while poking around in genealogy

One of the things that someone like me (most recent immigrant ancestors arrived in the US in the 1850s, more than 50% of ancestors arrived pre-1700) has to just suck up and face is that a huge pile of my ancestors were slave-owners. The Dutch on Long Island had a few, the English who came into Maryland and Virginia had a lot. It’s likely that even the Quakers who came with William Penn (including one g’grandfather who was Penn’s personal physician) had household help.


But one really in-my-face bit of recent data is that, though I have ancestors who have names like Jackson and Brown and Todd, relatively common names, I have one ancestor whose name-change was from a similar-sounding but unusual Welsh name, so he became the first ever with that new name, and all the respellings of it are his descendants, or the descendants of his family’s slaves, or both.



In the (almost) last census, something like 16% of the people with this last name identified as African-American, so it’s just something for me to look at, as a 99.999999% northern European white person, that every time I encounter someone with this last name who has African-American ancestry, that person’s ancestors were once in a slave/owner bond with my own.

One thought on “while poking around in genealogy

  1. That’s a fascinating realization to come to. My own ancestors, I believe, were generally too poor to afford slaves.

    Out of curiosity… how do you account for the Asians of that name?

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