John Graweere or Geaween?
These above names became important to me in my Goins and Melungeon research, especially after discovering the original court records were lost and the two documents researchers used and referenced in their notes had transcribed the name differently. Both transcribed the records from a copy transcribed from the original record by Conway Robinson. One as John Graweere and the other as John Geaween, so with the combined efforts of other concerned researchers we obtained a copy of the court case of John Graweere from the Virginia Historical Society, copied by Conway Robinson who wrote the name twice, once as “John Graweere”, and again as “said Graweere.”
This review of Colonial records and names in those records question the accuracy of the genealogy and all articles written using the name Gowen as a variant of Geaween which presents a major problem for Gowen researchers who claim the freed slave was John Gowen. Conway Robinson’s notes dispute their claim because Graweere is not a variant of Gowen.
Copies of this court record have been given to Librarians and to experts in historical handwriting in four different states, all of whom concluded the word as transcribed by Robinson was Graweere.
I will list a few examples of the many reasons given for the conclusion on why the word is *Graweere: The last letter in said word is an e- example the word (the) was used in this court record 27 times and the ending e is identical to the ending e as in Graweere. Also in the document, the ending letters in the word *therefore are identical to the ending re in Graweere. The second letter is an r rather than an e as in Geaween (Gowen)because several words in this record where the second letter is an r and one of them is directly under the word Graweere and that word is brought, the r in brought is identical to the second letter as in Graweere. Several words in said document end with an n such as then and women and they prove the last letter as in Geaween cannot be an n as claimed by researchers who used Geaween a variant of Gowen and then use the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography as their reference.
Henry Read McIlwaine (1864-1934) also transcribed the name as Graweere from Conway Robinson’s notes, which is not a variant of Gowen. The reason researchers ignored Conway Robinson’s transcribed copy from the original record may have been because it was not on microfilm, or in major libraries, but this begs the question why did they claim Henry Read McIlwaine transcription was wrong?
According to my investigation the Virginia Magazine of History used the transcription of the text furnished for the earlier numbers by Mr. Lothrop Withington of London, England, an accomplished antiquarian and genealogist who transcribed the name from Robinson’s transcription as John Geaween so they referenced (VMHB-Virginia Magazine of History and Biology).
Concerning The African Angolans who arrived at Jamestown on a Dutch ship in the summer of 1619.
A-1. John Gowen I (originally “Geaween” and sometimes mistranslated “Graweere”) was born about 1615. By 1640, Gowen, described as a “negro”, was the freed servant of William Evans of Virginia. John Gowen, a hog farmer, became a freeman in the first generation of British North America. He had a son by an African-American woman named Margaret Cornish about 1635. In 1641 John Gowen purchased the freedom of his son Michael (originally “Mihill”) from Lt. Robert Sheppard, master of Margaret Cornish.
B-8. John Goyne (aka Guynes) III, born 1776 in the Camden District of South Carolina, son of James Goyne, son of William Gowen II, son of John Gowen II, son of William Gowen I, son of Thomas Gowen, son of Michael Gowen, son of John Gowen I.
Concerning this review: I do not disagree with this family genealogy up to John and Mary Going then to William and Catherine Going of Stafford, Fairfax, Lunenburg Counties Virginia. I have followed part of this line using records, such as Wills, military, court, land etc, and this line can be fully documented up to William. Although the parents of William and Catherine are only possibilities and there were two, an older John and a Thomas Going, both were probably emigrants from England.
As the reader can observe for themselves John Graweere son was not named in the record where they were given their freedom, but a Surry County record names a Negro Matthew after John Grashere name, this John must be the same person as John Graweere who is recorded as the property of William Ewin/Evans in 1640:
”MICHAELL, a Negroe KATHERINE his wife JOHN GRASHEARE a Negro, MATHEW a Negroe.” WILLIAM EWINS/EWEN’s James River land in Surry [known as the Colledge Plantation by 1 March 1640/41],” was patented as follows:
part A – 400 acres Tappahannah Territory patented 15 September 1619 by WILLIAM EWEN
part B – 1,000 acres Tappahannah Territory patented January 1621/22 by WILLIAM EWEN, which is the same land that is recorded in other records as Evans. (Surry County Court Records (1700-1711) [p.219] 2d. Septr. 1701. At a Court held at Southwarke for the County of Surry. Present. Mr. HENRY TOOKER, Mr. WILLIAM BROWNE)
Notice Tim Hashaw agrees, but adds Grasheare is a variant of Geaween.
Surry County,Va records show that William Evans who was John Geaween’s master in 1641 patented 400 acres in Sept 15,1619 (two weeks after the arrival of the White Lion based on headlights. Four Africans are named as attached to Evans household at a early time: John “Grasheare”,Mathew” “Michael” and “Katherine” as calculated by the ages of the children of Michael and Katherine. John “Grasheare” is a variant of John “Geaween(1619-
(the Black Mayflower and the Origin of the Melungeons, part 1 Melungeon rootsweb list)
The problem with the above statement “John Grasheare is a variant of John Geaween” is, this name Grasheare is a common surname today. Only Grashear is found at WorldConnect. No Graweere or Geaween One example is:. Loot Grashear born mid 1800’s
Name: Loot GRASHEAR
Given Name: Loot
Surname: GRASHEAR Sex: M
As previously stated the original court records are lost. What did survive was the abstracts of the records by Conway Robinson, Esquire, who transcribed them before the fire in Richmond destroyed the original. Robinson’s transcribed records are not on Microfilm, they are printed in two places: 1-McIlwaine’s Minutes of the Council, and 2-The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Thus the original court records of John Graweere and his unnamed son obtaining their freedom is forever lost, so the Angolian genealogy and the Melungeon Gowen, Goins is based on a copy from the copy from the original record. This copy by Robinson and McIlwaine transcribes the name as Graweere which is not a variant of Gowen after all.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Robinson for copying the original records before they were destroyed when the court house burned. I have the page in question from Robinson’s notes – Henry Read McIlwaine (1864-1934), ed, Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia, 1622-1632, 1670-1676, with Notes and Excerpts from Original Council and General Court Records, into 1683,now Lost (Richmond : The Colonial Press, Everett Waddy Co., 1924)and as previous stated Henry Read McIlwaine transcribed the name from Conway Robinson’s notes as John Graweere.
From other court and land records the original name may have been Grasheare and has nothing at all to do with Gowen, Goins or variant, but from both Robinson’s notes and McIlwaine the word appears to be Graweere and may have been a mistranslation of Grasheare who was named in the court record below.
“THO: ROBINSON, DANIELL BRIDGMAN, RICHARD BRADLEY, MORGAN GLOVER, SAMLL HUBY, FRANCIS ALLEN, MAURICE PRICE, LAUR CARVER, ELIZA his wife, MICHAELL, a Negroe KATHERINE his wife, JOHN GRASHEARE a Negro, MATHEW a Negroe…” (Surry County Court Records (1700-1711) [p.219] 2d. Septr. 1701. At a Court held at Southwarke for the County of Surry. Present. Mr. HENRY TOOKER, Mr. WILLIAM BROWNE),
An 1659 record shows wm EWIN/ EVANS was probaly dead and wife MARY probated his holdings. see attachment.
A Blizzard hits Surry County!
by Dennis Hudgins
”In this item I will provide detailed references which will put together some facts about an early negro family in Surry County, Virginia. Their last name is unknown at this time but it is not far-fetched to say that they could have been the progenitors of the Blizzard family. The headrights for MICHAELL, a Negroe & KATHERINE his wife belonged to WILLIAM EWINS/EWEN by 30 September 1643 and their children in June 1659 [RABECCA? about 20 yeares old, FRANCIS about [8 or 10] yeares old, AMOS about [9 or 7] yeares old & SUSANNA about  yeares old] were probably raised on the Surry County Colledge Plantation. By the age differences, there may have been another child not accounted for in the 1659 Surry record.” Note: the missing child is Mathew and probable son of John, so this creates a strong possibility that the freed son of John Graweere name was Mathew.
This above appears to be the same record as this one below from the VMHB, but notice the name changes WILLIAM EWINS/EWEN to William Evans and JOHN GRASHEARE to John Geaween.
