Bertie County, NCGenWeb Project Page -- Personal Political Histories Last update:Monday, 10-Sep-2018 11:11:13 MDT

Governors of Bertie County

Nathaniel Batts | Seth Sothell | Edward Hyde | Thomas Pollock | Charles Eden | Gabriel Johnston | David Stone | Locke Craig |Bibliography

The following biographical sketches of men who lived in Bertie County and served as Colonial and State Governors of North Carolina was written by John E. Tyler, II.
Thank you, Marilyn, for doing the typing

Colonial Governors

Nathaniel Batts

Though several governors have been born or lived in Bertie, the county holds the unique distinction of being the home of a man, who has been termed, "the first Governor of North Carolina". This was Capt. Nathaniel who lived on the Bertie Peninsula about 1655. Of course, at that time the County had not been formally created. That this man actually lived on Bertie soil, however, is authenticated by a map, made in 1657. This map shows on the lower end of the peninsula between the Roanoke and Chowan Rivers, the location of a house labeled "Batts House". The owner was Capt. Nathaniel Batts. Whether he was a self appointed governor or bore the authority of the crown is not known. According to an account of George Fox in 1672 he was a "rude and desparate" man and "had been Governor of Roa-noke".

Little is known about the man. Mr. W.P. Cummings of Davidson College, who has made a study of the Comberford map, says that evidently Batts made explorations along the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds, either for himself or for some colonization movement. The Comberford map probably records the knowledge gained in the expeditions. No will has been found. Joseph Chew married his widow and Administratrix; James Blount, Surety, Nov 5, 1679.
N.C.H.&G Register - Vol I, page 30
N.C.H. & G Register - Vol I, page 612
Also see Nathaniel Batts


In Bertie County is buried the last governor of Albermarle, the forerunner of all North Carolina Counties. It was here in Bertie that he owned a plantation on which he lived during the latter part of his administration and where he died. This governor and also Lord Proprietor, whom history has proved a most corrupt man, was Seth Sothell. Governor Sothell's name was more properly spelled Southwell, the pronunciation of which was Suth-el.

Following the Culpepper uprising the Lord Proprietors wished to send to the Albermarle settlement a governor who was not partisan of either faction in the late rebellion. Such a man they thought they had in Seth Sothell, who had recently became a Lord Proprietor by the purcahse of Clarendon's interest. The Lord Proprietors also anticipated that should they send a Proprietor to govern Albermarle that his presence would awe the people into order. But as John Urmstone, a missionary in Albermarle at the time reported "a Proprietor, were he here would be looked on no better than a ballard-singer". Nevertheless, in 1678 they commissioned Seth Sothell, governor of Albermarle.

After leaving England, however, Governor Sothell was captured by Algerian pirates and held for ransom. Pending his release the infant colony was governed first by John Harvey and upon his death by John Jenkins, Harvey having been appointed by the Proprietors and Jenkins selected by the Provincial Council. During this period much order was restored and there was little indication of political disturbance. In 1683 Sothel, being finally released from captivity arrived in Carolina to take charge of the government in Albermarle.

Under the Fundamental Constitutions provided for the Carolina Colony by the English political philosopher, John Locke, each Proprietor had a right to a "seignor" of 12,000 acres in each county. Thus Sothel upon his arrival found himself a landowner of stupendous proportions. He probably took up residence first at his "seignory" in the Pasquotank and though his vast land holdings extended as far as Colleton County in South Carolina, it is doubted if he ever took possession of them.

His administration as governor was marked by a series of infamous crimes. He has been described as "the dirtest knave who ever held office in America" and that "during the six years that he misruled the people of North Carolina the dark shades of his character were not relieved by a single ray of virtue." One historian describing him as a "Most beastly and detestable man" says "he broke up all trade between the colonists and the Indians, that he might monopolize the profits. He seized and confiscated without the shadow of cause, merchant ships and their cargoes. He imprisoned Thomas Pollock of Bal-Gray, Bertie County, for attempting to appeal against his rapacity and George Durant, having expressed disapprobation of his course, received like treatment and further injury. He stole negroes, cattle, plantations and even pewter dishes were not exempted from his filthy and rapacious hands. All his sympathies were with villians like himself and no man could be prosecuted who had money to bribe the governor." Such was the character of Seth Sothell. His name became synonymous with tyranny. Some who attempted to oppose his were jailed and their estates taken from them.

Among the lands Governor Sothell had acquired, legally or otherwise, was a four thousand acre plantation located on Salmon Creek in present Bertie County. This same property was later to bear the name of "Avoca" by which it is known today. To his Salmon Creek Plantation, Governor Sothell came, about 1685, to take up residence.

The locality about Salmon Creek in Bertie County seems to have had an attraction for so many of the prominent political figures of the than infant colony of Carolina. Across the Creek from Governor Sothell at Bal-Gray lived Thomas Pollock, often president of the Council and twice acting governor. Later, a few miles away, Governor Hyde was to take up residence as well as Governor Charles Eden and afterwards, Governor Gabriel Johnston. Thus the settlement around Salmon Creek was the hub of so much of the political life of North Carolina's earliest days.

Sothell, after moving to his Salmon Creek plantation continued in the abuse of his office. His administration was still marked by every kind of extortion. The inhabitants of the sparsely populated colony had long grown impatient of this charlatan's miserable behavior. Finally, in 1688, the people rose up against Sothell, seizing his person for the purpose of sending him to England for trial. It is said that fearing the results of being tried in England he begged the General Assembly to take jurisdiction and administer whatever punishment he deserved. This the local legislature did and after his trial he was declared forever incapable of holding office in Albermarle and was exiled from the county for a year. Sothell then fled to South Carolina where he attempted to become governor but soon met a fate similar to that he had experienced in the northern part of the colony.

