The Life and Times of William Edward Spence (1722-1785)–Part Three


It is unknown when William Edward Spence met Judha Perry. Her father’s will was registered October 1751. Judha was approximately two or three years old at the time of his death. As yet, I have not found guardianship records for Philip Perry’s children, but Judha’s mother Judith Elizabeth Hunter Perry may have moved to Chowan County, North Carolina and into the Elisha Hunter home. Elisha Hunter (1715-1786) appears to have been her uncle. I say this because Judha and William Spence named their second son Elisha! Elisha Hunter may have had two marriages. His second wife was Ann Walton, who was born about 1715, whom he married before 1750. The Hunters began having children, so Judith Elizabeth may have moved there to help Ann with the children. The portion of Chowan County where the Hunters lived became Gates County in 1779. Elisha Hunter’s will appears in Gates County records as follows:

Will of Elisha Hunter, 1786, Son of Isaac Hunter of Chowan, N. C.,Will Book One, Gates Co., N. C., pages 62 and 63FHL microfilm 0,018,965 In the name of God amen, I Elisha Hunter of the state of North Carolina in the county of Gates being very weak in body but of perfect mind and memory thanks be given to God for the same, calling to mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this my last will and testament as followeth. Item I give and bequeath to my daughter Sele Hunter one feather bed and furniture, two cows and year-olds, two two-year-old steers, six sheep, ten hogs, one iron pot, two pewter dishes, two basins, twelve pewter plates, one frying pan, one riding mare, bridle and saddle. I say to her and her heirs forever. Item I leave to my loving wife Ann Hunter [née Ann Walton] the use of all the remaining part of my perishable estate of what nature or kind so ever during her widowhood, and in case she should marry, it is my will and desire that all my estate that I have left her the use of be equally divided amongst my wife and children or their legal representatives, except my granddaughter Ann Lay, daughter of Amos Freeman, which said Ann Lay hath already received her full part of my estate, and furthermore it is my will and desire that my loving wife Ann Hunter have free liberty on any part of my land so far as her people can cultivate but not to sell or destroy timber or timber trees further than her people can work off themselves and that she be not deprived of a greater part than one half of my apple orchard. And lastly I do nominate and appoint my son Thomas Hunter and Joseph Riddick my sole executors to see this last will and testament fully executed in manner and form as above mentioned, ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and testament. In witness whereof I the said Elisha Hunter have hereunto set my hand and fixed my seal this seventh day of May one thousand seven hundred and eighty six.Eli sha Hunter {seal} Signed, sealed, published, and pronounced in the presence of John Gordon, Sarah Hunter, Sarah X her mark Hunter State of North Carolina Gates County August Inferior Court of Please and Quarter Sessions 1786 the within will was exhibited into court by Thomas Hunter & Joseph Riddick Executors therein appointed and was proved by the oath of John Gordon, one of the subscribing witnesses thereto. Then the said will was ordered to be recorded. At the same time the said executors came into court and qualified themselves for that office and prayed an order for letters testamentory thereon, which was accordingly granted. Teste Law Baker CGC (1)

Judha would have been two or three years of age when her mother moved to Chowan. And she may well have stayed with the Elisha Hunter family until her marriage to William Spence about 1769. In 1758, however, she met another man who would eventually become her third husband. David Jones of Pasquotank County settled in the area.

Previously appearing in Section One of this article as the son of Capt. Nehemiah Jones of Pasquotank, David Jones was born about 1735. He was a good friend of William Spence, and the two served together in David’s father’s militia company. William also appears on Capt. Jarvis Jones Militia Roster June 4, 1766 Militia Roster (2). Judha was about ten years old when David arrived in Chowan. In all likelihood, William Spence went to Chowan to visit his friend from time to time. He met the Elisha Hunter family early in his visits and young Judha as well.

On August 24, 1759, David married Sarah Ellegood (1737-1790) in Northampton, Virginia (3). The newly weds returned to Pasquotank, where David appears as a sergeant on Capt. Nehemiah Jones’ militia roster (4).

