Matthew Midyett- Our North Carolina Pioneer (Wescott Family)

My 8th great grandfather.  Our colonial pioneer!  It is said that Matthew was shipwrecked on Bodies Island in North Carolina and stayed.

Bodie Island, originally “Body Island,” is reportedly named after a family (Robert Boddy/Boddie) who owned the land, but folklore would have it that the name resulted from the many shipwrecked bodies that washed ashore.

It seems that the Midyett (Now Midgett or Midgette) line came from France.

FraNCe: The French Heritage of North Carolina Paperback – September 15, 2016

French Heritage of North Carolina-Matthew Midyett

Map of Carolinas 1740

The map legend by H.Moll, geographer, reads: The English Claim the property of Carolina from Lat 29 & c degrees as part of Cabot’s Discoveries who set out from Bristol in 1498,at the charge of King Henry ye 7th but they did not take possession of that country till King Charles the ll’s time in 1663 who granted a patent to divers persons to plant all the territories within the North Lat of 36 deg & so west in a direct line to the South Sea.

Midyett: Midyett families, originally from Normandy, France, were early inhabitants of Bodie Island and the Outer Banks in the late 1600s. “Many Midyett girls married sailors of Black Beard’s three ships. The name was spelled different ways: Midyett, Midyette, Midgett, Midgette, but no matter how you spell it, they all came from Matthew Midyett who landed at Bodie Island, NC around 1600. He was a ship captain and was shipwrecked off the coast of the outer banks.”–Donald Midyett.   Midyetts helped start the US Coast Guard by establishing life-saving stations on the Outer Banks. Some of the family found their way to Beaufort by 1850. ~Source: Compiled by Beaufort artist, researcher, historian and author Mary Warshaw

(The above pirate connection is not proven, yet.  There is some speculation that there is a connection to Thomas Paine and we do have Paine’s (Payne’s) in the tree so who knows!)

William Keith Midgette  recently stated on a Facebook group “I recently learned that the South River area of which London Towne was a part where Matthew Midyett lived from the late 1600’s to 1708 was settled by Huguenots, Quakers, and Scottish dissenters, so perhaps the hypothesis that the Midyett’s or Midiate’s were originally Huguenots has some possibilities.”

Miles MidgetteFrom information I have gathered over the years, it is entirely likely that Matthew Midgett’s forebears were Huguenots. The name originates near Marville (now France) which was part of the Spanish Netherlands for several hundred years and was a hotbed for Protestant fervor. Perhaps a million Protestants fled that region when the French took it over, many ending up in Kent, England as did the Midgett forebears. The name is Spanish for “son of the Archangel Michael”

William Keith MidgetteMy hypothesis is that Matthew Midyett’s parents came from the Devon, Exeter, England area based upon the number of Midyett/Midiatt/Mediate’s I found in records of that area from 1500’s to the 1600’s. Whether they originally came from France or Netherlands, I can’t say yet until the link tieing Matthew to his parents is postiviely proven and them to England, but the info that Miles posted is completely plausible.”

Kay Lynn Sheppard is a Midgett by birth and has made a “genealogy career” of collecting every document of Midgett or Midyett information that is to be found.   She has been an invaluable source of information for me personally as well as thousands of other people.  I am lucky enough to be in touch with her regularly.

Unfortunately there is an article referring to the Thomas Midyett Bible, but Kay found out it was a fake. It never existed. Furthermore, Matthew had parents in this article, and to quote Kay, there is “not one shred of evidence” for that claim either. Lastly, while she does have a copy of the Matthew Midyett will, the original is now missing from the North Carolina State Archives.  Very sad that people would steal our heritage like this.  It’s in the archives for everyone to see and use!

Kay was kind enough to share her ten pages of notes.  Some notes are from Nancy Frey as well.  Keep in mind that I do not have copies of all these court records.  I will put the website or source of the ones I have been able to locate.  When Kay has time, hopefully she can shed more light on some of the things I have in this blog.


