Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Rowdy Leader
Colonel Griffith Jones
Ca. 1692 - 1766

Griffith Jones was an early settler along the Pasquotank River in northeastern North Carolina. Usually called "Griffin," Jones was a trouble maker in his younger days. In 1729, he and Truman Jones appeared in court charged with "forcible entry and expelling from her plantation the widow and infant son of the late Colonel William Reed." No doubt the neighbors were interested when the indictment went on to say that the two men used "force and Armes to Witt Swords Staves Gunns and other defensive and invasive Armes with the Appurtenances at Arenoose Creek in Pasquotank precinct upon the peaceable possessions of one Mrs. Jane Reed Widow and Extrix of William Reed late of Pasquotank precinct aforesaid Esqr dec'd." The accused men were charged with ejecting the widow Reed and her infant son and "with a Strong hand did keep them out and still do."

However, by 1773, Griffith Jones had become a more upstanding citizen. He had often served as a member of the court where the guardian accounts of his orphan children, Meriam and Lemuel Jones, were rendered. Some of the items purchased for his daughter were: "a quantity of dimity and lace, a scarlet cloak, a silk gauze dress cap with ribbon, a year's tuition to Lemuel Burkitt for schooling, and fees to Charles Cason for 3 mos. teaching her Dances." Among the expenditures for Lemuel were: "buckram, broadcloth, linen, silk handkerchiefs, a silk hat, and for 6 mos. Schooling."

Which was the real Griffith Jones? Was he the wild evictor of widows or the father who provided well for his children? No doubt he was both. Obviously his reputation suffered no harm from the episode with Mrs. Reed as he was elected to the House of Commons just two years after the incident.

Jones was married twice, but court records, including deeds and wills, reveal that he had several mistresses on the side. In fact, one of his illegitimate children took his father's name and received valuable gifts from him.

Jones was elected seven times to the General Assembly and served as a justice of the Pasquotank Precinct Court. Militarily, he was referred to as Major in 1735. By 1745, he was a Colonel. His final service seems to have been in the general muster of 1754-55. Because of the difficulty of having to cross the Pasquotank River, the Militia organized two separate commands, one on each side of the river. Griffiths was captain of the company "drawn from the inhabitants within the forks of Arenuse Creek over to North River."

Source: Three Hundred Years Along the Pasquotank: A Biographical History of Camden County by Jesse Forbes Pugh, 1957.

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