William Hooper, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

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William Hooper

Birthplace: Marblehead, Suffolk, Massachusetts
Death: Died in Old Tryon, North Carolina, United States
Place of Burial: Greensboro, North Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. William Hooper and Mary Dennie Hooper
Husband of Ann Hooper (Clark)
Father of William Hooper; Elizabeth Watters and Thomas Hooper
Brother of Mary Hooper; John Hooper; George Hooper; Mary Spence and Thomas Hooper

Occupation: Statesman
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About William Hooper, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

Representing North Carolina at the Continental Congress

Born: June 28, 1742 in Boston, Massachusetts

Education: Harvard College (Lawyer.)

Work: Elected to General Assembly of North Carolina, 1773; Member of Continental Congress, 1774-1776; Judge of the Federal Court; 1786.

Died: October 14, 1790

William Hooper was born in Boston Massachusetts in 1742. He graduated from Harvard College in 1760, continued his studies in the law, and settled in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1767. In 1773 he represented Wilmington in the General Assembly of North Carolina. He attended the Continental Congress in 1774. He resigned from the Congress in 1776 and returned home. In 1789 he was appointed to the Federal Bench, but a year later he retired due to failing health. He died in October of 1790.


William Hooper was the eldest of five children. At an early age he exhibited indications of considerable talent. Until he was seven years old, he was instructed by his father; but at length, became a member of a free grammar school, in Boston, which at that time was under the care of Mr. John Lovell a teacher of distinguished eminence. At the age of fifteen, he entered Harvard University, where he acquired the reputation of a good classical scholar; and, at length, in 1760, commenced bachelor of arts, with distinguished honor.

