Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Denhams - Portuguese or Free African Americans?


Paul Heinegg list the Dennum/Denham family in his 'Free African Americans' book but does not provide any records that show they 'may have had" African ancestry.  The Denham family have been identified as one of the four branches of the Melungeon tree for well over 125 years and along with the 'head and source' of the Melungeons; Collins and Gibson have European DNA, which does not follow the 'African male and white female' theory of Heinegg's or Roberta Estes.


From the Free African American site;
DENNUM/ DENHAM FAMILY1.    Hannah Dennam, born say 1690, received slaves Jack and Peter by the 2 March 1726/7 Charles City County will of (her father?) Gibson Gibson [DW 1724-31, 122, 161-2, 166-7]. She may have been the mother of
i. Philip, born say 1730, taxable on his own tithe and John Going's tithe in Goochland County in 1754 in the list of William Burton [Tithables, 1730-1755, frame 282]. He was living in Halifax County, Virginia, when he and William Donathan were among those ordered to clear a road from Burches Creek to Mirey Creek. On 21 March 1765 his bill of sale to James Roberts, Jr., Gentleman, was proved, and on 16 May 1765 the court presented him, Shadrack Gowin, and Peter Rickman for concealing a tithable on information of John Bates, Gentleman. The tithables were probably their wives. Their cases were dismissed in August 1766, perhaps on payment of the tax. He was sued for debt seven times between June 1769 and 23 April 1774. In October 1770 the court awarded one of Philip's debtors 10 shillings for carpentry work that he had performed for Moses Echols [Pleas 1763-4, 303; 1764-7, 46, 358; 369, 415, 491, 528; 1770-2, 55, 86, 114, 147-8; 1774-9, 43].
 Oher members of the family were
 i. David, born before 1776, head of a Claiborne County, Tennessee household of 9 "free colored" in 1830.
ii. Harden, born before 1776, head of a Harrison County, Indiana household of 10 "free colored" in 1830.
That Phillip Denham was concealing a titheable and therefore his wife was the reason he places this family in his 'free African Americans' list is preposterous.
In 1723, the House of Burgesses passed two acts expanding the definition of a tithable. As a result, those subject to the tax included all free negroes, mulattos, and Indians (except tributary Indians) above age sixteen and their wives (Hening, 4:133.) In addition to their tithable lists, all masters were required to list the names of every person between the ages of ten and sixteen “for whom any benefit of tending Tobacco is allowed by this Act.” In tithable lists, masters were required to distinguish which persons were primarily employed in the cultivation of tobacco. Those who violated the law were fined. Justices appointed to take the tithable lists compiled a separate list of persons between the ages of ten and sixteen, and returned these lists with the tithables (Waverley K. Winfree, ed., The Laws of Virginia; Being A Supplement To Hening’s The Statutes At Large, 1700–1750 [1971], 251.)
There is nothing in these records that indicate this family was African. There was no box to check for Indian, Portuguese, etc., simply white or free colored. Paul Heinegg has researched the records of these Indians who were called mulatto, mustee, Negro, etc., and knows the courts couldn't determine their ethnicity, nor could the census enumerators.

