The Hopkins family in early Orange (and Granville)
County, North Carolina
by Donald A. Hopkins
Orange County, which is now located in the upper central part of North
Carolina, was formed in 1752 from portions of Johnston, Bladen, and
Granville counties. At that time much of this region was part of the
"Granville District," which was not a Royal Colony but was still
proprietary, the property of John Carteret, Earl Granville. Lord
Granville had refused to sell his grant to the Crown in 1729 when the
other proprietors sold. The Granville District encompassed the upper
portion of what we know as North Carolina today, bordering on Virginia,
and in which about two-thirds of the population of North Carolina
lived. Theoretically, the eastern and western boundaries of this
district were the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans!
The eastern border remained the Atlantic Ocean but the western border
changed frequently. The boundaries were established from the coast to
Bath in 1744, west to the Haw River in 1746, and west to the Cold Water
Creek, a tributary of the Rocky River, in 1766. Deep River, which
originated well west of the Haw River, ran southeastward for a bit then
turned north and east at near what is now Moncure, NC, in Chatham
County, and here the Deep River joined the Haw River to form the Cape
Fear River which runs southeast to the Atlantic. These details become
important as we try to locate some of the early land grants associated
with the Hopkins family. For a time Orange joined Anson County at the
southwest corner of Orange.
I have found no Hopkins family records in this area prior to 1752. The
first evidence I have of a Hopkins in this area is on a "Granville
grant" to James McGowin on the Eno River in May 1752. John Hopkins was
listed as a chain carrier, along with Andrew Mitchele (probably
Mitchell). The Eno River flows through eastern Orange County (Were
McGowin or Mitchell relatives of John?)
At the first session of the Orange County Court of Pleas and Quarter
Sessions, on 9 Sep 1752, a tax of one shilling was imposed upon each
The earliest residents named Hopkins I have found were on a list of
"tythables between Orange New Road and the Trading Path" in July 1754.
(What was the exact location of these roads?) These names listed were
John with two tythables and William with one tythable on Orange New
Road, and James with one tythable on the Trading Path. A "tythable"
evidently was used synonymously with "taxpayer" or a person liable for
taxes. That is, if a household showed two tythables, then two poll
(head) taxes were due. The tax (or tythable) list enumerated the tax
responsibilities of a given individual. For instance, a man who would be
a tythable in his own right would have the tax responsibility for any
son of at least 16 years of age, or the tax responsibility for a slave
of either sex over the age of 12, and thus have more than one tythable.
One year later on the 1755 tax list of Orange County, John, James, and
William were listed with one poll each. Therefore, at least in 1755,
these three men seemed to be the only three adult males named Hopkins
residing in Orange County with tax responsibilities. It should be noted
that this list also contained the family names Bankston, Allred, and
Duncan which were closely associated with members of the Hopkins family
in NC, and still later in Georgia.
[Lawrence Bankston, b. 1704 in Philadelphia, d. 1774 in NC, married
Rebecca Hendricks. Children were Peter, Jacob, and Daniel, all born in
Philadelphia. Lawrence later married Ann Major, and they had Lawrence
Jr., John, Richard, Andrew, and Mary, all born in NC. After Lawrence
Sr.s death, his widow and son Lawrence moved to Wilkes County, Georgia,
all according to a Bankston family document.]
Comparison of the list of 1754 with that of 1755 shows that there was
only one tythable listed in 1755 in Johns name, whereas, in 1754 there
had been two. This could mean that John had disposed of a taxable
slave, or perhaps it more likely indicates that an older son for whom he
had paid a tax in 1754 had moved into another household (though not as
head of a household in Orange County as he is not on any tax list).
This scenario would fit generally with the results of research which
shows that a Dennis Hopkins was born before 1732 and had a son, also
named Dennis, who was born in 1760. The older Dennis is thought to be
the son of John of the 1755 tax list. Perhaps Dennis married in
1754/55, and at that time moved in with his in-laws, or even moved out
of Orange County. Obviously, there could be other explanations for the
decrease in taxables in Johns household in 1755. For instance, a
taxable could have died, or one of Johns taxable sons (not necessarily
Dennis) could have moved away. It must be noted that during this period
the tax rolls and accounts were not always accurate because of the
actions of Lord Granvilles agent, Francis Corbin.
