Friday, January 01, 2010

Was There Murder?

    Data points derived from Colonial Records (“CR [vol: page]”):

    Col. Thomas Pollock, President of Council


    CR 2: 454

    Daniel Richardson, Admiralty Judge


    CR 2: 520

    Jonathan Morley , Treasurer


    CR 2: 617

    William Reed, Councilor


    CR 3: 57

    ----- Burrington Voids grants

    Joseph Jenoure, Surveyor Genl. (replaced Moseley)

    Sept. 1732

    Oct. 1732

    CR 3: 422

    John Lovick, Surveyor Genl. (replaced Jenoure)


    CR 3: 531

    Col. Cullen Pollock, Asst. Justice


    CR 3: 531

    John Solley, Treasurer of Pasquotank Prect.


    CR 3: 579

    Col. Thomas Swann, Treasurer of Pasquotank, Family


    CR 3: 547

    William Little, Chief Justice


    CR 3: 628

    William Owen, Councilor


    CR 3:625-6

    John Baptista Ashe, Treasurer of New Hanover , Family

    Thomas Wardroper Esqre late Surveyor General



    CR 4: 52

    CR 4:204

    North Carolina Colonial Records references to government officials’ (Councilors, Treasurers, Surveyor-Generals, and Justices) incidence of death from the years 1722 until 1735. Family members are indicated. As George Burrington said in his June 1, 1734 letter to the Board, “my escapeing death was unexpected by all who saw me, by the decease of Messrs Lovick and Owen and the refractoriness of others [presumably the Cape Fear councilors] who will not come to Council when summoned, there has not been one held in ten months.” [Colonial Records, 3: 625] Researched and plotted by Baylus C. Brooks with Microsoft © Excel.

England’s response to Everard’s patent controversy in 1731-33 and Burrington’s sudden change of attitude upon his return to North Carolina caused great economic damage to the Family. Avoiding physical violence could have been a stroke of luck for Burrington or, as events may have foretold, careful scheming by Newcastle. Perhaps violence did, indeed occur. The new Surveyor-General and Burrington’s yes-man, Joseph Jenoure, had passed away rather coincidentally in October 1732, only one month after Burrington’s defiance of Family warrants. Other friends of Burrington on the Governor’s Council soon followed Jenoure. John Lovick, “also virulently attacked [by Sir Richard Everard],” and having replaced Jenoure as Surveyor-General, died in July 1733. William Little and William Owen both died in 1734 (Figure 18). All passed away after the voiding of patents in September 1732 and before the arrival of Burrington’s replacement as governor, Gabriel Johnston. Burrington, perhaps hopefully, attributed two of the deaths to disease.

Joseph Jenoure’s death is certainly the most suspicious. The first notation of Jenoure in the Colonial Records occurs on May 28, 1728 when he is accused by Governor Sir Richard Everard of defaming his daughter. This apparently caused a physical dispute that would make for a great “reality” television show segment. “Major” Joseph Jenoure and several others, including “Tom the Tinker” found indictment for a “ryot.” And the governor himself was charged for striking Dr. George Allen. That dispute was finally dismissed on March 25, 1729.

A little over a year later, Governor Burrington (having been appointed governor once again) puts a “James Jenoure” up for “Surveyor” to replace Edward Moseley (who is still working on his map of North Carolina and surely feels insulted by this slight). Jenoure’s first name is apparently recorded wrong since His Majesty appoints “Joseph” Jenoure to the council the next February, along with William Smith and Robert Halton, Esq. That day, he begins his service as councilman. Three months later, after assuming his new position as surveyor-general, Jenoure reports to the council that Edward Moseley, his predecessor, has refused to hand over the documents of the surveyor’s office.