After his banishment we find ex-governor Sothell returning to Albermarle and his home on Salmon Creek where he died in 1692. He left no children. His wife had had two previous husbands and on Sothell's death, married again for the fourth time. There is some confusion as to this lady's maiden name. Some genealogists say she was Ann (Anna) Willis of Ipswich, Massachusetts, but Governor Sothell in his will speaks of his father-in-law, Edward Forster. Anna Willis' husbands before Governor Sothell had been Robert Rascoe of "Roanoke" and James Blount, who came to Carolina from Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Her last husband was Col. John Lear of Nansemond County, Virginia.

Among the items of his will, Governor Sothell left his plantation on Salmon Creek to his friend, Francis Harley. To his widow, Anna, he left his property in the vicinity of Bath and a life estate in two-thirds of his seignoy bounded on Flatty Creek and the Pasquotank River. To his father-in-law, Edward Forster, he gave his plantation at Cuscopenum. To William Duckenfield, William Wilkinson and Henderson Walker he left each five pounds for the purpose of purchasing a good mourning ring. The will is dated January 20, 1689 and probated February 3, 1693.

[Robert Rascoe of Roanoke married Anna Willix of Ipswich, Essex County Massachusetts. The actual marriage may have occured in Exeter, Rockingham County New Hampshire (New England Colony) between 1653 and 1660. Robert Rascoe apparently died before 1663 and Anna then married Captain James Blount of Isle of Wright County Virginia and Chowan Provence North Carolina. On June 13, 1663 James Blount was granted lettes of administration in rights of his wife Anna on the estate of Robert Rascoe. James Blount died in Chowan County N.C. in 1685.
After the death of Blount, Anna married Col Seth Sothell, Provintional Governor of North and South Carolina. In 1692 Governor Sothell died at his Plantation on Salmon Creek in Bertie County N.C. Anna then married her 4th husband, Col John Lear of Nansemond County Virginia. Anna died sometimes between May 13, 1695 and June 6, 1695. John Lear died in 1696. ]

After Governor Sothell left his property on Salmon Creek to Francis Hartley, we find that Hartley's widow next came into possession of it. She then married William Duckenfield, hence it then came under the ownership of Duckenfield. In 1702 Duckenfield conveyed the plantation to John Ardene who took out a grant for the said four thousand acres in 1707. The original grant on parchment was still in existence some years ago. John Ardene in his will, probated in 1720, leaves "that plantation and tract of land called Salmon Creek to kinsman William Duckenfield". The Duckenfield family being Tories at the outbreak of the Revolution, returned to England and never came back to America. As a result their lands were confiscated.

Later, due to its location at the junction of the Albermarle Sound, Chowan River and Salmon Creek, the plantation was given the name of "Avoca", which from the Latin signified where separate waters came together. In the meantime it had become the home of Cullen Capehart, and until recent years was still owned by his descendants. Due to the enormous hula of "Big Seine" fishing at the close-by fishery, Avoca has been an outstanding landmark in Eastern Carolina for a long number of years, particularly during the eighteen hundreds.

There are numerous petitions and legal documents still in existence relating to the settlement of Governor Sothell's estate. Among the petitions are those pertaining to the non-collection of quit-rents from his lands. One of the longer petitions is of Governor Phillip Ludwell to the General Court asking the collection of quit-rents from the Salmon Creek Plantation. History has never recorded anything favorable concerning Governor Sothell and time has even obliterated the exact location where he is buried, but somewhere along the shores of Bertie County on the Avoca plantation is the grave of that colorful, though tarnished, personality which figured so notoriously in the early narrative of the North Carolina Colony.


Though the territory between the Virginia border and the Cape Fear River was officially recognized as "North Carolina" as early as 1689, still, in 1710, with South Carolina, it comprised what was known as the "Province of Carolina". The governor of the province, most of the time, maintained his residence at Charles Town, while a deputy governor was appointed for the Northern part of the province. In the absence of a deputy governor, the President of the North Carolina council became acting governor. For twenty years after 1689, more than a dozen men came into authority as provincial governor, or as deputy or acting governor of North Carolina. Naturally the executive branch of the government was weakened, while the legislative branch assumed more power. At this time there was also a growing friction between the Quakers in the colony and those whole who would have the Church of England established by law. It was in this turbulent condition that Edward Hyde found North Carolina when he arrived in August, 1710 as deputy governor. To add to the confusion was the questionable position of Hyde, himself. He had been appointed by the Lord Preprietors in England as a deputy governor, and as such, his commission was to have been signed by the governor of the province, who was residing at Charles Town. The official signature was never obtained, because the provincial governor of Carolina, who at the time was Edward Tynte, a near relative of Hyde’s, died shortly before Hyde arrived.

Edward Hyde was probably a memeber of the family of Hydes of Castle Hyde in Cork. He was a kinsman and namesake of the first Earl of Clarendon, who was the grandfather of Her Majesty Queen Anne. It was probably to repair his fortunes, broken by the contest between William III and James II, that Hyde came to North Carolina, while his cousin, Queen Anne, sat on the English throne.

