LETTERS ON THE ESTATE
JOHN PRIOR STOTESBURY
(Five Letters dated 1848-1849)
Letter # 1
[To: Wm. B. Rodman]
Swan Quarter June 25 / 48
Yours of 17th inst. is before me, also Woodwards & Dusenburys. From what they say, such cases as ours seldom do well. I have been at considerable expence & I am willing to expend more rather than abandon it. If Mr. Warner is a enterprizing man, he will be able to discover something deep in this matter, in addition to the evidence in your possession. We are able to prove by a Mrs. Satterthwaite of this Co. that she was present when her father (viz.) Parson Winfield celebrated the Rights of Matrimony between the mother of these heirs & Dr. Jno. Prior Stotesbury. Inclosed you will find $50.00. You will please keep it moving. As to my own individual part anything I can do in (this) matter, I will do cheerfully, for I am anxious to bring the matter to a focus. I am Sir at your service.
Wm. B. Tooly
Note: I believe William B. Tooley had Power of Attorney from James B. Stotesbury therefore was hoping for a substancial return for his efforts in this case.
Note: The mother was Sarah "Sally" Gurganus, daughter of Aaron Gurganus (Sr.) and Wealthy Winfield. Parson Winfield is believed to have been Wealthy (Winfield) Gurganus' father.
Note: William Blount Rodman was a attorney, later an officer in the Confederate Army and a Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. At the time of these letters, he resided in Washington, Beaufort Co., NC, as did attorneys Woodward & Dusenbury. Mr. Warner and Tho. J. Sparks were attorneys in New York City. William B. Tooley was an attorney in Hyde County, and it appears that he had an interest in James Brady Stotesbury's share of any monetary return. Lawyers...... they're everywhere. Lord help us!!!
Letter # 2 [Page 1]
[To: Thomas Warner]
Washington, N.C. 27 June 1848
I enclose your fifty dollars. I would have got a check on N.York but could find none in market. I suppose it is not material. Accompanying this you will find:
1 - various letters to John P. Stokesbury, particularly one from Will: Conery, and memoranda made by him of the amount of the rents due him.
2 - lines from J.P.S.
3 - a list of articles left by him with Wm. Conery, 2 July, 1788, & rents received by Conery up to 1811 when J.P.S. visited Ireland, -- also a statement by J.P.S. of rents due him up to 1831. – You will precieve that J.P.S. endorsed on the lines his marriage with Sarah Gurganus, & the names of his children. The eldest son, William Clark Stokesbury died under age & without issue. The second son James B. S. is now living [sic].
John P.S. made a will which is dated 29 Aug., 1835 & was proved at Sept. Term 1847 of Beaufort County Court, by which he gives all his estate real & personal in Ireland to his son, Arthur H. Stokesbury who died before his father J.P.S. I have not sent you a copy of this will as it does not affect the right of the matter & its introduction into the case would complicate it & require more evidence, than would otherwise be necessary. If you desire it however I will forward it. I will also forward to you a power of attorney from James B. S. Please inform me to whom it should be made & how it should be proved.
The marriage of J.P.S. & Sarah Gurganus, -- the birth of James B. S. & the death of John P. S. & [Page 2] his eldest son can all easily be proven. But I suppose that need only be done in due time, -- after suit.
Please write me fully what you think of the chance, & from time to time what is required to be done. The claimant J.B.S. & all his family are poor but he is willing to give a blind compensation out of his.
Will. B. Rodman
Note on side of Page 2: Stokesbury business: sent a letter similar to this & check for $50 to Woodward & Dusenbury for Mr. Warner.
Note: Wouldn't it be fantastic to see the various letters, list of articles, etc. and lines from John Prior Stotesbury which were sent to Thomas Warner in New York. I've wondered if the American bar Association might have an archives somewhers?
Note: John Prior Stotesbury calls Will Connery his brother-in-law. This must be because John Prior Stotesbury’s brother (half-brother?), George Stotesbury (d.c.1805) of Swiftsheath, County Kilkenny, Ireland, married Judith (Connery) Stotesbury.
