First white child

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The birth of the first white child is a widely used concept to mark the establishment of a European colony in the New World, especially in the historiography of the United States.



The Eastern Settlement of Norse Greenlanders was founded in AD 985, but no documentation exists on the first child born in the colony.


Snorri Thorfinnsson (likely be born between 1005 and 1013) was the son of Norse settlers Þorfinnur Karlsefni and Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir. Generally known to his contemporaries as Snorri Gudrídsson (as his mother outlived his father), Snorri was born in Vinland, making him the first documented child of European parents to be born in North America outside Greenland.

Hélène Desportes is often cited as the first white child born in New France. She was probably born in 1620, to Pierre Desportes and Françoise Langlois, although there is some disagreement about whether she had actually been born in France before her family's arrival in the colony in 1614. Hélène's first cousin Eustache Martin was born in October 1621 in Quebec to Abraham Martin and Marguerite Langlois.[1]

A 1937 United States stamp honoring Virginia Dare

Jonathan Guy, the son of Newfoundland settler Nicholas Guy, was the first child born to English parents in Canada, and one of the first born in any part of North America within a permanent settlement. He was born on 27 March 1613 in Cuper's Cove, a settlement that has been continuously occupied since 1610 and where his family remained long after his birth.[2]

At Port Royal, Acadia in 1636, Pierre Martin and Catherine Vigneau, who had arrived on the passenger ship Saint Jehan along with 78 other migrants, were the first European parents to have a child in Acadia. The first-born child was Mathieu Martin. In part because of this distinction, Mathieu Martin later became the Seigneur of Cobequid (1699).[3]

United States[edit]

Martín de Argüelles, Jr., born in the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, Spanish Florida, was the first child of European descent known to be born in what is now the continental United States.[4] Born in 1566, his father was a hidalgo and one of the expeditioners who went to New Spain with Captain General Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565. St. Augustine, Florida, is also the oldest continuously occupied European-founded city anywhere in the United States excluding Puerto Rico.[5]

Virginia Dare, born in 1587 at the Roanoke Colony, was the first child born in North America to English parents, and her memory was celebrated in the British colonies. Peregrine White, born aboard the Mayflower at Provincetown Harbor in 1620, was the first Pilgrim birth.[5]

Sarah Rapelje, born on June 6, 1625, was the first white child born in New Netherland.[6][7]

Born in 1659, Kristian Gaapström was the first white child born in New Sweden.

The first non-Hispanic white child born in Spanish Texas was Helena Dill Berryman, born in 1804 in what is now Nacogdoches County.[8]



Seebaer van Nieuwelant (born 27 July 1623), son of Willemtgen and Willem Janszoon, was born south of Dirk Hartog Island, in present-day Western Australia. His father, not to be confused with the earlier Dutch explorer of the same name, was a midshipman from Amsterdam. He and his wife were aboard the Leijden, commanded by Claes Hermanszoon, which was charting the coast at the time. Their son's name in Dutch meant "sea-born (or sea-birth) of new land".[9]

For details of later claims in the various colonies, see First white child in Australia.

New Zealand[edit]

The first European birth in New Zealand was Thomas Holloway King at the Rangihoua Bay settlement on February 21, 1815.[10][11]


The first child born to European parents in Fiji was Augusta Cameron, born 5 December, 1835.[12]



Nada Burnham (May 1894 – May 19, 1896), daughter of the celebrated American scout Frederick Russell Burnham, was the first white child born in Bulawayo and died of fever and starvation during the Siege of Bulawayo in the Second Matabele War.[13][14] She was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery, plot #144, in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).[15] Nada is the Zulu word for lily and she was named after the heroine in Sir H. Rider Haggard’s Zulu tale, Nada the Lily (1892). Three of Haggard's books are posthumously dedicated to her: The Wizard (1896), Elissa: The Doom of Zimbabwe (1899), and Black Heart and White Heart: A Zulu Idyll (1900).[16][17] Haggard's dedication reads: "To the Memory of the Child: Nada Burnham, who 'bound all to her' and, while her father cut his way through the hordes of the Ingobo Regiment, perished of the hardships of war at Buluwayo on 19 May 1896, I dedicate these tales—and more particularly the last, that of a Faith which triumphed over savagery and death."[16]

The first white baby born in Rhodesia was named Unwin Moffat. He was the son of the missionary John Smith Moffat & his wife Emily, nee Unwin. The child was born on the 18th of December 1858. The Moffats had eleven children between 1858 and 1871. One of their sons, Howard Unwin Moffat, became premier of Southern Rhodesia in 1927.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bennett, Ethel M. G. (1979) [1966]. "Desportes, Hélène (Hébert; Morin)". In Brown, George Williams (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. I (1000–1700) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  2. ^ Cell, Gillian T. (1979) [1966]. "Guy, Nicholas". In Brown, George Williams (ed.). Dictionary of Canadian Biography. I (1000–1700) (online ed.). University of Toronto Press.
  3. ^ Griffiths, N.E.S. (1994). "1600-1650. Fish, Fur and Folk". In Phillip Buckner; John G. Reid (eds.). The Atlantic Region to Confederation: A History. University of Toronto Press. pp. 40–60. ISBN 978-1-4875-1676-5. JSTOR 10.3138/j.ctt15jjfrm.9.
  4. ^ Time. "First Native White". Accessed August 7, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Word, Ron. July 30, 2007. "St. Augustine celebrates 442nd birthday". Accessed August 7, 2007.
  6. ^ Colonial Ancestors. "This Day in Colonial Times – June Archived 2007-08-13 at the Wayback Machine". Accessed August 9, 2007.
  7. ^ Decoursey, William. "Bill Decoursey's notes on old Dutch families Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine". Accessed August 9, 2007.
  8. ^ Cox, Mike. July 2003. "First Whites".
  9. ^ From the journal of the Leijden (or Leyden): "On the 27th do. WILLEMTGEN JANSZ., wedded wife Of WILLEM JANSZ. of Amsterdam, midshipman, was delivered of a son, who got the name of SEEBAER VAN NIEUWELANT." J. E. Heeres (1899). The Part Borne by the Dutch in the Discovery of Australia 1606-1765, p. 49. Accessed via Project Gutenberg, 22 February 2015.
  10. ^ 1814 Hansen family tree Accessed November 1, 2013.
  11. ^ record for Thomas King Accessed November 1, 2013.
  12. ^ Knapman, Claudia (1 June 2014). White Women in Fiji, 1835–1930: The Ruin of Empire?. University of Queensland Press. p. 36. ISBN 1921902388. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  13. ^ West, James E.; Peter O. Lamb (1932). He-who-sees-in-the-dark; the boys' story of Frederick Burnham, the American scout. illustrated by Robert Baden-Powell. Brewer, Warren and Putnam.
  14. ^ Burnham, Frederick Russell (1926). Scouting on Two Continents. Doubleday, Page & company. OCLC 407686.
  15. ^ Lott, J. "Jack" P. (March 1977). "Major F. R. Burnham, D.S.O.". Rhodesiana Magazine. 36. ISSN 0556-9605.
  16. ^ a b Haggard, H. Rider (1926). The Days of My Life Volume II. Retrieved 2006-12-17.
  17. ^ "Rider Haggard's Tribute". Atlanta Constitution. November 21, 1896. ISSN 0093-1179.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mollie, Gillen. 1989. A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet. ISBN 0-908120-69-9