Mary Elizabeth Davis

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Mary Elizabeth Davis (Hughes)

Also Known As: "Elizabeth (Beth)"
Birthdate: (86)
Birthplace: Jamestown, James City County, Virginia
Death: September 19, 1740 (86)
Christ Church, Lancaster County, Virginia
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Trader ... Hughes and Nicketti Hughes
Wife of Nathaniel Davis, of Hanover
Mother of Robert Davis; Mary Burks; Evan Davis, Sr.; Elizabeth Burks and Martha Davis

Managed by: Private User
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About Mary Elizabeth Davis

“My great aunt researched our family's genealogy in the 1950's, and we are direct descendants of Abadiah Davis, supposedly the granddaughter of Nicketti. My great aunt, in her records, noted that Nicketti and "Mr. Hughes", a Scottish hunter and fur trader, had a clandestine marriage that produced Elizabeth Hughes, Abadiah's mother. Elizabeth was married to Nathaniel Davis. My great aunt spelled Nicketti much differently than "nicketti", (it was actually 3 hyphenated syllables - we are all spelling it phonetically, as if it were an Italian name) but I can no longer find that spelling in her papers. She referenced a book Kegley's Virginia Frontier and he Cabells and Their Kin and noted that Hughes and Nicketti lived near the Balcony Falls on the James River. Her papers also note that the son of Nathaniel Davis and Elizabeth Hughes was called the "black Davis" because of his dark skin, black hair and eyes." (Sharon Newman, Hughes Genforum database, #10801, 24 Jan 2005)

“Catherine Seaman wrote about Nathanial Davis as well as Princess Nicketti in her book Tuckahoes and Cohees. Here is what she wrote about the ancestry of Princess Nicketti: “The genealogy of Opechancanough's descendants is biologically possible although Opechancanough was said to be nearly 100 years old when he was murdered in 1644. The daughter of his old age, Nicketti, may have been born when he was in his 70s (by 1614) and she may have married in the early 1630s. Nicketti's daughter, who was married about 1680, must have been born in the late 1650s when Nicketti was in her late thirties.“

This almost certainly rules out Rees/Rice Hughes as the man who “married“ Princess Nicketti, because Rees does not appear to have been born until 1625-1630. Therefore, he could not have married Nicketti in 1630. Of course, there might have been an earlier Hughes who formed a union with Nicketti or some other Indian woman. This also pretty much rules out Princess Nicketti as the mother of Elizabeth who married Nathaniel Davis. Nathaniel Davis died in Amherst County in 1779 [Note: this confuses him with his son of the same name], naming his wife Elizabeth and his children Charles, Robert, Isham, James, Nathaniel, Elizabeth, Sarah, Thedosha, Matilda and Nancy in his will (Will Book 2, page 83.) The average life span at this time was 60 years, but even if we grant Nathaniel an 80 year life span, this means he was born around 1700. Therefore, he could not have married Elizabeth, the daughter of Nicketti, in 1680. Perhaps Elizabeth was the granddaughter or even the great granddaughter of Nicketti, or some other Indian woman.“ (Nancy Kiser, Hughes Genforum database, #10802, 25 Jan 2005)

Mary Elizabeth HUGHES Sex: F Note: ! Elizabeth m. Nathaniel Davis, a Welshman and early settler in the region. He made a large fortune by having choice river-bottom lands and trading with the Indians. Nathaniel and Elizabeth had 4 children: Robert Davis, ancestor of President Jefferson Davis who never publicly acknowledged his Indian heritage; Martha Davis who m. Abraham Venable; Abadiah (also called Abigail) Davis who m. William Floyd; Mary Davis who married Samuel Burks.


This genealogy is found in "Family History", Kegley's Virginia Frontier" by F.B. Kegley, and "Floyd Biographical Genealogies" 1912 by N.J. Floyd. the Floyd book is found in the library of Missouri State Historical Society at Columbia, Missouri. Excerpts from it were sent in 1964 to Broaddus and Pauline Burks from Clyde Campbell of San Antonio, Texas. He was a descendant of Samuel and Mary Davis Burks. The often quoted book, "The Cabells and Their Kin", has a few lines noting kinship of the Burks, Cabells, Venables, Floyds, and a branch of the Davises due to their Indian blood.

