The Passmore Chronicles; Part One by Susan Reynolds

The Passmore Chronicles; Part One
A scholarly paper on the legend of Thomas Passmore Carpenter
by Susan Reynolds

Jeanie's note: This fantastic paper was written by Susan Renyolds. She has happily let me repost it here in it's entirety. The work is solely hers. It's long, but well worth the read. It is broken into three parts, see the links at the bottom to continue reading part two and part three.

History, by its very nature, is variable, dependent upon the perspective and interpretation of the historian. Assuredly, there are fixed points in time that are not open to interpretation. We know, for instance the date of arrival of the first Jamestown colonists and the name of the ship bearing them to the new colony. However, even this can prove hazardous if the historian decides to convert dates to the current Gregorian calendar, disregarding the fact that Britain and her colonies did not make the conversion until 1752 fully 170 years after the initial calendar reform. A careless conversion can change both the month and the year of an event and considerably muddy the waters. This is far more likely to occur with amateur or inexperienced historians, the casual family historian, or journalists not acquainted with the change. Other detours in history may be traced to the lack of standardized spelling prior to about 1890 and the difficulty encountered while studying old documents with their beautiful but often misinterpreted penmanship. While the latter may be overcome with a good course in paleography, the former can easily try the patience of even the most dedicated researcher and lead to misinterpretation. 

This appears likely in the case of Thomas Pasmere (Pashmere) Carpenter, said to reside in Jamestown Colony and named by some as the father of the beloved Cherokee Amadoya “Moytoy”, the patriarch of the Cherokee family that bears his name, father and grandfather of great chiefs and leaders among the Cherokee. The problem appears when researchers swear Thomas Pasmere Carpenter existed and that researchers have proof of this – indeed, the whole of their tale - but steadfastly refuse to produce that proof and allow its examination and authentication even when confronted with proof to the contrary. Not only is this poor academic behavior and bad genealogy, but this refusal to produce the evidence smacks of deception and leads to an undocumented story passing into history as fact, when it is as yet merely a pretty story. As with genealogy, history without verifiable documentation is mythology.

The short biography of Thomas Pasmere Carpenter now rampant on the Internet and claimed by many amateur and family historians as fact - even by some museums and other normally credible institutions - is a bittersweet and lovely story. It is often posted from site to site without verification and probably cut and pasted - as I have done below, properly accredited and cited - rather than re-typed. After all, like the State Farm Insurance commercial mockingly says, it’s on the Internet and they can’t put it on the Internet if it isn’t true. Anyone with experience on the Internet, knows the truth – or lack thereof – of that statement. In any case, the story goes something like this:

  • THOMAS PASMERE CARPENTER , [aka] CORN PLANTER b 1607 in Plymouth, Devonshire, England. d 1675 in Running Water Village, Tennessee married PRIDE Shawnee in 1630 in Shawnee Nation, Virginia. b 1615 in Shawnee Nation, Va. d 1679 in Running Water Village, Tennessee. He was buried in The Great Mound, Nikwasi, Franklin, North Carolina.

  • THOMAS was well educated, but did not want to participate in the family business for other brothers and sisters were heavily involved. When but twenty years old, THOMAS departed Plymouth England bound for the lands across the sea, arriving in Jamestown Virginia late 1627. Because of his age, THOMAS could not apply for a land grant. THOMAS found a small, unoccupied cave a short distance from Jamestown. He brought many supplies with him unknowing the future, and what it would bring. He managed to live throughout the winter in the relative comfort afforded inside the naturally insulated home. By trial and error he learned many different trapping methods that first winter, and managed to process a moderate number of valuable furs. By 1630 THOMAS had taken to wife, PRIDE, a Shawnee woman about eight years younger. To their union two children were born that survived, a son named TRADER, and a daughter named PASMERE.

  • Immigration: 1627, Jamestown, Virginia. Name: THOMAS CARPENTER : -- Source Publication Code: 275 Annotation: Comprehensive listing of early immigrants, in various arrangements to assist the researcher. Pages 1-189 contain passenger lists; pages 193-295 are indexes. Source Bibliography: BANKS, CHARLES EDWARD. Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England, 1620-1650. Edited, indexed and published by Elijah Ellsworth Brownell. Philadelphia: Bertram Press, 1937. 295p. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1957. Repr. 1987.

  • Virginia Census: 1628, Jamestown, Virginia. THOMAS CARPENTER State: VA County: Virginia Colony Township: Virginia Year: 1607.

