Who was James Roberts?

I’ve seen some stories implying that our James Roberts was the notorious Tory Colonel James Roberts who led militia raids through North Carolina. This James Roberts was reportedly caught and hanged. I’ve found a page by Mark and Peggy’s blog at https://ridge-dweller.net/2013/09/08/mama-jesse-roberts/ that details James and Cornelius Roberts’ travels. James was my 7th great-great-grandfather, father of William Roberts I. According to this page, James died before the American Revolution and couldn’t possibly be the Tory Colonel.

The Roberts family origins are English. James Roberts is baptized 25 Oct 1724, in Deal, England.The English family of the Roberts can be readily traced back to his Grandfather who was born in Deal around 1660.Deal is a coastal town in Kent near the channel. Its location across the channel from France made it a key location to fortify against potential invaders. Henry VIII authorized the construction of the Deal Castle and it was quickly completed. The round structure was intended to deflect cannonballs better than a Medieval square wall. The Roberts family resided in Deal for several generations.

Elizabeth Mumbray marries James Archibald Roberts shortly after Christmas in 1748. They must have decided to emigrate to Virginia before their marriage as their son Cornelius Mumbray Neal Roberts is born in Pittsylvania, Virginia on the 29th of January, 1749. They must have jumped on a fast boat to cross the ocean in 4 weeks and give birth to the first American born Roberts. Their motivations for leaving England can only be speculative but James’ father, who died in 1747 is buried in the church graveyard near the royal observatory in Greenwich. This was a place reserved for better families. The immigrants take up residence in the Piedmont region of Virginia near the  North Carolina border. Both James and wife Elizabeth will die near Black Mountain in Russell County. He was 31 and she 37.Their son Cornelius marries Mary Ellen Benton in 1767 at age 18. One of Mary’s brother is the future Senator from Missouri, Thomas Hart Benton. Her father was a wealthy lawyer and landowner in present day Hillsborough, North Carolina. Evidently, the Roberts family must have had some standing in Russell County. It is reported that Cornelius had become a physician. This occupation will lead to his demise.

Cornelius had served with the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War and somehow ended with the title of “Colonel”. It is important to remember that in the South, the title of Colonel was frequently added to the name of prominent members of the community. In June 1788 he and several other men were attacked by Cherokees and killed and scalped on Black Mountain near the New Garden settlements. His young son, possibly Daniel Tipton who is the youngest of the four brothers, hid under a fallen tree trunk. He was not discovered by the Cherokees and survived. Joseph Kizer will buy the estate of Cornelius consisting of some 260 acres north of the Clinch River for $1100 dollars. Daniel will marry Joseph’s daughter Elizabeth in 1798.


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6 Responses to “Who was James Roberts?”

  1. Dora Kennedy Johnson says:

    Hall County Col James Roberts was not win Revolutionary War. He was born in 1800. My line comes from George Washington Roberts Married to Americus Spencer, daughter of Rev. Calvin Spencer. James was an attorney as well as a storekeeper in his store at Roberts Crossroads and Hog Mountain Rd, A most fascinating man.

  2. Mitzi Cox says:

    Looking for information on Lewis Roberts that was married to Dona Bell Minor that lived in Blackwater Va. Both are buried in Lewis cemetery that was on family farm. He was my husbands grandfather and he passed away 1930 when his mom was 6 years old. Dona sold farm and moved to Kingsport. Bakers owned it later. Farm located across from Bledsoe store in curve. We know very little about him or his family.

  3. Beverly Carr says:

    Jeff, Who was the John Carr that Jos Wallin named his son for? Was it the John Carr of Early Pittsylvania Co whose wife Mary could not travel to the courthouse 1776. I’m trying to learn more about that John Carr who may be same or different than a James Carr in Pittsylvania Co 1765 ish and one who had a road hands around 1790.

