William Taptico, I, Chief of the Wicocomico Nation (1664 - 1693) MP

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Nicknames: "Tapptico", "Taptico", "Tapp"
Birthplace: Northumberland, VA, USA
Death: Died in Northumberland, VA, USA
Managed by: Bjørn P. Brox
Last Updated:

About William Taptico, I, Chief of the Wicocomico Nation

William Taptico was known by the English as King of the Wiccocomo Indians, a tribe in the Powhatan Confederacy. His descendants moved south to North Carolina and Tennessee and points west and shortened the name to Tapp.

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In 2003, during a discussion of the Taptico family with a Virginia historian it was stated that some believe Machywap, the weroance (i.e., chief) of the Chicacoan in 1655, may have been the father of William Taptico (Sr.) (i.e., the William Taptico who married Elinor). I was directed to a 1666 Northumberland County court record. All things considered, it is indeed possible that William Taptico (Sr.) was one and the same as "William ye sonne of Machiawap" (i.e., Machywap). If so, this may provide an explanation as to why Taptico lived for a period of time in Dorchester Co., MD. However, this possibility is at present nothing more than a theory. The information presented here is regarding the possible father of William Taptico (Sr.) who married Elinor and does not delve deeply into who wife Elinor may or may not have been.

Upon merging the Chicacoan (i.e., Sekakawon) and Wicocomico tribes in 1655-1656, the Northumberland County Court appointed Machywap, the weroance of the Chicacoan nation at that time and "so ancient and known a friend to our English nation", as weroance of the combined group. The more populous Wicocomico vehemently protested the appointment and declared that Pekwem was to be weroance. Upon learning that their appointee's life was "in great danger", the Northumberland County Court on January 20, 1657 ordered that "six able men be forthwith: pressed to guard & preserve the person of ye said Machywap." Within a couple of years and contrary to the desire of the English, Machywap was no longer in power. By 1660 the Chicacoan and Wicocomico may have been joined by another tribe, the lower Cuttawomen. Post 1655-1656, the two or three combined tribes were referred to as "Wicocomico" in the records of Virginia. The animosity between the Wicocomico and the family of Machywap appears to have continued beyond the late 1650s and into the 1660s, for we find in the following record that William the son of Machywap is in safekeeping with an Adam Yarrett in 1666.

Source: Sparacio, Ruth & Sparacio, Sam (Eds.) (1995). Virginia County Court Records: Order Book Abstracts of Northumberland County, Virginia, 1665-1669 (pp. 21 & 22). McLean, VA: Ruth & Sam Sparacio The Antient Press. (Original record from: Northumberland County Order Book of 1652-1665 for Courts held from 20 June 1665 through 20 August 1666, p. 445.)

   "Northumberland County Court 20th of June 1666 -Upon ye Peticon of William, ye Sonne of Machiawap, ye Cort: hath ordered yt: hee remaine at Adam Yarretts untill a Letter from ye Cort., together wth: his said Peticon, may bee sent to ye Governour to know his HonrsL further pleasure therein"

The records of Virginia are clear in that Machywap was a close and respected friend of the English. Given the threats against Machywap during the late 1650s and likely threats against his family as well, it appears that William ye son of Machywap was kept in safekeeping in the household of Adam Yarrett. Perhaps his father, Machywap, was killed or died of some other cause prior to 1666. The 1666 record mentions a "peticion" of William ye son of Machywap; it is unknown what the verbal or written petition may have been, yet William was to "remaine" at Adam Yarretts until the court addressed the peticion. Notice also that this 1666 records presents no surname for William ye son of Machywap. Does the lack of a stated surname pose a problem with this theory? The answer is no. First it seems to have been sufficient for the English to identify this William as a son of Machywap; there was no need to mention any surname that may have existed. Second it is very possible that the Taptico family had simply not developed or adopted a surname at this particular time. In an analysis of the above record and earlier circumstances of Machywap the following is noted: 1) the time frame of this record and it's possible implications would be consistent with what we otherwise know of William Taptico (Sr.), 2) the given name of Machywap's son is "William" and his age is quite likely consistent with what we know of Taptico (Sr.), 3) Machywap was a leader among his people as was William Taptico (Sr.) and William Taptico (Jr.), and, most importantly 4) the apparent animosity between the Wicocomico and the family of Machywap may have been sufficient reason for William to move across the bay to Dorchester Co., MD in order to ensure his safety and that of his family. In regards to point #3 above, by the mid 1600s the English had initiated the practice of appointing particular Indians as weroances among the Powhatans, thus, negating in some instances the matriarchal hierarchy of leaders and potential leaders; also, the diminished population of the Wicocomico by the early 1700s may also have altered their means of choosing a leader from among their own numbers. Authorities on Virginia Indians agree there was a significantly altered political environ among the Powhatans by the mid 1600s; thus, it may or may not have been necessary for William Taptico, Jr's. mother to have been born to a weroance herself in order for her son to become weroance of the tribe; his connection to a leading family could have been via his patriarchal line. If William ye son of Machywap was one and the same as William Taptico (Sr.), he may not have returned to Northumberland Co., VA until he was certain it was safe for he and his family; perhaps after the demise of Pekwem and his supports. This possible Taptico-Machywap connection would also be consistent with the current Y-DNA test results in that they indicate a Native American heritage for the Tapp men who descend from the Taptico family. Again, this possible connection to Machywap is currently no more than a theory, but it is among the more probable theories available thus far as to why William Taptico (Sr.) lived among the English for a period of time in Dorchester Co., MD prior to 1693-1695.

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William Taptico, I, Chief of the Wicocomico Nation's Timeline

1664
1664
Northumberland, VA, USA
1689
1689
Age 25
Northumberland, Virginia Colony
1690
1690
Age 26
Northumberland, VA, USA
1691
1691
Age 27
Northumberland, Virginia Colony
1693
1693
Age 29
Northumberland, VA, USA