William Denham first appears in the colonial Virginia records in 1624
 LIST OF NAMES OF THE LIVING IN VIRGINIA FEBRUARY                            THE 16, 1624, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  TOTAL, 1,170                                            AT WARWICK SQUEAK.     John Batt, Henry Pinffe, Wassell Weblin, Anthony Read, Frances Woodson, Henry Phillips, Peter Collins, Chr. Reinold's, Edward Mabin, John Maldman, Thomas Collins, George Rushmore, Thomas Spencer, George Clarke, Rich. Bartlett, Francis Banks, John Jenkins, Thomas Jones, William Denham; Peter, Anthony, Francis, Margrett, negros; John Bennett, Nicholas Skinner, John Atkins, John Pollentin, Rachel Pollentine, Margrett Pollentin, Mary, a maid, Henry Woodward, Thomas Sawyer, Thomas, a boye. -- Total 33, including 4 negroes.
  THE MUSTER OF THE INHABITANTS   AT WARISCOYACK, TAKEN THE 7TH OF  FEBRUARY, 1625.
                The Muster of Mr. Edward Bennett's Servants.  Henry Pinke came in the London Marchannt 1619, John Bate in the Addam 1621, Peter Collins in the Addam 1621, Wassell Webbling, Antonio, a negro, in the James 1621, Christopher Reynold's, Luke Chappman, Edward Maybank, in the John& Grancis 1622, John Attkins, William Denum, Francis Banks, in the Guifte 1623, Mary, a negro woman, in the Margrett & John 1622.
 William Denham, 300 acares in Warresquioake River,   Granted Aug. 20, 1635.  
William Denham, Mar. 18, 1639, 200 acres East upon the Pagan shore bay over against Butcher's Island and reed point
Sometime before 1653 William Denham was deceased and his  widow Mary had married to Thomas Hackett who left a will in Lancaster County, Virginia.
The records of Lancaster County, VA contain a deed of gift executed by Thomas Hackett on 25 Oct 1655. The gifts included those to Richard, Eleanor, William and Suzanna Denham, children of Hackett's wife Mary. Presumably she was married first to a Mr. Denham. The subject of the gift was land on the Corotoman river. The gift notes that Eleanor Denham was the wife of John Sharpe., they were the parents of this John Sharpe;
1674-1678 Lancaster County Va Order Book; {Antient Press} pg 401Lancaster County Court 9th of January 1677/78- It appeareing to this Cort. that JOHN GIBSON stands indebted unto MARGARET WELLS, the now Wife of JOHN SHARPE, in foure hundred and fifty pounds of tobaccoe and ca. by Bill. It is ordered that the same bee forthwth paide unto the sde. SHARPE accordinge to the tenor of the sde, Bill wth costs
So there is a connection from this Denham family to the Gibson family, Gibby Gibson does not call Hannah Denham his daughter, perhaps she was a sister.


In 1878 the Rev. John G. Jones wrote of Tobias Gibson who was a descendant of John Gibson of Lancaster County, Virginia [and whose DNA matches the Melungeon Gibsons]; 
Some time in the sixteenth century three ship loads of Portuguese Hugenots voluntarily exiled themselves from Portugal rather than renounce their Protestant faith, and settled in South Carolina, then the Colony of Carolina, in the very region of county where our Gibsons are llrst found, and, from their elevated intellectuality, morality, religion and enterprise, I have long believed that they were the descendants of those refugee Huguenots, though I do not remember ever to have heard but one of the connexion refer to this as a tradition of the family. I wish we now had the means of demonstrating this theory.
Phillip Denham is likely the father of David and Harden Denham who were called 'free color' in 1830, but there is nothing in the records provided by Paul Heinegg or that I have found that identifes this family as having African ancestry.


It has been recorded in the past that John Sevier mentioned these Portuguese settlers living in Tennessee.  It is not clear if this was reported by Will Allen Dromgoole of if she copied it from Dan W. Baird,  Tennessee historican; 
"When John Sevier attempted to organize the State of Franklin, there was living in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee a colony of dark-skinned, reddish-brown complexioned people, supposed to be of Moorish descent, who affiliated with neither whites nor blacks, and who called themselves Malungeons, and claimed to be of Portuguese descent.'' 
While no source for the above has been found, the pension applications of David and Harden Denham from Guilford County, North Carolia show they served under John Sevier during the Revolution it would certainly seem John Sevier was indeed familiar with the Portuguese.


If Paul Heinegg can record this family as 'free African Americans' based on NO evidence I think a case could be made they were Portuguese as Will Allen Dromgoole reported so many years ago.

As shown so far the Gibsons and the Denhams, both identified as the Core Melungeons have records that go way back to colonial Virginia and no records of them ever being 'Free African Ameicans' as reported by Heinegg.


