John Ivey (c1730-1774) of Halifax County, NC

John Ivey first appears on 22 June 1762 buying 150 acres from David Rozier on the south shore of the Roanoke River in the vicinity of what is now Roanoke Rapids, Halifax County, North Carolina.1 Where he came from is uncertain, as the deed describes him as already “of Halifax County.”  Halifax County had been carved out of Edgecombe County just three years earlier, but there seem to be no earlier records of John Ivey in either county.

The only other record of him is his will, dated 7 April 1773 and proved a year later at the May Court 1774. 2  The will names his wife Sarah Ivey and “my two children” Patty Ivey and Robert Ivey.  Sarah Ivey was left a lifetime interest in his plantation plus a slave, livestock, and personal property “to raise my children until they marry or attain the age of twenty-one years.”  Robert Ivey was left the bulk of the land excepting one tract devised to the daughter Patty Ivey.  A modest inventory was registered by “dear friend” and brother-in-law Richard Norwood, the executor, in August 17743

Identifying his wife

His wife was Sarah Norwood, daughter of Samuel Norwood whose 1795 will bequeathed land to his son Richard Norwood and personal property to three married daughters and the children of a (unnamed) deceased daughter.4  His only son Richard Norwood, who was unmarried, died within days of his father, leaving his own will dividing his estate among “my three sisters that is living” and the children of “my three sisters that is dead”.5  All six daughters of Samuel Norwood were identified a year later in a petition to partition the Norwood plantation among them.6 Among the six heirs of the deceased daughters were “the heirs of Sarah Ivey late the wife of John Ivey”.  When the land was divided into six parts in May 1797, one-sixth was allotted to Robert Ivey, heir of his mother Sarah Ivey.7

Exploring John Ivey’s origins

It is clear from these and later records that John Ivey was married to Sarah Norwood no later than 1760.  However, her father (and presumably her) lived on the other side of the river in Northampton County until at least 1767.  He appears in numerous Northampton County deed records, with land on the opposite bank of the river from Halifax.  Samuel Norwood was still “of Northampton County” on 29 November 1769 when he bought land just south of the Roanoke in Halifax County.8  A year later he was finally “of Halifax County” when he added 260 acres on Chockoyotte Creek.9  Therefore It is likely that John Ivey was either living in Northampton County when he married Sarah Norwood or had some unique circumstance that put him in the vicinity long enough to meet and marry her.  Unfortunately, marriage records for the period no longer exist in either county.


  1. Patty Ivey (? – by 1797)  She was underage when John Ivey write his will but was of age by 26 September 1789 when she sold her inherited 130 acres to her brother Robert Ivey.10 There are no other records of her, and she must have been dead by May 1797 when she was not listed among the heirs of her mother.11
  2. Robert Ivey (c1760 – 1814)  He was also underage when John Ivey write his will but was probably of age when he witnessed the will of  Sarah Stourdivant in late 1781.12   He was definitely 21 or over by 1782 when the first tax list for Halifax County was compiled.  That suggests a birth no later than 1761, which is confirmed by the 1800 and 1810 censuses that suggest he was born in the period 1755-1765. (I note that numerous postings confuse his, and his birth date, with the Robert Ivey of Wayne County, NC and Georgia.)

    He married Elizabeth Williamson, a daughter of George Williamson and an unknown first wife. George Williamson was one of four children named in the 1764 will of Richard Williamson.13 By his first wife he had Elizabeth and a son named Anderson Williamson. He then married Mary Norwood, another daughter of Samuel Norwood and sister of John Ivey’s wife, by whom he had three children. Sarah was deceased by 1795 when Samuel Norwood wrote his will which left cash legacies to George Williamson Sr. and “my three grandchildren George Williamson, David Williamson, and Tabitha Bishop.”14 He later married Dorothy Mitchell sometime between 1788 when her fathers will was written and 1798 when her mother’s will named her son-in-law George Williamson Sr. executor. George Williamson Sr. died intestate in 1801.

    A later record deals with 640 acres that George Williamson purchased in Rutherford County in 1786 from a Halifax neighbor.15 On 19 August 1804 George Williamson (Junior) and his brother David Williamson both sold their one-fifth interest in this land to Anderson Williamson.16 Anderson Williamson died shortly thereafter leaving the property’s title uncertain; many years later in 1815 Elizabeth Ivey sold her one-fifth interest in that land to her son George Ivey.17

    In the meantime, on 22 May 1804 Robert Ivey and his wife Elizabeth sold her one-fifth interest in George Williamson Sr.’s lands in Halifax which had “descended to sd. Robert Ivey in right of his wife Elizabeth one of the heirs at law”.18

    Robert Ivey’s will was signed on on 21 July 1814 and proved at the November court 1814. 19  He left a life estate in his plantation to his wife Elizabeth Ivey with reversion at her death or remarriage to his sons Robert and Richard.  He left  her additional property “for the use of her and my three youngest children to wit: Elizabeth, Robert & Richard, which three children she is to mentain (sic) until they become of age or marry.”  Slaves, livestock, and other property left to her were to be divided among all his children at her death or remarriage.  Other lands were left to sons John, George, and Benjamin Ivey while slaves were bequeathed to daughters Mary, Susan, Sarah, and Elizabeth.  John Ivey was named executor.  Robert Ivey died at least a month before his will was proved, as the inventory of his personal estate was dated 14 October 1814.20  On 6 December 1814 an estate sale was held that raised over $2,500, about half of which from the sale of a half-dozen slaves. 21

    His widow Elizabeth Ivey evidently kept the family together for the next several years – in the 1820 census her household appears to include all the sons but John and at least some of the daughters.  The children were not traced beyond the 1820s.

