The Humphrey BELT Mystery
The following information on Humphrey Belt is the current best efforts to locate information on Humphrey Belt in Virginia and Maryland. The main reason we were looking there is that there has been little success on finding him in English Records. Other than his boarding the Ship AMERICA in London, England there has been little (no) success at locating him there. It is also felt that that Humphrey is NOT the son of Sir Robert BELT and Grace FOXCROFT. Any CLUE to Humphrey's English identity would be appreciated. The author would be delighted to eat crow on Sir Robert and Grace WITH EVIDENCE. Since it isn't yet know where he was born, do not be persuaded that he must have been born in England. It may have been Scotland or Wales or somewhere else. Let us know if you can provide PROOF.
Compiled by Walter E. Belt
03 October 2000
1635: On 23 June 1635. Humphrey Belt, at age 20, boarded the ship AMERICA, William Barker, Master, at Gravesend,(London) England "under the protection of Wm. Clarke" and landed on Jamestown Island, Virginia, probably about September, 1635.
"Under the protection of Wm. Clarke” meant that Humphrey had contracted to serve as an Indentured Servant to Wm Clarke and his heirs or assigns-- usually for a 7-year period at that time and place.
REFERENCE #1:Page 95-96 of "The Original Lists of Persons of Quality; Emigrants, Religious Exiles, Political Rebels, etc. Who Went From Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700 by Jon Camden Hotten, Editor-- (hereafter this Hotten report will be referred to as "Hotten’s LISTS").REFERENCE#2: "The Complete Book of Emigrants" by Peter W. Coldham.REFERENCE#3: "A List of Rebbels Transported-- Early Settles of Maryland: By Gust Skordas, Editor (Skordas in Greek means Garlic).REFERENCE#4: " Passengers for Virginia 1635" by Horatio G. Somerby, New England Historical and Genealogical Register 2: 1 January 1848, pages 111-113.REFERENCE #5: Thomas Langford, 1925 Cave Creek Rd., #8, Phoenix, AZ. 85024-2418, (602) 569-5182Mr. Thomas Langford is owner and WEB master of The American Plantations and Colonies WEB page which appears to be defunct.
" 23 JUNE 1635, Theis (spelling not corrected) underwritten names are to be transported to Virginia in the America, M-r p. cert. From the Minister of the town of Gravesend of their conformities to the orders and discipline of the Church of England"…NOTE: This License included the name of HUMFREY BELT.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT WM CLARKE?--Humphrey's master for 7 years.--and the Contract of Indenture?
The records show that Wm. Clarke was in the business of transporting 'servants" from England to the Colonies in return for obtaining their free service, generally for 7 years, PLUS he received land(Headrights) for importing them. So his "INTERLOCKING" business was to obtain free land and the servants to cultivate the land for simply paying their transportation costs from England to The Colonies.
" What conditions may have generally been offered to prospective settlers (Indentured Servants) we do not know, but from the papers of one of them comes the first genuine servant's indenture contract which has survived. Four gentlemen who had been granted the right to establish a community to be known as Berkeley Hundred made on September 7, 1619, the following agreement with one Robert Coopy, of North Nibley, in Gloucrestershire: (Spelling as in the original)
Marilyn Roth advised:
" The word INDENTURE (as in Indentured Servant) is related to the terms
DENTAL and INDENT. A paper called an indenture was a sheet with two copies
of the same information cut into two pieces with a unique jagged/toothed
edge between the two halves. Each party to the transaction was to receive
his half. If there was any question about the transaction, the two pieces
were to be brought and the edges placed together to show that this was
the agreement. Thus many Indentures were not recorded because the paper
was the necessary proof".