“On 31 March 1641 the Virginia Court ordered, that John Geaween being a Negro servant unto William Evans was permitted by his said master to keep hogs and make the best benefit thereof to himself provided that the said Evans might have half the increase… And whereas the said negro having a young child of a negro woman belonging to Lieut. Robert Sheppard… the said negro did for his said child purchase its freedom of Lieut. Robert Sheppard… the court hath therefore ordered that the child shall be free from the said Evans”… (VMHB)
“On 31 March 1641 the Virginia Court ordered, that John Graweere being a Negro servant unto William Evans was permitted by his said master to keep hogs and make the best benefit thereof to himself provided that the said Evans might have half the increase… And whereas the said negro having a young child of a negro woman belonging to Lieut. Robert Sheppard… the said negro did for his said child purchase its freedom of Lieut. Robert Sheppard… the court hath therefore ordered that the child shall be free from the said Evans”…Henry Read McIlwaine (1864-1934), ed, Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia, 1622-1632, 1670- 1676, with Notes and Excerpts from Original Council and General Court Records, into 1683.
Concerning The Africans who arrived at Jamestown on a Dutch ship in the summer of 1619. Most of them simply stepped off the ship into obscurity. John Geaween (Graweere) is being recorded by said author as one from this group, but where is this record? The census below shows the progression of this group. If John was one of the 20 Angolans and still a slave in 1641 this would suggest they were all slaves instead of indentured servants because all 20 if survived, would have completed their terms of indenture before 1640-41 when John and his unnamed son were given their freedom.
The following history from census records sheds some light on the 20 slaves at Jamestown: “In the space of 5 years immediately following 1619, the number of Africans in the Colony was increased by two. The muster taken of the population in 1624-25 discloses the presence of twenty-two as compared with the twenty brought in by the Dutch privateer, but one of these two additions is accounted for by the fact that the Treasurer had landed a negro in Virginia in 1619, and the other had been imported in the Swan in 1623.1 The two children included in the lists of the muster, it may be, were born on the North American continent. Their ages are not given, which makes it impossible to state this with confidence.2 If under five years, they were natives of the Colony, but if over five years, they were born at sea or in the West Indies. 2 If born in Virginia, two of the negroes forming the cargo of 1619 must have died. Of this there is no record. The two additions to the original number, as shown by the census of 1624-25, are accounted for by the two negroes brought in by the Treasurer and Swan, from which it may be reasonably inferred that the two negro children mentioned in the census of 1624-25 had been counted in the importation of 1619. If none had died in the interval, the census of 1624-25 would have shown, in case the two children had been born in Virginia, the presence of twenty-four instead of twenty-two slaves in the Colony.”
Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An Inquiry into the Material Condition of the People, Based on Original and Contemporaneous Records Bruce A. Phillips
Source: McIlwaine, ed., Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia, p. 477; see also Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, 1:552.
March 31, 1641-Suit of John Graweere
[The suit of John Graweere reveals that there were greater restrictions on the ownership of personal property by black servants. In addition, Graweere’s successful petition to purchase his child indicates another difference between white and black men. Graweere’s decision to use the court to secure his son’s freedom indicates that he was one of the many blacks in Virginia who knew how to use the colony’s institutions.]
… John Graweere, who is represented as an African servant of William Evans, was the father of a child by a slave who belonged to Robert Sheppard. …
In the above articles we have two different pronunciations of a last name which changes the name, Graweere or Gearween which some translate to Geaween. Thus from Geaween to Gowen we have compounded and error which is why no documented records exist of the possible freed son of Graweere. Hopefully researchers will start over because other researcher have concluded Mihil Gowen must be that freed slave of John, let us examine the records of:
Part 2 is an examination of the proposed father and sons listed as children of Mihil(Michael?)Gowen, because records only show a son William. Due to the widespred destruction of records in James City, New Kent and Hanover Counties of Virginia it’s almost impossible to trace one’s family in this area and Mihil Gowen is no exception only four records of his existence remain but some have turned him into a biblical Solomon. The children of Mihil as claimed by articles written in the Gowen Research Foundation Newsletters by the editor and others is wild speculation at it’s best.
