Harrell Families

of Early

Hertford County, North Carolina


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HarrellFamilies (Home Page)


Table of Contents

Chapter 2 (Harrells in Chowan County & the Gates area)

Chapter 3 (Harrells in Bertie & the Hertford County area)

Chapter 4 (Hertford County's 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Generations)

Chapter 5 (John T., Eley, Elijah Two, Elisah, Thomas Two & their descendants)

Chapter 6 (Nathan & Elizabeth's Known Descendants)

Chapter 7 (John [b. c. 1794] & Winnifred Harrell, 3rd Generation)

Chapter 8 (Josiah & Anna Harrell, 3rd Generation)

Chapter 9 (Elizabeth Harrell & Silas Parker, 3rd Generation)

Chapter 10 (Immigrants to the 3rd Generation of Hertford County Harrells)

Chapter 11 (Immigrants to the 4th Generation of Hertford County Harrells)


Chapter 1: The Early Harrells in America


            There were Harrells among the early settlers in America. They did not necessarily all leave their homelands with the Harrell name, however. Some emigrants left under the name of Harrwell, some Harrold, and, of course, some as Harrell—why most of them changed to the Harrell spelling soon after they arrived in America will probably remain forever a curiosity. There were probably several reasons for the name changes—more than likely it was often because scribes in different regions of America spelled the names to the best of their abilities and according to the developing accents in a given region. That was probably more often the case when a settler did not recognize the written word. Nonetheless, many of these early settlers ended up using the Harrell spelling, which suggests that was already the established spelling in this place—or at least the spelling most familiar to scribes and county clerks.


            Other researchers have undertaken the task of arranging and connecting the fragments of information that exists for the Harrells in northeastern, North Carolina. Their work has been helpful to me and many others, so I have started this chapter with a brief review of their work as it relates to my purpose. Then I summarize the available information on Harrell immigrants, and try to chart their descent into the Albemarle region of the Carolinas. Next I have attempted to plot their settlement patterns around the area that would become Hertford County with the use of property deeds, tax lists, and wills. With this endeavor I seek to identify the legendary “Seven Harrell Brothers” who settled in northeastern, North Carolina.


Some Other Research on Harrell Ancestors in the Area


            The efforts by researchers to compile the citings of Harrells beginning in the Colonial period have found that the Harrells in Virginia during the early 1600s and 1700s clustered in and around the Nansemond County area on Virginia’s southern border.


The Work of Marilu Burch Smallwood


            The broadest survey of these early settlers was compiled by Marilu Burch Smallwood.[1] She listed all the references to Harrells (in its various early spellings) she could find, and her sources of information. Marilu’s primary concern, however, was with a branch of the Harrells that moved early from Virginia to South Carolina and on to Georgia. She pays less attention to the Harrells who moved from Virginia to North Carolina and stayed for awhile—like one or two hundred years. Nevertheless, it is obvious that she covered all the important county, state, and federal archives and libraries which makes her work a very useful point of departure for this early period.

 [page 5]


The Work of Orrin Felton Harrell & Margaret Harrell Williams


            Another type of compilation of information on Harrells in the area is much more modest in scope. The works of Orrin Felton Harrell and Margaret Harrell Williams, while different projects, use much of the same information for the first generations in America, but ultimately each focuses on one particular line of Harrells descending from an early resident. The project compiled by Margaret is based on research done by Orrin (died 1988) of Ahoskie, Hertford County, North Carolina.[2] Orrin’s research was designed to trace his ancestors from their arrival in Virginia.


            In their works, Orrin Harrell and Margaret Williams determined their lines began with Thomas Harrwell who was born in 1606, and left England at the age of 29. He sailed on the ship Falcon which left from Grovesend, Kent County, England on December 19, 1635. These researchers believe Thomas changed the spelling of his name to Harrell by the time he landed in Virginia, and they refer to him as Thomas Harrwell I, and to his son as Thomas Harrell II. These same works indicate that Thomas Harrell II proved he was the son and heir of Thomas Harrwell I, then deceased, and Thomas II received a grant in 1681 for land his father had purchased in Nansemond County, Virginia. These researchers also state that Thomas II got two additional land grants, one in 1686 and another in 1698. They add a third generation to this line of Harrells when they cite Thomas II along with his probable son, Thomas Harrell III, on the tax roll in 1704 for Nansemond County. Orrin and Margaret believe Thomas Harrell III was the father of Samuel Harrell (died in 1761 in Chowan County, North Carolina) who was their proven great, great, great, great grandfather.


Orrin and Margaret’s ancestor, Samuel, apparently ends up in North Carolina when the border with Virginia is surveyed and moved down a bit. Orrin was convinced that all Harrells in America descended from Thomas Harrwell I, and Margaret agreed. It follows then, that the original Seven Brothers, who according to tradition, were the first Harrells to move into North Carolina, were descended from Thomas I, II, and probably III. There is no confirmation of this, however. I have some trouble with their conclusion because it would mean all other Harrells who came to America had no descendants—that is not very likely the case.


            More specifically, Orrin describes his line as ascending through David Harrell (died 1860), then through David’s father, Samuel Harrell (died 1825), and in turn through his father, William Harrell (died 1762), then through his father, Samuel Harrell (died c. 1761), and then upward through three Thomas Harrells ending with the Thomas Harrwell I, who was born in 1606. Orrin’s line of Harrells, starting from Samuel, was in the area that would later be known as Gates County; Orrin himself did not get to Hertford County, North Carolina until the 20th Century, but other descendants of Samuel were in Hertford County much earlier.

 [page 6]


The Work of Lellie Harrell Edwards, Katherine Edwards Meech & Travis Meech Peters


            In another study Lellie Harrell Edwards and a couple of her descendants[3] have identified their immigrant ancestor as Samuel Harold, who was born in Kent County, England around 1662, and who settled in an area of Perquimans County that would eventually be Gates County, North Carolina. If their Samuel settled in the Perquimans area, he more than likely arrived in Virginia. Once again, upon arrival, they feel his name became Harrell. These researchers claim Samuel was the Harrell who originally purchased the land that would be known as the Harrell Farm for generations. It is “thought to be” on Sugar Run. They also suggest that Samuel came with two brothers, one settling in Nansemond County Virginia, and the other south to Bertie County, North Carolina. There is no evidence of such brothers, but with several as yet still unconnected Harrells in the area of Nansemond County, it is very possible. Lellie et. al. claim to descend from this Samuel (born 1662) through his son James (died 1790), and through James’ son Major Samuel (died 1811), and through his son Noah (died 1849). Major Samuel Harrell had twelve children, several of whom moved from Gates to Hertford County: They were Abner, James, and Mary Wilson—Abner became the namesake of Harrellsville in Hertford County.


Lellie et. al. apparently did descend from Major Samuel, but the Major’s parentage is still a bit unclear. First of all, the researchers identified a Samuel (1662-1753), who was born in Kent County, England. I have not been able to find a record of their Samuel coming to these shores, and they did not provide a reference.


The Work of Benjamin B. Winborne


Benjamin Winborne’s work is a history of the county; not a family history, but it includes considerable information about some of the Harrell families in and around Hertford County. At this point, his work is of interest to me because there were several Samuel Harrells in the area and time period, and it is often difficult to keep the information we have about them straight—it is nonetheless important to try. In this spirit, I will start by clarifying one of his observations. Winborne wrote his History of Hertford County in the early 1900s, and most of the time it is very useful, but occasionally it is misleading. On one of the latter occasions, Winborne’s work contains the following comment:[4]


“Maj. Samuel Harrell was on the jury list in Bertie in 1740, and had often served his county in the capacity as Clerk of the Court, and was made major in the state troops after the war, and resigned the office in 1783.”


Well, Major Samuel was probably not on the jury list 10 years before he was born. (Winborne also has him at the Hillsboro convention in 1788, which is consistent with other information.) Further on in his history, when writing of the Major’s son, Abner, Winborne made a more correct statement about Major Samuel, which reads as follows:[5]


“…. He was the son of Maj. Samuel Harrell, who resigned his military office in 1783. Samuel Harrell was a soldier in the War of 1776-1782, a member of the state Convention of 1788, a son of Abner Harrell, a freeholder in Bertie County in 1740, as appears from the jury list of that county. Major Harrell left the following children: Noah, James, William B., Willis, Isaac, Andrew, and Abner, Mary and Nancy.”

 [page 7]

The second quote is correct, Major Samuel’s father, Abner, was on the Bertie County jury list in 1740. Which tells us Major Samuel and his father, who was probably James Abner Harrell, both spent a good portion of their lives in Bertie County—probably the northern part that would years later become Hertford County.


Several researchers agree Major Samuel was one of the early Harrells in North Carolina, and his presence and children are well documented. He was the son of James according to Lellie et. al., and the son of Abner according to others—Lellie et. al. suggested his name may have been James Abner Harrell, and that he was known as Abner Harrell. It makes perfect sense to think she was correct on this point.


On the issue of identifying Samuel Harrell, Lellie et. al. concluded that her line was: Samuel (b. 1662); to James (b. 1708, maybe James Abner); to Major Samuel (1750-1811, see his will of 1811); to Noah (b. 1787); to Samuel Riddick Harrell (b. 1812); to William Preston Harrell (b. 1843); and to Lellie Hines Harrell (b. 1875).


It is important to note at this point that Lellie’s account of her immigrant ancestor (Samuel from Kent County, England) is very much like the one given first by Major Samuel’s grandson, William Bernard Harrell, whose work is discussed below—Lellie et. al. may have relied on this source.


The Work of William Bernard Harrell


There is no dispute about the facts that Major Samuel was born on the family farm in the Gates area around 1750; and most researchers point to his will of 1811 as indicating the year of his death. Major Samuel’s grandson, William Bernard Harrell, however, included in his autobiography a reference to Major Samuel’s year of death in 1828.[6] William Bernard (1823-1906) may have been old enough to have known his grandfather, but because William’s immediate family was living in Suffolk, Virginia at that time, he probably did not know him well. For our purposes, at his point, it does not matter much which date of death is correct—it is clear from the 1811 will and William Bernard’s material, that they are speaking of the same person, Major Samuel. Lellie et. al. had determined they descended from Major Samuel’s son, Noah, and William Bernard indicated he descended from Major Samuel’s son, James (b. 1792).


            In addition, William Bernard Harrell included in his work a list of his ancestors as recorded in a family Bible. This Biblical record maintains the following:[7]


“Samuel Harrell - Born on the Harrell farm near Sunbury, 1750? - He died at the same place in 1828? - A large planter and slave-owner. He was a soldier in the Revolution. He was the son of


James Harrell - Born 1708 on the Harrell Farm. Died at his home in 1790. Planter and Merchant, with a large country store. He was the son of

 [page 8]

Samuel Harrell - Born 1663 in Kent County, England. Original purchaser of the Harrell Farm, where he engaged largely in farming and also ran a store. He died there (cir.) 1753. This man is supposed to have originally spelled his name “Harold,” though after his coming to America, the name became spelled as at present.”


