John Poteet, Itallian, Bill of Sale in 1745

Before I delve into the Poteet family lines, I decided to directly confront the elephant in the room – that John Poteet is called “John Poteet Italian” in many online sites.

I had read that John Poteet made a deed in 1719 which named all of his children, including daughters with their married names (even though they were too young to be married in 1719) and that he signed his name as John Poteet, Itallian. Further, the land deed was recorded in 1745.

My husband is a Poteet descendant, but not through John. However, reading the above statement definitely piqued my curiosity enough to retrieve an image of the “land deed.”

First, I checked for land deeds for John Poteet in 1719. There was one entry for him that year, labeled “his mark.”

Liber IR, TR, DS: 94
Baltimore County, Maryland Land Deeds
Source: FamilySearch

I included the whole image so you could take a look at the handwriting style. John Poteet’s entry is at the top of the right page and is simply a request to record his cattle mark.

Mr Stokes Pleas to record my marke for Cattle and Hoggs
being an Mm Each Eare June 16 1719 John (his IP mark) Pateet
Testis John Collett?

The handwriting is most definitely original to the time period.

Next, I looked for the 1745 land deed:

Liber TB #D, Folio 296-297
Baltimore County, Maryland Land Deeds
Source: Family Search

Notice the cursive? It’s beautiful and very modern. Most definitely not the original deed book, but a copy someone, likely a court clerk, created to preserve information contained in a fragile book.

I would dearly love to see the original page, if it still exists, because I truly believe the transcriber erred in reading a word.

The top left corner identifying the document says:

John Poteet Itallian
Thomas Crabtree Etc
Henry Thomas Etc
Bill Sale

I have never, ever, ever seen anyone sign his or her name to a document and including their ethnic background as part of their name. Not to mention that the Poteet family is strongly believed to be French Huguenot.

From this transcription has come the statements that John was Giovanni Poteet and Francis Poteet, the immigrant, is said to have changed his name from Giovanni to Francis upon arriving in Maryland. Not for a minute do I believe any of that!!!

Here is the transcription of the transcription, for what it’s worth:

Know all men by these presents that I John Poteet Itallian of Baltimore county in the province of Maryland planter for and in consideration of the sum of nine shillings current money of the said province to me in hand paid by Thomas Crabtree Henry thomas James Poteet Thomas Poteet Charles Simmonds and John Poteet Jun. the receipt thereof I acknowledge and myself therewith fully truely and intirely satisfied have bargained sold and set over and by these presents do bargain sell and sell over unto the afd. Thomas Crabtree, Henry Thomas, James Poteet, Thomas Poteet Charles Simmonds and John Poteet Junr three feather beds and the bedding to each of them belonging one suit green curtains and vallings to them belonging nine pewter dishes three dozen and seven pewter plates twelve pewter basons porringers two pewter chamber potts one pewter funnell one pewter quart and one pewter pint one brass morter and pestleone pewter funnell one pewter tankard two large iron potts one small ditto one iron kettle two frying panns one (?) iron one box iron and heators one pott rack one branding iron one iron pestle three chests eight chairs two tables one looking glass one dozen sickles two augers four wedges one chisell and gouge nine syder casks one brass skimmer two pair bedsteads and bedcords one trunnel bedstead  and the cord one cross cutt saw one handsaw one grinding stone, twenty one head of cattle marked thus with a crop and the slitts on the right ear and on the left ear a crop and an under (kole?) two horses two mares and one stallion marked as before mentioned as also three sheep forty swine of the same mark of the former three negroe men the crop that is now growing on the ground two pair iron traces and two pair (haims?) the said bargained goods and chattels unto the aforesaid Thos Crabtree Henry thomas James Poteet Thomas Poteet Charles Simmons and Pohn Poteet Junr to the only proper uses of the afsd Thomas Crabtree Henry Thomas James Poteet Thomas Poteet Charles Simmonds and John Poteet Junr. their or either of their heirs executors administrators and assigns for ever against all persons now claiming or that hereafter may claim I do hereby warrant and for ever defend by these presents

In witness Whereof with the delivery of the aforesaid goods and chattels I hereunto sett my hand and seal the seventeen day of August 1745

John (his IP mark) Poteet (seal)

Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of us
John Godfrey
Mary Godfrey

Baltimore county (?) on the ninth day of September 1745. Came John Poteet partie to the within Bill of Sale before me the subscriber one of his Lordships justices in the county afd and acknowledged the same to be his free will and deed and premises herein contained to be the right title interest and property of Thomas Crabtree Henry Thomas James Poteet Thomas Poteet Charles Simmonds and John Poteet to them and theirs for ever according to the true intent and meaning as within designed.

Richd Caswell
Reveived September the sixth seventeen hundred and forty five and then recorded

P.T. (Brerewood?) Clk

Who was this John Poteet? Well, knowing that the purchasers in this bill of sale were his children and their spouses, we can reconstruct the family and assign some estimated years of birth.

The purchasers are clearly named and repeated in the same order, which may indicate that they are named in birth order. Let’s assume that is the case.


  1. Mary, born c1710; married Thomas Crabtree. He was born in 1707.
  2. Jane, married Henry Thomas
  3. James
  4. Thomas
  5. Elizabeth; married Charles Simmonds
  6. John

Because of the tie to the Crabtrees, I can estimate a birth year for Mary. That means John Poteet was likely born c1685 or thereabouts.

What else do we know about him? Not much, because untangling the Poteets is a sticky wicket. They are said to have first lived in Charles County and New Kent County, Virginia and then moved into Maryland.

There also seems to be enough of them around that no one is quite sure who belongs to whom.

More on the Poteets coming up!



