Colonel John Hinton*

By  Mary Hilliard Hinton

The North Carolina Booklet,
Vol. XIV, No. 4, pp 225-236, April 1915
The North Carolina Society Daughters of the Revolution, Publisher,
Commercial Printing Company, Raleigh

The subject of this sketch was an American: so is the writer, dwelling in the "land of the free" --a land so free that we are not even burdened with the custom of cherishing the records of our ancestors, as are our cousins over the sea. When called upon to write of some person who flourished in the Colonial period or at the time of the Revolution, an American does not appear to advantage unless her subject is an eminent one. Yet many excuses may she rightly claim, for, though people have now awakened to an appreciation of our noble Revolutionary history, and we are striving to collect and preserve the same, in many cases we are helpless. The following is some account of an early pioneer who lived not many miles from the present capital of North Carolina.

Colonel John Hinton, of the parish of St. Margaret, County of Wake, province of North Carolina, was a Revolutionary soldier and statesman, whose military career began in the internal troubles of North Carolina, 1768-1771. Many years of his life were devoted to the service of his country and State. Frequently his name appears in the public archives and high praise is there accorded him. He was the son of John Hinton, of Chowan precinct, who died about the year 1732.1  The part of Chowan in which he lived is now Gates County. Tradition claims that John Hinton, the younger, was born in London, though it is now believed that he was a native of Chowan precinct, born at the Hinton homestead.

Much light has been thrown on the Hinton genealogy in the last decade and a half. Mr. Wharton Dickinson, of New York, one of the finest authorities on English genealogy in this county, has authentically traced the line back to the Norman Conquest. "Earlscott" and "Chilton Foliot" were seats of this family in the County Wilts, England. One of the first of this name to appear in American records was that of Sir Thomas Hinton, knight; it is claimed that he visited the colony of Virginia, which is quite probable, as he was a member of the London Company. He was the first Gentleman of the Bedchamber to James I. of England and Privy Councilor to Charles I.  The father of Sir Thomas was Anthony Hinton, Gentleman, born 1532, died 7 May, 1598, who married Martha, daughter of Sir Giles and Lady Estcort.His monument, erected by his grandson, Sir Anthony Hinton, son of Sir Thomas Hinton, is in the south aisle of St. John's Church, Wanborough, County Wilts, and bears this inscription:

"Anthony Hinton Esqr
OB May 7, 1598, aged 66,
grandfather to Mr. Hinton
Privy Councillor to Charles I"

Sir Thomas Hinton was born 1574, died 1 February, 1635. By his first wife, Catherine Palmer, he had five sons and two daughters, four of whom married and left issue, viz/: Sir Anthony married Mary Gresham; Sir William married Mary Popham; Sir John (born July 10, 1603, died October 10, 1682) married Catrina Vander Ruckle; Mary married Captain Samuel Mathews3 afterwards governor of Virginia, and is the ancestress of the Witherspoons of Kentucky. Sir John Hinton came to Virginia with his brother-in-law, Captain Mathews, in 1622, remaining two years; his brothers, Thomas and Sir William Hinton, came to the colony in 1634, but returned to England in 1637.

In 1666 there came to Maryland the first, fifth and sixth sons of Sir John Hinton (son of Sir Thomas Hinton, of "Earlscott" and "Chilton Foliot")--Thomas, Clement and Richard Hinton. From Thomas descends the Hintons of New York and Philadelphia; Clement died unmarried and Richard, it is claimed, was the progenitor of the Hintons of Virginia and North Carolina.

In Burke's General Armory of Great Britain are described the Coat of Arms of no less than twelve families of Hinton. The name was sometimes written Hynton. The Arms of the Hintons of "Earlscott" and "Chilton Foliot" are, "Per fesse indented argent and sable, six fleur-de-lis counterchanged. Crest--An eagle's leg erased, entwined by a serpent." These armorial bearings correspond with those used by the Chowan branch of the family, the founder of which was John Hinton, father of Colonel John Hinton of Wake County.

