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The truth about the Malunga or Malungeons and 1619.

The first Africans to arrive in the Virginia colonies were not slaves. There was no slavery in Virginia, only indentured servitude. The blacks that arrived came from Luanda, Angola which had been taken over by the Portuguese and the Africans they enslaved were prisoners of war. They were stolen by white English traders who overthrew the Portuguese slave ship, São João Bautista in the Gulf of Mexico as it neared the end of its voyage, stealing about 60 Angolan Africans. It was English White Lion which was one of the two ships involved in the attack that arrived in Point Comfort (now known as Hampton Virginia) in August of 1619. John Rolfe colony secretary (who would marry Pocahontas), documented the arrival of about 20-30 blacks in that area.

These were not the first Africans on the North American continent.

“To obtain Africans, the British colonies totally relied on English and Dutch freebooters attacking Portuguese slavers sailing from Africa to the Americas with Angolan war prisoners. Only very late in the 17th century would British ships begin taking captives directly from Africa.”

“Newcomers to slave trading in the early-to-mid 17th century, Virginians were still relatively unfamiliar with the permanent slave chattel system used by Spain and Portugal. THE ENGLISH SYSTEM OF INDENTURED SERVITUDE FREED SERVANTS OF ALL ETHNICITIES AFTER 7 OR 10 YEARS REGARDLESS OF ETHNICITY.”

People attempt to call this method of servitude the same as slavery probably because the people who controlled the indentured were referred to as masters. But indenture is NOT the same thing as slavery. While individuals were bought for indenture. There was an end game to the time of indenture. Not so with slavery.

“The first "20 and odd" Mbundu in 1619 were not the only Angolans appearing in British-American colonies in the 17th century. Dozens of other privateers brought Mbundu and other Bantu peoples for decades after 1619. While some of these blacks also came from Kongo, the vast majority was from Angola. The center of the Portuguese slave trade has shifted from the port in Kongo, to Luanda, Angola by 1618.”

Over 200 surnames of free 17th century African-Americans who intermarried with white settlers and Indians have been found by researchers like Paul Heinegg and J. Douglas Deal. The following lists of some 50 African-Americans appeared in Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas when English and Dutch privateers were concentrating exclusively on merchant-slavers from Angola. Many of the English and Portuguese surnames taken by newly arrived Angolan-Americans in the 1600s, can be found among Melungeons today. The following dates represent either the time of an individual's appearance or date of birth.


1620's: Carter, Cornish, Dale/Dial, Driggers, Gowen/Goins, Johnson, Longo, Mongom/Mongon, Payne

1630's: Cane, Davis, George, Hartman, Sisco, Tann, Wansey

1640's: Archer, Kersey, Mozingo, Webb

1650's: Cuttillo, Jacobs, James

1660's: Beckett, Bell, Charity, Cumbo, Evans, Francis, Guy, Harris, Jones,Landum/Landrum, Lovina/Leviner, Moore, Nickens, Powell, Shorter, Tate, Warrick/Warwick


In the above lists of surnames there is found other documentation that these Africans arriving from 1620-1660 were mostly Angolan. Anthony Johnson's grandson named his Maryland plantation "Angola". The sister of Sebastian Cane was also named "Angola". Additionally, a number of early place names in Virginia and other original tidewater colonies bear testimony of the 17th century presence of the Melungeons' African ancestors. A land deed shows reference to "Angola Neck" near Rehoboth Beach in Delaware as early as 1680. In Cumberland County, Virginia, an "Angola Creek" was on the map before the 18th century. In North Carolina another Angola Creek is the site of a modern nature preserve. Also several Africans in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (New York) in the early 17th century were surnamed either "Angola", or "Congo".


Not all of the paternal surnames passed down to Melungeons were originally borne by Africans in America. Some families such as Banks, Bass, Berry, Chavis, Sweat, Davis, Hanser, Lang, Lawrence, Fisher, Hammond, Lucas, Matthews began with white male or female ancestors from whom certain branches initially intermarried with Indians. However all of these white and Indian families intermarried with Angolans in America, often before 1700.

The original name of malungu used by early Kimbundu and Kikongo-speaking Africans in Virginia, eventually extended to include all mixed red, white and black family members associated with the Angolans in the original southern colonies. The idea of malungu as "shipmates from a common homeland" gradually came to mean"countrymen", "close friends" and "relatives" in the mobile freeborn Melungeon community. This name would not have included chattel slaves who were separated from the free community by plantation bondage.


1670's: Anderson, Atkins, Barton, Boarman, Bowser, Brown, Bunch, Buss, Butcher, Butler, Carney, Case, Church, Combess, Combs, Consellor, Day, Farrell/Ferrell, Fountain, Game, Gibson/Gipson, Gregory, Grimes, Grinnage, Hobson, Howell, Jeffries, Lee, Manuel, Morris, Mullakin, Nelson, Osborne, Pendarvis, Quander, Redman, Reed, Rhoads, Rustin, Skipper, Sparrow, Stephens, Stinger, Swann, Waters, Wilson.

