Colonel Edmund Scarburgh is found in the WHITTINGTON tree, living in the 1600s in Accomack, Virginia. He would be an 8th great uncle to Betty Whittington Slaymaker and 9th ggu to Betty’s kids, if he belongs in the tree at all! He was the son of Captain Edmund Scarburgh and Hannah Smith, some say Hannah Butler. One never knows with women donning new husbands, like hats, at every death. Captain Edmund was the son of Henry Scarburgh IV and Mary Humbertson. The spelling of the surname does change in the course of time. Henry was born in North Walsham, County Norfolk, England (baptized 1561). Now remember, we are talking about an uncle here, not a grandfather of any kind, from which you might directly descend. But still, the guy is one of the most polarizing figures in colonial history. He is one of those skeletons you find in the closet along with your Pokeman pajamas, leisure suits, bell bottom pants or peddle pushers. And you ask yourself, “Can we just get rid of this guy?” Well, maybe we can.
Colonel Edmund was the brother of Sir Charles Scarburgh, who was “physician in ordinary” to Charles II, James II and William III (he was the King’s family doctor, so to speak). In other words, he held the stethoscope up to the King’s chest; he whispered ‘Look to the left and cough!’ while rearranging the King’s jewells and he muttered “Bend over,” while fumbling to insert a rubber glove in literally, a royal asshole. Oh, that’s right. I am being reminded by my editor that I have put some anachronisms in here along with some poor attempts at humor. I am further reminded that my audience may not appreciate obscenity. My apologies.
Sir Charles was a graduate of Caisu College (at Cambridge). He followed his uncle, Dr. Edmund Smith (father of Hannah Smith), as the Royal family physician. Dr. Smith lost his job in the castle when Cromwell beheaded the good doctor’s client, King Charles I. It was the one ailment for which there was no cure, causing Dr. Smith to lament in true British fashion: “Well. That’s it then,” as he edged nervously toward the exit. The difference between Dr. Charles Scarburgh and Edmund is the difference between good and evil. Edmund lived on the dark side of the force.
Colonel Edmund was born in 1617 and baptized in “St. Martins in the Fields,” London, on October 2, 1617. He came to Virginia with his father, Captain Edmund Scarburgh in 1620. Colonial records indicate that he began conducting business as an adult in 1634. He witnessed his mother’s sale of a cow to Thomas Graces. He witnessed the sale of 2 calves by his father to William Melling. Melling’s name appears in Scarburgh wills and deeds, and appears to be a cousin of some sort.
Shortly after his father’s death in 1635 the Colonel picked up 200 acres of land per 4 headrights in Accomack County on Magothy Bay, May 18, 1637. At the time of his death in 1671, it is estimated that Scarburgh had seized as many as 45,000 acres of Virginia soil as his own private domain, a principality of sorts. Much of the land was earned by virtue of the headright system as he flooded the market with numerous indentured servants. To which he would soon add and make a fortune trafficking in slaves. Magothy Bay provided the backdrop for macabre scenes that only Alfred Hitchcock could appreciate.
Colonel Edmund married Mary Littleton in 1635. Or did he? There seems to be a shroud of mystery and great debate surrounding the question: ‘Who did the Colonel marry?’ There are more than a few families trying to claim him and, after looking at his track record, I find myself wondering, ‘Why?’ At least one family, the Jones clan of Welsh pedigree and Philadelphia roots may provide the dire help we need to unload this man. In exchange, they offer an ancestor who was governor of Pennsylvania, a covey of Quakers and people far more honorable than Scarburgh. Let’s continue.
The Littletons are great grandparents in the Whittington tree. Of that there is no doubt. Mary Littleton is the sister of a multimillionaire, Nathaniel Littleton, from whom Whittingtons descend. Nathaniel is my wife’s 9th Great Grandfather. The Littletons are upstanding citizens: charitable, compassionate aristocrats. They don’t need the Colonel spitting his chaw of tobacco on their carpet or pissing on their rhododendrons. He was however a neighbor and not easy to dismiss from the house regardless of our efforts today.
