Sunday, February 1, 2009

1637 John HAM of Bristol

1637 John HAM of Bristol

Bristol ties? HAM genealogists have been asking this question for the last 40 years.

The problem started in 1969 with the popular genealogy book "Historical Southern Families" by Mrs. John Bennett Boddie (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore). She miss-identifies the wife of Jerome HAM of Virginia, and makes mention of Jerome HAM of Bristol. HAM Genealogists consistently tie the two together as one man since then.

"Historical Southern Families" has been a very popular book, selling thousands of copies. So, the miss-information has now spread widely and amateur genealogists stubbornly resist the facts. And, I have tried to lay out the facts in "A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC."

The confusion is only heightened when Beverly Fleet's "Virginia Colonial Abstracts" mentions "Hierome" HAM in Charles City County in 1655. And the list of errors goes on and on....

If you look at the genealogy trees on, you'd think 97% of genealogists have figured it out by now. Unfortunately, now hundreds of HAM family trees are based upon miss-information.

For those who are following the saga, let me add a document indexed at the Library of Virginia, which is not in any HAM genealogy book to date. This document relates to the sale of tobacco in Virginia by a John HAM of Bristol, England (published 1641).

To see the record, follow these instructions:

Search the Colonial Records Project at:

Basic search:
Words to search: HAM Bristol

Fields to search:
Words Anywhere

Words Adjacent? No

(if you have Pop-Up Stopper software installed, you will need to disable it to enable this search.)

- Click on the number "1" to view the transcript record.
Va. Colonial Records Survey Report No. SR 10962

Microfilm Reel No. Not Filmed, but there is a typed abstract on file with the Virginia Colonial Records Project
A copy of the original can probably be obtained from the Bristol Public Record Office.

Author/Depository: Public Record Office Class: E 134 17 Charles I, Mich 29.

Title LinkExchequer King’s Remembrancer. Depositions taken by Commission
Publication 1641 Gen. note Exchequer King’s Remembrancer. Depositions taken by Commission. vol. II, p. 517

Ham, John -- testimony by -- 1641, SR 10962, p. 2.
dated Sep 27, 1641

Depositions taken at Bristol, Sep 27, 1641

Sep 27, 1641

John HAM testimony: Some tobacco was landed Legally, having a warrant from the Lord Treasurer, but some was not.

Deposition, n.d.:

John HAM testimony: Tobacco was put in warehouses.


note: - It appears that the Lord Treasurer issued Treasury Warrants in about 1637 for the importation of tobacco into Bristol ports on board some ships
such as the Lilley and the James. However, no warrant was issued for the ships Welcomb and Prudence. So, in 1641 (about three years later), a Commission was formed to investigate and impose custom rates and duties upon the tobacco that was imported without a warrant from the customs house. These ships were sailing from Virginia and the West Indies.

The question is interesting is because there are several HAM's in both the areas of Bristol and Virginia at the time.

Jerome HAM of Bristol was Merchant and Town Clerk of Bristol from 1581 to 1621. That would be a 40 year career. As Town Clerk, his signature is
on numerous records, and his name is sometimes written as "Hierome HAM."

He marries the widow of John OLIVER in 1598/99. His wife Elizabeth HAM dies in 1619. No children bearing the HAM surname are mentioned in her will. Jerome HAM probably died some years prior to 1638. To my knowledge, his will has not yet been located.

Joseph HAM immigrates to Virginia in about 1621 at the age of 16. Indentured servant to Lt. Albiano Lupo. Settles on the New Posquoson.

In 1635, William HAM of Maine and New Hampshire arrives at the Richmond Isles on the ship named Speedwell. He is originally contracted to fish.

Joseph HAM of the New Posquoson dies in York County, Virginia on March 3, 1638. He had immigrated to Virginia in about 1621 at the age of 16,
and left no known children bearing the HAM surname.

From 1637 to 1641, this deposition at Bristol indicates that a John HAM of Bristol was importing tobacco from Virginia to Bristol from about 1637 to 1641.

In 1653, John HAM gentleman of Bristol files will. He mentions a son John HAM and three daughters, Penelope, Mary, and Anna. He dies in about 1654.

Jerome HAM of York County has not been found in records from Virginia until 1652. And, "Hierome HAM" is mentioned in Charles City County
records in 1655. It would appear that both the Jerome HAM of Bristol and the Jerome HAM of Virginia both went by the name of "Hierome HAM."

Very curious. The York County Jerome HAM is mentioned in Lower Norfolk County, Virginia as "Jeremy HAM," to note the difference in
pronunciation. He dies in 1659, leaving one son, Jerome HAM, Jr.

John HAM immigrates to Virginia in 1658. We may never know if he participated in the estate settlement on Jerome HAM because Jamestown
records were destroyed by fire in 1699.
George HAM immigrates to Maryland in 1660.

Rosse HAMM, apprenticed in Bristol, England is bound for 4 years as an indentured servant to John BEARE in Virginia in 1662.

John HAM of New Hampshire arrives in Dover, New Hampshire in 1665.

Thomas HAMMS, apprenticed in Bristol, England is bound for 4 years as an indentured servant to Edward POORE in Virginia in 1667.

Elijah HAM, of Albemarle County, VA purchases 132 acres of land from James HARTFORD of Bristol, Kingdom of Great Britain in 1810.

It has not yet been determined if these early immigrants are related in any way. The John HAM importing tobacco to Bristol in 1637 could be either the John HAM who dies in Bristol in 1653, or his son John HAM.

There are two items that we have been trying to address in order to help straighten out the miss-information. One is we give the details regarding the correct information in our book, "A Short History of the HAM Surname in Virginia & NC." The second is we are seeking participants in the HAM DNA Project which is helping to resolve this Bristol question, among other things.

At last count, over 700 family trees have bad information about Jerome HAM.
Let's hope that we don't have to wait another 40 years to clean this up.

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