6 thoughts on “John Poteet, Itallian, Bill of Sale in 1745”

  1. How fascinating – I too would love to see that original document as I, like you, have never seen anyone include their ethnicity in their signature. Very cool to have, regardless 🙂

  2. It is fascinating, I’m a poteat and when I started doing the line to find out about the family and found out it’s spelt Poteet. Plus there are so many John’s in my line the line you are working on. I have my tree on ancestry and wikitree trying to figure the family line out.

  3. Howdy Linda, I am new to your site, and had a quick look around but did not see which Poteet line your husband descends thru, but I am very curious about that. I have only been doing ancestry research since 2014, but am consumed by it for sure.
    I have some interesting info (and theories) on this John Poteet “Itallion” to share with you, your, husband, and your readers. I am currently calling this particular individual John Poteet Jr. “Itallion”, although he may actually be John Poteet IV “Itallion.
    I am in full agreement that to have a persons’ nationality or country of origin noted after their name in a period deed etc., as in “John Poteet Itallion”, is certainly unusual, if not unique. In addition to the August 1745 Bill of Sale that you have displayed here, there are two more occurrences that I have found so far where this John Poteet also added the word Itallion or Italian after his name !!
    There exists a June thru November 1744 document styled as a “Gift” by John Poteet Itallion, to his soon to be 3rd wife Hannah Smith-Simmons. Although the document is styled as a “Gift”, it reads more like a pre-nuptial agreement, or Last Will and Testament by this John Poteet. In this document John Poteet outlines what his soon to be wife, the widow Hannah Simmons will get from John’s estate if she is the “longest liver”, and that if he outlives her, the items will go to “John Poteet(s) children that was his in his lifetime”. I can email you or anyone else a copy if they would like one.
    There also exists a notice from the Maryland Gazette newspaper, published in Annapolis Maryland, dated September 13th 1764, in which the “Italian” word is used regarding this John Poteet. This notice was posted by John Hyde Esq., in regards to sums of money his deceased brother Samuel Hyde of London, Merchant owed to his creditors. In this list of persons owed money by the deceased Samuel Hyde is “Italion Jno.Poteet”. Funny that this list of persons is in alphabetical order, and they have him listed under “I” for Italian, rather than “P” for Poteet. In have not researched it fully, just enough to confirm that Samuel Hyde died before 1750, so his debt to this John Poteet was probably from the 1740’s.
    Now for my theory as to why this word Itallion or Italian was used by this John Poteet. I do believe that the Poteet’s were of French origin, as has long been thought, and that their first family member in America was John Pott (pronounced “PoTee Tee” rather than pot, as in pots and pans) hired by the Virginia Company of London to be the physician at the settlement in Jamestown, VA in 1619. I have not gotten my hands on copies of the original documents yet, but others claim they have seen where this John Poteet (Pott), or his son John Jr. signed naturalization papers in the 1660’s or 1670’s in Virginia. Again without having my hands on actual documents yet, I have read where this John (Pott) Poteet or his son John Jr. had their property seized at their death for not being subjects or citizens of England, and that his widow and her next husband had to re-purchase the property once again after this John (Pott) Poteet died. If this is true, I can see how the Poteet’s would not be too happy with the English. Now fast forward to the 1740’s and our John Poteet Jr. using the moniker “Itallion”. By the 1740’s tensions between France and England were high, culminating in the French & Indian war in the 1750’s. By the 1740’s some French in Canada were already being harassed southward, some of them ending up in the lower Mississippi area and becoming the “Acadians”. There are reports that some French tried to settle on their way southward in the Baltimore, Maryland area, where the Poteet’s were by then, and the French were reportedly not welcomed. I suspect that during this time John Poteet Jr. “Itallion” was well known in his neighborhood as not being English, or wanting to be English, but with tensions as they were at that time, being outwardly known as French could have been a disadvantage. But, what I think probably pushed John Poteet to the point of adding “Itallion” after his name, was the fact that his son John Poteet III was at that time just released, or still being held captive by the French authorities in a little village near the mouth of the Mississippi, called New Orleans !
    The best place to read about John Poteet III’s adventure, and subsequent captivity in New Orleans, is at another wonderful website called ‘Sinclair Stories”, under the article about “Charles Sinclair of Sinclair Bottom”.
    I agree that John Poteet Jr. “Itallion” was probably born in the 1680’s, and I currently see this as the most plausible reason why he temporarily used the “Itallion” moniker in the mid 1740’s. I am probably running out of space here, so will stop, If you or anyone else would like to discuss the Poteet’s please feel free to email me.
    Thank you, Chris Vaught

    1. Hello. I am descended through James Poteet and Elizabeth Crabtree.

      I believe that Giovanni was indeed Italian. My great-grandfather, Lewis Henley, looked very Italian as did my grandmother.

      Besides the Italian ‘look’, my DNA shows that I have 13% Italian ancestry which could come from the no source other than Giovanni Petitti. I hope this helps shine some light on the subject.

    2. I do not believe John Poteet was Italian / Italion at all. There are no legal papers that show a signature or name of Giovanni Poteet as many people have erroneously listed in their tree. The records show that this family was French and there in lies the reason, in my opinion, for the Italion note. In 1719, the French were not treated very well and in fact, not long after, we had the French and Indian War. I believe that in order to make sure that his assets in this land deed were protected against confiscation or other bad acts because he was “French.” Also, with myself and many distant Poteet kin, we have no Italian DNA……but we do have French.
      You can find John Ist in Virginia having been brought by Captain Stegge. His wife Ann was brought over a little later. Before he died, he applied for Virginia citizenship.
      I descend from James Poteet and Elizabeth Crabtree.

  4. My grandma is a Poteet her dad’s name is George Washington, and hid dad is a John T. Poteet born in TN in 1958, whose mother was Elizabeth Ward. I need help establishing this line better.

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