I have ancestry charts prepared by the editor of GRF showing these assumed connections but no supporting data to substantiate them and in fact there is not one single record to show any of the proposed connections. If one accepts Mihil date of birth as 1638 then Mihil would have been 3 years old on March 31, 1641 when the unnamed son of John was given his freedom. If this child was Mihil he became a slave again to Christopher Stafford after his suggested father John Gowen obtained his freedom from Evans in 1640-41 because Mihil was given his freedom in Christopher Stafford’s York County will, dated 18 January 1654, after he served 4 more years to Stafford’s sister, Anne Barnehouse. This freedom was completed on 25 October 1657, which was 16 years from the date John Graweere son was set free in 1641. This begs the question if Mihil was the freed slave of John, when and why did Mihil become a slave again?
These suggested children of Mihil Gowen was jump started by the editor of the (GRF)Gowen Research Foundation from Paul Heinegg book “Free African Americans of Colonial North Carolina and Virginia.” Note: these were only suggestions from Paul Heinegg and his use of the word may and perhaps “John Geaween” was the father of Mihil Gowen.
None of said authors have shown any records to support this kinship. There is no record that gives the age of Mihil. He may have been a brother, a cousin or no close kinship to John Graweene. Plus this John being a Gowen or variant is highly unlikely. Mihil may have been 40 years old when his son William was born on 26 August 1655, or he may have been 20, who knows. Even his death date is not listed on any record. We know from a record his land was escheated 11 Sept 1717 and he was granted the land on
8 Feb 1668. He was probably dead at the time of this survey by Christopher Jackson, James City County and is mentioned on the escheat, Survey 24 November 1708 and is said to contain 37 acres. Usually an escheat doesn’t occur until someone in the area notices the land is vacated and taxes have not being paid, which may be why we have 9 years between the likely death of Mihil shortly before the surveyor of in 1708 escheat.
I will list the old records for the readers to investigate.
“On 31 March 1641 the Virginia Court ordered, that John Graweere being a Negro servant unto William Evans was permitted by his said master to keep hogs and make the best benefit thereof to himself provided that the said Evans might have half the increase… And whereas the said negro having a young child of a negro woman belonging to Lieut. Robert Sheppard… the said negro did for his said child purchase its freedom of Lieut. Robert Sheppard… the court hath therefore ordered that the child shall be free from the said Evans”…Henry Read McIlwaine (1864-1934), ed, Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia, 1622-1632, 1670-1676, with Notes and Excerpts from Original Council and General Court Records, into 1683, Now Lost
“ John’s child was Michael,(Mihil) born about 1638.” This is obviously speculation on the author’s part, but the word perhaps was not used in his articles, therefore the reader is left to assume it is factual genealogy.(GRF articles)
“Mihi (Michael?) Gowen, born about 1638, was the “negro” servant of Christopher Stafford who gave him his freedom by his 18 January 1654 York County will after 4 years service. Accordingly, Stafford’s sister, Anne Barnehouse, discharged “Mihill Gowen” from her service on 25 October 1657, and she gave him his child, William, born of “her negro” Prossa. He patented “30 or 40 acres” in Merchants Hundred Parish in James City County on 8 February 1668. He died before 11 September 1717 when his land was mentioned again in James City County records listed below: (Abstracts of York County wills and deeds, orders 1657-1659)
“His proven child was:
William, born 25 August 1655, son of Prossa, baptized by Mr. Edward Johnson on 25 September 1655.
Other Suggested children by said author was:
Daniel, born 1657?
Christopher born 1658
Thomas born 1660
These authors suggested white wives for Mihil Gowen because the children belonging to Christopher and Thomas Going were not recognized, as Negro and neither was Christopher and Thomas by any records I have seen.
“Christopher Gowen and wife Anne, son Michael born Jan 1679”,(Abington Parish records, Gloucester County)
The case for Christopher Gowen above being black is the record below mentioning Michael Gowen male tithes. This Michael may have been the son of Christopher and Anne, but there is no record that Christopher was the son of Mihil, or that he was black, even so there is also a Michael Going in Culpeper County, Va.
“14 July 1720 Ordered… that Peter Harrilson be Surveyor of the Lower Prect [precinct].. and that he have Michl Gowing’s male Tithables, Mrs Mary Anderson’s Titables at the Quarter adjoining to that, Geo. Butlers, Henry Tylers and his own tithables to assist him. (The vestry book of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover County, Virginia page 93.)
