John Morton (1730 - 1796)

‹ Back to Morton surname

Is your surname Morton?

Research the Morton family

Capt. John Morton, Jr.'s Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Share

Nicknames: "John Morton"
Birthplace: Henrico Co VA
Death: Died in Clinch Mountain, VA
Managed by: Kathy
Last Updated:

About John Morton

  • Daughters of American Revolution Ancestor #: A081821
  • Service: VIRGINIA Rank: CAPTAIN
  • Birth: 9 Feb 1730 HANOVER CO VIRGINIA
  • Death: 19 Dec 1796 PRINCE EDWARD CO VIRGINIA
  • Service Source: GWATHMEY, HIST REG OF VA IN THE REV, P 567
  • Service Description: 1) PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY MILITIA
  • Notice: PROBLEMS HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED WITH AT LEAST ONE PREVIOUSLY VERIFIED PAPER - SEE ANCESTOR’S FULL RECORD (There is a problem with the lineage on at least one previously verified application or supplemental, but that there are other papers on this ancestor that are ok. SON CHARLES MARRIED MARY ANNE SMITH, NOT MARY ANNE WALKER)

John was born Episcopalean but later became a staunch Presbyterian & was active in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which he founded in 1755. The Church was then in Amelia County, later Prince Edward County.

ÒThat a number of individuals who served in the Shawnee Expedition [or 1756] failed to mention it is apparent from the final petitions found in the journals [Journals of the House of Burgesses 1756-1758, p 386]: Thomas Moreton petitioned for a valuable Horse, Saddle, & Bridle lost in the late intended expedition of the Shawnees. Yet in his declaration for a certificate for land, John Moreton simply stated that he served six months under Capt. Andrew Lewis. It is most probable that Thomas Moreton who also mentions six months service under Lewis served in the same campaign.Ó

Jno. Morton, Gent, Lieutenant in a company of Volunteers in the late war [Shawnee]; by order from Gov. Dinwiddie joined Maj. Andrew Lewis' detachment from 1st Va. Regt. of Regulars, and continued in the service six months. (Prince Edward Co.)

John worked as a contractor & surveyor. He was a Justice of the Peace in 1758, filling this positions at various times until 1785, & built the first jail in 1759 in an area that would become Prince Edward County (but then was part of Amelia County).

On 29 May 1760, for 35 shillings, John Morton and Thomas Thomas were granted 340 acres of land in Brunswick County on the lower side of Mountain Branch, adjoining Hugh Williams & William Lindsey.

On 20 Aug 1760, John Morton was granted 400 acres in Prince Edward County on the south side of Bush River adjoining land of Watson, Furguson &c.

On 14 Feb 1761, John Morton was granted 200 acres in Prince Edward County on the north side of Rush River, adjoining Watkins, Randolph, and Davis's land.

At some point before 1776, John built ÒSunnyside,Ó also known as Morton Hall, near Darlington Heights in Prince Edward County. It was located on the back road from Farmville to Hampden-Sidney College.

In 1762, John was made a Captain.

In 1772, he built Prince Edward CountyÕs Courthouse.

On 18 Jul 1774, he deeded to his son-in-law, Jacob Woodson, 1 black female Whinney for 5 shillings.

Along with 3 others he represented Prince Edward County at the First Virginia Convention in Williamsburg in Aug 1774.

Capt. John Morton was one of the charter Trustees of Hampden Sydney College of Farmville, VA, established 1775 as Prince Edward Academy. In 1935, Morton Hall was constructed on campus in honor of John Morton.

On 20 Nov 1775, he was selected as a member of the Committee of Safety for Prince Edward County along with 7 others.

He raised a company (the 2nd) of soldiers in Prince Edward Co., VA for the 4th Regiment of the Continental Army (19 Feb 1775 Ð 12 Mar 1777).

