Melungeon-L ArchivesArchiver > Melungeon > 2002-06 > 1024677346
Subject: [Melungeon] DNA News Report
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 12:35:46 EDT
The problem has always been that the only people arguing for Melungeon
existance before the 18th century were mostly the exotic theories supporters.
So, the idea never received much legitimacy.
The history of African and Indian slavery in 17th century Virginia, Maryland,
etc was never seriously studied in the context of Melungeons. Altho racial
intermarriage was formally outlawed in the late 17th century in most
tidewater colonies it continued for more than a hundred years later. But
circumstances were changing. From 1619-1660 the overwhelming majority of
black arrivals were men. The stigma against black and white marriage took a
while to develope in America. The first black/white marriages were mostly
between black men and white women. But later that balance became more even
and more black women arrived. But the pinpoint origin of the Melungeons had
already started. The development of the Melungeons would continue for nearly
200 years before they were first noted by that name. When we talk of
Melungeon origin I generally think of the period between 1619-1660. The
larger era, upto 1813 I think of as early Melungeon development, nor
Melungeon origin. Also, as decades go by, these unions produced mixed
people, the mulatto female offspring also married into other Melungeons
families. At the same time yes, Paul Heinegg and others do show black female
and white males intermarrying. But circumstances were changing and by the
early 19th century the Melungeon communities seemed to be dodging any
connection to blackness. I believe it was partly due to the first US
censuses which required a description of ethnicity that prompted segregating
the free community in light of the increasing institutionalization of
slavery. The ratio of black males to white females was already dropping by
the early 1800s, while the lesser ratio of white males to black females held
steadier for a longer time.
According to Paul Heinegg, there is no record that traditional triracial
communities with roots in the 17th century sprang from white masters and
female black slaves. He found only one such case in the hundreds he studied.
To the contrary, records show that white masters sometimes intentionally
encouraged black male slaves to marry white female slaves. Why? Because
their offspring was regarded as legal chattel. It took a while for this to
In addition, the social climate of the 17th century and early 18th century
frowned upon extramarital master-slave sex. When the black slave woman,
Margaret Cornish of 1640 Virginia, had a child by a free white neighbor, both
of them were hauled before the court and the church. Cornish was whipped and
the man, Sweat, was made to repent publicly. The era that most people
associate with white masters and black slaves, ala such race movies as
"Mandingo" occurred much later in time. By then, the Melungeon communities
were already more than one hundred years old and were beginning to frown upon
union between white and black.
The Melungeons originated during 17th century "Puritan" times. Casual
master/slave laisons were extremely hazardous to one's backside and
pocketbook. Servants and slaves, black and white, married and had children
with other servants and slaves, black and white. Class, not color, ruled in
the 17th century when Melungeons originated.
> By that, Dennis, are you talking about his (Henige)
conclusion that the Free
> AA mixture was added by Black men who married white wives, and not by
That's really Tim Hashaw's conclusion with Paul Heinegg providing some of
the supporting data. Tim can speak for himself -- and I hope he will -- but
my discussions with him lead me to understand that he thinks that the black
females among the Angolans brought to Virginia made a contribution to the
Melungeon mix too, but for the most part it was the marriage of black males
to white females that initially mixed the races, not vice versa.
In any event, the DNA results do show Melungeons to have black ancestry on
both the paternal and maternal sides.