The following paper on Peregrine Magness, Jr. was written by the DeKalb County Historian, Thomas G. Webb. The contents of these pages are copyright 2000 to Thomas G. Webb. all rights are reserved. The information on these pages are free for private use, but may not be included in any compilation or collection in any media form for either private or commercial use without the author's consent. I am using these papers on this page with Mr. Webbs permission.


Magness History

I have compiled this Magness family history in order to get a comprehensive picture of the entire family of Peregrine Magness, Jr., of Maryland and North Carolina. I have not been able to get completely reliable information; therefore some errors will appear. It is my hope that those who see such errors will let me know what they are and will send me the correct information, along with supporting evidence. I have no telephone or computer, but my mailing address is:

Thomas G. Webb
835 South College Street
Smithville, Tennessee 37166

My line of descent is from two of the daughters of Perry Green Magness (1796-1884), son of George Magness (born about 1768), son of Peregrine Magness (about 1722-1800). Much of the Magness research I have done myself, especially in Maryland and Tennessee. Most of the research in the North Carolina records was done in the 1970’s by Miles Philbeck, Jr., and is very reliable. However, some of it is not complete, partly because the records themselves are not complete. I have used some information from the Verna Magness book, Magness Migration, 1733-1986. I also have correspondence from a number of Magness descendants, including Mrs., Mary Pugh, Mrs. Nell Henry, Bob Wall, Mrs. Vida Harris, James Magness, Mrs. Marilynn Knowles, David Hennessee, G. David MacKenzie, and several others.

I am doing this not as a completed work, but as a work in progress. I am hoping to correct all errors, add such further information as may be available, and eventually be able to compile an accurate and comprehensive history of the Peregrine Magness family.

As you will see, some of our Magness relatives have not behaved as well as they should have. However, most of them paid the penalties for their misbehavior, and most of them and their descendants went on to become useful and productive citizens. And before we condemn too quickly, let us remember the words of the apostle Paul, that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), including ourselves.

The Magness family has proved to be somewhat more interesting than most of my other ancestors. When I began My family research in my early teens, my father told me that I would probably find a horse thief. Sure enough, I did, and he turned out to be the ancestor of both my mother and my father. I have sought the facts, whatever they were, for I wanted to know everything I could about these ancestors. To quote scripture again, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) I find the magness family extremely interesting, and as we all attempt to discern the truth about them, I hope that you will too.


Peregrine Magness, Jr., was born about 1722, possibly in England, but more likely in Prince George’s County, Maryland. He was the son of Peregrine Mackaness, Sr., and his wife Mary.. His names, both first and last, have been spelled in many ways in various records. He himself spelled his last name in different ways, mostly as MACKNESS and MAGNESS, with Magness becoming the generally used name by 1780, and the name used by almost all of his descendants.

Peregrine Magness, Jr., was evidently the only child of his parents, or at least the only one who lived to adulthood. He grew up in colonial Prince George’s County, Maryland, where his father was living by 1729. (1) His father was a blacksmith and made more money than did many people of that time. He accumulated land, livestock, and slaves, not in large quantities, but he had enough to give him a comfortable living.

Prince George’s County was very rural and hardly had a town worthy of the name. Young Peregrine’s opportunities for education were somewhat limited; nevertheless he did learn to read and write. There is no evidence that he followed his father in the blacksmith trade; the Maryland deeds speak of Peregrine Jr. as a “Planter”, that is, a farmer. His father owned land, and on April 22, 1757, he gave to “his son the Perygrene Mackaness Junior” for “natural love and affection” one half of a tract of 105 acres called Part of Stoke, lying in Prince George’s County, Maryland. (2)

By the time his father gave him land, Peregrine had been married about twelve years and had five sons. His wife, like his mother, was named Mary, and her maiden name is presently not known. (Some have thought that Peregrine’s wife was Sarah Hamrick, but all evidence indicates that she was definitely not Sarah Hamrick.) Mary was probably born about 1727 in Maryland, and they likely married about 1745 in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Their first known child was born about 1747; the last child (and only daughter) was born 1772. They had probably ten sons and one daughter.

Peregrine Magness, Jr., and his wife Mary were apparently members of the Church of England, but the references I have are confusing. One reference says that their son Benjamin was born 6 April, 1745 in St. George's’sa Parish in Prince George’s County, Maryland. A second reference says that in 1759 Perygreen Mackness, Jr., signed a petition to divide Prince George’s Parish in Frederick County, Maryland. (3) Wherever the parish was located, Peregrine was evidently interested enough in the church nearer to his home, as attendance was compulsory, and in the larger parishes many had to travel long distances to reach the church. Maryland had shortage of Anglican ministers, especially in the rural areas such as Prince George’s County.

Whatever interest he may have had in the church, Peregrine Magness did not remain much longer in Prince George’s County. On February 9, 1760, he sold for 20 pounds to George Naylor the 51 acres his father had given him three years earlier, of the tract called Part of Stoke. On the same day hid wife Mary came and relinquished her right of dower, which is the first public record I have found of his wife. Another note of interest in this document is that in the deed itself the name is spelled Perygren Mackness Junr., while in the relinquishment of dower it is spelled peregrine Magness Junr. (4)

Exactly where Peregrine went after selling his land is uncertain. His father, Peregrine Mackaness, Sr., was living in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1764 when he sold his land in Prince George’s County. (5) His wife was apparently dead, and he may have been living with his only known child, Peregrine, Jr. However, in the Hopewell Friends History, 1734-1934, Published 1936, is a reference to Frederick County, Virginia, where the will of Nathaniel Thomas was proved on March 1, 1763, with witnesses Mary Magnus and Perry MackNess. This sounds very much like our Peregrine Magness.

