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Historical Political Personalities of Bertie County

Governors of Colonial Bertie |Famous People of Bertie County |
This page is a work in progress, so if you can help on bios on any of these people, please do help me out!

Nathaniel Batts-(ca 1620-1679)

Probably Batts was part of the group employed in 1653 and 1654 by Francis Yeardley, prominent planter of Lynnhaven, VA to establish a fur trade with the Indians to the southward and to explore that region in detail.

In 1655, Yeardley sent Robert Bodnam, a carpenter, to the ousth to build a house 20 ft square (containing 2 rooms and a chimney) for Batts to live in while he traded with the Indians. The house was erected beside Salmon Creek (then Fletts) Creek at the western end of Albemarle (then Roanoke) Sound. This trading post appears on the Nicholas Comberford map of 1657, entitled "The South Part of Virginia" with the legend Batts House.

He married 25 May 1656 Mary Woodhouse, a widow with some property; they lived in Lower Norfolk County on the Woodhouse plantation, Roede, which eventually came to be called Batts Quarters. Even before this marriage he was in financial difficulty as seen in the marriage agreement, he was "indebted to some men in VA", and promised not to use his wife's property to satisfy any of his debts. The following year, the VA Gen Court gave him as his reward for the discoverey of an inlet protection from all his Creditors within this County for one year and a day. Batts was frequently involved in litagation over the none payement of his debts and other matters. Despite his financial problems, he acquired nine 900 acres of land in Nansemond Co from Samuel Stephens and later sold the land to Colonel Thomas Francis.

Along with his important interest in VA, Batts continued to be heavily involved in Carolina. On 24 Sept 160 he purchased from Kiscutanewh, king of the Yeopim Indians, all the land on the west bank of the Pasquotank River from its mouth to the head of New Begin Creek. This transaction, which survives in the records of Lower Norfolk Co, VA is the oldest known surviving NC land deed. Batts also held land in Chowan Precinct on which he lived for a time [Salmon Creek ares]. His best known holding was Heriots Island at the mouth of Yeopim R. in the Albemarle Sond, which by 1672 was called Batts Island and by 1690s Batts Grave.

In 1672, George Fox, found of the Quaker sect, visited Carolina, met Batts, and visited him at his Chowan plantation. Fox reported that Batts "had been a rude, desperate man" but that he attended some of Fox's meetings and seemed interested in healing by means of prayer. Fox says that Batts "had been Gov of Roanoke" and refers to him as "the Old Governor". No other sources support this claim.

Source: NC. His Rev 43 1966; VA Magazine of History and Biography '79 (1971) Elizabeth G. McPherson and Herbert R. Paschal
Additional resource: The American Historical Review, Vol XLV, #1, Oct 1939. "The Earliest Permanent Settlement in Carolina" by W.P. Cumming.
Also see Nathaniel Batts by J.E. Tyler, II


William Downing

Speaker of the House during the time of Governor Gabriel Johnston and the Provincial Assembly opposed to quit-rents around 1729.

2nd Provincial Convention: April 3-8, 1775  - Palace - New Bern
William Gray
Jonathan Jacocks
Charles Jacocks
William Brimmage
William Bryan
Zedekiah Stone
Thomas Ballard
Peter Clifton
David Standley(justice of peace and sheriff of Bertie)
John Campbell
John Johnston

Members of General Assembly from Bertie County, from 1777 to 1850

William Gray

by John Gillam
The Chronical of the Bertie County Historical Society vol IX, # 2. October 1960. Used by permission of Harry Thompson
In the year 1713 there came to the province of North Carolina (Bertie County), as a surveyor, a young many by the name of John Gray. John Gray, a native of Scotland, born in 1690, married Ann Bryan of Nansmond County, VA, and to this union were born several children. William Gray, a man of many interest, was probably the most prominent of these children.

William Gray was born June 17, 1730. Early in life he was married to Frances Lee, daughter of Stevens Lee and Elizabeth West Lee. Fourteen children were born to this union.

Stevens, the oldest, born in 1756 was at one time the Clerk of Court of Bertie County. He died in 1795, a comparatively young man, and is buried at Rosefield. [Will Bk D/ pg 305 24 Oct 1794 Probated Feb ct 1796]
George born in 1772, became the Clerk of Court to bomplete the unexpired term of his brother.
Ann married Joseph Blount of Chowan
Elizabeth married William Bryan
John died at the age of 24
William (twin) died very early in life
Janet (twin) died very early in life
Eleanor married Ryon Bitler
Frances Lee married John Roulhac, a native of France
William Lee married Mary Turner, daughter of Simon Turner of Indian Woods
Polly (buried at Rosefield)
Barbara died early in life
Margaret married Dr. Francis Roulhac
Peneolope, another daughter probably owned what is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Gillam. This house was formerly owned by the Methodist Church and was used as the Parsonage for a number of years.