Information from descendants of James Hopkins recorded in the
genealogical journal Ozarkin , along with information from a
Revolutionary War pension application by James (born June 1765)
indicates that he was the son of a William, and grandson of a James
Hopkins from Orange County. The pensioner had enlisted in Orange County
in June 1781 at age 16. He later moved to Sumner County, TN, and still
later to Polk County, MO. This suggests that James, who died in
1758/59, was the father of a son named William and had a grandson named
James who fought in the Revolution.
James and William had witnessed the will of a Michael Elliott in Orange
County on 5 Oct 1756, indicating that William as well as James was of
legal age by 1756. This should be the James who later died in 1758/59.
Michael Elliott, whose will was proved in December 1756, had as
executor and sole heir, William Phillips (see discussion relating to
John Hopkinss wife below). This will should be studied further for
possible interfamily relationships.
William Hopkins was a chain carrier for a survey in August 1761 for a
Granville grant for John Campbell. The grant was on the west side of
Haw River, on the Trading Path and on Phillipss line (probably William
Phillips) and on a line called McCullohs. William Phillips had a
survey for a grant of 700 acres done in June 1760 on the Haw River
adjacent McCullohs. William Hopkins witnessed this by his signature.
It seems likely that John Hopkins, presumed father of the Dennis who
had been born before 1732, was a brother of the earlier James who died
in 1758/59 and that William was his nephew. Both William and John had
been listed in their own households (along with James) in 1754 and 1756.
The above named James died in St. Matthews Parish, Orange County,
1758/59. His will was probated in Orange County Court in September
1759. The executors of this will were William and John Hopkins and
William Phillips. Although I have not seen a copy of the will I have a
note that it was witnessed by Alexander Ferguson, John Dobbins, and
David Smith. Children were mentioned; however, no wife was mentioned.
James had at least four young children: David, Mary, George, and Aron
(Aaron). All of these were bound out by the court at this same session
in September 1759 "until they came of age and to be taught to read and
write." The orphan David was bound to Andrew Bridges (Briget?), and Aron
was bound to William "to learn to read and write and the trade of a
shoemaker." (This suggests that William was a shoemaker.). It seems
reasonable to conclude that John, one of the executors, was of a very
close relationship to James (such as a brother) since one of Jamess
children was bound to him. The Andrew Bridges (Briget?) to whom two
children, including a girl, were bound was likely a close relative of
the deceased, such as a son-in-law or brother-in-law. Pehaps Jamess
wife had predeceased him and therefore the necessity for the girl, Mary,
to be bound out. She would likely be bound out to a husband of an
older sister or some other female family member. A marriage record may
exist of this Andrew Bridges (Briget?) and a Hopkins female, daughter of
James. (It should be searched for.). It is possible that a clue may be
gained as to the location of the family before 1754 if a marriage record
naming a Hopkins female (daughter of James) and a Bridges or Briget can
be found. Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia records
should be searched as well as North Carolina records. In summary, I
believe James may have been a widower with several small children (and
likely older ones also) when he died, with a brother named John. One of
his older children was probably William.
[An Andrew Bridget was a chain carrier for a survey of a Granville
grant on 2 April 1754. The grant was for acreage on waters of Haw River
for James Murray. He may have been James Hopkinss son-in-law.]
John Hopkins, thought to be a brother of James (d. 1758/59), was
involved in numerous land transactions in Orange County. In 1756 he had
a grant of 200 acres on both sides of the Deep River. Also in 1756 he
had a grant for 300 acres "on the north side of Deep River, about a mile
above Solomon Aldredges" (probably Allred) and it "included Craddens
possibly Craven] improvements." William Allred and Lambeth Hopkins were
"sworn chain carriers" for the survey and both signed with their
signatures, not their "marks." Note: a sworn chain carrier was often
relative but did not have to be 21 years of age. Age 14 was considered
the "age of reason" and therefore old enough for that person to testify
in court. Thus, the Lambeth mentioned above, of unknown relationship to
John, is at least 14 years of age (born before 1742).