The children of David Jones and Sarah Ellegood follow:

1. Pheraba Jones (1763-1838). Pheraba was born in Pasquotank in 1763, and she died September 14, 1838 in Bedford County, Tennessee. On December 20, 1784, she married William Pallan (1758-1818) in Granville, North Carolina. Their son George Washington Pallan or Pollan was born in 1795 in Hillsboro, Granville, North Carolina, and he died August 1860 in Yallobusha County, Mississippi.
2. James Jones (1765-1796). James was born in Pasquotank in 1765, and he died in Gates County in 1796. His wife’s name is unknown. Their children were Hannah, Joseph and Mary Jones.
3. Hezekiah Jones (1768-1827). Hezekiah was born in 1768 in Pasquotank, and he died in Edgecombe County, North Carolina in 1827. On May 26, 1784, he married Ann Carter (1786-1848) in Gates County, North Carolina (5). Their children were: Abraham Jones, David Jones, Dempsey Jones, Elizabeth Jones, James Jones, John Jones, Polly Jones, William Jones (1792-1833); Jonathan Jones (b. 1796); Eli Jones (b. 1799); Jesse Jones (b. 1805); and James Jones (b. 1807).
4. David Jones (1775-1806). David was born in Pasquotank in 1775, and he died in 1807 in Davidson County, Tennessee. He was thirty-one years of age at his time of death. I have no additional information about him.

William Spence traveled to Rowan County, where he appears on the tax records in 1761 and 1768 (6). By 1769, he returned to Chowan County, where he became reacquainted with Judha Perry. They were probably married in Chowan since her family members had all settled there. Then they returned to Pasquotank, where they settled on William’s plantation.

The children of William Spence and Judha Perry follow:

1. Sarah Elizabeth Spence (1770-aft June 1785). Sarah was born in 1770 in Pasquotank, and she died after June 1785 in Pasquotank. Her husband’s name appears as John “Jack” Leake (1765-1790). I have no additional information about them. If William’s first wife was Sarah Jones, Sarah may have been named for her. Judha’s mother was Judith Elizabeth Hunter; however, she appears to have been known primarily by her middle name. It is possible Sarah Elizabeth Spence was named for Sarah Jones and her two grandmothers: Elizabeth Greaves Spence and Judith Elizabeth Hunter Perry.

2. Joseph Spence (1774-1841). Joseph was born March 10, 1774 in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, and he died February 8, 1841 in Pasquotank. He was possibly named for a cousin who served with William in the militia unit. And he also had an uncle named Joseph Spence. Joseph had several marriages:

By Lydia Sawyer (1776-1825), whom he married about 1795

a. Peggy Spence (born 1796)
b. William Spence (1802-1831)
c. Sarah Spence (born 1805)
d. Olly Spence (born 1807)
e. Elisha Spence (1810-1827)
f. Evan Spence (born 1812)
g. Elizabeth Spence (born 1815).

All of his children were by his first marriage. His two additional marriages were to Susan Brite on January 27, 1828 in Pasquotank, and to Susan Spence on February 24, 1839 (7).

3. Elisha “Li” Spence (1776-1835). Elisha was my fourth great grandfather. He will be treated in another section.

4. Thornton Spence (1776-1829). Thornton was born in Pasquotank County, North Carolina in 1776, and he died in Pasquotank County, North Carolina May 2, 1829. A copy of his will follows:

In the name of God amen. I, Thornton Spence, being weak of body but in
perfect mind (same opening as in all the others)