  Mr. Hooper had destined his son for the ministerial office. But his inclination turning towards the law, he obtained his father's consent to pursue the studies of that profession, in the office of the celebrated James Otis. On being qualified for the bar, he left the province of Massachusetts, with the design of pursuing the practice of his profession in North Carolina. After spending a year or two in that province, his father became exceedingly desirous that he should return home. The health of his son had greatly suffered, in consequence of an excessive application to the duties of his profession. In addition to this, the free manner of living, generally adopted by the wealthier inhabitants of the south, and in which he had probably participated, had not a little contributed to the injury of his health.
  Notwithstanding the wishes of his father, in regard to his favorite son, the latter, at length, in tile fall of 1767, fixed his residence permanently in North Carolina, and became connected by marriage with Miss Ann Clark, of Wilmington, in that province.
  Mr. Hooper now devoted himself with great zeal to his professional duties. He early enjoyed the confidence of his fellow citizens, and was highly respected by his brethren at the bar, among whom he occupied an enviable rank.
  In the year 1773, he was appointed to represent the town of Wilmington, in which he resided, in the general assembly. In the following year he was elected to a seat in the same body, soon after taking which, he was called upon to assist in opposing a most tyrannical act of the British government, in respect to the laws regulating the courts of justice in the province.
  The former laws in relation to these courts being about to expire, others became necessary. Accordingly, a bill was brought forward, the provisions of which were designed to regulate the courts as formerly. But the advocates of the British government took occasion to introduce a clause into the bill, which was intended to exempt from attachment all species of property in North Carolina, which belonged to non-residents. This bill having passed the senate, and been approved of by the governor, was sent to the house of representatives, where it met with a most spirited opposition. In this opposition Mr. Hooper tools the lead. In strong and animated language, he set forth the injustice of this part of the bill, and remonstrated against its passage by the house. In consequence of the measures which were pursued by the respective houses composing the general assembly, the province was left for more than a year without a single court of law. Personally to Mr. Hooper, the issue of this business was highly injurious, since he was thus deprived of the practice of his profession, upon which he depended for his support. Conscious, however, of having discharged his duty, he bowed in submission to the pecuniary sacrifices to which he was thus called, preferring honorable poverty to the greatest pecuniary acquisitions, if the latter must he made at the expense of principle.
  On the twenty-fifth of August, 1774, Mr. Hooper was elected a delegate to the general congress, to be held at Philadelphia. Soon after taking his seat in this body, he was placed upon several important committees, and when occasion required, took a share in the animated discussions, which were had on the various important subjects which came before them. On one occasion, and the first on which he addressed the house, it is said, that he so entirely riveted the attention of the members by his bold and animated language, that many expressed their wonder that such eloquence should flow forth from a member from North Carolina.
  In the following year, Mr. Hooper was again appointed a delegate to serve in the second general congress, during whose session he was selected as the chairman of a committee appointed to report an address to the inhabitants of Jamaica. The draught was the production of his pen. It was characterized for great boldness, and was eminently adapted to produce a strong impression upon the people for whom it was designed. In conclusion of the address, Mr. Hooper used the following bold and animated language:
  "That our petitions have been treated with disdain, is now become the smallest part of our complaint: ministerial insolence is lost in ministerial barbarity. It has, by an exertion peculiarly ingenious, procured those very measures, which it laid us under the hard necessity of pursuing, to be stigmatized in parliament as rebellious: it has employed additional fleets and armies for the infamous purpose of compelling us to abandon them: it has plunged us in all the horrors and calamities of a civil war: it has caused the treasure and blood of Britons (formerly shed and expended for far other ends) to be spilt and wasted in the execrable design of spreading slavery over British America: it will not, however, accomplish its aim; in the worst of contingencies, a choice will still be left, which it never can prevent us from making."
  In January, 1776, Mr. Hooper was appointed, with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Livingston, a committee to report to congress a proper method of honoring the memory of General Montgomery, who had then recently fallen beneath the walls of Quebec. This committee, in their report, recommended the erection of a monument, which, while it expressed the respect and affection of the colonies, might record, for the benefit of future ages, the patriotic zeal and fidelity, enterprise and perseverance of the hero, whose memory the monument was designed to celebrate. In compliance with the recommendation of this committee, a monument was afterwards erected by congress in the city of New York.
  In the spring, 1776, the private business of Mr. Hooper so greatly required his attention in North Carolina, that he did not attend upon the sitting of congress. He returned, however, in season to share in the honor of passing and publishing to the world the immortal Declaration Of Independence.
  On the twentieth of December, 1776, he was elected a delegate to congress for the third time. The embarrassed situation of his private affairs, however, rendered his longer absence from Carolina inconsistent with his interests. Accordingly, in February, 1777, he relinquished, his seat in congress, and not long after tendered to the general assembly his resignation of the important trust.
  But, although he found it necessary to retire from this particular sphere of action, he was nevertheless usefully employed in Carolina. He was an ardent friend to his country, zealously attached to her rights, and ready to make every required personal sacrifice for her good. Nor like many other patriots of the day, did he allow himself to indulge in despondency. While to others the prospect appeared dubious, he would always point to some brighter spots on the canvass, and upon these he delighted to dwell.
  In 1786, Mr. Hooper was appointed by congress one of the judges of a federal court, which was formed for the purpose of settling a controversy which existed between the states of New York and Massachusetts, in regard to certain lands, the jurisdiction of which each pretended to claim. The point at issue was of great importance, not only as it related to a considerable extent of territory, but in respect of the people of these two states, among whom great excitement prevailed on the subject. Fortunately, the respective parties themselves appointed commissioners to settle the dispute, which was, at length, amicably done, and the above federal court were saved a most difficult and delicate duty.
  In the following year, the constitutional infirmities of Mr. Hooper increasing, his health became considerably impaired. He now gradually relaxed from public and professional exertions, and in a short time sought repose in retirement, which he greatly coveted. In the month of October, 1790, at the early age of forty-eight years, he was called to exchange worlds. He left a widow, two sons, and a daughter, the last of whom only, it is believed, still lives.
  In his person, Mr. Hooper was of middle stature, well formed, but of delicate and slender appearance. He carried a pleasing and intelligent countenance. In his manners he was polite and engaging, although towards those with whom he was not particularly acquainted, he was somewhat reserved. He was distinguished for his powers of conversation; in point of literary merit he had but few rivals in the neighborhood in which he dwelt.
  As a lawyer, he was distinguished for his professional knowledge, and indefatigable zeal in respect to business with which he was entrusted. Towards his brethren he ever maintained a high and honorable course of conduct and particularly towards the younger members of the bar. As a politician, he was characterized for judgment, ardor, and constancy. In times of the greatest political difficulty and danger, he was calm, but resolute. He never desponded; but trusting to the justice of his country's cause, he had an unshaken confidence that heaven would protect and deliver her.

Source: Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 422-427.


Honorable William Hooper, son of Rev. William Hooper, was born in Boston, Mass., baptized by his father at the West Congregational Church, Boston, of which the father was then Pastor, June 21, 1741; married in Boston at King's Chapel, Aug. 16, 1767, Ann Clark. He was graduated at Harvard College in 1760; Studied Law with James Otis, Esquire; removed to North Caroline, where he practised law; was elected to the Assembly in 1773, having become favorably known by the assistance he rendered to the Provincial government in 1770 in the suppression of an insurrection. He became a man of prominence in the legislative body and was chosen as one of the delegates to the Continental Congress. He was a member of that body when the Declaration of Independence was passed and his name is on the famous document as one of those intrepid and far-sighted signers.

In 1777 he resigned. Was afterward appointed a Federal judge and one of the arbiters in a question of boundary between Massachusetts and New York.

From: Hooper Geneology, compiled by Charles Henry Pope and Thomas Hooper, pub 1908 in Boston by C.H. Pope. New York Public Library - Americana section.

Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Birth: Jun. 28, 1742 Death: Oct. 14, 1790

Signer of the Declaration of Independence from North Carolina. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of a minister. His father wanted him to become a minister like himself, but young William wanted to study law. He graduated from Harvard University at age 18, then studied law under the tutelage of James Otis, a strongly patriotic lawyer, who probably influenced his political opinions. After completing his law studies, in 1764, William moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, where he set up a legal practice, as Boston had too many lawyers. He quickly became one of North Carolina's leading attorneys. When he was 25, he married Anne Clark of Wilmington, and they would have a daughter and two sons. In 1773, he was elected to the North Carolina colonial legislature, and quickly became noted as a spokesman for American rights. In 1774, he was elected to the First Continental Congress, and remained in Congress in Philadelphia until 1777, when he returned to North Carolina. His patriotism earned him much trouble, for many North Carolinians were loyal to Britain. When the British Army invaded North Carolina, his home was burned to the ground, and he had to flee into the back country to avoid capture, where he caught malaria, from which he would suffer the rest of his life. Although his home was burned down, he favored lenient treatment for loyalists during and after the war, which caused many patriots to believe he was a Loyalist himself. Hooper continued to serve in the North Carolina legislature during and after the war, but his political views of mild treatment for Loyalists caused him to be disliked. He suffered long from his malaria, which was made much worse by heavy drinking. He died in Wilmington in 1790, at the age of 48. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)

Burial: Hillsborough Old Town Cemetery * Hillsborough Orange County North Carolina, USA Plot: Left rear corner of graveyard. Removed from here in 1894, many historians believe that much of his remains are still in his original grave

  • Former burial location

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Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Jun 22, 2000 Find A Grave Memorial# 10100 http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=10100



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William Hooper, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence"'s Timeline

June 17, 1742
Marblehead, Suffolk, Massachusetts
June 21, 1742
August 16, 1767
Age 25
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Age 25
Age 30
July 4, 1776
- 1776
Age 34
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States