An even more definite reference is found in Bedford County, Virginia, Court Order Book 3, Page 172, when in February 1765 Peregrine Magness was ordered to help view a new Road. This road was from Nicholas Davis’ ferry to James Callaway’s road, and was evidently near the home of Peregrine Magness. This same order book in Bedford County, Virginia, on pages 815 and 820, shows the record of two trials held in 1771. They were not related to the Magness family, but they show the kind of justice administered at the time, with which the Magness family would soon have some experience.

Both trials dealt with black men held as slaves, and the law was harsher with blacks than with whites, but not much. Dick Nanes, valued at 90 pounds, was charged with stealing goods from a store on December 11, 1771. Brought to trial the next day, he pleaded not guilty, but was found guilty, and the court ordered that “the sheriff hang the said Dick on the 27th day of this month until he is dead.” Justice was swift and sure; sixteen days after committing the crime he was dead.

The other trial was held on December 27, 1771, on the very day Dick was hanged. Robin, the slave of James Buford, was charged with entering the house of John Dawn and stealing “sundry things.” He was found guilty, and the court ordered that “the Sheriff set the sd. Robin in the pillory & nail his Ears to the pillory” for one hour, and then give him 39 lashes “on his Bare Back” and then discharge him. Robin was more fortunate than some; he was not hanged, and he did not even have his ears cut off, as was done in some cases.

Similar administration of justice was found in most of colonial America, including North Carolina, which was where the Magness family went next, and where they stayed for 30 or more years. On December 21, 1786, an order was made to survey for Perry Green Magness 200 acres on both sides of Knob Creek in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. A month later, on January 23, 1769, Perrygreen Magness bought 300 acres on Buffalo Creek in Tryon County from William Sims. (6) In November of that year Peregrine entered 300 acres on both sides of Hickory Creek. He continued to acquire land, and by 1795 owned more than 1500 acres in what started as Tryon County, but later became Rutherford, Lincoln, and cleveland Counties.

Clarence Griffin’s history of these counties, printed in 1973, notes several patriotic activities of Peregrine Magness. The April 1770 Tryon County Court Minutes show that Perrygreen Magness was commissioned as an ensign in the Tryon milita. On July 26, 1775, the Tryon Committee of Safety was organized, including Captain Mackness’ Company: William Graham, James McAfee, and Perrygreen Mackness. Perrygreen mackness also signed the resolution supporting resistance to British forces, which was drawn by the Committe of Safety. He was among those present at the September 14, 1775, meeting of the Committee of Safety. (7) Besides the contributions of Perregrine Magness, provably all four of his oldest sons served the American cause during the Revolution.

By the time the Revolutionary War ended, Peregrine Magness was beginning to prosper. The Rutherford County, North Carolina tax list of 1782 shows him with 2 slaves, 8 horsed, 27 cattle, and 700 acres of land. (Horses were almost the only transportation at that time, as roads were very poor.) (8) By the 1790 census he owned 3 slaves, which was a relatively small number, but in Rutherford County at that time, only o0ne family in seven o0wned any slaves at all. Peregrine and Mary in 1790 only had two children at home, apparently their son George and their daughter Sally. Peregrine was about 68 and Mary about 63. They had done well financially and owned much property. Their children were grown and most of them married; they had several grandchildren. They should have been ready to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labors. Instead, they faced difficult years of trouble and turmoil which would take most of their property and leave Mary and Peregrine almost destitute in their old age.

I can offer little explanation for the behavior of their sons. They may have had little moral influence in their lives. The Church of England in colonial Maryland was very weak, and we presently have no evidence that the Magness family was active in any church in North Carolina. Historians say that the Christian church in general was weak from the time of the Revolution until the Great Revival of 1800. Some of peregrine’s sons seemed lacking not just morals, but even common judgment. When Peregrine tried to help them, he ended in financial ruin, and in his last years he left his home in North Carolina for the Kentucky frontier. At least four of Peregrine’s got into sever legal difficulties. His son Joseph in 1787 married Arabella Twitty, and in 1789 Joseph’s apparent brother, Zachariah Magness, was tried and convicted of raping Arabella; she accused Joseph of aiding and abetting the act. We still do not know what penalty was imposed on Zachariah; quite possibly it was death by hanging. God lawyers were expensive then, as they are now, and very likely much of the legal expense in this case fell on Peregrine, the father. Joseph got into further difficulties involving his brother George Magness, and by 1795 Joseph had left North Carolina and moved to the Kentucky frontier, in what was then the west.

George Magness was Peregrine’s youngest son, and he had been in the Morgan District Superior Court in 1785, when he was only 17. He was giving testimony there in 1792. In April 1794 in Lincoln County, George was found guilty of petty larceny. Though a motion was made for appeal, and Robert Wier and Perrygreen Magness each offered to put up 500 pounds bond, the motion was overruled. George was sentenced to “receive ten lashes on the bard back well laid on by the Sheriff between the hours of twelve and one o’clock this Day at the public whipping post.” Even after suffering this punishment, George still had to make bond with his brother William Magness for 500 pounds each “for the good behavior of the said George for one year & a Day.” Five hundred pounds was a sizable sum of money for that time; it would buy several hundred acres of land or five strong young slaves.