The Genealogy of the Denham family;

8 comments:

  1. Hello, would you happen to know if Thomas Denham b.1787-1790 was in fact melungeon? Also was he a descendant of the Portuguese David Denham? He married Nancy Newcomb and settled in Tn. I have more details on him if u need them. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. 4/21/2014: I found a HUGH DENNUM, who died someplace in 1787. HE was married to a ELIZABETH LUSK.
      Their daughter MARY DENNUM OR DENNAM, md. a STEPHEN CLAYTON, JR.(ca1735--1819);
      Their daughter Nancy Clayton, md. Jonathan Davis.
      I have HUGH DENHAM, DAVIS'S IN MY FAMILY, BUT WE CLAIM CAUCASIAN, FOR HEZEKIAH STOUT DENHAM, (1802 TN--1886 IA);
      This family lived in the Townfork Settlement (see JUDY STANLEY CARDWELL, WORK);
      These people were of the Moravian faith community, in old Salem, North Carolina.
      I live in the more reasonably new Salem, Oregon, a current plane flight across the nation from my ancestors;
      I want to know who the parents, brother, and any other siblings, or descendants of my great-grandpa, HSD.
      Can you help with direction, or share your idea suggestions, before I meet him in the next life??
      Thank you for your time and reply. Sincerely, ROSALIE L. (LITTLE/DENHAM/CAREY) DEMARTINO

      Delete
  2. 4/21/2014: I FOUND DAVID BN. BEFORE 1776 HEAD OF A CLAIBORNE COUNTY TN, HOUSEHOLD OF 9 "FREE COLORED" IN 1830, CENSUS??
    ALSO, HARDEN, BN. BEFORE 1776, HEAD OF A HARRISON COUNTY, INDIANA HOUSEHOLD OF 10 "FREE COLORED" IN 1830, CENSUS??
    THEY SUGGEST THEY ARE RELATED OR MEMBERS OF THE FAMILIES OF HANNAH DENNAM, 1690, OF CHARLES CITY COUNTY, OF HER
    FATHER? GIBSON; AND MOTHER OF PHILIP BN. 1730--1755, LIVING IN HALIFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA. COULD MY HEZEKIAH STOUT DENHAM,
    1802 TN--1886 IA, BE RELATED TO THEM?? THANK YOU FOR HELPING, ROSALIE DEMARTINO

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  3. David and Harden were brothers according to the pension application. I did find Hugh Denham/ Dunham in Granville Co., which was on the Dan River and actually was Rockingham/Surry Co area. Seems logical the Denham mentioned in the will of Gibby Gibson would connect also but nothing proven. Have you contacted Billy Denham? Got to the Melungeon Archives Search and type in Billy Denham. http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/search?path=Melungeon

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    Replies
    1. 10/17/2014: IS BILLY DENHAM STILL ALIVE? IF THE EARLY DENNAM, DENHAM, DENIM, AND/OR DENNUM, MELUNGEON MOUNTAIN PEOPLE WERE ILLITERATE, WHERE DO I FIND ANY WRITTEN PROOF OF THEIR FAMILY CONNECTIONS? I HAVEN'T DONE THE DNA TEST YET, BUT WILL IT SHOW THE SAME HISTORICAL CONNECTION IF I WAS A MALE? MY PATERNAL SIDE, THROUGH HIS MOTHER WERE DENHAMS, THROUGH HER FATHER AND GRANDFATHER. THEY CAME FROM KNOXVILLE, KNOX, TENNESSEE; VIRGINIA SOMEPLACE; GEORGIA SOMEPLACE; AND PROBABLY/POSSIBLY THE CAROLINAS, ( ROWAN, WILKES, CLAIBORNE);
      THANK YOU FOR ANY FURTHER, INFORMATION OR CONNECTIONS, RECORDED IN BIBLES OR BOOKS OF THEIR DESCENDANTS. ROSALIE

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  4. Joanne, Hello I am a descendent from Harden Denham thru his son Hardin thru his daughter Nancy Denham. I have a picture of Nancy and will tell you she is dark. I was given this picture by my great aunt..who insisted that she was "Indian". I have been doing genealogy for 25 yeas now and would love to assist you! You can reach me at notamolly@yahoo.com

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  5. Which denham girl married a Simmons man. Was it Rhoda Ellen. I too have pics and would like to know the ethnicity. I am. Simmons descendent,

    ReplyDelete
  6. Which denham girl married a Simmons man. Was it Rhoda Ellen. I too have pics and would like to know the ethnicity. I am. Simmons descendent,

    ReplyDelete

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