John Morris, Loyalist to the Crown

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John Morris, Loyalist to the Crown

Birthplace: Unknown; settled in 1760s in (Old) Tryon County, North Carolina (later Rutherford and then Polk)
Death: October 07, 1780
Battle of King's Mountain (fighting as Tory) (died fighting as a Loyalist (Tory) with Gen Ferguson at the Battle of Kings Mountain; posthumously accused of treason against the State of North Carolina)
Immediate Family:

Son of John Morris
Husband of Sarah Morris
Father of Susannah Grant; John Morris, Jr.; Thomas Morris; Elizabeth Powell Dalton; Jean Morris and 4 others
Brother of NN Dalton; Thomas Morris; Micajah Morris and Mary Dorrington

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Morris, Loyalist to the Crown


notes from Pam Wilson, 5th great granddaughter

parents and birthplace unknown; settled in Tryon County, North Carolina in the mid-1760s. Died fighting as a Loyalist at the Battle of Kings Mountain.

had two wives:

  1. Sara Ward, mother of John (Jr), Susannah (marr. Alexander Grant), Thomas, Elizabeth (marr. Thomas Dalton), and Jean/Jess Morris.
  2. Martha "Patsy" Powell, married Spring of 1773, mother of children William, Frances (m. William Martin), James and George Morris

John Morris was believed by family and local tradition to be the brother of Robert Morris of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, signer of Declaration of Independence, who owned a great deal of land in western North Carolina and whose will was registered in McDowell County, NC. However, this is not substantiated and was perhaps wishful thinking.

John Morris may have lived in McDowell Co, NC, for a time before settling in the mid-1760s in Old Tryon County, what is now Polk County, NC. According to tradition, he and his wife Sara Ward first settled near Saluda.

Land grant from William Tryon issued 16 Dec 1769 to John Morris in Tryon County, 200 acres on a branch of the 2nd Broad River, including his improvement. Beginning at John Walker's corner...bordering Craig's line.

Land grant from Jo. Martin issued 21 July 1774 to John Morras 200 acres in Tryon County on both sides of the North Fork of Mountain Creek of the Broad River including John Edgar's entry

Another land grant issues 21 Jul 1774 from Jo. Martin to John Morris 200 acres on both sides of Turkey Otter of Cove Creek of Broad River.

Sadie Patton's "Sketches of Polk County History" (1950): "A few years after the Battle of Round Mountain, John Morris, said to have been a brother of Robert Morris, the patriot, brought his wife and came across the crest of the Blue Ridge by way of the trail used by Captain Howard and his rangers. Morris' home, near the Howard's Gap, was a few miles below the present Saluda, on lands which were reputed to have belonged to Robert Morris. It is said that prior to that time, John Morris had been living in that part of Rutherford County which later became McDowell."

    "John Morris and his wife built their first home about a mile from where their great-great grandson William later lived (see local lore about the Billy Morris stories) and when it was completed, a fire was laid on its hearth and lighted from a spark made with flint and steel."

John Morris was a signer of the Tryon County Resolves in 1775.

Received land grant on Broad River on August 17, 1768 in Old Tryon County, NC.

NC Land Grants:

  • John Morris Tryon entered ?? issued 1769 200a On a branch of 2nd Broad River File #217 Issued:

16 Dec 1769 Book: 20 pg: 537 Grant no.: 312 Entered: (no date) Other Identifiers: File no.: 217 MARS: "John Morris. 200 acres Tryon on a branch of 2nd Broad River including his improvement. Beginning at John Walkers Corner Red Oak thence W 160 poles to a White Oak in Craigs Line thence with Craigs line South 200 poles to a red oak thence east a 160 poles to a stake and thence to the Beginning. Dated 16 December 1769. Wm Tryon"

  • John Morris Tryon entered 1772 issued 1774 20a0 Both sides of Turkey Otter [Creek] of Cane Creek of Broad River. File #748 County: Tryon

Issued: 21 Jul 1774 Book: 22 pg: 323 Grant no.: 16 Entered: 19 May 1772 Entry no.: 712 Other Identifiers: File no.: 748 MARS: "John Morris. 200 acres Tryon. On both sides of Turkey Otter of Cove Creek of Broad River beginning at a red oak on the side of a hill near a branch running thence No. 68 E 180 poles crossing Turkey Otter to a red oak thence N 22 W 180 poles to a hickory then S 68 W 100 to a white oak thence S22 E 180 poles to the beginning. Dated 21st July 1774. To. Martin"

  • John Morras [Morris] Tryon entered 1772 issued 1774 200a Both sides of N. fork of Mountain Creek, of Broad River File #781 County: Tryon

