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 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.]

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

16 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 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. 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.

  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.

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