November 23, 2012
Nock Family Heritage Update
We at Nock Family Heritage are continually learning new facts about the history of the Extended Nock Family. I would like to update you on some of what we’ve learned over the last year. I want to first emphasize that it would be very difficult to find historical facts and information without the help of some very nice people along the way. These folks really have nothing to gain by helping us. They have chosen to help us out of the kindness of their hearts, and their love for their families. I want to acknowledge our appreciation for their continued assistance in our effort to learn all that we can about our Nock Family Heritage.
In the early days of Nock Family Heritage, it seemed that Nock history in the America revolved around Accomack County, Virginia as the ancestral home of Nocks in this country. The question is, two years later, has any of that changed. Well, the answer would have to be yes. History still seems to show that most Nocks in America have roots that go back to Accomack County, Virginia. That same history still shows that the Nocks in Virginia began with William Nock, who immigrated from England in the mid 1600’s. If you study census records going back to the early 1800’s, the overwhelming majority of Nocks in America were living in Virginia. So our opinion here at Nock Family Heritage remains the same regarding the significance of the Eastern Shore of Virginia in the history of Nocks in America.
Do all Nocks in the US trace their roots back to Virginia, certainly not. We’ve spent some time a few months ago profiling Thomas Nock of Dover, New Hampshire. He also arrived in America from England in the mid 1600’s. Am I prepared to say that his arrival preceded that of William Nock of Virginia, not yet! But, he did arrive here very early as well. There was one thing that I found interesting in studying the Last Will and Testaments of some of the early Nocks. Those in New England would leave behind land and personal property to their families. The same was done in Virginia, but would also include the disposition of slaves as well. This was a reminder of some of the divisions between the north and south of this country at the time. Let me now get back on track. I have learned quite a bit about Nocks who are descended from Thomas Nock of New Hampshire. As a matter of fact, I recently met one of those descendants who presently lives in the same area of New Hampshire settled by Thomas Nock.
I recently met a descendant of Edward Nock, who came to America from Strattfordshire, England and settled in Pennsylvania in the 1830’s. Many of his descendants are scattered throughout the Midwest. There are a significant number of Caucasian Nocks in Ohio. The assumption now is that most of them may have descendant from Edward Nock. There were also Nocks from Germany who settled in the Midwest around this time, and some of their descendants remain there today.
Speaking of Germany, we have come in contact with a number of Nocks from other European countries, such as France, Switzerland, Poland, as well as Germany. We have a number of members of Nock Family Heritage from these countries. I’m amazed at how many followers of our website are Europeans . We really appreciate their interest and support.
Now let’s move to some of the history of African American Nocks. A large percentage of them are descended from slaves who were owned by the Nock families in Accomack, Virginia. Though most Africans who came to America in the 17th and 18th centuries did begin as slaves, a significant number of them were freed by their masters at some point, or purchased their own freedom. By the 18th century you had as much as 40-50% of ‘’Negro’s in Accomack Virginia were free. These percentages were always smaller in Northampton County. I don’t believe that any African Americans who’s family descended from the Virginia Shore should assume that they descended only from slaves. With some investigation, they may find that this may not be the case. I think it’s also important to make another point here. In the 18th and 19th centuries in particular, people would sometimes adopt the last name of prominent families in there community. For example, a Caucasian man of meager means might change his last name to that of a prominent family that is respected in the area in which he lives. There may have been African Americans with the last name of Nock, who are descended from free blacks. But somewhere along the line, someone in there family may have taken the name Nock. This is probably not true for most African Americans, but may be true for some. When looking at patterns of migration, African Americans were pretty clear on where they wanted to go when leaving the Virginia Shore. They overwhelmingly went right up the Eastern Seaboard. Most live in the Mid Atlantic, and other points north.
I hope that the above information is helpful to you. As we go forward, we will provide updates like this one from time to time. There is much information still to learn. If any of you have information that can help us in our efforts, please don’t hesitate to contact us through Nock Family Heritage, or email us at email@example.com.