unc logo

Collection Number: 00275

Collection Title: Gillespie and Wright Family Papers, 1735-1990

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the section for more information.


This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Collection Overview

Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 500 items)
Abstract Members of the Gillespie and Wright family, included James Gillespie (1747?-1805), planter, North Carolina state legislator, 1779-1786, and U.S. congressman, 1793-1799 and 1803-1805. Gillespie was married to Dorcas Mumford Gillespie (1750-1801). Their daughter, Jane (1785-1858), married planter Isaac Wright (1780-1865). The Gillespie and Wright families owned thousands of acres of land and significant numbers of slaves in the lower Cape Fear region of North Carolina, especially in Duplin County. The collection is chiefly legal and financial Papers, 1735-1845, of Gillespie and Wright family members, including land records, deeds, plats, and surveyor's notes; tax records; slave bills of sale and other tiems relating to slaves and slavery; accounts, bills, and receipts; papers relating to business dealings with various Duplin County tenants of Isaac Wright; wills and property inventories; and documents relating to the settlement of the estate of James Moorhead (d. 1808?), for which Isaac Wright and Hinton James (1776-1847) acted as executors. There are also some personal Papers, mostly 1790-1830, of family members. In addition, there are two acrostics by black poet George Moses Horton (circa 1797-circa 1883); a handwritten version of Jeb Stuart's "Ode to his Favorite War Horse 'Maryland'"; and a 1990 Gillespie family tree and short family history. The papers contain few references to political and national events; they are chiefly concerned with business and family matters.
Creator Gillespie family.



Wright family.
Language English
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Gillespie and Wright Family Papers #275, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection is available on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of the Records of ante-bellum southern plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series J.
Acquisitions Information
Gift of Isaac W. and Lutie Murchison before 1940, and of Mae Clark Ambrose, April 1991.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

There is some uncertainty about the birthplace of James Gillespie (1747?-1805), planter, North Carolina state legislator, 1779-1786, and U.S. congressman, 1793-1799 and 1803-1805. The Dictionary of North Carolina Biography says that he was born in County Monaghan, Ireland, while the Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress gives his birthplace as Duplin County, N.C. Gillespie was married to Dorcas Mumford Gillespie (1750-1801). Their daughter, Jane (1785-1858), married planter Isaac Wright (1780-1865).

The Gillespie and Wright families owned thousands of acres of land and significant numbers of slaves in the lower Cape Fear region of North Carolina, especially in Duplin County. Besides the political endeavors of James Gillespie, the men of the family tended to be active in local community affairs.

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Chiefly legal and financial Papers, 1735-1845, of Gillespie and Wright family members, including land records, deeds, plats, and surveyor's notes; tax records; slave bills of sale and other items relating to slaves and slavery; accounts, bills, and receipts; papers relating to business dealings with various Duplin County tenants of Isaac Wright; wills and property inventories; and documents relating to the settlement of the estate of James Moorhead (d. 1808?), for which Isaac Wright and Hinton James (1776-1847) acted as executors. There are also some personal Papers, mostly 1790-1830, of family members. In addition, there are two acrostics by black poet George Moses Horton (circa 1797 circa 1883); a copy of Jeb Stuart's "Ode to his favorite War Horse 'Maryland'"; and a 1990 Gillespie family tree and short family history. The papers contain few references to political and national events; they are chiefly concerned with business and family matters.

Many of the early deeds and plats were apparently gathered by Isaac Wright as background information for an 1820s land dispute (see Subseries 1.1, folder 7). They may also have belonged to an unidentified Mr. Gillespie who worked as a surveyor around 1798.

Back to Top

Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Legal and Financial Papers, 1735-1877 and undated.

Chiefly legal and financial Papers, including land records, deeds, plats, and surveyor's notes; tax records; slave bills of sale and other items relating to slaves and slavery; accounts, bills, and receipts; wills and property inventories; documents relating to the settlement of James Moorhead's estate; and other papers.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. Land Records, Deeds, and Maps, 1735-1870.

About 140 items.

Most of the early deeds and plats were apparently gathered by Isaac Wright as background for an 1820s land dispute (see folder 7). Some of them may also be connected with an unknown member of the Gillespie family, who a document dated 3 November 1798 called, "Mr. Gillespie a young man ... acting as surveyor." Mortgages and deeds of trust, not always denoting actual conveyance, as well as court cases involving real property and rental agreements are located in Subseries 1.4. There are large gaps in the later years of this series.

