Is it Henly, Henley, or Henby?

by | Jan 21, 2014 | 2 comments


General Assembly Session Records

[su_highlight background=”#ffff99″]UPDATE 3/15/2020 – Now that the General Assembly Session Records are available online and I can see this document more clearly and show it to others, I’m convinced it says HENBY, not HENLEY. [/su_highlight]

After carefully examining the original document which legalized my ancestor, Laban MORRIS’, name change, it appears that even though the transcribed version in the General Assembly Session Records, as well as in the North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, says Laban HENLY to Laban MORRIS — it appears that it could actually be HENBY.

Now, it could be that it’s just a case of six-of-one, half-a-dozen of the other, as the two spellings seem to have been used interchangeably at times over the years — largely due to transcription errors. In fact, one HENLEY family from the Perquimans County area of North Carolina had offspring who were listed as both HENLEY and HENBY.

There were HENBY families living in Pitt, Dobbs and Wayne Counties, but I’ve not had the opportunity to fully exhaust available materials to glean much information on those individuals. I did pull a number of items from US GenWeb Archives, as well as some books I had, and posted them here.

Side note: There are estate records for a few HENLYs in Craven County — where Laban lived most of his life — but they are dated a full 30 years before Laban was born, and they are for HENLEYs/HENLYs who were from Perquimans County. Victor T. Jones, department head of the Kellenberger Room at New Bern – Craven County Public Library , said that they could possibly be from the Secretary of State papers that included wills prior to the 1770s back when the S of S office was in New Bern, or it’s also possible that the men also owned land in Craven County, which would necessitate their estates being filed in both places.

In case it’s helpful to anyone, here are the links for those Perquimans County HENBYs with Estate Records in Craven County:

  • James Henby died sometime around 1752, as his estate papers are found in Craven County records. The administrator of the estate was his brother, Sylvanus.
  • John Henby’s estate records (1753) are also found in Craven County, but under John HENLY. Also administered by Sylvanus.
  • Joseph Henby’s estate records (1752) are also found in Craven County.

There are also records for Peter HENLY of Edenton (Chowan County) from 1758, but he was a court justice, and may be unconnected to the aforementioned HENLY/HENBY families.


  1. binjamin wayne

    Sara, what native indian are we from. thanks cuz. Binjamin

    • Sara Whitford


      I am unsure of specific Indian ancestry on the direct Morris line. You come from William Roland Morris and Rainey Edwards, right? There’s a chance we have Indian ancestry on the Holmes line. Rainey Edwards father was Harvey Edwards and William Roland Morris’ father was Levi Morris. Harvey Edwards married Jane Holmes and Levi Morris married Jane’s sister, Sarah “Sally” Holmes. Jane and Sally were the daughters of John Holmes and Celia Avery. John and Celia’s other children were Sophia (she married Roland Morris), Elizabeth “Betsy” (she married Dennis Wiggins) and William (he married Alpha Morris, the sister of Levi and Roland). I think there’s a good chance that John Holmes father is John Holmes, also of Beaufort County, who appears on the 1790 and 1800 census records as “Other Free,” which means they weren’t white, but they weren’t slaves. After the older John Holmes dies, the rest of his children from that point on show up on the census records as “White.” I tend to think it’s more than likely that the older Holmes family were Indian or mixed, and the father might’ve just had stronger features than the wife, so once he died, the rest of the family could ‘pass’ for white. I haven’t verified the connection between the older John Holmes and the younger John Holmes, but the ages fit and the timing is right.

      If the Holmes were Indian, they were most likely Matchapungo, or from the Mattamuskeet Reservation area (used to be over in Hyde County). They were an Algonquian language tribe and were the closest Indians to the Chocowinity area.

      Your cousin,



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