Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Maurice Moore's Battle Over Barnard's Creek

After Gov. Burrington's voiding of Maurice Moore's property on the East bank of Cape Fear River at Wilmington and Barnard's Creek, Moore fought hard to regain Barnard's Creek. He didn't much care for the Wilmington property because he wanted to grow rice and the Wilmington property wasn't good for that. Besides, Burrington's "creatures" were granted acreage all over the site and the legislative battles to get it back would not be worth it.

Still, Barnard's Creek became the subject of a long-drawn out court struggle to get back the former 1,500-acre (actually over 3,500 acres) patent on Barnard's Creek, made 29 July 1730. September 1732, the grant was voided and early by 1733, Burrington had already re-granted the property. By 1736, Moore made a lunge in the Governor's Council to get the land back, confident that having Family members for four of six councilors would assure his victory. William Smith, the President of the Council continually opposed the Family, however. Below is a piece of a paper that I wrote on the battle itself and the details... all available in the Colonial Records of North Carolina, accessible at http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/

The excerpt:

On June 18, 1736, Maurice Moore bravely made a “reduced” claim of 600 acres on Barnard’s Creek, 300 acres for which Richard Evans also petitioned. The council refused it, stating the “Bounds not being ascertained in the Warrant.” The council gives Moore two months to produce the original warrant or they will issue a grant to Evans.
The following meeting, on October 15, 1736, the council reconvenes and, this time, hears attorneys for both Evans and Moore. Edward Moseley as attorney “alleged that [Maurice Moore] has a patent for said land.” Again, Moore produces no warrants, only a hidden threat. Moseley’s authority does not overly worry the council, which still gave his client a final chance at the next meeting in New Bern, in March of 1737 to produce the alleged patent.
The council’s sense of humor wore thin, however. By March 1737, they temporarily forgot the alleged patent controversy without Richard Evans there to remind them, and granted Maurice Moore 600 acres on March 8, 1737. Much to Moore’s dismay, John Montgomery arrived only a day later to petition the council for Richard Evans’ 300 acres, which he recently purchased from Evans. This deed may be the 320 acres that Evans sold to Montgomery on April 20, 1736. Richard Evans likely tired of the trouble, leaving New Hanover County entirely. The council ordered read the last order of the court pertaining to this land, ordering Moore to “produce his patent.” “Whereupon Mr Moseley produced a Copy of a patent which he affirmed included the Land petitioned for by the said Montgomery and that a patent formerly mentioned in relation to this 300 acres of land was a distinct patent.” However, this copy (likely written by Moseley for this purpose) could not replace the original, the required proof. Again, the court allows another chance to produce a valid patent.
That September, the council listens to Eleazer Allen as he argued for 1,640 acres, patented in October 1728 for Joseph Wragg of Charleston, South Carolina. They put this one off until the next meeting. Interestingly, Nathaniel Rice, Eleazer Allen, Roger Moore, and Edward Moseley are the council members in attendance, with William Smith, the President of the Council. John Watson also made an appearance to make a minor adjustment to one of his already confirmed patents. The atmosphere in the room must have been thick with anger. Moseley appeared for Maurice Moore once again, laying threats before Smith, rather than the requested patent. William Smith, angry as well at the obvious deceits and delays probably issued this pronouncement:
The Pretended Original Patents for Land on Banards Creek claimed by Col Maurice Moore for which Richard Evans has several times applyed for a Patent by Virtue and in consequence of a Warrant regularly executed and returned into the Secretarys Office being called for pursuant to the order of last Court the Board was informed that the said Col Moore instead of conforming to the said order for producing the same at this Court and Col Moseley's Consent and Engagement on his behalf had sent his Excellency a Letter acquainting him he had sent the said Patents to England to justify himself to the King and clear up his Reputation or to that Effect which he had now so fair an opportunity of doing by complying with the said order and obligation were he really innocent of the Suggestion in the Secretary's Report in relation to one of the said patents made in Council October 15th 1736 and so strongly confirmed by his whole conduct and proceeding throughout especially the latter part of it

A notation immediately follows this legislative outburst in the record, granting Jonathan Montgomery 300 acres in New Hanover County (New Hanover County deed records show 320 acres, reflecting a similar “600-acre” reference to Maurice Moore’s 640 acres as stated in his #167). Obviously, Maurice Moore did not get the land on Barnard’s Creek and his plans for a rice plantation caved.

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