[Solomon Allred had a Granville grant in 1760 of 400 acres in Orange
County, in the Parish of St. Matthew, on both sides of the mouth of
Sandy Creek joining Deep River and "Hopkins" line. John Allred was
sworn chain carrier.]
In 1755, according to the tax list, only John, James, and William were
taxables named Hopkins in Orange County and each had only one poll
(evidently themselves). Furthermore, Lambeth was not listed as a younger
child of James when James later died in 1758/59. He could have been an
older son of James, but if so, why was he not an executor of the will or
otherwise involved in the estate settlement? The William, thought to be
a son of James, had a son named James (the RW pensioner) born in 1765.
For Lambeth to be the son of this William, and therefore the brother of
James the pensioner, his father William would have to have had sons at
least 23 years apart. This seems unlikely. Thus, by exclusion at this
point, I think it likely Lambeth was a son of John.
Later, in December of 1762, John Hopkins, "planter of Orange County,"
received a "Granville grant" ( No. 3933) on both sides of Deep River of
206 acres adjacent to Solomon Allred and Hercules Ogle. Dennis Hopkins
and Thomas Hopper were sworn chain carriers when it was surveyed in July
1862. Both John and Dennis signed this deed with their mark rather than
their signatures and it was witnessed by William Churton. I believe that
this Dennis was most likely the son of John discussed above. A Dennis
who applied for a Revolutionary War pension from Kentucky in 1843 was
born in Orange County, NC, on 13 Jul 1760. He is believed to be the son
of Dennis Senior, who, I believe, was the chain carrier noted above,
thus making the younger Dennis (from Kentucky) a grandson of John.
William, son of James who had died in 1758/59, and John, Jamess
brother, were the only two adult males named Hopkins who were heads of
households in Orange County in 1762; at least I have record of no
other. If this Dennis who was a chain carrier for John was born before
1732 it is unlikely that he was a son of William, who is known to have
had a son named James born in 1765 . Thus, for Dennis to be a son of
William, the latter would have had to have sons Dennis and James over
33 years apart. Thus again, by exclusion, I believe that this Dennis
was another son of John.
John was appointed, along with several others of his neighborhood, to
lay out a road in May of 1763.
Records show that between 1752/68, John sold 160 acres to William
Trogden. This sale should be further studied to determine what land was
involved, and who signed the documents, and in what fashion -- by mark
A petition from the Sandy Creek area (evidently a tributary of the Deep
River -- see Solomon Aldreds grant above) of Orange and Guilford
Counties on 25 Aug 1771 which asked for mercy for one Thomas Welborn,
posssibly a "Regulator," was signed by Dennis Hobkins (sp.), or more
likely, someone signed Denniss name for him as it is misspelled, and
Dennis Senior could only sign with his mark. A similar petition on
behalf of Welborn signed by inhabitants of Guilford and Orange County
was likely signed by Dennis. A John Duncan signed this also (see
Susannah, wife of Moses Hopkins, Clarke County, GA). This should be
Dennis Sr., son of John Hopkins.
During the period 1771-1775 a petition requesting leniency on behalf of
John Fruit, a Regulator, was signed by various inhabitants of Orange
County; among them John and Aaron Hopkins. This is probably a younger
John, and Aaron one of the younger children of James, who died in
1758/59. The original document should be checked to see if John signed
by mark or signature.
In October 1772 John and William Hopkins witnessed a sale of personal
property from Elisha Hall to John Howell. John Hopkins proved this in
court later the same month. Was one of them kin to Hall or Howell?
There was an individual named Hopkins Howell in the area at the time.
This should be studied.
In 1773 a John and a Daniel (?Dennis, ?David) were listed as debtors of
Colonel Job McGee.
In 1774, Orange County was divided into 16 districts. In the 7th
district was found a John and Solomon Hopkins and immediately south in
the 8th district was David Hopkins. David was listed as a "freeholder"
in Orange County in 1776. This may mean that David owned no land at the
time. Later, a part of these two districts became Alamance County. The
Haw River ran though this area. A David received a grant in Guilford
County in 1782 of 300 acres on Brock Creek (?Back Creek). This had been
surveyed in 1779.