This record is used to make it appear that Michael Going was black because of the statement male tithables, meaning he had female tithables, but the facts are this Michael may have owned female slaves because all negresses born in Virginia, when above sixteen years of age, were rated as tithable whether their labors were confined to the house or to the fields, differing in this respect from the white female servants, who were not listed if the work they were called upon to perform was exclusively domestic (Hening’s Statutes, Vol. II, p. 296)
No proven records for any of those connections including marriage records, or names of wives, etc, etc. The only proven child of Mihil Gowen remains William by theslave Prossa. Since nothing more is found on Prossa, she probably remained a slave. If she and Michael had other children they too would have been slaves. Another proposed son of Mihil by said author and this unnamed white wife was Thomas Gowen Going. Thomas Going family lived in Stafford County, Virginia, where they owned land on Rattlesnake Branch of Pope’s Head Run in 1704.
In a book “southern lineage” by Adie Evans Wynne is a complete different genealogy for the above families and it is appropriate to enter it here: “A Thomas Gowen born 1617 “ On the 7th , 8th month 18 year old Thomas Gowen (1635)was listed as a passenger from Virginia out of London by the New England Historical & Genealogical Register.”
The entry read: “These underwritten names are to be transported to Virginia in the “Globe” of London, Jeremy Blackman, Master, have been examined by the Minister of Gravesend, of their conformities and have taken the oaths of allegiance and supremacies.” The term “transported” was usually reserved for convicts who were to be banished to the colonies by the crown because of criminality or heresy.
Thomas Gowen is mentioned as bound for Virginia in “Our Early Emigrant Ancestors” by John Camdan Hotten. The term “bound” was usually reserved for indentured Servants. Thomas married in Golchester County, children born to Thomas include Christopher Gowen born 1647, (Southern Lineages by Adeline Evans Wynn-Gowen manuscript 002)
This is the same Christopher Gowen listed as one of the sons of Mihil Gowen in articles written in the Gowen Electronic Newsletters.
Was the following record used to determine Thomas was a son of Mihil Gowen?
In an 8 May 1767 land dispute a 70 year old deponent, Charles Griffith, related a conversation which
he had with Major Robert Alexander 43 years previously in 1734. Major Robert Alexander, who owned land adjoining the Gowens, supposedly said of them, “he had a great mind to turn the Molatto rascals (who were his tenants) of[f] his land” (NGS Quarterly page 20)
Thomas Going and his sons owned 1215 acres of land along Alexander’s back-line, extending north from Four Mile Creek. Alexander did not live on his land, but lived at Boyd’s Hole opposite the Maryland Point, far to the south. Not mentioned in this version of the deposition is “Thomas Going confessed that Robert Alexander held the said line but he was of the opinion that he [Alexander] would not be allowed to hold more than his papers mentioned, therefore Thomas ‘Going’ had a legitimate complaint against Robert Alexander, so if he Alexander could paint them as mulattoes he would keep the land. Thomas Going also owned 653 acres of land along the Potomac River, west of Little Spout Run. (Northern Neck Land Grants) It is not clear which land Thomas dwelled on.
The case for the author designating Mihil the father of Thomas may be fairly stated as follows: If Mihil was of African descent, and if Thomas was called a “mulatto,” they must be related. The entire case is predicated on accepting the statement of a 70 year old man remembering a conversation from 43 years ago.
It appears that Mihil Goen late of said County of Jas. City dyed seized of 30 or 40 acres….
from old French eschete, which meant “that which falls to one,” the forfeit of all property (including bank accounts) to the state treasury if it appears certain that there are no heirs, descendants or named beneficiaries to take the property upon the death of the last known owner. This escheat is also strong circumstantial evidence that Mihil son William did not live to adult hood or else died before Mihil and left no heirs. Escheat, that is reversals of land titles to the colony, in most cases this occurs when no living heirs can be found and no records of a William Going, Gowen etc, etc, has been located who is anywhere near the age of the William Gowen son of Mihil Gowen and no one to my knowledge has a proven connection to this son. No mention in this escheat record where children or blood kin to Mihil were denied this land because they were black, in fact there is no records that show any of these proposed children of Mihil. If Mihil had other children by Prossa they would probably have remained slaves and not have been known or mentioned by the colony in this escheat. Plus the fact the colony allowed Mihil to purchase his land through another escheat listed below.
