Thomas Ashley, Jr. was the son of Thomas Ashley, Sr. and Ann (Plowman) Ashley. He was born circa 1710. Like his father, we can find evidences of his life in court records.
This earliest evidence of Thomas appears in the records of Chowan County in the Will of David Hicks, written 9 September 1732 and probated on 23 December 1732. A portion of his estate was given to David’s daughter, Lucretia, and his son-in-law, Thomas Ashley Jr.[i]This gives us both Thomas’ location and the name of his wife.
Later Thomas can be found in Bertie County. The courthouse was an important place in Bertie County, for more than simply dispensing justice.
During the early colonial period, because of the lack of good roads, churches, and schools, most white residents of Bertie lived isolated rural existences with their slaves. This brought on boredom and a desire for a meeting place for social gatherings. … [The] gathering place became the county courthouse.[ii]
Meetings at the courthouse were held four times a year. While inside the courthouse deeds were signed, outside the courthouse horse races were run, religious meetings were held, horses were traded, home-grown commodities were bought, sold or exchanged. Colonists bought and sold slaves, gamed, drank large quantities and often fought one another.[iii]Each time our ancestor appeared in court he most likely participated in the various activities outside the court.
In 1742 Thomas’ father sold him 120 acres of land on Cashoke Creek for 100 British pounds. A witness to the transaction was William Ashley who was likely his brother.[v]In August of 1742 Thomas Ashley, Jr. was a juror in the county. He and Humphrey Lawrence served on the Supreme Court.[vi] Humphrey Lawrence was to become Thomas’ son in law.[vii]
On 2 November 1753 Thomas Ashley, Jr. gifted 82 acres of land to Humphrey Lawrence, goldsmith. At this time Humphrey Lawrence was married to Ann (Ashley) Lawrence.
Deed of Gift 82 acres…for love we bear unto our well-beloved daughter Ann, intermarried with said Humphrey…Land on West Side Cashoke Swamp, adjacent Thomas Ashbourne, to the great branch opposite the old plantation, Thomas Ashley, Henry Van Luven, Robert West. The same which was bought of Henry Van Leuven July 20, 1747. Wit, Samuel Ormes, Jane Ormes.[viii]
Thomas’ name is included in the Tax List for Bertie County, North Carolina several times between 1756[ix]and 1784[x]. He was taxed for having one white servant, one male slave and one female slave.[xi]His brother, John, is listed for the same years and his father is listed for the years 1756[xii]to 1759[xiii]. After 1959 Thomas Ashley, Sr. no longer appears on the tax lists and Thomas Ashley, Jr. was no longer referred to as ‘Junior”. This could mean that his father had died and only one Thomas remained on the tax lists. In the years 1765[xiv]to 1771[xv]Thomas’ brother, John, and John’s son, William[xvi], lived near him.
In 1772 Thomas Ashley, Jr. became the guardian for Nathaniel Lawrence.[xvii]Nathaniel Lawrence was the young son of Humphrey Lawrence and Ann (Ashley) Lawrence, grandson of Thomas Ashley, Jr. Humphrey died when Nathaniel was only six years old so his grandfather became his guardian.[xviii]
Thomas wrote his will in 1784.[xix]Bertie County tax lists show he owned 160 acres of land in the year he wrote his will.[xx] He died in 1790. His will has provisions for his wife, two of his daughters and a grandson.[xxi]That same year there was a deed where land was transferred from Thomas to the same grandson, Amos Harris.[xxii]
[i]Grimes, J. B., Abstract of North Carolina Wills, Volume 7 (Raleigh: E. M. Uzzell & Co. State Printers and Binders, 1910); digital image, East Carolina University Digital Collections (digital.lab.ecu.edu: accessed April 2017) 163.
[v]Bell, M. B. (1963). Colonial Bertie County, North Carolina: Deed Books A – H, 1720 – 1757(2nd Edition ed.). Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, Inc., page 174. Aug. Court 1742. Deed Book F, 317.
[xxii]Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1788 thru 1792. Book VI, Durham, North Carolina. From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC. Page 61. May 1790.