Note: James B. S. = James Bradish "Brady" Stotesbury, claims to be eldest surviving son, but for some reason, he fails to mention his older brother, John Aaron Stokesbury, or for that much, his younger brother, Ira H. Stotesbury. This must be why Mr. Tooley didn't send the others the will of JPS, which lists his heirs as John, James, Ira & Arthur Stokesbury, and Polly Manduel, with son John named first. Maybe he didn’t want to cut John or Ira in on any inheritance coming from Ireland? According to the 1850 Hyde Co., NC census, John Aaron was a large landowner with a number of slaves. Neither James Brady or Ira H. owned land or slaves. It would appear from this that since Arthur H. had died before his father, the property of John Prior Stotesbury went to John Aaron Stokesbury.
Letter # 3 [Page 1]
Attorney, Cousellor, etc.
18 City Hall Place
New York City
November 13th 1848,
William B. Rodman, Esqr.
Through our mutual friends Messrs. Woodward & Dusenbury I have had the gratification of becoming acquainted with you: and from them I, on the 11th instant received your letter of the 27 ult., together with Sundry deeds, papers &c Inre. James B. Stokesbury and a retaining fee of $50 for all of which you will please accept my thanks.
As you request an early answer I proceed without delay to reply to your kind favor above referred to: -- You will not however of course expect of me at this early period a very full or lengthy opinion of the claim: -- But I am prepared already to state that of the vast number of such claims which come under my cognizance there are but very very few which have so favorably impressed me as to the merits and probable success as this of Mr. Stokesburys.
The various documents you have kindly furnished, and the light they afford me in seeing where to go for such other information as may be needed and which can I think be obtained tolerably easily is also another pleasing feature in the case and one which tends to make me more sanguine as to the result.
I perceive however by the letter from Connelly the Agent, or his friend (I do not at the moment remember who is the writer) mention is made of a former wife of Dr. Stokesbury which former wife if what the letter states is true he left in Ireland. I can readily imagine all this to be a fiction, But if it is no fiction but stern and sad [Page 2] reality it may as you will of course readily perceive strike at the root of our clients legitimacy: Will you therefore please get, and forward to me as quickly as practicable whatever information you can obtain from him or any other source as to whether there was a former Mrs. Stokesbury in Ireland or not. If there was; when she died; whether whe had children or not; If she had, what became of them, &c., &c., &c.
As soon as you forward the above particulars to me I will write to my correspondent and also to a friend in Dublin (which is only about 70 miles distant from the property) from both of whom I shall I have no doubt be speedily able to obtain intelligence of who is now in possession of the property; what has been the result of the legal procedings in regard to it which are referred to in some of your papers; and also such other general information in regard to it as will enable us to know what to do Judiciously as to further proceedings.
With this course in view you will perceive it is impossible for me at present to say anything in refard to terms; nor do I see that I can do so until I hear from Ireland; and in order to expedite the matter as much as possible. Please send me promptly the information above solicited; and afterwards while I am getting the required news from Ireland you can be procuring for me the necessary evidence of marriages, births, deaths, &c in America which will attend to whatever may be necessary as to Powers of Attorney &c. Hoping soon to have the pleasure of again [Page 3] hearing from you, I remain Sir,
Washington, North Carolina
Note: In 1788, Hyde Co., NC, John Prior Stokesbury married 1st to Margaret McCreath, both "of Ye Ancient Kingdom of Ireland". [McCreath may be a misspelling of McGarth ?]. I believe that Margaret (McCreath) Stokesbury must be the other wife mentioned above. She was probably deceased by 1792, prior to his 2nd marriage to Sally Gurganus.