    1. John Ivey (c1786 – ?)  He was executor of the wills of both his mother and father, and clearly the eldest child.  His father gifted him 230 acres on Chockoyotte Creek in 181322 and he bought adjoining land in 181623 and 1819. ((Halifax County Deed Book 24, page 587.))  By the 1820 census he was married with a young daughter; his wife’s name was Jane when she released dower in an 1823 deed. 24  The 1850 census gives his age as 64 but that may be understated by a year or two.
    2. George W. Ivey (c1789 – ?)  He married Elenora Adams by license dated 18 November 1823.  He was still in Halifax County in 1840 but the 1850 census of Bedford County, Tennessee records him as age 60 and “Elenor” as age 45. The 1860 census gives his age as 71.
    3. Benjamin W. Ivey (c1790 – ?)  His age was 57 in 1850 but 70 in 1860.  He married Harriet Drake by license dated 22 September 1825.
    4. Robert Mecklenburg William Ivey (1799 – 1854)   He married first Candas (sic) Powell by license dated 18 February 1824  then married Nicey Williams by license dated 25 August 1829.  He seems th eonly member of the family who has been thoroughly researched by descendants, so I did not attempt to track him down.
    5. Richard N. Ivey (c1806 – 1882) He  seems to have lived with his brother Robert until his marriage to Sarah Fulghum, daughter of John Fulghum,  by license dated 10 October 1827. He was age 43 in the 1850 census of Halifax County and 53 in the 1860 census.  He died testate in Halifax County.25
    6. Susan Ivey (c1790? – 1815)  She was alive and of age when her father made his will, and evidently when his estate was distributed, but was dead by 30 August 1815 when her brother John filed an inventory of her estate.26
    7. Mary Ivey (1780s – ?)  Censuses and her father’s will suggest she was born before 1790.  Mary appears to have remained single for several years, as she bought two tracts in 1827 as a single woman.27  She married John Gary, apparently an elderly widower, by license dated 28 July 1828.  Her husband died two years later, leaving a will dated 29 December 1829 and proved at the August Court 1830.28  The 1830 census enumerated Mary Gary, as a single woman aged 50-60 living near her brothers.  She may have been the 60-year old Mary Gary enumerated in the 1850 census of Halifax County.
    8. Sarah Ivey  (? – 1830s) She was of age by 1813 but remained single for several years.  She was probably the Sarah Ivey who married Alfred Simmons by license dated 30 January 1831. Alfred Simmons had been an unmarried 40-50 year old in the 1830 census.  the 1840 and 1850 censuses show Alfred Simmons without an adult female in the household, suggesting that Sarah died within a few years of the marriage.
    9. Elizabeth Ivey (c1796 – by1827)  She was the youngest daughter, under age when her father wrote his will in 1813 but apparently had reached majority by 1817 when she was paid her share of the estate.  She married Joseph Green by license dated 23 April 1820.  She was evidently deceased when her mother wrote her will, as she bequeathed to “my grandson Robert Green the bed and furniture I lent to his mother during her life“.
  1. Halifax County Deed Book 8, page 182. []
  2. Halifax County Will Book 1, page 361 []
  3. Halifax County Inventories of Estates 1773-1779, page 53. []
  4. Halifax County Will Book 3, page 257. []
  5. Halifax County Will Book 3, page 257 []
  6. Halifax County Deed Book 18, page 147. []
  7. Halifax County Deed Book 18, page 148-9. []
  8. Halifax County Deed Book 11, page 1. []
  9. Halifax County Deed Book 11, page 270. []
  10. Halifax County Deed Book 17, page 160. []
  11. Halifax County Deed Book 18, page 148-9. []
  12. Halifax County Will Book 3, page 37. []
  13. Halifax County Will Book 1, page 129. []
  14. Halifax County Will Book 3, page 257. []
  15. Rutherford County Deed Book “A-D”, page 472. The buyer and seller were both described as residents of Halifax County. []
  16. Rutherford County Deed book 20-21. page 175 and 176. []
  17. Halifax County Deed Book 23, page 312. []
  18. Halifax County Deed Book 19, page 314. []
  19. Halifax County Will Book 3, page 555. []
  20. Halifax County Loose Estate Records, file labeled “Robert Ivey 1814. []
  21. Halifax County Loose Estate Records, file labeled “Robert Ivey 1814. []
  22. Halifax County Deed Book 22, page 322. []
  23. Halifax County Deed Book 24, page 30. []
  24. Halifax County Deed Book 26, page 24 and also page 35. []
  25. Halifax County Loose Estate Records, folder labelled “Richard N. Ivey 1882”. []
  26. Halifax County Loose Estate Records, file labeled “Susan Ivey 1815″. []
  27. Halifax County Deed Book 27, page 252 and page 334. []
  28. Halifax County Will Book 4, page 66. []