He left Virginia waters Sep 1776, landing in Maryland and heading for New Brunswick NJ where he met George WashingtonÕs army. He was in the Battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, and at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-8. His son Maj. James Morton was an Aide to Gen. Washington.

In 1777, John represented his county in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Listed in Capt. MortonÕs muster for 28 Jun 1781 were Sergeant James Morton & Private Thomas Morton.

He served 7 years in the war (after the 4th, he was a lieutenant-colonel of Virginia Militia) and it is known that he had several sons and many nephews in the 4th Virginia Regiment with him.

Capt. Morton was also Deputy Commissioner under Quarter Master General John Pierce of the Continental Army.

He was Sheriff of Prince Edward Co., VA, in 1779.

John Morton was listed on the rent role for 1779 in Prince Edward County.

Listed as head of household in 1782 in Prince Edward County with 10 whites & 1 slave.

Listed as head of household in 1785 census for Prince Edward County with 10 whites, 1 dwelling, & 9 other buildings.

The following 6700 acres of land were granted by Virginia for his Revolutionary War service:

On 2 Dec 1785, John Morton was granted 1000 acres of land in Fayette County, KY on the north fork of HolestonÕs Fork of Licking Creek.

On 23 May 1786, John Morton was granted 1000 acres of land in Fayette County, KY adjoining Adam Fishers survey of 500 acres near the south fork of Licking.

On 24 May 1786, John Morton was granted 1000 acres of land in Fayette County, KY adjoining his 1000 acres survey on the south west side of the south fork of Licking.

On 20 Aug 1786, John Morton was granted 700 acres of land in Fayette County, KY about twenty miles eastwardly from the Upper Blue Licks adjoining Josiah Radite, William Walker and Merry Walker.

On 19 Feb 1788, John Morton was granted 3000 acres of land in Fayette County, KY beginning on the south bank of the south fork of Licking adjoining Adam FisherÕs survey.

He was Commissioner of Revenue for Prince Edward County from 1786 until his death.

Will written 30 Aug 1796, proven 9 Dec 1796 in Prince Edward Co, VA. In it he mentions his wife, his deceased son CharlesÕ widow (now Mary Ann Hill) with children Nathaniel, John, William; his sons James, Hezekiah, Benjamin, Josiah, Richard, Obadiah; his daughters Mary, Nancy, Sally, Patty, Elizabeth. He had his Kentucky Claims sold to pay his debts. It is unknown why Nathaniel, Jacob, and John Archer were not mentioned.

From Barney ThompsonÕs on-line book, Chapter 3 [my comments are noted like this]

The Life of Captain John Morton

Carter Thompson's Bible record fixes John Morton's birth date as February 1, 1730; other sources put it in the year 1720. He was probably born before 1730, as he appears on the June 16, 1749 Amelia County tithables list in his future father-in-law's household. White males were not included on such lists unless they were twenty-one or older. [ThatÕs incorrect; they needed to be 16 or older.]

By virtue of his participation in the French and Indian and Revolutionary wars, John is referred to in many of Prince Edward County's records as Captain John Morton. The following abstract from Prince Edward County Deed Book 6, page 66, is John's application for lands promised by King George III to English veterans of the French and Indian War.

John Morton, gent, who was in the late war between Great Britain and France, a Lieutenant in the Company of Volunteers, by order from Governor Dinwiddie, joined Major Andrew Lewis' Detachment from the Virginia Regiment of Regulars, raised in the then Colony, now Commonwealth, came into Court and made oath that he was an inhabitant of Virginia, and that he served in the office aforesaid, and that this is the first time of his making claim to lands under the King of Great Britain's Proclamation of Oct. 1763, or obtaining a certificate therefor and that during his continuance in service, he was governed by articles of War which govern regular soldiers, and received pay as of lieutenant of regulars. Ordered, that the same be certified.