When he arrived in the Colony, there was then, no governor’s mansion erected. It was therefore, here, in our present County of Bertie, that Hyde first came to accept the hospitality of Col. Thomas Pollock of Bal-Gra on Salmon Creek. Following the new governor into Albermarle County came Madam Catherine Hyde, his wife, William Clayton, Mrs. Penelope Hyde, John Lovick, the Governor’s Secretary, Mary Tudo, James Gregory and Andrew Stephenson.

Though lacking his official commission, Hyde by his prestige, assumed leadership of the government. The government, at the time, had been divided into factions, one which had supported William Glover as acting governor and who recently outsted Glover, chasing him into Virginia, while he and his supporters again dominated the Assembly. Gov. Hyde’s immediate problem was to soothe these two opposing factions. The first Assembly called by Hyde met at Col. Pollock’s home. Some of the bitterest opponents of the Cary party enrolled themselves on the side of the new governor. Into this camp, also, came the Church of England party. Naturally, the Quakers, lined up with Col. Cary. Hyde did not handle the situation with much tact. His followers continued to demand of Cary an accounting of his usurption, involving Gov. Glover. The breech between Hyde and Cary widened until open hostility existed, Cary retiring to his headquarters on the Pamilco.

After beating off one attack, Cary, assuming that he was really strong in the support of his numerous adherents, took the offensive. He had at first merely fortified his house, entrenched it and raised a battery, on which he planted some cannot. Now, having been furnished a brigatine, supposedly by a "leading Quaker", he armed her with six guns and fitted out beside a bara longa, he filled her with fusileers. Thus with his naval force he sailed into Albermarle Sound and to the mouth of the Chowan River. Cary’s intention was to capture Gov. Hyde. Anchoring opposite the house where Hyde and his Council were convened, Cary insinuated that "Mr. Hyde might expect the same fate Colonel Park had in Antigua". Cary’s attack and attempt to land and seize Hyde was repulsed. He then withdrew again to his headquarters on the Pamlico.

Realizing that their support was inadequate to resist another very forceable attack, Hyde and his Council dispatched a messenger to Governor Spottswood of Virginia for help. The Virginia Governor responded with a force of Marines from his guard-ships and after several weeks of attack and counter attack, Cary’s forces were dispersed in July, 1711. Cary, himself, was later captured and sent to England, but was never brought to trial.

The years of internal strife and friction, which had resulted in Cary’s Rebellion, however, brought about an important political change. The Lord Proprietors in 1710 hoping to obliterate the confusion of the status of North Carolina Governors took steps to set up North Carolina as a separate government. Since this action had to be approved by the Crown it was not until January 24, 1712, that the first Commission was issued for a Governor of North Carolina to be responsible directly to the Proprietors and to be independent of the Governor of South Carolina. Edward Hyde, dwelling for the most time here on the shore of our present Bertie County, since his arrival in the Colony, received this commission and qualified on May 9, 1712, as the first Governor of North Carolina as a separate administrative unit.

In the midst of squelching Cary and his followers, a more ominous cloud was forming which was to threaten the very existence of the North Carolina Colony. This was the Tuscarora War, which was to last for several years. The Albermarle section of the Colony, however, suffered less than the settlements along the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers, due to the neutrality of the Indian Chief, Tom Blount and his band along the Roanoke.

With Indian War cries piercing the forest, still another terror came creeping among the troubled inhabitants of the colony. This was an epidemic of yellow fever, which took as many victims as did the savage Indians. This deadly disease claimed, with countless others, the newly commissioned Governor Hyde. An account of his death is given in a letter, written by Col. Pollock to the Lord Proprietors, dated September 9, 1712. In this Pollock states "we had the great misfortune to lose our governor, who deceased yesterday about twelve of the clock of a violent fever, which had held him for seven days, and hath left us in a most deplorable condition."

With her husband’s death, Madam Hyde prepared for her voyage back to England. On leaving the colony, she rested a few days at John Cotten’s on the Blackwater in Virginia, before continuing on her journey. At the time of her departure, with the Indians at war, North Carolina was in as troubled condition as Governor Hyde had found it two years before. Though out of the turmoil of rebellions and wars, Hyde’s short administration did lift North Carolina from its ambiguous position to a definite place as a separate and distinct colony.


Thomas Pollock, son of Thomas Pollock of Bal-Gra, was born in Glascow, Scotland, May 6, 1654. He came to the Carolina Colony in 1683 as a deputy for one of the Lord Proprietors, Lord Carteret afterwards the Earl of Granville. Pollock settled in our present county of Bertie and in time became one of the largest property owners in the Chowan district. His home, situated on the shores of this county, over-looking Salmon Creek was called Bal-Gra, after his father’s residence. After his arrival, he soon became one of the most prominent and influential men in the colony. For years he was to be conspicuous for his wealth and intelligence. A long feud existed between him and Edward Mosely and in all civil turmoil they were the real leaders of the opposite factions.

When Edward Hyde came to Carolina in 1710 as Governor, he accepted the hospitality of Thomas Pollock and other outstanding residents of the district. In fact, the first Assembly called by the new Governor met at Pollock’s home. The short administration of Hyde’s, however, proved to be a turbulent period. This was the time of the Cary Rebellion in which the disputed authority of the Governorship was involved. Pollock, naturally, gave his support to Hyde and the crown. The Rebellion was put down in 1711 and Cary captured. He was never brought to trial, however, due to the probable lack of evidence.