The lineage, however, may not be as certain as Samuel’s grandson had determined. As I will discuss in the coming pages, several researchers identified three or more Samuel Harrells in the Gates area at about the same time. My point is, there has to be some uncertainty about who Major Samuel’s father was, and even more uncertainty about the identity of his grandfather.


For instance, I mentioned earlier that Winborne in his history of Hertford County stated there was an Abner Harrell who was the father of Major Samuel Harrell.[8] I further mentioned that Lellie et. al. had stated that the Major’s father was James. Lellie et. al. suggested we reconcile the difference by considering there may have been a  James Abner Harrell who fathered Major Samuel—that seems reasonable, but not yet a fact.


In addition, Lellie et. al. either based their conclusions on the information provided by William Bernard Harrell, or found information consistent with what can be found in the latter's’ family Bible. They both seem to agree that Major Samuel was the grandson of Samuel Harold (Harrell) of Kent (born there in 1662). We should also keep in mind, I still have not been able to find a record of a Samuel Harrell (or Harold) as an emigrant from England.


            In the above paragraphs, I have outlined two claims of descent from emigrant Harrells—Orrin’s claim to have descended from emigrant Thomas Harrwell, and the claim of others who link their lines to the emigrant Samuel Harold of Kent. It is not easy to conclude that Orrin’s (and Margaret’s) line and William Bernard’s (and Lellie et. al.’s) line of Harrells have a common ancestor in America because there is no convincing evidence of this yet. Nonetheless, as stated above, Orrin and others believed this was probably the case.


We can recall, Orrin described his line as going through David Harrell (died 1860), then David’s father Samuel Harrell (died 1825), and through his father William Harrell (died 1762), and through William’s father, Samuel Harrell (died c. 1761), and upward through three Thomas Harrells. Orrin speculates that Major Samuel Harrell (died 1811), the father of Abner, may have descended directly from his Samuel Harrell who died in 1761, thus making Orrin and Lellie distant cousins—this is possible, but as yet very difficult to document. The point is, the records are very skimpy, and the inferences are very long. Nevertheless, both lines have Samuel Harrells in the same time frame, and who settled in an area that would become Gates County, North Carolina. A major part of the uncertainty about all Harrells here having a common emigrant ancestor results from the loss of records by fire in  Nansemond County Virginia.

 [page 9]

 The Work of Elizabeth J. Harrell Gerlack


In another study, Elizabeth J. Harrell,[9] traced the line of Lott Harrell (his estimated birth year is in the 1770s, and he died around 1814), through his father (either Lott Sr. or his brother John Harrell), to his grandfather, Abraham Harrell (c. 1690-1755). Elizabeth acknowledges that because so many documents from Nansemond County, Virginia were destroyed, Lott’s connection to his ancestors “...can only be speculated upon.” She does, nonetheless, feel Lott descends from the emigrant, Thomas Harrell, who purchased land in Nansemond County in 1662 and 1676. Descending from Thomas for “several generations,” Elizabeth’s line arrives at Abraham, who moved south to the North Carolina Colony near the Roanoke River in Bertie County, which was where Lott Harrell was born around 1770.


            Elizabeth seems fairly certain that Abraham descended from Thomas Harrell, and that position is consistent with Orrin’s conclusions which were presented in the paragraphs above—mainly, that all the Harrells in the area descended from his original Thomas Harrell I. Indeed, Elizabeth’s Abraham (c.1690-1755) could well have been the brother (or, of course, even a cousin) of Orrin’s Samuel (c. 1700-1761), and both could have descended from Thomas Harrell. These lines match well, generation to generation. For instance, Orrin’s Samuel (b. c. 1700) was responsible for the following children: Isaac, Abraham, William, Samuel, Martha, and Rachel. We know Orrin descended from William, and consequently, we have estimated dates for William; born about 1720, and died 1762. Elizabeth’s Abraham had eleven children with birth years estimated to be from 1722 to 1744, and death dates in the 1770s. The children of Samuel and Abraham seem to be of the same generation—Samuel and Abraham were probably two of the original Seven Brothers that tradition holds were the first Harrells in North Carolina (of course, some may have been cousins).


            Once again, as with Samuel, we have no evidence that Abraham was the son of Thomas Harrell. As Elizabeth indicates, “Lott’s immigrant ancestor was probably Thomas Harrell.”[10] Maintaining a spirit of caution, I agree with Elizabeth’s choice of words—it is at best a “probable” relationship.


It is possible Thomas was the father of the probable brothers, Samuel and Abraham, but there are other possibilities. They could have descended from the Thomas Harrald who died in Virginia between 1622 and 1629; or the Thomas Harrwell who arrived in Barbados in 1635; or John Harrold who arrived in Virginia in 1655; or Christopher and Henry Harrell who arrived in Virginia together in 1678. The list is not endless, but it is full of possibilities. In the following section, I have surveyed the possible Harrell immigrant ancestors.


The Harrell Immigrants


            As I indicated above, there were several immigrants who started or ended spelling their name, Harrell. The first thing to acknowledge is that not all people who ended up in America can be found on the available passenger lists. For instance, there was the Thomas Harralde who is reported in the “Minuets of Council and General Court, James City, Virginia, 1622-29. At that place, Hugh Hayward and Robert [page 10] Fitt sore they were present when the then deceased Thomas Harralde made his will, and they witnessed it.[11] I will call him, Immigrant No. 1.


If Orrin’s Thomas Harrwell I, came to America in 1635, and the above mentioned Thomas Harralde died here between 1622 and 1629, then we have at least two immigrant Thomases.


In any case, we can consider Orrin’s Thomas Harrwell I as Emigrant No. 2. This was probably the same Thomas Harrwell, age 29, who was transported from London to Barbados on the Falcon, December 19, 1635.[12]


The Quit Rent Rolls for Nansemond County, Virginia in 1704 show the presence of the two Thomas Harralds—Thomas II and III (as in Orrin’s and Elizabeth’s work). The Rolls shows “Thos. Harrold 652 a.: & Thomas Harrold 100 a.”[13]


Lellie Edwards et. al. is pretty sure her Harrells descend from Samuel Harold, born around 1662 in Kent County, England. But I can’t find a reference for an immigrant named Samuel Harrell (using the various spellings). Similarly, William Bernard Harrell’s family Bible specifies that his line also descends from Samuel, born in Kent County, England in 1663, and that he was the Samuel who bought and settled the original Harrell farm in the Gates area. Again, however, I have not found him on any passenger list, but it is hard to ignore his past presence—so I have labeled him Emigrant No. 3.


            Furthermore, there is additional information indicating all Harrells in the area did not necessarily descend from Thomas Harrwell or Samuel Harold. The following citings expand the “first American ancestor” possibilities:


Emigrant No. 4 can be found in the following reference: John Jenkins 400 acres, called Egg Neck, in Northampton Co, Va. 17 March 1655. p. 31 (49) for transportation of 8 persons, John Harrold, was one of them.[14] According to the Virginia County Court Note Books, a “John Harrold was a Virginia Colonist of Northampton Co. Va. in 1655.”[15] This is certainly the same fellow who was brought in March 1655 by John Jenkins.


Emigrants No. 5 and No. 6 came together and in similar circumstances. On October 7, 1678, several people were apprenticed in Bristol and came to Virginia. Among them were Christopher Harrell apprenticed to Anthony Thieron for 8 years in Virginia; and Henry Harrell also to Thieron in Virginia, but for 10 years—both came on the Victory.[16]


Emigrant No. 7. “Thos. Ivey on April 8, 1711 patented 374 acres in Princess Anne Co. Va. for bringing 8 settlers.” They included Garratt Harrell.[17]

 [page 11]

As far as I have been able to determine, these are the only Harrells to arrive in Virginia before some of the Virginia Harrells began to move south into the Albemarle area of North Carolina in the 1720s.


            In any case, there were at least seven different Harrells who arrived on this continent by 1711. There were, in fact, others who continued to arrive in America after the Harrells started to move south into North Carolina: In 1730, Thomas Harrold, age 18, apprenticed to work 6 years in Pennsylvania; and in 1734, Robert Harold, “Sentenced to transportation and reprieved for transportation Summer 1734. Suffolk.[18] The 1730 and 1734 immigrants arrived after Harrells had already begun to move into North Carolina—so they are not good candidates for the Harrell lines in Nansemond, County Va. who moved down to the North Carolina area in and before the 1720s, but they could have moved down in the 1740s or later.


As I have made clear, I am not inclined to assume all Harrells who passed through or settled in North Carolina descend from Thomas or Samuel. In particular, I find it hard to dismiss the 1678 immigrants, Christopher and Henry (who appear together as witnesses on a deed in Bertie County in 1741), or even the 1711 immigrant, Garratt Harrell, who must also be considered a possible ancestor to at least one of us. We need to also keep in mind that the Harrell lines in early Bertie and Hertford Counties used the name John in nearly every generation. So the John Harrold who arrived in Northampton, Va. in 1655 may have been the immigrant ancestor to at least some of the Harrell lines.


            There are other references to Harrells in Nansemond County, Virginia which carry names of Harrells, some immigrants, some their sons and even grandsons. For instance, an item in the records of  Perquimans County N. C. contains this information: “…. John Harrell of Upper Parish of Nansemond Co. in Virginia, unto Richd Harrell, of afore’ for 10 lbs. ‘Right as by assignment of Wm. Kitchen to whom the Patent was grt.’ 1728.”[19] Another source cites “Wm. Ward of Nansemond County Va., to Samuel Harrell, 160 acres—Part of a patent to John Moore, Nov. 17, 1700.”[20] This must be the same or adjacent land to that supposedly bought by Thomas Harrell from John Moore, and then willed to Thomas’ son, Samuel Sr. of Chowan County, North Carolina. This same source also shows William Hareild was a witness to Richard Bond’s will in Nansemond Co. Va. Jan. 15, 1727.[21] In addition, Edward Harrell married Margaret Brumwell on April 20, 1707 in Middlesex, Virginia. This may have been one of the first settlers in North Carolina, who died in Bertie County in 1754. Another Harrell who left his tracts in the real estate of Nansemond County, Virginia was “Francis Harrell of Nansemond County, Virginia. He sold land in 1731 to John White of Nansemond County. This same Francis Harrell of Nansemond County, Virginia sold land to Richard Baker on the east side of Northwest Swamp, adjoining lands of Richard Parker, in Chowan County, North Carolina.[22]

 [page 12]


The First Records of Harrells in The Albemarle region.


            It is clear most of the first Harrell settlers in northeastern North Carolina were from Nansemond County in Virginia. The early deeds in the area usually read, for instance, “Joseph Harrell of Nansemond County, Virginia,” and the same for many other Harrells. This point was also recognized by an early historian from Norfolk, W. Squires, when he said, “Nansemond County, Virginia, was the mother of North Carolina.” This point was reiterated by W. E. McClenny in his The History of Gates County.[23]


As indicated, many Harrells had gathered in and around Nansemond Co., Virginia by 1720, and it is very hard to know which immigrants they had descended from. Nevertheless, in the following section, I have formulated a list of the Harrells in northeastern North Carolina in the early 1700s. As I mentioned above, tradition holds that there were Seven Brothers who were the first Harrell settlers in North Carolina., and in some cases beyond. There are, of course, no documents indicating the first Harrells to North Carolina were brothers—some of them may well have been cousins. More important, however, is the fact that in the first years, there were more than seven Harrells who moved in this time period from Virginia to northeastern North Carolina.