A concerted effort has been made by the present day Charleton family to claim their ancestor, Mary Charleton, as thee ‘Mary’ whom Colonel Edmund Scarburgh married. I have studied their claims and I am dumbfounded by the Charleton’s effort to claim Scarburgh via their ‘Mary’. It is not that their ‘juxta’ is without ‘position.’ It is more a matter of, ‘Why do this to your ancestors?’ Why drag a dead cod into a chapel during worship service? Why toss Ted Bundy into bed with a great grandmother?
A second and equally gamey effort is made to throw one ‘Mary Cade or Mary Harmer?” into bed with the Colonel. Right away the argument is made moot by indecision. Which Mary do we want to abuse and villify? Cade or Harmer? Can’t he have both? The man would prefer that actually. Again the case that is made is made in good form. The evidence is not unreasonable, but as is often the case in genealogy, the evidence does not remove all doubt or provide resolution and merely adds to the speculation. And that’s okay. It all creates a lively conversation when one is bored with political debates related to the size of a candidate’s genitals or a Sport Center discussion of the drama involved when three great men of golf are forced to play a round of golf together. Heaven forbid their game might be effected on a Thursday, so early in a tournament!
Other more extensive effort has been made to uproot Mary Littleton as the wife of Edmund and place her in the caring hands of one Gilbert Jones. This is the Welsh family I referred to earlier and it would be a far better life for Mary, as we will see. However, the evidence is again circumspect. Gilbert did marry a woman named ‘Mary’ but there is no record of her maiden name ‘Mary Littleton’ in the Jones’ documentation. And if she was identified a ‘Mary Littleton’ and evidence does point that way, there were so many Littletons of various names and pedigree that one wonders if you have snared the correct ‘Mary Littleton.’ We saw that with ‘Peeter Smith’ in the Smith Family Tree. One has to wonder if any of us are sane when we pursue these family tree topics in online hotbeds based in blogs, list serves and the dark web (where the actual trading of age old ancestors occurs).
As you will see: the man, Scarburgh, was an adulterer, homicidal maniac, shady businessman, traitor to his colony and his neighbors, liar and egotistical bastard. Those are his endearing qualities. I have suggested that Mary Littleton’s descendants recant any ownership of her place in the Scarburgh line and allow the Charletons to place their Mary into the role of Edmund’s abused housewife. In return, we would only ask that we (who give up Mary Littleton’s place in the Scarburgh family tree) have access to the Scarburgh plantation for two months of every summer and use of the spa and yacht on alternating weekends throughout the year. Unfortunately I, as an in-law, have no vote in this matter.
As we shall see there are some interesting assertions made by those seeking to tie their roots to the Colonel. There are urban myths in the rural area that make for compelling lunch room chatter at work. It is said that he owned the Pilgrim’s ship, the Mayflower! A person would have to ignore a lot of his criminal behavior in order to take pride in finding this guy in your house. And I would not trust him with my children. Let’s take a closer look at this despicable excuse for a human being and perhaps you will understand why our team of researchers have classified him in the top 5 of our Embarassing Nasty Ancestors who should remain forever hidden in the far reaches of a family tree. In fact, in a recent Monday morning swap shop, a Scarburgh descendant, eager to unload Edmund, offered to trade him for either the son of Rasputin, or Caligula and a second round draft pick. Still, in true American Trump fashion, we have managed to overlook all the ills and dark side of the man and build monuments to his ‘greatness.’ It is amazing what a little name recognition and stardom can do for a guy who should be fed to the Lutheran Women’s League quilting bee.
Edmund was known as “Conjurer” Scarburgh by the Native Americans with whom he shared the Delmarva Peninsula. Scarburgh did not like the “savage heathens.” He loathed them. He loathed Blacks, Quakers, Baptists, Catholics, Puritans and Amway dealers. He had a long list. But he loved killing Indians any chance he could. He justified it in the name of God (as defined by the Church of England) and he continuously stressed the need to keep the neighborhood safe from the marauding bad guys; long after the Natives had: 1) accepted Christ as their savior, 2) participated in the legal system and 3) given up marauding; with the exception of a few incidents when a K Mart blue light special found them competing with sinewy indentured servants for the last remaining carton of Pampers. Ethnic cleansing was important to the Colonel. There were at least two occasions in Virginia history in which he gained notoriety and the disdain of his fellow colonists for the manner in which he disposed of the Native population.
