Unity 'Urusla' Pawomeke Powhatan (1610-1645)

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Native American genealogy is not easy, and it is made more difficult because of all the blatantly false information that has been published on the web. Some of this false genealogy has been written by shysters out to make a buck, some of it is written by people desperate to make a connection to an Indian Tribe, a lot of it is garbled copies of these genealogies bent and twisted to make ends meet. I see this stuff on ancestry, on wikitree, on message boards, Facebook. and other blogs. All I can offer in the form of advice is to proceed with caution and ask for documented proof of any of these claims. Because after all, genealogy is based on documents and artifacts which can substantiate the claim. Genealogy without proof is called fiction. 

ursuala 'unity' powhatan
I first saw this name on a Facebook pages forum. Someone was trying to trace her ancestry back to Wahunsenacawh Powhatan (the father of Pocahontas). A helpful person produced the lineage for her, as follows:

Ursula Unity Pawomeke Powhatan (1610 - 1646)
daughter of Japasaw Oppasus The Great Chief Patawomeke Powhatan
Unity Croshaw (1632 - 1689)
daughter of Ursula Unity Pawomeke Powhatan
Anne West (1660 - 1708)
daughter of Unity Croshaw
Jane Fox (1675 - 1750)
daughter of Anne West
Jane Tunstall
daughter of Jane Fox 
etc. etc. 

This style of lineage is difficult to follow at first but basically the oldest person is the second one, Japasaw. He was the father of Ursula. She had a daughter named Unity Crowshaw, who had a daughter named Anne West....and so on. So, the question is, can this be true. Was there really an Indian girl, born in Virginia in 1610, who was given the name Ursula Unity?

When the English arrived in Virginia in 1607 they immediately set out to explore the area and encountered many Indian tribes. Most of the tribes in the around Jamestown were part of a confederacy under the control of the paramount chief known as Powhatan. Each tribe, though, had it's own leader or werowance. One of these tribes was called the Patawomeck, which the English pronounced Potomac. They called the leader "the Great Chief of the Patawomeck." The Chief had a older brother named Japasaw who the English called "The lessor Chief of Passapatanzy." His name is also spelled Iopassus. Japasaw is also said to have had a younger brother named Kocoum who married Pocahontas.

Japasaw was first recorded by by the English when he described his religion and gods to Samuel Argyll. What Japasaw is best known for was his part in the kidnapping of Pocahontas by the English in 1613. Japasaw was said to be married to one of Pocahontas' sisters. She, Pocahontas, was visiting the village on a trade mission, sent by her father, Chief Powhatan. Japasaw and his wife lured Pocahontas aboard an English ship and the rest is history. 

Japasaw is said to have had two wives. Neither can be positively identified. One is said to be Kaokee, a daughter of Powhatan. The other is thought to be Paupauwiske. His only child that can be identified, Wahanganoche, would eventually assume leadership of the Patawomeck people. No mention is made in any contemporary record of Japasaw having a daughter named Ursula Unity born about 1610. Any why would he? There is no record of Powhatan Indians giving their children English names. 

Japasaw, the lesser chief of the Patawomeck may not have had a daughter named Ursula, but there was a woman in Virginia with the name Unity who is also known as Ursula. She was the daughter of Joseph Crowshaw of Bruton Parish. Joseph was the son of Raleigh Croshaw, a member of the London Company, who arrived in Virginia in the second supply ship, The Mary Margaret, in 1608. In 1623 the London Company was dissolved and Virginia fell under the control of the Crown. 

Raleigh was issued a patent for his land by the new Crown government. He was called an ancient planter who had been in Virginia for 15 years. The patent also said that he had brought over his wife, a servant, and had put twenty five pounds into the venture of the London Company. Raleigh's name, in it's various spellings, is found in the early records of Jamestown and the colony. You know whose name is never mentioned, his wife's. As far as I know, the name of Mrs. Raleigh Croshaw is unknown. 

joseph crowshaw
I'll start first with what we do not know about Joseph. We don't know his birth year, we don't know his birthplace and we do not know when he arrived in Virginia, if he was not born in the colony. His father, who is only assumed but not proved to be his father, was dead by the end of 1624. On 24 January 1624/25 the Colony leaders took a census of every living soul in their jurisdiction. No Croshaw was recorded in Virginia at that time. So, where was Joseph?

