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What about African American Mabrys?

Resources and suggestions for family research


I have been contacted by about 50 African-American Mabrys who want to know more about their relationship with the Mabry family. Some African-American Mabrys will find that their ancestors were once slaves of a white Mabry family. Others may have ancestors who were never slaves but got their name through a close association with the Mabrys.

Francis Maybury came to Virginia about 1675 and settled on Swift Creek, a few miles west of Jamestown. His children quickly shortened the spelling of their name to "Mabry" which is still a common spelling today. The practice of slavery in the Mabry family began with Francis Maybury, himself, whose will, written in 1712 names three Native American slaves. References to African-American slaves are common in documents of his children and grandchildren.

In the late 18th century, as society gradually became more enlightened about the issue, some of the Mabrys, began to free their slaves. Others continued to hold slaves until the Civil War.

Once free, many of the former Mabry slaves kept the Mabry name as their own. These African-American families can be found in early census records where they are usually listed either as "free colored persons" or as "mulattos". We also know that some of the early white Mabrys had slave mistresses. Thus some modern African-Americans are direct descendants of the white Mabrys.

Among the Mabry records I have gathered there is information that could be very helpful to African-American Mabrys tracing their ancestors. Because records which mention slaves pre-date the Civil War, African-Americans will first need to use more conventional methods of genealogical research to trace their families back to that period. Some of the following resources may be helpful.



Slave records in the Mabry/Mayberry family

Interviews with former slaves with connections to the Mabry family

African-American Mabrys who served in the Civil war

The Maybury DNA Project. African American Mabrys, who have an oral history indicating that their ancestors were slaves before the Civil War, may wish to submit a sample of their DNA to the Maybury DNA Project. By doing so it might be possible to determine whether or not there is a genetic relationship with the Mabry family or with some other slave owing family.

Afrigeneas African ancestored genealogy



If you are African-American and know where your Mabry ancestors lived during or before the Civil War (or shortly afterward), contact: Don Collins . I may be able to help you find earlier records.


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August 2014