In perhaps the greatest example of the Colonel’s hypocrisy he sold guns to the Natives in the colony, guns that could be used against colonists. He then raised an alarm in the colony, telling his friends and neighbors that he had seen evidence that the Indians were arming themselves with guns and needed to be vanquished. He condemned the Indians in the General Assembly for obtaining firearms and then took it upon himself to attack the very tribes he had armed. And he attacked without colonial government support. It was a corporate strategy designed to churn out profits. Sell weapons to both sides, encourage an armed conflict and sell more weapons. It was the beginning of the MICA, Military Industrial Complex of America and the start up phase for the National Rifle Association.
In 1651 he convinced the good people of Accomack County that the Pocomoke Indians to the north were a threat to colonial lives. On April 28, 1651, Scarburgh recruited over fifty men including Smith relatives John Robinson and Richard Bayly. He sold his storm troopers firearms if they needed and led a raid on the nearby village along the northern boundary of Accomack. Firing guns into the village, riding through on horseback, slashing wildly with sabers and long knives, the Scarburgh posse, led by the man himself; killed, maimed, mutilated and took prisoners. The settlers captured several of the Native villagers, bound them in chains and dragged them behind horseback through the settler’s Accomack village for further maiming and mutilation. Word of the senseless attack spread through all villages, both Indian and White. Tribal Nations came together in response to the tragedy and appeared ready for revenge. In May, Scarburgh and his men were called before the Colonial court to account for their actions. Only Scarburgh and his sidekick, Thomas Johnson, made the trip across the bay to James Cittie where they were prosecuted by two of the colonies big time lawyers: Thomas Yeardley and William Andrews. Andrews is found in the Whittington family tree. Virginians in James Cittie wanted to appease the restless Native population.
At least one historian doubted the veracity of Scarburgh’s story and his sorry excuse for bloodletting. The same historian suggested the Colonel was angry with the Pocomoke Indians. It was suspected that the tribe failed to make good on a deal with Scarburgh. In true Mafia fashion he collected on the debt. He was 350 years ahead of Whitey Bolger. Scarburgh’s accusers were hard pressed to build their case against a man who had met the requirements:
- Did he slaughter in the name of God? Yes.
- Were the Natives armed and pesky? Yes.
- Were they a threat? Yes.
It was the Colonel’s word against the Pocomoke, and he was white. While Scarburgh’s way of eliminating enemies was a little on the bloody side, everyone did feel a little safer, a little whiter and that was a good thing. He had dispersed the local tribes. The court determined that the raid was justified and necessary.
Not only was Scarburgh exonerated but he got a promotion. The Governor was now convinced that tribes along the border with Maryland were a menace. He was determined to raise a cavalry and authorized a call to action to defend the settlers on the Delmarva peninsula from attack. Who did the Governor charge with the mission of organizing the effort? Nathaniel Littleton. And who would lead the military into battle if necessary? the Colonel, Nathaniel’s brother-in-law. It helped to have connections.
The colonists were not completely hoodwinked by Scarburgh. On July 29, 1653 an order was issued from James Cittie for his arrest on the grounds that he was suspected of selling munitions and guns to the Indians. He was charged with treason and piracy and was forced to flee the colony for Maryland. In a little over a year, however, he was back in Virginia, and incredibly enough, quickly gained back everything he had lost and more. It helped that he had connections.
A story is handed down on the Eastern Shore that in 1671 Scarburgh called local Indians into his back yard for a great barbecue. He promised them that the Great Spirit would speak to them. The Indians dared not disobey. They assembled and enjoyed a feast that ended in a group photograph. “Watch this!” Edmund muttered to his concubine, Ann Toft. Two hundred Indians assembled in a small area and unwittingly looked into the face of a cannon that had been concealed nearby. Scarburgh fired on them at close range, killing and maiming the lot of them. In one night he decimated what little had remained of a peaceful people who had long been traumatized by the onslaught of white civilization and disease. That incident did not damage his reputation, for shortly thereafter, he was appointed Captain of the Occahannock militia. Another promotion. It helped that he had connections.
