The Lurry family (also spelled Leary and Lowry) has been an underlying influence in many of the stories I have shared on this site. William Lurry and his wife Miriam Caron (also spelled Caroon, Carron, and several other variations) were descendants of some of the first families of Currituck County which began as a precinct of Albemarle County and later became a county in 1739. A New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina (Moseley Map) shows Currituck Precinct in the 1730s during William Lurry and Miriam Caron’s lives.
William’s will1, left in Currituck County on 21 April 1746 (proved on 1 July 1746), included the following:
He named William Mackie his sole executor and the will was witnessed by Edward Cox, George Gam(e)well, and Susanah Mackie.
By April 1747, Thomas’ mother was named as “Miriam Wilson” (having since remarried Nathaniel Wilson2) in a deed of gift from her father John Caron (Currituck County, Deed Book 4, Pages 72-73) which named two grandsons—William Lurry and Thomas Lurry. The deed of gift included the following:
The deed was witnessed by William Piner, Samuel Sanderson, and William Mackie.
After their father’s death in 1746, William and Thomas would have been raised by Nathaniel Wilson and Miriam Caron Lurry Wilson. Nathaniel Wilson was recorded in Pasquotank County in 1754 in the NC Early Census and he also left a 26 April 1766 will naming his wife Miriam and step-sons Thomas Lurry and William Lurry. The will included the following:
He named Miriam and Thomas Lurry and his whole executors and the will was witnessed by John Jones, James Gregory, and Seth Bakly.
This small collection of records sets the stage for William Lurry5 and Thomas Lurry’s early lives. By adulthood, both men were heirs to several estates and their land and slave holdings represented multiple families.
Thomas Lurry was recorded in Pasquotank County deeds as early as 1765. By the 1769 Pasquotank County Tax List he was head of a household of 1 white male, 2 black males (Jeffery and Esop), and 1 black female (Jenny). He served in the Revolutionary War as a Captain associated with the Edenton District Minutemen (1775-1776), fighting in the Battle of Great Bridge on 9 December 1775, and with the Camden County Regiment in 1781.
It is unclear when Thomas Lurry married his wife (Mary Jones (b. 1755)?) but by the 1782 Camden County Tax List he had accumulated 1850 acres, 6 horses, 27 cattle, and 12 slaves. To better understand the stages of his life, I analyzed Thomas Lurry’s deeds leading up to each census year (with adjoining landowners and place names in bold).
|Deed Information||Deed Description||Grantee||Grantor||Witnesses||Notes|
|16 November 1781 (Book B, Page 213)||120 pounds for a 96-acre tract of land adjoining John Berry, William Gregory, Jonathan Whitehurst, Willis Wilson, and the Indian Line||Thomas Lurry||Evan Standly||Lodowick Gray, John Berry||+96 Acres|
|16 November 1781 (Book B, Page 213)||100 pounds for a 50-acre tract of land on Sandy Hook Road||Evan Standly||Thomas Lurry||Lodowick Gray, John Berry||-50 Acres|
|19 June 1784 (Book C, Page 225)||50 pounds for a 500-acre parcel of Juniper Swamp near the head of the Pasquotank River in part of the Great Dismal Swamp called “Pritchard’s Juniper Swamp,” patented by Timothy Jones on 18 August 1783||Thomas Lurry||Timothy Jones||Jonathan Hearring, Thomas Burnham||+500 Acres|
|5 January 1786 (Book D, Pages 58-59)||50 pounds for a 50-acre tract of land on the East side of the Pasquotank River in Joys Creek adjoining Caleb Abbott, Part of a 480-acre tract of land patented by John McBride in 1749||Thomas Lurry||John Jones||Joseph Jones, Timothy Jones||+50 Acres|
