Thomas (c1700-1758) in North Carolina

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Thomas-Thames-100acres Bladen now Cumberland Co NC
Thomas Thames’s 100 acres in Cumberland County NC. The red outline is the original property line, still quite visible. The blue line is Dunn’s Creek, referred to in Deeds. The green circle is the cemetery. To view this in Google Maps, click here.

There is no family folklore to tell from where the Thames came before their arrival in the Colonies. Is Thomas Thems in Prince William County, Virginia the same man as Thomas of Beaufort, Craven and Bladen counties North Carolina?

We know from Y-DNA studies of certain male Thames individuals that the Thames Haplogroup is Rla. Specific genetic markers in his Haplogroup are associated with the people of Southwestern Norway. They are the Vikings that started raiding in Great Britain in the Eighth Century and then invaded and conquered Great Britain in about 1013. So that causes us to assume that the Thames ancestors came here from Great Britain.

1740-1748 – Thomas in Beaufort and Craven Counties

4 Aug 1740 – Beaufort Co NC Deed Book 2 p 352 – William Carruthers sells 55 acres to William Conoway, lying on the east side of Browns Creek, beginning at the mouth of a gut, about sixty or seventy poles [350-380 yards] below Thos Thimses house, or the road Bridge…granted to me by Governor Johnson 5 Nov 1735. Witnesses, Matthew Godfrey, Jacob Johnson.

So now we know that by August 1740, Thomas already owned land in Beaufort County. Records of Thomas acquiring and disposing of this particular piece of land have not yet been located. However, the possibility that he came to own this land through probate of an estate (as opposed to purchasing it or receiving a grant) should be considered, as well.

10 Sep 1741 – Beaufort Co NC Deed Book 2 p 415 – William Carruthers sells 55 acres to Walter Morgain, part of the description being at the fork of Browns Creek, beginning at a mark’d pine at the mouth of a small branch a little below Thems lower landing… Witnesses, Thomas Thems and Wm Feps.

10 Sep 1741 – Beaufort Co NC Deed Book 2 p 416 – William Carruthers sells 80 acres to Thomas Thems. The land is described as “lying & being on the east side of the head of Browns Creek in Beaufort County beginning at the mouth of a gut, between sd Thems & William Conaways…” Witnesses, Wm Feps and Walter Morgan.

Record of Thomas disposing of this land has not yet been located. Also, take a look at the next deed in this deed book, William Carruthers to John Physioc – did the clerk mis-transcribe “Thomas Simmons” instead of “Thomas Thimes”?

Where was this Beaufort County land? The patent to William Carruthers dated 5 Nov 1735 references Bonners Bay and Browns Creek. The area of land that contains both these waterways is east of Merritt, NC, and in the map below you can see Brown Creek coming inland from the south, and Bonner Bay coming inland from the north. The land was between these two bodies of water. Today, this land is part of Pamlico County (Pamlico was formed from Beaufort in 1872).

You can also open this map in Google Maps here.

11 Mar 1744 – Craven County NC Deed Book 3 p 52-53 – William Wilkinson sells to Thomas Thames of Craven County a plantation tract in Craven County, 100 acres, referencing Flat Swamp and the main Swamp and Kinson’s branch, originally granted Samuel Buxton in 1737, who sold it to Wilkinson.

You can also open this map in Google Maps here.

21 Jun 1748 – Craven Co NC County Court Minutes (Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions) 1742-1748 – Book III p 44: “At a Court of Comon Pleas begun & held at New Bern the Third Tuesday in June 1748 being the 21st day of sd Month – Present: The Worshipful John Carruthers, Francis Stringer, James Mackelwean, Gent. … The Grand Jury was called & there appeared as follows Vizt. Then follows a list of seventeen names, one of those names being that of Thos. Thems.

Thomas’s land in Craven County was part of Samuel Buxton’s 1736 grant for 350 acres. The patent references the Neuse River and Flat Swamp, which are still in Craven County (no boundary changes). The location of the land can be seen in the map below.

1750-1758 – Thomas in Bladen County

Deed and other court records for Bladen County were burned on three different occasions, leaving gaps in records and many unanswered questions for researchers. It seems the deed books have been pieced together from scraps of burned books and, very likely, by landowners bringing in their copies of deeds to be recorded again, to ensure ownership in county records. As a result, the deed books contain dates that are all over the place, with far-ranging time spans in each book.