Quite possibly the 500-pound bond was forfeited, as George was back in court in October 1794 as the admitted father of a base born child. Again, bond had to be made. Less than a year later he was again in Superior Court on a charge of stealing a horse. Though found not guilty, he was charged with court costs. Having no property other than the clothes on his back, George had to spend three months in jail.

Meanwhile, George’s brother, Robert Magness, had also been accused of stealing a horse. Like George, he was found not guilty of stealing the horse, but he was found guilty of perjury. As we have already seen in the Virginia cases in 1771 and from George Magness’ ten lashes on the bare back, the penalties of the law could be very harsh. Robert did not want to receive the penalty, whatever it was, and he left the state. This left his father, Peregrine Magness, and his brother, Jonathan Magness, to pay the bond they had put up. Peregrine’s sons William, Benjamin, and Jonathan had made bond in several of these cases, and some had been forfeited. Peregrine had also made bond, besides bearing much of the legal expense of these cases. By 1795 Peregrine was selling land to his son William. (9) Robert’s bond forfeiture was the final blow. In the summer of 1796, the sheriff sold more than 1150 acres of Peregrine’s land at public auction. (10)

Like his sons before him, Peregrine left North Carolina; in fact, he apparently followed his son Joseph to Woodford County, Kentucky, where on November 3, 1798, he sold to William Magness two slaves for $500. (11) A little over a year later, Peregrine and his sons George and Joseph (and probably Robert) were all in Warren County, Kentucky, where Peregrine on May 8, 1800, made his will. He left all his property (which was probably very little by that time) to his wife Mary to dispose of as she pleased. George and Joseph Magness were named executors, and the will was proved in July 1800. (12) The exact burial place of Peregrine Magness is not now known. Some have thought that he was buried in North Carolina, but I believe that to be extremely unlikely. I would think that he is buried somewhere in Warren County, Kentucky, in an unmarked grave. How long his wife Mary survived him is not now known.

All the children of Peregrine Magness and his wife Mary are not definitely established, but evidence indicates that they had the following ten sons and one daughter.

Children of Peregrine Magness and wife Mary

1. William Magness was born about 1747 in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and moved with his parents to Virginia and later to Tryon County, North Carolina, which in 1779 became Rutherford and Lincoln Counties. William served as captain of a company in Col. Wm. Graham’s Tryon Regiment of Militia during February and March of 1776. (13) William began acquiring land by 1774 (14) and by the time of his death owned about 2500 acres. The 1790 Lincoln County Census shows him with 12 slaves; the 1810 census shows him with 19 slaves. William Magness never married, and he died on May 6, 1816, “Intestate and without legitimate issue.” (15) His estate was eventually divided into seven shares, which went to his living brothers and sisters, and to the heirs of those deceased. However, there was considerable litigation, and the estate was not settled until 1825. Much of what we know about the family comes from these court proceedings. In 1819 four of William’s brothers (Robert, Jonathan, Joseph, and Samuel) brought suit against the administrators, John Roberts and Benjamin Magness. The suit claimed that personal property had been sold worth about $17,000.00 but that still unaccounted for were nine slaves and a large quantity of cider and brandy. (16) When the real estate was divided in 1825, each of the seven shares was valued at $1400.00ma a considerable sun for that time. William Magness was buried near Shelby, North Carolina, on Buffalo Creek in what is now Cleveland County, North Carolina, in the same cemetery as his sister Sarah Roberts and her family. His tombstone says “Sacred to the Memory of William Magness, who died May 6, 1816, age 69 years.

2. James Magness was probably a son of Peregrine and Mary Magness, but no conclusive evidence has been found to establish him positively as one of their children. James was probably born about 1750 in Maryland. On August 2, 1778, in Tryon County, North Carolina, he made claim to 150 acres on Little Broad River, but the claim was denied because someone else had a prior claim. At the October 1783 Rutherford County, North Carolina, Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, and inventory of the estate of James Magness was returned by Abraham Collins, administrator. (Collins appears as a witness on several Magness deeds.) James Magness was apparently unmarried and died with heirs. Some have thought that James died at the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781, and this seems quite possible, though no record has been found at this time.

3. Perrigreen Magness, Jr., was born in 1753 in Prince George’s County, Maryland. He was technically Perrigreen Magness III, but apparently was never so designated. Both he and his father were sometimes referred to as Perrigreen Magness, Jr., causing occasional confusion. He apparently enlisted in the army on two successive years. He was age 21 and 5 feet 9 inches tall on July 1, 1775 when he enlisted in Captain Eli Kershaw’s Company of Colonel Thompson’s Regiment of South Carolina Rangers. His name also appears on the roll of Colonel William Thompson’s 3rd South Carolina Regiments, with an enlistment date of July 24, 1776. he probably died in early 1785, as William Magness was appointed administrator of his estate in April 1785 by the Rutherford County, North Carolina, Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. The inventory showed that he owned four horses and 60 gallons of whiskey (which were sold to William Magness for 32 pounds 5 shillings) and that Ben Magness owed the estate 10 pounds. He was apparently unmarried and died without heirs.

