This website is dedicated to the history of the Berry family(ies) that lived in Devon England (from 1066-1587), the Lost Colony at Roanoke Island (from 1587-1590), eastern North Carolina (from 1590-1810), and central Mississippi (from 1810-1980). The goals are to explain and explore the connections between these Berry families, which are supported by evidence of varying reliability (ranging from DNA tests and census records to hearsay, legend, and other circumstantial evidence).
The following is a general history of the Berry families addressed in this website. More specific information, including family trees, is included in the links below. Anybody interested in further information should look at the Berry Links tab below. Please contact me at the e-mail address listed there to suggest additions or revisions to this site.
IN THE BEGINNING...
The "beginning" (for genealogical purposes) is the time when the R1b1b2 Y-DNA haplogroup broke off from other distinct genetic groups. Most members of this haplogroup migrated from the Middle East to Western Europe between 5,000 - 10,000 years ago. From that group, a sub-group with haplotype R1b1b2a1a2 migrated further West, especially to Ireland, Spain, and Germany. Most people of Germanic or Celtic background fall in this haplotype. Most Berry families do too, including the Berry families addressed on this website. There are other Berry families in America that have an "I" haplotype, common among Scandinavian people.
THE "BERRY" NAME
Surnames, in the sense of a fixed family name which passed down from generation to generations, came to England in the 11th century and became universally during the 13th and 14th centuries. There are two possible origins of the English surname "Berry." First, warriors named Barry accompanied Willaim the Conquerer's invasion of England in 1066; later, in reward, they were given estates in southwestern England (most notably, Berrynarbour on the northern coast of Devon, where prominent family named Berry lived for centuries afterward). Second, it is thought to be derived from the Old English word "byrig," dative case of burh (meaning ‘fortified manor house’ or ‘stronghold’). In most of England "byrig" became "bury" (as in Salisbury) but it became "Berry" in the Devon region. Locations in or near a castle took the suffix "berry" and people took a surname based on their location. (Berry Pomeroy in southern Devon is an example; the name means "Pomeroy's Castle" and is not related to any Berry family).
THE BERRYS OF DEVON, ENGLAND
The Berry name is well-documented among the gentility of Devon in Southwestern England. Most prominent among them was the Berry family of Berrynarbor and its branches of Crosscombe and Chittlehampton. The Berrynarbor family (apparently) died out, without a known male heir, in 1708. All three of these families included a Henry and a Richard that were of age to sail to America in 1587.
BERRYS AT THE LOST COLONY OF ROANOKE
Henry Berry and Richard Berry (perhaps those of Berrynarbor, Crosscombe and/or Chittlehampton) were among the 187 colonists that sailed from Plymouth, Devon to Roanoke Island in 1587. The only thing known about the Richard Berry who sailed to Roanoke is that he was a "gentleman" and an officer in the Devon militia. Because the gentility of Devon was limited and well-recorded, the connection seems more likely than not. The colonists disappeared, apparetly either killed or absorbed by the Croatoan Indians (who later became the Lumbee Indians). The Lumbees' tribal history insists that they are descendants of the Lost Colonists of Roanoke. Two Lumbee Indians with the surname "Berry" have tested positive for the R1b1b2 Y-DNA haplotype (which means their direct paternal-line ancestors were European).
THE ENGLISH/LUMBEE BERRYS IN CAROLINA
The Berry name re-surfaces in 1750, when a land grant was issued to "Henry O'Berry" for land in south-central North Carolina (near Lumberton in Robeson County, NC, still the center of the Lumbee Indian population). Lumbee tribal records indicate that the true name of the land grant recipient was "Henry O. Berry," a Lumbee Indian. Henry's son Andrew settled at Sandy Bluff on the Pee Dee River (now Marion County, SC) and had 10 children (6 sons) who passed the Berry name to multiple descendants. Records appear to indicate that Andrew and his descendants passed as Anglo-Saxons rather than Indians, while acknowledging their Lumbee Indian background.
MIGRATION TO MISSISSIPPI
John Berry (c. 1740-1810) was the father of three Berry brothers who moved to central Mississippi. DNA tests have proven that four descendants of John Berry are closely connected to four descendants of Henry O. Berry. None of Henry's sons were named John, so the specific relationship between John and Henry needs to be determined. Various sources based on hearsay suggest John's father was named Isaac or James Isaac, but there is no reliable evidence (yet).
Census records show that the move to Mississippi took place between 1810-1820. The brothers were John Jackson Berry (c. 1765), German Berry (c.1760), and David Berry (c. 1770). John and German settled in Simpson County; David settled in Rankin County.
David Berry (c. 1775 - 1832) served as an Indian interpreter for the U.S. Army (perhaps using skills learned from Lumbee-related ancestors). David is buried in the Berry-Sutton Cemetry south of Jackson, MS. He had two sons: German and Thompson Vines.
German Berry (1806 - 1882) lived in Rankin County, MS for most of his life. After the Civil War, German joined an ox-wagon carrivan with others looking for a fresh start in Texas. Shortly before his death, German asked nephews to help him return to Rankin County, MS. He is buried in the Berry-Sutton Cemetery. He had three sons, Joseph Boggan, Pleasant Bogan, Andrew Jackson, and David.
Pleasant Berry (1839 - 1926) and his brothers fought with the I Company (the "Rankin Greys") of 6th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, from the regiment's initial recruitment in 1860 to the final surrender to General Sherman in 1865. He is buried in Florence, MS. He had two sons, Robert German and John Morrah.
John Morrah Berry (1869 - 1935) was twice elected mayor of Florence, MS. He is buried in Florence, MS. He had three sons: Rodney, Currie Bernard, and Raymond.
MORE SPECIFIC INFORMATION AND DOCUMENTATION ABOUT THE DIFFERENT BERRY FAMILIES ABOVE CAN BE FOUND AT THE FOLLOWING LINKS