Matthew was born on April 10, 1676 and died on December 25, Christmas Day, 1734 on Bodies Island in what was then Currituck County, NC. He married Judith “Judy” White on July 13, 1702 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the daughter of Samuel White, as proven by his will. Judith was born August 3, 1681 in Anne Arundel County and died September 26, 1744 on Bodies Island. (The White family is supposedly known to be traced back to Jamestown~more on that in another blog when/if I can prove it.)

In 1703, we discover from the court records that Matthew is a ship’s carpenter.  Notes show that his father was a boatswain as well, but there have been no records found on his parents to date.

At the January court, William Killburne was bound to Matthew Midiate to learn the skill of ship’s carpenter.

January Court 1703
“Comes hereunto court Mr. Charles Killburne and Rachel Freeborne and bring William Killburne, son-in-law to said Rachel and nephew to said Charles, into court and binds the said William, with his consent, to one, Matthew Midiate, shipcarpenter, to serve the said Matthew till he comes to the age of one and twenty years, being now by the court adjudged to be sixteen years of age the nineteenth day of march next. In consideration whereof the said Matthew undertakes and bindeth himself to do his utmost endeavour to teach the said William Killburne the art or mastery of a ship carpenter and boatwright and also to teach him to read and write so well as he can teach him, and in all other things to do by the said William as it is usual for such masters to do by orphans in the county of Ann Arundel.”  ~Source: Source: Anne Arundel Co., Maryland Judgments; Vol. G/278-279

In June of 1703, Mathew Midget registered his livestock “mark”, for “cattle a crop and two slips in the left ear”. At that time, livestock roamed free and grazed. The only way to be able to determine your livestock from the livestock of other farmers was via your registered ear marks.

In 1703, Judith’s father died, naming Judith and Matthew Midgett in his will, leaving them 10 pounds sterling.

Source: Anne Arundel Co., Md. Judgments; Vol. G/474-475
March Court 1704
William Bateman
Matthew Midiate
Command was given to the Sheriff of Ann Arundel County that he should take Matthew Midiate, late of Anne Arundel County, shipwright, if he should be found in this bailiwick and should him safekeep so that he should have his body before the justices of her majesties county court to be held at Annapolis, the second Tuesday of March then next, to answer unto William Bateman of a plea of trespass upon the case etc.
On which second Tuesday of March viz.–the fourteenth of the same month A.D. 1704 comes the said sheriff and makes return that he has taken the body of the said Matthew as commanded etc.
Whereon the said William complains as follows viz.–Matthew Midiate Of Ann Arundel County, shipwright, was attached to answer unto William Bateman of a plea of trespass upon the case.
Whereupon the said William by Clement Davies, his attorney, complained that whereas the said Matthew Midiate at London Town in Ann Arundel County, within the jurisdiction of this court, the 24th day of February in the year 1699 stood indebted to the said William Bateman in the sum of one pound and ten shillings of lawful money, by the particular account herewith brought into court may appear, and the said Matthew being so indebted afterwards, that is to say, the 24th day of February in the year aforesaid, at the county aforesaid, in consideration thereof, did assume upon himself and to the said William Bateman, did then and now, faithfully promise, that he, the said Matthew Midiate, the said sum of one pound and ten shillings to the said William Bateman when thereunto required would well and truly consent and pay, nevertheless the said Matthew Midiate his promise and assumption aforesaid not at all regarding but contriving and fraudentally intending him, the said William Bateman in this behalf craftily and subtley to devise and defraud the aforesaid sum of one pound and ten shillings to the said William Bateman although often knew unto required viz.– the day, year and place last mentioned and at divers times and places knew he hath not paid but the same to pay and content or satisfy to the said William Bateman hath denied and refused and will and doth deny and refuse to the damage of the said William Bateman there paid and sent of lawful money and thereof he brings this suit.
Pledge & John Doe & Richard Roe

June Court 1704
Mathew Midiate due to William Bateman——1 pound 10 shilling for cakes & beer & punch & wine

Matthew Midiate has his attorney, W. Bladen, defend the charges brought against him by William Bateman. The justices of the Court award Mathew Midiate the sum of_____(not specified)______ pounds of tobacco for his costs & charges because
William Bateman’s charges proved false.