  • Virginia Land Lease: 20 Sep 1628, James City County, Virginia. Title Marshall, Robert : 10 acres within the island of James City adjoing the land of Mary Bayly, THOMAS PASMERE CARPENTER. Source: Land Office Patents No. 1, 1623-1643 (v.1 & 2), p. 92 (Reel 1). Virginia State Land Office. Patents 1-42, reels 1-41. ; Publication 20 September 1628.Subject - Personal Marshall, Robert. grantee. Bayly, Mary CARPENTER, THOMAS PASMERE.

  • Part of the index to the recorded copies of patents for land issued by the Secretary of the Colony serving as the colonial Land Office। The collection is housed in the Archives at the Library of Virginia. 

  • The "lease" granted to THOMAS PASMERE CARPENTER was abandoned when Carpenter went to live with the Indians mid 1628. The lease was then passed to Robert Marshall 20 September 1628. Source of Documentation . Jamestown Records, Virginia Archives, Virginia Land Grants. 

  • Fur Trade - Shipping Info: 1635. The CARPENTER family of Devonshire & Plymouth England was small sailing ship owners, many of which were leased out to the East India Trading Company, an affiliation dating to the formation of that company December 31, 1600. We have documented ownership of fifteen different ships owned by the CARPENTER family, those of which were involved with moving furs between the Gulf Ports & Glasgow, or Dublin, and trade goods for North America. These ships usually made stops both directions at Barbados where the family had banking connections set up. We have also proved THOMAS PASMERE, TRADER, and TRADER TOM CARPENTER made regular trips to Barbados, and on occasion to Glasglow, and Dublin aboard these ships. These ships were small and fast, often able to make the crossing from Scotland and Ireland in less than thirty days. They were shallow draft ships, capable of handling shallow water ports with ease. 

  • The first documented trip made by THOMAS PASMERE CARPENTER occurred April 1640, sailing from Maryland to Barbados aboard the Hopewell, and returning on the Crispian in September 1640. He made another trip in March 1659 departing Charleston South Carolina aboard the Barbados Merchant, returning on the Concord in August 1659. 

  • {Reynolds disclaimer: Text in BOLD above is claimed as follows: The following Quote – Was STOLEN From by wannabe Shawnee Liar Don Greene author of “Shawnee Heritage” et al in 2003 which, was and still is a Formal © Copyright ® Registered Trademark Website in Early 2003. By Jim White, author of the Legend of the Wolf three volume set. This is posted in the forum at the following website comment at 12:55pm 29 Oct 2012. There is possibly more of this story from this work on the Internet, but not deliberately so in this paper.] 

  • We have not validated these four ships were owned by the CARPENTER family. Ownership of the following ships documented as being owned by the CARPENTER family of Devonshire & Plymouth England: Dorcas 75 tonnes 1665-1671--- Flying Eagle 120 tonnes 1670-1677 --- Delight 100 tonnes 1678-1682--- Jonas Frigate 80 tonnes 1681-1686--- Tonqueen 130 tonnes 1681-94--- Emerald 103 tonnes 1685-1692--- Pearl 80 tonnes 1685-1694--- Mocha Frigate 150 tonnes 1694-1706--- Sedgwick 100 tonnes 1696-1711--- Advice Frigate 130 tonnes 1700-1702--- Success 180 tonnes 1710-1716--- Arabia Merchant 140 tonnes 1701-1708--- Hester 250 tonnes 1710-1715--- Indian Frigate 130 tonnes 1705-1721--- Goodfellow 140 tonnes 1720-1727--- 

  • Chronology: 1674, Running Water Village, Tennessee. Chronology: Tennessee, Running Water Village. THOMAS PASMERE CARPENTER was an early immigrant to Jamestown Virginia, and was awarded a 10-acre lease in Jamestown City County early 1628. By 20 September 1628, he had abandoned the lease when it was re-granted to Robert Marshall. THOMAS PASMERE CARPENTER was then 21 years old. THOMAS PASMERE CARPENTER had left Jamestown to live with the Indians, and married a Shawnee woman by 1630 at age 23. He had one son who survived ...

  • TRADER CARPENTER b. 1635, who along with his wife and father's family was driven out of the Virginia area to an area further south by the Iroquois 1660. The Cherokee allowed one group of Shawnee to locate in South Carolina to act as a buffer between the Cherokee and Catawba. At this precise time the Cherokee were known to have at least 63 independent "towns." The Carpenter group were told by the Cherokee leaders they could move deeper into the Cumberland Basin of Tennessee where the Shawnee settled and began building villages. 

  • The first village built by THOMAS and TRADER CARPENTER was Running Water ... The erudite CARPENTERS were master traders and soon had a thriving business trading with all Natives without any problems, they were respected and trusted members of local tribal societies. They regularly transported furs to the Natural Shallow ports located at rivers ending in the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama and Georgia for export, in return providing much needed supplies to the Natives. They had established banking connections in Barbados, and in London.  

