name "Atterburn" represent Peter's maternal ancestral surname in whole
or in part or spelled differently, or was it simply a name that Peter adopted?
Peter used a personal mark instead of signing his name and was probably
illiterate. This adds to the apparent ambiguity about the original form
of Peter's surname— "Atter-" or "Arter-" or other? Spellings of "Arter-"
predominate in public records in Shenandoah County, while "Atter-" occurs
primarily in Maryland and in Prince William County. We pronounce "Atter-"
without question with short A (as in "cat") followed by the sound of the stop
consonant "t." On the other hand, "Arter-" for us is naturally voiced with
broad A followed by the sound of "r" as combined in the "Ar" phoneme of
American English, in which R is clearly pronounced (rhotic).
In Peter's time, English broad A in the "Ar" phoneme was often pronounced
with silent R (non-rhotic), especially among the speakers of London English
in the 18th-Century Tidewater of Virginia and Maryland. In this environment,
"Arter-" would probably have been pronounced like "Otter-." The birth record
of "Henry Otterburn" in Shenandoah County transcribed by Weyland appears
to confirm this broad A or similar sound (English short O as in "otter," German
short O as in "hot," and German long A as in "hard" are all essentially identical
in sound to English broad A) in Peter's pronunciation. We can only assume
that "Atter-" must in some cases have been an ungrammatical rendering of
Peter's pronunciation (i.e., double consonants in English are normally preceded
by a short vowel, as in "matter") since the broad A sound is clearly represented
in the most prevalent form of Peter's surname, "Arterburn," and phonetically
confirmed by the instance of "Peter Otterburn."
In some cases, "Atterburn" may actually reflect an error of modern transcription
of 18th-Century public records in which cursive "O" has been misinterpreted as
cursive "A," particularly in those instances where "Atterburn" had not been listed
alphabetically (i.e., other than in tax lists). Examples can be found even in the
tax lists of names for which upper-case cursive "O" and cursive "A" are remarkably
similar, highly suggestive that some of the transcriptions for Peter and William
might merit reconsideration for spellings as "Otterburn" instead of "Atterburn."
(For another example of confusion of "Atterburn" and "Otterburn" in English
Census records at Ancestry.com, see Some Research Notes, pp. 61-66.)
Both the "Atter-" and "Otter-" spellings suggest that "r" may not have been
distinctly heard at the beginning of Peter's vocalization. Because the English
"Ar" phoneme with broad A and silent (non-rhotic) R was characteristic of
Peter's time, and since Peter was apparently illiterate, we cannot be certain
whether "Arter-" finally became the predominant spelling of Peter's surname
because it was "fixed" over time in Shenandoah County due to Peter's
pronunciation and a particular rendering of English broad A by clerks or
literate friends and associates, or whether "Arter-" might actually have
represented the original form of Peter's surname, whether ancestral or
adopted. This finding does not solve the riddle of the origin or of the original
form of Peter's surname, but does help to clarify Peter's likely pronunciation
as reflected in the various phonetic spellings we find in the public records
(cf. also Some Research Notes, pp. 29-46).
We also have the account of John Gardiner pointing out his
Maryland and Delaware / by Paul Heinegg.
"George Williams son and heir to William who intermarried
with a Pamunkey Indian Queen named Elizabeth of Prince
George's County .... John Ward aged 75 deposeth that he
has known George Williams a Native Indian from his infancy
... son of the Queen of Pamunkey who was wife to an Indian
[Note: Use of the terms "intermarried" and "Native Indian"
and "Indian" suggests that George Williams' father may
have been an East Indian rather than a Native American.]
called Mc William the father of the said Geo. Williams ... that
31 years ago George Williams and his parents lived where
Fran[ci]s Payne now lives ... John Gar[di]ner deposed the
Indians were forted in Cornwallis' neck about fifty years
ago ..." (see Heinegg's complete transcription)
"Francis Pain, age 29 years; mentions Henry Ward ..."
"John Ward ... mentions his father, John Ward, Sr.,
"Henry Tanner, age about 89, declares that about
Prince William County, Virginia Genealogy (Family Search)
What connection if any between "Presley Davis" and
w.p. Nelson County, KY (adjacent to Jefferson County)
"The wavy line is a common sign for water,
Family Search: Charles County, Maryland Genealogy
Family Search: Talbot County, Maryland Genealogy
Wikipedia: Haplogroup R-M17
National Geographic Society: Genographic Project
Smithsonian/NMNH: Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation
Native Heritage Project: East Indians in Early Colonial Records
Miss America 2014: Nina Davuluri
ABC News: Indian Ancestry of Princess Diana