On most internet sites Joseph is said to have been born in 1610 in Elizabeth City. This seems highly unlikely to me. I think, and this in only my guess among many, is that he was born in England prior to his father's coming to Virginia. He may have come over with his mother or possibly after his father's death in 1624. Joseph was recorded as receiving his first land grant in 1638. He married multiple times. The name of his first wife is unknown; she is said to be the mother of all/most of his children.

Just as we have no idea the birth date of Joseph, we have no idea when Unity was born. Usually in this case, we can estimate her birth year by the date of her marriage. In around 1664 she married John West, so she could have been born anytime after 1646. But, other researchers contend that she was first married to Robert Blackwell in 1645. This would put her birth around 1627 or earlier, pushing back the birth of her father in the bargain.

The information on which these first marriage is made is a deed dated 10 December 1668. The grantees are James and Robert Blackwell and the grantor was Major Croshaw. The belief is that he was deeding some of his land to his grandsons. 

what about ursula
Other than other researchers claiming her name was Ursula, I can find no mention of that name. In fact most of what is written about her says that her name was Unity. In fact she jointly issued a deed of land using the name Unity.

back to the top
So having scoured records looking for any sign of an Indian liaison, I can find nothing. Did Raleigh Croshaw have an Indian wife? How could he when he had an English one in England who came over in 1620. Could Joseph Croshaw have been bi-racial? I doubt it. We all know about the public relations marriage of Pocohantas and John Rolfe, but there were relatively few mixed marriages. The Indian women, it seems, were disinclined to marry white men. 

In the end, though, basic genealogy calls for proof. We can't even prove Joseph was son of Raleigh Croshaw, never mind that he was the son of an Indian woman. I think Unity Ursula Pawomeke Powhatan is a fantasy on the grandest scale. 

questions/ comments welcome
be polite and cite your sources


Kenneth Vance Graves, "Thomas Graves of Virginia," The Graves Family Newsletter by the Graves Family Association, Vol. 18 no. 105 (June 1995); 52, digital images, The Graves Family Association (https:www.gravesfa.org : accessed 6 March 2016).

"Jamestown 1624/5 Muster Records," database, Virtual Jamestown (www.virtualjamestown.org/Muster/muster24.html : accessed 5 March 2016), no entry found for Croshaw.

Mark Mondt, "Blackwell-Mondt Ancestry: Information about Ursula Unity (Croshaw) Crenshaw," Blackwell-Mondt Ancestry 

Nell Marion Nugent, "Cavaliers and pioneers; abstracts of Virginia land patents and grants, 1623-1800," (Richmond: Press of the Dietz Print Co., 1934) 2.

Catherine Clinton, Michele Gillespie, The Devil's Lane: Sex and Race in the Early South, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997) 125.


  1. I have recently found that my Freeman line goes back to Joseph and Raleigh Croshaw. I have also done DNA testing to find that I have.2 percent American Indian in my blood. Is there a place to have ancestors compare DNA findings? I'm not sure if the two given facts are just coincidences. But, .2% could go back to 1700 or earlier.

  2. My Bellomy/Bellamy/Bellame/Bellème/Blois line intersects directly with the Graves/Croshaw lineage. While reading a book recently which mentions parishioners of Bruton Parish church in Williamsburg, I found that I not only have gg (x N ) grandparents that worshiped there, but that many of my "acquaintances" - friends - in life are connected to me by blood. Small wonder that every time I attend Christmas Eve services in that beautiful edifice, I feel such a closeness; an unexplainable comfort and familiarity with both the building, and its friendly congregation. I think I understand, now.

    1. Pews 12 and 16 have Graves/Crowshaws buried under them. I descend from Capt. Thomas Graves and his wife Katherine Crowshaw's daughter Anne.

