eliza Nettles who had Victoria Milstead, who married Leonardo Villarreal and they had Lucinda Villarreal who married my great grandfather Enrique Torres and they had Enrique angel Torres Jr. who is my father. I would love some help understanding this.

    1. I will try to comment more later, but for now, please make sure you read my article carefully because I include some information about Richard Basse, Mary Burwell, and Thomas Bass. I am also a descendant of Lucy Bass, but she married Zachariah Nettles. I have not seen the name Benjamin Nettles.

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