John Morton participated with other prominent Virginians in the lengthy process which eventually led them to seek independence from Great Britain. He was a member of the Committee for Public Safety in Prince Edward County, and was selected, along with William Bibb, Paschal Greenhill, and Peter Legrand, to represent the county at the First Virginia Convention. This body met in Williamsburg from August 1 to August 6, 1774. Among the seventy-nine delegates were many of Virginia's most ardent republicans, including Thomas Jefferson of Albemarle County. The delegates passed a number of resolutions which aggravated tension between the colonies and --PAGE 121 --

the mother country. In addition to forbidding the importation of British slaves or goods after November 1, 1774, and the exportation of goods to Great Britain after August 10, 1775, the delegates encouraged cooperation with the other colonies and began Virginia's transition to republican government. The call of the First Virginia Convention's delegates to meet with other colonists led directly to the first Continental Congress, which met later in 1774 at Philadelphia.

Many of Prince Edward County's Revolutionary War soldiers served in the Second Company of the 4th Virginia Regiment. John Morton was commissioned captain of the Second Company on February 19, 1776. The Second Company's early service is summarized in History of Prince Edward County, page 111.

Morton's company left Prince Edward Courthouse in March, 1776, for Suffolk. There and at Portsmouth it was engaged in skirmishes with Lord Dunmore's forces. After Dunmore left Virginia waters in September, 1776, the Fourth Virginia Regiment went by water to the head of the Elk (in Maryland) and thence marched through Philadelphia and Newark to New Brunswick, New Jersey, where it joined Washington's army after its retreat from Fort Washington. The regiment was in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown and was at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-8.

Captain John Morton received 6,700 acres of land from the Commonwealth of Virginia for his Revolutionary War service. All of the land was located in old Fayette County, Kentucky; most of it was probably sold by Abraham Venable, who served as John's power of attorney in Kentucky (Prince Edward County Order Book 7, page 285).

As a young man, John Morton was a significant figure in Prince Edward County's religious history. In the early part of the 1750s, most of the county's residents were members of the Anglican church. About this time the Presbytery of Hanover commissioned the Reverend Samuel Davies to gain Presbyterian converts in Prince Edward and other western Virginia counties. Missionaries enlisted local residents to help them navigate the frontier and find lodging, and to recommend meeting places for potential converts. Young John Morton performed these functions for Reverend Davies during his trips to Prince Edward County, according to the following passage written by Major James Morton, John's son, which appeared in Felixville: A Forgotten Village of Cumberland County, Virginia, and Other Sketches.

When Mr. Davies took long tours of preaching, which he usually did in the course of the year, he was commonly accompanied by a pious young man, not merely as a companion, but as a pioneer to ride on before, and find a place of lodging: for many people were unwilling to receive a "New-Light" preacher into their houses, in those days. In this service young John Morton was sometimes employed, for having been converted under Mr. Davies' ministry he was delighted to have the opportunity of enjoying his company and pious conversation. The writer has often heard old Mrs. Morton, of Little Roanoke Bridge, called the Mother of Israel, relate the circumstances of Mr. Davies' first visit to that place. Young John Morton, who was a relative, came, one day, to know whether Mr. Davies, the New-Light preacher, could be lodged there that night. Her husband, called by way of distinction, Little Joe Morton, not being at the house, she could not answer. But when he was sent for, from the field, and the question was proposed to him, after a few moments consideration he answered in the affirmative; and [John] Morton --PAGE 122 --

went back to the inn, and brought Mr. Davies to the house. And with him Christ and salvation came to that house. Both of the heads of the family, under the influence of the gospel, as heard from Mr. Davies, became truly and eminently pious. And their conversion was the foundation of the Briery Congregation, of which Little Joe Morton was the first elder. . . .(pages 107-08).

In 1755, according to a plaque in Morton Hall, Hampden-Sydney College, John Morton founded the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Initially located in Prince Edward County, the church today stands in neighboring Cumberland County. The church's earliest existing membership list, dated October 9, 1787, can be found in the Cumberland Congregation Book, 1787-1824. It includes the names of John and Mary Morton and their children James, Mary, Hezekiah, Josiah, Jacob, Nancy, and Sally.