Descent Only 15 of the 56 signers have male descendants today. These Signers have no descendants: William Whipple, John Hancock, Samuel Huntington, James Smith, James Wilson, Caesar Rodney, George Wythe, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Lynch, Jr. Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton. These Signers have no same surname (male) descendants: Josiah Bartlett, Matthew Thornton, Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, William Williams, William Floyd, Francis Lewis, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, George Clymer, George Taylor, George Ross, Thomas McKean, Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone, Thomas Jefferson, William Hooper and John Penn. These Signers have very doubtful same surname (male) descendants: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Oliver Wolcott, John Witherspoon, Abraham Clark, John Morton, Carter Braxton, Edward Rutledge. The remainder of the Signers is known to have same surname (male) descendants. (Talk about being blown away when you find out almost all of the signers are part of your family's history. You sit back shake your head and wonder am I dreaming. Then you double check in disbelief wondering how that could be. What does that mean for you and your.) =================================================================== Did Your Ancestor Sign the Declaration of Independence? By James Pylant And can you prove it? Kathy M. Cornwell's "Disspelling a Myth and Finding An Ancestor," in Seventeen Seventy-Six, Vol. 2, No. 2 (pp. 69-73), tells of a family tradition that her husband's ancestor, Jane Wilson Cornwell, was the daughter of James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. "Admittedly, there was plausibility for the claim, for descendants of all of Jane's children whom we could locate had heard the story, and firmly believed it. One relative knew it was true because his grandmother told him, and she was Jane's daughter." Her research did reveal her husband's ancestor was the daughter of James Wilson — only that he and the signer were not one and the same. Signer James Wilson, according to one source Cornwell found, had no living descendants. "Our search to prove or disprove it spanned several years," wrote Cornwell, "but at the end of the genealogical journey we found the real ancestor, another James Wilson, who turned out to be just as colorful and fascinating as the celebrated Wilson." Yet, some legends prove to be true. “I too had a family story that the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon was an ancestor," says librarian Beatrice M. Beck. "It took three years to document this story. But it was one hundred percent correct.”* The Rev. Frederick W. Pyne’s Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, a nine-volume series, was published by Picton Press. The author’s work incorporates data from the application files of the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, the Frank W. Leach manuscript, and many other published references. In 1987, the LDS Reference Unit at the Family History Library, in Salt Lake City, compiled the "Founding Fathers Project." The project encompasses genealogical data on signers of the Declaration of Independence, signers of the Articles of Confederation (1778), and members of the American Constitutional Convention (1787). The Reference Unit's objective was to identify names of wives, children, and parents. This reference is available on microfilm loan at the various Family History Centers. The film number is 1592751, item 3. However, for more complete data on descendants (up to 1900 in some cases), refer to the following microfilms: 001751: John Adams, Samuel Adams, Josiah Bartlett, William Ellery, Elbridge Gerry,John Hancock, Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Huntington, Robert Treat Paine, Roger Sherman, Matthew Thornton, William Whipple, William Williams, and Oliver Wolcott. 001752: Abraham Clark, William Floyd, John Hart, Francis Lewis, Phillip Livingston, and Lewis Morris. 001753: George Clymer, Benjamin Francis Hopkinson, Robert Morris, John Morton, and John Witherspoon. 001754: Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase, Thomas McKean, William Paca, George Read, Caesar Rodney, George Ross, Benjamin Rush, Thomas Stone, George Taylor, and James Wilson. 001755: Carter Braxton, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Nelson Jr., and George Wythe. 001756: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Heyward Jr., William Hooper, Thomas Lynch Jr., Arthur Middleton, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, and George Walton * Beatrice M. Beck to James Pylant, 4 June 2001. http://www.genealogymagazine.com/didyouransig.html





William Woodruff's Facsimile

An upsurge in public interest in the Declaration of Independence occurred in the early nineteenth century. Among the various editions printed was one by Philadelphian William Woodruff, a journeyman engraver. Allegorical symbols of the new nation surround the text and signatures. The cursive signatures on the printing at the right indicate that it was one produced after Woodruff's initial 1819 printing.


July 4th, 2012 at the National Archives: Dramatic Reading of the Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

John and Abigail (Adams)

Correspondence between John and Abigail Adams

Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 31 March - 5 April 1776


October 14, 1790
Age 48
Old Tryon, North Carolina, United States
Age 47
Greensboro, North Carolina, United States