Samuel Swann and Family

1798 Map . Jonathan Price . First Survey of NC
In 1783 the Onslow County, North Carolina sea-side village previously known as Week's Wharf, Bogue and New Town, was incorporated and named Swannsborough in honor of Samuel Swann (1704-1774), Speaker of the Colonial Assembly and official representative of Onslow in the Assembly. The name was later officially shortened to “Swansboro.”

1732 Moll . Surry County, VA
Samuel Swann was born October 31, 1704 in Perquimens, Carolina, son of Samuel Swann (1653-1707) and Elizabeth Lillington (1679-1725). Samuel Swann Sr. was born May 11, 1653 in Swann’s Point, Surry County, Virginia to Colonel Thomas Swann (circa 1616-1680)** and Sarah Codd (died 1655). Thomas Swann’s father William Swan, the immigrant, was born in Kent, England in 1587 and died at Swann's Point in 1638. In February 1636/7, he was appointed the first customs collector on the James River.

1732 Moseley . Perquimans Area
In 1673 Samuel Swann Sr. first married Sarah Drummond (1654-1696), born in Perquimans to Scotsman William Drummond (1610-1677) and Sarah Prescott. Drummond was Governor of North Carolina and was prominent in Bacon’s Rebellion. Two years after Sarah Swann’s death in 1696 in Swann’s Point, Surry County, Virginia, Samuel Swann Sr. remarried to Elizabeth Lillington, widow of Colonel John Sandel. Elizabeth was born in Perquimans, the daughter of Alexander Lillington (1643-1697) and Elizabeth Cooke (Cooper) (1650-1693), born in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Colonel Samuel Swann Sr. succeeded his father [Thomas] at Swann's Point, VA and was for many years a prominent man in Virginia and North Carolina; Justice of Surry County 1674; Major of Militia 1687, Sheriff 1676 and 1678; Member of the House of Burgesses for Surry in 1677, 1680, 1682, 1684, 1686, 1692, 1693. He soon after moved to North Carolina and was speaker of the assembly there prior to his death in 1707.

Also known as “Speaker Swann,” Samuel Swann Sr. was Deputy Governor of Carolina from 1693 to 1695, President of the Governor's Council in 1697 and Judge of the Precinct Court 1690-94(?). He was a man of unusual ability and exerted great influence over the affairs of the Province. (Pender County Historical Society and Museum)

1737 Moseley . Cape Fear Area
Of Samuel Swann Sr.’s children, John Swann (1707-1761) married Ann Moore (1732-1764), Sarah Swann (born 1701) married Frederick Jones, Samuel Swann Jr. (1704-1774) married Jane Jones (1706-1781?) in 1727 and Elizabeth Swann (1699-1729) married John Baptista Ashe. John B. and Elizabeth’s son Samuel Ashe (1725-1813) later became Governor of North Carolina from 1795-1798. Orphaned soon after the family’s move from Bath to the lower Cape Fear region, the children were reared to maturity in the elegant plantation home of their maternal uncle, Samuel Swann Jr., who was Speaker of the North Carolina Assembly for nearly two decades.

Samuel Swann Jr.*** and Jane Jones’ son Samuel Swann III, born in 1747, died at age 40 as a result of a duel, leaving no heir. Their daughter Jane Swann (1740-1781) married Frederick Jones (1732-1797). Their son John Swann Jones was born in 1758. According to genealogical notes, his great uncle John Swann of Swann's Point "had amassed quite a fortune but had no heir. Therefore he willed everything to his grand nephew, on condition that he take his mother's name of Swann." *

1732 Moseley Map
Samuel Swann Jr. helped survey the line between North Carolina and Virginia in 1729, when he crossed the Dismal Swamp, being the first white man to do so. Some time after completion of the work, Samuel Swann removed to the Cape Fear, naming his plantation "Ye Oakes." He became a distinguished lawyer and the most influential man of his time. He was a Member of the Assembly, and Speaker of that body continuously from 1743 to 1762, with the exception of 1754, which in Colonial times was next in dignity to that of Governor. He was one of the compilers and finished the work of the revisal of the Statute Laws of the Province of North Carolina of 1752—known as 'Yellow Jacket' from the color of the binding—the first book printed in the province. He was a leader in the armed movement of February 1766 that nullified the British Stamp Act in the Wilmington District. Though advancing in age, he continued to give his services for Independence until his death. (From genealogical records of Davis, Swann and Cabell families of NC and VA)