|16 February 1786 (Book D, Pages 59-60)||350 pounds for an 85-acre parcel of land on the west side of the North River near the Indian Town bridge adjoining William Ferebee, Thomas Howard, Cornelius Gale, and Thomas Williams||Thomas Lurry||Joseph Pell, Margaret (His Wife), and Sarah Pell||Henry Abbott, Evan Stanley||+85 Acres|
|10 March 1786 (Book D, Page 106)||49 pounds for a 26-acre parcel of land adjoining John Barclif, Job Gregory, and Joseph Morisset||William Gregory||Thomas Lurry||Joseph Pell, Isaac Dauge||-26 Acres|
|8 May 1786 (Book D, Page 225)||50 pounds (10 pounds for every 100 acres) for a 500-acre tract of land at the head of Joys Creek in the Great Dismal Swamp adjoining David Pritchard near his old orchard, Lamb’s patent line (to the north), and Timothy Jones’ patent line (to the south)||Thomas Lurry||Grant, Signed by Governor Richard Caswell||—||+500 Acres; See image below.|
|12 June 1786 (Book D, Page 128)||10 pounds for a 50-acre tract of land in upper Camden in the edge of the Desert adjoining Newton Edney’s Islands (the upper part of Peter Cartwright’s 150-acre patent dated 27 October 1784) and Benjamin Jones||Thomas Lurry||Peter Cartwright||Benjamin Jones, John Edney||+50 Acres|
|2 February 1787 (Book G, Page 3)||20 pounds for a 3-acre parcel of land on the Pasquotank River adjoining the land of Isaac Riggs and David Hall’s plantation||Benjamin Jones and Thomas Lurry||David Hall||Timothy Jones, Isaac Stokley||+3 Acres; See other references to this land.|
|15 December 1788 (Book D, Page 413)||Bill of Sale, 50 Pounds for Negro Man Tom||Thomas Lurry||Isaac Burnham||Joseph Richardson||+1 Slave|
|30 May 1790 (Book E, Page 63)||Bill of Sale, 60 Pounds for Negro Wench Sarah||Elisha Davis||Thomas Lurry||David Burnham, William Lurry||-1 Slave|
|15 June 1790 (Book E, Page 36)||23 pounds for 49-acre tract (1/2 the tract Thomas Lurry purchased on 16 November 1781 adjoining John Berry, William Gregory, Jonathan Whitehurst, Willis Wilson, and the Indian Line)||John Berry||Thomas Lurry||Sam Bell, Evan Stanley||-49 Acres|
In the 1790 Federal Census Thomas Lurry had a household of 20:
Thomas Lurry’s neighbors in this census year were Elizabeth Griffin, Willis Dauge (also spelled Dozier), William Neval (also spelled Neaville), William Barcoe, John Jones, and James Sanderlin. Based on the composition of his household, it appears that Thomas Lurry was married to his wife Mary Jones (?) and may have had 6 children (2 sons and 4 daughters). His land holdings were divided between Indian Town (where his mother’s family owned land) and Upper Camden where he was an active investor in the Lebanon Company6.
Several of Thomas Lurry’s tracts are of longstanding interest in my research, such as the 3-acre parcel of land he and Benjamin Jones purchased at the Pasquotank River Bridge (on the Pasquotank-Camden county line). This site was owned by the copartnership of Hughs, Smith & Scarborough, which dissolved leaving all assets to be auctioned off by the Camden County Sheriff in the 1780s. Other investors, such as Elisha Davis, Thomas Gordon, Gardner Trafton, and Arthur and Hollowel Old, each briefly owned this parcel.
Thomas Lurry’s other land acquisitions were also strategic. The 1000 acres he purchased around Pritchard’s Juniper Swamp was on the regional mail route, which was established in 1734, and later fortified in the 1770s during the Revolutionary War. He purchased property along Old Swamp Road at the Pasquotank County line, northeast across upper Camden County (and Joy’s Creek) to the Currituck County line.
|Deed Information||Deed Description||Grantee||Grantor||Witnesses||Notes|
|20 December 1792 (Book F, Page 134)||100 pounds for 49-acre tract (1/2 the tract Thomas Lurry purchased on 16 November 1781 adjoining John Berry, William Gregory, Jonathan Whitehurst, Willis Wilson, and the Indian Line)||Caleb Berry||Major Thomas Lurry||Jonathan Hearring, Eustace English O’Brien||-49 Acres; Jonathan Hearring was his son-in-law.|
|10 May 1793 (Book F, Page 318)||Bill of Sale, 500 Pounds for One Negro Fellow Named Jack, One Negro Wench Named Cate, One Negro Girl Named Millisant, One Negro Fellow Named Jame, One Young Negro Boy Called Yellow Will, and One Old Negro Fellow Named Will||Thomas Lurry||Jonathan Hearring||Eustace English O’Brien, Mary O’Brien||+6 Slaves|
|10 May 1793 (Book F, Page 322)||150 pounds for a 100-acre tract of land near the River Bridge on the east side of Pasquotank River, it being the plantation and woodland belonging to Robert Chamberlain left by his last will and testament to his son Samuel Chamberlain adjoining Ezekiel Case and John Mason.||Thomas Lurry||Jonathan Hearring||Eustace English O’Brien, Lemuel Lurry||+100 Acres; Note the Black Swamp reference at River Bridge.|
|4 January 1794 (Book F, Page 243)||50 pounds for a 50-acre tract of land near the head of the Pasquotank River at a place called the Lake (without the appearance of much water) between the lands of John Jones and David Burnham||Thomas Lurry||Benjamin Jones (of Pasquotank County)||John Jones, Sr, Tallyafro (sp?) Dill, Alexander Dunbar||+50 Acres; Note the Lake reference.|
|31 January 1794 (Book F, Page 222)||550 pounds for a 125-acre tract of land near White Oak Hill adjoining Joseph Morgan, Joseph Sawyer, and Absalom Sawyer||Thomas Lurry||Cornelius Gregory||Zepha Burgess, William Wright||+125 Acres; White Oak Hill Cemetery (Also Known as Trafton Cemetery)|
|31 January 1794 (Book F, Page 223)||450 pounds for a 101-acre tract of land near Indian Town adjoining the North River Swamp, near William Neavill, Joseph Pell, Evan Standley, and Mr. Abbott’s former property||Cornelius Gregory||Thomas Lurry||Zepha Burgess, William Wright||-101 Acres|
|29 July 1794 (Book G, Page 47)||40 shillings for a 1-acre parcel of land near Pearce’s Mill adjoining Collin’s corner and Abbott’s line||Thomas Harvey, Joseph Scott, Jr., and Benjamin Jones (All of Pasquotank County), and Nathaniel Payne (of Camden County)||Thomas Lurry||Joseph Richardson, John Walmsley||+ 1 Acre|
|3 July 1795 (Book G, Page 71)||Grant and release to Benjamin Jones, Esquire—administrator of the estate of Jonathan Hearring—all my right, title, claim in all property, both personal and real estate, in the possession of Jonathan Hearring on which execution was levied at the instance of William Scarborough of South Carolina against the said Jonathan Hearring and which was sold by virtue of the said execution the second instant by the Sheriff of Camden County.||Benjamin Jones, Esquire||Thomas Lurry||Benjamin Perry||Jonathan Hearring was his son-in-law.|
|3 July 1795 (Book G, Page 77)||Bill of Sale, 168 Pounds for One Negro Wench (Judah) and Child (Reuben), also one mulato or negral girl called China bought at the sale by execution at the instance of William Scarborough against Jonathan Hearring, deceased.||Thomas Lurry||Nathaniel Payne||James Smith, Henry Herring||+3 Slaves|
|17 March 1795 (Book G, Page 54)||Bill of Sale, 250 silver dollars for One Negro Man Named Sanga||Edward Upton||Thomas Lurry||Luke Lamb||-1 Slave|
|17 November 1795 (Book H, Page 29)||200 pounds for a 100-acre tract of land and swamp adjoining John Sawyer and Cooper Creek||Thomas Lurry||Griffith Sawyer||Joseph Morgan, Willis Etheridge||+100 Acres|
|30 January 1796 (Book G, Page 172)||10 pounds for 7-acre parcel of land adjoining John Berry, William Gregory, and Robert’s line||Caleb Berry||Thomas Lurry||Joseph Pell, Willis Sawyer||-7 Acres|
|25 February 1797 (Book H, Page 116)||Bill of Sale, 100 Pounds for One Negro Wench Juda and her future increase||Elizabeth Hearring (My Daughter)||Thomas Lurry||Chloe Lurry and William Lurry||He bought Judah from Nathaniel Payne 2 years prior. Elizabeth was widowed at this time.|
|11 August 1797 (Book H, Page 66)||Deed of Gift, 85-acre tract of land bought of Joseph Pell near the Indian Town Bridge adjoining William Neavill, William Ferebee, Cornelius Gale, Thomas Harvard, the North River Swamp, and Thomas Williams||Elizabeth Hearring (Daughter)||Thomas Lurry||William Neavill, Lemuel Lurry||-85 Acres, Elizabeth sold this land to William Neavill on 14 October 1797 (Deed Book H, Page 74).|
|24 November 1797 (Book H, Pages 207-8)||30 shillings for every 100 acres, a 180-acre tract of land on the Lake Desert beginning at the corner of Joseph Jones patent and John Kelley’s new survey||Thomas Lurry||Grant, Signed by Governor Samuel Ashe||—||+180 Acres|
|25 November 1797 (Book H, Page 134)||140 pounds for a 63-acre tract of land at a place called the Lake adjoining John Jones||John Sikes||Colonel Thomas Lurry||Willis Etheridge, John Williams||-63 Acres; Note the Lake reference and connections to William Bass’ land purchase.|
|26 December 1797 (Book H, Page 192)||Bill of Sale, 150 Pounds for One Negro Woman Named Lettice and One Negro Boy Named Jack||Edward Upton||Thomas Lurry||John Kelly, William Jones||-2 Slaves|
|1 November 1798 (Book I, Page 71)||Bill of Sale, 25 Pounds for Negro Boy Named George||James Spence||Thomas Lurry||Cornelius Lamb, Lemuel Lurry||-1 Slave; Note that Cornelius Lamb was his son-in-law at this time through marriage to his daughter Chloe.|
|20 November 1798 (Book H, Page 401-403)||150 pounds for a 280-acre parcel of land adjoining David Pritchard’s line at the edge of the Desert near his old orchard, all lying east of the Old Swamp Road in a patent granted to Gideon Lamb (deceased) dated 8 May 1786. Also an adjoining 83-acre tract of land that Gideon Lamb bought from Hall & McPherson which in his last will and testament devised to his daughter Lovey as aforesaid bearing date 15 September 1781.||Thomas Lurry||Frederick B. Sawyer & Lovey his Wife (Pasquotank County)||Lemuel Lurry, Elizabeth Etheridge||+280 Acres, +83 Acres|
|28 October 1801 (Book I, Page 185)||Deed of gift for a 50-acre parcel of land adjoining John Jones, the edge of the Lake, Nody Causeway, and Burnham’s corner||Polly Lamb (Wife of Gideon Lamb)||Thomas Lurry||Lemuel Lurry, Job Sawyer||-50 Acres, This was Thomas Lurry’s last transaction before he died. Was Polly his daughter?|
In the 1800 Federal Census Thomas Lurry had a household of 20:
Thomas Lurry’s neighbors in this census year were Lemuel Lurry, Daniel Spence, Joseph Cartwright, John Kelly, Miriam Kelly (?), William Evans, Abraham Kelly, and Malachi McCoy. Throughout this period, Thomas Lurry remained invested at River Bridge while acquiring new land at the Lake. Other landowners named around the Lake included John Jones, David Burnham, Benjamin Jones, John Jones, Sr., Alexander Dunbar, Joseph Jones, John Kelley, John Sikes, Willis Etheridge, and John Williams.
Despite the number of records related to Thomas Lurry’s life, a complete account of his heirs remains a challenge. In a previous article, I introduced Chloe Lurry (b. <1801 d. 1847) as the daughter of Thomas Lurry and Mary Jones (?), and wife of Joseph Pritchard, but this presented a very narrow view of her life and her family’s influence in the area. The Lurrys, Joneses, and their many in-laws owned land in upper Camden County at the intersection of upper Currituck County and the Virginia state line. This location was significant because (at the time) all regional land transportation depended on Old Swamp Road.
Chloe was likely born in the 1770s and grew up through a period of economic development that drew many people into the area. In the late 1790s, Chloe married her first husband Cornelius Lamb, son of Luke Lamb and Mary Gray, another wealthy family in the community. Between October 1801 and January 1802, Thomas Lurry died leaving Gideon Lamb and Joseph Morgan as executors of his estate (Deed Book K, Page 162). Chloe went on to marry 3 more times and have 3 children.
|Cornelius Lamb (b. ____ d. 1805)||Joseph Pritchard, Sr. (b. ____ d. 1809)||Miles Cartwright (b. ____ d. 1825)||________ Williams|
(b. ____ d. ____)
|Spouse’s Family||Son of Luke Lamb and Mary Gray, Brother of Gideon Lamb||Son of David Pritchard and Keziah McPherson||Unknown||Unknown|
|Marriage||Before 1798? Cornelius and Chloe had one son, Cornelius Gray Lamb (b. 1798).||Joseph had Joseph Pritchard, Jr. (b. 1790) before this marriage. Together Joseph and Chloe had Elizabeth Pritchard (b. 1805) and David Lurry Pritchard (b. 1807).||Miles and Chloe married in 1819 but they did not have children together. Wilson Lurry, named as the guardian of Betsey, Joseph, and David Pritchard, orphans of Joseph Pritchard, sold Miles Cartwright 4 slaves belonging to the orphans in 18209.||Unknown|
|Death||Cornelius Lamb died before 1805 when his son was documented in the Camden County Orphans Accounts (1804-1809) as “Cornelius, orph. of Cornelius Lamb, dec’d; Gideon Lamb, gdn.”||Joseph Pritchard, Sr. died in 18097 and predeceased his father who did not die until 1812. Wilson Lurry8 was appointed the guardian of all three Pritchard children after Joseph Pritchard, Sr.’s death.||Miles was killed by a lightning strike in 1825. His heirs were named in his 1826 land division10.||Chloe died as “Chloe Williams” in 1847.|
Other than Chloe and Wilson, I have not been able to name the children of Thomas Lurry and Mary Jones (or other unknown unions). Based upon the 1800 Federal Census, they may have had 7 children. There were numerous other Lurrys in Pasquotank, Camden, and Currituck Counties:
As I discover new details related to Thomas Lurry (b. 1745) and his descendants, I hope this article sheds light on his influence in Camden County. He served in the Revolutionary War and built businesses with some of the wealthiest investors in the area (many of which were his in-laws). He owned property in several strategic locations, like Indiantown and River Bridge, which were both commerce centers situated on county lines defined by local waterways. This laid the foundation for his grandson, David Lurry Pritchard, to become a ‘founder’ of South Mills, and the Pritchard House, located on Thomas Lurry’s land grant, still stands today.
*The names of enslaved people are in bold, red font. I descend from multiple people who were enslaved by the Lurrys. My research follows the story of Lurry slave owners, enslaved people, and the free people of color around them who lived between both worlds.
1William and Miriam had two children—William and Thomas Lurry. William (the oldest son) was not mentioned in his father’s will, likely receiving his inheritance based on primogeniture. Also note connections between the Floros and Flurrys who were later documented as part of the Nansemond Indian community in Norfolk County, VA.
2Nathaniel Wilson left a will in Pasquotank County in 1767 naming his wife Miriam and two step-sons William Lurry and Thomas Lurry. (Will Book H, Page 74)
3There were several Currituck County deed references to “Sam’s Run” which was generally described as being near the North River and Indian Town.
4Note that Jacob Caron of Currituck sold Nathaniel Wilson 100 acres of land in Pasquotank in 1751 on the North River Swamp which may be the 100 acres Nathaniel left to Thomas.
5By 1802, a year after Thomas’ death, William Lurry, Jr. had relocated to Sumner County, TN, and appointed Joseph Jones, Esquire and William Hinton, Esquire as powers of attorney for his property in Camden County, NC.
6Between Slavery and Freedom: African Americans in the Great Dismal Swamp 1763-1863, Edward Downing Maris-Wolf, College of William & Mary – Arts & Sciences (2002), Page 59 discusses the Lebanon Company’s ownership of 40,000-50,000 acres of land.
7North Carolina Bible Records, PRITCHARD, Notes from Jodie Pritchard Bible
8Part of supporting evidence that Chloe was born a Lurry. In Wilson Lurry’s 1852 will, he names sisters Julia and Elizabeth Lurry as heirs. Chloe died in 1847 and would not have been included.
9 Deed Book Q, Page 348. It is important to note that Miles Cartwright and Chloe Cartwright witnessed the 14 October 1822 will of William Sawyer who purchased all of William Bass’ land. This suggests that they may have been neighbors and that William Bass’ family was near Chloe Lurry Lamb Pritchard Cartwright.
10Deed Book S, Pages 300-301. Nancy Cartwright was named as a Miles Cartwright heir and a documented neighbor of Lydia Bass and Polly Bass. Nancy Cartwright was also the mother of mulatto son Theophilus Cartwright who became a son-in-law of Henry Newsom.
Note: There was at least one other Chloe Lurry who was the wife of Lemuel Lurry.