Select Bass Miscellany

Here are some Bass stories and accounts over the years:

The Bass Brewing Family

William Bass, the founder of the Bass brewery, was the second of three sons of William Bass senior and his wife Hannah.  His father, a plumber and glazier, died when William was 15, after which he carried on a carrier business with his older brother John in Hinckley, Leicestershire.  William then sold the carrier company to the Pickford family and used the proceeds to establish the Bass Brewery in Burton-on-Trent. 

The following lists William Bass and his principal descendants: 

- William Bass (1717-1787) m. Mary Gibbons, who was the founder of the Bass brewery in 1777. 
-- Michael Thomas Bass (1760-1827) m. Sarah Hoskyns, who took control of the brewery in 1795. 
--- Michael Thomas Bass (1799-1884) m. Eliza Arden.  He took over on his father’s death. 
     He made the Bass brewery the largest in the world. 
---- Michael Arthur Bass (1837-1909) m. Harriet Thornewill, the eldest son.  He took over the brewery. 
      He was also a Liberal politician and philanthropist, created Baron Burton.  He died without male issue. 
---- Hamar Alfred Bass (1842-1898) m. Louisa Bagot, the second son. 
      He was a racehorse breeder and Liberal party politician as well as a brewer. 
----- Hamar’s son Sir William Bass (1879-1952) the second baronet m. Lady Noreen Hastings. 
        He was a racehorse owner and an early promoter of the British film industry.  He died without issue

Who Was Nathaniel Basse?

Dr. Albert Bell in his 1961 book Bass Families of the South maintained that the Nathaniel Basse line in America came from Huguenot roots.  Humphrey Basse had left Brittany after the Edit of Nantes in 1585 for the safety of London.  He died in London in 1616.  Nathaniel was his son who came to Virginia.

Nathaniel Basse came in two guises – Captain Nathaniel the seaman and adventurer and Nathaniel the gentleman and girdler.  There were good arguments, as offered by Dr. Bell, that they were one and the same person.   There were also good arguments that they were not the same person.

It has been put forward that Nathaniel the gentleman who was born in 1589 in London died in 1654, also in London. He died there without issue and his brother Luke inherited.  Luke died as a bachelor and then his two sisters inherited what remained of his estate.

It appears that this Nathaniel Basse was in London at the time the Indians attacked Captain Nathaniel Basse’s place at Basse’s Choice in Jamestown in 1622.  In that incident Nathaniel and thirty other men and women managed to repulse the Indians.  
Nathaniel, Samuel and William Basse were listed among the living of 1,033 early pioneers in 1624.  Nathaniel Basse was a member of the House of Burgesses from 1624 to 1629 and subsequently a Councillor.  

Two of the sons of Nathaniel Bass were married to Native American women. The line from Nathaniel’s son John is said to have gone from William and then to John.  DNA results from the second John have come back as that oldest and rarest Haplogroup A.   This would mean that either William or his son John's biological father was not a Bass

The Bass Native American Descent and the Albert Bell Problem

Dr. Albert Bell presented the first large-scale research book on the Bass family in his 1961 book Bass Families of the South.   Though not a Bass descendant himself he visited the Nansemond Indian community in Norfolk, Virginia in the course of the preparation of his book.  There he met the aging and hospitalized Jesse Bass, the Chief since the tribe had been reorganized in the 1920’s.

He became well acquainted with the Bass family there who offered him access to their family documents that they had reverently preserved through the ages.  He transcribed the most important of these documents, leading him to link John Basse, whom he believed to be the son of Nathaniel Basse, to the Nansemond Indians.  However, his critics have maintained that he mistransribed the family prayer book from which critical information on the early family came.  As a result they said that his work may not be trusted.

John Basse did have Native American descent, but it would appear to have been Chowan rather than Nansemond.

Samuel Bass in Twelve Years a Slave

Samuel Bass, played by Brad Pitt, was an important character in the 2013 film Twelve Years a Slave.

Samuel’s grandfather Dr. Adonijah Bass had been a Loyalist residing at Bunker Hill at the time of the Revolutionary War.  He was dying at the time and never made it to Canada.  But his family did and settled in Augusta, Ontario. Samuel Bass was born in there in 1807.

He turned out to be a bit of a wanderer.  He left his family – his wife and four daughters - sometime in the late 1830’s and moved to the United States, eventually ending up in Louisiana.

In 1852 Bass was doing some carpentry work there for Edwin Epps.  Edwin’s slave Samuel Northup was assisting them.  Working side-by-side, the two men got to know each other.  Northup had overheard conversations suggesting that Bass was against slavery and decided to confide in him.

"Master Bass," Northup said, "if justice had been done, I never would have been here."  He then related the whole ugly story of his kidnapping and enslavement.

At his conclusion Bass determined that he would help Northup by writing letters on his behalf to people back in New York.  It was one of those letters that resulted in Northup’s release from servitude early in 1853.

A free man again, Northup rejoined his family and soon authored the book Twelve Years a Slave.   He traveled around giving anti-slavery lectures. He later also provided aid to fugitive slaves, helping them find refuge in Canada.

Samuel Bass had died by this time.  He died in 1853 of pneumonia in the same area of Louisiana where he had met Samuel Northup.

Bass in America by Country of Origin

Ship records recorded the following Bass arrivals.

    57       19

England represented a minority of Bass arrivals.   More Germans and Jews came.

Perry Richardson Bass and the Bass Family Fortune

The patriarch of the Bass family, Perry R. Bass, recalled that his family’s fortune was started with four $10 bills loaned for a train ticket.  His father Dr. E.P. Bass, a Wichita Falls oilman, was in New Orleans with his wife Annie in 1933 entertaining officials of the Pure Oil Co.

“My daddy gave the four bills to my mother to spend at the horse races.  Instead she squirreled them away.”

E.P. Bass and his brother Sid Richardson had each made fortunes wildcatting oil during World War One.  By the depths of the Depression, however, E.P. was still worth $250,000 but Sid needed money for a train ticket.  Annie gave him the four bills and he set out for West Texas to start over again.  There he would develop the Keystone oilfield which would form the basis of the Richardson and later Bass fortunes.

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