A Solomon had a grant later in Guilford County of 400 acres on Jacob
Creek in 1791. Prior to this time I find little record of Solomon in
Orange County. In 1778 he had been appointed by the court as overseer
for a road project from Rosss Ferrry to John Halls. Evidently the
citizens were responsible for the upkeep and construction of roads in
their neighborhoods. Solomon was a chain carrier for a survey of land on
the south side of Haw River on 15 Oct 1778. This land bordered
"Hopkins." Solomon had applied for a grant of 250 acres on both
of Nelsons Creek (which I believe is a branch of the Haw River in
western Orange County) in 1779. Evidently he was already living on or
at least using the land as his petition was for the land with "his
improvements." A Solomon was on the tax list of 1788, but was not on
the 1790 census of Orange County, so I presume he had moved by then. A
Solomon had a grant in Guilford County in 1794 which he had entered in
1791. Perhaps he was in Guilford County in1790. Assuming that
Solomon was an adult of at least 18 when his household was listed in
the 7th district in 1774, he must have been born before 1756. If he was
related to my line (and I believe he was) he might have been the son of
James (d. 1758/59). If Solomon was a son of the James who died 1758/59,
and was not listed as an under-age child, he therefore probably would
have been at least 14 in 1758. Therefore, he would have been born
before 1744. Census records should be checked for his age to determine
if James is a possibility for his father. None the less, Solomon, born
before1756, could have had as father, James, John, or William. James
can perhaps be ruled out after further study of Solomons age on later
censuses. Another researcher says that he moved to South Carolina and
later to Georgia. He supposedly married Margaret Harrison.
A John Hopkins was on the Haw River on land adjacent to land entered
for James Freeland in June 1778.
In January 1779, a John Hopkins, planter of Orange County, and his wife
Jean sold 148 acres on the west side of Haw River in Orange County to
Thomas Strain. The deed was signed by their signatures, not marks.
This land was "part of a larger parcel of 700 acres which had been
granted to William Phillips (see above discussion of Jamess will,
1759) then conveyed to William Hopkins, deceased." This grant had
been witnessed by the signature (not mark) of William Hopkins. William
Hopkins had been a chain carrier for McColloch on an adjacent grant on 3
Sep 1761. This suggests that William Hopkins died between 1761, when
he was a chain carrier, and 1779, when this land transaction noting that
he was deceased took place. This also suggests that since Johns wife
Jean signed the deeds to Strain, John may have received this land by
dowry. The prior owner of the land may well have been Jeans father.
if so, was she a daughter of William Phillips or William Hopkins? A
second possibility is that Jean was the widow of William Hopkins (to
whom this land had been conveyed) and that she had married John Hopkins
after William died. A marriage record of John Hopkins and a Jane or
Jean should be searched for. Yet a third possibility suggests that
William, to whom part of Phillipss land had been conveyed, was the
father of John (who married Jean) and that John had come into possession
after William died simply by inheritance. I have seen no will of
Williams. If he died intestate, his oldest son would probably inherit
the land. Until further research proves otherwise, I will assume that
this John was the elder son of William, who died between 1761 and 1779.
In 1779, a jury was chosen to try a John Hopkins for "trespassing."
John witnessed a sale of land from Strain to Shaw on Back Creek in
February 1780 and Hopkins proved it in court later the same month.
A John Hopkins had a Revolutionary War payment voucher settled in
Hillsborough in August 1782.
A John received a grant (No. 925) of 16 acres on the east side of Haw
River and Back Creek on 13 Mar 1780. Another deed in Orange County in
February 1783 records a sale of 16 acres on the east side of Haw River
and mouth of Back Creek by John and Jean Hopkins to Shaw, and another
sale of 2 acres by them on the east side of Haw and Nelsons creek (see
Solomons grant above) bounded by Strain and Phillips. These
should be further researched since Johns wife Jean also signed (by
their signature) the deeds. This may possibly mean that these parcels
had come to John by right of dowry and Jean was signing to release her
The name William Hopkins again shows up on the tax list of 1787, and
later on the Orange County Census of County for 1790. A William
Hopkins had not been on a list of taxables or Orange County of 1779.
Only James, John, and Solomon were on this list. William, the son of
James (d. 1758/59), had died by 1779. Obviously, the William on the
1789 tax list and the 1790 census is a different William Hopkins.
A William Hopkins from Orange County who filed an application for a
pension for Revolutionary War in 1832, in response to the Congressional
Act of that year, stated that he had been born in Frederick County,
MD*, in 1759 but moved with his father to Orange County, NC, at age 14
(or about 1773). The application also states that his father lived on
Flat River. Flat River joins the Eno river to form the Neuse River on
the border between the eastern part of Orange County and Granville
County. The applicant states that "in the spring of 1780 (Wlliam would
have been 21 years old), my father sent me to Mecklinburg, VA, etc.
"where he served. Therefore, Williams father should have been
tax list of 1779 and William should have been counted as a poll since he
was over 16 years of age at the time. James, John, and Solomon were on
this tax list (this tax list may have been incomplete during this
period). According to this Williams pension application, he later
reenlisted in Orange County, and remained in Orange County after 1780.
This William had a sister, Eleanor, who testified as to his
Revolutionary War service. She was 69 in 1832.
*[from Genealogical abstracts of Revolutionary War pension files" vol 2
(F-M), abstracted by Virgil D. White, pub. 1991; same abstract pub. in
"Hopkins of Virginia and related families," by Walter Hopkins, pub.
about 1926, gives his birthplace as Frederick Co.., VA --H.C.H.].
[A deed in Orange County dated 26 Aug 1783 describes property on the
south side of the Eno River as adjacent to "William Hopkinss open
A William Hopkins had a Revolutionary War voucher at the Hillsborough
auditors office in 1784. I believe this same William was on the tax
list of 1785 in St. Marys District with 100 acres, and I believe this
to be the William found later on the 1790 Orange County Census. He was
again on the St. Marys District tax list of 1792. This tax district was
on the eastern border of Orange County, well away from the location of
the other Hopkinses discussed. This should be the area around the Flat
A William purchased land from Thomas King in December 1796.
Of the three Hopkins names which had been on the Orange County tax
list of 1779 (James, John, and Solomon), the best possibility to be the
father of this William Hopkins seems to be James. John and Solomon are
discussed above, and it seems clear that they are related to the
Hopkinses found in 1754/55 in western Orange County. The James known to
be related to this family, who was likewise a Rvolutionary War
pensioner later, was only 14 years of age in 1779 -- thus would not be
on the tax list. The James on this tax list of 1779 was evidently the
father of William, the RW pensioner born in Maryland.
The 1800 NC Census, Hillsborough District, listed Samuel, William, Casa
(?Cusa), and Ellender. Later Orange County records show that in 1816 on
the Federal Direct Tax list Ellender, James Senior, Chusa, and James
were taxed on land on Flat River. A William was on the same list on
Little River. I believe this William in eastern Orange County is the
veteran born in Maryland, and this group with the Hopkins name in this
district after 1800 are related to him, but possibly not closely related
to my line.
A James Hopkins witnessed a sale of land on Haw River from Stockird to
Trousdale in 1787. Therefore, this James in the Haw River area along
with many others of my ancestors was of legal age. This is consistent
with him being the son of William (grandson of James who died 1758/59)
who could have reached legal age by this time.
The James, head of a household in the 1790 census, should be the
grandson of James who died in 1758/59 and who was old enough now to have
a household. The 1790 tax list recorded him as being in the Orange
District with one white poll and no land. The Orange District was in
the western half of the county. A James was a grantee in a deed from
William Galbreth in 1790 (details of this should be studied). James was
listed on the 1791 tax list. He had married Peggy Woods in 1791. A
James Hopkins sold land to James Trousdale in July 1792. James and
Peggy moved in about 1800 to Tennessee. This "Peggy" Woods (Margaret)
was the sister of a William Woods. To confuse matters more, William
Woods had a daughter also named Margaret or "Peggy" who married a James
Hopkins in 1809 in Orange County. This Margaret supposedly later left
this James Hopkins and took her children to Tennessee to be near her
brother in about 1821.
