James Morphew 1715/25 - 1775+

New for 2010

  • Peggy Morphew finds a 1753 "James Morphew" record in Augusta County
  • Investigation of Morphew's 1753 Land Entry Record
  • "James Murphy" – 1750 Augusta County tax "Runaway"
  • William Buis + Morphew to Guilford County, North Carolina
  • William  Buis Defended James Burk in 1751 Court
  • William Buis Land Grant names James Murphy chain-carrier
  • English Origins for Morphew Surname


James Morphew “I”   (Formerly thought to be Joseph Morphew)

First name disputed, but evidence now points to James Morphew and not Joseph Morphew – see Section Two below.    Confusion exists with non-related Rev. Joseph Murphey - see Sections 9 to 11. 

Birth date is not known and little to base an estimate.  Current estimates are 1715-1725 but could be most anything; birthplace probably in England but lacks evidence

Died by 1783; last noted living in 1775

Married to Mary Burk on 9 October 1749, probably near today's Roanoke City, Virginia (old Augusta County) and not Bedford nor Floyd County.

Spelling of Morphew: Surname usually signed "Morphew" but is often spelled Murphey or Murphy by others.  

Parents are not known.  Ties to a John Morphew + Mary White are incorrect speculation - see Chapter 3A "Regarding Other Morphews in America," and Section 2 below.


Mary Burk

Born about 1732 in Pennsylvania, probably Chester County

Died after 1802, probably in Ashe County, North Carolina

Parents: James Burk (~1710 to 1783) and Mary Bane (1710 to ~1748)


2nd Edition Morphew/Murphy Story – J. R. Murphy, previous revision 7 March 2015; this revision 24 June 2016.     



            The above signature is found on his 1756 Guilford County Land Grant.


This Chapter is divided into the following sections:


Section (1): Thoughts on Old World Origins

             (2): Thoughts about an Earlier Generation Immigrant    

             (3): What Family Tradition Says About Our Earliest Morphews    

             (4): Augusta County, Virginia Records for Morphews (1748+)

             (5): James and Mary Morphew to North Carolina about 1751

             (6): Quaker Naming Patterns for Morphew Children?

             (7): Last Years in Guilford County, N.C. to 1775+

             (8): Last Years for Mary Burk Morphew to 1802

             (9): Children of J. Morphew and Mary Burk

             (10): Confusion with Reverend Joseph Murphy, a Non-relation

             (11): County Tax Records for Murphy and Morphew

             (12): Land Entries Filed by Rev. Joseph Murphy

             (13): Census Records for the Daughters of J. Morphew + Mary Burk


Section 1 - Thoughts on Old World Origins


            The Morphews are English and possibly crossed the English Channel to England from La Mauffee, near St. Lo, Normandy Province, France between the years of 1100-1500 A.D.*    In France and early England, the surname was Mauffe, Maufee, Maffee, or a variant spelling.   Hanks counters that Morphew may be a form of Malfe or Malfew also from Normany, France.**    These sources appear speculative and future efforts are needed to define our roots. 

* "Patronymica Britannica – A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom," by Mark Anthony Lower, 1860, page 219

** "A Dictionary of American Family Names," by Patrick Hanks, 2003


Before the year 1600, Morphew was spelled Morfew, Morfewe, or Morffew.  One exception has been found – that of William Morphew at Wenlock Abbey in 1553. ^^   Earliest known is John Morfew(e) in about 1489/90 Winchester, Hampshire County, England who entered the "liberty of the city."  In 1506/07, he was a merchant.^    Between 1650-1750, the English counties of Surry and Suffolk had the biggest concentrations of Morphews.  

^ "Survey of Medieval Winchester," by Derek Keene, 1985, pages 772 and 1300.

^^ "The History and Antiquities of Shewsbury," by Thomas Philips, James Bowen, Charles Hulbert, 1837.  


Section 2 – Thoughts about an Earlier Generation in America


            Just before Arlie published his 1970 Morphew book, he added an earlier ancestor in America.   This was John Morphew, also spelled John Murphey (~1681 to 1742) of Westmoreland and Richmond Counties, Virginia.   He reportedly married Mary White.  ^^    Both names were popularized by an unidentified researcher and appear incorrect.  Elements of this were found for years on familysearch.org.  This John Morphew lived in both Westmoreland and Richmond Counties, Virginia and details can be found in the "John Murphey (~1680 to 1742) chapter.