The contents of these documents could be very revealing since they presumably contain illegal surveys for the Family as well as material that Moseley needs to complete his map. At any rate, the council “doth order and direct” Edward Moseley “Deliver up to ye said Joseph Jenoure all papers and platts to the said surveyor Genl Office.” This undoubtedly angered Moseley and the rest of the Family must have felt somewhat exposed now to the rest of the colony as well as facing a potential for their reputation to be damaged with His Majesty.
That September, Burrington voided Maurice Moore’s two grants, #166 and #167, and perhaps others. This certainly angered the Family. Although the Family’s anger was directed at Burrington, his surveyor-general and personal “crony” Joseph Jenoure stood immediately in their way and angered them most by distributing Moore’s land to Burrington’s “creatures.” It probably came as little surprise to Burrington then, that on October 18, 1732, he had to inform his council that Jenoure was dead.

Jenoure, as a member of the governor’s council with grown children, might very well have been elderly. Still, his death the very next month seemed highly suspicious in light of the current activity on the Cape Fear River. More so since George Burrington had something planned with the surveyor-general that remained unfinished. “Honoble George Rhenny [Phenny] Esqr Surveyor General of His Majesty's Customs of the Southern District of No America” and former governor of the Bahamas had arrived in North Carolina by October 7, 1732 and sat in on the council meeting planned for that day. However, not enough councilors were present to do business and they adjourned till the next day. There remains no record of any meeting until the 18th when Burrington announced that Jenoure was dead.

A logical assumption would be that Jenoure could not be found and other members of the council could not, or would not come to council. Rhenny had been appointed to the council earlier and remained present on the 18th. Burrington, anxious to continue whatever he had planned, “doth order that a Commission pass the seal of this Province Constituting and appointing the said John Lovick Esqr Surveyr General of Lands within this Province till his Majestys pleasure be known,” there being “a great deal of Business in the Office to be done.”

“Coll: Jenoure [earlier] recomended Mr Lovick late Secretary of this Province” to be on the governor’s council on September 4, 1731. Lovick succeeds Jenoure as surveyor-general after a remarkably coincidental death. Interestingly, George Phenny succeeds Lovick as husband of Penelope Golland Lovick, later the wife also of Governor Gabriel Johnston after 1737.

Governor Burrington seemed in a hurry. Burrington claimed that he had “Business of great consequence” that if delayed, might “prove injurious to the Province.” The interesting part of this episode is that Phenny appears on the council, stays through the appointment of Jenoure’s replacement and is gone by the next meeting of the council, on November 1, 1732. There remains no record of the consequential business that Burrington referred to, but his apparent anxiety may have had something to do with the appearance of Roger Moore at this particular council meeting. That may also explain the lack of available official records. Presumably, the resale of Maurice Moore’s voided lands and the development of New Town weighed on his mind. That might have explained the meeting of these officials, at any rate.

Until this meeting, Roger Moore lived in South Carolina. He owned a great deal of land in the settlement founded by his brother (in fact, one was a 5,500-acre tract immediately across from the current Wilmington), yet he had never officially appeared in North Carolina until this point. Somehow, in 1732, Roger Moore gains an appointment to the council. Newcastle probably had nothing to do with this, although Nathaniel Rice’s father-in-law, Martin Bladen still sat on the Board of Trade and may have influenced Moore’s appointment. Just as well, Moore had an impressive track record in South Carolina. Wealth continued to be a great factor in determining fitness for positions.

John Lovick came up against Family members, Edward Moseley and Maurice Moore previously on December 26, 1718. Lovick served as Deputy Secretary of North Carolina and naval officer for the Port of Roanoke just after the death of Black Beard. Moseley and Moore, searching for evidence to implicate Governor Charles Eden in the Black Beard conspiracy, ransacked Lovick’s home, where the colony’s records were kept. First, however, they forcibly evicted Lovick from the residence and nailed the doors shut so they could rifle the colony’s records.

Lovick had also served on the North Carolina Commission to survey the boundary line between Virginia and North Carolina with Moseley in 1727. Burrington feared that the Family’s power was gaining and that they opposed him on many fronts. He resolved to gain as much support as he could on the council, to which the Family (particularly Nathaniel Rice), protested vehemently that there were too many members of the council. William Owen and John Lovick served as Family-opposing members of the council and supporters of Governor Burrington. Burrington even appointed eight councilors instead of the allowed seven. He assumed emergency status on these appointments.

