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HOW TO RESEARCH NEW ANCESTORS, By Lyndon Hobbs Hart, III, Jamestowne Society Genealogist

17th Century Virginia

The following article describes the criteria and important sources for obtaining membership in the distinguished Virginia lineage organization, the Jamestowne Society. The article is also valuable for identifying sources related to 17th-century Virginia research in general.  It originally appeared in the Jamestowne Society Magazine, Vol. 44, No. 1. Spring 2020,  p. 13, and is reproduced here with permission of the Society.


The following criteria are used to determine whether an early settler may be included as a qualifying ancestor for purposes of membership in the Jamestowne Society. The individual: 

(1) was a stockholder in the London Company or the Virginia Company; or was a current member of one of the Guilds owning stock in the aforesaid companies during the period of investment; or was a signer of one of the three Charters of the Virginia Company of London during the joint-stock company period of 10 April 1606 to 24 May 1624; 

(2) owned land on Jamestown Island or lived on the Island prior to 1700 (owning land in a neighboring area, such as James City County, or neighboring county does not of itself qualify an individual); 

(3) was a resident in Virginia at the time of the 1624/25 Muster or earlier; 

(4) served as Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General, Clerk of the General Court, Member of the Council or House of Burgesses prior to 1700; these persons shall be conclusively presumed to have had their domiciles on Jamestown Island during their terms of office; 

(5) was an Anglican Church [Church of England] minister in Virginia prior to 1700; or 

(6) served as an Official Indian Interpreter in Virginia prior to 1700. 


If you are trying to establish a new ancestor for the Society, the following books are recommended for research in proving their qualifying criteria. 

Jamestown Residence is found in Documentary History of Jamestowne Island Vol. III: Biographies of Owners and Residents by Martha W. McCartney. 

Qualifying Service for Jamestowne is found in The General Assembly of Virginia 1619-1978 by Cynthia Leonard, and Colonial Virginia Register by William & Mary Stanard. 

A list of Stockholders in the Virginia Company is found in The Records of the Virginia Company of London, volume III, by Susan Kingsbury. 

Signers of the Charters are found in The Three Charters of the Virginia Company of London by Samuel Bemiss. 

A list of Anglican Ministers is found in Empire, Religion and Revolution in Early Virginia, 1607-1786 by James Bell, and The Colonial Clergy of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina by Frederick Lewis Weis.

The 1624/5 Muster is found in Adventurers of Purse and Person Virginia 1607-1624/5, 4th edition, volume 1, by John Frederick Dorman. This work is referred to as APP. 

The Lists of the Livinge and Dead in Virginia 1623 is found in The Original Lists of Persons of Quality: Emigrants, Religious Exiles, Political Rebels, Serving Men Sold for a Term of Years, Apprentices, Children Stolen, Maidens Pressed, and Others, who Went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700 by John Camden Hotten. 

John Frederick Dorman’s three-volume work Adventurers of Purse and Person Virginia (APP) traces the lines of many early Virginia settlers through six generations and is particularly useful as a reference in proving the earlier generations in one’s own lineage. Applicants must use the 4th edition published between 2005 – 2007. 

Mayflower Families Through Five Generations for Isaac Allerton (through the son Isaac II), Stephen Hopkins, and William White (through daughter-in-law Judith Vassall). 

The following books although helpful are considered secondary sources by the Jamestowne Society-

Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers 1607-1635, by Martha W. McCartney. 

Jamestowne People to 1800, by Martha W. McCartney. 

The Complete Book of Emigrants 1607-1660 by Peter Wilson Coldham. 

The Complete Book of Emigrants 1661-1699, Vol II by Peter Wilson Coldham. 


If you believe you have found a new ancestor and you can prove direct descent to them, email Bonnie Hofmeyer at jamestowne.society( @ )verizon.net. Provide the name of the ancestor and their qualifying criteria. The Society will let you know if you should proceed with your application. Once your application is approved the ancestor will be assigned an ancestor number and added to the website. 

We also suggest that you also check The Jamestowne Society Register of Qualifying Seventeenth-Century Ancestors, July 2019. This work contains information of lines of descent that may be a problem, even though the ancestor is qualified.

Jamestowne Society Announces New Ancestor Added to Qualifying List of Approved Ancestors for Membership A9737 :   THOMAS ROLFE, born 1615, Jamestown Resident living 1670 .

Jamestowne Society Magazine, Vol. 44, No. 1. Spring 2020,  p. 13

2 thoughts on “HOW TO RESEARCH NEW ANCESTORS, By Lyndon Hobbs Hart, III, Jamestowne Society Genealogist

  1. I have French Hugenot relatives who came to the Jamestowne colony from England in 1700. They were later settled on the Manikan Indian lands along the James River and called their settlement Manikantown. It is located southwest of Richmond and hosts the National Hugenot Society’s Research Library.
    Does any of this sound as though I might be eligible for the Jamestowne Society?

    1. You can write to the Jamestowne Society; however, since they normally require a connection to the muster that was taken before 1625, your ancestor probably doesn’t qualify.. Of course, there are several Huguenot societies that you probably do qualify for.

      Joe Garonzik
      Marketing Director

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