^^ "History and Genealogy of the Morphew Family," by Arlie C. Morphew, C. Grace Morphew, James R. Murphy, M.D., 1970, privately published, pages 1-8.                   


Section 3 - What Family Tradition Says About Our Earliest Morphews


            A 1908 letter by Rev. William Morphew (1829 – 1912) stated the earliest Morphews were Quakers and left England because of Roman Catholic persecution.*  This assertion has yet to be confirmed. 

* See chapter on William Morphew (1829 – 1912)   


In 1915, "A History of Watauga County, North Carolina" by John Preston Arthur stated our earliest ancestor was Joseph Morphew.   Arthur wrote:


“Joseph Morphew married Mary Burk, a sister of the Tory Colonel, Benjamin Burk, who was killed at the Battle of Shallow Ford.  ...The Morphews were Quakers and Tories.”  


Source of this information was probably Cyrus Grubb, a Morphew descendant living in Watauga County at the time.  “Joseph Morphew” cannot be found, but there is an unrelated Rev. Joseph Murphey (Murphy) living almost on top of the North Carolina Morphews.  See Sections 10 - 12 for details.   In my opinion, James Morphew (~1715/25 to 1775+) is the correct ancestor.  His deeds show he had a wife by the name of Mary.   They lived in Guilford County, North Carolina where the next generation James Morphew “II” married Betty Chadwick in 1774.   There is additional evidence to support this.


Section 4 - Augusta County, Virginia Records for Morphews (1748+)


Before 1748: Location(s) not yet found.  This writer currently thinks James Morphew is an immigrant, but lacks proof.   Because he is first found so far inland, earlier records may exist somewhere along the eastern coast of U.S.  


1748 May – Albemarle/Augusta Counties, Virginia: Our first record may be in May 1748, when Albemarle County's Colonel James Patton and Thomas Walker took a survey and exploring party into southwest Virginia.  This party included guides, surveyors, chain carriers, ax men, and a cook, and included James Burk and “J. or Js. Murphey."*   This Murphey should be our James or Joseph Morphew who was born about 1715/25 and died between 1775 and 1783.

* Historical book source has been lost and needs to be identified.      


1749 October 9:  This marriage date for “J. Morphew” and “Mary Burk” is our 2nd record which is found on familysearch.org.   The original source for this date is never identified, but the marriage date appears reasonable with known facts.  Earlier, it was believed that Mary Burk, a Quaker, married at the Bedford County, Virginia Goose Creek Quaker Meeting House (established 1749).  Their records still exist, but there are no Burkes or Morphews.  Recently, Burk's Goose Creek lands were found to be near today's Roanoke, Virginia.   James Morphew + Mary Burk likely married near this location.   More details can be found in the chapter about James Burk.    


            In July 2009, Peggy Morphew, wife of Gilbert Palmer Morphew visited the Augusta County Courthouse and found the following in the Augusta County Land Entry Book #1 (1745-1779) with a line drawn through both items. *

* Emails courtesy of Peggy Morphew from 22 July 2009 through September 2009 – Thank you Peggy for the great find and information)   


1753 September 24 – Augusta County Land Entry: James Morphew, 150 acres between Mathew Blacks, Cravins, and Daniel Love's meadow.

1754 January 27 – Augusta County Land Entry: Michael Morphew, 200 acres on a small branch and s(?) w side of Dry River in the Mountain.

(Augusta County Entry Book No.1, pages 27 and 29) 


            These two entries certainly opened everyone's eyes.  1756 Augusta Parish Vestry Records note Mathew Black living close to Daniel Love somewhere between (Lord) Fairfax's line and North River.   Daniel Love offers the best clues for location.   He married Jane __ and appears to be the only Daniel Love in old Augusta County during this era.  He owned three tracts of land on Cooks Creek.  For instance in 1748/49, Daniel was granted 250 acres of land lying on the waters of Cooks Creek on the NW side of Sinking Spring Branch.  A 1748 Augusta Parish Vestry tax Procession noted only Daniel Love and not Morphew nor Black.  Cooks Creek is thought to be the one which empties into North River, a branch of the Shenandoah River.   It lies in today's Rockingham County (old Augusta County) between today's towns of Bridgewater and Dayton.     