August Court 1705
Matthew Midiate
Charles Linthicum
This writ and one other “countermanded by the plaintiffs”

Matthew was again in trouble in January of 1707 along with Thomas MacNamara for breaking into a tobacco barn and stealing one sheep.   In June Matthew posted bond for his later appearance, but he did not appear and the bond was forfeited.

In June of 1708, Charles Kilburne sued Matthew for debt. Matthew was not found “in the bailiwick” whereupon the court ordered Matthew’s goods attached. That indeed got Matthew’s attention. Matthew was in North Carolina by this time and appointed Richard Johnson and William Nicholson to represent him in the Kilburne suit. Kilburne promptly sued both men as well as Midgett.

Although Matthew had left Maryland in 1707 or 1708, in 1716 Matthew was ordered to pay William Bladen 24 pounds of tobacco for representing him in the 1704 suit. William was apparently a very patient man.

The move to North Carolina removed Matthew from the Queen’s jurisdiction and put him under the much looser jurisdiction of the Lord’s Proprietors.

In 1712, Matthew was living in Chowan County where he became a bit of a hero when he apprehended a brigantine belonging to Emanuel Low who had fired upon then Governor Edward Hyde and his supporters:

July 12, 1712. — Upon petition of Matthew Midgett, praying he may be
allowed fifty pounds, pursuant to a proclamation for apprehending Emanuel
Low, which is to be allowed out of his estate if convicted : Emanuel Low
being apprehended and brought before this board, for stirring up sedition
and rebellion against this government, and endeavoring to subvert the same,
was committed to the custody of the provost marshal therefor. ~Source:  Colonial and State Records of North Carolina

Not long after that, in February 1712, Matthew received his first land patent on the south side of Albemarle Sound, 341 acres, land commonly known as White Oak Island, “joining the sound, the swamp and the pocoson and the great swamp”. This had been surveyed by Jonathan Bateman who assigned it to Matthew. ~Source: Transcribed by Judy Brickhouse

In April of 1712, Matthew received another 360 acres on the northwest side of the Alligator River in Chowan precinct of Pasquotank County. This grant was signed by Governor Hyde.

Some websites have that the widow of Governor Hyde sued Matthew for failure to deliver goods including 40 yards of blue linen and Indian corn.  I’ll have to verify this with Kay Lynn.

In 1713, Matthew sat on a grand jury.

However, later in 1713, Matthew was once again in trouble, accused of underhandedly making a patent on another man’s land, knowing that the man had cleared the land but had not gotten the papers filed. Anthony Alexander asked to have Matthew’s right to the land forfeited. The jury ordered that Anthony be granted the patent to the land and that Matthew could “take up any vacant land if there is any left”. ~Source: Minutes of the North Carolina Governor’s Council

It seems that Matthew and Emanuel Low were not done being at odds with each other. In volume 2 of the Colonial records, which begins in 1713, Emanuel Low accused Matthew of breaking into his storehouse when Edward Hyde was governor and taking a quantity of rum and sugar. The board determined that Low’s petition was ‘altogether scandalous, injurious, seditious and false’.  Maybe Emanuel never quite forgave Matthew for the 1711 event.

Mr. Emanuel Low prefering a petition to this board ag’ Mathew Mid-
gett therein setting forth that y” said Midgett had feloniously broke open
his store house in the time when the Hon ble Edw a Hyde was Gov r here
and had take thereout a quantity of Rum & Sugar &c and pray’s y e Gov r
warr’ to appehend him therefore and it appearing to this board that y”
What y* said Midgett did in that regard was done by y° authority of the
Government and that y” Said Low has been considered & satisfied for y e
same. Therefore It is the opinion of this board that y e Same Petition is
altogether’ Scandolous Infamous Seditious and false And therefore it is
ordered that y” Same be & is hereby rejected as Such. ~Source: Minutes of the North Carolina Governor’s Council

Matthew Midyett began receiving North Carolina Land Patents as early as 1712 when he patented 341 acres on the south side of Albemarle Sound, commonly known as White Oak Island.