The following is a portion of a discussion of the social level of Indentured Servants in Colonial Virginia:
SEE: Land Grants in Virginia 1607-1699, By EW. Stitt Robinson, Jr., University Press of Virginia. Only a portion of page 36 is repeated below:"indentured servants were not slaves but were servants during the specified period of the contract. While the laws of the time did make a distinction in the severity of the penal code as applied to servants and to freeman, still indentured servitude did not have the stigma of bandage or slavery; and many servants upon completion of their term of service rose to positions of social and political prominence in the history of the colony. In 1676 the Lords of Trade and Plantations expressed concern over the use of the word 'servitude" because of the implications of slavery, and they preferred " to use the word service, since those servants are only apprentices for years"."At expiration of term of service, the servants usually received equipment and supplies necessary to start them as freemen. They received grain enough for one year, clothes, and in some cases a gun and a supply of tools. As to receipt of land, the policy varied from one colony to another, and at times there was uncertainty within one colony about obligations to freedmen". In VIRGINIA the indentured servants did not usually receive land at the end of service unless he had insisted that a specific provision be included in the contract to include the award of 50 acres as "freedom dues".
(This is the land grant (Headright) that Wm. Clarke received for transporting 9 persons INCLUDING HUMPHREY BELT);"WILLIAM CLARKE, 450 acs. Henrico Co. (Virginia) 29 Sept. 1636, p. 392. In Apamattruck Riv. On the Swift Cr., beg, at a little Cr. Lying N.E. thereupon & S. E. into the river, N. W. into the maine woods; 50 acs. Thereof being allowed for a small island therein with a Swamp & Marsh thereunto belonging. Trns. Of 9 pers: Ellins Burkett, Allen Tucker, Symon Richardson, Lawrence Farbarne, Hump Bell (THIS IS HUMPHREY BELT), Laur/ Jackson, Elizabeth Collins, Nicholas Browne, Samuel church."
" WILLIAM CLARKE, 200 acs. Chas. Riv. Co., 18 Feb. 1638, p. 610. E. upon the new Poquoson, bounded n the W. with the longreach of sd. River & on then. E. with the Oyster Cr. &c. 100 acs. Graunted 21 Aug. 1637 & with the other 100 acs. is due for trans. of 4 pers; Gerard Cooke, Sarah Coggin, John Morgan. George Robison."
1637:WILLIAM BARKER, Master of the ship AMERICA received considerable acreage in return for transporting individuals to Virginia from England. From "Cavaliers" Volume One page 70:
"William Barker, Marriner, 600 acs. Chs. Citry co., 29 Aug. 1637, p 475. Being a point of land called Bikers which was formerly bounded in Capt. Nathaniel Powells devdt. Lying S. Ely. In the woods & Wly. Upon Chapmans devdt. Trans of 12 pers*
John Sadler was brother in law to John Harvard -the founder of Harvard College--University-- and his sister married Richard Quiney, whose brother was married to William Shakespeare's daughter, Judith. John and Richard were both grocers in London.
On May 11, 1639 William BARKER acquired 1300 acres that became the home of William BARKER and his family.
The "William Barkers" who appear on headrights on patents in various Virginia counties from 1654 to about 1665 are probably different persons.
William BARKER represented Charles City in the House of Burgesses in 1645. William was of the group to found the parish that built the Merchants Hope Church in what is now Prince George's County.
The land acquired by William BARKER was located contiguously on the south side of the James River and north of the Blackwater.
IS A SUMARY OF PERSONS WHO TRAVELED FROM ENGLAND TO THE AMERICAN COLONIES
WITH THE SURNAME BELT, BELL, BETTS, BELK, BEST, etc., ON THE POSSIBILITY
THAT ONE OR MORE OF SUCH SPELLINGS MAY HAVE TRULY BEEN A BELT.
--In addition to Humphrey Belt. Are one or more of these immigrants a relative
of Humphrey? Were they acquainted? Did they come from the same area?
1635: WILLIAM BETT, (Not Belt) at age 21 arrived in Virginia (Jamestown Island?) on 24 October 1635 from London on the ship CONSTANCE, master Clement Campion, as part of 85 listed passengers. See "Hotten’s Lists" pages 136-137.
QUESTION: Is this the WILLIAM BELT reported in The Washington Star newspaper 05 June 1939 as having been on Kent Island with William Claiborne in 1630, according to Belt descendants living in Washington DC in 1939. I think not.
This newspaper report has several errors including a report that "SIR" Humphrey Belt arrived in Anne Arundel County, Maryland on 30 June 1630 on the ship ARK, from Gravesend, England. In my opinion Humphrey probably arrived in Maryland in 1663 BUT via water from Lower Norfolk County, Virginia.