Based on my survey of the documents from the area, the first Harrells to settle in North Carolina were: Samuel of Kent, Samuel of Chowan, Thomas, Joseph, John Sr., John Jr., Abraham, Edward, Francis, and Richard. There may well have been some already in North Carolina, who were not involved in recording deeds—thus left no tracts.


The Albemarle Region: Its Precincts and Counties


     The northeastern part of North Carolina was first called the Albemarle region. The Lords Proprietors in 1663 established the first government in Albemarle County. By 1670, Albemarle County was divided into 4 Precincts: Currituck, Pasquotank, Perquimans, and Chowan. Most Harrells were in Chowan Precinct. It takes some effort to keep tract of where they settled because part of Chowan was split off into Bertie Precinct in 1722, then part of Bertie County split off into Northampton County in 1741, then more of Bertie County and a little from Northampton & Chowan Counties split off into Hertford County in 1759, and finally, part of Hertford County and more of Chowan County split off into Gates County in 1779—these are the counties where most of the Harrells settled.


            So, for the people in Hertford County, early documents are in Chowan records, after 1722 they are in Bertie County records, and after 1759, if they still exist, they are in Hertford County records.


Because of the nearly complete burning of Hertford County records in 1862, it is necessary to attempt sorting the Harrells in all the adjacent counties in an effort to connect the Hertford Harrells to the first settlers in the Albemarle region. This is the long way around the identification of the ancestors of the first Hertford Harrells, and the evidence in fragmentary at best, but in most cases, it is all we have at this point. So in the following section, I attempt to piece together the information we have on the Harrells of the early Precincts—mainly Chowan and Bertie, as well as their derivative counties.

 [page 13]

Deeds in The Early Precincts and Counties


             The deeds help place people in regions as they first appeared and then settled in North Carolina. We must keep in mind, however, that simply buying land in an area at that time did not constitute living there. Often when one appeared as a witness on a deed, it was more indicative of his living in the area.


Pasquotank Precinct


            Even though we have records of Harrells in Virginia dating back as far as the mid-1620s, the earliest record of a Harrell in the old Albemarle area is “At a Court held at ye House of Richard Pope, Pasquotank Precinct, the 3rd. Monday in July 1694.... Edward May Clk. suit Edward Grainger vs. Rich’d Harrold.”[24]


This Court case illustrates government on the frontier, where government functions took place in the homes of the officials involved. This Richard Harrold was probably related to John Harrell of the Upper Parish of Nansemond County—they are probably the same John and Richard on the 1728 Right of Assignment in Perquimans County mentioned below.


Tyrrell County;


            As near as I can determine, the first land purchase in North Carolina by a Harrell was in 1715—when John Harrell bought land in Tyrrell County. I can not be certain it was John Sr. of Nansemond County, but he was one of the first to purchase land in several of the nearby counties, and that would be my best guess.


Robert and Martha Fewox sold John Harrell 150 acres on the east side of the Scuppernong River, on Mahomet Swamp on October 14, 1715.[25] The Scuppernong River travels from eastern Washington County into western Tyrrell County. Then it flows first northeast, then northwest into the Albemarle Sound. It is on the south side of  Albemarle Sound just across from Perquimans County, and it is just about 30 miles east of where the Harrells began buying land near the Roanoke and Cashie rivers of Bertie County a few years later.


Perquimans County Deeds


The first recorded document by a Harrell in Perquimans County was from John Harrell of Nansemond County, Virginia to Richard Harrell—Richard was probably John’s son. Richard paid 10 pounds for a “Right of Assignment” of William Kitchner, to whom the Patent was granted in 1728.[26] There was a John Harrell Sr. who stayed in Nansemond County long after several of his sons had moved into North Carolina. Apparently Richard got the right to buy the land from John Harrell in 1728, and the purchase was complete in the deed of 1737—John still owned adjacent land according to the 1737 deed. Deed activity for Harrells in early Perquimans County is summarized in Table 1 below.

 [page 14]


Table 1

Perquimans County Deed Activity*

                                                acquired in             sold in                    witnessed in

John Harrell**                                                         1728;

Richard Harrell                      1728 (& 1737)           1745;

Demsey Harrell                     ?                                 1768;

James Harrell**                    ?                                 1770;

Samuel Harrell                                                                                        1768 (for Demsey)

*The deeds for each person in Table 1 are as follows: John 1728, Book B, item no. 320, and Winslow, page 94 (John is shown still owning adjacent land in 1737); Richard 1728, Book B, no. 320, and Winslow page 94; 1737, Book C, no. 215, and Winslow page 113; 1745, Book E, no. 51, and Winslow page 140; Dempsey & wife, Susanna, Book H, no. 40, and Winslow page 215; James, Book H, no. 125, and Winslow page 222; Samuel Book H, no. 40, and Winslow page 215.

**John and James are both referred to as “… of Nansemond County, Virginia.” When Richard Sr. bought land in southern Bertie County in 1747, he was also referred to as from Nansemond County (Bertie County deed, Book G, page 98).


Richard Harrell was more than likely the first Harrell to settle in Perquimans County, and he probably left descendants there—several of his sons, however, ended up in southern Bertie County. Richard named his sons in his 1761 will, two of whom were Dempsey and James (the other two were Richard Jr. and John).


By the late 1760s and early 1770s, Demsey, and James Harrell owned land in Perquimans County, but James may still have been living in Nansemond County—Richard Sr. may well have had a brother named James who came down from Nansemond County, or a son named James. Demsey and James probably inherited their land because I have not found deeds recording the acquisition of land in their names. (James Harrell also sold a parcel of land in Chowan County in 1774, see below.) Samuel was old enough to witness Demsey’s deed in 1768. The deed activity summarized in Table 1 probably represents that of Richard Sr. from Nansemond County and his sons—who were more then likely born in Nansemond County.


Chowan Precinct/County Deeds


Before Bertie Precinct was formed in 1722, the deeds covering the area over to the Roanoke River should be with Chowan Precinct records. The deeds from the Gates area are included in the Chowan County records up to 1759, when Hertford County was established largely from parts of Bertie and Chowan counties. Chowan lost its northwest territory to Hertford, and then in 1779 lost its northeastern lands and people to the new Gates County.


The Harrell deeds listed in Table 2 are for Chowan County dating from the 1700s. Only one is dated “pre-Bertie” County—that is pre-1722. It reflects Francis Harrell’s purchase in 1721. Francis’ land was on the east side of the Chowan River, and consequently it did not get incorporated into Bertie Precinct in 1722. Thus, when Francis sold his property in 1731 and 1750, he was still recording his deeds for this property in Chowan County. It is hard to know how much time Francis spent in Chowan County, however, because he also owned property across the river in Bertie County. He was one of five Harrells in Bertie County on the list of “Arrears of Quit Rents,” for September 1729-March 1732, and it shows him with 240 acres in Bertie Precinct.[27] (The only Harrell on the list for the Chowan Precinct was Samuel Harrell.)

 [page 15]

In Chowan County after Bertie County was formed, but before Gates County, the deed activity for Harrells has been summarized in Table 2 below.


Table 2

Chowan County Deed Activity*

                                  acquired in                                         sold in                   

Richard Harrell                                                                                                  1735;

John Harrell Sr.                     1730;                                                                   1750;

John Harrell                           1754;


Francis Harrell                      1721;                                                                    1731, 1735;

Samuel Harrell (Son of John Jr. of Va.)                                                           1739;      

Samuel Harrell Sr.                1737, 1740, 1747;                                  

Samuel Jr. etux. Mary                                                                                        (to Isaac), 1769;

Thomas Harrell                    1742, 1744, 1748, 1754;                                        1758;

Aaron Harrell                       1756;

Jethro Harrell                        1756;

Judith Harrell                        1757;

Peter Harrell                          1758 (from Thomas Harrell);

James Harrell                                                                                                       1774;

Isaac Harrell                          1769, 1779;

*The deeds for each person in Table 2 are as follows: Richard 1735 (Book W, page 272); John Sr. 1730 (Book C-1, page 635), 1750 (Book F-1, page 222); John (Book G-1, page 121); Francis 1721 (Book F-1, page 150), 1731 (Book C-1, page 657), 1735 (Book W, page 243); Samuel, Son of John Jr. of Va., 1739, (Book C-2, page 64); Samuel Sr. 1737 (Book W, page 363), 1740 (Book C-2, page 120), 1747 (Book E, page 201); Samuel Jr. and wife Mary 1769 (Book O-1, page 77), 1769 (Book O-1, page 79); Thomas 1742 (Book A-1, page 185), 1744 (Book A-1, pages 283 & 284), 1748 (Book E, pages 301 & 302), 1754 (Book G-1, page 118), 1758 (Book H-1, page 270); Aaron 1756 (Book H-1, page 152); Jethro (Book H-1, page 158); Judith (Book H-1, page 211); Peter (Book H-1, page 270); James 1774 (Book G, page 97); Isaac 1769 (Book O-1, page 77), 1779 (Book R-1, page 166). (Jethro, Thomas, The Younger[?], Aaron, and Peter also owned land in the Gates area of Hertford County in 1768-1770.)


            I have placed Richard and the John Harrells at the top of the list in Table 2 because they probably did not live in Chowan County. Richard was in Perquimans County and then southern Bertie County. John Harrell Sr. was more than likely John of Nansemond County, Virginia, who may have spent his last years in southern Bertie County. The other John Harrell who purchased land in Chowan County in 1754 was probably John Sr.’s son, who also bought land in several counties, but settled with several of his sons in southern Bertie County.


            The early purchase in 1730 by John Harrell of Nansemond County (John Sr.) was of land on the north side of Cypress Swamp between Eure and Gatesville—this is the Gates area of Chowan County that went to Hertford County in 1759, and back to Gates County in 1779. The other Harrells in Table 2 who bought and sold land in Chowan County were also, for the most part, in the area of Chowan that would become Gates County in 1779. (I refer to these lands as in the Gates area even though Gates County did not exist at the time.) The James Harrell in Table 2 was probably the same James of Nansemond County, Virginia who sold land in Perquimans County in 1770, and lived in southern Bertie County.


            The 1739 deed in Table 2 for one of the Samuel Harrells identified him as “Samuel Harrell, son of John Harrell, of Va.” Samuel was selling 100 acres to Peter Parker on November 10, 1739. The land was on Gum Branch at Bull’s Skull.[28] Orrin Harrell’s ancestor, Samuel I, was still alive [page 16] (he died around 1762), and presumably in the Gates area, in 1739, but Orrin’s Samuel was a son of Thomas Harrell. The immigrant ancestor of William Bernard Harrell, Samuel of Kent, was also presumably still in the Gates area in 1739 (he died around 1753), but it is not too likely a reference would have been made to him as the “son of John” if he were the Samuel born in Kent County, England. If Orrin and William Bernard had correct information about the origins of their respective Samuels, then there was clearly a third Samuel Harrell who owned land in the Gates area in 1739—and he was the son of John Harrell Junior of Nansemond. John of Nansemond and several, if not all, of his sons settled in northeastern North Carolina.


