Tag Archives: John Poteet

Update: John Poteet, “Itallian”

Last week, I shared the bill of sale recorded by John Poteet in Baltimore County, Maryland in 1745. Here it is, once again:

Liber TB no. D, Folios 296-297

This digitized image is clearly from a transcribed volume, as the cursive is most definitely not of 18th century style.

I tend to follow a “no stone unturned” policy when it comes to solving mysteries and the fact that John is identified not once, but three different times in this document as John Poteet Itallian had me shaking my head in amazement.

I decided to go right to the source and contacted the Maryland State Archives. A supervisor returned my phone call and we talked about the liber, which he said is a transcription done many, many years ago (probably early 19th century) because the original book was very fragile even back then.

HOWEVER, the Archives does have the original book and the supervisor went to view the pages himself.

I fully expected to be told something along the lines of the page being faded and/or water damaged, difficult to read handwriting, etc. That would certainly explain how the unlikely word ITALLAIN was appended to John Poteet’s name in the heading on the top left side of the page, to his name in the opening sentence of the bill of sale and to his signature at the end, even though John was unable to write and simply signed as (His IP Mark).

Jno. (his IP mark) Itallian (Seal)

What was the outcome of this new viewing of the document? Not only was the supervisor astounded, but several archivist colleagues were also surprised, saying they had never seen anything like it.

The original page is clean, legible and, in fact, easy to read. No photo was taken because of the overall condition of this 1745 volume.

However, ITALLIAN is easily read and no mistake in transcription was made by the county clerk who recopied the volume.

As the Poteets were reportedly of French Huguenot descent, John Poteet must be rolling in his grave, knowing that some descendants today believe he is of Italian descent, as most Italians back then were Catholic and Catholics were the persecutors of the Huguenots.

I, myself, have no explanation either as to why that word was added to his name. However, I think it is unlikely that he was Italian.

This is just a theory on my part, but county clerks normally copied deeds to be recorded word for word when they were presented to the courthouse.

What if???????

What if the original deed was in poor handwriting and the county clerk misread the word after John Poteet’s name? What if it actually said:


which was a common term assigned to men of a certain economic standing at the time.

The shape of that word is very similar to:


It seems to me that this might be a much more plausible explanation for that word than adding someone’s ethnicity to his signature.

Readers, what do you think?

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!