I have been posting messages to this site since 2001 and have found it to be the most useful such site on the Internet---far more than most of the web sites with Pettus information (too oftenmisinformation) that I find when I do a search for “pettus family” (see my posting earlier this month). I am sorry to see that this site will no longer be accepting new postings after September. I began research into the Pettus family of England and Virginia back in the early 1970s with the object of writing a biography of Col. Thomas Pettus of the Virginia Council of State. The scope of my project gradually expanded over the years, until I published two volumes on the family history in Norwich, England, and Virginia (2011, 2013). These volumes contain most of what I learned about the family over the past four decades from visits to county, city, and national record offices and other repositories in the U.S. and abroad. For example, I found proof of the identity of Col. Thomas Pettus. He was the son, b. 1598/9,of Thomas Pettus, mayor of Norwich, England, in 1614) and his wife Cecily King. I also contacted the Virginia Landmarks Commission in 1973, as I recall, to learn if anyone there knew the exact location of Thomas’s 17th C. home, “Littletown,” in James City County, Virginia. My query was answered by Dr. William M. Kelso, who had just been hired as an archaeologist. I think his first accomplishment was to locate the foundations of the 17th C. home once occupied by James Bray, who married Mourning (Burgh) Pettus, widow of Thomas Pettus II. Not long afterwards, Kelso found the foundations of Littletown and identified it with artifacts bearing Thomas’s initials. The locations of the foundations coincided with my own marks on a topographical map of the area. Thomas may have married twice after coming to Virginia in the early 1630s, but DNA tests are still ongoing that might confirm certain tribal and Pettus family traditions that Pocahontas’s daughter, Ka-Okee, married Thomas as his first wife.Thomas’s wife of record was Elizabeth (Freeman) Durrent, widow of Richard Durrent. She was the mother of Thomas Pettus II. Thomas may have been the father of a Stephen Pettus who had settled in New Kent County by 1662, but that possibility and the identity of Stephen’s mother are still conjectural. A Virginia record shows that Thomas II was an orphan in 1672. My identification of Thomas Pettus II’s widow (Mourning) stems from certain records I located in Maryland and Rotterdam, Netherlands. The Dutch records show that Thomas had gone there in 1687 to claim an inheritance on behalf of his wife and her relatives. The records identify him as “Thomas Pettus of Jamestown Island, Virginia.” Thomas got the money, but he died in Holland before he could return. Mourning’s maiden name was not Glenn, as so often stated in other family histories. She may not have been the mother of his children, but I found no evidence that Thomas married Elizabeth Dabney or even that a person of that name lived in Virginia during the 17th C. Recently, my proof argument that Thomas II had a son Stephen (not the one mentioned above) was accepted by the Jamestowne Society’s genealogist (see my previous posting on the subject). Stephen married Mary Dabney, daughter of Capt. George Dabney. Their descendants were termed “Dabney-Pettuses” by author P. H. Stacy. The Dabney-Pettus line is the only one that can be traced in historical records back to the immigrant Thomas Pettus. Stacy referred to the other branch of the Pettus family (the one from which I descend) as the “Overton-Pettuses, due to the presumed marriage of my sixth great-grandfather, John Pettus, to Ann Overton. While John’s wife’s first name is not in question, only the fact that they had children with the Overton name substantiates the long-held belief that Ann was an Overton. The name of her father has also been disputed, though I think he probably was William Overton of Falling Creek plantation in New Kent Co. Whether John was descended directly from the immigrant Thomas Pettus is (in ny view) still an open question. My book attempts to trace John’s ancestry to Thomas, but some of the links are essentially conjectural, based upon scant evidence. A skilled genealogist who is much younger than I am might want to take a fresh look at the problem. The ancestry of Col. William Pettus of Louisa Co., Va., who married Susannah Graves is another unsolved problem in my opinion. Again, someone trained in genealogy should look further into the matter. Comparative DNA testing of William’s descendants might yield useful information.
Readers are reminded that Family Tree DNA labs are presently testing various Pettuses and their relatives to provide further evidence that might confirm hypothetical family trees. Anyone joining the current project is eligible for a discount. Anyone seeking futher information on the points I have discussed should contact me directly by e-mail.