Lyman Chalkey, Volume #2, page 443; Chalkey #2, page 434; and Chalkey #1, page 111 found online and Library of Virginia on-line Virginia Land Grants


            Michael Morphew's Dry River is the next stream west of Cooks Creek making it possible that both Morphew entries were close to each other.  However, these entry lands were never finalized into Virginia land patents (grants).    Names in Entry Book #1 were sequentially listed by date with occasionally two on the same date.  My best guess that the date represents when the entry request was reviewed by Augusta officials or the surveyor himself.  That both Michael and James Morphew's entries had a line through them (as did a great many) was because (1) the reviewer found someone else owned the land (2) or someone else had put in an earlier request for the same land, (3) or the location of the land was too poorly defined to consider.  


            There is no suggestion that these were Headright claims which can also be found in Entry Book #1.   Headrights granted 50 acres to an individual for each person he/she paid to transport to Virginia.  Names and ages of these transported individuals sometimes were included in court and grant documents.  That both James and Michael Morphew didn't use Headrights might suggest someone else paid for their transportation to America or they weren't immigrants. 


            What happened to James and Michael Morphew?   Chalkey wrote that in 1750, a certain "James Murphy" was a tax "runaway."  "Runaway" probably means Murphy received notice of his tax and then left the area.    Constables James Mais, David Miller, and John Rosmond were assigned to find him.   In 1755, county records noted that Michael Murphy could not be found for taxes and constables were also assigned to find him.+  Why the year was 1750 for James Murphy and 1753 was the land entry date is harder to answer.  Perhaps, he later returned to file for this land grant.   Michael Morphew remains a mystery before and after his only two records.  He might be in Frederick County, Virginia as Michael and wife Elizabeth Murphey who leased land but never signed for anything.   

+(From Chalkey, #2, page 413; Chalkey, #2, 415; Chalkey, #2, 443.)   


Section 5 - James + Mary Morphew to North Carolina from about 1751


            James Morphew probably left for North Carolina with or about the same time as William Buis (Bewes) in 1751.   Buis was an Augusta County neighbor of James Burk during the years 1746 to 1751.  In fact, a 29 May 1751 Augusta County Court reported William Buis and Ephraim Voss defended James Burk in a case by Joseph Love.*   This was the last record of Buis (Bewes) in Augusta County, before he appeared in 1751 Anson County, that part which later became Rowan County in 1753 and Guilford County, North Carolina in 1771. **   James Morphew's 1756 land grant states William Buis had land on one side of his boundary line.

* Augusta County Order Book #2, page 578

** Guilford County, North Carolina Historical Documentation Map #9, printed, August 1988


1750 – Anson County, North Carolina: "James Murphy" was a chain carrier for William Churton, Surveyor General for the Earl of Granville, when John Baldwin was granted 636 acres on the South Fork of Deep River.  Like William Buis, Baldwin had land adjacent James Morphew's 1756 Guilford County land grant. 


1753 – North Carolina: "James Murphy" was again a chain carrier, this time for James Carter, Deputy Surveyor for an Earl of Granville land grant to William Buis for 484 acres of land on both sides of the South Fork of Deep River.  This was entered 22 June 1752 and surveyed 11 January 1753 with chain carriers being James Murphy and Thomas Buis (brother to William Buis).

The Granville District of N.C. 1748-1763 – Abstracts of Land Grants, Volume 3, Margaret M. Hofmann, 1989. 


~1753 – Augusta County, Virginia: In or before 1753, James Morphew possibly returns to Augusta County to file for a land grant.  Oddly enough, a 26 September 1753 Culpeper County, (northern) Virginia deed mentions a "James Murphew" as a chain carrier for George Hume, Surveyor.*   

* From Message Boards – Culpeper County, Virginia in ancestry.com, author – Lucinda Ferguson, 6 February 1999, subject – Cooper.     


1756 November 6 – Rowan County, North Carolina: John Granville’s workers granted 581 acres in Rowan County to James Morphew of Rowan County, North Carolina.   Granville’s agents had entered this land in 21 August 1751 and surveyed it on 18 April 1753.  