            While the information in Table 2 makes it clear that Samuel Harrells were in abundance in the Chowan Precinct during the early years, it is difficult to know which one of them was the property owner in 1729-1732 when he appeared as the only Harrell in Chowan Precinct on the “Arreas of Quit Rents” list—his taxable property was 221 acres.[29]


From time-to-time, land passed from one generation to another without a recorded deed—usually by inheritance which is probably why Richard, Samuel (son of John Jr.), and James could record a sale of land when there is no record of their purchase. When we are fortunate, a deed will contain a history lesson, as well as an example of how property transfers often occurred. For instance, the 1769 deed by Samuel of Chowan’s son, Samuel Junior, refers to a tract of land that was passed to him by the will of his father, and before that from his grandfather, Thomas, to his father also by will.[30]


The will of Samuel Harrell of Chowan (Orrin’s Samuel I) was written on October 1, 1761. His son, William, recorded the inventory of his estate January 25, 1762. In his will, Samuel of Chowan gave William the land he was living on at the time; his son, Isaac, the plantation he was living on, and a piece of land in Oystertong Neck; his son, Abraham, the land he was living on at the time; and his son, Samuel Jr. (Orrin’s Samuel II), was to receive the home plantation at the end of his mother’s widowhood. Samuel of Chowan also named his daughters, Rachel and Martha in his will. The executors named in the will were his sons William and Isaac.[31]


Samuel of Chowan’s son, William, died about a year after his father—his will is dated February 18, 1762. William named his wife, Elizabeth, and their youngest son, Samuel, who was not of age at the writing of the will, and who was to be cared for by William’s brother, Abraham. Once he came of age, William’s son, Samuel, was to inherit the family plantation. In his will, William also made reference to his “other Children.”[32] Orrin indicated that he had found a copy of the estate settlement papers for William Harrell, presented at the October term of 1766, in which four other children were named: Henry, Abner, Ruth, and Abselah.


There were no Chowan County deeds recorded for any Harrell from 1778 through 1825—for over 47 years after Gates County was split-off from Chowan, no Harrells bought or sold land in the latter county. Some Harrells in the Gates area may have owned property in what remained of Chowan County, but it would have had to pass from person to person by inheritance without a supporting deed. This may have been the case when finally in 1826 David Harrell etux. sold some property in Chowan County.[33] Also, not until 1826, when James Harrell purchased land in Chowan County did a “next-generation” [page 17] Harrell buy more land in that County.[34] In any case, the absence of deed activity by Harrells in the county for over 47 years strongly suggests few, if any, Harrells were living there during that time. Most if not all of the Chowan Harrells were living in the Gates area, and their names will reappear when we look briefly at Gates County records.


The Gates Area (in Chowan and Later Hertford Counties)


            The Gates area of Chowan County, for the most part, went to Hertford County in 1759, before it became part of the new Gates County in 1779. When Hertford County was created, it included that part of the Gates area which began on the Chowan River at the mouth of Bennett’s Creek (the area near the points where the present day Hertford, Gates, and Chowan counties meet), followed Bennett’s Creek mostly northward to the Gatesville area, then turned mostly eastward to just above Sunbury, and somehow ended up at the Virginia line. The older maps make it appear the line between Chowan and the new Hertford counties started at the mouth of Bennett’s Creek on the Chowan River and headed almost due north to the Virginia line. It should be a relatively easy matter to determine which Harrells in the area between the Chowan River and Bennett’s Creek were indeed in Hertford County and which ones remained in Chowan County between 1759 and 1779, but unfortunately the documents recorded in Hertford County were burned in 1830, and if not then, in 1862. Consequently, there are few surviving records to help us know which Harrells were cut to Hertford County for that 20 year period.


One of the earliest surviving records available for Hertford County is a tax receipt book kept by Sheriff William Murfree. This list includes the taxables in the county in 1779 who were cut off to a new county called Gates.


            The Harrells in Murfree’s tax lists are contained in Table 3. As near as I can determine, Adam, Elijah, John, and Thomas were all in the area of  Hertford County that had been in Bertie County prior to 1759—that is southwest of the Chowan River. The other Harrells in Table 3 were in Hertford County, east of the Chowan River between 1759 and 1779.


            When we compare these tax lists with the list of deeds recorded in Chowan County prior to 1759, we find that only Aaron, Jethro, Peter, and the Thomases were still around to be taxed in the Gates area of Hertford County. By 1768, however, Charles, David, Jesse, and Josiah had appeared as taxables in the Gates area. The Samuel Harrells as well as James and Isaac were apparently in the Gates area that remained in Chowan County until 1779.


We will get back to describing the possible Hertford County Harrells later, but first we need to continue the description of the Harrells in the area with a look at early Bertie County Harrells in an effort to detect which family lines were cut off into Hertford County when it was formed in 1759.

 [page 18]


Table 3

William Murfree’s Tax Receipt Book: 1768-1770*

Harrell, Adam                                        1768                        1 tax        @ 09  10

                                                                1769                        1 tax        @ 10  06

                                                                1770                        1 tax        @ 07  04

Harrell, Elijah                                         1768                        1 tax        @ 09  10

                                                                1769                        1 tax        @ 10  06

                                                                1770                        1 tax        @ 07  04

Harrell, John                                          1768                        1 tax        @ 09  10

Harrell, Thomas                                    1768                        3 taxes    @ 09  10

                                                                1769                        3 taxes    @ 10  06

                                                                1770                        3 taxes    @ 07  04


Harrell, Aaron                                       1768                        1 tax        @ 09  10

Harrell, Charles                                     1768                        1 tax        @ 09  10

                                                1769                        1 tax        @ 10  06

                                                                1770                        1 tax        @ 07  04

Harrell, David                                        1770                        2 taxes    @ 07  04

Harrell, Demsey                                    1770                        1 tax        @ 07  04

Harrell, Jesse                                         1768                        1 tax        @ 09  10

                                                                1769                        1 tax        @ 10  06

                                                                1770                        1 tax        @ 07  04

Harrell, Josiah                                       1768                        1 tax        @ 09  10

                                                                1769                        1 tax        @ 10  06

                                                                1770                        1 tax        @ 07  04

Harrell, Jethro                                       1769                        2 taxes    @ 07  04

                                                                1770                        2 taxes    @ 07  04

Harrell, Jesse                                         1770                        1 tax        @ 07  04

Harrell, Peter                                         1768                        1 tax        @ 09  10

Harrell, Thomas                                    1768                        1 tax        @ 09  10

(The Younger)                                      1769                        1 tax        @ 10  06

                                                                1770                        1 tax        @ 07  04

Harrell, Thomas Jr.                               1770                        3 taxes    @ 07  04

*These records are available on microfilm at the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History in Raleigh; and the records have been transcribed and compiled in, Raymond Parker Fouts, William Murfree Tax Receipt Book, Hertford County, North Carolina, 1768-1770 (Cocoa Florida: GenRec Books, 1993), pp. 7-67.


Bertie County (excluding the Hertford area)


Harrells, mostly from Nansemond County, Virginia, began to appear in southern Bertie County at an early date. In fact, an early record of Quit Rents in “Arrears” for Bertie Precinct, from September 1729 to March 1723, included the following property owners Harrells:[35]


John Harrell                 with 645 acres

Abraham Harrell         with 250 acres

Edward Harrell            with 350 acres

[page 19]

Francis Harrell             with 240 acres

Joseph Harrell             with 100 acres


            When most of these Harrells settled in the southern part of Bertie County, they were just north of the Moratock (Roanoke) River and near the Cashie River. Thomas was the first Harrell to buy land in that area. He bought 640 acres from John Lovick on May 2, 1721. The land was located just north of the Moratuck River. Thomas’ land acquisition, and the deed activity of the Harrells who followed him to the area are summarized in Table 4. 


            Joseph Harrell Sr. of Nansemond Co., Virginia appears to have been the second Harrell to move into southern Bertie County. He bought 200 acres from James Smith on the north side of the Morattock River, on August 12, 1725. In 1729, Joseph sold 100 acres of this land to Abraham Harrell. He did not buy more land in the area until April 3, 1753, when he purchased 300 acres from Thomas Pugh.[36] The deeds for Joseph’s purchase and sale of land in southern Bertie County show Thomas, Joseph, John, and Abraham Harrell in the same area, just above the Moratock River. Joseph Harrell Sr.’s purchase of 300 acres on April 3, 1753 was for land at Flaggy Run, adjacent to the lands of Jethro Butler, and John Harrell (probably John Jr./Sr.). The deed was witnessed by John Harrell, Abraham Harrell, and Mary Harrell—probably his brothers and wife or sister-in-law. Joseph in his turn was also often a witness on deeds for other Harrells—for instance, he was a witness for John Harrell Jr./Sr., and in 1735, he, along with John and Edward Harrell, witnessed a deed for a neighbor.


            When Joseph was a witness for John Jr./Sr. on August 12, 1728, John was buying 630 acres from Henry Baker on the north side of the Morattock River at Flaggy Run. John Jr./Sr. was identified as “John Jr.” in the 1728 deed, because he was almost certainly the son of John Harrell of Nansemond County, Virginia. This John Jr. will later be known as John Senior. His probable father, John of Nansemond’s will was probated in Bertie County in 1749; John Jr./Sr. died in 1759; John of Nansemond’s grandson, John Jr., died in 1755, before his father died in 1759. In an effort to keep these three John Harrells distinct from one another, as well as from the other John Harrells in Bertie County, I will refer to this family of Johns as John of Nansemond, John Jr./Sr., and John Junior. The deeds recorded in the area often use the Junior and Senior designations, and most of the time when the reference is simply to John, it was not one of the men in this three-generation line of Johns.


            John Jr./Sr. bought an additional 24 acres of woodlands on March 22, 1737, adjacent to Edward Harrell’s farm. The witnesses for this deed were Edward Harrell, and John Junior. John purchased  640 more acres on November 14, 1747 from Thomas Barker[37]—this latter purchase from Barker was specifically divided in his will among four of his heirs.


John Jr./Sr. was a witness for a number of deeds in his area of Bertie County from 1729 to 1750—many of them were for others Harrells. For instance, when Edward Harrell of Nansemond County purchased land on December 20, 1729, John Jr./Sr. and his wife, Grace, as well as their son John Jr. all witnessed the deed; in 1731, John Jr./Sr. witnessed a deed for a neighbor who was selling 40 acres adjacent to the farms of George and Edward Harrell; then in 1733, “John Harrell, jurat, John Harrell, Junior” witnessed a purchase made by Abraham Harrell; and in 1750 he witnessed a deed for Edward Harrell’s purchase of 330 acres in the area. These are typical deeds that reflect the involvement of one Harrell in the property transactions of other Harrells.

