King Hancock

Tuscarora Native Indian Warrior

Fast Facts about King Hancock
Who was King Hancock and why was this Native Indian chief famous? Summary: King Hancock was a famous leader of the of the Tuscarora tribe of North Carolina. He resisted the encroachment of settlers on his land and a series of disputes led to the outbreak of the Tuscarora War (1711 - 1715). King Hancock was captured by a rival called Chief Tom Blunt and was executed by the British.

The following fact sheet contains interesting facts, background history and information about the life of King Hancock and the events in history that led to his fame as a Native American Indian leader.

Fast Facts about King Hancock

  • Tribe: Tuscarora. The meaning of Tuscarora is "Hemp Gatherers"
  • Place of Birth: South of the Pamlico River, New Bern, North Carolina
  • Name of Village: Catechna
  • Clan: Bear Clan
  • Language: Iroquoian
  • Date of Birth: Unknown
  • Date of Death: 1712 - King Hancock was executed by the British
  • Native Indian Allies: The Neuse, the Coree, the Mattamuskeet
  • Famous Battles: Tuscarora War (1711 - 1715). The Tuscarora War, fought in North Carolina pitted the Tuscarora and their allied Indian tribes against the settlers, lasting from autumn 1711 through 1715.

King Hancock - The Name
The story of King Hancock, chief of the Tuscarora Native American tribe began in the early days of the colonization of America by many English and European settlers. The tradition of crowning a Native American Indian chief as a king started in 1608 when
Chief Powhatan was crowned as a king.  Other tribes followed suited and Native Indian chiefs during this period adopted the title of 'King'. Many Native Indians, such as King Hancock,  also adopted influential English names in addition to their own tribal names. According to colonial records of North Carolina a number of early land grants were issued to William Hancock prior to 1707, whose name became prominent in early affairs of the Neuse settlement. It is therefore possible that the chief took his English name from this family.

King Hancock
King Hancock lived during the turbulent period of the French and Indian Wars (1688-1763) which saw a bitter series of bloody battles stretching over a period of 75 years between Great Britain and France and their Indian allies for the possession of North America from the Eastern woodlands tribes.

King Hancock - The Colonists encroach Tuscarora lands
The situation between the colonists and the Native Americans was tense in this period. The situation was made worse in 1710 when Swiss and German settlers established the town of New Bern in an area occupied by the Tuscarora tribe. The colonists were led by Christoph von Graffenried, Franz Louis Michel and John Lawson. The colony was established at the confluence of the Trent and the Neuse rivers. It was also the site of an ancient Tuscarora village called Chattoka. Chief Hancock and his tribe strongly resented the encroachment of the Europeans and the situation was made considerably worse when Christoph von Graffenried evicted a group of Tuscarora from nearby lands without payment. Chief Hancock mounted retaliatory raids on the settlers which resulted in the destruction of property and the deaths of some settlers. The resistance of Chief Hancock increased in September 1711 when the Tuscarora captured John Lawson and Christopher von Graffenried.

King Hancock - The Death of John Lawson
John Lawson, one of the co-founders of New Bern, was an important Englishman, an explorer and the Surveyor General of North Carolina.  Christopher von Graffenried was the wealthy co-founder of the settlement. Both men were given trials by the Chief Hancock and the Tuscarora and both men were found guilty of crimes against the tribe, including the kidnapping and enslavement of tribe members. King Hancock made the decision to release Graffenried but to execute John Lawson. King Hancock's reason was that he assumed that Graffenried was more important due to his fine, fancy clothes and the chief was wary of possible reprisals. Graffenried was released but John Lawson was subjected to ritual torture, typical of Tuscarora warriors, and then executed.

King Hancock - The Tuscarora War (1711 - 1715)
The execution of John Lawson by King Hancock led to the Tuscarora War (1711 - 1715). On 22 September 1711 King Hancock led his Tuscarora tribe against the settlers and 130 were killed along the Pamlico, Neuse and Trent Rivers. When Christopher von Graffenried finally reached New Bern, he found it abandoned and in flames. October 27, 1711 the governor of South Carolina, Edward Hyde, ordered Colonel John Barnwell, with 600 militia and about 300 Indian allies to head a retaliatory expedition against the Tuscarora tribe. More than three hundred Tuscarora Indians were killed, and over one hundred, mostly women, were taken as prisoners and subsequently sold as slaves.

King Hancock - Chief Tom Blunt
The war continued and on January 30, 1712 John Barnwell and his men destroyed the Tuscarora village at Narhantes. The settlers hostilities then turnedd to King Hancock's village of Catechna. The siege of began on April 7, 1712 lasted for 10 days and on April 17, 1712 King Hancock's village fell to the settlers. The fighting escalated and the British bribed another Tuscaroran, Chief Tom Blunt, to change sides and fight with the colonists. In August 1712 Carolina sent another expedition, totalling nearly 1000 and headed by Col. James Moore, against King Hancock and the Tuscarora villages. Shortly after Chief Tom Blunt captured King Hancock and the settlers executed him. Chief Tom Blount was later recognized by the Legislature of North Carolina as King Tom Blount.

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