4. Benjamin Magness is said by one source to have been born April 6, 1754, in St. Georges Parish, Prince Geroge’s County, Maryland, and to have died January 26, 1828, in Rutherford County, North Carolina. (17) He was married about 1775 to Katie Mooney, Daughter of Jacob Mooney, and they had probably eight children. He married second July 10, 1808 in Rutherford County, Nancy Walker, by whom he had four children. On October 20, 1779, he bought 200 acres on Sandy Run Creek. (18) He is listed in the 1790 census of Rutherford County with 1 male over 16, 5 males under 16, and 3 females. Benjamin and his brother-in-law John Roberts in 1816 were appointed administrators of his deceased brother William, (19) a difficult job which lasted nine years. Benjamin himself had a large amount of property at the time of his death. One source says Benjamin had a child jeremiah born 1779 and crushed to death by soldiers in 1781. (20) His other children were named in his will:

I. Perry Green Magness, born about 1777, lived in Berrien Co., Michigan.

II. Jacob Magness, born about 1781, died 9 Nov. 1855 in Rutherford Co., NC, married 21 Aug. 1806 in Bath Co., NC, to Edith Webb.

III. Mary Ann Magness, b. about 1783, d. 1860 Cleveland Co., NC, married John Washburn, 1779-1857.

IV. James Magness

V. Benjamin Magness, Jr.

VI. William Magness, married 29 Jan. 1818 Rutherford Co., NC to Sarah Hamrick.

VII. Catherine Magness, b. about 1790, married 7 Jul 1810 to John Reynolds.

Children by second wife, Nancy Walker

VIII. Joseph Magness, b. 7 Jan. 1810, m. 19 Dec. 1827 Rutherford Co., NC Esther Beam.

IX. Sarah Magness, b. about 1812, m. 14 Nov. 1831 to Benjamin Franklin Goode.

X. Samuel Magness, b. 22 Aug. 1817, d. 5 Oct. 1894, Cleveland Co., NC. Married first Susanna Grigg, second 20 Aug. 1868 Mary Whisnant.

5. Jonathan Magness, also known as John, was born about 1756 in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and is said to have died in 1834 in Independence County, Arkansas. he married about 1779 Patty------, by whom he had several children. She died at age 74 on March 8, 1832, in Independence County, Arkansas. (21) Jonathan married second on June 3, 1832 in Independence County, Rebecca Hammond. The Arkansas Gazette of July 18, 1832, in reporting their marriage mentions that Jonathan was 76 and Rebecca was 20. They are said to have had one daughter Mary Ann, who died young.

Jonathan in 1779 was granted 150 acres on Big Hickory Creek in Tryon County, joining land of his father. He sold this land in 1790, having in 1788 bought 300 acres on Brushy Creek in Rutherford County, which eh sold in 1794, it being the “Place where said John Magness now lives.” (22) He had five more tracts of land, but in the summer of 1796 they were sold by the sheriff at the same time that much of Jonathan’s father’s land was sold by the sheriff. Apparently this was a result of Jonathan’s making bond for his brother George in the Rutherford County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions in October 1794. When George did not fulfill his obligations, the bond was forfeited, and the sheriff sold the land of both Jonathan and Perrigreen Magness. Both of them had also made bond for Robert Magness with similar results. Jonathan apparently left North Carolina about this time. He may have gone with his father to Warren County, Kentucky, or to Davidson County, Tennessee. A few years later he was in neighboring Wilson County, Tennessee, where on 24 August 1806 he paid $800 for 640 acres near Stones River and the Davidson County line. Witnesses were his sons Perry Green and John. On 3 Sept. 1807 he paid $640 for another 640-acre tract on Stuart’s Creek in Wilson County, Tennessee; his sons John and David M. were witnesses. (23)

About this time Jonathan Magness and his sons became involved with a man named Patton Anderson, an involvement which would have a profound effect on their lives for years to come. The precise nature of their quarrel is not known; it is said to have begun in a land transaction. Whatever it was, it developed very strong feelings on both sides, with bitter disputes between Anderson and Magness whenever they met. They met in October 1810 at the Bedford County courthouse, where the case was to be heard. Before the judge arrived, Jonathan Magness and Patton Anderson began to discuss their old grievance, and both became highly excited. Jonathan’s sons Perry Green and David were standing near, and when Patton Anderson raised his hand with a large knife in it, David Magness drew his pistol and shot Anderson dead. He then gave himself up to the authorities, saying that he did it to save his father from being killed.

The trial was held in November 1810 at the Williamson County courthouse in Franklin, Tennessee. A rather detailed account of the proceedings is given by John B. Cowden in his book Tennessee’s Celebrated Case, published in 1958. Cowden’s basic account is factual, but he had the mistaken idea that the Perry Green Magness involved was Perry Green Magness (1796-1884) of DeKalb County, Tennessee. (Perry Green Magness of DeKalb County was actually a son of George, making him a younger first cousin of the Perry Green Magness involved in this case. See George Magness listing.)

Andrew Jackson was a friend of Patton Anderson, and he vowed that all three Magnesses would hang. Jackson appeared as a character witness for Anderson, but the Magnesses had hired the very able Felix Grundy as their attorney; he would one day be Attorney General of the United States. The trial is said to have lasted two weeks and had dozens of witnesses, but when the verdict was returned, David Magness was found guilty not of murder, but of manslaughter. He was sentenced to eleven months imprisonment and to have his left hand branded with the letter M, which was done.

Jonathan Magness was returned to jail to await his trial, which for various reasons was delayed until May 1812, when he was acquitted by the jury. David then had served his eleven months, but both were still in jail in Nashville. Good lawyers were expensive then, as they are now, and evidently legal charges had taken all the money and property of Jonathan Magness and his sons. When they were required to pay the court costs of some $800, they were unable to do so. They were then held in jail until they should pay. They applied to the Circuit Court to be discharged under the law for the relief of insolvent debtors, but were rejected and so faced the prospect of “perpetual imprisonment.” On September 9. 1812, both Jonathan Magness and his son David petitioned the Tennessee Legislature to release them. No record of action on these petitions was found in the Journal of the 1813 General Assembly, and exactly when the Magnesses were released is not now known.