[page 20]

Table 4

Summary of Bertie County Deed Activity by Harrells*

                        son of              acquired in                sold in              witnessed in

Thomas                                                  1721                                                                        1728-1736;

Joseph Sr.                                              1725** 1753                          1729                        1728-1735;

John Jr./Sr.            John**                   1728, 1737, 1747                    1751(gift to sons) 1729-1750;

John                                                       1729;**

Abraham                                                Aug. 1729(from Joseph)                                      May 1729(for Joseph);

Edward                                                   1729,** 1737, 1749                                               1735, 1737, 1738;

                                                                1749, 1750             

George                                                   1731(adjacent to Edward);

Other Johns                                          1754, 1756, 1756;

Francis                                                                                                                                   1736(with Thos., jurat),

                                                                                                                                                1747(for Richard Sr.);

Richard Sr.                                             1747** 1755                          1753, 1753;

Isaac                                                       1739                                                                        1734;

Thomas                  Edward                   before 1738, 1743;

Samuel                                                   1743(from Thomas Jr.)                                         1743(for Thomas);

John                       Richard                  1739                                        1741(to James);

James                     Richard                  1741(from brother John);

Christopher                                                                                                                           1741(for James/John);

Henry                                                                                                                                     1741(for James/John);

John Jr.                  John Jr./Sr.            1749, 1749                              1754                        1733-1755;

Josiah                     John Jr./Sr.            1751(gift from John Sr.)                                       1748, 1751(with John);

David                     John Jr./Sr.            1751(gift from John Sr.)       1751(to brothers);               

Elias                        John Jr./Sr.            1751(gift from John Sr.);                                                     

Ezekial                    John Jr./Sr.            1751(gift from John Sr.)                                       1754 (with John);

Israel Hardy          John Jr./Sr.            1751(gift from John Sr.)                                       1753, 1755, 1756;

Jesse                      John Jr./Sr.                                                                                            1753

Joseph Jr.              Joseph Sr.              1753                                        1754(to brother)    1742 (with brother);            

“Little” John         Joseph Sr.              1754(gift from Joseph Jr.)                                    1742 (with brother);            

John                       Abraham                1755.

This Table does not include those residents of Bertie County who lived in the Hertford area of the county—they are discussed in the following section.

*The deeds for each person in the order above are as follows: Thomas 1721 (Hathaway, vol. 2, page   ), 1734 (Bertie County Deed Book D, page 190), 1735 (Book E, page 49), 1736 (Book E, page 467) (Book E, page 457); Joseph Sr. of Nansemond County, Va. 1725 (Book C, page 17), 1753 (Book G, page 474), 1729 (Book C, page 185), 1728 (Book C, page 22), 1735 (Book D, page 191); John Jr./Sr. 1728 (Book C, page 22), 1737 (Book E, page 291), 1747 (Book G, page 95), 1729 (Book C, page 177), 1731 (Book D, page 123), 1733 (Book D, page 50), 1734 (Book D, page 185), 1735 (Book D, page 191), 1736 (Book E, page 37), 1737 (Book E, page 191), 1748 (Book G, page 172), 1750 (Book G, page 338), 1751 (Book G, page 366); John of Nansemond County, Va. 1729 (Book C, page 119); Abraham 1729 (Book C, page 119), (Book C, page 185); Edward of Nansemond County, Va. 1729 (Book C, page 177), 1737 (Book E, page 191), 1749 (Book H, page 397), 1750 (Book G, page 338), 1735 (Book D, page 191), 1737 (Book E, page 291), 1738 (Book E, page 498); George 1731 (Book D, page 123), 1756 (Book H, page 380); Other Johns, 1754 (Book K, page 257-260), 1756 (Book H, page 286), 1756 (Book H, page 380); Francis (of Chowan County, Gates area) 1736 (Book E, page 467), 1747 (Book G, page 98); Richard Sr. of Nansemond County, Va. 1747 (Book G, page 98), 1753 (Book G, page 548), 1753 (Book H, page 55), 1755 (Book H, page 179); Isaac 1739 (Book F, page 66), 1734 (Book D, page 185); Thomas Jr. 1743 (Book F, page 494), (Book F, page 495); Samuel 1743 (Book F, page 495), (Book F, page 494); James (son of Richard) 1741 (Book F, page 318), 1754 (Book K, page 254); John (son of Richard) 1739 (Book E, page 498), 1741 (Book F, page 318); Christopher and Henry had not bought or sold land in Bertie County, but together witnessed a deed for brothers, James and John in 1741 (Book F, page 318); John Jr. 1749 (Book G, page 237), 1749 (Book H, page 346), 1754 (Book H, page 174), 1737 (Book E, page 291), 1733 (Book D, page 43), (Book D, page 50), 1736 (Book E, page 37), 1755 (Book H, page 179); Josiah 1751 (Book G, page 366), 1748 (Book G, page 172), 1751 (Book G, page 423); David 1751 (Book G, page 366), (Book G, page 365); Elias Jr. 1751 (Book G, page 366); Ezekial 1751 (Book G, page 366), 1754 (Book H, page 74); Israel Hardy (“Hardy”) 1751 (Book G, page 366), 1753 (Book G, page 512), 1755 (Book H, page 180), 1756 (Book H, page 380); Jesse 1753 (Book G, page 512); Joseph Jr. 1753 (Book G, page 474), 1754 (Book H, page 74), 1742 (Book F, page 402); John (“Little John,” son of Joseph Sr.) 1754 (Book H, page 74), 1742 (Book F, page 402); John (son of Abraham) 1755 (Book H, page 180).

**On specific documents, the person’s name was followed by, “… of Nansemond Co., Va.”

 [page 21]

            On May 11, 1729, John of Nansemond County, Virginia bought a small parcel of land, 8 acres, down on the north side of  the Morattuck River and south side of Flagg Run—adjacent to John Harrell Jr./Sr., his probable son. It appears one of his probable sons, Joseph, witnessed the deed, along with Abraham, who was also probably one of his sons. There is a good likelihood John of Nansemond had been instrumental in establishing several of his sons in the area—first Thomas around 1721, then Joseph in 1725, John Jr./Sr. in 1728, and then Abraham was in the area by 1729. On May 11, 1729, John of Nansemond may have been buying a small place for himself—this, of course, is pure speculation.


            As I mentioned above, Abraham Harrell bought 100 acres from Joseph Harrell on August 7, 1729 in the cluster of Harrell farms. Then on December 20, 1729, Edward Harrell of Nansemond County bought 350 acres in the same area, adjacent to Joseph Harrell. The deed was witnessed by John Harrell Jr./Sr., his wife, Grace Harrell, and their son, John Junior. In 1737, Edward purchased 260 acres from James Brown; in 1749, he bought 190 acres from the Earl of Granville; and in 1750, Edward purchased 330 acres from Samuel Page.[38]


I have not been able to find a deed describing George Harrell’s purchase of land in the area—but on April 4, 1731, the Harrells’ neighbor, William Eason, sold some of his land that was located adjacent to George Harrell and Edward Harrell. George probably inherited or married his land—but he was in the area early in the migratory period.


I will pause here for a moment to speculate on some probable connections among the Harrells thus far encountered. Recall that outside of Bertie County, Richard had a land purchase in Perquimans County, and Francis made a purchase in the Gates area in 1721—probably while they were still in Nansemond County; and that Samuel, the son of John Jr. of Virginia, was already settled in the Gates area before 1739. If there were, indeed, Seven Brothers, according to tradition, who were the first Harrells to settle in North Carolina, then I believe we may have encountered at this point, all 7 of them—Richard in Perquimans County (in 1728), Francis in the Gates area (in 1721), Samuel in the Gates area (before 1739), and in the Bertie area Thomas (in 1721), Joseph (in 1725), John Jr./Sr. (in 1728), and then Abraham (in 1729). If one or even two of the above Harrells were not among the brothers, then we could easily replace them with Edward (in 1729)or George (before 1731). If they were not all brothers, they were more than likely first cousins. Most of these men are noted as witnessing deeds for each other in the area just above the Roanoke River in Bertie County.


One could easily add to the List of early Harrells in Bertie County by simply looking at deeds in which John Harrells were involved, but with insufficient description to classify him as John of Nansemond, his son, John Jr./Sr., or his grandson, John Junior. The additional John Harrells began to appear in the early 1730s. Richard’s son, John, was active by the 1740s, and by the 1750s, Joseph Sr.’s son, “Little John,” was active. Some of the deeds classified as belonging to “Other John Harrells” in Table 4, may belong to one of the Johns just mentioned above. In addition, starting in the early 1730s there was a county official who signed various documents as John Harrell, Esquire. I will discuss this John at greater length below, because he was probably the John who ended up in Hertford County—however, he also owned considerable land in southern Bertie County while living in Hertford County after 1759. In any case, in this catch-all category of “Other Johns,” I may have a deed or two from any one of the John Harrells in the area, if no distinction other than John Harrell was given.

 [page 22]

            In the “Other Johns” category, I have placed the following: On February 12, 1754, John Harrell bought 470 acres from the Earl of Granville near Williams’ and his own lines; On February 15, 1756, John Harrell bought 60 acres on the north side of the Roanoke River, adjacent to John Harrell Junior (this may be Little John who lived adjacent to John Junior.); and on October 15, 1756, John Harrell bought 100 acres from George Harrell, which was part of a grant given to John Harrell Junior in 1749—he paid 20 pounds, it was not a gift.[39] I have not yet accounted for Abraham’s son, John, who inherited his father’s plantation in 1755. (Abraham’s John stayed in the southern Bertie area as far as I can tell.)


In 1748, a John Harrell witnessed a deed with Josiah Harrell—I am pretty certain Josiah was the son of John Jr., but I am not at all certain about who the John was in the 1748 deed. It could have been his cousin and neighbor, Little John, but there is no way to tell for sure. My reason for suspecting it was a John other than John Jr. or Little John is because the 1748 deed on which their names appear was for land in the Hertford area, which is north of where John Jr. and Little John were usually active. The 1748 deed dealt with land on the south side of Flatt Swamp, adjacent to the lands of Edward Outlaw, Thomas and Absolom Hollowell, William Godwin, and Joel Sanders—all in the Hertford area.[40] So Josiah was already roving, and he was probably the Josiah Harrell who ended up in Gates County.