1775 Tardieu Map
In 1746 Samuel Swann, one of the most prominent men of the Province, was elected representative by the County of Onslow, where he lived and also by New Hanover County. After being elected Speaker he was asked for which County he would serve and he replied, Onslow; whereupon the clerk was instructed to issue writs for a new election in New Hanover. (The development of a residential qualification for … by Hubert Phillips 1921)

The Samuel Swann Highway Marker in Pender County—NC 133 southwest of Rocky Point—notes, “SAMUEL SWANN—Speaker of Assembly nearly 20 years, leader popular party, compiler first printed revisal of N.C. laws (1752). Home stood one mile south.”

Essay on NC Highway Historical Marker website:

In 1912 the Wilmington Morning Star took note of several points of historical interest in Pender County. Among these was the Swann plantation, the “ancient mill site of the Swanns that ground corn and wheat in ‘ye olden days.’” Nearby could be found the remains of a brickyard. The site was the longtime seat of the Swanns, among the more notable families in the Cape Fear region and one amongst many eighteenth-century plantations along the Northeast Cape Fear River.

The lands first were granted to John Baptista Ashe in 1727 who was married to the former Elizabeth Swann, sister to John and Samuel Swann. The Moseley map of 1733 indicates that John and Samuel both had established residences on the river by that time. John Swann established the original Swann Point plantation. A traveler in 1734 described his estate as “the finest place in all Cape Fear.”

Nearby was Samuel Swann’s plantation home, “The Oaks,” about a mile to the northeast of his brother’s estate. Samuel Swann, born in 1704, served as a surveyor on the party locating the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia in 1728. Swann was as Speaker of the Assembly for about twenty years before his death in 1774. He worked with Edward Moseley on the first revisal of the Laws of the Province of North Carolina. The work, issued in 1752 and known as Swann’s Revisal, was the first book published in the colony.

Swann’s house, acquired by Alexander Duncan Moore in 1812, burned shortly thereafter. Port Swannsborough and the town of Swansboro in Onslow County were named for Samuel Swann.

Samuel Ashe Swann 1832-1909
*According to genealogical notes, John Swann Jones' great uncle John Swann of Swann's Point "had amassed quite a fortune but had no heir. Therefore he willed everything to his grand nephew, on condition that he take his mother's name of Swann." John Swann Jones Swann, the son of Frederick Jones and Jane Swann, married Sarah Moore. Their son Frederick James Swann married Ann Sophia Green. Their son Samuel Ashe Swann (1832-1909), born in Pittsboro, NC, moved from Wilmington, NC to Fernandina, Florida in 1855 and became a leader in the development of the state of Florida--involved in the railroad, shipping and land sales. His later years were devoted to quiet philanthropies. 


**Here are more images of Thomas Swann's grave and headstone, located in Swann's Point Cemetery, Swann's Point, Surry County, Virginia.

Colonel Thomas Swann (circa 1616-1680) was the grandfather of Samuel Swann (1704-1774).
 

***Much confusion has existed among genealogists and historians respecting the identity of particular members of the Swann family and of families with which they intermarried, especially the Jones family. The confusion is caused in part by duplication in names. Samuel Swann Sr. had three sons named Samuel: a son who was born in Virginia in 1674 and died there in 1677; a son, born in Virginia in 1681, who moved with his family to North Carolina and died there by drowning in 1702, as stated above; and a son born in Perquimans Precinct in 1704, who had a long, distinguished political career and died in New Hanover County in 1774. The confusion caused by Swann’s having more than one son bearing his name is compounded by his having several grandsons and great-grandsons named Samuel, some of whom historians have confused with their fathers and uncles. (William S. Powell)
More Detailed History: