John Culpepers of Barbados
By Warren Culpepper
The significance of the John Culpepers of Barbados is in the possibility that
one of them may have been John Culpeper of Albemarle, alias the Carolina Rebel (referred
to hereafter as "the Rebel")
It is well documented and accepted that the Rebel did arrive in Charles Town in 1670/1
from Barbados and that he subsequently became involved with the disturbances in Albemarle
that led to his trial and acquittal in England.
Elsewhere on the site, there is a considerable amount of information about the Rebel.
- A biography contained in our section on
- A lengthier treatment is contained in a Master's thesis by William S. Smith, Jr.
entitled, Culpeper's Rebellion: New Data
and Old Problems
The balance of this page will examine the possibilities as to which John
Culpeper the Rebel was. These possibilities are:
- John, friend of Armel. The John Culpeper who wrote and witnessed
the will of Armel Gould in Barbados in 1663.
- John Alleyne. John Alleyne Culpeper, birth date and place
unknown, reportedly the son of the Rev. William and Margaret (Alleyne) Culpeper of
Barbados. This possibility embraces, and is an extension of, the "John, friend of
- English John. A John Culpeper who may have simply passed through
Barbados in 1670 on his way from England to the new Charles Town settlement on the Ashley
River. It is also possible that "English John" is either of the above two Johns,
as their residency in Barbados is not proven.
As background for this examination, all the known facts about Culpepers in
Barbados prior to 1680 have been set forth on the Barbados
Culpeper Facts page. The reader is encouraged to read these before continuing on this
John, friend of Armel
- In Jan 1663/4 in Barbados, a John Culpeper, age 19, gave a deposition regarding the will of Armel
Gould. In it, he said that he had written a will for Armel on 27 Dec 1663. In that will we
find that John Culpeper is identified as both a friend and overseer. Thus we can
conclude that this John was literate and was born circa 1644.
- John Culpeper, the Rebel, arrived
in Charles Town 16 Feb 1670/1 on the ship Carolina from Barbados. He was
literate (appointed as surveyor)
and between January 1672/3 and June 1673, he left Charles Town and
subsequently became involved with the disturbances in Albemarle
that led to his trial and acquittal in England. In the Rebel's deposition
concerning Thomas Miller, it is clear that his birthdate falls between 1641 and 1649. It
has been argued (but not yet to this writer's complete satisfaction) that other facts
concerning this undated deposition places the Rebel's birthdate at 1644.
So both of these John Culpepers were literate, both were born in the 1640's, and
both are connected with Barbados.
However, there is a plausible way to account for
"John, friend of Armel," without his having to be the Rebel. Col.
F.W.T. Attree's pedigree chart, Culpeper of
Barbados shows a John Culpeper, without
identified parents, with a wife and children in Barbados, and who died there in 1676. I have been able to substantiate through birth and marriage
records most of the names and dates on that chart. Over 200 facts match, and I can build
an argument to dispute only one or two. So I'm confident it was not hastily thrown
The preceding reservations not withstanding, if the Rebel's date of birth can be
proven to be c. 1644, then the argument becomes much stronger that the Rebel is one and
the same as "John, friend of Armel".
The support for the Rebel being "John Alleyne" include the facts
stated above for "John, friend of Armel," plus the following additional facts:
- An article in Genealogies of
Barbados Families, states that the Rev. William Culpeper of Barbados and his
wife, Margaret Alleyne, had five children: Abel, Alleyne, Francis, John Alleyne
and Margaret. Most likely the children of a minister would be literate.
- In the Armel Gould will, we find Margaret Culpeper
is identified as a friend of Armel's, and therefore in the same document, both John and
Margaret are identified as friends of Armel.
Difficulties with the John Alleyne Culpeper theory are as follows:
- The claim for the existence of a John Alleyne Culpeper comes only from a 15
page narrative genealogy of the Alleyne family, in which the Culpeper family takes up less
than 1/4 of one page. Since the Culpeper line was not the author's interest or focus, one
has to be quite wary of accepting such claims at face value. Further, the
book in which the article appears (Genealogies of Barbados Families) has no
footnotes, and there are few sources quoted for the purported facts contained in it. This
is not reason to dispute the data, but it does give rise to the need to look for
supporting facts. As detailed on the following points, there are no supporting facts, but
there are facts that call into question the existence of John Alleyne Culpeper.