            I discussed Francis Harrell in the section on Chowan County deeds, because he bought and sold land in that county (the part that would become Gates County in 1779). I mention him here simply to illustrate his relationship to the Harrells on the north side of the Roanoke River, and to suggest he may have moved to Bertie County in his later years. Francis was one of the first to buy in North Carolina—he bought in the Gates area in 1721, and sold his land there to the Bakers in 1731 and 1735. After he had sold his land in the Gates area, he appeared in southern Bertie County as a witness on a deed along with Thomas Harrell, jurat, on December 8, 1736; and then again, he, along with John Harrell, witnessed the deed on November 16, 1747 for Richard Harrell Sr. of Nansemond County, when the latter bought land in southern Bertie County.[41]


            Richard Harrell was a planter in Perquimans County as early as 1737, and was involved in legal matters as early as 1694 and 1728 in that area—also Richard Harrell sold land in Perquimans in 1745. Then on November 16, 1747, he bought land in southern Bertie County. In the 1747 deed, he was referred to as Richard Harrell, Sr. of Nansemond County, Virginia. Richard bought land adjacent to another Harrell, and the deed was witnessed by John Harrell Junior. On June 5, 1753, Richard sold some of his Bertie land to Samuel Andrews—John Harrell was a witness. Then on November 30 of 1753 Richard sold another 100 acres to John Rutland, and on May 3, 1755, he sold another 110 acres adjacent to the lands of a Harrell—the latter deed was again witnessed by John Harrell Junior.[42]


            Isaac Harrell was probably one of the first of the second generation of Harrell settlers in North Carolina—he, like many of the second generation, may well have been born in Nansemond County and relocated with his parents to northeastern North Carolina. In August of 1734, Isaac witnessed a deed along with one of the John Harrells for the sale of 320 acres on the north side of Flatt Swamp. On August 11, 1739, Isaac bought 140 acres on the north side of the Moratuck River, adjacent to the lands of William Eason—most of the Harrells in the area lived next to or near William Eason.[43]

 [page 23]

            In addition to the Thomas Harrell who bought 640 acres just north of the Moratock River in 1721, there is a Bertie County will dated April 29, 1831, for a Thomas Harrell. So clearly there was a Thomas Harrell in the area from one of the other Harrell families. Edward Harrell’s 1754 will identified Thomas as one of his sons.[44] A deed on May 4, 1738, between two Virginians for the sale of 250 acres on the north side of the Moratuck River, adjacent to Thomas Harrell, Jr., located at Spring Branch.[45] This 1738 reference was probably to Edward’s son Thomas, the reference to Thomas Jr. presents a problem. He may have been called Junior when in fact he did not qualify for the title. It was common to name a son after a brother, and occasionally the son was referred to as Junior, when in fact he was a nephew. That may have been the case with Thomas Jr., but we have to stay open to the possibility that  Thomas Jr. was the son of Thomas of the 1721 deed, and was not mentioned in the will because he had already been provided for.


Edward’s son, Thomas, did not have a brother named Samuel, and the Thomas whose will was dated September 15, 1786 did not have a son named Samuel. In any case, it is difficult to say exactly who this Thomas relates to, but the two following deeds testify to his presence in the county. On June 13, 1743, Thomas Harrell bought 300 acres (for 40 lbs.) from Caleb Spivey. The land was adjacent to William Hinton on Village Swamp, and Theophilus Williams. Samuel Harrell was a witness on the deed. On the same day, Thomas Harrell sold 150 acres of the same parcel of land to Samuel (for 20 lbs.) on the east side of  Village swamp, adjacent to William Hinton, Pettegrove Salsberry, Theophilus Williams, and ______ Bond. Spivey’s land and the adjacent landowners were all located the north side of the Roanoke River.[46]


            There is a possibility Samuel passed the land on to his sons. The Samuel Harrell who bought 150 acres in southern Bertie County, may have been the Samuel whose will was dated January 19, 1770, and probated September 1772. If so, there is a good chance it went to the only son named in his will—Cader.[47]


            As mentioned above, Richard Harrell did not buy land in southern Bertie County until 1747, but his son, John, bought 200 acres from James Brown on February 13, 1738/39, on the west side of Cashy Swamp. (It was part of a survey granted Thomas Mann for 640 acres dated February 1, 1725.) The deed was witnessed by Edward Harrell—John’s probable uncle. John sold 50 of the 200 acres to his brother, James, on February 4, 1741. John identified his brother as James in the deed and the land as  “being the lower end of the Land I bought of James Brown for 200 a. more or less…” Both deeds identified the land as that granted by patent to Thomas Mann for 640 acres on February 1, 1725.[48]


            One of the more intriguing features of the 1741 deed from John to his brother James is the joint appearance of  Christopher Harrell and Henry Harrell as witnesses. This was the first time the names of Christopher and Henry Harrell appeared together in North Carolina documents. They had appeared together in 1678, when the two boys came from Bristol, England to work as contract labor in Northampton County, Virginia for 8 and 10 years respectively. (I identified Christopher and Henry as immigrants numbers 5 and 6 in the early section on immigrants in this chapter.) [page 24] If they were the same Christopher and Henry, they would have probably been in their late 70s or early 80s when they witnessed the 1741 deed. We should consider the possibility that James and John, the sons of Richard of Nansemond County, were the grandsons of either Christopher or Henry. (Also keep in mind, Abraham had a son named Christopher, and Edward had a son named Henry—they all lived in the same area, and were of age before 1755, but not necessarily before 1741.)


Earlier, I described the deeds of John Jr./Sr. for the area just above the Roanoke River—one of his land purchases consisted of 640 acres (on November 14, 1747) from Thomas Barker. In John Jr./Sr.’s will, dated November 1, 1756, he divided the same 640 acres and other property among his sons. Apparently his will reflected a property distribution that had already taken place, because John Jr. was obviously provided for early-on judging by his capacity to buy property in the 1730s, and part of the property distribution reflected in the will was accomplished with a 1751 gift deed from John Jr./Sr. in which he dispersed the Barker property as well as other holdings to sons, David, Elias Jr., Josiah, Ezekial, and Israel Hardy (“Hardy”). Jesse, according to the 1756 will, was to get the home plantation on which John Jr./Sr. was then living.[49] 


In addition to the inherited lands, most of John Jr./Sr.’s sons were involved in a number of real estate transactions. For instance, on March 25, 1749, John Harrell Jr. received 200 acres (at a cost of 3 Shillings) from the Earl of Granville—the land was located near the rest of their holdings, on the north side of the Roanoke River. Then on September 27, of 1749, John Jr. bought 640 acres (for 6 pounds). This land was also on the north side of the Roanoke River. On February 7, 1754, John Jr. sold the 200 acres he had been granted by the Earl of Granville. John Jr. had also obviously inherited considerable land, because in his 1755 will he distributed over 1000 acres to his sons.[50]


In 1748, John Harrell Jr./Sr. witnessed a deed with his son, Josiah Harrell—I am pretty certain this Josiah was the son of John Jr./Sr., but I am not as certain about who the John was in the 1748 deed. Josiah was a witness on another deed with an unidentified John in 1751 relating to property in southern Bertie County.[51] John Jr./Sr.’s other son, David Harrell, had a deed recorded at the same time as his father’s May 13, 1751 deed, distributing land to his sons. David’s deed reflected the sale of land to several of his brothers—perhaps a total of 210 acres.[52] The other sons of John Jr./Sr. appeared as witnesses from time-to-time during the 1750s, but they did not buy or sell property with recorded deeds before the formation of Hertford County in 1759.


            The item in Table 4 relating to Joseph Jr. in 1753 is actually for his father, Joseph Harrell Sr.’s purchase of 300 acres from Thomas Pugh on April 3, 1753. The land was at Flaggy Run, adjacent to the lands of Jethro Butler, and John Harrell (probably John Jr./Sr.). This land was apparently inherited by Joseph Jr. prior to February 23, 1754, because on that date Joseph Jr. made a deed for a gift of 20 acres to his brother, John Harrell—in the deed he identified it as “… a tract of land purchased by my father Joseph Harrell from Thomas Pugh and commonly called by the name of Sympsons Old Field….” The land was on Flagg Run, adjacent to the lands of  James Parker, and John Naren. It was witnessed by John Harrell, George Howse, and Ezekiel Harrell.[53]

 [page 25]

            The last entry in Table 4 is for John, the son of Abraham. He may have purchased 50 acres in March of 1755 from John Yealverton of Edgecombe County. The land was adjacent to ____ Parker, Abraham Harrell, George House, and ____ Baker; the witnesses included Hardy (or Israel Hardy) Harrell.[54] I stated he may have made the purchase, because it could have been one of the other John Harrells in the area. I suspect, however, it may have been John, son of Abraham, buying some land next to his father’s farm just months before he would inherit the family plantation.


            Most of the above information came from looking at the property deeds in the area; this can be usefully supplemented by information from the tax lists for Bertie County.


Tax Lists in Bertie County: 1755-1761


A survey of the early Bertie County tax lists will help sort out which Harrells stayed in Bertie after 1759 and which ones became residents of Hertford County. Just as with the deeds, we will also find some information here that will be helpful in forming family clusters of Harrells with an eye toward connecting the Hertford County Harrells to the early settlers in Bertie County.


            The first eleven entries in Table 5 are for taxable residents who, I surmise, represent the Harrells who were cut to Hertford County in 1759. These entries, through James, reflect the presence of nine different Harrells. John of Hertford County is on three separate lines because I wanted to retain the “titles” used with his name on the various lists—It in no way should be read to suggest that there was more than one John Harrell in the first generation of Hertford County Harrells.


            A glance at the list in Table 5 reveals the difficulty in sorting the John Harrells into the appropriate families. I have paid special attention to the John Harrells of Bertie County, because one of them became a principle source of Hertford County Harrells for generations to follow. The details I have used to identify the Johns are presented in the remaining sections of the chapter. A very brief overview is contained in the following sentences.


The John Esq. and John of Wiccacon were probably one and the same, and he was relatively wealthy as he appeared on a later 1779 Hertford County Tax List. How he related to the other John Harrells on the above list is still difficult to determine. Further down the list, I have grouped several John Harrells—most of whom were different tax payers. The first among them was “John of Roanoke” in 1758—I am pretty sure he was Abraham’s son. The second John was John Jr./Sr. (his will was probated in 1759), followed by his widow, Grace. The next entry is for John Jr.—the son of John Jr./Sr. and Grace (his will was probated in the January Court, 1756). The next two entries for John Harrell contain short descriptions but are too difficult to read, so I am uncertain who they were, or if they differ from the others—the second of the two also appeared on a short list along with Joseph Harrell, so may have been Joseph’s son, John. The other may well refer to the John who was cut off into Hertford County in 1759, because he continued to own land in Bertie County until after the 1779 Hertford County tax list (see Table 9, page 114). I am fairly certain the next person on the list, John Jr., was the son of “John of Roanoke,” and grandson of Abraham.

