Capt. Francis Bradley, Murdered 1780, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina by Tory Combs & Ridge


Depositions from the Estate File of William Ridge


Captain Francis Bradley, a member of the Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Militia (Patriot) and Sheriff of the same county, was killed in 1780 in Mecklenburg County by Tories (1).

"A noted character of the Revolutionary days was Capt. Francis Bradley, a true patriot, who took an active part in the skirmish of McIntyre's Branch and was murdered November 14, 1780, by  a small band of Tories.  Physically he was said to be the strongest man in the county." (1)

General Joseph Graham related the story of Francis Bradley's death at the hands of four Tories named Griffin, Ridge, John McCombs, and Robert McCombs (2):

"When the British were on their retreat from Charlotte, near Old Nation Ford, four of [Colonel Samuel] Bryan's men agreed to desert and go home by travelling in the night and lying in the thickets during the day; their names were John McCombs, Richard McCombs, ___ Griffin, and ___ Ridge. They had taken up in a thicket a mile from Bradley's on the morning of October [14th]. About mid day Bradley took his gun and went out to hunt some missing cattle, came on the two of them, and began to question them, and finally took them prisoners. The other two, who had been lying about twenty steps off, and whom he had not seen, came behind him and seized him; a violent scuffle ensued, until one of them got his own gun and shot him dead. Bradley was a very stout man, and with out weapons would have been a match for all four of them; a man of cool and deliberate courage, much respected by all who knew him, and his death much regretted. A few weeks after his murderers went home, Richard McCombs and Griffin were killed, the others were taken and sent to Salisbury jail. On trial, John McCombs turned State's evidence, and from him this account was obtained; ___ Ridge was hanged."

However, in 1806 Captain Salathiel Martin, formerly of the Surry County, North Carolina Militia (Patriot) deposed for one of the estate lawsuits of William Ridge of Surry County that Francis Bradley was killed by Godfrey Ridge, Jeremiah Combs and Abiram (Biram) Combs on their way back from the British encampments in South Carolina (3).

1806 Deposition of Captain Salathiel Martin, Claiborne County, Tennessee
Question 2'd. do you know any thing of the carrector of John Combs William Combs Mason Combs Biram Combs Jeremiah Combs Thomas Cody Godfrey Cody William Cody or John Stacy or any of them.

Answer. I beleave that thay were all relations of William Ridge by marrige and also was counted disafected to the amarican cause- that the most of them took an active part with the British and som of them murdered a sertin Francis Bradly in Mecklenburg County No Carolina that is Godfry Ridge Biram Combs and Jeremiah Combs as thay returned home from the british camps.

William Ridge, husband of Winnefred Combs, and several of the Combs family, including the Codys & Stacys, from Surry County, North Carolina, were members of Colonel Samuel Bryan's North Carolina Tory Militia. They were at the Battle of Hanging Rock on 6 August 1780 where William Ridge died. Several deponents stated Francis Bradley was killed by Tory Combs from Surry County (3):

1800 Deposition of Obadiah Martin Benge, Davidson County, Tennessee
Question...do you know the characters of either Thomas Coody, William Coody, Godfrey Coody, John Combs, William Combs, Mason Combs...

Answer The Combes and Coodys were Torys and known enemies to their country, and farther it was reported that Abiram and Jeremiah Combs was at the murder of a certain Bradley of Mecklenburg County of the State of North Carolina
 

1808 Deposition of James Doherty, Robertson County, Tennessee
.. & saith that Francis Bradly was murdered in Mecklenburgh County North Carolina, that he saw him after he was killed. That it was said he was murdered by some Tories on their retreat from the Battle of the Hanging Rock, that they took from him a rifle gun made by Isaac Price, also a pair of sleve buttons as this deponant was afterwards informed, the gun & buttons was taken from the murderers.
 

1800 Deposition of Zenos Baldwin, Davidson County, Tennessee
Question asked the Deponant: do you know the carrictors of Thomas Coody Wm Coody Godfre Coody John Coombs Wm Coobs Mason Combs or the carrictors of the Coody or Combs in general if your relate it.

Answered by the Deponant that were generally called disaffected to the American Cause and that most of them went off to the Brittish and Thomas Coody said to be a Captain of them and they were generally said to be rogish having murdered. Some of the Combs was said to have murdered a Mr. Bradley in Macklinburg County No Carolina and that said Bradleys gun & sleeve buttins was found in possession of said Combs.
 

1800 Deposition of Elizabeth Fielder, Davidson County, Tennessee
Question asked in behalf the Defendants, do you know anything of the Character of Thomas Coody William Coody Godfrey Coody John Combs William Combs Mason Combs or the Characters of the Cody's & Combs in general If you do relate it.

Ans'r They were all called enemys to their country & that they had left the neighbourhood & joined the Tory party (that is part of them) & that Biram Combs & Jeremiah Combs in particular were at the murder of a man in Mecklenburg County No Carolina said to be upon their return from an Excurtion in behalf of the Torys
 

c1800 Deposition of John Harness, Davidson County, Tennessee
Question asked in behalf of the Defendant- do you know the character of  Thomas Coody, William Coody, Godfrey Coody, John Combes, William Combs, Mason Combes, or the characters of the Coodys & Combes's generally, if you do relate it.

Answer I have frequently hear they were Torys and have been call murderers (that is some of the Combses)
 

1800 Deposition of Anna McConnell, Davidson County, Tennessee
Question asked the deponant in behalf the defendants- do you know any thing of Thomas Coody, William Coody, Godfrey Coody, John Combs, William Combs, Mason Combs or the family of the Coodys & Combs in general. If you do declare it.

Ans'r. report said they were very bad men & that some of the Combs rob'd & murdered a man in Mecklenburgh County by the name of Bradly.
 

1804 Deposition of  Isabel Bacon, Hawkins County, Tennessee
Question 1st...do you know any thing of the carrictors of John Combs Mason Combs Jerimiah Combs Biram Combs Thomas Cody Godfre Cody John Stacy or the carrictors of the Combs Codys or Stacys in general...

Answer they was said to be disaffected to the American cause most of them joined with the Tories and some of the Combs was said to murder a mr. Bradley in Maclenburg County and was found out by having the gun and sleve buttons of the deceased in their possession and there carrictors was as bad for thieving as they well could be.
 

1804 Deposition of  Michael Bacon, Hawkins County, Tennessee
Question 1st...do you know any thing of the characters of John Combs Jeremiah Combs Thomas Cody Godfrey Codey William Cody, John Stacy or the characters of the Combs or Codys and Stacys in General...

Answer They were generally disaffected and the most of them took and active part in favour of the British Some of the Combs murdered a Mr. Bradley in Mecklenburg County No Carolinia and was detected by finding in their possession the gun and sleve buttens belonging to the deceased-- and in Short they were charged with horse stealing and many other acts of vilany which this deponant  believes to be true.
 

1804 Deposition of Captain Joel Lewis, Davidson County, Tennessee
Question asked..in behalf of the defendant do you know the Characters of Thomas Coody, William Coody, Godfrey Coody, John Combs, William Combs, Mason Combs or the Characters of Coody, Combs in General....

Answer, The Combses and Coodies were Torys and known Enemies to their Country and farther it was reported Aberam and Jeremiah Combs was at the murder of a certain Bradley of Mecklenburg County of the State of North Carolina.
 

1804 Deposition of John Fielder, Senior, Davidson County, Tennessee
Question Asked the Deponant in behalf of the Defendants do you know any thing of the carrictors of  Thos. Coody Wm Coody Godfre Coody John Combs Wm Combs Mason Combs or the carricture of the Coodys and Combs in genl if you do relate it.

Answered they all were calld enemys to the Country and that this Deponant understood that Thomas Coody commanded a Tory Company, that Wm Combs and others was apprehended for killing a stear said to be the property of Joseph Thompson and that Wm Coody in the presence of this Deponant robed the corn house of Wm T. Lewis of a bag of corn. This deponant further saith that he has ever understood that two of the Combs viz. Torrys with others on there way from the Battle of Hanging rock murdered a gentleman in Macklinburg County.
 

1804 Deposition of John P. McConnell, Davidson County, Tennessee
Quest 2d. Do you know anything of the characters of John Combs, William Combs, Biram Combs, Jeremiah Combs, Thomas Cody, Godfrey Cody, John Stacy or any of them.

Ansr. I believe they were all relations of William Ridge. I do also believe them all to be disaffected to the American cause that the most of them took an active part with the British & some of them murdered a son of Mr. Bradley in Mecklenburg County North Carolina and the rest of them were infamous villains.
 

