52 Ancestors, Week 38: George Durant

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“George Durant was born 1 Oct 1632 in England.  He (age 18) was in Virginia by 1650 or before.

Very interesting chart, we are related to George Durant on 3 lines.

By trade, Durant was a "marriner" - as attested in his will dated 9 Oct 1688.

The earliest sailing voyage that is documented for George Durant was in 1658, when he sailed aboard the Patomack Mecht, commanded by Robert Clarke. Young George Durant was about twenty-five years old at the time. The Patomack Mecht was possibly of Dutch construction and sailed from Virginia to Holland with a cargo of tobacco and other goods.

We know of this voyage because there is a court case associated with the thirty hogsheads of tobacco stowed on board. This tobacco was owned by the Lee family, who were represented in court by Ms. Hannah Lee. Upon arrival in Zeeland, the tobacco was found to be rotten and unfit for sale. The Dutch refused to buy and the Lees sued for damages. On 20 Jul 1658, George Durant testified on behalf of his commander, saying that the hold remained dry during the entire voyage and that the tobacco was spoiled when it was loaded back in Virginia. The verdict of this case remains unknown.

George Durant married Ann Marwood in Northumberland County, Virginia on 4 Jan 1658. The Reverend David Lindsey performed the Anglican ceremony.

  • On 24 Dec 1659, George Jr. was born. 
  • On 15 Feb 1661, Elizabeth was born and 
  • On 26 Dec 1662, John was born. 
  • All born in Virginia, the rest of the Durant Children: Thomas, Sarah, Martha, Parthenia and Ann were born in North Carolina.

George purchased land from a gentleman named Dr. Rice Maddocks. When George bought the Maddocks land in the late 1650s (around the time of his marriage), Dr. Maddocks retained the plantation house. As part of the payment, George Durant built Dr. Maddocks a 50-foot tobacco barn. Rice Maddocks, a well-known local doctor, did not live to see his new barn used for very long. He was murdered by three men who were convicted and jailed.

George Durant often appears in County court documents of the time, indicating that he was an active member of the community.

Durant helped to locate land for others, he also spent two years exploring and determining the best spot for his new home before purchasing land.

  • On 4 Aug 1661, land was purchased from Cisketando, a Yeopim Indian Chief. 
  • On 13 Mar 1662, a second purchase was made from Kilcocanen, another Yeopim Indian Chief. 
  • This deed is still in existence and is now the oldest deed in North Carolina. 
  • The land chosen by Durant still bears the name of Durant's Neck (formerly known as Wikacome) and is located on a point of land bordered by Roanoke Sound (now Albemarle Sound) in southern Perquimans County. 
  • Although much of the new frontier was composed of swamp and watery marsh, Durant chose his plot well. His land had virgin forests, holly trees, lofty pines, white juniper and rhododendrons. The soil was a mixture of sand and heavy humus; it grew corn and wheat well. Cattle and swine thrived and the animals of the forest furnished skins.
  • The tall pines were generous with the tar and pitch so wanted by naval interests. The ground itself yielded the herbs, including "saxafras," so desired as "druggs" by the apothecaries of Europe. 
  • The wide rivers offered transportation for the settlers and teemed with fish. 
By 1662, Durant had already built a house and had cleared a part of the land.

The wharves of the plantations on the Little and Perquimans Rivers served the white-sailed ships that carried tobacco, indigo, tar and pitch to New England, the West Indies and Great Britain.

George Durant offered the use of his home for court to be held, council meetings to convene, and assemblies called. In fact, court was held so often at Durant's home, that a set of stocks was eventually erected on his property. Durant was a popular man, who had a reputation for fairness. By the 1670s, he had become a leader of the political party representing the interests of the original settlers." (1)

...to be continued...

George Durant, Part 2

George Durant, Part 3

  • (1) Deborah Barclift, The Descendants of William Bartlett Website (Website link was not active in August 2004) 
  • History of Perquimans County


  1. Wow, this is an amazingly detailed account of a life lived more than three hundred years ago. The parcel of land still known as Durant's Neck sounds like a very productive place for this early American family to get a great start.


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