 [page 26]

Table 5

Bertie County Tax Lists: 1755-1761

Name                                      1755        1756        1757        1758        1759        1760        1761       

John Esq.(Letters)                (1)                           (4)                          

John Harrell Petty-hors                                                       (1) (also on a small list w/ Joseph)                   

John of Wiccacon                                                (1)                           Brickell

Joseph                                                   (1)           (1)           (1)           Brickell

Elijah                                                                      Brickell   (1)           Willoford *

Adam Sr.                                Rice        Rice        Rice(2)    Butler(3)                                Butterton

Adam Jr.                                Rice        Rice        Rice        Butler     Butterton               Butterton

Thomas                                 Rice        Rice        Rice        Butler     Butterton               Butterton

William                                                                                                                                  Butterton

Edward                                  delinq.    delinq.    Rice                                                        Butterton

James                                                                     (1)           (2)****                                  Butterton

Ann                                                                       (2)           (2)           Pugh(2)

Absalom (d. 1757)***                         delinq    Mary(3)  Mary(3, delinq)

John son of Absalom                                          (1)           (5)(? son of Abm)

Edward (died 1750)              delinq.    delinq.                                                                                                   

Henry son of Ed.                  Perice     Perice     (1)           Geo(1)    Pugh(1)  Pugh(1)  (1)

Joshua son of Ed.                Perice     Perice     (1)           Geo(1)    Pugh(1)  Pugh(1)  (1)

Thomas son of Ed                                               (1)           (1)           Pugh(1)

Francis                                                                   (2)           (1)           Pugh(1)                  Vance

Henry                                                                     (1)                          Hollowel

Isaac                                                                      (1)           Pugh(1)                                  Vance

James                                                     Perice     (1)           Geo(2)    Pugh(2)  Pugh(2) 

James                                                                                                    Hollowel

John                                                       Brickell   (3)           (3)**      Pugh(3)  Pugh(3) 

John Harrell l---d  (last raised on line)                                                               Pugh(3)  Vance(1)

John Jr./Sr.(d. 1759)                                                             Geo(5)    Pugh(5)

John Harrell lhnesoy (?)                                                                                      Pugh(5)

   Grace, John Sr.’s widow                                                                  Pugh(6)

John Jr.’s widow Mary                                       (3)           Geo(3)    Hollowel

John(?)                                                                                                  Hollowel

George (son of John Jr. & Mary)                      (1)           (1)           Hollowel

Josiah                                                                    (1)           (1)           Pugh(1)                  Vance(1)

Ezehiel                                                                   (1)           (1)           Pugh(1)                  Vance

David                                                                     (3)           (3)           Pugh(3)                  Vance(1)

Jesse                                                                      (1)           (2)           Pugh(2)  Pugh(2)  Vance(1)

John Jr.                                                                                                                                  (1)

Moses                                                                   (1)           Geo(1)    HollowelPugh(1)  (1)

Richard                                                                  (2)           Geo(2)    HollowelPugh(2)  (1)

Samuel                                                                   (3)           (3)           Pugh(4)  Pugh(4)  Vance(1)

Thomas                                                                 (4)           (4)           Pugh(2)                  Vance

William                                                                                                                   Pugh(1)  Vance

Bailis                                                                                                                      Pugh(1)  (1)

Lott                                                                                                                                         Vance

Bertie County Tax Lists for these years can be viewed on the microfilm “Bertie County List of Taxables, 1755-1775, no. c.010.70002 from the North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Taxes prior to 1777 were taxes on people. There was a property tax in 1715 for the Tuscarora War, but it only lasted 7 years. Property tax became permanent in 1777. The above lists include taxables defined as white males at least 16 years age. It is also important to note that an individual from time-to-time appeared on two different lists in the same tax year—usually because they had farms in different districts.

When I have included a person’s name in the body of the table, it indicates that the Harrell in the column on the left was in that person’s tax district. The numbers in parentheses indicate the number of taxables in a household.

The 1761 list, as I have summarized it here, does not contained all the Harrells due to the number of new names on the list—I have only included those who also appeared on a list in a previous year.

*Elijah is the only Harrell on Willoford’s 1759 list, and he is not on the 1760 or 1761 lists for Bertie County.

**He was listed as John Harrell of Roanoke.

***Absalom was listed in 1756, then his widow, Mary in 1757 and 1758.

****James was in a short, untitled list—the only other Harrell was Adam.

 [page 27]

In 1758, George Harrell’s tax list (Geo) had most of the Harrells on it. (George was a Constable, thus responsible for compiling a tax list.) Another list in that same year included Ben. Wynns, Nicholas Askew, Joseph Harrell, and John Harrell. This latter list probably covered most of what would become Hertford County—Ben. Wynns and Nicholas Askew were for sure cut off into Hertford County in 1759. Joseph was off the Bertie tax list at the right time, but by Murfree’s Tax List for Hertford in 1768-1770, he was not on that Hertford List (see Table 3, page 18). (Recall, Joseph and a John were witnesses to deeds in the Hertford area before 1759—even after the county seat was moved out of St. Johns in 1741.) I think the tax lists make it clear there was a Joseph Harrell in the Hertford area. He simply did not appear on deeds except as a witness, usually with a John Harrell. (Joseph could have been John’s father, but there is no evidence to support the speculation.)


            From the Bertie County Tax Roll, on October 6, 1759, Sheriff Brickell included the following note: “then Wm. Wetherington Const. of the County of Bertie I move that he had Summoned the Persons herein mentioned to give in their Dist. of Assembly for the present year. Wm. Brickell”[55] Included in the list Brickell was referring to were the following names: Starkey Sharp, John Harrell, Joseph Harrell, and Nicholas Askew. This appears to be the Sheriff’s effort to cut from the Bertie County tax rolls those people who were then in the new county of Hertford. Again, Starky Sharp, Nicholas Askew, and a John Harrell were definitely permanent residents of Hertford County—so also was Joseph Harrell then. 


            The survey of Bertie County tax lists also established that Adam Sr. and Elijah Harrell were taxables in the Hertford area—Elijah was a taxable by 1757, and was in Hertford County by 1759. Unfortunately, he was still on a Bertie tax list, Willoford’s list, in 1759. Elijah was, however, the only Harrell on Willoford’s list, and did not belong on it; he was cut from the Bertie County tax lists by 1760. Adam Sr. was off the Bertie lists by 1759, but his sons, Adam Jr. and Thomas, were still listed as taxables on Butterton’s list in 1759. It would seem Butterton simply did not want to remove Adam’s family from his tax lists, because after skipping 1760, Butterton again included Adam Sr. and his five probable sons, Adam Jr., Thomas, William, Edward, and James, in his 1761 tax list for Bertie County.


In the next section, I have tried to identify the original Harrells to the Albemarle County in order to find a bases for connecting the first Harrells in Hertford County to roots in Chowan or Bertie Counties.


Summary of North Carolina’s First Harrells—Identify The Seven plus Brothers


            According to Orrin Harrell, and others, tradition in the area holds that there were seven brothers who moved, or were moved by the surveyor, from Virginia to the Chowan Precinct of Carolina. It should be kept in mind, however, the notion of seven brothers may have originated as a loose association of cousins as well as more than one group of brothers. In addition, I am pretty sure there were more than seven Harrells who moved into the Albemarle region in the early 1700s, and as near as I can tell, they were married before they arrived, and many had children who were born in Virginia. The first Harrells in the Hertford area may have been among the first Harrells to the Albemarle Precinct, but they were more [page 28] likely the sons of the original “Seven Plus Brothers.” While several of these first settlers bought land on both the Chowan County side of the Chowan River and the Bertie County side of the River, they tended to settle in either upper Chowan County (in the Gates area), or in southern Bertie County (just north of the Roanoke, and near the Cashie Rivers).


The first recorded Harrell in the Gates area of Chowan County was Francis Harrell. He was referred to as “Francis Harrell of Nansemond County, Va.,” in a 1721 deed, but he sold his land on the northeast side of the Chowan River in 1731 and 1735. He was in southern Bertie County by 1736.[56] Francis’ will was probated in March of 1759 in Bertie County. Richard and John Harrell Sr. also owned land in Chowan County during the early 1730s, but the evidence indicates they also lived in southern Bertie County.


The early Harrells settlers who apparently stayed in the Gates area of Chowan County were Samuel Harrells—yes, more than one. There was the Samuel of Kent who lived on the Harrell farm near Sunbury and died there in 1753. There was also the Samuel, who was a direct descendant of Thomas Harrell of Nansemond County—this was Samuel of Chowan (and the Samuel I identified by Orrin Harrell and others).  


In addition to Samuel of Kent and Samuel of Chowan, there was another Samuel who lived in the Gates area of North Carolina. There was Samuel Harrell who was probably a brother to the Harrells who moved from Virginia to southern Bertie County. This possibility is suggested by the following reference: “Samuel Harrell, son of John Harrell, of Va., to Peter Parker; Nov. 10, 1739. 100 acres on Gum Branch at Bull’s Skull, patented by Richard Berryman Jany 19, 1716.”[57] This was probably the John Harrell of Nansemond County, Virginia, whose will was probated in Bertie County in 1749, and whom I think may have been the father of most of the “Seven Brothers.”


Most of the first Harrells to Bertie County settled in the area just above the Roanoke River. Joseph, John Jr./Sr., Edward, and Abraham settled in southern Bertie County in the 1720s. They lived on adjacent farms, and sold land to each other, and often witnessed one another’s deeds. They were probably brothers, and may have been sons of  John of Nansemond County, Virginia.  Joseph was the first to arrive in the area just north of the Roanoke River—he was referred to as “Joseph Harrell of Nansemond Co., Va.” in 1725. In December of 1729, Edward of Nansemond County bought 350 acres adjacent to Joseph, and the deed was witnessed by John Jr./Sr. and his wife, Grace, and their son John Junior.[58]


In addition to Joseph, John Jr./Sr., Francis, Edward and Abraham, other possible brothers in this area were Thomas and Richard Harrell Senior. There is a reference to Thomas Harrell in the southern Bertie area. It reads in part as follows: John Lovick deed to Thomas Harrell in Chowan Co. N. C. for 640 acres on the Moratuck River, May 2, 1721. This item is not among the Chowan County list of deeds, however. Richard Harrell Sr. also appeared in deeds as early as 1728 in Perquimans County, and was selling land in Chowan by 1735—he too, however, ended up in Bertie County. [59]

 [page 29]

Another couple of possibilities emerge from Orrin Harrell’s work which was discussed earlier in this chapter. Orrin thought Adam, Francis, John, and James were brothers, the core of the “Seven Brothers,” and the sons of Thomas II—at least he felt they were closely related. Adam and James are potential new members of the first Harrells to the area, but I am inclined, at this point, to add only one of the two new names to my tentative list—that of Adam.


Adam first appeared in the documents of Bertie County in 1735—he was in the Hertford area.[60] Because of his relatively late appearance in the area, I am inclined to think he was a son of one of the original brothers who came from Virginia—but, of course, he may simply have been a younger brother, or in any case, one of the last in the family to leave Nansemond County. I will consider him one of the first generation, mainly because he was there early, and I have not found any evidence that might exclude him. 


James Harrell was still referred to as “James Harrell of Nansemond Co., Va.” in 1770, but that does not exclude the possibility he came with his father as an adult. There were several John Harrells in the area by 1741, but only one with a brother named James.[61] They were the sons of Richard Sr., originally of Nansemond and then of Perquimans County. I am fairly certain James in the 1741 deed moved to the Albemarle area with his father, Richard, and as such he and his brother, John, were in the second generation of Harrells in Carolina—so James’ status as one of The Seven Brothers is very uncertain.