Colonel Scarburgh held a number of public positions during his lifetime and several at the same time. It was not so much a need to be a public servant that motivated him, rather his self serving need to make money in any humanly way possible. He wrote the book on graft and corruption long before Tammany Hall in New York ever organized. The guy was a morph of Machiaveilli and Mafia Don.
Scarburgh’s resume was found in the desk drawer of a Pizza Hut store manager in Occahannock Creek. It included the following:
RESUME OF COLONEL EDMUND SCARBURGH
Goal: To be the King of the Kingdom of Accawmacke
My Work Experience: I act as a lawyer, planter, surveyor, firearms dealer, cattle rancher, merchant, ship owner, Accawmacke Justice, and militia colonel. I had one of the earliest shoe factories, salt operations and malt plants in the county. I operate an extensive shipping business.
My dedication to Public Service is illustrated by the following:
- I was a vestryman as early as 1635.
- On October 9, 1651 I was appointed Captain of the military precinct which encompassed Occahannock Creek.
- I served in the House of Burgess in 1642 – 1672 with some time off in there.
- I served as Speaker of the House in 1645.
- In 1648 I was appointed collector of revenues for Northampton.
- I served as High Sheriff of Accawmacke County, Virginia, 1660-1661.
- In 1655 I was Surveyor General of the Colony of VA, a post I held until my death.
- In 1659 I was in command of the expedition against the Assateague Indians
- I served on the Governor’s Council.
- I am a fair and compassionate man. I employ Indians to herd my livestock.
- I was the King’s Collector of Quit Rents
Digging deeper into the desk drawer at Pizza Hut we found Scarborough’s cover letter as well.
COVER LETTER FOR COLONEL EDMUND SCARBOROUGH
Dear (Name goes here),
I am writing to tell you to hire me or else. My name is Colonel Edmond Scarburgh and I am applying for the vacancy in leadership that will occur in this county when my posse does what they have to do. I am a long time resident and have acquired tens of thousands of acres of land in Virginia and Maryland, specifically on the Delmarva peninsula.
I surveyed the border between the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the Eastern Shore of Virginia, the Calvert-Scarborough Line is mine. On one occasion, when I wanted my land in Maryland to be incorporated into Virginia, I simply used my authority and skills to move the border substantially northwards enough to keep my land holdings within our lovely colony of Virginia and satisfied my financial needs. I did so without consulting Maryland or Virginia authorities. Of course, I was instructed to correct the situation and I did. That’s when I drew the Calvert-Scaraborough line, demonstrating my capacity for being a team member and compliant citizen.
I maintain a lucrative monopoly for the manufacture of salt in Virginia and built the salt plant on South Island. I have my connections to thank for that and my posse. I have had similar success as a merchant and the owner of a small fleet of ships that traffic between Barbados and New Amsterdam. I love Barbados in the winter. I cooperate in the effort to find new homes for African folks.
I have demonstrated an ability to hold my own in any confrontation and usually come out the winner. Several examples include:
- I was an instigator of the Northampton Protest in 1651.
- I used my connections, including the King of England, to avoid serious repercussions when Governor Berkeley tried to enforce a court order requiring that I pay a substantial debt to a guy I really don’t like.
- When the Dutch captured one of my sea vessels, “Sea Horse,” I retaliated by capturing three Dutch ships. You really don’t want to mess with me.
- When public alarm was raised concerning my conduct I turned the tables and drew public attention to the sexual conduct of a local preacher.
I would really like to dominate the Eastern Shore and serve as your king. I would appreciate your support in my efforts.
In God’s Good Name,
Sir Edmund Colonel Scarburgh Esquire II of Magothy Bay, Son of Edmund, Son of Henry of North Walsham, Norfolk
Finally, there is the matter of Colonel Edmund Scarburgh’s view of marriage. Mary Littleton Scarburgh (1619-1691) and Edmund remained married throughout all of this. They were the parents of Charles, Tabitha (1645-), Matilda (1646-1729) and Edmund Jr (1647-1712) Scarburgh.