On 17 Apr 2001, Bill Russell Responded: The
reference in Genealogies of Barbados Families appears to me to be
an abstract of an either misplaced or no longer extant contemporaneous
record from Stowting, Kent. I am inclined to accept it as accurate
because it was not produced for any purpose related to our inquiry -
John of Albemarle or the genealogy of the Culpeper family in general -
and because the mention of John Alleyne Culpeper is in no way related to
anything else the complier was pursuing. That is not to say that it
couldn't be inaccurate or even false, only that standard evidentiary
rules would be inclined to give it reasonable weight as being authentic
given the absence of any evidence to the contrary. The names given for
Margaret Alleyne Culpeper's sons Abel and John correspond to those of
two of her brothers and the son Alleyne is known from Barbados records
as having survived and left descendants, further lending credibility to
the list. If a non-abstracted contemporaneous document were to be found
that contradicted it, evidentiary rules would clearly give heavier
weight to the non-abstracted document. Absent any contrary document of
any kind and absent any motive to include false or misleading
information, the thing speaks for itself.
- Middle names did not come into general use until the later part of the 1700's.
In an extensive, but certainly not exhaustive, review of names in the IGI file
for England and Barbados, I did not find any evidence of anyone who had a middle name
prior to 1740. However, at least three
people of note in Colonial America in the late 17th century did have a middle
name: Edward Henry Lee, 1st Earl of Lichfield; his son-in-law
Benedict Leonard Calvert, 4th Lord Baltimore; and Edward Maria
Wingfield, 1st President of
the Virginia Colony. Also, it is possible that if William Culpeper and Margaret
Alleyne did have a son named John, he could have been called "John
Alleyne", in order to distinguish him from another John
Culpeper. So the validity of the name, John Alleyne Culpeper, along with his actual
existence, must be questioned, but it should not be ruled out on the
basis of having a middle name.
On 17 Apr 2001, Bill Russell Responded: As for the
issue of the use of middle names in the 17th Century, suffice it to say
that I could cite lots of examples - more than I have done in the past.
It does seem to have been a device adopted more frequently in the 18th
century, but its use beginning in the 16th century has been noted as the
discussion indicated - to distinguished between one of many John Does in
a given area. It was also a device necessary for more than simply
convenience. There was a bloody civil war going on at precisely the time
we are looking at where families were split in their allegience and
telling one of the same from another could be a matter of life or death.
- For the five children listed in the book, there is an abundance of evidence
establishing the existence of three: Alleyne Culpeper, Francis Culpeper and Margaret
Culpeper, but there is no evidence that I've been able to find apart from the book for
Abel Culpeper or John Alleyne Culpeper. Here is the record for each of
It should also be noted, however, that John Alleyne Culpeper may never have
emigrated to Barbados, but he could have passed through on his way from England to the
Carolinas. Thus, his lack of evidence in the Barbados record is not a strike against
him in so far as the possibility of his existence.
If there were no Abel or John Alleyne Culpeper, a plausible explanation for them
is that Alleyne was actually their surname and that they were being raised in the
household of their William and Margaret (Alleyne) Culpeper.
It is quite clear from the 1680 census
that both an Abel Alleyne and several John Alleynes were living in Barbados in 1680.
I have been unsuccessful in identifying any orphaned Abel and John Alleynes of
the appropriate age, although this doesn't rule out the possibility of their being
orphans, since the extant records are far from complete. If they were not orphans, then
the illness of, or travel back to England by, their parents might also explain Abel and
John Alleyne being in the Culpeper household at whatever time somebody drew the conclusion
that they were Culpepers.
If Abel Alleyne and John Alleyne, as opposed to Abel Culpeper and John Alleyne
Culpeper were documented in the table above, then the table would contain an abundance of
pre- and post-1670 entries for them.
Given the preceding facts that call into question the
existence of a John Alleyne Culpeper, particularly in Barbados, it seems to me that this
theory is still speculative and that only a tenuous link exists from the apocryphal John
Alleyne Culpeper in Barbados to the Rebel in the late 1670's.
Even if it is proved that the Rebel was born in 1644, and
therefore most likely to be one and the same as "John, friend of Armel," more
research is needed before the ancestry of the Rebel can be established.
Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015