52 Ancestors, Week 41: Ann Marwood Durant

Joseph Marwood (17) is listed on the passenger list for the Globe of London ship that sailed from England to Virginia in 1635.  (1)

So that tells us how the Marwoods came to America.  But little else is known about Joseph, except that he had a daughter named Ann, born in 1636.

"Ann Marwood Durant's marriage to George Durant in Northumberland Co., VA, on Jan. 4, 1658/9 was performed by Rev. David Lindsey. Nothing is known of her life before her marriage, although family legend has her born in Virginia, the daughter of John Marwood.

They Durant Family Bible, preserved in the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was printed in London, England in 1599, and is reported to be one of the oldest English Bibles in America. It records that Ann was mother to eight children born over a period of sixteen years:
  • George born Dec. 24, 1659; 
  • Elizabeth Feby., 15, 1661; 
  • John born Dec. 26, 1662; 
  • Mary born Feby., 11, 1665; 
  • Thomas born Augt. 28, 1668; 
  • Sarah born Jany., 16, 1670; 
  • Martha born August 28, 1673; 
  • and Parthenia born August 1, 1675. 
  • (For some reason, it doesn't list their youngest daughter, Ann (1681)
George Durant was a mariner by profession, and this kept him at sea quite often. Ann gained strength of character through the running of the plantation and often hosted political dignitaries at the Durant home.

She achieved a measure of independence unknown to most women of the seventeenth century. Court trials were usually held in private homes during Carolina's proprietary period and Wicocombe was often chosen for this purpose. Therefore, a set of stocks was eventually erected on the house grounds.

That Ann felt comfortable with legal matters becomes obvious after examination of existing colonial documents. Ann Durant first appeared in court on May 25, 1673, as the attorney for a seaman named Andrew Ball. Ball was charging that he had not received his due wages for service on a vessel called the Two Brothers.

Although the court records do not exist to prove that she acted as attorney for her husband, it is believed to have been the case as evidenced by an extant power of attorney dated May 17, 1675, in which George empowered Ann to bring suit and take other actions to collect debts due him or to recover property belonging to him.

Surviving records also show that Ann appeared in court on her own behalf from time to time - to sue for debts owed her or as the defendant in suits against her. The debts at issue in these suits arose in connection with her business activities, which apparently included the operation of Wicocombe as an inn or at least a less formal provision of board and lodging.

'Her bills contain such items as 'his accommodations,' 'the Trubell of my House' and 'attendance in his sickness.' Other services listed in her bills include making shirts and leather breeches, making coffins, and arranging funerals. Among the articles for which she sought payment were beverages (rum, cider, and quince drink), stockings, cloth, thread, planks, nails, and corn.'

Her contributions to the newly begun colony of Carolina were less conspicuous than those of her husband but just as important. It is not known what role Anne Marwood Durant played in Culpeper's Rebellion, but it is assumed that she supported her husband, as Wicocombe served as headquarters during the uprising.

George passed from his earthly existence ca. January 1692/93. In his will, George Durant made his wife the "whole and sole Executrix" and granted her the plantation to live on for the rest of her natural life.

In March of 1693/4, Ann Durant named her son John Durant to be "my true and Lawfull atorney." From then until her death, John acted on his mother's behalf in court. Ann Marwood Durant died on January 22 or 23, 1694. She survived her husband by less than two years.

A marker to Ann Marwood Durant was placed at the intersection of NC 17 and state road 1300 in Perquimans County. The North Carolina Society of Colonial Dames XVIIth Century, the Perquimans County Restoration Association, the NC Department of Transportation and the NC Department of Cultural Resources Division of Archives and History sponsored its placement." (2)


(1) Ancestry.com Ship Manifest
(2) Parker, Mattie Erma E. “Ann Marwood Durant” Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Vol. 2 D-G. William S. Powell (Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 1986), 122-123. 


  1. Ann certainly was her own woman and a self sufficient (Jack) Jane of all trades. While her husband George was often at sea, he was apparently home often enough as the appearance of nine children would indicate. Another life well lived in the early days of Carolina.

  2. One other thing ... I hope the stocks erected on the house grounds, as an extension of the court, were around back or off to the side as I don't think it would add a lot of warm and cozy curb appeal to the property.


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