If there was a William Belt on Kent Island in 1630, (and I do not believe so,) where did he come from, on what ship, when, and who paid his transportation? What happened to him thereafter? We have not found records naming him at that time or thereafter.
There are also unproven reports that Humphrey Belt came to Virginia with
two brothers. That one died and one returned to England. There are
also reports from Belt descendants in Ohio that two BELT family members
were members of William Claiborne's Kent Island Colony and trading post
in about 1634. The names were reported as Benjamin and Humphries (Not Humphrey)
Belt, both of East Riding, York, Yorkshire UK and that Benjamin returned
to England after a short stay leaving Humphries-who died---when, where?
While I doubt both of these stories we DO have evidence that a THOMAS BELT
was on Kent Island with William Claiborne before and on 16 April 1647.
See reference 6 below;
#6: "Old Kent" The Eastern Shore of Maryland" introduction by George
A. Hanson, page 12:
1647: "The most of Clayborne's adherents fled to parts unknown, an act thought to be acceptable to God, not displeasing to his Majesty, and an assured happiness unto this colony."
Some few, however, remained, took the oath of fealty, and were pardoned,
the 16th of April 1647. Their names were Thomas Bradno, Edward
Comins, John Meham, Thomas Belt, Robert Short, Francis Lumbard,
John Ayres, Zachary Wade, Richard Catesford, Edward Lannin and Walter Janes."
1635: ISACK BELT, at age 23, was one of 144 passengers, departed London for St. Christopher on the ship WILLIAM & JOHN, Rowland Langham, master, on 02 September, 1635.
"Hotten's Lists" pages 127-129 also see the Langford URL.
One report suggested that Isack Belt may have been a brother to Humphrey Belt and that Isack Belt died in St. Christopher.
Where is St. Christopher?
BELK (Not Belt) on 10 August 1635 boarded "The Safety", John Graunt,
Master, in London an departed for Virginia as one of 144 passengers. SOURCE:
"Hotten’s Lists" pages 121-123 also see "Langford URL"
BEST (Not Belt) on 21 August 1635 boarded THE GEORGE, Jo. Severn,
master, as one of 152 passengers, in London and departed for Virginia.
SOURCE: "Hotten’s Lists pages 124-126.
1636: THOMPSON BELT arrived in Virginia in 1836 from Gravesend, England on the ship_____________ as an Indentured Servant of "patentee" Wm. Clarke of Henrico County, Virginia. SOURCE: " Early Virginia Immigrants" by George Cabell Greer. TO D: Double check to see if he boarded the ship at Gravesend. Check Hotten's Lists and other sources to verify all in this entry.
NOTE: the same Wm. Clarke who paid passage for HUMPHREY BELT--and arrived in the Virginia Colony only a short time later than Humphrey paid the passage of the above THOMPSON BELT. SO, In my Opinion Thompson Belt is our best chance of any Belt that we know of in this time period for a close family relationship to Humphrey Belt.
Thompson Belt shown above in "EARLY VIRGINIA IMMIGRANTS" to have
traveled to Henrico County, Virginia. We know that Wm. Clarke received
land in this county for paying passage for several people including Humphrey
Belt--Therefore, as an Indentured Servant, Thompson Belt may have worked
on land of Wm. Clarke that Clarke received for transporting Humphrey Belt
the year before. . Significant?
and Pioneers", by Nell Marion Nugent, Volume Two; 1666-1695, page 135:
Phil Watkins, Tho.Watkins and Wm. Rickets on 6 march 1673 received 850
acres of land in New Kent County--then to Thomas Brewerton same 850 acres
plus 50 acres for transporting several people including "THO. BELT".
The first Thompson Belt arrived in 1636 while this later Tho. Belt apparently
arrived much later but prior to 1673.
1635: THOMAS BELL (Not Belt) at age 17, boarded the ship "Thomas & John", Richard Lambard, master, asone of 105 passengers, in London, on 06 June 1635 bound for Virginia. Se "Hotten's Lists" pages 83-85 and The Langford URL.
