The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

Bookmark and Share

        "1767, p. 162, Governor Tryon informs the board of trade of the death of Robert Jones, on October 2nd, and that he had appointed Marmaduke Jones, who had long been a resident, of the first credit and capacity, about forty years old; educated in England, and cousin to Sir Marmaduke Wyvil."

        From these records (p. 165) it appears that this family was at this early day highly reputed, and from Willie and Allen being sent to England for their education, must have been of considerable wealth.

        The tradition of the family is that Robin Jones came to Norfolk from Wales, England, in the early part of the last century, as the boatswain of a man-of-war; that while at Norfolk he fell in love, and failing to get a discharge from service, as the ship sailed out of the harbor, he leaped overboard as

                         "--Leander swam the Hellespont,
                         His true love for to see."

        The lady reciprocated his affection and rewarded his daring adventure with her hand. This wedded couple survived only about a year, when both died leaving a son, called for his father Robin. Thus friendless and unprotected, he relied on his own exertion, and by good manners and industrious habits, acquired the means of education. When quite a youth he returned to England, studied law and was admitted to the bar. By good fortune he gained the esteem of Lord Granville, one of the Lords Proprietors of North Carolina, who appointed him his agent and attorney. He settled at Occaneeche Neck, on the Roanoke. By means of his profession and this agency he soon reaped fame and fortune.

        Of the patriots of the revolution, none were more distinguished than Willie and Allen Jones, sons of Robin Jones. Together they acted in defence of the rights of the people, and together were the active opponents of oppression.

        Willie, educated at Eton, England, was more distinguished as a writer than as an orator; of his legislative talent it is recorded that he could draw a bill in better language than any other man of his day. He was the president of the committee of safety for the whole state, and as such was virtually the governor in the interval between the retreat of Governor Martin, and the inauguration of Governor Caswell. He succeeded his brother Allen as member of the continental congress in 1780, and was elected a member of the convention that formed the constitution of the United States, (1787) but declined the appointment, and Dr. Hugh Williamson received the same.

        He was a member of the convention that met at Hillsboro, July 21, 1788, to deliberate on the constitution of the United States, and by which convention the constitution was rejected. He was its decided opponent, and with Dr. Caldwell, General Joseph McDowell, and others, defeated its adoption, although it was advocated by such able men as General Davie, Governor Johnston, Judge Iredell, and others. It was rejected by one hundred majority in the votes.

        Willie Jones was often a member of the legislature from Halifax, from 1776 to 1780, and in 1788.

        He married a daughter of Colonel Montford, and died in 1801, near Raleigh, where he was buried.

        Mrs. Jones survived her husband for many years; and died in 1823. She combined great brilliancy of mind with exquisite beauty of person.

        Many anecdotes are narrated of her wit and amiability.

        "When the British army was en route to Virginia, in 1781," says Mrs. Ellet, in her 'Women of the Revolution,' "they remained several days on the banks of the Roanoke, and the English officers were quartered among the families of the neighborhood. A passage of wit occurred between Mrs. Jones and the
Page 197 of 471
Index - Contents
Featured Books & CD-ROMS