Issued: 21 Jul 1774 Book: 22 pg: 351 Grant no.: 155 Entered: 19 May 1772 Entry no.: 713 Other Identifiers: File no.: 781 MARS: "John Morras. 200 acres Tryon on both sides of the No Fork f Mountain Creek of Broad River including John Eagars entry. Beginning at a white oak saplin running thence N 33 W 180 poles to a red oak thence S 57 W 180 poles crossing said fork to a Hickory thence So 33 East 180 to a red oak thence N 57 E 180 poles crossing said fork to the beginning. dated 21 July 1774. Jo. Martin"

Listed among the 58 residents of Old Tryon County (which existed from 1768-1779) in 1770:

  • MORRIS James 1770 TRYON Co. NC
  • MORRIS John 1770 TRYON Co. NC
  • MORRIS Thomas 1770 TRYON Co. NC
  • GRANT William 1770 Tryon Co. NC

JOHN MORRIS listed as Tryon Co, NC taxpayer in 1776, along with JAMES MORRIS, THOMAS MORRIS, WILLIAM MORRIS.

Mary Ann Galyon, a Morris researcher from Brevard, North Carolina, says it is possible that these men were all brothers, and that there is little doubt that John Morris was the brother of Thomas Morris and also had a sister Mary Morris married to William Grant (also listed on the 1776 Tryon Co tax list), since Grant eventually became guardian of John's children.

Were there two John Morrises who were contemporaries? Evidence suggests that one John Morris (d. 1810) was a brother to Eleanor Morris, and was married to Joana Drake. This seems to be a different John Morris from this one.

In the Spring of 1773 he married Martha "Patsy" Powell, as attested in an affidavit by Thomas Morris long (14 years) after his death, which stipulated that his son James (born from their union in June 1775) was his first legitimate son and heir: Oct 1794 Rutherford Co, NC Wills & Misc A-35 Be it remembered that James MORRIS, eldest legitimate son and heir of John MORRIS, decd, being desirous to establish his legitimacy and also his being the heir of said John decd. Called on Timothy RIGGS, Esq, one of the Justices of said county who voluntarily came into court and being solemnly sworn in due solemn form of law deposeth that he celebrated thr rites of marriage between John MORRIS and Marth POWEL in the Spring of the year 1773 and joined them together as man and wife in due form of law. S: R. LEWIS, CC. S: Timo RIGGS, JP. Be it further remembered that Thomas MORRIS being of age came voluntarily into court at the request of the above James MORRIS and being duly sown saith that he knew the said James was the first child born in wedlock of John, decd. That James was born about the latter end of June 1775 and that he hath known James from his childhood till this time and knowing that he is now in Court hath made this requisition is the same first legitimate son and heir of John MORRIS, decd. S: R.D. LEWIS, C.C. S: Thomas MORRIS.

This raises many questions--are we speaking of yet another John Morris than the one who had an earlier family with Sara Ward, or is the emphasis on legitimacy in this court document distinguishing between his older children born with Ward from his younger, "legitimate" children born with Patsy Powell? (These documents were created after he died fighting as a Loyalist and was posthumously named as a traitor to the state.) The main rationale for considering the children by both Ward and Powell to be children of the same John Morris is that the minor children are named (together) in a statement granting guardianship of them to William Grant in July 1782: "Jul 1782 Rutherford Co, NC Or'd that William GRANT do take unto his possession Thomas MORRIS, Jean MORRIS, William MORRIS, James MORRIS, Francis MORRIS, George MORRIS, and Elizabeth MORRIS, infants, children of John MORRIS, decd until the come of proper age to choose guardians"

John became a member of the Committee of Safety for Tryon County on 26 July 1775, signing the oath 24 Oct 1775 (see NC Colonial Records). Mary Ann Galyon notes that the signatures do not seem to be the same man: "Did someone sign for him? Or did he have a change of heart?" [Or were these two separate men?] At any rate, she continues, he enlisted twice in the Revolutionary War, once for 71 days in Capt. Porter's Company (with William Grant and his son Alexander) and again for 2 1/2 years in the 2nd NC Regiment. He apparently did not serve the second term, since the record was marked only "sick". He petitioned for and received L3 for "his waggon's service" from William Gilbert, commisary at Capt. James McFaddin's fort for the period 15 May 1776-1 Aug 1778.

"It appears that he was either conscripted in the Loyalist Army during Ferguson's Raid into Tryon County or went willingly. He died as a Tory in the battle of King's Mountain in Oct 1780. "

According to Mary Ann Galyon, in July 1781 Thomas Morris was given letters of administration for John's estate with security in the amount of 15,000 pounds.

