Pamunkey Indian Petition

Ann (fl. 1706–1712)

Ann was a Pamunkey chief and a successor to the most famous Pamunkey queen, Cockacoeske, who led the Pamunkey for thirty years until her death in 1686. Cockacoeske was succeeded by an unidentified niece, perhaps the leader whose mark and the name "Mrs. Betty, the Queen," appear on a petition requesting the confirmation of a sale of Pamunkey land to English subjects that was submitted to the General Court on October 22, 1701. Sparse documentation and the Powhatan Indians' practice of changing their names on important occasions have led to confusion in identifying the principal leaders of the Pamunkey. It has been conjectured that the niece who succeeded Cockacoeske, Mrs. Betty, and Ann were the same woman and that she changed her name to Ann after Queen Anne ascended the English throne in 1702. In the few records that bear the mark of Ann, she fought for the rights of her people. For example, eighteenth-century petitions that she and the great men of the Pamunkey submitted to the colonial government request that squatters on Indian land be removed, that ownership of tribal lands be confirmed, and that the annual tribute be reduced. Ann likely died about 1723. MORE...

 

Ann's parentage, the times and places of her birth and death, and other important information about her life are not known. She had at least one son, whom she sent to the Indian school at the College of William and Mary in November 1711 as a hostage for the tribe's good behavior and to receive the rudiments of education. Although not required to do so, she also sent the sons of two of the Pamunkey "Greatmen."

Ann's name and mark appear on three extant documents submitted to the colonial government, one by August 1706 and the others about 1710 and 1712. Several other eighteenth-century records, the latest dated in June 1723, refer to the Pamunkey leaders in similar words, "the Queen and Great Men of the Pamunkey Indians," but do not name the queen. The three petitions on which Ann's name appears, together with the others that do not name her, all eloquently document important events in the history of her people. Despite provisions of the 1677 peace treaty that Cockacoeske had signed that forbade English settlement within three miles of any Indian town, settlers gradually encroached on the Pamunkey lands. With less land on which to hunt and fish, younger members left the lands. This reduction in population left the Pamunkey in a "distressed & miserable state & condicion," unable to pay the tribute required by the treaty. At the same time unscrupulous colonists were selling liquor to Indians, getting them into debt, and then taking their possessions. In the petitions that Ann and the great men of the Pamunkey submitted to the government, she firmly requested that squatters on Indian land be removed, that ownership of tribal lands be confirmed, and that the annual tribute be reduced. In records not bearing her actual mark but obviously reflecting the queen's beliefs, she asked that young Indians employed away from the reserved lands be returned to their people and that strong liquor be kept out of Indian towns. Despite the survival of only a few records, Ann is known as an Indian leader who fought for the rights of her people.

Ann's name does not appear on any known documents after the petition of about 1712. She probably died in or not long after 1723, the last year in which reference to a hereditary ruler of the Pamunkey appears in extant records.

Time Line

  • 1686 - Ann succeeds her aunt Cockacoeske as Pamunkey chief. Ann may also have been known as "Mrs. Betty."
  • October 22, 1701 - A petition requesting the confirmation of a sale of Pamunkey land to English subjects is submitted to the General Court bearing the mark and the name "Mrs. Betty, the Queen." It is thought that Mrs. Betty and Ann, the niece who succeeded the Pamunkey chief Cockacoeske, are the same person.
  • August 1706 - The Pamunkey chief Ann's name and mark appear on a document submitted to the colonial government.
  • ca. 1710 - The Pamunkey chief Ann's name and mark appear on a document submitted to the colonial government.
  • November 1711 - The Pamunkey chief Ann sends her son to the Indian school at the College of William and Mary as a hostage for the tribe's good behavior and to receive the rudiments of education.
  • ca. 1712 - The Pamunkey chief Ann's name and mark appear on a document submitted to the colonial government.
  • ca. 1723 - The Pamunkey chief Ann dies.
Further Reading
Rountree, Helen C. "Ann." In Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 1, edited by John T. Kneebone, J. Jefferson Looney, Brent Tarter, and Sandra Gioia Treadway, 178–179. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Rountree, H. C., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Ann (fl. 1706–1712). (2013, July 8). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Ann_fl_1706-1712.

  • MLA Citation:

    Rountree, Helen C. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Ann (fl. 1706–1712)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 8 Jul. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: June 8, 2010 | Last modified: July 8, 2013


Contributed by Helen C. Rountree and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Helen C. Rountree is professor emerita of anthropology at Old Dominion University and author of Pocahontas's People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries (1990) and Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown (2005).