To Pollock, too, goes much credit for his support of the Baron Von Graffenried and his establishment of the Swiss Colony of New Bern. Von Graffenried was attempting to settle his colony under most adverse circumstances. This was also during the time of the Cary Rebellion and the Indian wars which followed. He exhausted all of his funds in his efforts and was unable to secure any aid from the company in Bern which he represented. Some individuals in other colonies supplied goods, but the chief creditor of the interprise was Pollock who furnished both finances and goods. Naturally the heavy indebtedness to Pollock was of great influence when Von Graffenried, as leader of the largest body of immigrants to come into Carolina, allied himself with the Hyde and Pollock faction in putting down the Cary Rebellion.

The uprising of Cary and his followers was immediately followed by war, with the Tuscarora Indians and epidemics of yellow fever. Governor Hyde fell victim to the fever and died September 8th, 1712.

Pending the appointment of a successor by the Lord Proprietors, the North Carolina Council chose an acting governor. Thus it was that Col. Thomas Pollock was elected to the Governorship, four days after the death of Governor Hyde. Pollock proved to be a man of force and decision. The war with the Indians lasted well into his administration as governor. The Tuscarora tribe was a branch of the war like Iroquoian group. Lawson, our state’s first historian, estimated their warriors at 1200, located in some fifteen Indian towns in Eastern Carolina along the Roanoke, Pamlico and Nuese Rivers. Encroachment by the whites upon the lands adjacent to these rivers was the principal cause of the Tuscarora War.

The population on the Bertie Peninsula and surrounding territory, however, did not suffer as severely as others, for the Tuscarora bands along the Roanoke River remained neutral. This was due to the friendship and influence of Governor Pollock with the Tuscarora chief, Thomas Blount. As a result the morale of the people was restored to some extent when the colony was facing some of its darkest days.

Pollock remained in office until the arrival from England of Governor Eden in 1714, after which he continued most active in the affairs of the colony. He was a member of the General Court and also of the Governor’s Council. Upon the death of Governor Eden in March 1722, Colonel Pollock was again elected to fill the vacant post. This was in the year that Bertie was officially recognized as a precinct. Pollock’s second administration as Governor, though, lasted only a few months, for he died August 30, 1722.

As when he first came to Bertie he was still Lord Carteret’s deputy. He was interred with his wife and other members of his family at Bal-Gra, where he lived and died. About 1850 the Vestry of St. Pauls Parrish removed his remains and placed them in their cemetery at Edenton, N.C.

Thomas Pollock had been married twice. His first wife was Martha Cullen, daughter of Thomas Cullen, who was a member of the Governor’s Council in 1670. She was born in Dover, England in 1663 and was the widow of Robert West. Pollock’s second wife was Ester Sweetman of Maryland. Her previous husbands had been John Harris and Col. Wm. Wilkerson. Pollock had no issue by his second wife. His first wife, Martha Cullen, he was the father of Martha Pollock, who married Thomas Bray of New Kent County, Virginia; Thomas Pollock, Jr., who married Elizabeth Sanderson; Cullen Pollock who married Frances West; George Pollock, who married, first, Sarah Swann and second, Elizabeth Whitmell. George Pollock had no issue by either marriage. The children of Cullen Pollock and wife, Frances West, were: George Pollock, Cullen Pollock (both died without issue); Martha Pollock, who married first Stevens Lee, and second, Clement Crock; Frances Pollock, who marred Dr. Robert Lenox.

Thomas Pollock, Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth Sanderson, were the parents of three sons, namely, Thomas, Cullen and George Pollock. Cullen and George of this marriage also died without issue. Thomas, son of Thomas Pollock, Jr., married Eunice Edwards, daughter of the renowned New England minister, Jonathan Edwards. They were the parents of Thomas Pollock, George Pollock, Elizabeth Pollock, who never married, and Frances Pollock, who married John Devereux. Eunice Edwards by another marriage was the mother of Sarah Pierpoint Hunt, who married John Fanning Burgwyn. Thus Sarah Hunt Burgwyn and Frances Pollock who married John Devereux were half sisters.

An interesting point of law was determined in 1841 when the children of the sisters of the half blood brought an action in the North Carolina Courts concerning the inheritance of certain Pollock property. The out-come of the trial was that heirs of the half blood inherit equally with heirs of the whole blood.

The two sons of Thomas Pollock and wife, Eunice Edwards, died without issue and thus the male line of Governor Pollock passed out of existence and the surname Pollock became extinct.

Gov. Thomas Pollock m.  Martha Cullen  - 1690

A. Martha m. Thomas Bray of New Kent County, VA

B. Cullen m. Frances West
	1. Frances m. Robert Lenox
		a.Frances Lenox m. Samuel Tredwell (no issue)
	2. Martha m. 1) Stevens Lee II  2) Clement Crook
	3. Cullen (no issue)

	4. George (no issue)

C. Thomas m. Elizabeth Sanderson
	1. Thomas m. Eunice Edwards
		a. Frances m. John Devereux
		b. Thomas (no issue)
		c. George (no issue)
		d. Elizabeth (no issue)

	2. Cullen (no issue)
	3. George (no issue)

D. George m. 1)Sarah Swann  2)Elizabeth Whitmell  (no issue)

DEM ex dem Henry K. Burgwyn et al vs. Thomas P. Devereux

This case was decided in the Supreme Court of North Carolina at the June term 1841, the opinion being written by Chief Justice Ruffin. The head note of syllabus of the case is as follows, to-wit:

“A [Thomas Pollock] died in the year 1777, leaving two sons Thomas and George. Thomas was the oldest son, and by the laws of this State as it then stood, sole heir to his father. A devised the land in controversy in this suit to his second son, George. George died in 1839, intestate and without issue, leaving surviving him a sister of the whole blood, under whom the defendant claimed, and the issue of a sister of the half blood on the mother’s side, who are the lessors of the plaintiff. Held that the issue of the sister of the half blood took one moiety of the land.

