Andersons of Colonial N. Carolina

meant what they said, said what they meant

Edward Bryan 1620

with 3 comments

Shrivenor in the comments brought up this enigmatic character. There really is no story to tell about him… other than he lived through some heady times and was in the company of some early “movers and shakers” … of which, more later. To set the table, he shows up as a headright in a patent for Edward Waters. Headrights were “footnotes” of Virginia history… from a practical research point of view they were just hard to read phantom afterthoughts, soon forgotten, of how a real colonist managed to grab some free land. But in this guy’s case, mention is made of “when” he arrived and on what particular ship. So for that reason I got sucked in to researching him. There is no “there” there as those obnoxious Clintons were so fond of saying.

What I find interesting about Edward Bryan is that he is surrounded by all the qualities “necessary” of another Edward Bryan I find on the Chowan River in North Carolina about a century later. (meaning the 1620 Edward had access to learn the skills of the mercantile business). Not so for the later Edward. In 1720 or so things heat up in NC in the trader/merchant business and trade begins earnestly between the Colony and the Bermuda and Bahamas Islands. (Gateway to English ports)

How the hell did Edward Bryan from Nansemond learn how to sail a ship to Bermuda? Unless I am totally off base, Edward Bryan from the Chowan River married the daughter of Hodges Council also from Nansemond. The guy did not just pop up unexpectedly as an experienced Captain… he grew up in the sticks. Seamanship has to be learned and experienced, if you screw up you die or your crew mutiny and throw you overboard.

Also totally unexpected in my research of the Nansemond Bryans is that John Bryan, who received a patent in 1652, had the wherewithall to arrange for at least three indentured servants… and it seems these were “legitimate” servants (meaning he seems to have actually paid for their passage).

So my radar is abuzz that there might be connections between the 1620 Bryan and the 1652 guy. The indentures indicate a track to Bitton , England. So, like the Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain is pulling some levers… I just don’t know who the man behind the curtain is.

My initial impression was that John Bryan 1652 had numerous sons who crossed into North Carolina and in that usual American Experience… sought rather successfully to make their fame and fortune. Now I think it possible that some relatives from England came over and added some “juice” to the recipe. Who was this Lewis Bryan from Bitton that John Bryan 1652 brought over?

 “The following bound to John Brian, planter, to serve in Virginia: Lewes Brian of Bitton, Glos, yeoman for 4 yearsJohn Ballard of Bitton for 6 years…” 15 August 1659 (p. 432, citing the Bristol Record Office, Bristol, England)

  “John Boulton of Bitton, Glos, bound to John Brian, planter, to serve 4 years in Virginia.” 24 August 1659 (p. 433, again citing the Bristol Record Office, Bristol, England)

While this Lewis Bryan, indentured servant, in 1659 (possibly born say 1639 if he was 20 when he came over) is interesting in that he could have been a relative of John Bryan 1652 he really is just an enigma. I can’t imagine a son being indentured. So, from my point of view for now, this servant is just an odd footnote to a routine family breakdown of father and sons.

Back to the 1620 Edward…

As I’ve said, this guy seems to drop off the radar after the 1623 report of the “Livinge and the Dead” after the Indian Massacre. My brief look at his neighbors 2 miles below Blunt Point on Waters Creeke (shown on my historival USGS map as “Watts Creek”) shows convincingly that he was in the company of Captains and seamen. I’ve just barely researched these guys… perhaps something might turn up if any maritime records can be found. I’m curious if he became a seaman himself? Perhaps he split his time between England and Virginia… never putting down roots but keeping contact with Virginia kin? Interesting theories in my mind.

An interesting link for some historical background of the early years of Virginia…

Here is how I dissected the Edward Water’s patent…

Edward Waters will 1630…

Written by anderson1951

February 17, 2023 at 7:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Edward Bryan’s benefactor Edward Waters started as a sailor on one of the ships of the First Supply. He returned to England and sailed the next year aboard the Sea Venture, which shipwrecked in Bermuda. His story is documented in Smith’s History as well as noted by Sir George Somers, with whom he became familiar during the months they were all shipwrecked. Anyway, he was just a regular sailor, that fortune favored. He was recognized for his ability and gained responsibility and opportunity as a result. He went from being a shipwrecked sailor to sitting on the governor’s council in Bermuda, to pirate(briefly) and in the House of Burgesses in Virginia. My thinking is that Waters would be well inclined to reward ability displayed by Edward Bryan. It also is reasonable to consider Edward would not necessarily have need of his own plot of land if he was running some warehouses and wharves along the James, and/or as a mariner. This could explain the dearth of records following his arrival.



    February 17, 2023 at 1:23 pm

    • I added Waters will to the post…

      I’m wondering if anyone has searched any records for Bermuda… Waters seems to have been very familiar with the place. Perhaps Bryan spent time there also…maybe a trader / merchant?



      February 17, 2023 at 2:08 pm

  2. That area along the James River (Water’s Creeke) interests me… I noticed some oddities doing the patents (they are educated guesses by the way…no metes and bounds for directions)
    One patent refers to “Strawberry Bankes”… the only other Strawberry Banks I know of is in Elizabeth City County (shown more southerly on my historic map)
    Some of the early records refer to this area of Blunt Point as Elizabeth Cittie…which would be correct in the VERY early days “before” the actual Elizabeth City was formed…
    All of which is very esoteric (but factual) if you are a nerdy researcher such as myself…and apparently you also… smiling



    February 17, 2023 at 2:19 pm

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