This THOMAS BELL (1618-1678) married Mary, daughter of Capt. John Neale. SEE "Immigrant Ancestors - A List of 2500 Immigrants to America Before 1750"-Volume VII, Comp. Of Amer. Gen., Baltimore, 1963. By Frederick A. Virkus, Editor.
See Peter Wilson Coldham’s, " Complete Book of Immigrants" for much information
on Capt. John Neale as a significant Virginia Colony planter and landowner.
BETT (Not Belt) at age 21, boarded the ship THE CONSTANCE, Clement
Campion, master, as one of 85 passengers, in London on 24 October, 1635,
bound for Virginia. See "Hotten's Lists" pages 136-137 and The Langford
1654: RICHARD BELT Arrived in Virginia from _________________on the ship _______________ as an Indentured Servant to SARAH HANCOCK of Lower Norfolk County,Virginia…See "Early Virginia Immigrants" by George Cabell Greer.
The following is from "Cavaliers": SARAH HANCOCK of LynHaven Parish, Low. Norf. Co., 300 acs., 29 Nov. 1654. P.321. 200 acs. Beg. At the head of Mr. Moseleys land near the head of Faram Cr. & c., running n. N. E. etc. to Turkey ridge. & towards john Cara ways land; & 100 acs. Bought of Thomas Holt, which was granted to him 22 May 1637. 200 due for trans. Of 4 pers: Mary Stout, RICHARD BELT, John Browne,and William Piggett. Assigned by Mr. Emperor, assignee of Lt. Col. Lloyd.
this same year of 1654 Humphrey Belt was a successful tobacco planter in
this same Linhaven Parish of Lower Norfolk County, Virginia. In 1649 Humphrey
had married Mary Cragges in this same Linhaven Parish. Could this Richard
Belt be a relative of Humphrey Belt? Could Humphrey have arranged for Richard's
transportation with Lower Norfolk County landowner SARAH Hancock??
WHAT DO WE KNOW OF HUMPHREY IN VIRGINIA? THAT:
1. He arrived on Jamestown Island in the late summer or fall of 1635.
2. Upon arrival he was subject to an Indentured Servants contract to Wm. Clarke --probably for 7 years.
3. 30 March 1639/40 (Lower Norfolk Court Session): A Court order directed HENRY RUTKINS to pay the " cuntrey duties" for the last year for Humphrey Best (Belt) who was then his servant. From this we must assume the service contract was assignable and that Wm. Clarke had assigned it to Henry Rutkins. (From Report by Donald W. Moore June 2000)
The below is from "LOWER NORFOLK COUNTY, VIRGINIA COURT RECORDS BOOK A 1637-1646 by Alice Granberry Walter:"It is thought and fit and so ordered that Henry Rutkins shall pay the countrey duties which were due the last yeare for one Humphrey Best, (Belt) who was then his servant.
SEE: 'The New England Historical and Genealogical REGISTER" VOL. XLVII-January, 1893;Page 63 titled, " Certificates of head Rights, Va.""26 May 1642 TO JAMES WARNER (17) hath due 250 acres for Trans. Of theise persons whose names are here under written---HUMPHREY BELT, Darmer Flashallon, John Hamon, Christopher Pettyface, Stephen Block.NOTE: At first glance this indicate there was another Humphrey Belt who was brought over in 1642--however, our research has shown much lack of truth in the claiming and awarding the 50 acre Headright earned for each person transported to the Colony. Additionally there are several connections in the record between Humphrey Belt and this James Warner. Wm. Clarke received land for transporting Humphrey Belt to the colony in 1635 and, in my opinion, Humphrey Belt untruthfully, but successfully, allowed his name to be used for an additional, or 2nd. 50 acre Head Right claim-- by his record associate James Warner.From page 61 of the above reference: " Many abuses of the privilege granted occurred, and on 9 December, 1712, a proclamation was issued by Gov. Spotswood, ordering all certificates to be examined and e-affirmed.The following entry will serve a fair example of the methods combatted:-"Certificates granted to __________ ________ for 200 acres of land for his own transportation into the Colony four times."
