If you are unsure and decide to read it, and then you think your head will explode, I have provided photos of my Daylilys to rest your eyes until you recover enough to close the page.
You might also want to read this blogpost on Cleopatra when you're done. Or this blogpost on Trader Hughes. There is also this post on Rice/Reese/Rhys Hughes.
Princess Nicketti is in dozens of trees on Ancestry.com as well as websites and blogs like this. She was the niece of Pocohantas and married a "white man" named Trader Hughes. Some trees even include the names of her parents. When I told my husband that he was related to an Indian Princess he looked at me like I was a nut job, and in that moment I realized he was right. Now don't get me wrong, I would be happy to have some Indian genes, to help breakup my seemingly 100% European ancestry. So I decided to see what I could find out about the Princess.
I searched both literature and the web for proof of Nicketti's existence and guess what, I could not find one documented fact about her or her life. Is she only a figment of someone's, and now a lot of someones, imagination? The problem is that hundreds of people are happily passing on this undocumented ancestor and hundreds more are adding her to their trees everyday. Before long, fiction becomes fact and it becomes harder and harder to correct, hence the headache for those who really want an authentic tree.
Genealogy is a science, and like all sciences it is based on provable, documented facts. If you are interested in genealogy you cannot include Nicketti in your family tree because there is no possible way to verify her existence. If all you are interested in is family history and lore, that's another thing altogether. I think it is a great story. But the story has crossed over into a genre known as "faction". A bare bones legend is suddenly dressed up with unverifiable if not downright unproven facts. I guess I really take issue with all those people out there who have added specific dates and places to people who may or may not have existed.
Does this mean that the Cabells and the Floyds and all the other who claim her as their ancestor did not have a ancestor who was Native American, of course not. With so much oral history it would be hard to believe that they did not have a white/Native marriage in their tree. But, can they say for certain that the woman in question was the daughter of Opechancanough, not they cannot.
"Opechancanough, the celebrated chief of the Powhatans, who was brutally murdered, while a prisoner, in 1644, left a lovely young daughter, the child of his old age, the Princess Nicketti —' she sweeps the dew from the flowers.' Some years after this graceful Indian maiden had reached the years of mature womanhood, a member [the name is not given) of one of the old Cavalier families of Virginia 'fell in love with her and she with him,'and the result was a clandestine marriage, and a half-breed Indian girl who married about the year 1680 a Welshman (others say a native of Devonshire, England,) named Nathaniel Davis, an Indian trader, and, according to some accounts, a Quaker; and from this alliance many notable people in the East and in the West have descended. Their daughter, Mary Davis (born about 1685), married Samuel Burks of Hanover (the ancestorsof the Burks family of Virginia), and their daughter, Elizabeth Burks, married Capt. William Cabell, the ancestor of the Cabells; Martha Davis, another daughter, married Abraham Venable, the ancestor of the Venables. Robert Davis, Sr., a son (the ancestor of 'the black Davises' of Kentucky, and from whom Jefferson Davis descended), had a daughter, Abadiah (or Abigail) Davis, who married William Floyd, the ancestor of the Floyds of Virginia and of the West. A daughter, or granddaughter, of the Quaker, married Gen'l Evan Shelby of Maryland, the ancestor of the Shelbys of the West. Samuel and Philip Davis of the Blue Mountains were sons, and there may have been other sons and daughters. From this narrative we get the following information:
- Princess Nicketti is the daughter of Opechanough
- No mothers name is mentioned
- Nicketti had to have been born prior to 1644, the year of her fathers death and the narrative says her father left a lovely young girl, not infant or baby, so many she was born even prior to 1634
- Nicketti married a son of an old Cavalier family of Virginia, not Trader Hughes
- The marriage results in the birth of one child a "half breed" daughter, unnamed
- Unnamed daughter marries in 1680 a Welshman/Englishman named Nathaniel Davis, he is an Indian trader
- Unnamed daughter and Nathaniel Davis have a daughter, b. 1685, named Mary Davis who marries Samuel Burkes.
- Unnamed daughter and Nathaniel Davis have daughter Martha who married Abraham Venable
- Unnamed daughter and Nathaniel have son Robert Davis who has a daughter Abadiah, she marries William Floyd
- Unnamed daughter and Nathaniel also have sons Samuel and Phillip.
- Unnamed daughter and Nathaniel have unnamed daughter or granddaughter who marries into the Shelby family.
- William Floyd married Abadiah Davis, daughter of Welshman Nathaniel Davis. Her mother is 1/2 Indian. Her grandmother was Princess Nicketti the granddaughter of Powhatan, her unknown mother, married a minor chief of the Cayuga tribe.
- Nicketti married a noted hunter trader of Scottish origin. They lived near Balcony Falls of James River, here Nathaniel Davis met and married a woman who was the daughter of Nicketti and Trader Hughes.
- Many years later the family denies Indian ancestry. The cause of their denial was the Native American warrior Cornstalk who fought in the battle of Point Pleasant. Captives told the settlers that he, Cornstalk, was a descendant of Powhatan, thereby, apparently putting off their ancestry linked to said Powhatan and through him the dreadful Cornstalk.
- The states that he found the petition from Thomas Rolfe to Cleopatra in the archives of the Maryland Historical Society. So it is finally in 1912 that a connection was made from Cleopatra to Nicketti and her father becomes Opechancanough.
- The author makes up a story of how Cleopatra arrived at her name.
I recently did a search through the internet looking for information on Trader Hughes, supposed husband of Nicketti. I found the following information, Trader Hughes was:
- An English Cavalier
- An Aztec Indian
- A member of Virginia society
- His first name was John, Rees, or Rice or William, or some combination of these
- He was born in 1615 or 1635
- he was born in Wales but was a Scotsman
- He was an African indentured servant Convincing Blog with evidence that Trader Hughes was an African who married Nicketti
- He and Nicketti had between one and twenty children
- Trader Hughes is supposed to have established a Trading Post in Amherst County, Virginia. Traders began moving into this area of Virginia between 1710 and 1720. If Trader Hughes was born in as late as 1635 he would have been 85 years old when he set up shop. Nicketti would also be around 80-85. This seems highly unlikely in an time when life expectancy was less than 50 and closer to 40.
- A sea captain who sailed his relief ship into Jamestown and promptly married Nicketti, whisked her off to the mountains thereby becoming American's first 'mountain man.'
I have found further evidence in the early records of colonial Virginia which indicate that Rees/Rice Hughes had a wife named Susanna. These records indicate that Rees/Rice Hughes (Hoe) and his wife Susanna had an indentured servant named John Price (Prise) whom they may have either beaten or starved to death. These records also indicate that Rees/Rice Hughes bought an Indian girl, which possibly accounts for the legend that he "married" the Indian Princess Nicketti. Rees/Rice Hughes may have had children with this Indian girl, and it's possible that one of their descendants was the Trader Hughes who lived on the upper James River. I know the actual facts are not as pretty as the legend, but I think we need to be truthful about the past, no matter how reprehensible it was. Billie Harris
John Richard Hewing
I reference John Richard above, he according, to his descendants, was an African from the Portuguese colony in Angola. He was an indentured servant, brought to Virginia possibly to grow rice. He married Princess Nicketti.
From another reader's comment
Another reader told be that he and his family believe that the man who married Nicketti was possibly and Aztec Indian who traveled up from Mexico. He wore gold arm bracelets with emeralds. This story had been passed down in his family for generations.
This is another family story concerning Princess Nicketti. It seems that she married John Dodson, who was one of the original Jamestown settlers. He arrived on the ship "The Susan Constant" with Captain John Smith in 1607. Many family trees say that John married the grand daughter of the Algonquin Chief Powhatan, Princess Nicketti Eagle Plume. Her parents were Chief Eagle Plume and his wife Cleopatra. The Dodson family claim that this was a story passed down by their ancestors.
Some info on Nathaniel Davis from an internet family genealogy site: Ancestors of Patrick Martin Stevens, Jr.
It is said he came to Virginia from Wales, and was a Quaker. He is sometimes noted as Quaker Davis, but, Lorene Martens, notes that "The Complete Book of Immigrants, 1607-1776" suggests that Nathaniel was "reprieved for transportation for Barbados June 1671, London." She recalls seeing somewhere that he was jailed and transported for stealing tobacco. "On 8 June 1671 Newgate prisoners reprieved to be transported to Barbados: London."So, if I'm reading the above right, he is saying that the first Abadiah was the daughter of Hugh and Elizabeth ap Lewis. Elizabeth dies, Hugh and Abadiah return to England, where they meet up with Robert Davis, who re-immigrates with them to Virginia. The daughter of Robert and Abadiah Davis, also called Abadiah marries William Floyd. Hum, there seems to be two versions of Abadiah. She is also said to be the daughter of Nathaniel Davis and Mary Elizabeth Hughes.
Notes for Hugh Ap Lewis: Perhaps he died in Barbados, say some.... Some assert (see The Reads and Their Relatives, author unknown) that Hugh Lewis and Elizabeth were of "Barbados and Virginia." In the "Venables of Virginia," 1925, Elizabeth Marshall Venable asserts that "Hugh Lewis came first with his wife and daughter, Abadiah Lewis, and lost his wife in America and returned to Britain with Abadiah, his only daughter... both returned again to America, in Virginia, with Robert Davis, who came away without the consent of his parents, and served four years in Virginia, King and Queen, for his passage, and then married Abadiah Lewis, with whom he had immigrated." (Courtesy of Leona Latham-Simonini, 2007)
He suggests instead, that the story of a princess daughter of Opechancanough who married a son of a Cavalier family fits neatly into the the life Cockacoeske. He writes that she was the daughter of his (Opechancanough) old age, and she was the woman who had a liaison with Calalierish Colonel John West. In about 1656 she gave birth to a son who was called called Captain John West. 
Source: Encyclopedia Virginia
Princess Nicketti is the name given to a Virginia Indian woman believed by some to have been the daughter of Opechancanough, a leader of the Powhatan Indians and the brother of the paramount chief Powhatan. While the name has been referenced almost exclusively on twenty-first-century genealogy websites by people claiming family relationship, no scholarly evidence exists that Princess Nicketti ever lived. A careful search of seventeenth-century records in Virginia yields no one by that name, male or female. And no name of a child of Opechancanough was ever recorded in that century. The writings about her stem from a single published source: Alexander Brown's genealogy The Cabells and Their Kin (1939). Significantly, Brown calls Nicketti's story only a "very interesting tradition" and adds, "I cannot vouch for it[s accuracy]," but he had heard about her from several prominent Piedmont Virginia families. Subsequent writers have quoted Brown's text as fact.
|This is not Pocahontas!|
Title: Pocahontas-Rolfe Celebration
Source: University of Virginia Special Collections
Despite the evidence against Princess Nicketti's existence, she remains a popular figure, especially among those interested in family history. As evidenced by the numerous claims of relation to Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas, and to the privileges granted those alleged relations in the Racial Integrity Acts, Virginians have long valued connections, real or mythological, to Indian "royalty." Those connections have most often been made through women, who likely are seen as less threatening than males like Opechancanough, for instance, who led Second Anglo-Powhatan War (1622-1632). Claims of ancestry through the Powhatan Indians are more common, as well, probably because it was an especially well-known tribe.
 N. J. Floyd, Biographical Genealogies of the Virginia-Kentucky Floyd Families, (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1912).
 Vest, Jay Hansford C. “Mormons and Indians in Central Virginia: J. Golden Kimball and the Mason Family's Native American Origins.” Journal of Mormon History, vol. 40, no. 3, 2014, pp. 127–154. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24243806.
Learn how to professionally cite your sources for your genealogy proof with Elizabeth Shown Mills Handy Guide to Citing Sources available by clicking this link.
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