Apparently all of them left Tennessee. Jonathan’s son Perry Green was in Arkansas in 1814, and on January 5, 1815, was appointed a justice of the peace in Independence County. Jonathan’s son David Magness, who was branded, apparently became a major in the militia in Arkansas, and on July 4, 1822, made an outstanding patriotic speech at the Independence County Grand Jubilee. (24) Jonathan Magness in 1817 was in Lawrence County, Missouri Territory; (25) in 1819 he was still in Missouri. By 1826 Jonathan was living in Independence Co., Arkansas, (26) where he apparently spent the remainder of his life. Little information is available to me on the children of Jonathan Magness and his wife Patty.

Those I have are:

I. David M. Magness, lived in Independence Co., Arkansas.

II. Perry Green Magness, married Mary ----- (possibly Mary Steele in 1807 in Tennessee), had several children, died in 1828 in Independence Co., Arkansas.

III. John Magness, who married and had descendants in White Co., Arkansas.

IV. William Magness

V. Morgan Magness, born December 18, 1796, died September 1, 1871. married first May 14, 1827 Kezziah Ann Elliott, second june 23, 1845 Susan Dunnigan, 5 children.

6. Zadchariah Magness was probably born about 1759 in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and appears to be the son of Peregrine Magness and wife Mary. More research needs to be done on Zachariah, but the records of Morgan District Superior Court of North Carolina reveals quite a bit. In 1789 Zachariah was convicted of raping Arabella Twity Magness, wife of his brother Joseph; She also accused Joseph of aiding and abetting the act. The papers of Morgan District Superior Court (in Bucked County?) show that on March 12, 1789, the sheriff of Rutherford County was commanded to seize 54 pounds and 9 shillings from the property of Zachariah Magness for debts and sossts in the Morgan Superior Court of Law and Equity “in that case expended whereof the said Zachariah Magmess is convicted and liable of record.” He was convicted, but his sentence has not been found at this time. In 1789, long prison terms were seldom given; the usual sentences were whipping, branding, or hanging. Was Zachariah executed? or did he receive other punishment and move away? His name has not been found further in the North Carolina records. No claim was made on the estate of his brother William Magness who died in 1816, so we assume that Zachariah had died without heirs by that time.

7. Samuel Magness was born about 1716, probably in Frederick County Virginia. he is thought to have married first about 1784 Mary Morgan, and second by 1800 Nancy Ragin. Nancy and Samuel signed a deed on 22 january 1800, recorded in Greenville Co., SC Deed Book E, page 405. By 1790 Samuel Magness was living in Greenville County, South Carolina with a son and two daughters; by 1800 he had five daughters and three sons. On 3 May 1792 Samuel had a land transaction recorded in Greenville County Deed Book C, page 436. Samuel was still living in Breenville County on December 19, 1817, when he sold his share of the William magness estate to his brother-in-law, John Roberts, for $625. (27) Nevertheless, he joined his three brothers in 1819 in a lawsuit over William’s personal property. (28) Samuel Magness is thought to have moved to Arkansas about 1828, first to Independence County, then to marion County. On 15 August 1829 he made a deed as Samuel Magness of the Territory of Arkansas, County of Independence. (29) Samuel Magness died in Marion County, Arkansas, in 1831. His wife Nancy died there in 1841. Samuel had several children by his two wives; some of their names are not known.

I. James Magness, b. 25 May 1789 South Carolina, died 2 Aug. 1872 Marion Co., Arkansas. married 22 July 1813 in South Carolina to Narcissa Barnett, b. 12 Feb. 1796 SC, died 26 May 1862 in marion Co., Arkansas.

II. Joseph Magness, born about 1790 South Carolina, died 1840’s Marion Co., Arkansas, married Martha (Patsy) Springfield in South Carolina.

III. Perry Green Magness, born about 1801 Greenville Co., SC, married Jane -----. Lived Union Co., Ga 1850, later in Polk Co., Tn., and died after 1880, probably in Fannin Co., Ga. (both James and Perry Green are mentioned as sons of Samuel Magness in Greenville Co., SC Deed Book Q, page 86.)

IV. Elizabeth (Betty) Magness born about 1810 SC, died 14 July 1889 in Independence Co., Arkansas, married there on 20 Sept. 1829 to Washington Bradley.

Other Possible children of Samuel:

V. David Y. Magness, born 1785 NC

VI. Mary Magness, married ------ Johnson.

VII. Robert Magness, born about 1809, possibly married Sally Wherle.

VIII. Daughter who married John Owens.

8. Robert Magness was born about 1763, probably in Frederick County, Virginia, and died June 22, 1837, in Pulaski County, Arkansas. Some think that his first Wife was Mary Wilson and that his second wife was Lydia Gamble. his wife at the time of his death was Sarah. During the 1790’s at least four of the Magness sons had difficulties with the legal authorities. Robert Magness at this time was tried for stealing a horse and acquitted, but later convicted of perjury. Not wishing to take the punishment (which could be quite harsh), Robert apparently left the State. His bond was forfeited, leaving his father and his brother Jonathan to pay it. They could not, and their land had to be sold. Some was sold to Peregrine’s sons William and Benjamin, but much of it was sold by the sheriff. In the summer of 1796, then tracts in Rutherford County, North Carolina, belonging to Jonathan magness or to his father Peregrine were sold by the sheriff.