This John Hinton, the elder, of Chowan precinct, was "a man of prominence, wealth and widely spread connection" and was traditionally called "Colonel." Just how he won this military title is not known. On April 4, 1722, he was granted 350 acres of land on Bennet's Creek in Chowan. He married Mary _______, who survived him, and, two years after his death, married Thomas Holliday, also of Chowan precinct, but a member of the family of that name in Nansemond and Isle of Wight Counties, Virginia. To John and Mary Hinton were born four sons and seven daughters, as follows: John, Hardy, William, Malachi, Rachel, Mary, Sarah, Nancy, Charity, Rose and Judith. Of this large family few records have been preserved and efforts to trace the genealogy seems at this late date quite a hopeless task. Of the eleven only five have been traced beyond youth, viz: John, the subject of this sketch; Malachi, who served in the Revolution with the rank of lieutenant; he married an English lady whose name is unknown; among his numerous descendants are the Slocumbs and Pous of Johnston County; Nancy, or Ann as she is called by genealogists of today, married Solomon Alston and is the ancestress of the Hon. James Alston Cabell, of Richmond, Virginia, a member of the North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati, and of Mrs. William Ruffin Cox, for twelve years President of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America; Mary married Wiley Jones and Sarah married Benjamin Blanchard, all of whom, with the exception of Ann, have descendants living in Wake County. There is a tradition that all the seven daughters of John Hinton, the elder, of Chowan, married Alstons, but this needs to be verified.

During the first half of the eighteenth century, John Hinton, the younger, removed to what was then Johnston County. Later, when Wake was erected, his lands fell within the boundaries of the new county. In 1768, when Governor Tryon held a consultation at Hillsborough to consider what steps should be taken to circumvent the movements of the Regulators, John Hinton, then a major of provincial troops in the County of Johnston, was one of the gentlemen who attended the conference. When Wake County was erected by act of Assembly in 1770 (act not to take effect till 1771), Major Hinton became colonel of the colonial forces of the new county. When Tryon raised the forces of the province in 1771 to march against the Regulators, there was much disaffection in Colonel Hinton's county, yet the Colonel himself was a firm friend of the government and finally succeeded in raising his quota. Tryon's military journal shows that Colonel Hinton and his men participated in all of the duties incident to the campaign, the Colonel on one or more occasions acting as president of courts martial for the trial of delinquent soldiers in the army of which his detachment formed a part. He personally participated in the battle of Alamance, May 16,1771, and his bravery on the occasion was afterwards referred to by Governor Caswell in a message to the legislature during the Revolution.

Colonel Hinton selected as a site for his new home in the wilderness a piece of land six miles east of the present town of Raleigh. Here, near the banks of the Neuse, he built a log cabin. The entrance was in the upper portion of the dwelling, and was reached by means of a ladder, as was the case in many of the habitations of the early settlers. He had Indians for neighbors and wild beasts for nocturnal visitors. Of robust constitution and possessing [sic] great bravery, he was capable of wielding the axe and paving the way for the more timid and indolent. Stories of his encounters with ferocious animals are still related. Upon one occasion he sauntered forth with his gun and two dogs for a hunt. Weary and footsore he sat down by a tree to rest and soon fell asleep. In the meanwhile his dogs had a desperate struggle for their lives, and for the protection of their master, with a panther. He was awakened by the fray and escaped uninjured. On one occasion he discovered a panther's lair among some large rocks. Two cunning little cubs were snoozing peacefully away, ignorant of the close proximity of an intruder. Struck with their beauty, he resolved to carry them home for domestication. Taking both in his arms he proceeded but a short distance, when their mother, finding her babies gone, started after him with great fury. Seeing her in pursuit, Hinton put down one of the cubs, which she carried back to its den and then returned to renew the chase. Just as the hunter regained the top of his ladder the mother of his captive again came in sight, but too late. She was shot, and the cub he succeeded in taming.

Colonel Hinton took up many thousands of acres of land by grant from Earl Granville. Grants were given for various tracts at different times. They followed the course of Neuse River, beginning some distance above Milburnie and extending far into Johnston County, a distance of many miles. In some places the property ran four miles both to the east and west of the river. One tract which is known as "The River Plantation" taken in grant by him, is yet owned by a descendant of the name. There is no deed in existence for this parcel of land, the direct line of descent being sufficient. The Hintons, Hunters and Lanes originally owned most of the County of Wake. The two families last named were allied with the Hintons by marriage.

As civilization advanced, Colonel Hinton erected a residence, considered handsome in those primitive days-- a type of colonial architecture-- near his old log cabin. It was a frame building, and the bricks used in the foundation and chimneys were of a curious design-- perfectly square. This house long since

">"Has gone to decay,
And a quiet now reigns all around."

Only a heap of brick remains to mark the spot where it stood. Many old homes built by Colonel Hinton's sons and their children in Wake County are still in fairly good state of preservation. Conspicuous among these are "The Oaks" and "Clay-Hill-on-the-Neuse." The latter, the home of Major John Hinton, Jr. (son of Colonel Hinton), was broken into both by the Tories during the Revolution and the Federal troops during the War between the States. A secret drawer in a desk was found and robbed of treasure in each case.

