Note: N1 Robert Swett [born about 1623 in England] arrived in Virginia in 1638 aboard the ship "Guiding Star". [Foley, Louise Pledge Heath, "Early Virginia Families Along the James River: James City County-Surry County" (Genealogical Publishing Company reprint 1990), p. 21, Passenger List of the Guiding Star] Robert Swett, 1638, by Lt. Robert Sheppard, James City Co. The name following the "by" is the patentee or party who paid for his transportation to Virginia. [Greer, George Cabell, "Early Virginia Immigrants 1623-1666" (1912, Genealogical Publishing Company reprint 1989), p. 318.] Leift. Robert Sheppard due 650 acres of land in James City Co., 26 July 1638, for transporting 13 persons ... the list includes Robert Swett. [Nugent, Nell Marion, "Cavaliers & Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants 1623-1666" (1934, Genealogical Publishing Company reprint 1969), p. 94] The land granted to Robert Sheppard at this time was on the south bank of the James River at Chippokes Creek. [Nugent, p. 584] A modern Virginia highway map shows Chippokes Plantation State Park on the south bank, directly across the river south of Jamestown. 17 October 1640: James City Court: "Whereas Robert Sweat hath begotten with child a negro woman servant belonging unto Lieutenant Sheppard, the court hath therefore ordered that the said negro woman shall be whipt at the whipping post and the said Sweat shall tomorrow in the forenoon do public penance for his offence at James City church in the time of divine service according to the laws of England in that case provided." [Virginia Council and General Court Records 1640-1641, in "Virginia Magazine of History" Vol. II, p. 281] This was a general law against fornication. Notice that she was a servant and not a slave. Note: many researchers say the man punished by the court in 1640 was Robert SWEETE, gentleman, who came to Virginia on the ship "Neptune" in 1618, was living at Elizabeth City in 1625 aged 42, and became a member of the House of Burgesses, but this is wrong and should be corrected. Robert SWEETE was a wealthy landowner and well-known in the Colony. It is not reasonable to assume the Court would miss-spell his name SWEAT, because the Court knew who he was and how he spelled his name. The passenger list of the "Guiding Star" and the land grant in James City to Lt. Robert Sheppard in 1638 suggest that Robert Swett and this negro woman were both servants of Lt. Robert Sheppard in 1640 and therefore would have had ample opportunity to get together. Robert Swett is called "Robert Sweat the Elder of Norfolk" in Bishop Gregg's "History of the Old Cheraws" (1867) found in Appling County History Museum, 209 Thomas Street, Baxley, GA 31513 [extracts posted on RootsWeb by Pamela D. and Steven R. Hudson.] There is an error in Bishop Gregg's account -- he says that "Robert Sweat the Elder" was born about 1600 and came to Virginia on the ship "Neptune" in 1618. Robert Swett and his free black wife were the ancestors of many Swett-Sweatt-Sweat families who spread across the southeastern United States. The name and gender of their child born in 1640 or 1641 is unknown. Their son William Swett was born about 1642 in James City: he was a servant and a mulatto and lived to a ripe old age. His name is spelled SWETT and SWEAT in the extant records. Robert Swett and his wife removed to Norfolk where their son Robert Swett was born in 1650, and they may have had other children. After a few generations, depending on who they married, some of their descendants were considered white, some mulatto, some black, and some Native American -- but they were almost always listed as people born free.
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