William Gray was a man of manh interests. He was a large land owner, as the referenc ein his will to "any one of my plantations" would indicate. He was a merchant, ship builder, and since his name appears among those attending the Hillsboro Convention in 1775, and since he was also a delegate to the Halifax Convention which met to draw up the State Constitution, and also a member of the Assembly which decided to build Tryon's Palace, he must have been interested in politics.

He had a Ship Yard on a high bluff on the Cashie River where much commerce was carried on by boat. He was a large slave owner. Among his buisness interestes was a grist mill, located near the present site of Coulbourn Lumber Co. Gray's Landing was at or about the location of the present depot of the Carolina Southern Railway Company in the town of Windsor.

John Campbell

In 1743 John Campbell, a Captain in the British navy purchased 800 acres of land on the west side of the Chowan River near Webbs Ferry. This ferry operated across Chowan River to Bandon in Chowan County. The settlement grew and Campbell named it Colerain after his hometown in Ireland. Campbell brought seine fishing to America. His beautiful estate he named Lazy Hill.

He became known as the "Merchant Prince of Lazy Hill." Involved in fishing, farming, and shipping, he was responsible for shipment of Bertie County Clay to the factory at Bow in England for manufacture of pottery for export back to America. His brother there was a stockholder in that manufacturing. In 1740 he married Mary Hill, daughter of Benjamin Hill (one of the Northern faction who opposed Gov. Gabriel Johnston's representation proposal). They had two sons, James and John; a daughter, Sarah, who married 1)Richard Brownrigg of Chowan 2)Capt. David Merideth.

An epidemic of fever broke out all along the river settlements. Many of the people died, others discouraged, moved away or farther inland. John Campbell moved to Halifax County near Weldon.

When his estate was sold it was listed as follows: "One tract of land known as "Lazy Hill" lying in Bertie County on the west side of Chowan River, containing 800 acres. It is a beautiful situation well watered, on its premises are a good dwelling house, kitchen store, warehouse, workhouse, barns milk and meat house, stables. Together with a good shad and herry fishery, a good apple and peach orchard and two vegetable gardens."

Campbell worshiped at St. Paul's Church in Edenton. It is said he was a loyal patriot, devoted heart and soul to the American cause. Sanders rates him in ability to Joseph Hewes. He was known as the leading merchant of the province. He served and represented Bertie County in the General Assembly in 1744, 1745, also 1754- 1760; again 1769-1775. He served in four provincial Congresses at New Bern in 1744- 45; Hillsborough in 1775 and Halifax in 1776.

Campbell was made famous (or infamous) for the sordid affair termed "The Bear and the Evil Genius," published by Dr. Thomas Parramore, now professor Emeritus of Meridith College in Raleigh NC. It involved that era's most widely publicized court case between John Campbell and a Dr. Lennox from Windsor, Bertie County who attempted to flee the country with John's wife. The lawsuit was for Alienation of Affections (in the early 1700's.) Dr. Lennox cross sued for Defamation of Character!

John Campbell's will (Will Bk C page 4) was written Apr 19, 1777 and probated in Bertie County, Feb Court 1781. This will mentions his wife, Mary; Grandsons, John Campbell, Thomas, John, Jane and Sarah Brownrigg (children of daughter Sarah); daughter Sarah [Brownrigg] Merideth ; also his brother, James, and sisters, Mary and Elizabeth. He gave Lazy Hill to his grandson, John Campbell ("son of my son James")
Resource: Harry Thompson, Historian

John Johnston John Johnston was a member of the Colonial Assembly 1773, 1773-1774, 1775. He represented Bertie County in the 2nd Provincial Convention - New Bern, Apri 1775. He was also a member of the Provinical Congress 1775, April-May 1776, and Nov-Dec 1776. In 1788, 1789 represented Bertie Co in the Senate - voting for ratification. He was the brother of Samuel Johnston of Perquimans, who was the President of both Conventions. He became a citizen of Hertford Co. He died too young (1791) to attain the traditional prominence. He was of the same name as the nephew of Gov Johnston of Chowan and is often confused.