12 Jun 1750 – Bladen County NC Deed Book 23 p 184 – Robert Dunn to Thomas Thimbs, for pds 100, 100 acres on SW side of the NW River a short distance below Dunn’s Creek, part of a patent to John Dunn, by him conveyed to Richard Dunn, and by Richard Dunn to Robert Dunn. Witnesses, Richard Dunn, Cornelius Thims. Recorded 4 July 1750.

Cornelius Thims witnessing this deed suggests he was probably Thomas’s eldest son.

6 Mar 1758 – Bladen Co NC Loose Wills – Transcribed from the original with emphasis added (not from the will book, this is Thomas’s original will with his signature on it):

In the Name of God Amen– I Thomas Thimes of the Province of North Carolina & County of Bladen being weak in Body But of Sound Memory (Blessed be God) Do this Sixth Day of march & in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & fifth Eight make & publish this my Last Will & Testament in maner following – (that is to say) First I give & Bequeath unto my Loving wife Prudence Themes one Hundred acres of Land Being the plantation where I Now Live Likewise I give unto her the Sd Prudunce Themes ten Cows & Calves also I give unto my Dear wife all the moveables of my Estate Except a Bed & furniture I give to my Daughter Phebe Themes and to my Daughter marcy Themes I give a Bed & firniture & a Chest of Draws The Land above mentioned after the Decease of my Beloved wife I give & Bequeath unto my Son Samuell Themes & his heirs & assigns for Ever. also to my son Joseph Themes I give the sum of five Shillings. also I give unto Cornl Themes the Sum of five Shillings, also I give unto my son Thomas Themes one hundred acres of Land Lying in the provence above sd & County of Craven on the flat Swamp also I give unto my Sons John Thomes & Amos Themes two hundred & twenty acres of Land Lying on Dunns Creek To Be Equally Divided Between Each of them. Also Eight head of Cattle to be Equally Divided Between them Each also I give unto my Son Samuel Themes eight head of cattle also unto my Daughter Elizabeth Themes a Bed, also I give unto my Daughter Prisilla Dunn the Sum of five Shillings – And I make & ordain her my above sd wife Executrix and my son Cornelius Themes my Executor of this my will in Trust for the Intents & purposes in this my will Contained. To take Care & see the same performed – according to my true Intent & meaning.

In wittness whereof I the sd Thomas Themes have to this my Last will & Testament set my hand & seal the Day & year above written

Thomas Thems {seal}

Signed Sealed & Delivered by the sd Thomas Themes as & for his Last will & Testament in the Presence of us who were present at the Signing & Sealing thereof – Josiah Evans, Jona Evans Junior

The will was proved at April Court 1758 and was originally filed in Will Book E.

Disposition of Thomas’s Estate

Cornelius and Joseph were the oldest of the sons. Because they received just 5 shillings in Thomas’s will, it indicates they have already received their inheritance, which we can be pretty sure included land. If they did not receive land from Thomas, we can surmise he gave them enough money to purchase land themselves.

The first known record of Thomas Sr’s land being sold is the Craven County property he bequeathed to his son Thomas. We must assume that Thomas Jr had come of age (21) by that time – which places Thomas Jr’s year of birth around 1745 or before. He was probably not yet married; if he had been married, his wife would have been a party to the deed. Here’s the deed:

20 Oct 1762 – Craven County NC Deed Book 2 p 514 – Thomas Thames of Craven County to James Caddill planter of same, 100  acres being a part of a patent granted to Samuel Buxton 9 Sep 1737, who sold it to Wilkinson, who sold it to Thomas Thames & sold by the said Thomas Thames Jr to James Caddill, joining the fork of a branch of Flatt Swamp, the mouth of Wilkinsons Branch. Witnesses, Jonathan McFarsen, Francis Dopps, Neale Watson. Proved October Court 1764.

While there is no deed record of Thomas acquiring additional land in Bladen County beyond his original 100-acre purchase in 1750, by the time of his death in 1758 he had already given land to Cornelius and Joseph, plus the 220-acre legacy to John and Amos. These deeds indicate that John and Amos sold their inherited land prior to 1766. Thomas’s acquisition of the 220 acres is proved by subsequent deeds, and those deeds also show that the 220 acres was the rest of John Dunn’s 1735 land patent for 320 acres.

