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Weroance is an Algonquian word meaning tribal chief, leader, commander, or king, among the Powhatan confederacy of the Virginia coast and Chesapeake Bay region. The Powhatan Confederacy, encountered by the colonists of Jamestown and adjacent area of the Virginia Colony beginning in 1607, spoke an Algonquian language. Each tribe of the Powhatan Confederacy was led by its own weroance.
In older texts, especially from the time of the early Jamestown settlers, spelling was not standardized, so the following spellings are used in different texts:
A weroansqua is a female ruler. Spellings of this word also vary.
Several of the weroances' personal names were known and some recorded by William Strachey and other sources. The names of their respective chieftaincies were also commonly used as titles, exactly analogous to European peerages, so that the Weroance of Arrohattec (whose given name was Ashaquid) was often referred to simply as "Arrohattec", much as the Earl of Essex would be referred to just as "Essex" in lieu of a personal name.
When the English arrived in Virginia, some of the weroances subject to the paramount chief Powhatan, or mamanatowick (Wahunsenacawh) were his own nearest male relatives:
His [Chief Powhatan's] kingdome descendeth not to his sonnes nor children: but first to his brethren, whereof he hath 3 namely Opitchapan, Opechancanough, and Catataugh; and after their decease to his sisters. First to the eldest sister, then to the rest: and after them to the heires male and female of the eldest sister; but never to the heires of the males.
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