  • THOMAS PASMERE CARPENTER died at Running Water Village about 1675, and had two children that we know about, TRADER CARPENTER, and PASMERE CARPENTER. PASMERE married the grandfather of CORNSTALK HOKOLESQUA (Shawnee) about 1660. CORNSTALK'S father, AKULUSSKA married Shawnee Woman about 1681. TRADER CARPENTER had several sons and daughters, but we have not been able to document but one, a son by name TRADER TOM CARPENTER b. about 1660. [1] 
The story then goes on: 

  • Amatoya [Trader Carpenter by inference] was taught by his father to “witch” for water with a willow stick. He had become so adept at water witching that the Cherokee called him "water conjurer" or Ama Matai (Ama is Cherokee for water). Ama Matai eventually became pronounced as Amatoya. It was later shortened to “Moytoy”, so he is known as Moytoy I. He ruled the town of Chota sometime between the beginning of the eighteenth century and 1730...In 1680, Amatoya married Quatsie of Tellico. Many of their descendants went on to become prominent leaders, founding a family that effectively ruled the Cherokee for a century.[2] 
To the casual reader, the material above appears well-documented and factual. A genealogy usually follows in the distinct, albeit odd and confusing, genealogical format of Don Greene from his Shawnee Heritage works. This somewhat muddled and not overly well-presented tale has a large and widening following and presents as legitimate, inviting the reader to accept it at face value simply due to its popularity and well-documented appearance. Some variations on the story exist, such as the Carpenters’ origins as noble Normans, despite the fact that two minutes’ research shows no documented, verifiable lineage for Vicomte Guillaume de Melun le Carpentier and no firm evidence he produced any descendants. [3] So, what DOES the historical record contain regarding Thomas Pasmere Carpenter? To date, I cannot find even ONE hard record of his existence. Let us examine the story. 

The records of Jamestown show no man surnamed Carpenter, let alone a Thomas Pasmere Carpenter. Please note that few people possessed a middle name in this period, or at least one that was part of the historical record, and fewer still used that name routinely. Only one name appears remotely close, that of Thomas Pasmore (spelled variously Pasmore, Pasmour, Pasmoure and hereafter Passmore unless quoting a document or source), a carpenter by trade. In fact, this Thomas Passmore owned the land adjoining Marshall, supposedly abandoned by Carpenter in the account above.

Note that in the Thomas Pasmere Carpenter story the author presents THREE variations of the land story. First, that Robert Marshall's 10 acres adjoined that of Mary Bayly and Thomas Pasmere Carpenter. Next, Carpenter abandoned the lease and went to live with the Indians in mid-1628 and the lease passed to Robert Marshall on 20 September 1628. Last, Carpenter received his lease early in 1628 but by 20 September 1628 he abandoned the lease and Marshall received it. He received and abandoned his land at age 21 and married a Shawnee woman by age 23.

The 10-acre lease to Robert Marshall provides the key that unlocks Thomas Pasmere Carpenter’s name. The grant does not say what the story purports it to say, mentioning absolutely nothing about the land previously belonging to Carpenter who abandoned it. One might make a case for the name Thomas Pasmere Carpenter. The land grant contains no punctuation – common in those times – and unlike many residents, rather than his trade beginning with a lower case “c” Passmore’s begins with a capital letter. Additionally, it takes very close examination to determine whether the name reads Pasmore or Pasmere, but a careful review reveals Pasmore, although Pasmere appears as an acceptable variation in the English records. A copy of the grant appears below. The practice of writing documents in the Latin manner with no punctuation created the name of Thomas Pasmere Carpenter and brought to life a mythical man. One must examine other documents for verification.

The document reads: “Robert Marshall planter forwards of land ??? to and lying on the Island of James Citty and abutting Westerly on the land of Mary Bayly Easterly on the land of Thomas Pasmore Carpenter Southerly to the highway adjoining to the Marshes of Goose hill.”[4] The Library of Virginia indexed this document with the names Robert Marshall, Mary Bayly and the misinterpreted Thomas Pasmere Carpenter in an on-line index copyrighted 2005.5 See card below. It may also appear as such in the state land publications and in the written copy of the library’s catalog, but this proceeds from an incorrect reading due to lack of punctuation. Copy provided courtesy of the Library of Virginia, viewable and downloadable here:;file_name=find-b-clas30andamp;local_base=CLAS30. Search on Marshall Robert, click first return, 1628 link.