This was an appeal from the judgment of the Superior Court of Law of Jones County at Spring term 1841, the Honorable Judge Bailey presiding, upon the following case agreed:

This case is brought to try whether the premises set forth in the declaration descend to the lessors of the plaintiff in common with Frances Devereux, or whether the said Frances was seized of them in severalty; and upon this question the following statement of facts, submitted as a case agreed. George Pollock died in April 1839, seized in fee of the land in question, to which he succeeded by devise, upon the death of his father. Thomas Pollock, the elder, under the will of the said Thomas, a copy of which, so far as it regards this question, is made a part of this case. Thomas Pollok, the elder, succeeded to the land by descent upon the death of his father, he, the said Thomas being the eldest son. Thomas Pollok, the elder, died in the year 1777, leaving two sons, Thomas, now deceased, and above mentioned George of whom Thomas was the oldest, and a daughter, the said Frances Devereux.

Thomas died without issue in the year 1803 or 1804. George also died intestate and without issue, leaving the said Frances the only sister of the full blood and of the blood of the said Thomas, the elder. The lessors of the plaintiff are the children of Sara Burgwyn, who was the daughter of the widow of the said Thomas, by a marriage subsequent to his death, and also a sister of the said George of the half blood on the part of his mother. The said Sara died before the said George, and if she (had she survived the said George) would have inherited any of the said land, then the lessors of the plaintiff have the same title. The defendant, Thomas P. Devereux, representing the said Frances, is in the actual and exclusive possession of the land, and claims to hold the same in severalty adversely to the rights of the said lessors. If, upon the foregoing facts, the lessors of the plaintiff have any title to the premises in dispute, the judgment is to be entered for the plaintiff, if they have no title, the judgment is to be entered for the defendant.

Upon this case agreed the court (pro forma) gave judgment for the plaintiff, upon the defendant appealed to the Supreme Court.


Item. I give and devise unto my son, George Pollok, and to his heirs and assigns forever all my lands, tenements, and hereditaments that I have and hold in fee simple in North Carolina, he paying unto my said wife the aforesaid annuity or yearly sum of 500 Spanish Mille pieces of eight, from his attaining the age of 21 years during the natural life of my said wife.
The case was argued elaborately by Winston and Kinney, with whom were eight more, on the part of the defendant, the appellant; and W. H. Haywood, Jr. and Iredell for the plaintiff, the Appellee.

NOTE: Judge Ruffin wrote an elaborate opinion upon the act of 1808 regarding descents in North Carolina. The opinion is purely technical and no facts appear in the opinion that do not appear in the agreed statement of facts. This case is reported in Volume 23, North Carolina Reports, marginal page 583.


Perhaps one of the most colorful governors of Colonial Carolina was Charles Eden. He has also proven one of the most controversial subjects for many historians. The circumstantial evidence of his connection with the pirate Blackbeard is truly damaging, however, Eden has been described as a “man of fair ability and amiable disposition and during his administration was generally held in high esteem in the colony”. Yet Williamson says of him, “his administration was checkered by trouble and clouded by disgrace, that he might and should have prevented; and his conduct, when viewed in the most favorable light was very imprudent, though his guilt was not fully established”. Still another state historian says that Eden “was polished, a genial and popular man in social intercourse and soon became trusted and beloved in all portions of the state”. No doubt, this uncertainty of his character tends to give him a more romantic and legendary aspect.

Governor Eden, a representative of a great English family, arrived in North Carolina in 1714 with full powers from the Duke of Beaufort, who was then Palatine. Col. Thomas Pollock had been serving as governor since the death of Hyde in 1712. Eden’s official title to be used in the colony was “Charles Eden Esquire, Governor, Captain General, and Admiral”. He came into office with instructions from the Lord Proprietors to discourage much expansion of the settlement. In spite of this he was, to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.

The General Assembly, over with Governor Eden presided in 1715 was destined to instigate many legislative measures for the economic and political progress of the colony. It was during the meeting of this legislative body in 1715 that the first direct tax was levied on the inhabitants of North Carolina, at least so far as any record in existence today shows. This took the dual form of a poll and land tax.