    • Jeff Roberts says:

      Beverly, I believe you are referring to my ancestor James Carr Wallen, born to Joseph B. Wallen in Kyles Ford, TN in 1771? I’m not sure who he was named after. But, I did find this reference to a William Carr who was a well-known longhunter and an associate of “The Longhunter”, Elisha Wallen.
      “In (Elisha) Wallen’s party of 1761, or whatever year it really w as, some are known to have hunted as far away as the Cumberland River in western Tennessee. Among those known to have been in the party, beside Wallen, was his father-in-law, Jack Blevins, his brother-in-law, William Blevins, Charles Cox, William Newman, William Pitman, Henry Scaggs, Uriah Stone, Michael Stoner, James Harrod and William Carr.”

      I found this on William Carr: “Of William Carr little is known, except the little left to us in the
      Reminiscences of John Redd, who says: “He was raised in Albemarle Co., Va., and
      at a very early age removed to the frontier. In l775 I became acquainted with
      him in Powell’s Valley. He lived on the frontier for twenty years or more and
      had spent the whole time hunting, Carr hunted over in Ky., beyond the Cumberland
      Mountains to the right of Cumberland Gap in a place called “the bush”. Carr
      always returned with his horses laden with furs and skins. He described the game
      as being so gentle the animals rarely run from the report of his gun.”
      “Carr was the most venturesome hunter I ever knew. He would frequently go on
      these hunting expeditions alone. After the breaking out of the Indian War of
      l776, few men ventured on these long hunts. Carr determined to take one more
      long hunt, and as no one would go with him, he determined to go alone.
      I do not know just where Carr resided on the frontier. it is hard to trace the
      name since the records show both a William Carr and William Kerr, and whether
      they are one and the same I do not know. In a land suit in Augusta Superior
      Court in l809, (Fugate vs. Mahan) with the land in question lying on Moccasin
      Creek, Agness Fugate Mahan, widow of Francis Fugate, said: “that in l77l,
      Francis Fugate purchased the land in question from William Carr, a “Negro man of
      color”, and that Carr was supposed to have bought the land from John Morgan, one
      of the first settlers in that area.”
      In the same suit John Montgomery, another witness said: “William Carr is
      supposed to be a near relation to Gen. Joseph Martin.”
      In connection with Agness Fugate Manhan’s statement about William Carr being a
      Negro man of color, John Redd tells this intriguing story:
      “William —–was b. in Albemarle Co., Va. He was the first son of his mother;
      notwithstanding his mother and her husband were both very respectable and had a
      fine estate, yet when William was born he turned out to be a dark mulatto. the
      old man being a good sort of a fellow and withal, very credulous, was induced by
      his better half to believe the color of his son was a judgment sent on her for
      her wickedness. William was sent to school and learned the rudiments of an
      English education and, at the age of eighteen he was furnished with a good
      horse, gun and some money and directed by reputed father to go to the frontier
      and seek his fortune and never return.”
      “In the early part of the spring of l775, I became personally acquainted with
      William at Martin’s Station in Powells valley. He was then about forty years of
      age; he never married, and had been living on the frontier something like twenty
      years. He lived in the forts and stations and lived entirely by hunting.
      Notwithstanding his color he was treated with as much respect as any white man.
      Few men possessed a more high sense of honor and true bravery than he did. He
      was possessed of a very strong natural mind and always cheerful and the very
      life of any company he was in. He had hunted in the “brush” for many years
      before I became acquainted with him. He was about the ordinary height, little
      inclined to be corpulent, slightly round shouldered and weighed about l60 to l70
      pounds and very strong for one of his age.
      One William Carr was in Capt. Robert Doak’s militia company June 2, l774, and a
      William Carr was also in the Cherokee campaign under col. Christian in the same
      year. Beckley, in his “History of Tazewell Co.”, tells of a hunter named Carr
      making an early settlement in Tazewell Co., Va.”

  4. Charles Roberts says:

    Hi Jeff. Are there any records indicating the children of James Roberts from Deal. I read often of the connection to Cornelius and William but have not seen any written record. It appears that James was the father and was the Loyalist later. However a James Roberts of Snow Creek probated a Will of John Roberts in 1760, the same year that a John Roberts was killed by Indians in Pittsylvania County, according to a book on the county history. I have considered that John Roberts to be the father of James, lacking any definite record linking him to Deal. I’m hoping you can point to the record that makes the link. All the best

  5. Charles Edwin Cranston says:

    This is my direct line great grandfather.

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