Probably Robert went to Kentucky and joined his brother Joseph; in 1801 Robert claimed land in Warren County, Kentucky, on Little Beaver Dam Creek. (30) By 1805 Robert was in Rutherford County, Tennessee; on June 13 he bought lot no. 2 in the town of Jefferson in the forks of Stones River, not far from his brother Jonathan in Wilson County. (31) In 1817 Robert was living in Arkansas (now New Madrid) County, Missouri Territory, and in 1819 he was still in Missouri. (32) He later moved to Pulaski County, Arkansas, where he died in 1837, leaving a will which indicates that he then owned 406 acres of land and two slaves. He names in his will ten children: sons Robert, William, John, Samuel, James, and Thomas, and daughters Eddney Ann Magness, Elizabeth harden, Sarah Adams, and Mary Baker.

9. Joseph Magness was born about 1765, probably in Bedford County, Virginia. The time of his death is not known; he was still living in 1825. On August 3, 1787, in North Carolina he married Arabella Twitty. In 1789 Joseph’s brother Zachariah was convicted of raping Arabella, and she accused Joseph of aiding and abetting the crime. he and Arabella evidently divorced, but jus when is uncertain. On August 10, 1792, Arabella Twitty Magness sold 85 acres which had been granted to her in 1786, before her marriage. (33) The Rutherford County, NC, Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions in April 1793 shows on the trial docket Arabella Magness vs. Joseph Magness, but the case was dismissed. The trial docket for April 1794 shows Polly Durham vs. Joseph Magness for slander, but that case was not prosecuted. It apparently arose from Polly Durham’s difficulties with Joseph’s brother George at the same time.

Probably Joseph Magness had his divorce by 1794; he and Arabella evidently had no children. He saw only further problems ahead in North Carolina. He left Carolina for what was then the West, and on February 19, 1795, in Woodford County, Kentucky, he was married to Betsy Stewart. By 1798 Joseph’s father, Peregrine Magness, was also living in Woodford County, Kentucky, having lost all his land in North Carolina. In 1800 Joseph and Perigrine were in Warren County, Kentucky, where Joseph’s name is on the tax list. Possibly Robert Magness was also there; he appears in the Warren County records in 1801. Joseph’s brother George was also in Warren County. Peregrine died between May and July of 1800, leaving a will naming Joseph and George as executors.(34) The only clue we have to Joseph’s children is in the 1810 census of Warren County, which shows him with one male under 10 and three females age 10 t0 16, besides the two adults age 26 to 45. Joseph and wife Elizabeth (Betsy) sold 200 acres in Warren County in 1811, but they continued to live in Warren County. (35)

Joseph Magness served in the War of 1812, from September 1 to December 25, 1812, in the company of Captain Alexander Stuart, Miller’s 3rd Regiment. Alexander Stuart was very likely a relative of Joseph’s wife Betsy Stewart. On October 9, 1816, Joseph Magness of Warren County, Kentucky, gave his power of attorney to Alexander Stewart to represent him concerning the estate of Joseph’s brother William Magness in North Carolina. (36) On July 7, 1817, Joseph Magness is in a list of those working on a road, (37) but his name is not found in the Warren County records after that date.

Possibly he returned to North Carolina to claim his inheritance and to make his home. On February 7, 1825, he received as his part of the William Magness real estate 400 acres on Hickory Creek, along with another tract on Main Hickory Creek. A short time later, on April 26, 1825, he sold 191 acres of this property, and he is referred to in the deed as a resident of Rutherford County, North Carolina. (38) We presently have no further information on Joseph Magness, nor do we know the names of his children or how many he had.

10. George Magness was born about 1768 in Tryon County, North Carolina, and died between 1800 and 1816, possibly in Kentucky. George, like some of his brothers, was in various legal difficulties. as with Zachariah and Robert, the court records are not complete, but they furnish enough information to give us a general idea of what was taking place. George made his appearance in court when he was still young; in July 1785 he was about 17 when Benjamin Rice and Benjamin Magness made a 200 pound bond that George would appear in Morgan District Superior Court of Law and Equity on 1 September 1785. On September 7, 1792, George and his brother Robert appeared in the same court to give testimony in a case.

In April 1794 George had not one but two cases of his own. One was in the Rutherford County, North Carolina , Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, where the trial docket showed Polly Durham vs. George Magness, but the case was dismissed. The same docket showed Polly Durham vs. Joseph Magness for slander, but that case was not prosecuted. Just as swell that these were dismissed, as George had big trouble in the Lincoln County, North Carolina, Court of Pleas and Quarter SEssions. In the April 1794 Session he was found guilty of petty larceny and ordered to “receive ten lashes on his Bare Back well laid on by the Sheriff Between the hours of twelve and one o’clock this Day at the public whipping post.” This should have tamed him somewhat, but he already had more trouble underway back in Rutheford County. Polly Durham, whose case was dismissed in April, by October 1794 had been delivered of a “base born child.” George was evidently the father, as his brother John Magness made 200 pound bond on behalf of George Magness to indemnify the county from having to maintain the child. (This child was Sarah Magness, Born 1794, who later married William Hicks and lived in Tennessee.) Still more trouble lay ahead for George. In 1795 he was tried in the Morgan District Superior Court in Burke County, North Carolina, on an accusation of horse stealing, but found not guilty. He was nevertheless charged with the court costs and held in jail from June 26, 1795, to September 16, 1795, when a hearing was held at which George declared that he had no “property or money to pay and satisfy the costs, saving the clothes and apparel which eh commonly wears.” (One of the witnesses called was Abraham Collins, the same man who was administrator of the James Magness estate in 1783.) Apparently George was released from jail on or about September 16, 1795, and almost exactly nine months later, on May 23, 1796, a son named Perry Green Magness was born to him and Polly Durham. Though no record has been found, we assume that George Magness and Polly Durham were married, as in 1824 Perry Green Magness was declared in court to be “the son and only heir at law of George Magness.” Under the North Carolina law, only children of a legal marriage could inherit where there was no will. George’s daughter Sarah, having already been declared base born by the October 1794 court, had no right of inheritance.

