It’s a shame that we’ll never be able to close this cold case to everyone’s satisfaction, because we’ll never have a death date for Nathaniel, only a burial date, but you’re right; it’s another angle that bears looking into.If you will take a look at the Polemic, I show that it’s possible for him to have died around the time of the deposition and been preserved for shipment back to England at a later date, but let’s presume he died about three months before his burial date, was preserved and shipped at that time.The problem with this is that we have assumed the deposition is referring to Nathaniel when it says, “their brother also of the whole blood lately also deceased.”This would mean he was dead when the deposition was given.I have stated the case that the passage, “& was late brother & heir of Nathaniel Basse, their brother also of the whole blood, lately also deceased,” could have been a parenthetical – meaning, that without it the deposition would read this way, “Luke Basse who died a bachelor in Virginea without issue…”It would be easier to see if I just quote the passages in full and move the parentheses around to show the possible scenarios.There are three.In the Nansemond’s version, the parenthetical refers to Nathaniel:
“Abigail Thorpe & Sarah Hastler were and are the sisters & coheirs of Luke Basse who died a bachelor & was late brother & heir of Nathaniel Basse (their brother also of the whole blood lately also deceased in Virginea without issue) as these deponents have understood.”
I’ve suggested in the Polemic that the parenthetical could have actually been placed here; however, in this scenario, part of the parenthetical still refers to Nathaniel, i.e., he was their full brother lately deceased:
“Abigail Thorpe & Sarah Hastler were and are the sisters & coheirs of Luke Basse who died a bachelor (& was late brother & heir of Nathaniel Basse their brother also of the whole blood lately also deceased) in Virginea without issue as these deponents have understood.”
There is one more possibility.If we move the parenthetical here, the entire passage then refers to Luke (note that a sentence must read as a complete sentence when a parenthetical is removed):
“Abigail Thorpe & Sarah Hastler were and are the sisters & coheirs of Luke Basse (who died a bachelor & was late brother & heir of Nathaniel Basse) their brother also of the whole blood lately also deceased in Virginea without issue as these deponents have understood.”
The “also’s,” in this scenario, take on a very different meaning.Here they mean “moreover” and “furthermore;” therefore, a paraphrase would read like this, “they are the sisters and coheirs of Luke Basse who is, moreover, their brother of the whole blood, who, furthermore, is recently deceased in Virginea without issue.”But don’t take my word for it.Here’s a list of synonyms from Dictionary.com’s Thesaurus:
Part of Speech:adverb
Synonyms:additionally, again, along, along with, and, as well, besides, conjointly, further, furthermore, including, likewise, more, moreover, plus, still, to boot, together with, too
Today, we would simply say, “they are the sisters and coheirs of Luke Basse, their brother of the whole blood, who is lately deceased in Virginea without issue.”“Who is” would be understood in the original.The use of the passive, auxiliary verb “is” makes “deceased” the proper use of an adjective describing Luke.We’ve all assumed that “their brother also of the whole blood” referred to Nathaniel.This assumes that “also” is reflexive back to Nathaniel, but the scenario I’ve just stated is much simpler, and makes the entire deposition about Luke, but we already knew he was the subject of the deposition.It is certain that the deposition is referring to only one of the brothers, “And that the said sisters & deceased brother were, all of them, the legitimate children of Humphrey Basse.”Again, the deceased brother, here, refers to Luke, the subject of the deposition.If we are to believe that this is the correct placement of the parenthetical, then, you’re right, we don’t know when Nathaniel died.This is a better fit with the dates we have, but we still haven’t answered all of the questions.
I’m glad you have encouraged me to revisit the deposition, but it requires us to re-examine one other thing.I’ve stated in the Polemic that Luke’s brother would have had claim to his property before his sisters and that it would have been necessary for Nathaniel to be dead before the sisters could claim Luke’s property.If it’s true that in this male-dominated society brothers had first right of claim to a sibling’s property and Nathaniel was living when the deposition was made, the sisters would have needed to engage in subterfuge to get what they wanted.My previous analysis has assumed the integrity of the sisters, but this new light thrown on the deposition would highlight the sinister nature of the sisters, and we don’t like to think of our ancestors in those terms.Were they trying to eliminate their competition by claiming to be the only survivors?We know the Samuel in Massachusetts was alive.Were they trying to skip over a living Nathaniel as well?The problem is that they do claim to be the only surviving siblings.Were they telling the truth?Since it’s now clear that we have burial dates for two men (as opposed to one) with the same names as their brothers (who went to America like their brothers) that are inconsistent with their claims, it makes the sister’s veracity even more questionable.The brothers must have been in America for them to get away with it.
The question then is, is there anything we can know for certain?Yes, we know that there was a Capt. Nathaniel Basse, Gent. in Jamestown, VA, and the multitude of documents referring to him cannot be denied.We know from the timeline that there is no inconsistency in these records.We know that the sisters in London had brothers who went to America, and we finally have a reading of the deposition that answers all of the inconsistencies we thought existed in the document and lets us know that the writer wasn’t functionally illiterate as it had seemed.This latest scenario simplifies the deposition and answers questions I had about what to include in the parenthetical.It better fits the timeline but raises more questions about the integrity of the sisters, since the only problem we now have with the deposition is their claim that they were the only living siblings.Our latest scenario makes the sisters liars.The placement of the parenthetical as proposed in the Polemic makes Nathaniel dead at the time of the deposition.The Nansemond’s parenthetical makes him dead without issue.I am certain that that is an incorrect reading.“Without issue” must refer to the bachelor.Placing the parenthetical in the middle as I did in the Polemic still begs the question who died in Virginia.As much as I wanted to believe that the deposition was just one big grammatical mess and the sisters were innocent bystanders, the latest and most probable parenthetical scenario smoothes out all of the grammatical questions we had, makes Luke the sole subject of the deposition and throws heavy responsibility on the words of Nathaniel’s sisters, and it opens Nathaniel’s end date to 1655 -- also, most likely, making the Samuel Basse in Massachusetts a legitimate sibling.I had done everything I could to interpret the deposition in a way that both solved our dilemma and at the same time was favourable to the sisters.I believe I was wrong to do so.It now becomes clear to me that all the dates we have are legitimate dates, and the only question that remains is not one of Nathaniel’s issue but of the sister’s claim that all their brothers were dead when the deposition was made.We know the brother’s burial dates, and I believe them to be accurate.From the sister’s claims, we could only question their death dates.Did they occur months before their burial (or forty years in Samuel’s case), or did the sisters want money and real estate by any means?Nothing else remains for us to question.Not from the perspective of having filled in every blank but from that of having ironed out all the kinks in our narrative of this man, it’s the only question or bump left in the road, and it’s possible to answer--if only subjectively--with one of the world’s oldest vices -- human greed.For me, this cold case is officially closed.I will update the Polemic with this information, but I won’t be able to do so until I can upgrade my computer.
It has only taken a few years (said with great irony) to let go of an idealized view of the sisters and figure all this out, and I couldn’t have done it alone.It has been a group effort, as it should be.Thanks to all who have asked very legitimate questions about this family.We couldn’t have made it this far without being able to posit scenarios and eliminate possibilities.To the Nansemond’s for their efforts, to Curtis Bass and to you, Margaret, I say a hearty thank you.