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  The Immigrant Ancestor(s)


There are four (4) Tatum immigrants to the United States of whom descendants can be proven.   There are other recorded immigrants in which the record is not as clear.

Those four (4) immigrants are:

1.  Nathaniel Tatum who arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619
2.  Nathaniel Tatem, a mariner, who migrated to Norfolk, Virginia, from Bermuda or Barbados about 1718
3.  John Tatem who migrated from Bermuda to Gloucester County, New Jersey before 1689
4.  Samuel Tatem, brother of John, who settled in Flushing, Long Island, New York

We believe the the majority of the Tatum's in this country are descendants of Nathaniel Tatum who left London on the "George" in March of 1619. The "George" was a 150 ton sailing vessel with William Ewen as the master.  After a two month passage the vessel arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, in May of 1619.  The original settlement of Jamestown has been recently discovered and is currently an active archeological site.  If you are able to trace your ancestry to Nathaniel Tatum you might wish to join the Jamestowne Society, if you cannot yet make the connection, you might still find their web site informative.  More and more information is available about the original James Fort, which has become a major archeological site since it's rediscovery in 1997.

It is possible that this was the Nathaniel Tatum who was baptized on November 18, 1599 at Holy Trinity the Less, London, the son of William Tatum and his wife, Ellen Kerk.   William Tatum and Ellen Kerk were married on 3 August 1589 at St. Benet Grace Church, London.  Marilyn Walker on her page, Stitches in Time, lists the ancestors of Nathaniel Tatum based on the assumption that these are the parents of Nathaniel the immigrant.  Others feel that the earliest Nathaniel Tatum of Virginia is from the Bermuda Tatum family and an alternative parentage is offered.

Nathaniel was among a very select group of people.  According to the records 7,289 people migrated to Virginia between 1609 and 1624.  6,040 of those died of disease, starvation or succumbed to infections acquired onboard the ships in passage.   Until the 1660's only 20% of the arrivals in a given year survived.  Although we don't know about Nathaniel, the majority of the immigrants were indentured servants.   They were free persons, but poor, who voluntarily contracted their services for a period of time in return for passage, food, and clothing with the promise of tools and seed at the end of the indenture.

Nathaniel was living at West and Shirley Hundred on 16 February 1623 and was included in the muster of Shirley Hundred, Charles Cittie, on 23 January 1624.  He reported that he was aged twenty years, and had come to Virginia in the "George" in May 1619.

Charles City was one of the four great corporations set up by the Virginia Company of London in 1618.  It retained its original area when it became one of the eight shires (counties) into which Virginia was divided in 1634.  Charles City County extended on both sides of the James River from James City County on the east, to Henrico County on the west.  Its eastern boundary was the Chickahominy River.

The pioneer settlements in Charles City County were actually plantation parishes, some of which were the earliest in Virginia history.  The first of these, Charles City, was established about 1612 as a place of "retreat against any forraigne enemy", on the south bank of both the Appomatox and James Rivers, several miles above its mouth.  About the same period of time, the early plantation of West and Shirley Hundred, on the north side of the James River, about twenty-five miles above Jameston, was founded by Governor Thomas Dale as a part of his New Bermudas, centered about the parent settlement of Bermuda Hundred.  West and Shirley Hundred, of which Westover plantation was the nucleus, became Westover Parish.  The parish extended to Charles Cittie, south of the James;  by 1643, this part of the parish became Bristol Parish.

Nathaniel evidently had moved from the north side of the James to the south by 1624, and was living on the south side at Charles Citty.  Nathaniel later patented land on the south side of the Appomatox River.  Before May 1638, he had already established himself at the falls on the south side of the river. 

It is believed that Nathaniel returned to England and was married because on 25 July 1638 he patented 100 acres on the Appomatox, "south into the woods, north upon the river and east upon a creek parting the land from his own 500 acres, and west upon the river and the land of John Baker"  Nathaniel claimed right to this land for transporting his wife, Ann Tatum and daughter, Mary Tatum.  The 500 acres had been assigned to him the day before, by Thomas Causey, and lay next to the land of Causey.   A listing of the Tatum land records in Prince George and Charles City Counties are available on this site.

Nathaniel and Ann Tatum had at least three children:

1. Mary Tatum
2. Nathaniel Tatum II
3. Samuel Tatum

There is an Isaac Tatum mentioned in the Charles City County court orders who may have been his son and John Tatum has been mentioned as his son.  Mary was almost certainly the eldest child since she was the only one mentioned as having made the trip from England with her father and mother, before 1638.  Nothing more is known of Mary Tatum.

Nathaniel Tatum lived to be quite an old man, especially considering the period of time and location he lived.  He was still alive in January of 1675 and was at least 75 years old.

It is not known when Nathaniel or Ann Tatum died.  Ann died before 26 April 1684 because a land patent of that date, for 150 acres in Isle of Wright County to Mr. Thomas Pitt, described the land as that which "Ann Tatum died seized of".

Other Tatum's, or variations on the spelling, arrived in this country during this time period.  I am not aware of any information on these Tatum's and welcome any information about them.  Ralph Tatum arrived in 1642, sponsored by John Benton.  Robert Tatum was sponsored by Thomas Savedge of the Northampton Company in 1646.  John Tatham arrived in 1652 sponsored by George Clapham and in 1635, Silvester Tatnam arrived sponsored by Thomas Harwood.   There is also an Abell Tatum mentioned in the early (1660's) records of York and Rappahannock (later Essex) Counties, Virginia.

The Nathaniel Tatem of Norfolk County, Virginia, was the son of Nathaniel Tatem and Elizabeth Turner of Bermuda and Barbados. His wife was Ann Godfrey.    Elizabeth Turner was the daughter of Jonathan Turner and Bridget Trimingham.  Nathaniel Tatem, the father, died in Barbados leaving a will and his wife, Elizabeth, shortly thereafter moved to Norfolk County, Virginia.    This Nathaniel Tatem has three (3) known children reflected in his will:   Nathaniel, John, Trimingham and LoveYou may wish to consult the Norfolk County, Virginia, records for more information on this family

The ancestry and descendants of the John Tatem of Gloucester County, Virginia, are contained in a book, Tatum Narrative, published in 1926.  The author was Richard P. Tatum, a descendant of John.  A file is available which extracts the ancestors and descendants of John described in this book.  Little is known of his brother Samuel other than the mention in the Tatum Narrative.  Samuel is known to have had two (2) daughters, Patience and Ruth.