This same 1715 General Assembly definitely established the Church of England in North Carolina. This was, no doubt, brought about to a great extent by the influence of Governor Eden, who was interested in aiding the Church of England in its early struggle for survival. The lack of Clergymen, missionaries sent out from England by the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel. Thus it was that most of the nine Parishes established in 1715 had to rely entirely upon the services of qualified lay readers. In a letter of Governor Eden’s he states “In most of the parishes they have already established two or three readers who are the most capable persons we can get here. To some they allow per annum thirty pounds, to others twenty pounds and to none less than ten pounds”. During Eden’s administration, the colonial legislature also passed what were probably the first “Blue Laws” made in the state. The law makers of 1715 hoped “to prevent the grievous sins of cursing and swearing, to check drunkeness, to enforce Sunday observance and in other ways improve public morality.” To Eden, also fell the problem of the aftermath of the Indian War of 1711-1712. A number of the Tuscarora tribes had begun migrating to New York to join the Iroquoian group. Chief Thomas Blount and his tribe, however, who proved friendly to the colonists during the conflict, remained in Carolina. At first the government set up a reservation for them between the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. In 1717 at a meeting of the Assembly under Governor Eden at the town of Queen Anne’s Creek (later named Edenton) Blount and his Indians were given a large tract of land to be held forever, north of the Marrotock (Roanoke) River, in present Bertie County. This was the locality known today as “Indian Woods”. By the end of Eden’s administration the debt incurred as a result of the Tuscarora War had been reduced to half its original size. After residing periodically at Bath or the Village of Queen Anne’s Creek, according to where his official duties carried him, Governor Eden came to the shores of present Bertie County to build his permanent home. Here he lived the later part of his life, located at the mouth of the Chowan River near Salmon Creek, the place is still known as “Eden House”. Though the actual house disappeared years ago, no doubt it was a residence of style and proportions suitable to a person of Governor Eden’s prestige. To his home on the Bertie Pennisula the Governor brought his wife, Penelope, and his step-daughter, Penelope Galland (Mrs. Eden’s daughter by a previous marriage). Eden House was noted for its “refined society” and “splendid hospitality”. Mrs. Eden died in 1716 and was buried there at her home on the Chowan. During this period the waters of the Carolina Coast became the habitate of pirates, who preyed upon sips sailing between the colonies, the West Indies and England. One of the most noted of these buccaneers was Edward Teach, known as “Blackbeard”. Teach was evidently a familiar figure to certain people in the colony, particularly at Bath, where also lived Governor Eden’s Secretary of the Colony, Tobias Knight. In 1717 by proclamation of King George I, all pirates, who within a limited time surrendered themselves to any colonial governor were pardoned. Thus Blackbeard and some of his men surrendered to Governor Eden. It was only a short time, however, before Blackbeard was back at his old trade of plundering ships. Eden and the Colonial Government, apparently took little interest in attempting to bring Teach to justice, or else they were quite unprepared to meet with the situation. When the pirate’s ship was finally captured and Blackbeard killed near Ocracoke Inlet in November 1718, it was by a ship outfitted by Virginia and commanded by Lt. Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy. Part of Blackbeard’s loot was found in a barn owned by Tobias Knight, the Secretary of the Colony. The men most eager in pursuing the investigation of Teach’s connections in the Colony were Edward Mosely and Maurice Moore, leaders of the Popular Party. As Henderson says “this made it possible for Governor Eden, in spite of the evidence produced, to attribute ulterior partisan motives to the investigators. The Governor exonerated Knight and at the same time raised an issue to divert attention from the primary question. Governor Spotswood was exceeding his authority, Eden argued, when he sent an armed force into North Carolina and when after the battle at Ocracoke Inlet he sided in tracing the stolen goods”. Mosely and Moore, however, continued the investigation regardless of this official interference. They obtained access to Public Records by breaking into the house where they were kept. As a result the men were fined. Mosely then cast direct insinuations at Governor Eden by declaring that “the Governor could raise an armed posse to arrest honest men, though he could not raise a similar force to apprehend Teach, a noted pirate”. For this Eden had Mosely brought up to trial for “seditious utterance” under an act passed by the Assembly of 1715. Mosely was found guilty and prohibited from holding public office for a period of three years. This feud between Eden and Mosely had reached such proportions that it overshadowed and obliterated the original investigation into the Governor’s official family and its relationship with Teach. To this day no definite proof has been uncovered as to the connection between Eden and the pirate, Blackbeard. Tradition says that in Bath there was a tunnel cut from the river to the Governor’s house, by which Blackbeard smuggled in his captured goods. There is a like tradition that a similar tunnel existed at “Eden House”. That these tunnels did exist is quite probable, because a number of homes built during those early colonial days along the rivers did have such tunnels as a secret escape from hostile Indians, such as the John Rolfe home on the James River in Virginia. In 1718, Charles Eden was made a Langrave of Carolina. This was a hereditary nobility provided for in the Fundelmental Constitutions, written for the Colony by John Locke. According to the Constitutions there were to be the same number of Langraves as there were counties in the Colony. Eden and Von Graffenreid, however, were the only persons in the Colony to achieve this distinction. During Eden’s administration, William Maule of Bertie County was the Surveyor General of the Province. For every survey of land there was due the Governor the sum of two shillings and six pence for each purchase right. In 1720 Eden brought into the General Court a complaint against Maule. It seems that Maule was authorized to make these collections, but had not turned the money over to Governor Eden for a number of years. Maule had married the Governor’s step-daughter, Penelope Galland. The hostility between Eden and Maule over the complaint of 1720 is probably shown in Governor Eden’s will. In it he makes no mention of his step-daughter, Penelope Galland Maule, but speaks only of his niece, Mrs. Margaret Pough and his friends, John Holloway, David Richardson, James Henderson and John Lovick. Governor Eden died in 1722. He had steered the colony through a long, peaceful and prosperous administration. He was buried at his home “Eden House” on the shores of Bertie County. The stone which marked his grave had the following inscription: “Here lyes ye body of Charles Eden, Esq., who governed the Province eight years to the great satisfaction of the Lord Proprietors and ye ease and happiness of ye people. He brought the county into a flourishing condition and died much lamented, March ye 26, 1722, aetatis 49.”.


One of the outstanding Colonial Governors of North Carolina, who is seldom associated with Bertie County, but who lived, died and was buried here in this county, was Governor Gabbrial Johnston. He was the second Royal Governor, being appointed in 1733 to succeed Governor Burrington. He first touched the shores of North Carolina near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, where at Brusnwick on November 2, 1734 he took upon himself the authority of his office.