His son, John Scrymoure Johnston, married Betsy Cotten, daughter of Godwin Cotton of Mulberry Grove (Hertford County) and resided near there. They had two children: Rev, Sam J. Johnston, DD for years rector of St. Pauls' Edenton and Sallie Anne, who married James D. Wynns.

WILLIAM JOHNSTON DAWSON (1765-16 JAN 1796)

He was born near Edenton in Chowan Co. the son of Col John Dawson, member of the provincial council, and Penelope Johnston, daughter of Gov Gabriel Johnston and Penelope Galland and was reared at his maternal grandfather's estate, Eden House, in Bertie County. William was sent to England for his education and after he returned he entered politics and was elected a delegate to the Hillsborough Convention of 1788. He was an ardent support of that unsuccessful bid to have North Carolina ratify the constitution

In 1791 Dawson was elected to the House of Commons. During the same year, he was appointed to the committee of legislature entrusted with the selection of a permanent seat of govt for the state and was influential in the final choice of Joel Lane's plantation as the future site of Raleigh.

At the end of his congress term, Dawson settled at Eden house by then his mother's estate and died there while still a young man. He was buried on the plantation.

GAVIN HOGG

Gavin Hog was born in Orange Co and studied law. He began the practice of law in Bertie Co.
After receiving his license, went to Windosr. Around 1810. It was reported by his contemporaries that, when he arrived in town, he drove up to a tavern in a sing-stick gig after a long and fatiguing day's drive. He told the landlord that he had no money or local acquaintance, but showed him his license and said he intended to practice law. In asking for room and board, he noted that he would be unable to pay if he did not ifnd work. The landlord, impressed by his candor, welcomed him cordially and gave him a place to stay while he became established. In this way he begain his lifework.
North Carolina Biographical Dictionary
Dec 31, 1787 "that Windsor was the starting place of his professional career, where he entered the legal area, where he attained fame and fortune; he was a great lawyer but had no social affinities. He wa stern and austere. The people respected him for his talent but never loved him as a friend. His learning and accumen gave him great power and influence. His argument in the case of Gregory against Hooker's adminisgtration is said to be one of the ablest among the reports of the Supreme Court and when he retired from the bar he left no superior.

As a Federalist, Hogg strongly opposed the War of 1812 and expressed his views with vigor. According to Pulaski Cowper, "publick sentiment was fiercely arrayed against him,and so excited and defiant had it ecome, that his life was threatened and he defied, signly and alone a mob in the streets of Windsor and stationed on his front porct wih gin in hand, threateend death to the fir who shoul dinvade his domain" But despite his opposition to the war, the patriotic Hogg raised a com of soliders in Bertie Co and as their captain, participated in the Battle of Creney island near Norfolk, VA. After his return from the war, he enjoyed great populatiry abong the very people who had wanted to lynce him and his legal services were eagerly sought. On one docket he was attorney for 400 out of 423 cases. Later in life Hogg became a Jacksonian Democart. Sometkme after the War he movedot Raleigh and bought a number of lots in the vicinity of the capitol. The Archives and History Building was located on property where the Hogg home stood for over a hundred yeards. The Supreme Court building is on a lot formerly owned jointed by Hogg and his close friend, George Mordecai.

On May 22 1822, he married Mary Ann Bayard Johnson of Stratford, Conn. She was the g-grandaughter of Samuel Johnson. He and Mary had several childrn who died in infancy and one son, Thomas Devereux Hogg, long time resident of Raleigh.

Upon her death Hogg married Sarah Leigh Hawyood, the widow of James Gray Blount, but their marriage was of short duration due to his death at age 47.

Gavin Hogg native of Wick Caihness, Scotland.

Pulaski Cowpre "Reminiscences and Anecdotes of the N. C. Bar. University Magaxine (April 1895) Archibald Henderson, "Mystery of Relation of Hoggs Still Remains Unsolved in North Carolina". Undated newspaper clipping Chapel Hill; Raleigh News and Observer 22 June 1941; Raleigh Register 23 Sept 1834, 13 Jan , 10 Nov 1835.

WILLIAM BLOUNT

NC Historical Marker: "Member of Continental Congress, signer of the Federal Constitution, governor S.W. Territory, Senator from Tenn. Birthplace is 1/5 mi. S.W."
Location: US 17 (King Street) at Gray Street in Windsor.


Web master: Virginia Crilley varcsix@hot.rr.com

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