The search for the kernel of truth in any story, especially a tiny kernel easily overlooked, often takes some unusual turns. In this case, I stumbled upon the answer while searching the land records my own 10th great grandfather, William Claiborne, generated. Claiborne, Jamestown’s first official surveyor, arrived in the colony in 1621 aboard the George with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the new governor.[6]  In 1624, Claiborne signed the grant to Thomas Passmore for a 12-acre lease in James City. All other Jamestown records of Thomas Passmore style him as Thomas Passmore, carpenter of Jamestown or a carpenter of Jamestown, Thomas Passmore, as illustrated by Passmore’s own 1624 grant, below, again courtesy of the Library of Virginia and viewable here:;file_name=find-b-clas30andamp;local_base=CLAS30. Search for Passmore Thomas. 

The grant reads in part, “gives and grants unto Thomas Passmore of James City Carpenter and to his heires and assignes forever twelve acres of ground lying and boring no[r]th in the Gelands[?] of James Citty and abutting aftward upon the bounds of Mary Holland.”[7] One should note the date of this grant: 14 August 1624. This predates the supposed arrival of Thomas Pasmere Carpenter by at least 3 years and indicates Passmore had standing as a freeman as well as an Ancient Planter.[ 8]

The convention of the time denoted a man’s status by appending his profession or occupation to his name. Interestingly, no one misread Marshall’s name as Robert Marshall Planter, presumably because his occupation lacks capitalizing. No one who ascribes to the Carpenter story has taken notice, or perhaps some have chosen to disregard that inconvenient piece of evidence. 

What about birth records and records of his parents? Those researchers who claim parents for Thomas Carpenter usually list them as Robert Carpenter born about 1578 and Susan Jeffry born about 1579 both at Plymouth, Devonshire, showing Susan’s parents as John Jeffrey and Joanne Pasmere of Arlington, Devonshire (married Barnstaple 1577) and Robert’s parents as Thomas Carpenter and Ann Stroud of Barnstaple (married St. Andrews 1576).[9] An entry in the Barnstaple Parish Registers (PRs) exists for a Johan Passemore’s marriage but to Water (Walter?) Wylkye on 2 May 1562. No marriage appears in the parish registers of Barnstaple for a Joanne Pasmere and John Jeffrey 5 Feb 1577 (see pages below).[10]

I have personally trawled through the existing registers and a transcription of the Barnstaple registers and this record does not appear. Can someone please show me a copy? This does not preclude the possibility that the records could have been lost or destroyed, however this is unlikely given the existence of other records in the registers in 1577. Perhaps, although unlikely, the reference comes from the Barnstaple Bishop’s Transcrpts (BTs). Joanne could certainly have been widowed and remarried but the fact remains there is no marriage of a John Jeffrey in this year in this register and no burial record for a Water or Walter Wylkye until 1610, but this may have been the Water Wylkie born in the 1580s, not Johan’s husband.




There is a Suzan Jefrye baptized 16 Jan 1572 North Molton, Devonshire whose father is listed as John [11] (mothers were not often noted in those times), although it is not at all certain this is the correct Suzan as her birth place is usually given as Plymouth. Barnstaple and North Molton, while in close proximity to each other, are distant from Plymouth - on the opposite side of the county.

Link to part two

Link to part three

Inline citations:

[1] "Cornplanter Descendent's and Biographies," Nativ American Indian and Melungeon Hstory -Genealogy, April 13, 2008, accessed July 3, 2013,

[2] Sharon Starr"A Indian Trail from Amatoya Moytoy to My Mother," The James Scrolls, March 26 2009, accessed 5 July 2016,

[3] Ibid

[4] Land Grant for Robert Marshall, 20 September 1628, in "Online Catalog," Library of Virginia, accessed 10 September 2010,;file_name-b-clas30andamp;local_base=cla30

[5] ibid., index card.

[6] "William Claiborn," Jamestown Society, 5 November 2005, accessed 26 May 2016, 

[7] Land Grant for Robert Marshall, 20 September 1628, in "Online Catalog," Library of Virginia, accessed 10 September 2010,;file_name-b-clas30andamp;local_base=clas30.

[8] Land Grant for Thomas Pasmore, 14 September 1624, in "Online Catalog," Library of Virginia, accessed 10 September 2010,;file_name-b-clas30andamp;local_base=clas30.

[9] "Thomas (pasmore) Carpenter B. 1607 D. 1675," Rodovid, December 5, 2011,

[10] Thomas Wainwright, ed. Barnstable Parish Register of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1538-1812, (Exeter, England: James G. Commin, 1903)4-9.

[11]Church of England, "Devon Baptisms, Parish Register, 1539-1850, Parish Church of North Molton, Find My Past, accessed June 5, 2016,

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