This proved very odd to the Board of Trade considering that they had been under the impression that John Lovick and William Little had persuaded Sir Richard Everard to continue the blank patent affair. Everard, of course, swore that these men misled him. According to a letter written to Newcastle by Everard, Christopher Gale, John Lovick, and William Little were referenced as “three more flagrant Villains never came out of the Condemn'd Hole in New Gate for Execution at Tyburn.” Little and Lovick were acquitted after a “superficial inquiry;” however, Sir Richard Everard had died (in England) by the time of the Board’s memorandum in 1733 that included revisions to Burrington’s instructions.

Lovick’s name figured in the dispute between Edmund Porter and George Burrington at this time. John Baptista Ashe endeavored to show Burrington’s lack of consistency and his arbitrary rule in North Carolina. By November 1733, the second surveyor-general appointed by Burrington, John Lovick had passed away as well.

Lovick was referred to by Neil C. Pennywitt in his biography as “the younger brother” of Thomas Lovick, born in 1680. John Lovick died at less than the age of 54, then. Thomas Lovick would outlive his brother by twenty-five years, dying in 1759. Still, this may have been due to disease.

In June 1734, a despondent Burrington informs the Board of Trade that William Owen had passed away as well. Lovick’s will, written August 27, 1727 and probated six years later, bequeaths “my best Hat, Wigg & Sword my Gold Buttons, all my Law Books & Lord Clarendon’s History,” obviously intending William Little to succeed him in the law profession. William Little, Harvard educated man from Massachusetts, young (born in 1692), joined George Burrington’s cabal as Chief Justice and suffered his fate at the age of forty-one in 1734, not much time to carry on after John Lovick.

Council members dropped like flies. On October 7, 1734, Burrington informs Newcastle, “I swore on the 27th past Coll: Benjamin Hill, Coll: Francis Pugh, Coll: Henry Gaston Coll: McRora Scarborough and on the 29th Coll: Daniel Hanmer, Members of the Council,” in an effort to fill the empty places vacated by death. By now, he was becoming desperate. The not-so-well-regarded Hanmer was a replacement for Chief Justice William Little.

Impudent and extremely self-confident, the Family felt that Burrington disregarded their traditional rights as Englishmen, despite the “minor” illegalities they committed in their land acquisition. However, Englishmen regarded the Barbadian interpretation of “English rights” as skewed. Even though Newcastle, his brother, Henry Pelham and brother-in-law, Robert Walpole adopted new rules in their Whig government, the Family still remained ensconced to traditional Tory values. Moreover, they were never far from breaking the law to maintain those values, or at least their interpretation of those values. Burrington and “his creatures” became a problem for Maurice Moore’s Family and that put them in danger. Of course, these deaths may have been attributed to disease, the fact that Burrington himself had referred to a bout of the fever prevalent at the time.

North Carolina was only sparsely populated, Edenton (the capital) situated in the Albemarle while Cape Fear on the opposite side of the colony, over 200 miles away. Very little civilization existed between them. Neither crime scene investigators nor forensic specialists threatened to expose any possible deaths as murders in the eighteenth century. A person could easily be poisoned, pushed into a river, fall from a horse… he could die any number of ways and there would be no questions about his death. Even if the Family were suspected of any foul play, their power protected them. The lack of available council members in October 1732 to support Burrington may have reflected the general apprehension of colonists towards the Family. Indeed, the battle had begun by October 1732 and blood could very well have spilled. Moreover, Newton fared badly in that battle before the arrival of James Wimble in April 1733 that, without doubt, saved it.

Burrington’s many letters to Newcastle and the Board in 1734 understandably contains an element of anxious paranoia, believing that Family member Nathaniel Rice contemplated “a villainous contrivance to murder [him]”. Whether or not the Board of Trade believed him, they spent a great deal of time on George Burrington’s troubled administration in August 1733, and few of their concerns involved land grants.

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