Colonel Hinton was among the first to offer his services to his country when the British yoke could no longer be borne. He was a delegate from Wake County when the Provincial Congress of North Carolina met at Hillsborough in August, 1775. There preparations began for the conflict which was brewing. On the 9th of September, the assembly appointed officers for the minute men in the various counties. For Wake County the following officers were selected: John Hinton, colonel; Theophilus Hinter, lieutenant-colonel; John Hinton, major; Thomas Hines, second major. Colonel Hinton also represented Wake County in the Provincial Congress at Halifax in April, 1776, and was elected a member of the Committee of Safety for the Hillsborough district, of which Wake County was a part.

On the 27th of February, 1776, was fought the Battle of Moore's Creek Ridge [sic], after a brilliant campaign of about one month's duration. This fight saved the Southern colonies. Some two or three thousand loyalists, under the leadership of General McDonald, were that day completely defeated, and many taken prisoners on their way to join the British fleet at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Colonel Hinton took an active part in this engagement, and his body-servant, old Uncle Brisco, accompanied him through the campaign. This ancient family favorite lived as late as the middle of the nineteenth century. Nothing pleased the old darkey so much as for others to listen to his stories of the time when "me and marster wuz in de war." His description of this particular battle was both graphic and amusing. After Colonel Hinton's death, this old servant came into the possession of his youngest son, David Hinton. He had the honor of driving the first carriage brought into Wake County, as well as of hitching a horse to the last "gig" driven within its boundaries. The first time he drove this carriage to the front door, his "mistis," a stately dame, was greatly shocked to find in the interior of the vehicle filled with fodder!   "Where do you expect me to sit, Brisco?" she exclaimed. "Up here wid me, mistis," was the confident reply.

Colonel Hinton lived but a short while to enjoy the liberty he had fought for and aided in winning for the States. He passed away in the spring of 1784. His remains were interred near his home in the family burying-ground.4  He married Grizelle Kimbrough, who was born about 1720, daughter of Buckley and sister of Nathaniel Kimbrough. Eight children survived him, viz.:

1. John Hinton Jr., a major in the Revolution and a representative from Wake County in the legislature both during and after the war. He married Ferebee Smith, daughter of the founder of Smithfield in Johnston County, and lived at "Clay-Hill-on-the-Neuse." Some of his descendants, bearing the name, removed to Georgia. Both Major Hinton and his wife are buried at "Clay Hill."

2. James Hinton, also a Revolutionary officer in active service, who married Delilah Hunter, daughter of Colonel Theophilus Hinter, of "Hunter's Lodge," in Wake County.

3. Sarah Hinton, who married Needham Bryan, Jr., of Johnston County.

4. Mary Hinton who married Colonel Joel Lane, of "Bloomsbury," in Wake County, on whose old plantation stands the present city of Raleigh.

5. Alice Hinton, who married Captain John James, an officer in the North Carolina Continental Line. One of the children of this marriage was Hinton James, the first graduate of the University of North Carolina. The Bakers of Jacksonville, Florida, trace descent from them.

6. Elizabeth Hinton, who married Thomas James.

7. Kimbrough Hinton, who was married, but the name of whose wife is not known. His home was called "The Red House." Most of his descendants removed west. The only ones of whom anything is now know are the Yates family of Illinois.

8. David Hinton of "The Oaks," who married Jane Lewis, daughter of Howell and Isabella (Willis) Lewis, of Granville County. The only son of this marriage was Major Charles Lewis Hinton, for eleven years State Treasurer of North Carolina.

All of the above children are mentioned in Colonel Hinton's will, though his two youngest sons were minors at the time he made it. From this large family have sprung many descendants, but few of whom bear the name of their brave ancestor. His will, recorded in the courthouse in Raleigh, is here given in full:

In the name of God Amen, I John Hinton, Senr. of Wake County and State of North Carolina, being of a sound mind and disposing memory, tho in low state of Health, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die, do make constitute & ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following:

IMPRIMIS, It is my earnest will & desire that my Wife Grizeal Hinton shall after my death have the sole use and occupation of all my Estate Real and personal that I shall be possessed of at that time, during her natural life and no longer; and after here decease to be disposed of in the following manner, and that no Legacies be paid in money unless by the consent of my Wife, till her Death--

ITEM, I give and bequeath to my son John Hinton all the lands lying above Farmer's Creek that I am possessed of, to him, and his Heirs and assignees forever--And that my said Son John Hinton may enter upon, and take possession of said Land whenever he pleases--

ITEM, I give and bequeath to my Son James Hinton Ten pounds current money of the State of North Carolina--

ITEM, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Sarah Bryant Wife of Needham Bryrant a Negro fellow called Abraham or to her heirs and assignees forever--To receive him at my Death.

ITEM, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Lane Wife of Joel Lane ten pounds current money of the State of North Carolina.