11 Oct 1766 – Bladen County NC Deed Book 1738-1779 p 337 – John Legett, carpenter, and Rachael his wife to James Jackson, 220 acres on the SW side of the NW River of Cape Fear, being part of a tract granted to John Dunn and by John Dunn to Richard Dunn Senior and by said Richd Dunn conveyed to Robt Dunn and from [Richard Dunn] to Thomas Thimbs senior and after his decease to his Children. Witnesses, Silvanous Wilson, Jesse Newberry. Proved November Court 1768.

29 Oct 1768 – Bladen County NC Deed Book 1738-1779 p 338 – James Jackson and Marshea* his wife of Cumberland County to William Maulsby, carpenter, 220 acres on the SW side of the NW River of Cape Fear, part of a tract of land granted to John Dunn conveyed to Richard Dunn senr & by the said Richard Dunn to Robt Dunn & by the said Robt Dunn to Thomas Thimbs senr & by the said Thomas his last will & Testament left the same to his sons John & Amos Thimbs & the said Thomas’s the same to John Legett & from the said Legett to James Jackson…Witnesses, Edmeston Wir, George Evans. Proved November Court 1768.

*Marshea is Marcy (Thames) Jackson, the daughter of Thomas Thames. Marcy’s name has been misread in abstracts of Thomas’s will as Mary, Martha, Marshea, and even Nancy. You must look at the original will from the Archives, because the abstracts aren’t accurate. William C. Fields III discovered her identity in the year 2001; prior to that time her real name was unknown. James Jackson and his wife Marcy both left wills.

12 Mar 1778 – Bladen County NC Deed Book 1 p 191 – William Maultsby carpenter and Margaret Maultsby to John Maultsby Carpenter, 220 acres, part of a tract of land by patent granted to John Dunn & by him conveyed to Richard Dunn and by said Richard Dunn conveyed to Robert Dunn & by him conveyed to Thomas Thimes and the Thomas Thimes in his last will and testament left the same to his sons John and Amos Thimes and by them conveyed to John Leggett… Witnesses, Argulus Pointer, Elizabeth Clayton. Proved May Court 1778.

The l00 acres containing Thomas’s homestead that he bequeathed to Prudence for her life, and then to Samuel, was the 100 acres he purchased in 1750 from Robert Dunn. You can read this deed in the chapter entitled One of the Most Revealing Deeds for Thames’s – 1779. This land remained in the Thames family for at least four generations.

So, what happened to Thomas, John and Amos? The book Proud to Remember by Vera Kearl Marshall (and conventional wisdom) says they went to South Carolina. We now can prove from DNA testing that John and Thomas went. All three of these individuals inherited land from their father Thomas. The son Thomas inherited 100 acres on Flat Swamp in Craven County NC. Amos and John inherited 220 acres of land on Dunn’s Creek to be equally divided between them.

We now firmly believe that all three – Thomas, John and Amos – went to South Carolina. Recent research and analysis of the South Carolina censuses of 1790-1800-1810 by others and us seem to confirm that.

Lee Hamilton Thames, a documented descendant of Thomas Thames (d. 1758) through his son John, carries the “Thomas Thames Family DNA Haplotype.” Preceding the results of Lee’s testing, we had proved by the testing of William Glenn Thames a descendant of Joseph Thames (son of Thomas who d. 1758), through Joseph’s son William, combined with the testing of James Robert Thames another Joseph descendant through Joseph’s son Thomas, the Haplotype of Joseph Thames. William Glenn, James Robert and Lee’s DNA Allele values are exactly the same as those carried by “Ole Thomas” – they are a perfect 37/37 match. We know that two of the sons of Thomas (d. 1758) – Joseph and John – received his Haplotype and passed it on. It is with the DNA testing of these three individuals that we have proved their descent from Thomas Thames. And we were able to discover the “Thomas Thames Family DNA Haplotype.” Since those initial test results we have found several more participants that carry an exact 37/37 marker match to Thomas Thames. The “Thomas Thames Family Modal Haplotype” is now well established.

Thomas, Amos and John do not appear on the 1769 Bladen County Tax List as paying the required Poll Tax. We therefore believe it was about 1767 that they left North Carolina. Furthermore, we cannot find any trace of evidence existing on South Carolina records linking them to North Carolina. There is no “footprint” that shows these men in South Carolina are the same men in North Carolina. It is only by using the censuses we mentioned and the knowledge we have that we can arrive at that conclusion. We are thankful that the “DNA Gods” have enlightened us to the fact that all of the Thames families of South Carolina are descendants of Thomas Thames born 1705/10 and died in Bladen Co. North Carolina 1758.

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