Which Gatlin married Mary Johnson, sister of Richard, Elizabeth & Esther?

by | Apr 30, 2019 | 0 comments

On 26 Apr 1796, Richard Johnson of Craven County, wrote his will (Will Book B, pg. 13), making bequests to, among others, his three sisters.

The Will

In the Name of God Amen I Richard Johnson of Craven County in the State of North Carolina, being sick and weak in body, but of sound mind and disposing Memory, do Make and Ordain this my Last Will and Testament in manner and form following–

First of all, It is my Will and desire that my Just and Lawful debts be first paid and satisfied and as touching such worldly Estate whearwith it hath pleased God to bless me with, I despose of as hearafter directed–

Item. I give and bequeath to My nephew Richard Johnston Daughter [or Vaughter] the sum of twenty five pounds Curancy & all my wearing aperal I give to him & his heirs and assigns for Ever

Item. I give and bequeath to My Sister Elizabeth Gattin My wearing Hats and ten pounds Curancy to her & her heirs and assigns for Ever

Item. I give and bequath to My Sister Easter Gatlin a Bed with a white tick and ten pounds Courancy to her and her heirs & assigns for Ever

Item. I give and bequeath unto My Sister Mary Gatlin Fifteen Pounds Curancy to her & her assigns for Ever.

Item. I give bequeathe to My Couson Persis Lambert one Bead with a striped tick and all the furniture there to belonging and My Riding saddle to her and her heirs and assigns for Ever.

Item. I give and bequeath to my niece Sarah Gatlin Daughter of My Sister Elizabeth Gatlin five pounds Curancy to her and her heirs for Ever

Item. I give and bequeath all the rest and remainder Remaining part of my Estate to my three sisters to wit Mary, Easter and Elizabeth Gatlin to share Eaqual share & share a like to them and there heirs and assigns for Ever.

Lastly I nominate and appoint my Frinds Thomas A. Green and Furnifold Green Executors of this my last Will and Testament Revoking all other former wills here before by me made, Ratiffing and Confirming this to be my Last will and Testament whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this 26 day of april 1796

Richd Johnson

Signed sealed published & declared
In the presence of
Rich.d Vinson
Josh Clark junr.

State of North Carolina
Craven County Court September Term 1796
Then was the aforegoing last Will & Testament of Richard Johnston decd proved in open Court by the oath of Jos Clark junr and at the same time the Executors therein named renounced that Executorship Whereupon William Gatlen prayed for Letters of administration with the will annexed which is granted upon his entering into Bond with Security and Qualyfying agreable to Law.____ Attest. Saml Chapman CC

We know that Elizabeth married Edward Gatlin (1739-1781) and Esther his cousin, John Gatlin (1735-1801).  Birth dates are guesstimates. It begs the question, who married Mary Johnson? 

Before I go on, I want to point out an interesting omission.  When he makes the individual bequests to them, he uses the phrase “heirs and assigns” for Esther and Elizabeth but only uses “assigns” for Mary.  Was the wording deliberate?

The Estate

Thomas and Farnifold Green refused to take up Executorship of the will.  In a letter to the Court dated 14 Sep, they renounce their right to do so and nominated William Gatlin as administrator.  William, with William Adams and Enoch Gatlin as Securities, paid the £300 administrator bond upon the Estate.

The sale of Richard’s Estate took place 22 Sep 1796.  Among the buyer were: David Gatlin, Elizabeth Gatlin, Easter Gatlin, John Gatlin Senr., Wm. Gatlin, Richard Gatlin, Enoch Gatlin, Lazarus Gatlin, John Gatlin, and Moses Gatlin.

The Candidates

The Brothers of Edward Gatlin (1739-1781)

  1. James Gatlin (1741-1801).  From various land, probate and court records, it is known that James’s wife was named Elizabeth.  Her maiden name is unknown.  However, when she wed James, circa 1768, she was the widow of John Linkfield, Jr.  She and John had a small son, Francis, of whom James was one of the guardians.  In his will, dated 4 Apr 1800, James makes no mention of a wife.
  2. Thomas Gatlin (1745-1793). His will, written 14 Jul 1790, mentions no wife. However, his grandson, General Richard Caswell Gatlin, was a journal writer. In one of these, he states that his grandparents were Thomas Gatlin and Mary Mitchell. She and Thomas had a son named Mitchell mentioned in his father’s will. However, many researchers believe Richard to have been confused, and that Mary Mitchell was the his great-grandmother, wife of John Gatlin (1704-1766). I don’t see the logic in that.
  3. Hardy Gatlin (1750-1804).  Hardy married his ward, Penelope Dunn, 31 Jun 1799.  Whereas I have yet to see a document proving a previous marriage, it is not impossible.  The 1790 census shows three free white females in his household.

So, James and Thomas are an almost definite “No.” I say almost because you can almost never completely rule out the possibility of a second wife.  And Hardy is a maybe.

Who else?

  1. William Gatlin (d. 1793).  This William left a will, dated 8 Jan 1793.  This document mentions a wife named Amy.  Other bequests were made to his brother, Lazarus, as well as to David Gatlin, Mary Purify, and Sophia Cuttrell.  The relationship between William and the last three is unspecified.
  2. William Gatlin.  The one who was administrator of Richard’s estate. I know nothing about him which I can point to with certainty and say “this was him.”  I’m pretty sure there was, at least, one more William alive at this time.  But, again, no certain facts.
  3. Lazarus Gatlin.  Brother Lazarus, perhaps? There were, at least, two Lazarus Gatlins.  One was the son of John and Esther Johnson Gatlin, the other is of unknown parentage, but was old enough to buy land in 1769 (Craven County Deed Book 19, pg. 20).  I’m thinking the two were uncle and nephew, but I cannot be sure.  On 16 Feb 1773, he and his wife, Elizabeth, sold 15 acres of land to John Ipock (Craven County Deed Book 21, pg. 7).  Is it possible that Elizabeth died and Lazarus married Mary Johnson before 1796? Maybe.
  4. Edward Gatlin, Jr.  I’m not sure who this is, or where he fits into the Gatlin jigsaw, but he’s the one who sold Lazarus the land 17 Feb 1769.
  5. David Gatlin, Sr. (d. 1798).  I don’t know where he fits, either, but he may have been the orphan of that name bound to John James as a saddler 7 Apr 1762 (Craven County Court Minutes).  An Inventory of his Estate was taken 7 Mar 1798.  David Gatlin, Jr., William Gatlin, and John Gatlin, Jr. paid a £500 administrator bond upon this Estate 16 Mar 1798.  I’ve yet to find mention of this man’s wife.


In sum, James, Thomas and 1793 William and, probably, Lazarus, can all be discounted with reasonable confidence.  That leaves Edward, Jr., David, Hardy or one of the other Williams.  Of course, there could have been any number of Gatlin men of this generation that have left no trace in the surviving records.

I have not listed Moses Gatlin as a candidate, because I do not believe he was part of this generation but of the following one.  Enoch wasn’t either, I don’t think.  In any case, he married twice and both of his wives were from the Banks family of Goose Creek.  Richard Gatlin, I believe, was the son of John and Esther Johnson Gatlin.

What do y’all think?




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