Probably neither Polly nor her two children were concerned at this point with rights of inheritance; they were simply trying to survive. George owned no property; he had acquired 50 acres in 1793, but had to sell it in 1795. (39) He was no provider, and evidently he and Polly did not live together long. There were no more children, and she probably returned to her family. George’s name appears in the Burke County, NC, Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for October 1799, when he was listed as owing more than 8 pounds for his maintenance in jail. Whether this was the old debt from his 1795 stay or a debt from a more recent time is not clear, but he was believed to be insolvent. Probably in 1799 George joined his father in Warren County, Kentucky. Peregrine’s will, proved in July 1800, names George and his brother Joseph as executors. No further record of George Magness has been found. He was dead by 1816, but we know no more. In all the years of litigation over the William Magness estate, the only mention is of “George Magness deceased”; no record is found of when or where he died.

George’s two children went with their mother to her family; they probably lived with or near their mother’s sister Sarah Durham and her husband Abraham Cantrell, and moved with them about 1809 to Warren (now DeKalb) County, Tennessee. Perry Green Magness married Mary Cantrell early in 1815; in 1816 he got the news of the death of William Magness. Perry Green apparently never went to North Carolina himself to see about his uncle William’s estate, but he made at least three different powers of attorney regarding it. The first two are recorded in Lincoln County, NC, Deed book 28, pages 37 and 686. He made one on 4 September 1816 in Warren County, Tennessee, giving power of attorney to Francis Alexander. The following year Perry Green had moved to Orange County, Indiana, where he lived for a year or more before moving back to Warren County, Tennessee. On May 24, 1817, (he had his 21st birthday on May 23) in Orange County, Indiana, Perrygreen Magness “son of George Magness Dec’d” gave power of attorney to Berryman Hicks of Rutherford County, North Carolina. (Berryman Hicks was married to Elizabeth Durham, sister of Perry Green’s mother.) A third power of attorney was recorded in Rutherford County, NC Deed Book 34, page 135, and is even more specific as to his relation to George Magness. It was made 4 December 1817 in Orange County, Indiana, by Perrygreen Magness, “son and lawful heir of George Magness, decd.,” and gives authority to Berryman Hicks.

Berryman Hicks had difficulty establishing Perry green as George’s legal heir. Perry Green never claimed to be George’s only child; he did claim to be his only legal heir. The Execution Docket of the Superior Court of Law and Equity in Lincoln County, North Carolina, shows that in October 1818 the heirs of William Magness petitioned for a division of the real estate. No division was made, however, and in October 1824 the case of Heirs of Wm. Magness vs. Perrigrene magness was brought to a jury, which found “that the said Perregrine Magness is the son and only heir at law of George Magness dec’d, a brother to Wm. Magness dec’d.” The real estate was ordered to be devided into seven parts, of which Perry Green Magness would receive one.

Actually the seventh part went to Berryman Hicks, who had agreed to pay Perry Green Magness $1500 for Perry Green’s share of the estate if Berryman Hicks succeeded in establishing Perry Green’s claim. Difficulties must have arisen over that after Berryman Hicks died about 1842. In the North Carolina Archives, the Cleveland County Miscellaneous Files contain the suit of Hazael Hicks, admr. of Berryman Hicks, vs. John Roberts, admr. of William Magness. Within this suit is a deposition of Perry G. Magness, aged about 48 years, at Smithville, DeKalb Co., Tennessee 27 May 1844, stating that “I did transfer my interest in the estate of my uncle Wm. Magness deceased to the said Berryman Hicks about the year 1817 or 1818. We came to a settlement about the year 1825.” A second deposition was made by Perry G. Magness, aged about 51 years at Smithville, DeKalb County, Tennessee, on 17 July 1847, stating “I did sell and transfer my interest in said estate to Berryman Hicks for fifteen hundred dollars, provided he established my heirship in said estate.”

With the $1500 , which was a considerable sum at the time, Perry Green Magness bought land and made investments and became a merchant. his sons and grandsons became merchants and bankers, and many of them prospered greatly. Whether Perry Green’s sister was given any of the money is not known; it is known that she was provided for in her old age by her brother Perry Green. Their mother Polly Durham magness, married in Warren County, Tennessee, about 1827 Benjamin Cantrell She died a few years later, between 1830 and 1840. The two children of George Magness and Polly Durham both lived in Warren and DeKalb Counties, Tennessee.

I. Sarah (Sally) Magness, born September 1794 in Rutherford County, North Carolina, married about 1812 William Hicks, died 1880-1900 probably in DeKalb County, Tennessee. Eight or more children.