John Morton was a charter trustee of Hampden-Sydney College, which is located in the town of Hampden-Sydney, Prince Edward County. The charter trustees of the college included James Madison and Patrick Henry. Originally chartered in 1775 as Prince Edward Academy, Hampden- Sydney College was sponsored by the Hanover Presbytery and to this day maintains its affiliation with the Presbyterian Church.

The survival of the college in its early years was made problematic by the hardships which accompanied the Revolutionary war. According to George Craghead, an early student at Hampden-Sydney, John Morton was one of three men who helped sustain the school during this period.

The Academy was likely to have been discontinued [in 1777], but Mr. Nathaniel Venable, Mr. James Allen, Sr., and I believe Captain John Morton united and agreed to furnish provisions for twelve months, and employed a Mr. Young with his family, to attend to the cooking, etc. for the sum of 20 pounds only per student: they lost very considerably on account of the depreciation of paper money (quoted in William Henry Foote, Sketches of Virginia, p. 401).

In 1935 Samuel Packwood Morton, Jr. donated $80,000 for a building to be constructed at Hampden-Sydney in honor of John Morton, who was his great-great-grandfather. Morton Hall, one of the largest buildings on the campus, houses Hampden-Sydney's history, government, and political science departments. The lobby in the east entrance of Morton Hall contains a photograph of a painting of John Morton and a large plaque which lists many of his achievements.

In addition to his military, religious, and educational contributions, John Morton played a large role in the political life of Prince Edward County. He first served as a county court justice in 1758, and filled this position at various times up to 1785. In February, 1776, he resigned as county sheriff to accept his commission in the 4th Virginia Regiment. In 1777 he represented the county in the Virginia House of Delegates, resigning a year later to again assume the office of sheriff. He was commissioner of revenue from 1786 until his death on December 1, 1796.

John Morton and Elizabeth Anderson lived at Morton Hall, which was located on "the back road" from Farmville to Hampden-Sidney. There they raised fifteen children, many of whom were prominent in their respective communities. Nathaniel Morton, the great-grandfather of Samuel Packwood Morton, Jr., moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he was a member of the --PAGE 123 Ð

shipping and coffee-importing firm of Bedford and Morton. Nathaniel and his descendants were active in this trade for nearly a century, during which time fast-sailing clipper ships brought their cargoes from Rio de Janeiro. Major James Morton, whose home "Willington" was the site of many social gatherings in Prince Edward County, served with distinction in the revolution. George Washington dubbed James "Old Solid Column," because his troops could always be counted on to hold their positions in battle. Captain Hezekiah Morton, the surety for Carter Thompson and Nancy Morton's marriage, was another of John Morton's six sons who served in the Revolutionary War. John Archer Morton, born November 18, 1772, was too young to take part in the war; in later life, however, he served his country as United States minister to Bordeaux, France. Called "French John" by his relatives at home, John Archer Morton is said to have married Cora Henri, a daughter of the governor of Haiti. French John's son W. J. Morton, of Bordeaux, France, was a student at the preparatory school at Hampden Sidney College in 1824. Alfred Morton, of the great wine firm of Bordeaux, was a descendant of John Archer Morton. . .

view all

Capt. John Morton, Jr.'s Timeline

1730
February 9, 1730
Henrico Co VA
1750
September 15, 1750
Age 20
Farmville, Prince Edward Co., VA
1754
November 28, 1754
Age 24
Prince Edward, VA, USA
1756
September 8, 1756
Age 26
1757
November 28, 1757
Age 27
1760
February 24, 1760
Age 30
1763
April 26, 1763
Age 33
Prince Edward Co., VA
1768
May 16, 1768
Age 38
1778
December 22, 1778
Age 48
1796
December 1, 1796
Age 66
Clinch Mountain, VA