Item: I give and bequeath unto my well beloved wife, Hannah Spence, one
negro man Edmun and one habitat and furniture two beds? one ???one Rocking
Chair and harnis, one ???cart ???chairs one chist, one ???one table. I leave
unto my well beloved wife Hannah Spence the rest of all my property except
one ??? in doors and out of doors. During her natural life in Widow hood.
Item I give and bequeath after the Death of my wife Hannah Spence unto
William s. Temple, son of ??? Temple and Parenty his wife the house and
plantation I now live on. Also one ??? by the name of Ruthe. Item I give
and bequeath unto James Temple and his wife Pertany ????
Item I give and bequeath after the death of my wife Hannah Spence to ???
Jones, daughter of Edwin Jones and Judha his wife one negro Boy???
Item, I give and Bequeath after the Death of my wife Hannah Spence unto my
daughter Judha Jones wife of edward Jones the Plantation I bought from Mark
Williams and it is my will and desire is the ?? of my property after the
Death of my wife, Hannah Spence, to be equally divided between my two
Daughters Partheny temple and Judha Jones. I therefore nominate and apoint
David Spence to be my Soule Executor to this my Last Will and Testament,
revoking all former wills by me made. I do acknowledge this to be my Last
Will and Testament this the 2 day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand
eight hundred and twenty-nine Witness whereof I have here unto set my hand
and Seal.

Witness: Anthony Davis (Jurat) Thornton Spence
Levi Spence

State of North Carolina/Pasquotank County: Court of Please and ?? Sept Term

The Last Will and Testament of Thornton Spence(r) was exhibited in open court
and proved by the oath of Anthony Davis, a subscribing witness thereto, same
time David Spence the Executor therein named appeared and qualified as athe
law directs, ordered that thewill be recorded and letters testimentary issue.

Test: Charlese Spece Clerk (8)

Thornton’s wife’s name was Hannah. Their children were:

1. Parthenia Spence (1807-1862). Parthenia was born in Pasquotank in 1807, and she died in Pasquotank in 1862. Her husband was James Temple (1799-1847). Their children were:

a. William Spence Temple (1825-1896)
b. Wilson Spence Temple (1836-1899)

I have no additional information about these people.

2. Judith Spence (1810-1841). Judith lived in North Carolina her entire life. She had several marriages. Her first marriage was to Edwin Jones (1800-1831). They had one daughter: Mary Eloise Jones (1829-1880). Her second was to James Temple (about whom I have no additional information). They had one child: William S. Temple, who was born in 1829. Her third marriage was to Caleb Rencher Spence (1806-1855), whom she married about 1830. Caleb was the son of James Spence (1761-1828) and Rhoda McBride (1761-1850), and the grandson of Greaves and Elizabeth Spence. (I already covered them in a previous section.) The children of Caleb Rencher Spence and Judith Spence follow:

a. Caleb Rencher Spence, Jr. (1833-1896)
b. Joseph Temple Spence (1837-1918)
c. James Thornton Spence (1840-1877).

William and Judha Spence appear on two land deeds in 1775, both involving land sales to Peter Cartwright. The first is dated June 14, 1775, and the second is dated July 10, 1775 (9). William Spence’s name appears on a petition, 20 Sep 1779, to the General Assembly from Gideon Lamb and others “wanting a road through “Dismal Swamp” to benefit Pasquotank. & Perquimans & adjacent Counties” (10).

By this time, the Revolutionary War being fought in the South threatened the entire region. William Spence, David Jones and others went off to War, a decision that would greatly impact these families.

To Be Continued in Section Four


(1) Isaac Hunter Will (1786). Gates County, North Carolina Court Records., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 13 Mar 2015. Available online at
(2) Capt. Jarvis Jones Militia Roster under command of Col. Thomas Taylor, June 4, 1766. Pasquotank, North Carolina. Colonial Soldiers of the South–1732-1774., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 13 Mar 2015. Available online at
(3) David Jones, Sarah Ellegood Virginia Marriage Record. Virginia Marriages 1700-1850., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 13 Mar 2015. Available online at
(4) Three Hundred Years Along the Pasquotank: A History of Camden County, Capt. Nehemiah Jones Militia Roster (1766)., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed 13 Mar 2015. Available online at
(5) North Carolina Marriage Index, 1741-2004., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 13 Mar 2015. Available online at
(6) Colonial North Carolina Tax Records for 1761 and 1768, North Carolina State Library, Division of Archives and Cultural History
(7) Spence, Wilma C. North Carolina Bible Records Dating from the Early Eighteenth Century to the Present Day: Including Genealogical Notes and Letters Found in Some Bibles. (Logan, Utah: Unique Printing Service, 1973.)
(8) Thornton Spence Will (1829), Pasquotank County, North Carolina., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 13 Mar 2015. Available online at
(9) William and Judha Spence Land Deeds to Peter Cartwright, 1775. North Carolina State Library, Division of Archives and Cultural History. Land Deeds dated June 14, 1775 and July 10, 1775. Copies obtained of original deeds.
(10) William Spence in the U.S. Reconstructed Census Records 1660-1820., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 13 Mar 2015. Available online at