Letter # 4 [Page 1]
12 March 1849
Since your letter of the 7th inst. Reached me, I have been making inquires respecting its contents and I find as regards Escker, that it was a farm rented by J. P. Stokesbury and Connery from Mr. St. George (at least Mrs. St. George is now and I presume then was the owner’s wife.) but J. P. Stokesbury having left the Country without perfecting a lease, Connery appears alone to have exercised Jurisdiction over the tennants until some of them became restive, hence litigation and eventually Connery was ousted to the joy of the occupying tennants. As regards Corbellstown (Corbitstown). It appears J. P. Stokesbury or his father, I have been told it was the father or grandfather, sold the property out, with other extensive tracts in the same neighborhood prior to 1770 except that part of Corbells town alluded to in the document sent me called one acre or thereabouts which by virtue of marriage settlement, he could not do, that is to evade this portion was retained. Now as regards Inchabreda, which appears to me to be the only property which some person is now entitled to. I have discovered that when J. P. Stokesbury came to Ireland in 1811, he appears to have sold his interest in this property to John or James Dowling of Ruthstown for 300 Pounds the deed of sale was after disputed by Connery and eventually set aside. But Dowling was allowed by the Court to retain possession until he recovered back the 300 Pounds he paid, by the yearly value of the land, he being an illiterate man. I could not find why it was invalidated, probably it was on the following account & there appears to have been a mortage debt on the property for money to J. P. Stokesbury by a Mr. Parsons Duckett, amount 700 Pounds. Richard Stokesbury, the half brother of J. P. Stokesbury appears to have paid away the debt and thus became the sole owner of the property, as I heard, up to his death he willed this property and I believe he handed over the deed of mortage to James Connery who now receives the rent from the present tennants, Hugh Muldooney and John Dowling I am told, he only gets 20 to 25 Pounds per annum, out of it. I have [Page 2] seen the farm, it appears cut up a good deal by the River Dinan which runs through part of it and is otherwise greatly neglected. I allude to a part of it, the rest is very fine land and I would say in ordinary times worth 30 to 35 Pounds per---
You must perceive that this necessarily is an imperfect account of the extraordinary property which I have discovered has been the Theatre of many litigating parties & whether this Richard Stokesbury has been the lawful heir, of course I could not discover, but several persons of that name have from time to time, been working after the spot, all of whom I find were wretched creatures in great distress, at all events James Connery of Greers Street, Kilkenny is the man now reserving any profit there is by it, which I am told does not reach more than 20 to 30 Pounds. I shall continue to make further inquires which I shall no fail to communicate to you, of course you are not to take what I state as facts, having only heard them.
Yours, &c., &c.
Should you require back the statements sent to me probably you would say so.
William B. Rodman, Esqr.
Washington, North Carolina
Dear W., [Warner]
18 City Hall Place
New York City
12 March 1849
Herewith please receive a copy of the letter received by me from my correspondant in re J. B. Stokesbury. You will perceive that his impressions in some instances are totally at variance with the facts presented by us, but in things he observes that they appear to be founded on heresay only. I write him again in next mail and will write you more fully on receipt of his next letter.
Tho. J. Sparks
for Tho. Warner
Note: The Mr. Parsons Duckett mentioned above is probably James Parsons Duckett of Redmanstown, re: Owen Bushell, 4/11/2001.
Note: Underlined words in the above letter are as they were in the original letter.
Letter # 5
Swan Quarter, N.C. 3rd April, 1849
Yours of the 23rd March is before me together with Mr. Warners. They first speak of Esker and say that J. P. Stotesbury & Conery rented it of Mr. St. George or at least Mrs. St. George is now the owner of it but Stotesbury left the Country before he perfected the lease. If you will Examine the will which you will find in the Courthouse in Washington. You will then find what he says respecting Esker & Conery & if I mistake not he mentions Mrs. St. George at all events Mrs. St. George is mentioned in Some of the documents left with you & Sutch a discovery as he has made about Inchabride. I need only refer to Muldouny & Dowling letters to the heirs in /44. Now St. Johns [St. George ?] will is mentioned together with Esker in a letter written to John P. Stotesbury by his Henry Stotesbury in 1812 - & he wrote Esker & St Johns [St. George ?] will was J. P. Stotesbury as Respects the twenty one thousand pounds sued for in the name of J. P. in 1812 they have mentioned finally I think the information that they have obtained in no way decisive: I yet hope & wish I was on the premisis. You will find the letter of Warner enclosed.
This Same James Conery is the son of Wm. Conery the _____ of J. P. and you will see in a letter written to J. P. by his brother Arthur Stotesbury of Philadelphia that this same James Conery said that the tennants ware pleased with thare leases and doing well. I am dear Sir Yours
William B. Tooly
Note: Reference is made above to: "Muldouny & Dowling letters to the heirs in /44". Is he referring to the Stotesbury heirs??? Does this mean that JPS was deceased by 1844. Although he wrote his will in 1835, it was proved in court til 1847, which actually means he could have died any time in between. I find this letter from Mr. Tooley a little confusing.
Letters # 1, 2 & 3: William Blount Rodman Papers, Special Collections, Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
Letters # 4 & 5: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, Raliegh, NC.