Father: "Trader" HUGHES

Mother: Niketti POWHATAN


  • 1. Robert Davis who became, when quite young, his father's agent and assistant in business. On account of his densely black hair and eyes, and his dark Indian complexion he was nicknamed "the black Davis" to differentiate between him and his fairhaired father. He married quite young, and removed to Georgia with his bride. After the Floyds went to Kentucky several of the Davises removed there from Georgia and settled in the eastern part of Christian County, which part was named Todd after the division of the county. One of the descendants, born in Todd County and carried to Mississippi as a weanling, lived to become the President of The Confederate States of America.
  • 2. Mary Davis, who married Samuel Burkes, of Hanover County, the ancestor of several prominent Virginia families.
  • 3. Martha Davis, who married Abraham Venable, another prominent family whose descendants number many prominent persons.
  • 4. Abadiah Davis, who married William Floyd.

Nathaniel Davis' granddaughter, Elizabeth Burks, married Capt. William Cabell, and they became the ancestors of the distinguished Virginia family of that name.Another granddaughter, Martha Venable, married General Evan Shelby, of Maryland, and they became the ancestors of the noted family of Shelbys in the West. A list of the more or less distinguished members of these families would be very lengthy.

It may be well to state, out of its proper chronological order, that many years after the period of the marriages of the young people noted above, the truth of the tradition concerning the ancestry of Princess Nicketti was denied in Kentucky. The cause of this denial originated at the battle of Point Pleasant in 1774, when the allied tribes, the Shawnees, the Guyandottes and Delawares, under the great war-chief, Cornstalk, were defeated by the Virginians and the Kentucky pioneers under General Andrew Lewis. Cornstalk was regarded as a ferocious and vindictive tool of the Lieutenant-Governor of Canada and no Indian could have been more thoroughly detested. Prisoners taken in that epoch-making battle stated that he was a descendant of Powhatan, through his youngest daughter. It is quite probable that Cornstalk's tradition was a fact. Although he was the great war-chief of the Shawnees he was not a member of that tribe, but was by birth a chief of a small tribe which, giving way before the admired the character of the gentle Pocahontas as cordially as they despised Cornstalk, indignantly denied the tradition, and asserted that Pocahontas, if not the only daughter of Powhatan, was certainly the youngest, and the child of his old age.

When the Floyds removed to Kentucky and heard the denial, being no longer in touch with those who knew the facts in Virginia, and therefore not prepared to discuss the point, they simply ignored the matter and "let it go at that." Hence it came about that later generations of nearly all the descendants of Nicketti ultimately came to doubt the perfect accuracy of the old tradition, as no historical or other writing known to them credited Powhatan with a younger daughter than Pocahontas; nor had any name been heard as that of such daughter. The descendants of Charles Floyd, however, at whose home in Kentucky his mother, Abadiah Davis Floyd, died, never for a moment doubted the entire accuracy of the tradition.

Alexander Brown "member of the Virginia Historical Society; the American Historical Association; and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of England" the distinguished author of "The Genesis of the United States," and a high authority on historical and genealogical subjects, did much to add to the confusion of the old tradition. In his genealogical work The Cabells and their Kin (descendants of Princess Nicketti, and himself an honored kinsman) he gives the genealogies and traditions of the descendants of Nathaniel Davis as they are known to the Floyds with the exception that, by a supposed error in the use of numerals to designate generations, he makes the ancestor of Jefferson Davis appear as the uncle instead of the brother of Abadiah. And when he came to speak of the Indian blood he shied at the tradition of a younger sister of the gentle Pocahontas, and said:" Opechancanough had a lovely daughter, the child of his old age, the Princess Nicketti,which name means ' She sweeps the dew from the flowers.' A son of one of the old cavalier families fell in love with Nicketti and they married and had a daughter who married a Welshman, Nathaniel Davis by name."advance of civilization, had straggled westward and become nomadic—a "tramp" tribe, which eventually disintegrated.

A scrap from old memoirs of the Preston family says that in 1767 Colonels William Preston and Thomas Lewis were appointed to hold a treaty with the Indians at the mouth of Big Sandy on the Ohio river. Though other chiefs were present, Cornstalk made the treaty and seven years later led the allied tribes which broke it. Several histories of that period speak of him as "the masterful Cayuga chief." In that treaty he posed as a representative of the Shawnees and the Delawares.The author evidently entertained some misgivings regarding the exact accuracy of that version of the tradition, but quietly passed on with the assertion that the fact could not be denied that no lovelier women ever "swept the dew from the flowers" than many of the descendants of Princess Nicketti.This perversion of the old tradition gives a lively fancy room to imagine that some one of the Indian-blood branches—other than the Floyds—that is to say, the Burkses, the Venables, the Shelbys, the Cabells or the Jefferson Davis branch, might have held a family meeting, after the battle of Point Pleasant, and have recorded the result somewhat after this style:"whereas: The wise genealogists residing in the primeval forests ofKentucky have ascertained that the gentle Pocahontas never had a younger sister, if any sister at all, therefore,Resolved: That the Princess Nicketti was, and of right ought to have been heralded, not the grandniece and ward, as has been taught,by tradition, of her uncle, Opecancanough, but in very fact his own queenly daughter—the child of his very old age.

"The writer, feeling confident that the original tradition was correct, made an exhaustive search for information on that and many similar matters, and finally found, in the old library of the Maryland Historical Society, an item of three lines in a fragment of Jamestown records covering eleven years—1630 to 1641 — which furnished in a positive and indisputable form the proof sought. During the period, covered by the fragment, matters became so bad between the Whites and Indians, that Opechancanough was induced to agree upon a line being established which neither White nor Indian, excepting truce-bearers, should cross under penalty of being shot on sight. To insure strict obedience to the compact a law was passed at Jamestown imposing a heavy penalty on any of the people crossing the line without a special permit from the Governor's Council and the General Court. This accounts for the item alluded to, which is given verbatim et literatim. In the Council record it reads:"Dec. 17th, 1641." Thomas Rolfe petitions Governor to let him go see Opechankeno to whom he is allied, and Cleopatra, his mother's sister. "The record of the General Court was evidently intended to be a verbatim copy, though they differ somewhat in phraseology and spelling:"Dec. 17th, 1641.—Thomas Rolph petitions Gov. to let him go to see Opechanko, to whom he is allied, and Cleopatre, his mother's sister."It is a well known fact that when Pocahontas died in England in 1616 her husband, John Rolfe, left their infant son, Thomas, to be reared and educated in England by an uncle. Twenty-five years had elapsed; the young man had finished his education, and naturally desired to look upon the face of his mother's younger sister. That she was younger "seventeen years or more, younger" her name proves. Neither Pocahontas nor her father had ever held communication with a white person until the two had a little controversy as to the future fate of Captain John Smith. Pocahontas was then twelve years old, and it is not possible that she or Powhatan could have previously heard the name of the Egyptian queen; and it is not likely that either of them had an opportunity to be "coached" upon Egyptian history for a number of years later. Indeed it is more than probable that Powhatan and his people first heard of the fascinating Cleopatra from John Rolfe, after he had married Pocahontas. What could be more likely than that the young Englishman himself made selection of the name, and with his own lips pronounced the difficult foreign syllables when the gentle-savage infant received her baptismal dip into the purling water of the James River, near where Richmond city now stands?William Floyd and Abadiah Davis were married in Amherst County in the autumn of 1747. He was county surveyor and captain of the county militia, until the beginning of the Revolutionary War, when his second son, Charles, took his place and went into the service of Virginia as a part of the State force, reserved to beat back Indian forays along her lengthy northwestern borders.

The children of William and Abadiah Floyd were twelve in number, as follows:

  • 1. Saixie Floyd, married Wyatt Powell and became the ancestress of many noted people in each succeeding generation in Virginia. Some of the latter will be given special mention.
  • 2. Elizabeth Floyd, married Charles Tuley, of Fauquier County, Virginia. They followed the Floyd hegira to Kentucky but their descendants scattered throughout the northwest. Will be referred to later.
  • 3. John Floyd, married Miss Burford (in early Amherst vernacular pronounced Barfoot and Burfoot). Will be spoken of more fully.
  • 4. Charles Floyd, married Mary Stewart. Will be spoken of more fully.
  • 5. Robert Floyd. All tradition of him lost, excepting that he fought with George Rogers Clark. Probably killed by Indians later.
  • 6. Jemima Floyd, married Lemaster. Traditiononly states that her husband was killed by the Indians.
  • 7. Isham Floyd, fought with George Rogers Clark at Kaskaskia when quite a youth. Later was captured by the Indians and tortured to death by terrific barbarities continued for two days.
  • 8. Abadiah Floyd, married Sturgis. Traditionstates only that her husband was killed in an Indian massacre.
  • 9. Nathaniel Floyd, married Mary Thomas. Did gallant service under Jackson at the battle of New Orleans, 1815. Has many descendants of note, chiefly in Maryland and Kentucky. His family genealogy will be given later.
  • There were three daughters who are known to tradition only as Mrs. Pryor, Mrs. Drake and Mrs. Alexander. They were all older than Nathaniel who was the twelfth child.

Mrs. Pryor had a son who accompanied his cousin, Charles Floyd, son of Charles (1), on the Lewis and Clark expedition, in which young Charles lost his life. Tradition says the husband of one of the three was killed by the Indians.It has been stated that John Floyd married Miss Burford. Ten months after marriage, his wife died leaving an infant girl which Mrs. Burford adopted and named Mourning. As soon as the young man mastered the poignancy of his grief he went to Fincastle County and applied to Colonel William Preston, a very prominent and influential citizen and general surveyor, for a position as deputy, to go to work in the wilds of Kentucky, then a county of Virginia. Colonel Preston, thinking him too young to take charge of a surveying party among the Indians of the Ohio Valley, prevailed on him to teach school and write in the surveyor's office for a few years.

In 1774, he took a party to Kentucky as Colonel Preston's deputy. He worked as far down the Ohio River as the Falls where Louisville is now situated, and located many fine bodies of land for Colonel Preston and others; and near the Falls he located a body of several thousand acres for himself.From the Falls he went to the Bluegrass region where his work was much impeded by troubles with the Indians. He there met a former associate and friend of the family, George Rogers Clark, also in charge of a surveying party. And the story goes on, either way the Floyds family story was well established way before Brown's, Cabbell and kin story. I fill as the 3rd great grandson of GRC Floyd, nicknamed Woushippakniga, Nicketti Floyds Brother, the lost 3 syllable way of spelling her name was Ni Ka Tai. THE Jamestown petition found by NJ Floyd proved there was a sister named by the english cleopatra, her native name lost,, that tied the Floyd familys mixed natives oral tradition to the grandmamaw Nickitti, passed down, altho it was passed down to NJ, that she was a niece to Powhatan., My 4th great Grandfather Governor John Floyd. Did not name his daughter after what two native women were saying as meaning pretty baby as the meaning, and then they say Nicketti is not a recognized Indian name,?? The ones saying it seems not a recognized Indian name . Then say it means pretty babies in the Indian language.. the name came from my grandfather John Floyd . Because it was his grandmother passed down .. seems it would not mean nothing in the language, if not reconized.. Also my 4th grandfather gov. John Floyd, was a founding father of the Virginia Historical Society in 1800s, and a presidential candidate, a doctor - surgeon, and US,,, military officer. I very doubt, he was confused with the nAme,,, coming from a male, rather than a female, or a river. . US, history,, was very important to him.. so seems many are out of touch with my Floyd family history. Especially ones. That only give why it's not true based on opinions only. when there is alot of stuff that shows how it can also be true.. for one Govnor John Floyds,, dad he never met and loved was murdered before his birth by the Native Americans,, so he would have more reason not to claim the native blood, also in his time Native could not own land, or run in public office, most families that were of the mixed race would hide the fact of having the native blood, especially in a time of his when each were at war with each other, John Floyd, owned land , and held public office. He had more to loose than gain for being of the mixed race. 2. He was a very faithful Christian, and Documented as so, telling lies in his time especially wasn't a Christian thing to do, in a time of war, and dueling to the death. He had many close relatives die at the hands of the native, so for this I fill is a few good reasons not to claim the blood. But as a man of his word, and a devoted Christian, in a time when a man's word was his bond, he told the truth. Especially of his family history and passing the name down to a daughter of his native Grandma, was done in truth, or a least he definitely believeD it true... and he was known to be a honest person with strong character. To many were dieing at the hands of each other , white v/s Native American, I very doubt he would claim the blood of his enemies, unless not true... personally I fill like he didn't view anyone as an enemy unless trying to fight him or the laws of the land... the history was long ago and maybe one day will get sorted out.

Sources: Title: j e griffiths Author: j e griffiths pedigrees of anglesey and caernarvonshire families Repository: Media: Too Page: 69


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Mary Elizabeth Davis's Timeline

Jamestown, James City County, Virginia
Age 22
New Kent County, Virginia Colony
May 16, 1685
Age 31
Albemarle , Virginia Colony
Age 41
Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
September 19, 1740
Age 86
Christ Church, Lancaster County, Virginia