Newspaper Article of the Durant Family

This Page created 12/26/97

STATE MARKER HONORS FIRST FEMALE ATTORNEY, by. Jason Sandford, Camden County reporter. (newspaper article, don’t know name of paper or date - bjh)

HERTFORD - Historical organizations from the state and area dedicated a state historical marker at the Newbold-White Regional History Center Saturday honoring the state’s first female attorney.

“This is the earliest known instance in NC that anyone acted on behalf of someone else in a NC court.” said Raymond A. Winslow Jr., Perquimans County archivist-historian, describing Ann Marwood Durant’s legacy.

Over 200 history buffs and Durant descendants gathered for the dedication and unveiling ceremony and listened as Winslow recounted the Durant history.

Ann Marwood married and followed George Durant to Perquimans County between 1661 and 1662, Winslow said. Ann gave birth to nine children and managed her household alone for months at a time, as George made his living at sea, Winslow said. Between running the plantation and hosting political dignitaries, Winslow said Ann accrued respect and independence.

“She acquired a measure of independence most women could not aspire to at that time. She must have been an independent and outspoken woman for people to have trusted her in the courts,” he said.

In one instance, Ann appeared in court on her own behalf, asking that money owed her from another estate be paid. The court ordered the money to be paid to her husband, Winslow said.

“She was still Mrs. George Durant,” he said.

“Ann Marwood Durant is the grandmother of many people in Perquimans County. The Durant name has died out, but not the Durant blood,” said Charles B. Ellis, president of the Wayne County Historical Association.

Shirley Spaeth, National Society of Colonial Dames XVII Century’s honorary president general and Margaret Ellis, honorary state president of the same group, unveiled the state historical marker.

The marker will be placed at the intersection NC 17 and state road 1300.

Also present at the ceremony were representatives from the Perquimans County Restoration Association, the NC Department of Transportation and the NC Department of Cultural Resources Division of Archives and History.

(The marker picture in the clipping says: “Ann Marwood Durant d. 1695 - First woman known to have acted as attorney in an NC Court, 1673. Appeared before Council in Perquimans Precinct”)

N.C. RECORDS NOW CONTAIN “OLDEST” DEED, by Jack Aulis, Virginian-Pilot Staff Writer, Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk., VA Nov 16, 1966

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - The oldest known deed for land in NC officially came home from Virginia Tuesday. The deed, dated Sept. 24, 1660, was discovered accidentally in Norfolk Count records in Chesapeake late last year by Mrs. E.O. Baum of Elizabeth City and Dr. Elizabeth G. McPherson of Shiloh.

It apparently grants the entire tip of the peninsula which is Pasquotank County to Capt. Nathaniell Batts. It is signed with the mark of Kiscutanewh, King of the Yeopim Indians.

It predates by 18 months the deed from the Indian king to George Durant which is in the Perquimans County Courthouse in Hertford. That had been the oldest Tar Heel deed on record.

Mrs. Baum and Dr. McPherson, members of the George Durant Chapter of Colonial Dames XVII Century, stood by Tuesday as Pasquotank Register of Deeds J.C. Spence recorded a certified copy of the 1660 deed in its home county.

When the deed was drawn, this part of Carolina was part of Virginia, Mrs. Baum explained. It is quite possible that even older deeds conveying NC land are buried in old Virginia records, she suggested.

She and Dr. McPherson unearthed this deed while doing routine research on the background of a Pasquotank County family. Dr. McPherson is a retired Library of Congress manuscript historian.

The deed granted Batts “all ye land on ye southwest side of Pascotanck River, from ye mouth of said river to ye head of new Begin Creeke.”

That would be the land from just south of the former Weeksville Naval Air Station (Newbegun Creek) to Albemarle Sound, some of the county’s richest farmland.

No western boundary is mentioned but it would be logical to assume that the tract ran all the way west to the Little River which divides Pasquotank and Perquimans, the natural boundary, Mrs. Baum said.

In the deed the king described the tract as “land which Mr. Mason and Mr. Willoughby formerly bought of mee, but never paid mee for.”

The price to Batts is not stated but he gave the king “a valuable consideration in hand received,” the deed said.

One of the witnesses was George Durant, who . . . (I am missing the rest of this article - bjh)

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