DUKE Families of Nansemond County, Virginia by Fred Duke
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Foreward by Richard St. Arnauld

The following data are the eight years work of C. Fred Duke of Sarasota, Florida, of whom I became acquainted in 1997. Fred is not a native of Nansemond County, but his roots lie there. In 1900, his father moved across the James River to Newport News where Fred was born in 1925. Fred started tracing his Nansemond County Duke family history in 1988. Nansemond County is now extinct -- in 1974 the entire county of Nansemond became the City of Suffolk, Virginia. I, too, am trying to trace my Duke family and this is how I came to meet Fred. Although Fred has not completed his research to the point that he is satisfied with, he believes that he has done all he can in gathering this data. His only task now is to organize it in a manner that means something to his line of Dukes. He is sharing this with me and the public with the hope that someone can add to it or supply that missing link he may have missed. Some of the names included in this research may seem not to have a DUKE connection but as one moves through the chronology the names such as Baker, Stallings and Hackley will become apparent. Nansemond County, being one of the ‘Burned Counties’ is especially hard to research, with the lack of birth, marriage and death records. Fred has taken the path of trying to research the family using tax records, deeds and wills. In this effort he recorded every DUKE record he could find and as you will see was quite thorough. -- Richard St. Arnauld, Jupiter, Florida

[TLC Note: Richard, an ardent DUKE researcher, passed away in 2001. He will be missed!]

Introduction by C. Fred Duke

The real irony of the 1866 fire in Nansemond Co., VA is the fact that as of 1850, every one of my ancestors were living in Nansemond County. Sources that I have examined (as of October 1997) are :

As we know, the1866 fire in Nansemond County Courthose destroyed all records. What little remains for us to examine, prior to 1866 (other than the US census of 1850) must be gleaned from other surviving records. The ealiest records that I have found are within the five volumes of Calvaliers And Pioneers These great records cover the early period of the 1600’s up to 1737. At this time, I am working on what we know about the DUKE name in Nansemond County covered by the first five volumes which take us to 1737. When this study has been exhausted, I intend to offer a comparative information with the Vestry Book of the Upper Parish of Nansemond County, roughly 1743 thru 1795.

Then a careful study of adding what we find in the Nansemond Land taxes 1782 - 1861 and include the Personal Property Taxes for 1815-1861, with an added inclusion of the Clerk’s Fee Books dated circa 1788- 1800.

First: I intend to name in chronological order the DUKE names only (with a few exceptions where it seems helpful) Nansemond County references for that is where all of "my" descendent DUKE’s were in 1850. (Incidently there where other DUKE names in other counties during this same period, but they will have to await later identification).

Just in case I am asked why I start with THOMAS DEW, I have two answers:

(a) The recognition that oftentimes, names were mispelled due to misunderstanding or phonetic ‘assumptions’.

(b) The excellent research and writings of Evelyn Duke Brandenberger (in her Duke Book I and II) has suggested that the DEW, DEWE and DEWS are all the same identification of DUKE.

So, lets start with the earliest land grant that I have found:

[RSA Note: All deeds and recordings are not all those of just Duke but also of those near or adjacent to a Duke or person who will in the future be important to the Duke family. All words, names and places are copied here as recorded -even recognizable mispelling.]

For archival purposes, the C. Fred Duke data are grouped according to year in these files: