Brief Biography and Genealogy of
William Hooper,

Signer of the Declaration of Independence

© 1998 by a c goodwin
This information was posted on 2 December 1998. The compilation was originally prepared for publication by a c goodwin's Family Source Compass. That company expressly permits use of this file on the site [].

First Generation

William Hooper "Signer" was born 17 Jun 1742 in Marblehead, Suffolk Co., Mass. He died 14 Oct 1790 in Hillsborough, Orange County, NC and was buried in Old Town Cemetery, Hillsborough, NC. See Sources 1


Studied at Boston Public Latin School. Graduated Harvard in 1760 with A.B., M. A. 1763. Studied law under James Otis. Practiced law in Wilmington, NC 1763. Jun 1766, unanimously elected recorder of Cape Fear borough. His poor health suffered in this low area. In 1767, inherited from father "all my Books and Manuscripts." 1769 appointed deputy attorney general of Salisbury District. 1768 Anson County, September 1770 Hillsborough, incidents with the Regulators (Hooper reportedly dragged through the streets of Hillsborough). 25 Jan 1773, representative of Scots settlement of Campbellton (later Fayetteville) in the Provincial Assembly. Built home "Finian" eight miles below Wilmington about 1774. In Dec 1773, returned to Provincial Assembly as representative of New Hanover Co., and was appointed to the Committee of Correspondence and Inquiry.

Named by first Provincial Congress as first of 3 delegates from NC to the First Continental Congress of 20 Sept 1774 in Philadelphia. Returned to Wilmington to serve on the Committee of Safety. Traveled many times between Philadelphia and NC on horseback. 1 Feb 1776, went to aid of mother in Cambridge, Mass. She had only "lately got out of Boston," and Hooper was alarmed for her safety. Hooper served on Thomas Jefferson's committee to compose the Declaration of Independence, but was absent when it was actually voted and declared on the 4th of July. He affixed his name to the amended Declaration on 2 August 1776. In 1777, Hooper was stricken with yellow fever, and resigned his seat in April.

He attended the General Assembly from 1771 to 1781, representing Wilmington. He suffered British depradations after his return to the Carolinas. A house of Hooper's 3 miles from Wilmington was burned and his home, Finian was shelled. He suffered malaria and a badly swollen right arm, and fled the British, going from friend to friend. His wife had fled to Wilmington, but when that town taken by British, she fled by wagon to Hillsborough, where her brother General Clark sheltered her and two of her children.

Above biography compiled from:

For other citations, see

UNC Collection

William married Anne Clark, daughter of Thomas Clark Sr. and Barbara Murray, on 16 Aug 1767 in King's Chapel, Boston, MA. Anne was born in New Hanover Co., NC. She died before Aug 1795 in Orange Co., NC. See Sources 2.

William Hooper and Anne Clark Hooper had the following children:

  • William Hooper was born 1768 and died 15 Jul 1804.
  • Elizabeth Hooper was born 1770 and died after 1840.
  • Thomas Hogg Hooper was born about 1772. He died between 1795 and 1812. Thomas Hogg Hooper's birth date is suggested in Powell's Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. His death date isassumed after 1795 since he was listed in his mother's will. By 1812, Elizabeth Hooper Watters was identified as the only surviving child of William Hooper.

    Second Generation

    William Hooper (son of William "Signer") was born 1768. He died 15 Jul 1804 in Brunswick County, NC. William married Helen Hogg, daughter of James Hogg, on 26 Jun 1791. After the death of her first husband, "Helen Hooper moved to Chapel Hill in order to provide for the best educational opportunities for her three sons." See Sources 3. William and Helen had the following children:

    1. William Hooper (Professor) was born 31 Aug 1792 and died 19 Aug 1876.
    2. James Hooper was born 1792-1800. He died after 1840.
      He is assumed to be the second of the three sons, because he was named after eldest child William in the 1812 will of their uncle Gavin Alves (1812). Death date is set after 1828, the publication date ofBiography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, by John Sanderson and Robert Waln, 2nd ed. pp 109-130 of vol. 5. Biography says "there are still living three children of his eldest son William; viz, William ...; Thomas, a lawyer; and James; a merchant; the two last, residents of Fayetteville." James Hooper was not named in the 1817 will of his stepfather Joseph Caldwell. James H. Hooper is listed on the Cumberland County 1830 and 1840 censuses, living at Fayetteville.
    3. Thomas Hooper was born 1794-1800. He died after 1828.
      He is assumed the third son since he was last child listed in his uncle Gavin Alves 1812 will. His stepfather Joseph Caldwell failed to list Thomas in his (Caldwell's) 1817 will, whereas eldest brother William was so listed.

    Elizabeth Hooper (daughter of William "Signer") was born about 1770, perhaps as late as 1774. She died after 1840. Elizabeth married Colonel Henry Hyrn Watters Colonel on 15 Oct 1790. See Sources and Notes 4. Henry and Elizabeth had the following child:

    Third Generation

    (Professor) William Hooper (son of William, son of William "Signer") was born 31 Aug 1792. He died 19 Aug 1876 in Chapel Hill, NC.

    He entered UNC preparatory school in winter 1804. and earned his B.A. in 1809 and M.A. in 1812. Next, he studied theology at Princeton 1812-3. M.A. Princeton, 1817; LL.D., 1833 and D.D. 1857 from UNC. Professor Hooper taught at prep, college, and university level for 65 years. He served as president of Furman Theological Institute, then went to South Carolina College from 1840-46, at times as acting president. Oct 1845, he was elected by trustees of Wake Forest College as president but took office January 1847. Hooper left there in December 1848. Later, he served several other institutes and colleges of NC. After 1875, he retired to Chapel Hill, living the rest of life with his daughter and son-in-law Professor John De Berniere Hooper.

    In religious life, he was confirmed in the Episcopal church in 1818, became a lay reader in 1819, and deacon in 1820. He was ordained a priest of St. Johns Church of Fayetteville on 24 Apr 1822, until he resigned in 1824. In 1831, he was baptized into Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Orange County, NC. He served as pastor of Wake Forest Baptist Church (1847-8), New Bern Baptist (1852-4), Buckhorn Baptist of Hertford County (1855ff.) and Wilson Baptist (1868).

    William married Frances Pollock Jones, daughter of Edward Jones, on Dec 1814 in Chatham Co., NC. Frances was born before 1799. See Sources and Notes 5. William Hooper and Frances P. Jones Hooper had the following children:

    1. William Wilberforce Hooper
    2. Edward Jones Hooper
    3. Joseph Caldwell Hooper
    4. Thomas Clark Hooper. He worked with his cousin/brother-in-law John De Berniere Hooper to conduct Fayetteville Female Institute in 1860.
    5. DuPonceau Hooper
    6. Mary Elizabeth Hooper was born 1819/1822 and died 23 Jun 1894. Mary married John De Berniere Hooper (see JDB Hooper notes), son of Archibald Maclaine Hooper and Charlotte De Berniere, on 20 Dec 1837.
    7. Elizabeth Watters Hooper

    Sources 1:

    Sources 2:

    Sources 3:

    Sources and Notes 4:

    Sources and Notes 5:

    JDB Hooper notes:

    John De Bernier Hooper was born 6 Sep 1811 in Smithville, NC. He was a son of Archibald MacLaine Hooper, who was a son of George Hooper (the brother of William Hooper, the Signer). John De B. Hooper died 23 Jan 1886 in Chapel Hill, NC. "Through the interest and support of a cousin who was a prosperous widow, he entered The University of North Carolina as a freshman in the middle of ... 1827-28." He was a specialist in languages and tutored them at Chapel Hill. July, 1836, he became a professor of modern languages at UNC, and 1838 became professor of Latin. Later, he conducted school for boys with his father-in-law Professor William Hooper in Warren County, NC in 1848. William Hooper left that venture 1852, and De Berniere Hooper remained there until 1860, when he joined his brother-in-law Thomas C. Hooper in the Fayetteville Female Institute. In 1866, he rejoined his father-in-law at Wilson Female Institute. When UNC reopened after the war, in 1875, Hooper became professor of Greek and French. He was a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
    John De Berniere Hooper and Mary Hooper Hooper had the following children who survived the death of their father on 23 Jan 1886:
    1. Helen Hooper married James Wills.
    2. Frances DeBerniere Hooper died after 23 Jan 1886. Citations by the North Carolina State Library show her name as "Frances DeBerniere Hooper (Mrs. Spier Whitaker)."
    3. Henry De Berniere Hooper married Jessie Wright.
    4. Julia Hooper married Ralph H. Graves.

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