Nathaniel Snowball

Nathaniel 39 is the head of an extended family of Snowballs which include his brother Timothy, his wife Violet and several children. He travels on L'Abondance with his wife and children: Mary, Nathaniel Jnr and China. In the Birchtown Muster there are more children - Jane, Jenny and Godfrey. In the same company as his immediate family is Diana Snowball, who is not in the BON, and probably the wife of his brother Timothy who is absent in the muster.

The origin of the name Snowball is a mystery. Timothy Snowball is noted in his entry as being 'mulatto', suggesting a white father. This may be clue to the unusual surname. Snowball is not a name found in either Norfolk or Princess Anne Conty. It is mostly to be found in the north of England. He could be a white mariner, like the father of Betty Hemings.

'Mrs Shrewstin' is Nathaniel's stated former owner. Shrewstin is not in the tithables for Norfolk but 'Thruston' is. His original owner was in fact Edward Thruston - a prominent merchant who came originally from Boston. Like his brother he was originally owned by Thruston and will with his mother and siblings to Elizabeth Thruston who later married Cornelius Calvert in 1772. This is the origin of the 'Mrs Shrewstin' that Nathaniel says was his owner as Elizabeth Thruston lists a 'Natt' in her tithables. After the wedding of Elizabeth Thruston and Calvert, Nathaniel is listed in his tithables. Both Nathaniel and Timothy are later named in Cornelius Calvert's claims against the British. This Calvert ownership also connects the Snowballs to James Thompson whose household in Birchtown includes a child with the surname Snowball.

The Snowball family all relocated to Sierra Leone in 1791, where Nathaniel Sr and Jr, and Timothy, were involved in resistance to the colonial authorities.

Nathaniel Snowball Relationships
  • Siblings: Timothy Snowball, Assumed [ Common Distinctive Name, Proximity In The Ship Shared Group Membership ] , Source: The Book of Negroes
  • Relative: Grace Thomson , Proximity In The Ship, Proximity In Musters Common Owner , Source: Norfolk County Virginia Tithables, Volume 3, 1766 - 1780

Related Background Information

  • The Radical Methodist Congregation of Daddy Moses -

    Quite a few Methodists made it to Dunmore between December 1775 and May 1776. Mary Perth and others came from Willoughby's plantation in Princess Ann County,  Nathaniel Snowball absconded from a plantation in neighboring Norfolk County, his wife Violet came with her son Nathaniel from Princess Anne County, while his brother Timothy, slipped away from another master in Norfolk.

  • From Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone -

    A rich spiritual experience was the only consolation for a life of appalling poverty in Nova Scotia. 






Tithables for Great Bridge to Ferry Point - 1767 - Great Bridge to Ferry Point

Source for this event: Norfolk County Virginia Tithables, Volume 3, 1766 - 1780
Name Owner
Natt Elizabeth Thruston - Great Bridge to Ferry Point


Tithables for Ferry Point to Greatbridge - 1771 - Ferry Point to Great Bridge

Source for this event: Norfolk County Virginia Tithables, Volume 3, 1766 - 1780
Name Owner
Natt Elizabeth Thruston - Great Bridge to Ferry Point


Tithables for the East Side of Church Street- 1774 - East Side of Church Street

Source for this event: Norfolk County Virginia Tithables, Volume 3, 1766 - 1780
Name Owner [Narrative]
Natt Cornelius Calvert - Norfolk [Elizabeth Thruston married Cornelius Calvert in 1772]

7/ Nov

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Lord Dunmore's Proclamation - Norfolk

  • John Murray, Lord Dunmore -

    John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore (1732 – 25 February 1809), was the  colonial governor of Virginia at the outbreak of the American Revolution.

Source for this event: Lord Dunmore's Proclamation


Small Pox outbreak - Gwynn's Island

  • Small Pox -

    In January 1776  smallpox made an appearance in Virginia. Although smallpox had been present in the colony at times before there had never been such a serious and widespread outbreak.




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Treaty of Paris - Paris France

  • Treaty of Paris -

    In November 1782 a provisional peace treaty was hammered out between the British and the Americans in Paris.

Source for this event: Treaty of Paris


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Evacuation of New York - New York

  • Evacuation of New York -

    In April 1783 the first evacuation fleet left for Nova Scotia. A week later  the British Commander, Sir Guy Carleton, sailed up the Hudson River to Orangetown for a conference with General Washington to discuss the evacuation. As the victorious commander, Washington opened the meeting by reiterating the resolution of Congress regarding “the delivery of all Negroes and other property.”

Source for this event: The Book of Negroes
Vessel Names and their Commanders Where Bound Names Age Description Names of the Person in whose Possession they now are Remarks
L'Abondance - July
Master: Lt. Philips
Port Roseway Nathaniel Snowball 39 stout fellow Formerly Slave to Elizabeth Thruston, Great Bridge to Ferry Point . Left 7 years ago.
Nathaniel Snowball's Relationships


Birchtown Muster - Birchtown

Source for this event: Birchtown Muster of Free Blacks
Name Age Occupation Families they lived with Companies they belong to Remarks Company They Are Now With
Captain, Nathaniel Snowball 39 Ship carpenter Captain Snowball's Company
Captain, Nathaniel Snowball's Relationships


Patriot claims for losses to the British

Source for this event: Patriot claims for losses to the British
[We have assumed that Cornelius Calvert claimed Nathaniel Snowball]
Remarks: [Calvert is generally understating the ages of these runaways, possibly to increase their value. ]


Left for Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone - Sierra Leone