Folder 1

1735-1745 #00275, Subseries: "1.1. Land Records, Deeds, and Maps, 1735-1870." Folder 1

Folder 2

1746-1775 #00275, Subseries: "1.1. Land Records, Deeds, and Maps, 1735-1870." Folder 2

Folder 3

1776-1799 #00275, Subseries: "1.1. Land Records, Deeds, and Maps, 1735-1870." Folder 3

Folder 4

1800-1802 #00275, Subseries: "1.1. Land Records, Deeds, and Maps, 1735-1870." Folder 4

Folder 5

1803-1806 #00275, Subseries: "1.1. Land Records, Deeds, and Maps, 1735-1870." Folder 5

Folder 6

1807-1819 #00275, Subseries: "1.1. Land Records, Deeds, and Maps, 1735-1870." Folder 6

Folder 7

1820-1870 #00275, Subseries: "1.1. Land Records, Deeds, and Maps, 1735-1870." Folder 7

Extra Oversize Paper Folder X-OPF-275/1

Oversize land grants, deeds, and plats, 1735-1870 #00275, Subseries: "1.1. Land Records, Deeds, and Maps, 1735-1870." X-OPF-275/1

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. Tax Records, 1801-1845 and undated.

About 20 items.

Inventories of Isaac Wright's property for tax purposes, chiefly 1822-1829 and 1839-1845. Lists typically include acreage amounts and number of slaves per plantation (see also Subseries 1.3 for largely non-tax related slave documents).

Folder 8

Tax records, 1801-1845 and undated #00275, Subseries: "1.2. Tax Records, 1801-1845 and undated." Folder 8

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. Slave Documents, 1802-1861 and undated.

About 55 items.

Bills of sale and receipts, chiefly 1824-1839; inventories of slaves; papers relating to a court case involving two slaves who stole a pig, 29 January 1825; and a note, dated 23 November 1861, giving the average value of slaves in Cumberland and Sampson counties, N.C.

Folder 9

Slave documents, 1802-1861 and undated #00275, Subseries: "1.3. Slave Documents, 1802-1861 and undated." Folder 9

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. Miscellaneous Legal, Financial, and Other Official Documents, 1796-1877 and undated.

About 210 items.

Accounts for lumber sales, with information about harvesting; store accounts; receipts for purchases of clothing and other dry goods; tuition bills; documents relating to the settlement of the estate of James Moorhead (d. 1808?), of which Isaac Wright and Hinton James (1776-1847) were executors; wills and property inventories; postal receipts; rental agreements; and court briefs concerning title disputes and suits for nonpayment of rent. For other non-litigious property transfers and descriptions, see Subseries 1.1.

Other items include: a North Carolina census, circa 1808-1822; a document describing the 1827 legislative session and treasury shortage of $70,000.00, 1 December 1827; two wills, dated 4 August 1842 and November 1853, of Isaac Wright's son, Moorhead (fl. 1842-1853); and an inventory of Jane Wright's bedclothing, 14 July 1858.

Folder 10

1796-1807 #00275, Subseries: "1.4. Miscellaneous Legal, Financial, and Other Official Documents, 1796-1877 and undated." Folder 10

Folder 11

1808-1810 #00275, Subseries: "1.4. Miscellaneous Legal, Financial, and Other Official Documents, 1796-1877 and undated." Folder 11

Folder 12

1811-1826 #00275, Subseries: "1.4. Miscellaneous Legal, Financial, and Other Official Documents, 1796-1877 and undated." Folder 12

Folder 13

1827-1829 #00275, Subseries: "1.4. Miscellaneous Legal, Financial, and Other Official Documents, 1796-1877 and undated." Folder 13

Folder 14

1830-1877 #00275, Subseries: "1.4. Miscellaneous Legal, Financial, and Other Official Documents, 1796-1877 and undated." Folder 14

Folder 15

Undated #00275, Subseries: "1.4. Miscellaneous Legal, Financial, and Other Official Documents, 1796-1877 and undated." Folder 15

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Personal Papers, 1798-1865 and undated.

About 55 items.

Personal papers and correspondence, chiefly 1798-1835, of James Gillespie, Dorcas Gillespie, Jane Gillespie Wright, Isaac Wright, and others, largely about family and social life. There are also two undated acrostics by black poet George Moses Horton; the subjects are Lucy G. Wright and Jane McIver. There is also a handwritten version of Jeb Stuart's undated "Ode to his favorite War Horse 'Maryland.'" Large gaps exist between documents in the later years of this series.

Folder 16

1798-1865 #00275, Series: "2. Personal Papers, 1798-1865 and undated." Folder 16

Folder 17

Undated #00275, Series: "2. Personal Papers, 1798-1865 and undated." Folder 17

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Genealogical Papers, 1990 and undated.

2 items.

A 1990 genealogical chart and an undated short history of the Gillespie family.

Folder 18

Genealogical Papers, 1990 and undated #00275, Series: "3. Genealogical Papers, 1990 and undated." Folder 18

Back to Top

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Back to Top

Processing Information

Processed by: Scott Philyaw, February 1992

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, December 2009

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

Back to Top