While married to our Great Aunt Mary, Edmund also made public his relationship with his mistress, the youthful hussey Ann Toft, a vivacious 17 year old girl with an ample resume. The Colonel set Toft up in the finest of homes, surrounded by the luxuries of life: gold and silver, jewells and fine furniture, servants and slaves; and acres of beautiful forested lands. It was said that he made her the wealthiest woman in Virginia. With Ann as his best buddy, Edmund fathered three more children. Alliteration was apparently something mother Ann Toft enjoyed, so her kids were named Annabella (1662-1721), Attalanta (1663-1691) and Arcadia (1669-1710). Ann Toft was a very well kept woman and set for life long after the Colonel died of smallpox in 1671. His death did not slow Toft down. There were other men, other sources of wealth to be conquered. She would go through a few more men before she died.
Great Aunt Mary Littleton Scarburgh apparently handled the matter with some dignity. I do not find her in any court records lamenting her husband’s conduct. Her last will and testament reveals that she was a wealthy woman, as was her adversary Ann Toft. Both Mary and Ann deserve a biography page separate from Scarburgh, so I will reserve additional information on separate pages.
Charging His Wife, Mary, with Being a Whore
This is the straw that breaks the heart. Two good people, his wife and Pastor Teackle, are destroyed in the Colonel’s legal efforts mounted in 1656. It is hard to make sense out of the following details. In fact, one has to begin thinking like Scarburgh in order to make sense out of this situation.
The Colonel was called upon to defend himself in a Northampton, VA court on May 28, 1656. The Reverend Thomas Teackle was tired of Scarburgh’s rant against the pastor’s good name. Scarburgh used gossip and public displays of outrage in an attempt to discredit the pastor and drive him out of the county. The historian, Ralph Whitelaw, points out that Teackle “enjoyed a long and effective ministry” until his good name was dragged through the Accomack mud. Scarburgh initiated rumors to the effect that Teackle had engaged in fornication with Edmund’s wife, Mary, and had tried to poison the Colonel. Tired of the gossip, Teackle prepared to leave the county under duress. The preacher was convinced by friends and neighbors, who were tired of Scarburgh, to stand up to the man before leaving, (not that many of them had mustered up the courage to ever go toe to toe with the Colonel). The Colonel never pressed charges in the court system, as one would be prone to do if an attempt had been made to poison one to death.
So the pastor filed charges and asked the court to give serious consideration to Scarburgh’s defamatory language and grant the pastor whatever reparations might be “found needful.” The County Commissioners ducked the feared Colonel and sent the matter to James Cittie for consideration. Realizing that he had not only accused Teackle but his wife as well, with fornication, Scarburgh
“declined the first charge of fornication for several reasons shown to the Court persuading to alter and better his opinion concerning his wife.”
There is no evidence found in the records of the General Court, indicating that the Governor and Council aired the case. It would appear the matter was dropped. On 25 June 1656, upon the petition of 35 of his parishioners of Nuswattocks Parish, the Court ruled that Thomas Teackle be pleased to officiate in his ministry having good reason to believe him to be of honest behavior since his residence in this country, which causes us to continue our good opinion notwithstanding the calumnious reproach cast up him.7
Why would a man throw such allegations out into the public spotlight, making his wife the talk of the town, basically accusing her at the age of 46 of playing cougar to the Reverend, age 27 and married?
One would have to think like the brilliant, but erratic, Col. Edmund Scarburgh in order to get at anything that would seem logical to his mind. It is interesting to note that it was in 1662 that the beautiful Ann Toft gave birth to the first of three children (Annabella) Edmund fathered out of wedlock. Attalanta would arrive in 1663 and Arcadia in 1669. It doesn’t appear by those birth dates that the Colonel was already seeing Toft in 1654, about the time he created the scandal involving his wife. Nor can one find evidence of any political gain or struggle that he faced with the pastor. Perhaps the pastor grated on his nerves, as did happen in the colonial church. Those whose wealth supported the church some times found it necessary to impose their will when it came time to select and maintain a preacher in the pulpit.
