Thomas Pasmere Carpenter and the Carpenter Ship Owning Family of Plymouth, Devon, England

I am facinated by the story, or shall we call it 'legend' of Thomas Pasmere Carpenter of Plymouth England to Colonial Virginia.  This man abandoned a life of luxury as a member of a wealthy shipping family in Plymouth, England to become the progenitor of practically the entire Cherokee Nation. His descendants include Moytoy, Great Eagle, Atakullakulla, Conastota, Doublehead and Dragging Canoe. This story is found all over the internet and is included in many books printed in the internet age. Is it true? Are the claims made about Thomas Pasmere Carpenter provable? Let's find out.

the shipping family of plymouth
The following is copied from a blog called Morningstaz.blogspot. It was posted in 2008. 

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.......

So let's start here. A shipping family that owned 15 ships which they leased to the East India Company (the wording Trading is not part of their name). Right off the bat I have to say that the ships leased to the East India Company were not "small sailing ships." These were large merchant ships capable of sailing to China and India. They may not have been the largest of the East Indian ships which were up to 1200 tonnes, but they were still significant ships capable of sailing around the world. 

The writer says there is documented proof of these ships. They go one to actually list the ship names which I am including  below:

Dorcas 75 tonnes 1665-1671--- made 2 voyages for EIC, owners unknown
Flying Eagle 120 tonnes 1670-1677 --- made 1 voyage for EIC, owner unknown
Delight 100 tonnes 1678-1682--- made 1 EIC voyage, owner unknown
Jonas Frigate 80 tonnes 1681-1686--- made 1 EIC voyage, owner unknown
Tonqueen(Tonquin) 130 tonnes 1681-94--- no voyage for EIC
Emerald 103 tonnes 1685-1692--- made 1 EIC voyage, owner unknown
Pearl 80 tonnes 1685-1694--- 1 voyage, owner unknown
Mocha Frigate 150 tonnes 1694-1706--- made 1 EIC voyage, may have been the Pirate Ship captained by Robert Culliford
Sedgwick 100 tonnes 1696-1711--- 1 EIC voyage, owner unknown
Advice Frigate 130 tonnes 1700-1702--- Owner Unknown
Success 180 tonnes 1710-1716--- 2 voyages, owners unknown, *lost at sea in 1716 [2]
Arabia Merchant 140 tonnes 1701-1708--- built in 1701 owner: Joseph Marks
Hester 250 tonnes 1710-1715--- 3 voyages, owner unknown
Indian Frigate 130 tonnes 1705-1721--- known as the Indian (not frigate) 1 voyage, owner unknown
Goodfellow 140 tonnes 1720-1727---1 voyage owner unknown [3]

These ships names are pulled off a website called Ships of the East Indian Company. Only one ship has an identified owner, the Arabia Merchant and it's owner was not a Carpenter. The Mocha Frigate may have been and EIC ship that was captured by pirates and was captained by Robert Culliford. If all these ships were owned by one family, The Carpenters, why is it that current researchers cannot confirm this information. How could one family own all these ships and leave no documentation behind. 

Even more important: why are there no ships listed from the time of Thomas Pasmere Carpenter? All these ships came into service after 1665.   This would be long after the death of his father. If the Carpenters were already an established shipping family in 1607, when Thomas was supposedly born, where are those ships?

Let's say for the sake of arguement, the family did own a lot of ships. Building and or buying a merchant ship was expensive. Typically a rich man would buy a share in a ship, say 1/16 or 1/32 share. Why? One it cost alot of money and two, if the ship sank, like the Success did in 1716, you only lost your share in the ship, not the total loss of the entire ship. Outright ship owning was only for the very, very rich. [4]

If the Carpenter family outright owned these 15 ships, they would have been fanstically wealthy. If the they owned partial shares in the 15 ships, they still have been fantastically wealthy. So, why are there no records for these amazing rich Carpenters. There are no wills, no city records, no lands, no houses, nothing. Why have we never heard of them? 

more from morningstarz
The morningstarz narrative contines with this about the 15 ships:

 ........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. 

Moving furs between the Gulf Ports and Glasgow or Dublin. What does this mean? What is being refered to by the "Gulf Ports?" Is this the Gulf of Mexico, the Arabian Gulf, there are dozens of gulfs around the world. So we know that the major ports for the shipping of furs in the 17th century were the North American seaports, like Boston and New York. [5] None of these port are Gulf Ports they are Atlantic Sea ports. No furs came out of the Gulf of Mexico ports so what is the author talking about? I have no clue.

And why Glasgow and Dulin. Most of the fur trade was routed through London. Most goods transport to the American Colonies left from English port, predominantly London. Why would they be delivering furs to Scotland and Ireland? This part of the narrative makes little sense.

Next the author speaks of stops in Barbados where the family has banking connections. Why did the ships stop on their way from England (or Glasgow or Dublin)? Barbados was an English Colony beginning in 1625. It first exported tobacco, but sugar took over as it's chief export. This part of the story is believable in that ships did stop to deliver goods and immigrants as well as take on cargo for export. 
Thomas in Barbados, and Galsgow and Dublin

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 port of Glasgow (called Port Glasgow) was built in 1665 down river from the town of Glasgow. It was created to handle the larger ships that were being built. Barbados was also a deep port, but what this has to do with the story of the Carpenter's I don't know. On to the next bit.

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.

Documented trip. Another claim of documentation. This time we're told that Thomas was a passenger aboard the Hopewell in April of 1640 travelling from Maryland to Barbados. He returns on the Crispian in September. Why is he going to Barbados, the author told us earlier that, "Thomas was well educated, but did not want to participate in the family business for other brothers and sisters were heavily involved."
By 1640 he's running around Virginia married to a Shawnee and having Cherokee children. What is he doing going to Barbados?

In March of 1659 the Barbados Merchant was on its way back to England from the Cape of Good Hope, Capetown South Africa. This ship had one voyage for the East India Company. The Master of the ship was Captain Charles Wylde, it left London in 1659 and ended in 1661. [6] The Concord was not used by the EIC until 1660, there are no records for this ship.

The story of the ship owning Carpenter family of Plymouth is nothing more that made up nonsense. There is not one verifiable fact to be found in the entire story.

Debunking the Thomas Pasmere Carpenter Story

[1] Morningstaz blog on Thomas Pasmere Carpenter information from this blog was found on 5 July 2017.

[2] Charles Horatio Hardy, A Register of Ships, Employed in the Service of the Honorable the United East India Company, (London: Black, Perry and Kingsbury, 1811).

[4] Peter Earle, The Making on the English Middle Class, Business, Society, and Family Life, (Berkley: University of California Press, 1989).

[5] as of 5 July 2017.

[6] H. C. V. Liebrandt, Precis of the Archives of the Cape of Good Hope, Volume 13, (Cape Town: W. A. Richards and Sons, 1900) 94. 

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