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. In Texas, the birth of the first white child is recorded in local histories on the county level.[1]


A 1937 United States stamp honoring Virginia Dare

Snorri Thorfinnsson (probably born between 1005 and 1013) was the son of Thorfinnur Karlsefni and Gudrídur Þorbjarnardottir. Generally known to his contemporaries as Snorri Gudrídsson, as his mother outlived his father, was born in Vinland, making him the first European documented to be born in North America.

Continental United States[edit]

Martín de Argüelles, Jr., born in the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, Florida, was the first white child known to be born in what is now the continental United States.[2] 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.[3]

British colonies[edit]

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.[3] Sarah Rapelje, born on June 6, 1625, was the first white child born in New Netherland in what is now New York state.[4][5] Born in 1659, Kristian Gaapstörm was the first child born in New Sweden.


Hélène Desportes is often cited as the first white child born in New France in what would later be Canada. She was born probably 1620, to Pierre Desportes and Francoise Langlois, although there is some disagreement about whether she was born in Quebec or before her family arrived on the continent in 1614. Hélène's maternal aunt was the mother of Eustache Martin, born in October 1621 in Quebec to Abraham Martin and Marguerite Langlois.[6]



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".[7]

New Zealand[edit]

The first European birth in New Zealand was Thomas Holloway King at the Rangihoua Bay settlement on February 21, 1815.[8][9]


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.[10][11] She was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery, plot #144, in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).[12] 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).[13][14] 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.[13]

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 S. Rhodesia in 1927.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cox, Mike. July 2003. "First Whites". Accessed August 7, 2007.
  2. ^ Time. "First Native White". Accessed August 7, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Word, Ron. July 30, 2007. "St. Augustine celebrates 442nd birthday". Accessed August 7, 2007.
  4. ^ Colonial Ancestors. "This Day in Colonial Times – June". Accessed August 9, 2007.
  5. ^ Decoursey, William. "Bill Decoursey's notes on old Dutch families". Accessed August 9, 2007.
  6. ^ Bennett, Ethel M. G. Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. 2000. "Hélène Desportes". Accessed August 10, 2007.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 1814 Hansen family tree Accessed November 1, 2013.
  9. ^ record for Thomas King Accessed November 1, 2013.
  10. ^ West, James E.; Peter O. Lamb; illustrated by Lord Baden-Powell (1932). He-who-sees-in-the-dark; the boys' story of Frederick Burnham, the American scout. Brewer, Warren and Putnam. 
  11. ^ Burnham, Frederick Russell (1926). Scouting on Two Continents. Doubleday, Page & company. OCLC 407686. 
  12. ^ Lott, J. "Jack" P. (March 1977). "Major F. R. Burnham, D.S.O.". Rhodesiana Magazine 36. ISSN 0556-9605. 
  13. ^ a b Haggard, H. Rider (1926). The Days of My Life Volume II. Retrieved 2006-12-17. 
  14. ^ "Rider Haggard's Tribute". Atlanta Constitution. November 21, 1896. ISSN 0093-1179. 

Further reading[edit]