In July 1782 an order was issued for his appearance to face the charge of treason against the state: [Rutherford County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Jan. 1782: . John Morris posthumously summoned to answer charge of treason against the state--it is the opinion of the court that he is guilty of the charge.[see full statement below]

Since he was not able to appear, the Court declared him guilty and all of his property was confiscated. Galyon comments, "Probably because Thomas was slow to deliver the property (was he trying to protect it for the children?), the Court replaced Thomas with William Grant. Grant was also named guardian of the children which suggests that Grant's wife was probably also a Morris." This also means that John Morris' wife was no longer living at this time.

Rutherford County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, July 1782: "Ordered that William Grant do take into his possession Thomas Morris, ___ [Jean or Jess] Morris, [William], James Morris, Francis Morris, George Morris and Elizabeth Morris, infants, children of John Morris, dec'd, until they come of age to choose a guardian." {Names in brackets from Galyon's account}

Apparently John (Jr.) and Susannah were over 14 years old. In July 1782, they requested William Grant as their guardian. the following day, the other children were given to him by the Court.

20 Mar 1783, Andrew Hampton of Rutherford Co, to William Grant...on 7 Jan 1783 at Court of P & QS for Rutherford Co, by a writ of Fiere facias against John Morris, Planter, late of Rutherford Co...350 a on N side Main Broad River, grant to John Baner 17 Apr 1765...Andrew Hampton (seal), Wit: none. Galyon comments: "Was he trying to keep this land for himself or for John's children?"

  • **

Mary Ann Galyon writes (Personal Correspondence with Pam Wilson, 1997), "John was a farmer but an active trader, having many land transactions. He was in Tryon County by 17 Aug 1768 when his 200 acre grant on Second Broad River was surveyed. On 3 June 1769 he bought 185 acres of land from Richard Ward which he sold in October of that year."

From "Deed Abstracts of Tryon, Lincoln and Rutherford Counties, NC, 1769-1786" by Brent Holcomb (Southern Historical Press, 1977):

3 June 1769, Richard Ward to John on S fork of Camp Creek adj Clatons land, 185 a...Richard Ward (seal) Wit: Wm Wray, John Johnston, Wm Craig. Rec. Jan. term 1770.

14 Oct 1769, John Morris of Tryon Co to William adjoining Cleaton, granted 26 Sept 1766, to Richard Ward, conveyed to sd. Morris 3 June 1769. John Morris (seal) Wit: John Walker, Philip Price, Thomas Simmonds. Rec. Jan term 1770.

9 Sept 1771, James Endsley of Rowan Co, NC to John Morris of Tryon on N side Mountain Creek, adj Andrew Hamptons lower tract...250 a...James Endsley (seal) Wit Andrew Hampton, John Endsley, John Bleckley. Rec. Oct. term 1771

26 July 1774 John McLean of Tryon Co to John Morris of on Mountain Creek, 200 a below Andrew Hamptons. John McLeain (seal), Jenny McLeain (seal), wit: James Miller. Rec. July term 1774.

19 Aug 1777, John Morris of Tryon Co to John Potts of same...2oo a on both sides Cove Creek of Broad River including his own improvements, granted to sd Morris 2 Mar 1775...John Morris (seal) Wit: D. Dickey, James Miller (?). Rec. Oct term 1777

3 June 1778, John McLean of Tryon Co to John Morriss of same...350 a on S side of Main Broad River...John McLean (seal) Wit: David Lewis, John Russell, David Miller. Rec. July term 1778.

Rutherford Co Deeds: 26 July 1779, John Morris and John McLean to John Lewis for 500L and a negro boy...3 tracts, 550a on branches of Mountain Creek...John McLean (seal) (John Moris (x)(seal), Wit: Jonathan Hampton, Thos Rowland.

Rutherford Co, NC Deeds, p. 183: 22 Oct 1779. John Morris and wife Martha to David Lewis, each of Rutherford County...30 a, part of a tract now in possession of John Lewis on Mountain Creek.... John Morris (seal), Wit: none

  • ********

Another Morris home, "Fox Haven Plantation," was built around 1823 by his grandson John Morris. Near Polk/Rutherford border (called Gray's Chapel area), built a large brick Federal Period home now registered in the Natl Registry of Historic Places (1972) (coming from Columbus, turn left on gravel road at county line; house in on right). The house in in Rutherford County. The exterior walls are solid brick, 18 incles thick, and the interior partitions are 12 inches thick. There is a Morris family cemetary near the home. It was purchased in 1949 by Benjamin Sumner, who restored it to its original condition.