It should be pointed out that in Orange County were some family names
later closely associated with the Hopkins family in Georgia in the
early 1800s. Specifically, "Lawrence Bankston and sons" are on the same
1755 tax list as the Hopkinses, and the Duncans are mentioned as signing
the same petitions along with various Hopkinses.
Granville County Notes
A John "Dunkin" was on the 1755 Granville tax list with one poll (see
Susannah, wife of Moses Hopkins, Clarke County, GA).
A list of taxables in the Island Creek District of Granville County
(along eastern part of Orange) in 1762 listed "Benjamin Cook and William
Hopkins -- total 6 -- two black males over 16." This confusing entry
needs further study.
A Richard Hopkins was in the 1784/87 State Census of Granville County.
Richard was found in Nap Reeds District in 1786, with one white male 21
to 60, one other white male, and one white female.
Benjamin was on the State Census of 1784/87. Benjamin had one white
male between 21 and 60 years, three other white males, and six white
females and no slaves in his household. He was in Nap Reeds district,
the same as Richard, in 1786. At this time he had one white male 21 to
60, three other white males, six females, and no slaves.
Isaac, in 1784, had two white males 21 to 60 years of age, two other
white males, and one white female, and no slaves. In 1786 he was in the
"Fishing Creek" district with two white males 21 to 60, two other white
males, one white female, and no slaves. An Isaac Hopkins born 7 Jan
1756, who applied for a Revolutionary War pension in 1842 from Orange
County, stated he was in Granville at time of enlistment. In 1843 he
moved to Wilkes County, GA. He died in 1852. An Isaac had a
Revolutionary War voucher at the Hillsborough auditors office in
1783. I am not certain that these are all one and the same Isaac
Hopkins, and I do not know of any definite relationship of Isaac to my
Ann and Thomas Hopkins were also on the 1784 tax list.
A Jesse Hopkins stated in a RW War pension application that he was born
in October 1758 and lived with his father at the time of his enlistment.
Early marriage bonds for Granville County include:
George Hopkins - Janet Sample 13 Dec 1784
Charles Hopkins - Sarah Lindsey 1789
Samuel Hopkins - Elizabeth Daniel 1 Dec 1797
My evaluation of the available data allows me to conclude with
reasonable certainty that:
1. The John Hopkins in early Orange County was the brother of James,
who died in 1758/59. Among Johns children were Dennis and Lambeth.
2. William was a son of James (who died 1759) and among his children
was one named James and one named John. William died between 1761 and
3. Lambeth, who I believe to be a son of the elder John, was not found
in records in Orange after serving as "chain carrier" for John in 1756.
I believe that he located in Anson County where he remained active in
land transactions and where he was found as a tythable in 1763.
4. Another Hopkins family of which a William (son of a James) was a
member lived in eastern Orange County after moving there from Maryland
in about 1773. This family, which lived near the Granville Co. border,
may not be closely related to my line.
Don Hopkins 1993
Topics for further research
1. Leroy Hopkins bought land from Joseph Bennett in 1767. Who was he?
2. There was a Samuel Hopkins who sold land in Orange County in 1794,
1796, and 1799. He should have been at least 21 years of age to sell
land in his own name. He was a grantee in a deed from NC in 1795. Who
was he? Could this have been a son of Dennis Senior who later went to
Georgia but later settled in Kentucky? A Samuel Junior was mentioned in
court records as early as 1772.
3. There was a will of Asa Hopkins with wife Sara and daughter Deborah
in 1796. Who was this?
4. There was a will of Elizabeth Hopkins in 1797. Who was this?
5. A James Hopkins married Anne Mcaddams (McAdams) on 26 Aug 1789 in
Orange County. Which James was this? He was later named as a "son"
the will of James McAdams. Joseph "Dunkin" was bondsman.
6. Other early marriages in Orange County for study:
Chuza Hopkins m. Jane Latta 1793. His will in Orange County 1844. He
was a grantee in a deed in 1794.
Elza Hopkins m. Sarah Ray 1794. He had estate records in 1797.
Cassiah Hopkins m. Robert Hopkins 1795
Deborah Hopkins m. Nathaniel Harris 1801
7. There was a George Hopkins mentioned as a witness in court records
[Note: Copied with minor editing by Harold Hopkins on 30 Apr 1995