FROM MARILYN ROTH: (E mail of 29 August, 2000)
"JAMES WARNER was from the same Maryland area as Humphrey Belt, first at "Warners Neck"… WARFIELD'S "Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland lists MR. JAMES WARNER as church warden of Elizabeth River Church, VA. (in 1649) before migrating to Maryland.
MOSS' "Providence says JAMES WARNER had "Warner's Neck" 20 Nov. 1651; on the south side of the Severn on Middle Neck, next to the plantation of Peter Porter. On 19 Jan. 1661, JAMES WARNER and Henry Ridgely received "Wardridge" across Middle Neck almost straight west and a bit south of JAMES WARNER'S first land.
The below is from "LOWER NORFOLK COUNTY, VIRGINIA COURT RECORDS BOOK A", same as above reference:"Whereas it appeareth to this Court by specialty that HUMPHREY BEST (Belt) hath served James Warner the full term according to his indenture and that he hath not received any cloathes of the said James Warner according to the custome of the country. It is therefore ordered that the said James Warner shall within ten days or 14 days at the farthest provide for the said BEST (Belt) cloathes and necessaries according to the custome of Virginia otherwise exection to be awarded."NOTE: We see now that in 1642 JAMES WARNER claimed land for transporting 5 people including HUMPHREY BELT. HOWEVER, in the year before--1641-- the court ordered the same JAMES WARNER to pay Humphrey Belt" cloathes and necessities" in that Humphrey had completed his indentured sevants contract. (7 years?)
There was MALARKEY in The Colony>>>>>>>
The following is from "Cavaliers":THOMAS WATKINS, 300 acs. Low. Norf. Co., (no date), p. 467 (569). 150 acs. Beg. On Swd. Side of the E. br. Of Eliz. Riv. &c. joyning land of Jno. Godfry, W. N. W. &c.; 150 acs. Adj. the same, beg. On S. end of his land, running S. &c. 150 acs. Granted to HENRY NICHOLS 10 Aug. 1646 & sould to Humphrey Belt (or Bett), who sould to Thomas Cartwright, who sould to Abram Thomas, who sould to sd. Watkins & by him sould to Thomas Steere."
NOTE:Did Humphrey pay passage from England to Virginia for Margery Cragges?NOTE: NU 289 A reference to page 289 of "Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia land Patents and Grants, 1623-1666" by Nell Marion Nugent. The page 289 shown the patent of the original land patent for____acres to Humphrey Belt on___________________.In 1654 The above "certificate" was matured to a patent in favor of Humphrey Belt dated 06 June 1654 land Office Patents and Grants 1652-1655, Vol. 3, p. 238, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, as follows:To all etc. Whereas etc. Now Know ye that I the Sd Richard Bennett Esq. Etc. give and grant unto Humphrey Belt two hundred and twenty Acres of Land lyeing in Linhaven Parrish in ye County of Lower Norfolk beginning at a small Creek called Tho. Matins Creek and running a long by ye Eastern branch of Elizabeth river west by So to a marked Oak joyning to Goldsmith land thence running South by east 320 poles thence East by North 110 poles and So along by Mr. Sidneys land North by West 320 poles to ye first station. The said 220 acres of land being due unto the said Humphrey Belt by and for the Transportation of five persons into this Collony etc. to have and to hold etc. Yeilding and paying etc. which payment is to be made etc. dated ye 6th of June 1654.Mary Cragges John Cooper Geo. GayRandall Hewett Simon RobinsonCOMMENT: The original 1649 certificate was for 50 acres for transporting Margery Cragges. This patent, however, is for 220 acres for transporting 5 persons INCLUDING Margery Cragges.NOTE: Did Humphrey receive acreage TWICE for transporting Mary Cragges?
8. 1652: (Age 37) Proof that Humphrey Belt was a Lower Norfolk land owner in 1652 follows: from "Cavaliers"
TO THOMAS CARTWRIGHT, 300 acs. Low. Norf. Co., dec.1652, p. 183. Near the Eastern branch of Eliz. Riv. beg. at miles end of John Porter near the main swamp, running W. by S. by HUMPH. BELTS &c Trans. of 6 pers: Matthew Hones, Huldy Chase, Robert Lushby (For Lashby). Wm. Nicholson, John Taylor, Eliza Collins."