The Johnstons were of an ancient family and derived their name from the Barony of Johnston in Annandale, Scotland. The family, whose records date far back into the 10th century, have contributed much to the history of Scotland. Governor Gabrial Johnston was the son of Sir John Johnston of Stapelton. He was educated at the University of St. Andrew and after a few years studying medicine he was appointed professor of Oriental languages in the University, but later went to London where he entered politics. There he wrote for the columns of The Craftsman, a journal opposed to the ministry. He thus became associated with men like Bolingbroke, Pulteney and others who lavished upon London so much wit and ridicule of the Hanoverians. From 1726 until he left for North Carolina, among the closest friends of Gabriel Johnston in London were his relatives William Johnston, later Earl olf Bath and spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington. In 1735, Governor Johnston, as a compliment to his patron, Spencer Compton, named the little town of Newton on Cape Fear, Wilmington.

Though some Scotch families were already settled along the Cape Fear River, it was during Johnston's long administration that the Scote emigration began to increase at a very rapid rate, due greatly to the Governor's effort and encouragement.

In 1735 Governor Johnston traveled from the Cape Fear region to Edenton "with his equipage and family" and by 1737 was occupying his own plantation on Salmon Creek in Bertie County. Thus he had come to the seat of many of the Colony's earlier governors, such as Sothell, Pollock, Hyde and Eden. From all accounts it would seem that Governor Johnston was married when he arrived in Bertie County to take up residence. However, it is known that he had two natural children, Henry who died in 1772 and Caolina, who was probably demented or at least weak-minded. It may be that these constituted "the family" referred to when he came to the Northern part of the province.

When Governor Johnston began his administration he found the inhabitants of North carolina in a turmoil concerning the issue of quit-rents. Under the Lord Proprietors what quit-rents that had been collected were done so at a valuatation established by a Legislative Act of 1715. For years this rent had been payable on the farms and in commodities. When the Crown bought the colony from the Lord Proprietors in 1729, attempts through its first royal governor Burrington were made to change this. Now these quit-rents had to be paid in proclamation money and all land holders with the amounts of their acres had to be registered so as to provide a rent roll for the Crown. Governor Johnston upheld his predecessor and the Crown in this controversy and also insisted that the king had the right to fix the place of collection. All of this was, of course, stiffly opposed by the Provincial Assembly and the inhabitants were urgining one another not to pay these rents. When it was reported, (falsely, however,) that a man in Edenton had been jailed for refusing to pay his quit-rents, 500 men in Bertie and Edgecombe Counties rose in arms and set out to rescur him by force "cursing his Majesty and uttering a great many rebellious speeches. During the next several years controversy continued between Governor Johnston and the Legislature.

At this time William Downing of Bertie was presiding as Speaker of the House. Finally in 1739 a compromise was reached and a quit-rent Act was passed satsifactory to both factions, only to be disallowed by the Crown, because it gave to a Provincial group the power to regulate the value of the currency. Further attempts to pass quit-rent laws failed until 1748 when the General Assembly and Governor johnston again found themselves able to compromise on these laws.

Throughout Governor Johnston's administration these quit-rent laws continued to be a headache. Their enforcement was never anything but lax as is evident, when at the death of Governor Johnston, he had received no salary for the proceeding twelve years because the quit-rent collected, from which his salary was obtained, had not been sufficient to pay it. Another reason the treasury was so depleted is that in 1744 the unsold Lord Proprietor's share belonging to the Earl of Granville, was actually laid off, and survery and all the quit-rents collected in this territory, which included most of the Northern part of the Colony, went into private hands rather than to the Colonial Government.

With the Northern counties lying in the Granville District, the people there, naturally had interest different from these inhabitants outside the district, dwelling in the lower part of the Province. This lower section of the Colony around the Cape Fear River was growing and developing rapidly, and the friction between it and the Northern counties was beginning to mount. This ill feeling involved the location of the seat of the Colonial government. Until now most of the General Assemblies had convened in and about Edenton. The inhabitants of the Southern counties thought that it was unreasonable that they should have to travel so far to transact public business and preferred that the so called capital be moved to New Bern, which was a more central location. Governor Johnston was in favor of this change and also of equalizing representation among the counties. Until then the Albemarle Region had had control of the Assembly from a numerical standpoint. To aid the Southern counties in their effort for equalization of powe, Governor Johnston called several of the General Assemblies to convene in Wilminton. As a result the Albemarle Counties refused to participat in the Provincial Government and refused to send delegates to the Assemblies. It was evident from the beginning of Governor johnston's administration that his sympathies were with the Scotch settlers of the Cape Fear district. After all, he was responsible for a great number of them being there. In fact he bought property in this vicinty and it is supposed that it was his intention to make his home there, until his official business brought him to the Albemarle district where he fell under the charms of the often-widowed heiress of "Eden House".