1 Thomas Ashley b: c 1710, d: Aug 1790 Bertie, NC
… + Ann Hicks
……2 Ann Ashley b: c. 1733
…… + Humphrey Lawrence b: c 1726, d: 1772 Bertie, NC
………3 Frederick Lawrence b: c 1746 Bertie, NC, d: 1823 Bertie, NC
………3 Reuben Lawrence b: c 1748 Bertie, NC, d: Bertie, NC
………3 David Lawrence b: c 1750 in Bertie, NC, d: c 1786 Chowan, NC
………3 Anne Lawrence b: c 1762 Bertie, NC, d: c 1830 MS
……… + Richard Dillon b: 7 Oct 1745 Norfolk, VA, m: c 1776, d: 7 Oct 1833 MS
………3 Nathaniel Lawrence b: 27 Jul 1766 Bertie, NC, d: 24 Dec 1849 Artesia, Lowndes, MS
……2 Elizabeth Ashley
…… + Boulton
……2 Mary Ashley
…… + Hodgeson
Court Records involving Thomas Ashley, Jr.
c 1724 – 23. Thomas Ashley Senior & Junior are shown to be overseers. Source: Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes (Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions) 1724 thru 1739. Book I, North Carolina: 1976.
1742. A Deed of Sale was recorded for land from his father, Thomas Ashley Senior, to himself. Source: Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1740 thru 1743; 1758 thru 1762. Book II. North Carolina: 1977.
c 1772. “Ordered that Thomas Ashley be appointed Gardien [sic] to Nathaniel Larrence [sic] on his giving security in the sum of Six hundred pounds which Security is accordingly given by Frederick Lawrence Asah? Larrence [sic]” Nathaniel Lawrence [1766 – 1849] was the son of Humphrey Lawrence who died in 1772 when Nathaniel was only six years old. Thomas Ashley was Nathaniel’s grandfather. Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1772 thru 1780. Book IV, Durham, North Carolina: 1979.
1790. “A Deed of Sale of Land from Thomas Ashley to Amos Harris was proved in due form of Law by the Oath of Fredk. Lawrence one of those subscribing Witnesses and ordered to be registered. Likewise an assignment from Amos Harris to Thomas & Eliza. Ashley was proved by Fredk. Lawrence.” [I wonder if this Amos Harris is Amos Harrill, grandson of Thomas Ashley as mentioned in his will.] Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1788 thru 1792. Book VI, Durham, North Carolina. From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC, page 61.
Inventory of Thomas Ashley’s Estate
2 Negros, 5 head of cattle, 30 head of hogs, 2 beds and bedsteads, 13 sheets, 3 blankets, 3 pillows, 7 pillowcases, 1 bed quilt, 1 rug, 63 yards of homespun, 3 tables and 3 chests, 1 chest of drawers, 1 case and bottles, 2 linen wheels, 2 woolen wheels, 1 hat box and 3 old boxes, 2 butter dishes, 14 plates, 20 spoons, 1 pan, 1 Dutch oven, 1 skillet, 1 pair of tongs, 1 ax and plow, 10 cups and saucers, 2 milk pots, 2 mugs, 2 pitchers, 1 stone pot, 1 cream pot, 2 glass tumblers, 13 teaspoons, 1 sugar box, 1 knife box, 1 hand saw, 1 lantern, 2 chamber pots, 160 weight of bacon, 30 weight of fat, 1 barrel of corn, 2 bushels of wheat, 3 barrels, 15 baskets, 3 tablecloths, 2 towels, 2 sides of leather, 20 weights of cotton, 5 pounds of flax. From: Family Search/Probate/Bertie Co Estate Records
- Almasy, Sandra Lee. Bertie County, North Carolina Wills 1781 – 1797. Joliet, Illinois: Kensington Glen Publishing, pages 97 – 98.
- Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes (Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions) 1724 thru 1739. Book I, North Carolina: 1976.
- Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1740 thru 1743; 1758 thru 1762. Book II. North Carolina: 1977.
- Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1772 thru 1780. Book IV, Durham, North Carolina: 1979.
- Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1788 thru 1792. Book VI, Durham, North Carolina. From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC, page 61.