“11 Sept, 1717 Inquisition, Jas. City.. Mihil (Michael) Goen late of the said county of Jas. City dyed seized of 30 or 40 acres…Escheat…survey, 24 Nov. 1708 by Christopher Stafford Surveyor of Jas City Co. is found to contain 37 acres. in Yorkhampton Parish, Jas. City Co. (same as above, page 19)
11 Sept 1717-22 Jan 1718 37 acs. James City Co Yorkhampton Parish beg in at corner of the land of Mihil Gowen, Hubbard & Francis Morehead, escheated from Mihil Goen, dec’d, by inquisition under Edmund Jennings, Esgr. 11 Sept 1717. (Also NGSQ page 19)
According to those few records on Mihil Gowen, from the time he first appears until his land was escheated he never moved, only the Parish changed and eventually he owned part of this land formerly owned by Barnhouse.
A Goins researcher must consider and investigate all Goins, Going possibilities and there was another William Gowin in the same neck of the woods who was not the son of Mihil because his son was born 1655.
“MR. WILLIAM HOCCADAY, 1,000 acres Yorke Co., 14 April 1653, page 89 of Patent Book No. 3 Near the head of Ware Creek, North West by North upon a former devident and North West by North towards Waraney Creek. Transportation of 20 persons: Alexander Watson, Wm. Mackgahye, Andrew Sharpe, Jane Johnson, Randall ______, Isabell Grace, Mary Reeise (?), Tomasin Madero (or Maders), Mary Graham, James ______, Edward Hodge, Richard Gillman, Willm. Moline, Fra. Peppett, Richard Jones, Michaell Barrow, Richard Moore, Joane Rivers, Ja. Nicholson,* Wm. Gowin. Renewed 20 November 1654.”
18 Oct 1670 p233 Bushrod -Gowin
It is ordered that GOWIN an INDIAN servant to Mr. Tho Bushrod serve his said master six years longer and then be free.
So basically we have; William Gowan, son of Mihill born 1655 a negro of York Co.,Virginia, William Gowin born at least 1630, English or Irishman 1653 to York Co.,
Virginia —Gowin freed about 1676, an Indian of York Co., Va.
From Pocahontas to Mihil Gowen
”While the mind cannot contemplate the birth of the first Negro on North American soil with the same emotions as those aroused by the birth of Virginia Dare, the event nevertheless was one which cannot be regarded without a feeling of the profoundest interest when we reflect upon its association with the great events which were to come after. Whichever of these children, if either, was born in Virginia, it was the first of his race who could claim a nativity in the soil and an absolute identification with its history.” (Bruce Economic history)2
Calvin Beale describes Goins as:“the most widespred and one of the oldest and most reliable indicative surnames of tri-racial origin in the United States. The name is found today among the Lumbee, The Melungeon, the Smilings, the Red Bones, the Ohio Guineas and in various other parts of Ohio, Tennessee and North Carolina where none of these terms are used. Some are white, some Indian, and some Negro in current status today.” (Overview of the Phenomenon of mixed race Isolates. Beale.)
These clans named by Beale and Edward T Price were well known in their day, each clan had their own history and legends. Since records show several clans labeled by Price in the 1950 study of tri-racial Black, White and Indian clans in the Eastern United States this begs the question. Why did the authors articles in the Gowen Research foundation choose Melungeons and not one of these other clans as descendants of to 20 Angolians and as Beale stated they also list Goins etc, etc?
Bearing the name Goins, or variant does not mean you are a Melungeon, or a descendant of Mihil Gowen, even according to Y Chrome DNA your Gowen progenitor may have been an Indian, an African, or a European. Discovering an Indian ancestor does not make one a descendant of Pocahontas, or a black ancestors son prove you forbearers were among those 20 Angolians at Jamestown.
Searching for ones NA or AA, or English Gowen progenitor is a monumental task, but those of us who loves a challenge must undertake it using the available records. Some may say why go to all that trouble, just claim Pocahontas, or some other famous Indian chief, or claim my Goins family was a descendant of the first African born on American soil, or first freed slave, without any proven documentation. Through DNA and family research I have found all of the above in my family tree. Good luck on your research journey.