1680's: Artis, Booth, Britt, Brooks, Bryant, Burkett, Cambridge, Cassidy, Collins, Copes, Cox, Dogan, Donathan, Forten/Fortune, Gwinn, Hilliard, Hubbard, Impey, Ivey, Jackson, MacDonald, MacGee, Mahoney, Mallory, Okey, Oliver, Penny, Plowman, Press/Priss, Price, Proctor, Robins, Salmons/Sammons, Shoecraft, Walden, Walker, Wiggins, Wilkens, Williams

1690's: Annis, Banneker, Bazmore, Beddo, Bond, Cannedy/Kennedy, Chambers, Conner, Cuffee, Dawson, Durham, Ford, Gannon, Gates, Graham, Hall, Harrison, Hawkins, Heath, Holt, Horner, Knight, Lansford, Lewis, Malavery, Nichols, Norman, Oxendine, Plummer, Pratt, Prichard, Rawlinson, Ray, Ridley, Roberts, Russell, Sample, Savoy, Shaw, Smith, Stewart, Taylor, Thompson, Toney, Turner, Weaver, Welsh, Whistler, Willis, Young

These African-American families appeared in the southern tidewater colonies when evidence indicates that most all of the blacks coming to America, were Angolan by birth.

The equality of free whites and free blacks in Virginia in the 1600s can be documented in several areas of colonial life important in the development of the Melungeon community.

1. Free African-Americans could own property.

2. Free African-Americans could own servants of any skin color.

3. There were no laws for most of the 17h century against inter-marriage based on skin color.

4. Free baptized African-Americans were allowed to give testimony in court and hold office.

The most famous Melungeon ancestor in the colonies was the Angolan who took the name Anthony Johnson. His Portuguese name, "Antonio" was shared by a number of other early Virginia African-Americans and because of this, there is confusion over which "Antonio" was actually Anthony Johnson. J. Douglas Deal makes a pretty good argument in "Race and Class in Colonial Virginia" that Anthony Johnson was the Antonio or Anthony of Warrosquoke who married a black woman named Mary. This Antonio was a passenger on the "James" from England or Bermuda to Virginia in 1622. Another Antonio who lived in Kecoughtan, married a black woman named "Isabelle" and had the first recorded African-American infant, William.

But lost in the controversy over which Antonio became Anthony Johnson, is evidence that BOTH of the two Anthonys were among the Angolans taken from the Portuguese slaver "Sao Joao Bautista" in 1619. If Anthony Johnson was simply a black Englishman, why did his grandson later name his plantation "Angola"?

The full civil liberties enjoyed by the Angolan ancestors of the Melungeons were reflected in the lives of Anthony Johnson and his family. They owned a thousand acres on the Pungoteague Creek. Anthony was the master of black and white, male and female servants and at least one black slave. When that slave, John Casor, ran away to a white planter, Johnson sued in court and the slave was returned. When a fire destroyed the Johnson plantation in 1652, he appealed to the court and received relief from paying taxes. In 1655 Anthony sold his Virginia farm and moved his family to Somerset County, Maryland. He brought with him a mare, 18 sheep and 14 head of cattle. In 1666 Johnson leased 300 acres in Wimico Hundred and the farm was called "Tonies Vinyard: (from "Anthony") for 200 years after.

John Johnson, a son of Anthony, also owned land in Northampton County. Married to Susanna, John was jailed once in 1664 for begetting a child by Hannah Leach, a white woman. On several occasions, he testified in court cases and he served as a witness for a number of land transactions. A white man, Edward Surman appointed John as guardian of his children in his will, proved in a Maryland court in 1676. According to genealogist Paul Heinegg, John Johnson was called a "Free Nigroe", aged 80 years "poor and past his labour" when the Sussex County court agreed to maintain him for life on public funds.

John Johnson had a son, John Jr. born about 1650 who bought about 50 acres for a farm in Maryland, which he called "Angola". This John Jr., a "free negro", married a white 17 year-old English girl, Elizabeth Lowe in Sussex County, Delaware on March 13, 1680.

Anthony had another son; Richard Johnson called "a negro" who married a white woman named Susan. Their son Richard was described as a "mulatto".

A great-grandson of the old Ndongo African was Cuff Johnson, head of a Beaufort County, North Carolina household numbering two "free" blacks and one white woman in 1800.

In colonial America these examples were repeated many times in numerous Melungeon families designated as "free people of color". They were landowners of Virginia, the Carolinas, Maryland and Delaware.

1. The very first black ancestors of Melungeons appeared in tidewater Virginia, not in the 18th century, but in 1619.


2. Not one single Melungeon family can be traced to a white plantation owner and his black female slave. The vast majority of the African ancestors of Melungia were freeborn for more than three hundred years.

Melungeons are not the offspring of white southern plantation owners and helpless black slaves. Most of the African ancestors of Melungeons were never chattel slaves. They were frequently black men freed from indentured servitude just like many white servants of the 17th century. Less often, African ancestors of the Melungeons either purchased their freedom from slavery or were freed upon the deaths of their masters.

The black patriarchs of the Melungeons were commonly free African-American men who married white women in Virginia and other southern colonies, often before 1700.


Mixed descendants of the first African-Americans entered all walks of life. Many are world famous. Among the offspring of colonial-era Angolan Americans; the mother of Abraham Lincoln Nancy Hanks, Tom Hanks, Ava Gardner, Elvis Presley, Heather Locklear, Rich Mullins, and comedian Steve Martin from Waco, Texas.

Many of the patriarchal surnames of these 17th century Angolan-Americans survive today because, more often than not, Angolan men married white women of English, Irish and Scottish ancestry. White men also married Angolan women but not as frequently. The un-even ratio of black men to black women caused the imbalance. Had there been more black women in America in the 17th century, there would have been less black and white intermarriage.

In Virginia and other colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, and even into the 19th century, white women showed no repugnance to Africans of equal status. Lerone Bennett Jr. in "Before the Mayflower" quotes Edward Long, a contemporary witness who observed that, "...the lower class of women in England, are remarkably fond of the blacks, for reasons to brutal to mention."


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