In the same year he patented 360 acres on the north-west side of “Alegator Creek in Chowan Precinct.” On 15 January 1715, he patented 1,500 acres on the south shore of Albemarle Sound.  ~ Records not found yet.

But, in 1717 he patented 200 acres in Currituck Precinct on the sand banks, south of Roanoke Inlet. Source below:

Mathew Midgett 1717 200 acres.JPG

In 1721, both Matthew and a Samuel Midget witness a deed from Thomas Peartree to John Fitzpatrick. Matthew writes his name but Samuel signs with a mark. Kay does not know the identity of this Samuel Midgett. However, Matthew’s son Samuel would probably have been over the age of 16 at this point, born approximately 1704, and could possibly have signed as a witness if no other adults were available.

In 1722, Matthew patents another 80 acres on “an island commonly called Bodyes Island, between Roanoke Inlet and his former survey”.

In 1727 he patents another 1900 acres on Cow and Bodyes Island the entire length of the nine and a half miles for a breadth of 100 poles.  “being the Sea bank and all the Marsh adjoining to it Commonly called Cow and Bodys Island… the length of the whole being 9-1/2 miles and the mean breadth 100 poles.”

In an usual entry in 1739, John sold his mother, Judy a tract of land containing 70 acres for 20 pounds. (not proven by me yet)

On December 21st, 1834 Matthew made his will.

In The Name Of God Amen: ye 21st day of December Anno 1734.

I, Mathew MIDYETT, of Body Island that is County of Albemarle being very sick and weak of body but of trew and perfect mind and memory thanks be to the almighty god for it and calling to mind the mortality of my body that it is appointed for all men wonce to die and do therefore put my last will and testament in wrightin therfore and first of all I give and recommend my Soul into the hand of the almity God that gave it and for my body I commend unto the Earth to be buried in a Christian like manner att the Discression of my Exetrs nothing doubting But att the general Resurrection I Shall Resive the Same — and foust [first] of my Disier is that all my lawfull depts be paid and as touching of my worly estate I give as in maner and forme following: Imprimis
Item: I give and bequeth unto my eldest son Samuel MIDYETT one hundred Eakers of Land lying and being on the South Side of Albemarle Sound alway Call his one [own] to him his heirs and asigns for Ever and futhermor I give unto my son Samuel sail cloth anouf to furnish his canneua [canoe] with one Sute of sails to him and his heirs for Ever.
Item I give and bequeth unto my son John MIDYETT one grate pereoarger and and [sic] sails that belong to her and a Small Cornua [canoe] that towes after her to him and his heirs and asines for Ever and fouthermore I give my son John one hamack on this Iland that has always gon by the name of Johns hamack for a prilavage of a stock to him and his heirs and assines.
Item I give and bequeth unto my son Josepth MIDYETT that part of the Iland whereon he now lives to him and his heairs or asines for Ever and Like wise and I give to my son Josepth one old connue called The Seaflower to him his heirs or asines.
Item I give and bequeth unto my Defters ann MIDYETT Cateran MIDYETT Judy MIDYETT, and Dinah MIDYETT Each and Every one of them a fether bed to them and their hears or asins for Ever.
Item I give and bequeth to my son,Samuel MIDYETT that part of the Iland whereon he now lives to him his heirs or asines for Ever and I give to my youngest Daufters Each of them the foust [first] two maire colts that is raised out of my stock to them and their heairs for Ever.
Item I give and bequeth to my sons Marthew MIDYETT and Thos MIDYETT this parte of Iland Wheron I now live from the Dugs Southely to them ther hears an their asines for Ever.
Item: I give my well beloved wife and my two Sons Marthew and Thomas and my younges Doafter Diner the priveleg of the Sea Side & Likwise my will and Desire is that my Son Marthew Shall not have the liberty of selling any part of the Land without he Should Com to his Sanses. Like wise I Give and bequeth to my well be Loved wife and my two Sons Marthew and Thomas and my Daufter Diner all the Rest of my movabel Estate in the house and the Rest of my Stock without to their youse and behoufe and hears for Ever and I Likwis my will and Disire is that all the Rest of my Land on the South Side of albemarle Sound may be Sold according as my Excutors see fitt and the money to be converted to the use of my well beloved wife and two sons Marthew and Thomas and my Dafter Dina to their use for Ever and Likwise my will and Desire is all my pork and pich tars Should fust be sold to purchase a negro and fouthermore I Give and bequeth to my two Sons Marthew and Thomas my two negros that I have already and that I leave to be purchased to them and their heirs and assigns for Ever. But my desire is that if my sons Marthew and Thomas Should Die without having heirs then this part of Dugs Sutherly to be Equely Devided amonkes my three Sons Samuell John and Josepth to them their heirs and assines for Ever and as to the personal Estate if they Should Die my disier is that my Sons and Deafters Should have it Equilily Divided amonkist them.
I Do hare apointe [rest of this line is torn] John, and Josepth to be my hole and lawfull exetrix and excuters and I do hare acknolege this to be my Last will and testament and do make void all and Disanoul all others whersom Ever they Shall apear as witness my hand and seale.
/s/ Matthew MIDYETT
Test before us the Subscribers
Josepth [His JO marke] OLIVER
Mary [her x marke] HUNTER