1804 Deposition of John Jones, Jefferson County, Tennessee
Question first asked the deponant. Do you know any thing of a certain John Combs, Mason Combs, William Combs, Biram Combs, Jerimeah Combs, Thomas Codey, Godfrey Cody, William Cody, John Stacy or the Characters of the Combs, Codys or Stacys in General if you do relate them.

Answer. they were generally disaffected and the most of them took and active part with the British in the American war and saith this from the best information Jeremiah Combs and Biram Combs were murderers and they were generally counted dishonest men.
 

1804 Deposition of Patience Jones, Jefferson County, Tennessee
Question 1st...do you know any thing of the Characters of John Combs, William Combs, Mason Combs, Jerimiah Combs, Biram Combs, Thomas Cody, Godfrey Cody, William Cody, John Stacy and William McAffee or the Character of the Combs, Codys, Stacys or McAffees or their Characeters in General....

Answer that She understood that two of the Combs was at the murder of a Mr. Bradley that they were disaffected to the American Cause in General and that the Codeys and Stacy were always counted dishonest that she understood they were Robbers and that if Wm McAffee swore..she declares he swore to a lie.

In early 1780, William's son, Godfrey Ridge, was drafted into the Surry County Militia into Captain Salathiel Martin's Company. But Godfrey refused to serve and was arrested at the home of Mason Combs in Surry County by Colonel Joel Lewis (3).

some time in the winter of the year one thousand seven hundred & eighty going to the House of Zachariah Ray was informed by said Ray that Godfrey Ridge has passed that day over the river to Mason Combs in the morning after he this deponant being a Continental Officer & said Godfrey being a delinquent from the nine months service went over the river & took him & brought him to said Rays. Shortly after his father William Ridge appeared & was Security for his Appearance at a certain time.

William Ridge supposedly found a substitute for Godfrey to serve in the Militia. Isabel Bacon deposed that William Ridge left Surry County in about May of 1780 (3). Godfrey and the other Combs must have left for Samuel Bryan's Regiment about the same time, if not together. Major William Terrell Lewis, Jr., one of the defendants in the William Ridge estate case, deposed in 1792 that Godfrey Ridge died about 1781:

William Ridge father of Complainants departed this life about the time in the Bill enpossessed intestate leaving a widow, & the Complainants his children, but not his only children for besides the Complainants, he left a son called Godfrey who died in or about the year 1781 leaving a widow & a child or children who are yet living as this defendent believes.

Is it possible that it was Godfrey Ridge who dangled from the hangman's noose in Salisbury for the murder of Frances Bradley? Godfrey Ridge, along with his mother, Winnifred Ridge, and his brother-in-law, John Fielder, sold slaves Sal and Nan in Surry County on 16 January 1781. However, in 1784, John Fielder stated that he himself had signed for Godfrey Ridge. Was this because Godfrey was dead?

And what of Abiram and Jeremiah Combs? Abiram (Biram) Combs survived the war and went to Kentucky, then to Indiana. But Jeremiah Combs was never heard from again- in fact, the only record of this man is in the estate records of William Ridge. Did he die at Bradley's farm, in Charlotte after capture, or later in Salisbury, for killing Francis Bradley? Hannah Baldwin deposed that one of the Combs family died at the hand of Whigs (Patriots):

1800 Deposition of Hannah Baldwin, Davidson County, Tennessee
Question asked the deponant in behalf the defendant. Do you know the characters of either Thomas Coody, Wiliam Coody, Godfrey Coodey, John Combs, William Combs, Mason Combs or the character of the Combs & Combs in general if you do relate it,

Ans'r I understood that two of the COMBS'S had joined the Tory party & after their return, one of them got killed by the Whigs & further this deponant sayeth not

More records will need to be found concerning Mr. Griffin. The same for John and Richard McCombs- were they really Byram and Jeremiah Combs? Please contact the author if you have any further documents to share.
 


References Cited

(1) Alexander, J. B, M.D. (1902) The History of Mecklenburg County from 1740 to 1900, Observer Printing House, Charlotte, NC, p. 116

(2) Graham, W. A., (1904) General Joseph Graham And His Papers On North Carolina Revolutionary History, Edwards & Broughton, Raleigh, , pp. 262-263

(3)  Rowan Co., NC Estate Records, William Ridge (1785), CR085.508.136  North Carolina State Library and Archives, Raleigh



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