Two things seem possible: 1) he needed to gain sympathy in the public eye after several years of stirring up concerns in the public about his behavior or 2) he really did suspect the young pastor and his wife were ‘fornicating’ and plotting against him.
One matter of intrigue does remain: Mary is slighted in Edmund’s will and not given access to administrative rights regarding his will. This was unusual back in the day, as a widow was often named Executor of the Will or at least given access. Was Edmund convinced that Mary had betrayed him with the Preacher? Apparently his son by Mary, Charles, also scorned mother, as she leaves him nothing in her will. She points out that he had neglected her for decades.
Regarding the Claim that Scarborough Owned the Mayflower
Some folks say that the Colonel and Scarburgh clan owned the famous Mayflower. He did own a large fleet of trading vessels that sailed between New England, New Amsterdam, Accomack VA and the West Indies. His fleet included a ship by the name of Mayflower, but it was not the ship of our Plimouth Colony Pilgrims. And this is the talking point Scarburgh descendants love finding in their family tree. Descendants believe they have proof the Colonel owned the original Mayflower among the other ships he did own and operate. There is a picture of the Bill of Sale of a ‘Mayflower’ posted on the wall of a cozy study in Sumter, South Carolina. It is signed by Thomas H. James, Clerk, by Virginia Williams D’y Clerk.” and recorded in “Orders, Deeds, Wills, etc. No. 4, 1651-54, Northampton County at page 153….Folio 154.”
In 1652, Scarborough sold his seven ships (Deliverance, Mayflower, King David, Sea Horse, Holly Horse, Ann Clear, and Artillery) to William Burton of Boston. The sale came at the time that the Colonel was charged with treason. He was anticipating that he could very well be hung up to die. He even considered moving back to England. What became of the Pilgrim’s Mayflower is subject to debate. Captain Jones, an original shareholder and Captain of that ship, died in 1622 shortly after his return to England from the voyage to Plimouth. The Admirality Court in England ordered an appraisal of the original Mayflower for the purposes of settling the Captain’s estate. The appraisal by shipwrights of Rotherhithe, home of Captain Jones, evaluated the ship’s mechanical system, gears and equipment such as muskets and arms. The appraisal indicated the ship was in disrepair, having been idle in the backwater of the River Thames and no longer seaworthy.
Per Banks, an Englishman familiar with the history of the Pilgrim ship, claims this historic ship was finally deconstructed in a Rotherhithe shipbreaker’s yard decades before the Bill of Sale dated 1652. Banks believes the ship’s timbers were used in the 1624 construction of a barn and farm house at Jordans village in South Buckinghamshire, England. The so called ‘Mayflower Barn’ is a present-day tourist attraction. Americans in particular flock to the sight and picture the barn with sails coming off the roof and Pilgrims holding Bible study in the hayloft.
A second Mayflower (not the original) made the voyage from London to Plymouth Colony in 1629 carrying 35 additional Pilgrims from the Leiden Congregation. Ship manifests indicate this ship also made the crossing from England to America in 1630, 1633, 1634, and 1639. If the Colonel owned this ‘Mayflower’ he did not offer it for sale in 1654. In 1641, this Mayflower departed London in October of that year under master John Cole. The ship and 140 passengers bound for Virginia were never to be seen again. On October 18, 1642 a deposition was made in England claiming the loss of the ship at sea. It would appear that Scarborough did not own the original Mayflower. It would not be unlike the shyster to pose as the owner of the original Mayflower, but I’m not buying it!
- Col. John Wise of England and Virginia (1617-1695); Wise, Jennings Cropper, Virginia Historical Society (Film 0000593)
- Virginia Colonial Abstracts Vol XVIII, Accawmacke 1632-1637; abs Fleet, Beverley; Genealogical Publishing co, Baltimore MD, 1961 (Film 0908180)
- Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
- Adventurers of Purse and Person: Virginia 1607-1624/5; Dorman, John (Book 975.5 H2j) pp 540-550
- Wills and Administrations of Accomack County Virginia 1663 -1800
- Genealogy & Historie of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Cox, Barbara
- Edmund Scarborough, see Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia