Connections: The Pope Family in Colonial America

Pope Family in Colonial America chart

One of my major family lines is the Pope family. My maternal grandmother was Mary Evelyn Pope. Mary was a fourth generation resident of East Armuchee. However, the earlier Pope generations–going back to Colonial times–are subject to dispute. Two different lineages have been identified by genealogists over the years. So far no documentation has emerged to support one lineage over the other so therefore I did not go into details for either line in the Jordan’s Journey book. This post will explore some of the connections in the theory laid forth by John David Humphries in his book Georgia Descendants of Nathaniel Pope of Virginia.

Humphries’s theory describes the colonial Pope line as follows:

Nathaniel [I] (b.1603) > Nathaniel [II] (b.1640)> Nathaniel [III, alias Bridges] (b.1660) > John (b.1692)

This lineage contains several interesting connections, the first of which allies this particular Pope line with the most American colonial figure of all. Nathaniel [I] and Lucy Pope’s oldest daughter was Anne Pope. Anne married Col. John Washington and would become the great-grandmother of George Washington, first president of the United States (Humphries).

Another connection comes through Anne’s brother Nathaniel Pope (b.1640). Nathaniel married Mary Sisson. Mary was the sister of Daniel Sisson, interpreter for the Indians (Humphries).

The third interesting point comes into play with the great grandchildren of Nathaniel [I] and Lucy. Two of Nathaneil and Lucy’s sons are Nathaniel [II] and Thomas. Nathaniel [II] had a grandson named John while Thomas had a grandaughter named Elizabeth. These great grandchildren of Nathaniel [I] and Lucy, John and Elizabeth, are second cousins. But they were also husband and wife!

Click the graphic above to see an illustration of these relationships.

These sorts of connections are always fascinating–even if I can’t be 100% sure that my Pope family descends from this line. Exploring the various theories makes for an interesting way to spend some time. You can read more about the Pope line in the Jordan’s Journey book.

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UPDATE: The original graphic on this post contained an error. It showed that Lawrence Washington died in 1690 (4 years before his son was born)! When creating the chart I made an error. Lawrence was married in 1690, had his son Augustine in 1694, and died in 1698. The graphic has been corrected. (Many thanks to Brian Centrone for bringing this to my attention.)


Humphries, John D. Georgia Descendants of Nathaniel Pope of Virginia, John Humphries of South Carolina, and Allen Gay of North Carolina. Atlanta, GA: J.D. Humphries, 1934. Print. See WorldCat.

Guthrey, William M. Genealogical Chart of the Known Descendants of Micajah Pope 1808-1867: With an Outline of His American Ancestors, 1634-1844. Collinsville, OK: 1972. Print. See WorldCat.

13 Responses to “Connections: The Pope Family in Colonial America”

  1. Beth P. says:

    Have you considered putting together a DNA analysis to resolve the issue regarding Nathaniel Pope descendants ? Also – when did the question / dispute of his descendants arise ? prior to Civil War – ?

    • I have done a DNA test with–but their tools seem pretty limited to me so I have accomplished relatively little with it. Otherwise I am not involved in any DNA work and am not sure where to start. Any suggestions?

      As for when the dispute came up… check out my message in this thread on an for some more details about what I know about this.

      By the way, are you a Pope descendant as well?

  2. LRH says:

    A little know fact about the Popes. William Alexander Pope was the father of some of Georgia Ann Wilborn (1865 – 1953). She is my great great aunt and her and my great great Grandfather Adolphus Wilbon, along with their other siblings are the Grandchildren of the Gartrells by way of my 3xs great Grandmother Anne Gartrell. Ann is the daughter of Joseph Gartell Jr and Eliza Gartrell(who was Enslaved on Mt Sylvain and she is also the sister of Caroline Gartrell)

    Now back to the Popes, have you ever heard of the rap group Onyx? Well two of the members FRedro Star and Sticky Fingers are descendants of William Alexander Pope and my great great Aunt Georgia Ann Wilbon.

  3. Col. Roy D. Pope, Jr. says:

    I am a Pope and have been banging my genealogical head against a brick wall. My line, as far as I have been able to go, is as follows: Roy Dalton Pope, Jr. (Roy Dalton, Windell Douglas, Marion Colie, Joel Francis, William H., William, Bennett Pope). This line is fully proven through historic records.

    Like you, I have done the AncestryDNA test. Through AncestryDNA, I have been able to link with cousins on the following Common Ancestors from the line above: William H., William, and Bennett Pope.

    Here comes that “brick wall”…

    Through AncestryDNA, I have matches to more than 300 individuals with the Pope surname in their pedigrees, but I cannot find the common link between my tree and theirs (other than the few that linked on the Common Ancestors mentioned above). Of those DNA matches, more than 20 have successfully traced their lines to Humphrey Pope who Nathaniel Pope had brought over to America (more on this in a moment). There are also dozens of matches who have traced their lines directly to Nathaniel Pope.

    About Humphrey Pope… Humphrey was the grandfather of Sophia Pope who married James Muse. James and Sophia, in turn, were the grandparents of Lovicey L. Tolleson who married Richard Kirby.

    I mention this because the name “Kirby” appears a few times in my family tree. My 2nd great uncle was a Thomas Curby Pope; my 3rd great uncle was a Kirby R. Pope; My 2nd cousin 3x removed was a Kirby Ray Pope.

    The repeated appearance of Kirby in my family tree leads me to believe that a Pope male (possible Bennett Pope) married a Kirby female, but I cannot find any record of such a union in the time between 1750-1816 which is the approximated lifespan of Bennett Pope.

    The fact that some of my DNA matches have been able to trace their lines to Humphrey Pope while others are able to trace their lines directly to Nathaniel Pope leads me to an additional theory…

    Sophia Pope (granddaughter of Humphrey Pope) had a brother named Humphrey Pope III who married Sarah Pope, gg-granddaughter of Nathaniel Pope. So far, I have been completely unable to locate any record of children from the marriage of Humphrey Pope III and Sarah Pope. My theory is that my Bennett Pope may have descended from this union. Of course, I cannot prove this theory without records, but at least I have a theory to work with.

    • Kerby Pope says:

      The Kirby you are seeing in the Geneology is spelled incorrectly. I know this as I am Charles Kerby Pope Jr. I am named after my Great Grandfather Kerby Compton Pope Sr. The Kerby name is from a spouse that married a Pope back in the geneology. The wall you are hitting is because the geneology sites have the spelling of Kerby incorrect. My birth certificate has to be corrected along with just about every other document with my name on it so I sympathize with you.

  4. Col. Roy D. Pope, Jr. says:

    Thanks for your response Kerby. I have actually come across a few different spellings of the name – Kirby, Kerby, Curby, and Curbie are just to name a few. I actually came across your great grandfather a couple of times in my research. I never found a relation to him, just came across the name a couple of times.

  5. Patricia Pope Riegler says:

    I am a Pope also and just recently joined Ancestry and did the DNA test as well. It is very confusing and I’m hoping to get as much information as possible. It seems my part of the Pope family originated from Great Britain and then eventually migrated to the South and Southeast portions of the U.S. My father was originally born and raised in Mississippi. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi!

      I am also a member of the Pope clan with similar roots as yours. My mother (Grace Pope) was the daughter of John Bradford (1883-1953) and Jessie Dews Pope(1885-1949) and were born in Pontotoc, Ms.

      John Bradford was the son of John Franklin (1848-1923) and Rachael Pritchard Pope(1853-1906).

      John Franklins’ father is John Bradford (1825-1899) and his mother was Sarah “Ann” Miears (1830-1902)

      I have been able to trace with reasonable confidence the generations that immigrated from Bristol, England as early as the 17th century. Their path takes them from Isle of Wight, Va., to Edgecomb, NC to Pinkneyville, Georgia and finally to Mississippi.

      My research is not so clear about the English generations.

      If interested, I would be happy to share with you what I know. Our forefathers were very active during the Revolutionary War. The early ones were also Quakers.

  6. Steven Loken says:

    Hello all:

    Like the others who have posted above, I am trying to sort out my Pope lineage. My maternal grandmother was a Pope who I have traced back to Humphrey. There appears to be a lot of inconsistency with Humphrey’s lineage. Some think he is Nathaniel Pope’s son – which I believe is incorrect – but I do believe they are related.

    Does anyone know Humphrey’s lineage in the colonies or in old England?

    The same is true for Nathaniel’s lineage. He appears to be from Bristol (like Humphrey) there are numerous profiles for him online.

    Hang in there Popes we can figure this out!!


  7. Chloe says:

    Do you happen to know if the pope’s were related to the amerson’s? I was doing my ancestry tree and I seen that Uriah amerson’s mother Sarah Barnes was the daughter of Edward and Sarah (Pope) Barnes. She was born about 1724 in edgecombe county North Carolina USA .

  8. Bruce Pope says:

    I too am a Decedent of the Pope’s in Massachusetts &upstate Ny early 1600’s. I know they migrated to Kansas in the early 1800’s via A series of generations of Squire Pope and Benjamin Pope, then Louis Pope my brother is Louis Pope the fifth.
    While in MA, they merged with the Way’s (Nellie).
    I just can’t seem to make the jump from New England to Nathaniel Pope of Virginia.

  9. My POPE brick wall resides in Robeson County, NC. Allied families include ASHLEY, POWELL< BARNES, LENNON. I have inactive Ancestrry account with DNA and also Familysearch and Wikitree.

  10. tiffany pope says:

    my husband is a pope. we have successfully traced him to nathaniel as well. would love to chat with anyone interested.

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