            In summary then, my preliminary list of the first settlers in the Albemarle region of North Carolina include Samuel of Kent, Samuel of Chowan, Joseph, John Jr./Sr., Francis, Edward, Abraham, Thomas, Richard Sr., and Adam. From among them, only a handful of Harrells settled in the Hertford area by the mid-1730s. They were, as indicated, Adam Sr., John Esq., Joseph, and Elijah Harrell—their siblings and perhaps parents were probably in southern Bertie County.


Whether brothers or cousins, all ten of the “Seven Brothers” passed through Chowan and Bertie Precincts/Counties in the early years. I am inclined to believe the descendants of John of Nansemond County were the first Harrell inhabitants of the Hertford area; his descendants mostly settled down on the Roanoke River. If there is a pattern, and it seems there might be one, it is that the Harrells who eventually populated the northern part of Hertford County (Harrellsville to Winton) came over from the Gates area; while the Harrells who settled in southern Bertie County may have been the ones who moved up to the St. Johns to the Ahoskie area. These brothers and cousins are described more fully in the next several chapters.


            In the next three chapters, with the use of the material presented in this chapter and information from available wills, I have described the families of the first Harrell settlers to the area—their children and grandchildren when possible. In chapter 2, I have focused primarily on the Samuels; in chapter 3, on Joseph, John Jr./Sr., Francis, Edward, Abraham, Thomas, and Richard Senior; and in chapter 4, I focus on the first Harrells in the Hertford area, Adam Sr., John Esq., Joseph, and Elijah Harrell. My goal in those chapters is simple and focused: in chapters 2 and 3, I have attempted  to determine the most probable [page 30] family connections for the first Harrells of the Hertford County area; and in chapter 4, I have described the first generation of settlers in the Hertford area, and what is known about their descendants.





[1] Marilu Burch Smallwood, Some Colonial and Revolutionary Families of North Carolina, (Washington, North Carolina, 1968), vol. II, pages 184-186.

[2] The work of Orrin F. Harrell can be found in a short paper he wrote entitled “About The Limb of The Harrell Tree Through Which I Descended,” Ahoskie, Hertford County, North Carolina, before December 1980. His compilation with commentary was privately circulated. In December 1980, he circulated a two page correction based on additional information he had come across. Both papers were made available to me by Marion Johnson, the Curator of The Harrellsville Museum, Hertford County, North Carolina. The following work was based on Orrin Harrell’s research, and was organized into a broader project: Margaret Harrell Williams, The Harrell Family: Barnes, Credle, Brooks, Farrow, Carter, Forman, Cox, Williams, (Wilson, North Carolina, 1984), pages 4-7 and 15-19. This work is available in the Genealogical Section of the North Carolina State Library in Raleigh, N. C.. 

[3] This work was edited and compiled by Lellie Harrell Edwards, Katherine Edwards Meech, and Travis Meech Peters, Harrell Family Records, (Norfolk, Virginia, 1952). This typed manuscript is available in the Genealogical Section of the North Carolina State Library, Raleigh, North Carolina.

[4] Benjamin B.Winborne, The Colonial and State Political History of Hertford County, N. C. (Murfreesboro, N. C., 1906), page 57.

[5] Winborne, History of Hertford County, page 196.

[6] William Bernard Harrell’s autobiography and related materials are in the Private Collections, P.318, called the Harrell Papers, at the North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, NC.

[7] The Biblical record included in the papers of William Bernard Harrell is part of the Private Collections, P.318, Harrell Papers.

[8] Winborne, History of Hertford County, page 196.

[9] Elizabeth J. “Betty” Harrell, The Harrells: Lott Harrell (est. 1770s-c. 1814) of North Carolina and the Mississippi Territory, his Ancestors and Descendants, ( Los Altos, California, 1989). A copy of this work is in the Genealogical Section of the North Carolina State Library, Raleigh, North Carolina.

[10] Elizabeth J. Harrell, The Harrells: Lott Harrell,page 47.

[11] “Minuets of The Council and General Court 1622-1629, Virginia Historical Magazine, 1913, vol. 21, page 57.

[12] Peter W. Coldham, The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776 (The Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Md.), on CD # 350, from Broderbund, section 2, chapter 30, page 159.

[13] “Virginia Quit Rent Rolls”, pp. 403, 404. Also see Annie L. W. Smith, compiler, The Quit Rents of Virginia, 1704 (The Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Md. 1987), page 4

[14] Nell Nugent, “Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, 1623-1666,” Cavaliers and Pioneers  (Genealogical Publishing Company, 1974), vol. I, page 331.

[15] W. A. Crozier, Virginia County Court Note Books, vol. IV, no. 3, page 19.

[16] Coldham, The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776. Section III, chapter 19, page 146.

[17] W. Mac Jones, “Ivey Family,” William and Mary Quarterly,  vol. 7 (2nd. Series), page 93.

[18] Coldham, The Complete Book of Emigrants,section  IV, chapter 33, 1730, page 181; and Coldham, Emigrants in Bondage, section VI, chapter 2, page 875.

[19] Perquimans County, deed Book B, item no. 320. In Mrs, Watson Winslow, History of Perquimans County North Carolina  (Baltimore, Md., 1990), page 94.

[20] J. R. B. Hathaway, “Abstract of Conveyances,” North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register,  vol. III, no. 1, Jan. 1903, page 130.

[21] Hathaway, “Abstract of Wills,” North Carolina Register,  vol. I, no. 1, page 133.

[22] Hathaway, “Abstract of Conveyances,” North Carolina Register, vol. II, no. 3, page 450.

[23] Two works have been jointly published by the Gates County Arts Council Bicentennial Committee, Gatesville, N. C., no date given. They are Isaac S. Harrell, Gates County to 1860, circa 1916; and W. E. McClenny, The History of Gates County, The Gates County Index, 1933-1934. See page 66 in the Gates County Arts Council’s volume for this note.

[24] Hathaway,  “Miscellaneous Items,” The North Carolina  Register, (July 1901), vol. II, no. 3, page 465. The original is in Edenton, North Carolina.

[25] Hathaway, “Abstracts of Conveyances,” The North Carolina  Register, (April 1900), vol. I, no. 2, page 289.

[26] Perquimans County, deed Book B, item no. 320; Winslow, History of Perquimans County, page 94.

[27] Clark, “Arreas of Quit Rents,” State Records of North Carolina, vol. XXII, miscellaneous.

[28]Chowan County deed, Book C-2, page 64. Also in Hathaway, “Abstract of Conveyances,” North Carolina Register, vol. III, no. 1, page 134. Gum Branch rises in southwest Gates County and  flows northeast into Taylor Millpond. William S. Powell, The North Carolina Gazetteer, (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1968), page 207.

[29] Clark, State Records of North Carolina, “Arreas of Quit Rents,” vol. XXII, miscellaneous.

[30] Chowan County deed, Book O-1, pages 77-78.

[31] Hathaway, “Abstract of Wills,” North Carolina Register, vol. I, no. 1, page 550.

[32] Hathaway, “Abstract of Wills,” North Carolina Register, vol. I, no. 1, page 550.

[33] Chowan County deed: Book H-2, page 474.

[34] Chowan County deed: Book H-2, page 422.

[35] Walter Clark, State Records of North Carolina, vol. XXII, miscellaneous.

[36] Bertie County deeds: 1725, Book C, page 17; 1729, Book C, page 185; 1753, Book G, page 474.

[37] Bertie County deeds: 1728, Book C, page 22; 1737, Book E, page 191; 1747, Book G, page 95.

[38] Bertie County deeds: 1729, Book C, page 177; 1737, Book E, page 191; 1749, Book H, page 397; 1750, Book G, page 338.

[39] Bertie County deeds: 1754, Book K, page 257; February 1756, Book H, page 286; October 1756, Book H, page 380.

[40] Bertie County deeds: 1748, Book G, page 172; 1742, Book F, page 555.

[41] Chowan County deeds: 1721, Book F-1, page 150; 1731, Book C-1, page 657; 1735, Book W, page 243. Bertie County deeds: 1736, Book E, page 467; 1747, Book G, page 98.

[42] Bertie County deeds: 1747, Book G, page 98; 1753, Book G, page 548; 1753, Book H, page 55; 1755, Book H, page 179.

[43] Bertie County deeds: 1739, Book F, page 66; 1734, Book D, page 185.

[44] J. Bryan Grimes, Abstract of North Carolina Wills (Raleigh, N. C., 1910), page 152.

[45] Bertie County deed, Book E, page 350.

[46] Bertie County deeds, Book F, page 494; Book F, page 495; Book F, page 99.

[47] Bertie County will Book A, page 162; and Hathaway, “Abstract of Bertie County Wills,” North Carolina Register, vol. II, no. 3, page 337.

[48] Bertie County deeds, 1739, Book E, page 498; 1741, Book F, page 318.

[49] Grimes, North Carolina Wills and Inventories, pages 222-225. Bertie County deeds, 1747, Book G, page 95; 1751, Book G, page 366.

[50] Bertie County deeds: 1749, Book H, page 346; 1749, Book G, page 237; 1754, Book H, page 174. Bertie County will: January Court 1756. Also in Grimes, North Carolina Wills and Inventories, pages 219-222.

[51] Bertie County deeds: 1748, Book G, page 172; 1742, Book F, page 555; 1751, Book G, page 423.

[52] Bertie County deed: Book G, page 365.

[53] Bertie County deeds: 1753, Book G, page 474; 1754, Book H, page 74.

[54] Bertie County deed, Book H, page 180.

[55] Bertie County Lists of Taxables, 1755-1775; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, microfilm no. c.010.70002.

[56] Chowan County deeds, 1721, Book F-1, page 150; 1731, Book C-1, page 657; 1735, Book W, page 243; 1736, Bertie County deed, Book E, page 467.

[57] Hathaway, Abstract of Conveyances, North Carolina Register, vol. III, no. 1, page 134.

[58] Bertie County deeds, 1725, Book C, page 17; May 1729, Book C, page 119; August 1729, Book C, page 185; December 1729, Book C, page 177.

[59] Perquimans County deed, 1728, Book B, no. 320 (also in Winslow, page 94); Chowan County deed, 1735, Book W, page 272.

[60] Bertie County deed, Book D, page 252.

[61] Perquimans County deed, Book H, no. 125; and in Winslow, page 222; Bertie County deed, 1741, Book F, page 318.


To move about in this site, click on one of the following sections:

HarrellFamilies (Home Page)


Table of Contents

Chapter 2 (Harrells in Chowan County & the Gates area)

Chapter 3 (Harrells in Bertie & the Hertford County area)

Chapter 4 (Hertford County's 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Generations)

Chapter 5 (John T., Eley, Elijah Two, Elisah, Thomas Two & their descendants)

Chapter 6 (Nathan & Elizabeth's Known Descendants)

Chapter 7 (John [b. c. 1794] & Winnifred Harrell, 3rd Generation)

Chapter 8 (Josiah & Anna Harrell, 3rd Generation)

Chapter 9 (Elizabeth Harrell & Silas Parker, 3rd Generation)

Chapter 10 (Immigrants to the 3rd Generation of Hertford County Harrells)

Chapter 11 (Immigrants to the 4th Generation of Hertford County Harrells)