Thanks Paula for putting this question before the G2G forum. It will be great to see what people come up with. I am a profile manager for John Carter (Carter-1790), the possible father of William Carter of Surry, and created the profile of the other William Carter (Carter-16747) who I think was the son of John. Trudy is unquestionably the expert on all Virginian records relating to the Carters - my interest has been on the English records and connections that pre-date them. The possible DNA evidence is very exciting and I look forward to it being posted at some stage. I am no expert on DNA, but as William's line 'daughtered out', I am not sure what it can tell us with any degree of certainty. For my part, I believe that William Carter of Surry was almost certainly related to John Carter the vintner (a cousin or nephew) but probably not a son.
Why? Because William Carter of Surry, from the Virginian records, was born around 1599 and already in Virginia by 1622, years before the death of John Carter in 1629. There are two English records that place William, the son of John, as being born at least a decade later. First there is the will of John Carter (PCC proved 6/5/1630). It says, in part:
"One other equall third yte whereof I give and bequeath to my Children viz George William John Thomas Robert Anne Elizabeth Mary Silvester and Isabell Carter to bee devided parte and parte ___ , amongst them and to bee paid by my Executor when and at such tyme and tymes as they shall severallie and respectively attaine the age of one and twentie yeares And if it Shall happen any of my said Children to die before they shall attaine theire said age of one & twentie yeares as aforesaid Then I will and my meaninge is that the partes and persons of my estate of him her or them soe dyinge shall remayne and come unto the Survivors or Survivor of my said Children and to bee paid by my Executor at theire age of one and twentie yeares as aforesaid..."
This places the age of all eight of his children under the age of 21 in 1630. Their mother 'Elizabeth' Benion has died earlier, and the executor of the will was their uncle Gabriel Benyon.
The second document I found on the index of the London Metropolitan Archives online, which is a Bond of the Court of Orphans of the City of London dated 1630:
"COURT OF ORPHANS, CITY OF LONDON, ORPHANAGE BONDS AND DEEDS:
"CLA/002/04/079 (London Metropolitan Archives) Carter, John, citizen and vintner 1630: George, orphan of; William, orphan of; John, orphan of; Thomas, orphan of; Robert, orphan of; Anne, orphan of; Elizabeth, orphan of; Mary, orphan of; Silvester, orphan of; Isabell, orphan of"
This is again strong proof that all of the children of John Carter were under the age of 21 in 1630. It would be great if any Wikitreers in London could track down the actual bond from the London Metropolitan Archives - it is a very important piece of evidence on Carter family history that few seem to know about.
Another piece is more circumstantial, from the Calendar of State Papers Domestic Series Charles I 1641-1643 p. 512-3:
"1643: A collection of obligations and bonds to the Sergeant At Arms at the House of Commons.....13 June 1643: William Carter, goldwire-drawer, Gabriel Benyon, waxchandler, and George Carter vintner all of London in 500l. The committee for Examinations ordered that the gold and silver....seised at the Court of Guard by the officers of Captain Mainwaring and belonging to Wm Carter of London should be restored to Carter, he first giving security to the Serjant At Arms with condition to pay bay 60l......If therefore William Carter and the above bounden Gabriel Benyon and George Carter shall pay the sum of 60l to the use of the State....then this obligation shall be void.”
George Carter was the eldest son of John Carter, Gabriel Benyon his uncle and the executor of his father John's will. This does seem to suggest that William Carter, son of John, was living and working in London in 1643. It is of course still possible he was crossing backwards and forwards to Virginia - I have found no further mention in London records.
So, the best solution I can think of is to continue to leave both Williams attached to John Carter, which is where it has been left, and continue to document the sources that arise. I think that both Williams both existed and were probably cousins of some sort.
I'd love to hear if anyone else knows of sources that can shed light on this family. As 400 years have passed, I suspect we will never know the real answer.