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The single most compelling research question for ARTERBURN descendants 
that remains unanswered:  If Peter Arterburn was of "East Indian" or South 
Asian (patrilineal) descentas historical sources attest and Y-DNA testing 
clearly supports (as opposed to Native American or African or European  
descent), then how did Peter come by the "Atterburn/Arterburn" surname?

And the corollary questions:   Was Peter the son of the "East Indian"
indentured servant, John Williamsas the name, "Peter Atterburn alias 
Williams," in Charles County Court records (1736) suggests?  Could the

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, 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).

       The formulation, "Peter Atterburn alias Williams," has not been
       found subsequently in Charles County Court records.  Although
       earlier records that are available have not been searched, this
       entry (1736) may reflect Peter's (b. 1711, age 25) first court 
       appearance and a statement of Peter's bona fides as a free man 
       with standing before the court.  "[A]lias Williams" suggests that  
       the court may have relied on the previously adjudicated status  
       of John Williams in this court (1706/7) during which Williams 
       was declared free of his indenture as surety for Peter's status.
       We also have the account of John Gardiner pointing out his 
       (Nonesuch) property boundaries to Peter around this same
       time (1736/7), as attested in Peter's later court deposition   
       (1748).  Is this a clue that Peter may have been new to
       Nonesuchpossibly even to tobacco farming?   
       Johannah Hodgson had purchased John Williams' contract of
       indenture from "Mr. [Edward] Mann," who appears in court
       records of Talbot County, MD (search MSA online; also, see
       "Benjamin Guy alias Williams ... a freeman" in Talbot County
       Court, March 1730/1).  Could these be clues that Peter had 
       recently arrived in or returned to Charles County, and/or 
       that he might have had family ties in Talbot County?

Listed below are some resources that may assist further research:

                      RootsWeb/Marshall:  "Early Colonial Settlers of Southern Maryland and
                      Northern Neck Counties" (continually updated)

John Williams in Charles County Court  (12 November 1706,
       George Williams in Charles County Court (13 June 1733): 

"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)

               [Underline, italics, and bracketed contents added]

   "Received from Francis Payn[e], Peter Atterburn" (1744)
                "John Gardiner, age ca 72; mentions he has known
                Mattawoman 40 years then called St. Thomas' Fresh;
                mentions Old Indian Field ..." 
                "Francis Pain, age 29 years; mentions Henry Ward ..."

                "John Ward ... mentions his father, John Ward, Sr.,
                dec'd, his Pamunkey land ..."

                      Who exactly was the "William Davis" who provided "security"
                      for Peter Atterburn's credit in Prince William County— landlord,   
                      employer, benefactor, relative/in-law, or some combination of

"William Davis" in Colonial Maryland and Virginia 

"William Davis" in the census of Dunmore County (1775)
in district #4 adjacent to that (#3) of Peter and William
(cf. Supplemental Notes, Appendix #7, p. 598)

"Henry Tanner" and "William Davis" in Charles County
                Court Records, March 1738/9 Court, Liber T#2, Page 537.

                    "Henry Tanner, age about 89, declares that about 
                     30 years ago, he lived on the Plantation now in the
                     possession of Thomas Stone ...."
                   "William Davis, age about 70, declares that about 
                    40 years past, he remembers a bounded white oak 
                    which stood very near the place mentioned in Henry
                    Tanner's deposition ...."
                   (RootsWeb/Marshall ID:   I012916 and I009797)

"William Davis Arterburn" (1855-1931)   (cf. Cousins, p. 380)

What connection if any between
"Presley Davis" and 
"Presley Arterburn," or "Elijah Davis" and "Elijah
       Arterburn," and Peter's "William Davis?

                      "Jesse Davis"  (RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I051076)

                      "Jesse Davis"  (RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I046252)

                         w.p. Nelson County, KY (adjacent to Jefferson County)


               Might Peter Arterburn's distinctive personal mark of three wavy 
               lines have reflected memories of his youth working as a sailor 
               or fisherman, or just nostalgia for his earlier life near the coastal  
               waters of the Chesapeake in Maryland, or of something else?
                              "The wavy line is a common sign for water,
                              watercourse, water surface, and the sea."                             
                                (Symbols: Encyclopedia of Western Signs
                                and Ideograms / Carl G Liungman)

                              Tobacco Coast:  A Maritime History of Chesapeake

                             "John Gardiner" (of "Nonesuch")  

                                (RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I047926)

                             "Captain John Gardiner," "mariner"
                                (RootsWeb/Marshall ID: I053395)                          



Family Search:  Charles County, Maryland Genealogy

Family Search:  Talbot County, Maryland Genealogy

MSA:  County (Jurisdiction) Government Records

MSA:  Search the Maryland State Archives Online

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