  3. There is no doubt in my mind that Captain Raleigh (Rawley) Croshaw married a Patawomeck woman.


    He lived with them. His alleged wife, "Ursula Daniels," does not exist in history ANYWHERE. She only exists in the minds of poorly informed people who have not read the passenger lists of the Bona Nova (which allegedly brought her to the Virginia). She does not exist at all—except on genealogical websites that are filled with errors.

    Whether her name was Rachel, or Unity Ursula—I have not that answer yet. But there is no Englishwoman who married Captain Raleigh Croshaw, who lived for years with the Pamunkey. Not a trace. She is fiction.

    He married a child of the people who were already there when he arrived on the boat of Second Settlers.

    I defy anyone to prove that "Ursula Daniels" existed in Jamestown, much less had children with Raleigh. And since Joseph, Raleigh's son, is known to have married "Rachel" Powhatan, it seems not at all unlikely that he took a page from his father's book.


    1. Tana, Thank you for reading and commenting on my article. I would like to make a few rebuttal comments to your statements.
      1. Raleigh Croshaw claimed a headright patent in 1623 for bring over his wife and a servant. Because of this claim, I think it's clear that there was a wife. What ship she might have arrived on is not pertinent to the fact that she existed.
      2. You claim she does not exist because we cannot document her existence. Yet you make claims about people that also fall into the same boat. Where is the documentary evidence that Joseph was son of Raleigh, he could have easily been his nephew or cousin. What documentary evidence do you have the Raleigh Croshaw "lived for years with the Paumunkey. And I "defy" you to provide evidence that Rachel Powhatan existed and married Joseph Croshaw.
      3. You appear to have an agenda. Your reseach is highly biased. You dismiss the existence of an English wife because it doesn't fit your story.
      Before you sling arrows at "poorly informed people" maybe you should make sure that your information can withstand the same scrutiny.

    2. I think Tana may be confusing Cornelius Dabney and his alleged Pamonkey wife "Susannah" story with this one. Dabney was an interpreter for Queen Cockacoeske and was rumored to take a relative of Cockacoeske as a wife after his first wife died. Some of the renditions even state that the Queen herself was his wife. That lineage is another genealogy nightmare.

  4. I wonder if there might be some confusion in the above mention ancestral lines with Anne West. I have read about an Anne west daughter of John West and Unity Chroshaw. This John West is supposed to have left his wife for the Pamunkey Queen Cockacoeske and had at least one child a son also named John West (same as his elder son with his legal wife) There is supposed to be some documentation of Queen Cockacoeske at a Council meeting in Jamestown 1676 with her son John West present.

    1. Thank you for your comments. This explains why tracing my ancestry through the Wests and Chroshaws is all over the place. Unity Chroshaw, I read somewhere, has gone down in history as a "shrew." I've also read that one of Pamunkey Queen Cockacoeske's husbands was white and had to choose who to fight for, the Englishers or the Indian Confederacy. I believe he chose sides with the English colonists.

    2. Charity The Wests are my relatives too when I added queen Cokacoeske as West's wife and for me she was listed as wife of John West but when I added Unity Croshaw she was my 7 times great grandmother. I used Ancestry.com to research my family tree if you were wondering where I found this information.

  5. Did Jane Fox also marry Richard Johns? And had a daughter named Elizabeth who married John Gabriel Adams?

  6. Throw me a bone here people.... I am at my wits end with all these crazy circles with the West.... Crowshaw.... Pamunkey.... I would love to talk to someone with some clear simple info....
    Cheers.... Cheree West

  7. Unfortunately I have no wonderful PROOF to put this to bed, but I can tell you that before I learned of this dispute, for generations my family has passed down stories of a great indian in our family. I recently started doing research in ancestry and was disheartened until I started working on my 4th and final grandparent's genealogy. Her tree led me to my 15th GG Raleigh. The stories I heard from my grandma talked about an indian named "Running Water." Far too close to "Running Stream" to be coincidence don't you think? Good chance we may never know, but I'm going to choose to believe the story. :)


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