Source: MORGAN DISTRICT NC SUPERIOR COURT OF LAW & EQUITY; Misc. Records, Book III..transcription of court proceedings against suspected Tories.

"State of North Carolina, Rutherford County. At a County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions began and held for said county on the Second Monday of July in the year of our Lord one thousand Seven Hundred and Eight two, before the Worshipfull William Gilbert, James Whitrow & Jonathon Hampton and Other Justices asigned & Duly Commd. With full Power and Authority and Jurisdiction to hold the Said Court and to hear try and determine all petit larcency assault batteries trespasses breaches of the peace and Other Misdeamnors of What Kind So ever of an inferior nature AND also duly Authorised and Impowered by an Act of Assembly in such case made & provided to hear try adjudge & Determine all Cases of Confisfcated Property in the County aforesaid. The Jurors for the State on their Oath present & say that

William Mills, William Going, Arthur Taylor, Moses Whitly, Freeman Jones, Thomas Townsend, Phelemon Hankins, Joseph McDaniel, Jeremiah McDaniel, John Hendrix, James Kelly, James Lemar, William Adams Sen., Williams Adams Jr., James Upton, Benjamin Adams, Benjamin Adams Junr., John Morgan, Moses Wright, William Henson Jur., Giles Williams, Essex Capshaw, John McDaniel, Joseph Clark, John Thomason, John Owins, Thomas Gorge, William Thompson, Jeremiah Webb, John Walburt, Isaih Blackwell, William Webb, John Webb, Thomas Camp, Micajah Proctor, John Camp, James Camp, John Camp Jur., David Morgan, William Nettle Jr, Alexanter Colter, Joseph Moore, William Morgan, Thoms Goodbread, John King, Elias Morgan Senr., James Cook Senr., John Goodbread, George Revis, William Duning, Phillip Goodbread Jur, Frederick Jones, Isham Revis, John Davice, Neel Wilye, Ambros Mills, George Davice, George Davice Jur., Gideon Rucker, Stephen Walburt, James Chitwood, Joseph Chitwood, Richard Chitwood, William Battle, James Capshaw, John Richardson, Stephen Langford, Joseph Lawrence, Joseph Underwood, Stephen Shelton, Andrew Poor, John Hutson, John Morris, William Hall, Shadrack Nettle, Tho. Whitesides, Elias Brock, Mark Powell, William Henry, Bama King, Giles Reynolds, Samuel Moore, Daniel Singleton, Jonas Bedford, Samuel Thompson, William Green, Isaac Cooper, Abel Langham, Benjamin Biggerstaff, Joseph Baily, Mupphord Wilson, Caleb Taylor, Peter Dills, George Cox Jur., Edward Francis, Shadrach Avery, Arthur Owensby, George Cox, John Jones, Samuel Hendrix, John & Joel Cox, David George, John Felts, Jesse Nettle, William Henson Sen., Brock Davice, James Patterson, William Shaphard, Benjamin Moore, William Capshaw, Robert Tayor of Whiteoak

all late of the County of Rutherford Planters, not reguarding the Duty of their Allegance to the said State & her laws of fearing the pains and penelties therein Contained on the first day of October in the year of Our Lord One thousand Seven Hundred & Eighty with force & Arms in the County aforesaid Wickedly & treacherously entending and Designing as for as in them lay to Overturn the present free Government of this State & reduce the inhabitants thereof Under the Power of the Army of Great Britain then & now at Open War with this State and the United States of America did then & there with force and Arms feloniously & treacherously Knowingly & Willfully did aid & assist the said King by Joining his Army Commanded by Major Ferguson and by bearing Arms in the Service of the said King Against the Good Government Peace and Dignity of this State, and the Jurors aforesaid on their Oath aforesaid do further Present & say that by their felony and treason by them respective in Manner & form aforesaid Committed have Severally forfeited their Goods & Chattles lands & tenements to the State according to a form of An Act of Assembly in Such Case made & provided A True Bill- William Porter foreman"

A true Copy of the inquisition found by the Grand Jury - certified by me

Felix Walker CC

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John Morris, Loyalist to the Crown's Timeline

Unknown; settled in 1760s in (Old) Tryon County, North Carolina (later Rutherford and then Polk)
Candler, Buncombe County, North Carolina, United States
May 12, 1769
Tryon (later Rutherford) Co, NC
September 16, 1770
Rutherford County, North Carolina, United States
June 25, 1775
Tryon (later Rutherford) Co, NC
Tryon (later Rutherford) Co, NC
Tryon County, North Carolina, United States
October 7, 1780
Age 36
Battle of King's Mountain (fighting as Tory)