ITEM, I give and Bequeath to my Daughter Alice James wife of John James ten pounds current money of the State of North Carolina.

ITEM, I give and bequeath to my Daughter Elizabeth James wife of Thomas James ten pounds current money of the State of North Carolina.

ITEM, The land that I have in Johnston County I leave to be sold by my Executors, to discharge the aforesaid Legacies of ten pounds, that is to say not to be sold without my Wife's consent--

ITEM, I give and Bequeath all the remainder of my Estate Real & personal to my two Sons Kimbro and David Hinton; the Land equally to be divided between them by a dividing line' no regard being had to the quality of the Land, but to the number of acres, An East and West Course to be the dividing line-- The lower part to my son Kimbro with the Manor Plantation-- The upper part to my son David Hinton-- To them and to their heirs & Assigns forever-- Also my Personal Estate to be equally divided between the said David and Kimbro after their mother's death as before mentioned-- But in case on or both of my two last mentioned sons should die without issue (viz Kimbro and David), that the Lands that I have devised to them to be equally divided among all my surviving sons in fee simple-- And the personal Estate of the aforesaid Kimbro & David Hinton should one or both die without issue to be divided in equal proportion among all my Daughters then living-- of him that died--

ITEM, I constitute and appoint my Son John Hinton and James Hinton sole executors to this my last Will and Testament Revoking by this will all my former Wills and Testaments whatsoever--

LASTLY, it is my Will and desire that should my wife die before my sons Kimbro and David Hinton arrive at the years of discretion to manage for themselves, that the lands not to be rented and negroes hired out, but to remain upon the plantation and work the Land for the Benefit of my said two Sons viz Kimbro and David Hinton-- In witness whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my seal this 9th of January A. D. 1784

John Hinton (Seal.)

In presence of:
    MARY (her X mark) POWELL (JURAT)

Note, before signing we observed the interlineations of--
all of him that died--David & Kimbro--

        JNO. BOUTIN,
        THOMAS GAY,
        MARY (her X mark) POWELL

Though a striking figure in Wake County's early history, and the commander of her military forces in the first part of the War of Independence, little is known of Colonel Hinton at the present time among the generality of people, even in the section which he aided in building up. To preserve in some measure,the record of his services is the object of this sketch; for, as has been said by a worthy North Carolinian: "If history immortalizes those who, with the cannon and the bayonet, through blood and carnage, establish a dynasty or found a State, surely something more than mere oblivion is due those who, forsaking all that is attractive to the civilized mid, lead a colony and plant it successfully, in harmony and peace, amid the dangers of the wilderness and under the war-whoop of the savage."

* A paper read before the North Carolina Society Daughters of the Revolution, being one of the "Ancestral Papers" prepared by the members of that organization and preserved by the Society. It was published in The South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol. I, No. 2, and is reproduced in The Booklet with the permission of the editor. Since it has been impossible to supply orders for copies of the magazine containing this article, because all the early numbers were destroyed by fire, it ahas been considered advisable to reprint the paper in The Booklet, adding certain data that has been obtained since the publication.

1The will of John Hinton, of Chowan precinct, dated 21 June 1730, probated 25 April 1732, is filed in the office of the Secretary of State in the Capitol, at Raleigh, North Carolina.

2 The Coat of Arms borne by the Estcorts was: "Erm. on a chief indented gu. three etoiles, or Crest-Out of a mural coronet az. a demi eagle, wings expanded or".

3 Fiske, in "Old Virginia and Her Neighbors" gives this picture of the home of the "worthy Capt. Mathews: "He hath a fine house, and all things answerable to it; he sows yearly store of hemp & flax, & causes it to be spun; he keeps weavers, & hath a tan house, causes leather to be dressed, hath 8 shoemakers employed in their trade, hath 40 negro servants, brings them up to trades in his house, he yearly sows abundance of wheat, barley, &c., the wheat he sellth at 4 shillings the bushel, kills store of beeves, & sells them to victual the ships when they come thither; hath abundance of kine, a brave dairy, swine great store, & poultry; he married the daughter of Sir Thomas Hinton, &, in a word, keeps a good house, lives bravely, & a true lover of Virginia, he is worth of much honour."

4 The grave of Colonel Hinton is unmarked, neither can it be located exactly; for this reason a descendant, wishing to mark his last resting place, was prevented from perfecting the intention. However, instead, as a memorial to him, a gold medal is offered annually to the Academy at Edenton, in his native county of Chowan, to the pupil writing the best essay on some given historical (local) subject. This will be presented each commencement during the life of the donor.


Hinton, Mary Hilliard, 1915. Colonel John Hinton. The North Carolina Booklet, vol XIV, no. 4, pp 225-236

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