Monday, November 19, 2018

William Hancock (1580-1622): Participant in the First Thanksgiving

In honor of Thanksgiving, the following post is dedicated to my 11th-great-grandfather, William Hancock, who immigrated to America as a member of the Virginia Company on the ship Margaret in 1619.

When the Margaret landed in Virginia after a grueling 90-day journey at sea, the voyagers honored the wishes of the Virginia Company proprietors, who had instructed that "the day of our ships arrival . . . shall be yearly and perpetually kept as a day of Thanksgiving." The first Thanksgiving celebration took place at Berkeley Hundred Plantation on December 4, 1619, nearly one year before the Pilgrims of the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock in November of 1620 (source).

Less than two and a half years later, William Hancock was murdered in the great massacre that happened at Berkeley Hundred on March 22, 1622. A fourth of the colonial population was killed in this massacre, and those that were victims are said to be buried at Carter Plantation (source). An old Hancock family Bible recorded the incident, saying that "in the year 1620, Wm. Hancock, in search of forests for his building of ships embarked for ye plantations, being one of the company owners thereof, leaving his families in England. On the 22nd of March 1622, he, with others, was massacred by ye Savages at Thorps House, Berkeley Hundreds, fifty miles from Charles City. In 1630, son Augustine came to claim the estate, and died, leaving children (source)." This family Bible was reportedly donated to the library of Randolf Macon College, but it cannot now be located (source).

William Hancock had three sons who later followed their father to the New World. Augustine came first in 1630, in order to settle his father's estate; his brother Simon came in 1635, and William Jr. finally arrived in 1638 (source). My line of descent from William goes through William Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth Cockroft. The lines goes:

William Hancock (1580-1622), m. Susan Poynter (11th-great-grandparents)
William Hanock (1615-1693), m. Elizabeth Cockroft (10th-great-grandparents)
John Hancock, m. Jane Holt (9th-great-grandparents)
Benjamin Hancock, m. Elizabeth Jameson (8th-great-grandparents)
Thomas Hancock, m. Mary Shoemaker (7th-great-grandparents)
Barnett Hancock, m. Mary Scates (6th-great-grandparents)
Malcaijah Hancock, m. Cyntha Bradford (5th-great-grandparents)
Henry Hancock, m. Hannah Adkins (4th-great-grandparents)
Charles Hancock, m. Laura Leftwich (3rd-great-grandparents)
Vazzie Hancock, m. Andrew Hunt (2nd-great-grandparents)
Ernest "Zack" Hunt, m. Madaline Moore (great-grandparents)
Phyllis Hunt, m. Arthur "Jack" Quinn (grandparents)
Lora Quinn, m. Joseph Wayne Kessinger (parents)
Allison Q. Kessinger (myself)

I would like to make it a tradition in my family to not only celebrate the traditional Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November, but to also have a little celebration on December 4th, in remembrance of the first Thanksgiving and of our ancestor, William Hancock. Without his faith, bravery, and enterprise, we would not be here to celebrate Thanksgiving 400 years later.


Disclaimer: The events described in this post, and the language used in the quoted passage from the Hancock Family Bible, are in no way intended to be critical or derogatory of indigenous peoples. The events described and the passage quoted are to illustrate historic events only, not to provide a commentary on them.

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