The Life and Times of William Edward Spence (1722-1785)–Part One

McBride Methodist Church, Camden County, North Carolina. The church is located near William Spence's property. We visited this church in May 1998.

McBride Methodist Church, Camden County, North Carolina. The church is located near William Spence’s property, but was not standing when he lived there. We visited this church in May 1998. Picture provided by Melissa Mytinger Fall 1998

Twenty years ago, my early discovery of my fifth great grandfather, William Spence, sent me through reams of records, copies of which I gradually compiled into a huge quantity of notebooks. Trusting early computers, I sometimes kept my records on their hard drives, only to have the computers die taking my records with them. As a result, I was forced to return to libraries where I found the information, recopy the records, and store them somewhere safely–a sadder but wiser experience. Then came a ten-year absence from genealogy followed by retirement. And I have since placed all of those notebooks in one location.

I remember writing an article about William Spence years ago. For the life of me, I can’t find my copy now that I need it. I last saw it a month or so ago. I suppose I shouldn’t mourn the misplacement. Some of the information is different today; new discoveries were made about William during my ten-year absence. I had to rebuild his portion of my ancestral tree with the new, documented information–a way of becoming reacquainted with him. For that reason, I could not object to the process. This article is devoted to William, his life, adventures and family. It is divided into several parts to facilitate reading. Part One is an introduction to William Spence and his connection with the Jones family. Part Two will focus on the Perry family. Part Three discusses William Spence, Judha Perry and David Jones. Part Four focuses on the Revolutionary War and William Spence’s experiences in Charleston. Part Five discusses William Spence’s death and Judha’s subsequent marriage to William’s brother, David Spence, and their children. Part Six concludes with Judha’s final marriage to David Jones and their children.

Six parts–one per week–six weeks.

This is Part One!

Who was William Edward Spence?

The oldest son of James Spence (1702-1753) and Elizabeth Greaves (1707-1755), William Edward Spence, was born about 1722 in Pasquotank County, North Carolina. That portion of Pasquotank County eventually became Camden County. Many of the Camden County records were destroyed in a fire, making Spence research difficult. However, I found some records from other counties which provide a completed picture. Like his predecessors, William Spence had a wandering spirit. He did not stay permanently in one location.

In a way, William stands out in available records by reference to his first name. I could not find many William Spences in his line before William. A number of William Spences followed him. His mother’s paternal grandfather was William Greaves, who was born in Northamptonshire, England about 1630, and he died in the same location in 1664. Elizabeth’s father, John Greaves (Graves) (1665-1747) would not have known his father, but John’s mother may have talked about him. These stories were eventually passed down to young Elizabeth. Her oldest son was thus named William! And William’s middle name Edward was derived from the Greaves family as well.