Sometime between 1737 and 1741 Governor Gabriel Johnston married Penelop Galland, a prominent Bertie County heiress and a most remarkable woman. She was first of all the step-daughter of the late Governor Charles Eden, and had come into possession of the "Eden House" holdings, perhaps through litigation as she was not mentioned in Governor Eden's will. Gabriel Johnston was her fourth husband. She had married first, William Maule, of Bertie who died in 1726 [Hathaway , Vol I - page 63 - Wm Maule Will]; then John Lovick, one time Secretary to the Colony, who died in 1734 [Hathaway, Vol I - page 57 J. Lovick Will]; and third, George Phenny, who died in 1737 [Hathaway, Vol I pg 66 - G. Phenny Will]. That she and Governor Johnston were married prior to 1741 is proved by a deed signed by both of them in that year as man and wife. [Hathaway, Vol I - pg 54 - G. Johnston and Penelope, his wife, to John Campbell]

By her marriage to William Maule, Penelope Galland was the mother of Penelope Mauls, who became the first wife of Dr. William Cathcart. The will of William Mauls speaks of his property which included Mount Galland (named in honor of his wife) and the plantation Scots Hall. Mount Galland, situated on the Chowan River is known today as Mount Gould. After his marriage to Penelope Glland, Governor Johnston took up residence at "Eden House". There to him and his often married wife was born a daughter, Penelope Johnston.

In spite of the political conflict existing between the two sections of the Colony, in 1740, when England went to war with Spain, Governor Johnston was able to raise companies of men in both the Albemarle section and on the Cape Fear that served in the expedition against Cathagona.

Again, in 1744, hostilities broke out between the mother country and France. In view of this fact when the Assembly met that year, attention was given to the defense of the sea coast which had in the past been ravaged by Spanish curisers. As a result a fort was constructed at the mouth of the Cape Fear River and named Fort Johnston in honor of the Governor.

When Penelope Galland Maule Lovick Phenney Johnston died, Governor Johnston married again in 1751 a widow, Frances Button. The following year, July 17, 1752, Governor Gabriel Johnston died at his seat "Eden House" and was buried there. The exact location of his grave is not now known.

In his will, the Governor begs of his "Dearest wife" to be a kind mother to his "dear little girl". He left his daughter considerable land and negroes, but did not include her among those who had a share in the residuary estate. On the death of her half brother, Henry Johnston, in 1772 she fell heir to his fifth of that estate. She was many years, however, attempting to secure her portion. She married Col John Dawson, a Virginia lawyer, who came to reside at "Eden House". Their son, William Johnston Dawson, became a member of Congress and was one of the commissioners to select the site and report the plan of the City of Raleigh, giving his name to one of the streets. The Governor's daughter, Penelope Johnston, was still living as the Widow Dawson in 1798.

After Governor Johnston's death in 1752, his widow, Frances married John Rutherfurd of New Hanover County. Rutherfurd was in charge of settling the estate and was many years closing it up. There was much controversy and litigation involved and it is well known that he did not perform his task to the satisfaction of the Johnston family. Among the manuscripts in the possession of the North Carolina Historical Commissiion is an "account of John Rutherfurd and Frances, his wife with the estate fo Governor Gabriel Johnston", which covers the eyars 1752 to 1756. Its later pages contains accounts of money disbursed for such Bertie plantations as "Eden House" and "Mount Galland". It, also contains items regarding Henry Johnston, Caroline, his sister, and Penelope (education at Williamsburg - 83 pounds, 16 shillings and 6 pence)

One of the questions involved in the settlement of the estate was the distribution of the arrears of Governor Johnston's salary, which was not effected for nearly 50 years. At the Governor's death, the British Government owed his estate for more than 12,000 pounds arrears of salary. His widow, Frances, put in a claim for this amount and her second husband, John Rutherfurd, finally went to England where in 1761 he obtained a royal warrant authorizing the payment. The quit-rents collected in North Carolina were not sufficient for the purpose, however, so the warrant was addressed to the Receiver-General of South Carolina, instructing him to pay the entire amount from the quti-rents of that Province. As late as 1767, Rutherfurd was still trying to obtain through, Henry Laurens, attorney for the estate, payment of the sum authorized by the British Treasury. He, finally, before his death obtained most of the 12,000 pounds. Rutherfurd, however, appropriated for his own use much more than he was legally entitled to keep.

Though Governor Johnston had had difficulty with his Legislature, much progress had been made during his administration in the North Carolina Colony. Useful acts had been passed regulating marriage, the rate of interest, damage on foreign bills, roads and navigation, trial of small cases. regulation of taverns and for the betterment of prisoners. Laws regarding the morals and religion of the people were also passed. One act provided that each person should on Sunday carefully apply himself to the duties of religion. All work and amusements were forbidden on a penalty of 14 shillings. Unmarried mothers were committed to jail until disclosing the paternity of the child. It was also a statute that it was the duty of clergymen, lay readers and others to read these laws in all churches, chapels and places of religious worship.

The annual exports of 1752 were 61,528 barrels of tar; 12,055 of pitch; 10,429 of turpentine; 762,000 staves; 61,580 bushels of corn; 100 hogsheads of tobacco. During the 18 years of Governor Johnston's rule the Province had nearly tripled its population (due mostly to the immigration of the Scots, Irish and Germans) Among the new counties that had come into being during this time were Bladen, Edgecombe, Anson, Granville, Orange and Johnston (named in honor of the Governor). In 1741 Northampton had been carved out of Bertie. It is recorded that at this period the inhabitants of Bertie had become more numerous than any other county in the Province. The line of the new county ran five miles west of the courthouse of Bertie, then located at St. John's. Statutes provided that a new court house, jail and stocks for Bertie should be erected on Will's Quarter Branch, near our present county seat of Windsor. Also, at the end of Governor Johnston's administration the Piedmont section was just beginning to open up and the Province of North Carolina was awakening to an era of opportunity and advancement.

When Governor Gabriel Johnston came to North Carolina several of his relatives

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