II. Perry Green Magness, born may 23, 1796, in Rutherford County, North Carolina, married 1815 in Warren County, Tennessee to Mary Cantrell (1799-1863), died March 1, 1884, in DeKalb County, Tennessee. Twelve children.

11. Sarah Magness, was born February 16, 1772, in Tryon County, North Carolina, and died October 16, 1828, in Lincoln County, North Carolina. She was the last child and only known daughter of Peregrine Magness and his wife Mary. Sarah married about 1790 John Roberts, later known as Colonel John Roberts. he was born July 16, 1767, in Chesterfield County, Virginia, and died June 30, 1847, in Cleveland County, North Carolina. They lived near Sarah’s brother William, and John Roberts was an administrator of the sizable estate of William Magness. William Magness, John and Sarah Roberts, and four of the Roberts children are buried at the Roberts Cemetery in Cleveland County, North Carolina. I have been sent a list of eleven children of John and Sarah Roberts. The dates do not completely match those I have of the tombstones in the Roberts Cemetery.

I. Mary (Polly) Roberts, born about 1791, died 1850, married 10 Feb. 1810 to Charles Doggett.

II. Sarah (Sally) Roberts, born about 1792, died after 1850, married 31 July 1820 to Samuel Green.

III. Joshua Roberts, born about 1795, died about 1865 Buncombe Co., NC. Married Lucinda Patton. JOshua is said to have been mayor of Asheville, NC.

IV. William Roberts, born Sept. 10, 1796, died Oct. 4, 1865. Known as Squire Billy. Married first 2 April 1839 Mary Fulenwider, second Katherine Wray.

V. Thomas Roberts, born August 2, 1799 (or 1794), died August 16, 1841, married 3 Oct. 1820 to Eliza Warlick.

VI. Perry Green Roberts, born October 19, 1801, died November 21, 1837, unmarried.

VII. Morris Roberts, born December 22, 1808, died December 10, 1875, married Dedcember 21, 1838 to Susannah Adams.

VIII. John Martin Roberts, born about 1811, died July 31, 1848.

IX. Rufus A. Roberts, born December 11, 1816, died August 27, 1835,unmarried.

X. Jane P. Roberts, married December 13, 1836 to peter Summey.

XI. Susannah Roberts, married Charles Smith.

This completes the children of Peregrine Magness, Jr., (1722-1800) and his wife Mary.

Peregrine Magness Jr. (1722-1800)

End Notes

(1). Prince George’s Co., Maryland Deed Book Q, p. 218.

(2). Prince George’s Co., Maryland Deed Book NN, p. 522.

(3). Calendar of Maryland State Pagers, The Black Book, 1758-59, p. 137.

(4). Prince George’s Co., Maryland Deed Book RR, p. 44.

(5). Prince George’s Co., Maryland Deed Book RR, p. 231.

(6). Tryon Co., North Carolina Deed Book, 1, p. 51.

(7). Griffin, Clarance W., History of Old Tryon and Rutherford Counties, North Carolina, 1730-1936. Asheville, 1937. Pages 10, 16, 18, and 27.

(8). Griffin, History, p. 122.

(9). Rutherford Co., NC Deed Book M-Q, p. 241.

(10). Rutherford Co., NC Deed Book R, pages 52, 54, 62, 64, 66, and 92.

(11). Lincoln Co., NC Deed Book 19, p. 16.

(12). Warren Co., Kentucky Will Book A, p. 16.

(13). Roster of North Carolina Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, page 42.

(14). Tryon Co., NC Deed Book 2, p. 31.

(15). Lincoln Co., NC Chancery Court of Equity, Magness suit, April 23, 1819.

(16). Same.

(17). Rutherford Co., NC, Deed Book 2, p. 31.

(18). Rutherford Co., NC, Deed Book J-L, p. 198.

(19). Lincoln Co., NC Chancery Court of Equity, 23 April 1819.

(20). Heritage of Cleveland County, Vol. I, p. 409.

(21). Arkansas Gazette, 21 March 1832.

(22). Rutherford Co., Nc Deed Book J-L, pages 224 and 407.

(23). Wilson County, Tennessee Deed Books B, p. 227 and C, p. 113.

(24). Shinn, Joseph H., Pioneers and Makers of Arkansas, Little Rock, 1908, page ---.

(25). Lincoln Co., NC Deed Book 28, p. 36.

(26). Lincoln Co., NC Deed Book 36, p. 38.

(27). Lincoln Co., NC Deed Book 28, p. 160.

(28). Lincoln Co., NC Chancery Court of Equity, Magness suit, April 23, 1819.

(29). Greenville Co., South Carolina Deed Book Q. p. 223.

(30). Warren County, Kentucky Order Book B. p. 82.

(31). Rutherford County, Tennessee Deed Book B, p. 82.

(32). Lincoln Co., NC Deed Book 28, p. 106, and Lincoln Co., NC Chancery Court of Equity, Magness suit, 23 April 1819.

(33). Rutherford Co., NC Deed Book J-L, p. 123.

(34). Warren Co., Kentucky Will Book A, p. 16.

(35). Warren Co., Kentucky Deed Book 5, p. 447.

(36). Lincoln Co., NC Deed Book 27, p. 383.

(37). Warren Co., Kentucky Order Book E, p. 123.

(38). Rutherford Co., NC Deed Book 35, pages 221 and 224.

(39). Rutherford Co., NC Deed Book R. p. 95.

Appendix to the Magness History

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