John Greaves (the immigrant) arrived in Spotsylvania, Virginia about 1688 (1). His wife’s name has been confused so I will post the possibilities here: (Rebecca) Susanna (Virginia) (Harwood/Dickens) (1665-1747). Their children were:

1. John Greaves (Graves), Jr. (1685-1757)
2. Thomas Greaves (Graves) (1691-1767)
3. Edward Greaves (Graves) (1693-1763) [William Spence received his middle name from Edward]
4. Jemima Greaves (Graves) (1699-1764)
5. Rebecca Greaves (Graves) (1702-1814) (Not sure whether these dates are real or whether Rebecca actually lived to be 112!)
6. Robert Greaves (Graves) (born 1702)
7. Isaac Greaves (Graves) (1705-1790)
8. Elizabeth Greaves (Graves) (1707-1755)–William Spence’s mother
9. Mary Greaves (Graves) (b. 1707)
10. Joseph Greaves (Graves) (1717-1774). (Not named in his father’s will. May have left the area before his father’s death.)(2).

There may have been a reason for William Spence’s early wandering–something I have yet to prove. Sometime between 1740 and 1743, William may have married. His second marriage did not take place until 1769; I cannot imagine him waiting until age 47 before tying the knot. I am speculating that his first wife was a Jones–possibly Sarah Jones–and that she may have been a sister of Jarvis and Nehemiah Jones of Pasquotank County. She may have been born about 1723 and she may have died about 1743, possibly in childbirth. Spence connections with this Jones family will unfold throughout the rest of these articles. But I wanted to introduce Jarvis and Nehemiah here with the guarantee that they will return shortly and their families will become significant later.

The Case for Sarah Jones (1723-1743)??

The case for Sarah Jones is really compelling. My case is founded upon two premises. The first is centered on the Spence family connections with the Jones family in Pasquotank and Camden Counties at this period of time and before. The second is centered upon the fact that William’s oldest child by his second marriage was named Sarah Elizabeth: Sarah possibly for his first wife and Elizabeth for his mother. A discussion of the Jones family follows.

If Sarah Jones really lived, she would have been the daughter of John Jones (1675-1723) and his wife Dorothy (1680-1723). Born in Albemarle County, Virginia, John had two marriages. By his first wife Florence, he had one son: Isaac Jones (1701-1776). His second wife was a widow named Dorothy McDaniel. Dorothy had two daughters by her first marriage: Dorothy McDaniel (1710-1723) and Eleanor “Ellie” McDaniel (1715-1743). John Jones and Dorothy had the following children:

1. Maj. Jarvis Jones (1717-aft. 1766). Jarvis had two wives: Miriam Trueblood (1721-1780) and Ruth Upton (b. 1715).
2. Capt. Nehemiah Jones (1718-1775). Nehemiah’s wife’s name is unknown, but they had one son: David Jones (1735-1795) David Jones will reappear in a later section.
3. (If my theory proves true) Sarah Jones (1723-1743). Sarah was the first wife of William Spence. She would have been born after her father’s death.

The names of these people (with the exception of a few) are identified in several wills. An abstract of John Jones’ will follows:

Name: John Jones
Pasquotank Precinct

Will Date:
12 Dec 1723

Legatees: Dority and Ele Mackdaniel. Witnesses: Thomas Hearendeen, John Jennings, Benjamin Sawyer. Clerk of the Court: John Parker (3)

A record dated 1720 sheds some light on this matter and may have been a distribution to his sons prior to death. Legatees in his will are Dorothy’s daughters from her first marriage:

Pasquotank County, NC Book A–Pasq Cty: John Jones wife Dorothy owned 100 acres: Sons Isaac, Abraham and Jarvis (4).

It is interesting to note that he does not mention Nehemiah in his will–something that has caused some researchers to suggest that Nehemiah was a nephew of Jarvis:

Captain Nehemiah Jones ca. 1718-1775
The third company was the largest, having an enrollment of seventy-one, including officers and the bounds were “on the Fork Creek on the North side of Pasquotank River and on the Upper of said county,” which area comprises modern South Mills, Tar Corner, Pearceville and Upper Woods. Captain Jones’ ensign was his brother Isaac and the lieutenant was Isaac Litten. The three sergeants named were Samuel Smith, David Jones and John Ralley; the corporals, Samuel Edney, Shadrach Taylor and Jacob Burnham; and the drummers, James and Greves Spence. A glance at the roster shows that while the same names are still generally found in the neighborhood, the frequency with which they occur in the company roll shows that their ratios to the whole population have changed considerably as the years have passed. The surnames appearing most frequently then were as follows: Bright (Brite) and Overton, eight each; Spence, five; Taylor, four, Burnham, Jones, Knight (Kight) and Upton, three each.

Jones describes himself as a merchant, though he was a man of varied business interests. The abrupt cessation in the public records of any reference to his commercial activities during the French and Indian War period may indicate combat service in an active military unit. Although he belonged to one of our leading families, being a son of John Jones, a nephew of Major Jarvis Jones and an uncle of Joseph Jones of the Revoluntionary era, he had no liking for public office. When the Provincial Assembly appointed him a justice of the local quarter sessions court, he refused to qualify. He did serve a tour of duty with Josiah Nash as a patroller, but this task seems to have been looked upon as a necessary obligation of a slaveowner (5).

Nehemiah, a son of John Jones, would have been a brother of Isaac and Capt. Jarvis Jones, and an uncle of Joseph Jones of the Revolutionary War. I suspect that Nehemiah may have married a Quaker, something I will delve into later when I cover his son David Jones. That could be the reason why his father did not mention him in the 1720 devise or as a legatee in his 1723 will. On the other hand, his father could have given him a share separately.

Isaac Jones (1701-1776) was a half brother of Jarvis and Nehemiah (and Sarah, if her relationship can be proven). Isaac married Mary Palmer (born 1703). Their children were:

1. Anna Jones
2. John Jones (born 1725)
3. Lt. Timothy Jones (1727-1798)
4. Dempsey Jones (born 1729)
5. Sen. Joseph Jones (1731-1800)–This is the nephew referred to in Pugh’s book of Revolutionary War fame
6. Mary Jones (born 1733) (6)

These Joneses are destined to reappear later.

* * *

In 1761, William appears on a tax list in Rowan County, North Carolina (7). Like his family members, William became a planter (tobacco), but he went further than most of them. He became a merchant planter and an acquaintance of the Perry family, a group important to this narrative and who is destined to appear shortly. This would be an excellent reason for William and his wanderings. He invested in Rowan County, a region from which Randolph County was carved. His brother, James Spence (1730-1804), eventually settled in Randolph, so he may have been speculating with William. William Spence last appears of record in Rowan County in 1768 (8).

In June 1766, William Spence appears on a muster roster for Capt. Jarvis Jones’ Company under the command of Col. Thomas Taylor (9). His brother, James Spence, appears on the roster, and Joseph Spence, Jr. appears on the roster as well. Jarvis Jones is the Captain; Jarvis Jones, Jr. is the Lieutenant. Other surnames of importance to this narrative include McDaniel, Temple, Williams, Cartwright, Sawyer, Forehand, Davis, Koen, Leak, Gray, Smith, Vardin, and Burnham.

Then in 1769, William Spence married Judha Perry.



(1) Jno Graves in the U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Feb 2015. Available online at

(2) Inman-Spence-Beall-Warfield Family Branches., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Feb 2015. Available online at

(3) John Jones 1723 Will Abstract, North Carolina., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Feb 2015. Available online at

(4) John Jones 1720 distribution. Book A. Pasquotank County Records., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Feb 2015.

(5) Pugh, Jesse. Three Hundred Years along the Pasquotank. Old Trap: Camden County, North Carolina (1957), p. 61.

(6) Inman-Spence-Beall-Warfield Family Branches., Provo, Utah. Date Accessed: 8 Feb 2015. Available online at

(7) State Tax Records for 1761 and 1768. North Carolina State Archives, Division of Archives and History. North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources. Raleigh, North Carolina.

(8) State Tax Records for 1761 and 1768. North Carolina State Archives, Division of Archives and History. North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources. Raleigh, North Carolina.

(9) Murtrie, June Clark. Colonial Soldiers of the South (1732-1774). p. 785.