"Whereas Mr. Thomas Jaymes hath made it appeare to this Cort. That there is due to him three hundred thirty and Eight pounds of tob. (?) Caske from Humfrey Belt it is therefore ordered that the Said Belt make payment thereof unto the said Jaymes or his assignes with Cort. Charges (?) Execution".COMMENT: Proof that Humphrey was a successful tobacco planter in 1654. (IMO)
(From Donald W. Moore) " The last reference to Humphrey Belt in Lower Norfolk County, Virginia is dated 15 March 1654/5. There are no further references from that time through the year ending 1664. Sometime during that period Humphrey Belt probably migrated to Maryland"
"Quakers were being arrested and fined during this time in Virginia. If Humphrey Belt was a Quaker (IMO he was) this activity may have motivated his move to Virginia"--in that Maryland, at that time, was offering a welcome hand to Quakers as a policy of religious freedom (I need source help on the Maryland freedom policy).
From The Hall Family of West River and Kindred Families by Thomas John Hall, 3rd, Page 213, “ Various deeds and references show that Humphrey Belt was located in Lower Norfolk County, Virginia, where Puritan thought was strong and where the exodus (By Quakers) to the Severn River in Maryland began in 1649".
Researcher Donald W. Moore has suggested the possibility hat Humphrey Belt was move from Virginia to Maryland by one of the ships owned by Symon Overzee, a prominent merchant and ship owner of the time whose name and many activities are listed the records
Quaker calendar was changed in 1759/1760. (Get more explanation here of
differences in the calendars).
1690: The following described 450 acres is said to be owned by Humphrey Belt, HOWEVER, by 1663 Humphrey was a resident of Maryland.
Did he continue non-resident ownership of this (and other)?"Lower Norfolk County, land? Could be? Or was the description out of date? Probably?
all passengers on the ship AMERICA, including Humphrey Belt, before
leaving the port of Gravesend for Virginia, were required to take an oath
of fidelity to the Church ofEngland. I have the feeling (Feeling) that
Humphrey's dedication to this religion, even at that time, was lukewarm
at best (??)…. Consider that Humphrey chose to leave Virginia, for Maryland,
when Quakers became unwelcome in Virginia where he was a long time successful
landowner and tobacco planter/grower from sometime after 1641 until 1663
when he moved, along with Children John, Anne and Sarah, to Maryland. --at
a time when Virginia was hostile to Quakers. I know of no proof that Humphrey
was a Quaker, BUT we have adequate proof that his son JOHN BELT was a significant,
very active Quaker.
WHAT DO WE KNOW OF HUMPHREY
BELT IN MARYLAND?
1663: from Maryland Office liber 5, folio 373, Annapolis, Md., AND from Early settlers of Maryland by Gus Skordas, as follows:
" On June 30, 1663 HUMPHREY BELT appeared at His Lordship's land Office in St. Mary's City, (Maryland) and proved his rights to 200 acres of land for his emigration and transportation of three members of his family". The following is an exact copy of the record: " 30 June 1663 HUMPHREY BELT, Enters Rights for himself, JOHN BELT, ANNE BELT and SARAH BELT, and demands land Vizt 200 acres. Warrant to sur v-Gen-1 lay out for HUMPHREY BELT 200 acres, return 30 December next."'
1698: (Age 83)
From "Colonial Families of the US by Hardy:" Humphrey Belt died, testate, at age 83 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. No records have been found, (to my knowledge,) to show the administration or distribution of his estate". COMMENT: Perhaps his estate distribution was handled by Quaker meetings and thus not reflected in public records?????
COMMENT: We have no Maryland record of Humphrey Belt other than his appearance in St. Mary's City, Maryland in 1663 and his death in Maryland in 1698.
There MUST be additional Maryland records (Quaker only?)What is the practical manner in which to cover all potential records sources for Humphrey during this period. The records WERE MADE, --were they saved??? Where are they???Will they help determine Humphrey’s European roots?HELP