No Carolina} at a Court held for said Precinct at the Court house the first day of July anno Dom 1735
Currituck }
Present His Majesties Justices
These may Certifie that Tulle WILLIAMS one of the Subscribing Evidences to the Within will appeared in Open Court and Made Oath on the holly Evengilists that he was present and Saw Mathew MIDGETT Sign Seal and Declare the within to be and Contain his Last will and Testament and that the Said Mathew MIDGETT was then and at that time of Sound and disposing Memory and that he also saw Joseph OLIVER and Mary HUNTER signe there names thereto at the the Same time. Then also appeared Judea MIDGETT and Joseph MIDGETT Exx and Exr in open Court and took the Exers Oath in due forme of Law. Ordered by the said Court that the honble Nathl RICE Esqr Secretary of this province have notice thereon and the within Exx and Exr takeing the Oath [two words unreadable] appointed for Exx and Exrs that Letters Testamentory Issue thereon as the Law directs.
Test James CRAVEN Clk Court
[On the back is written: Letters grantd Novemr 7th 1735]
[Source: North Carolina State Archives – MARS ID: (folder)]

This will was contributed by Kay Midgett Sheppard. 

Four days later, Matthew died.

So, no matter how many times he went to court, Mathew is the reason for our colonial heritage.  And, the Midyett (Midgett) legacy lives strong even today.  Below is an article about their history in the US Coast Guard (Lifesaving Service).

This is a link to a Google Map with points of interest about our ancestor Matthew Midyett and other famous Midyett/Midyette/Midgett/Midgettes. Locations where significant events took place in Matthew Midyett’s life

12/27/17-  This document was sent to me by Kay Lynn this evening.  Matthew Midyett from Kay

She also sent me this information:

John Durant was the King of the Yeopim Indians at that time.  The Colonial Records have many entries for Durant, including selling of thousands of acres of land.  Matthew Midgett also stole rum & tobacco from Emanual Low which Low brought suit against him.  I am enclosing a document on what I have on Matthew.

Source:  North Carolina Colonial Records (1709-1723); 2nd Series; Vol. 5; Pg. 481         Upon complaint of Jno. Durant, a Yawpim Indian, setting forth that when he was out against the Indian enemy under the command of Mathew Midgett, he the said Durant, tooke an Indian slave woman and the said Mathew Midgett took her away from him without any sattisfaction:  And the matter being heard it is the opinion of this court that the said slave woman did belong to the said Durant, wherefore it is hereby ordered and decreed that the said Mat. Midget doe pay unto the said Durant, ten pounds in consideration of the said slave.

As always, please let me know of any errors you may see and thank you for reading.

If you need research assistance, do not hesitate to contact me.

Your Family Tree Research Specialist


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