The survey showed an eight sided piece of land with “South Fork of Deep River” crossing the northwestern portion of land as a clock’s hands runs from 7:30 to 1:30 or 45 degree angle.  Morphew actually signed this grant as “James Morphew” despite all other references to him as James Murphy.  His signature is so uniquely characteristic that it is reproduced above.  This 1756 deed is given next in full, because legal entanglements develop after Morphew sells the land and may help to explain subsequent court entries. 



1756 Deed to James Morphew


       This indenture, made the sixth day of November in the Year of our Lord 1756 between the Right Honourable John Earl Granville, Viscount Carteret, and Baron Carteret, of Hawns, in the County of Bedford, in the Kingdom of Great Britain, Lord President of His Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, and Knight of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, of the one part, and James Murphy of Rowan County in the Province of North Carolina __ of the other part.  Whereas His Most Excellent Majesty King George the Second, in and by a certain indenture, bearing date the 17th day of September, in the Eighteenth Year of his Reign, and in the Year of our Lord 1744, and made between his said most Excellent Majesty, of the One Part, and the said John Earl Granville (by the Name, Stile, and Title of the Right Honourable John Lord Careret,) of the other part, did, for the considerations therein mentioned, give and grant, release, ratify, and confirm, unto the said Earl, (by the Name, Stile, and Title of John Lord Carteret, as aforesaid,) and his Heirs and assigns forever, a certain district, territory, or parcel of land, in North-Carolina, in America; and all the sounds, creeks, havens, ports, rivers, streams, and other royalties, franchises, privileges, and immunities, with the fame, as they are therein set out or described, allotted, and granted, and confirmed, to the said John Earl Granville, as aforesaid, for One Eighth Part of the Charters granted by King Charles the Second, in the 15th and 17th Years of his Reign, to Eight Lords Proprietors of Carolina, as by the said Indenture, duty enrolled in the High Court of Chancery in Great-Britain, and in the Secretary’s Office in North-Carolina, reference being thereto had, will more fully appear.  Now this indenture witnesseth, that as well for and in consideration of the sum of ten shilling sterling money, to the said John Earl Granville in hand paid, by the fair James Murphy, his Heirs and assigns, to be paid, kept, and performed, he the said Earl hath given, granted, bargained, sold, and confirmed and by these presents, doth, for himself, and his Heirs, give, grant, bargain, sell, and confirm, unto the said James Murphy, his Heirs and assigns forever all that Tract or Parcel of Land, situate lying and being in the Parish of St. Luke in the County of Rowan in the said Province. Beginning at a hickory on William Baldwin's west line turning from thence North 116 chains to a stake, then west 60 chains to William (Buis”) last line, said of his survey, where he lives, then south 22 chains to William Buis beginning line, then South 00 West to a hickory, 99 chains, then East 46 chains to a white oak, then North 210 East 40 chains to a white oak, then east 99 chains to the first station.


     Containing in the whole, 581 acres:  All which said premises are more particularly described and set forth in the Plan or Map thereof, hereunto annexed; together, with all woods, underwoods, timber, and timber-trees, water-courses, and the privilege of hunting, hawking, fishing, and fowling in and upon the premises; all mines and minerals whatsoever therein to be found, excepting and reserving always, out of this present Grant, and to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, his Heirs, and Successors, One Fourth Part of all the gold and silver mines, to be found in and upon the premises; and also, excepting and always reserving thereof unto the said John Earl Granville, his Heirs and assigns, one moiety or half part of the remaining three fourths of all such gold and silver mines:  To have and to hold the said Tract or Parcel of Land; and all the singular other the premises with their appurtenances (except as before excepted) unto the said James Murphy, his Heirs, and assigns forever; yielding and paying therefore, yearly, and every year, unto the said John Earl Granville, his Heirs or assigns, the yearly rent of twenty shillings and three pence which is at the rate of three shillings sterling, for every hundred acres, and so in proportion, for a less quantity; at or upon the 25th day of March, and 29th day of September, in every year, by even or equal portions, and to be paid at the Court-house for the said County of Rowan unto the said Earl, his Heirs or Assigns, or to his or their lawful Attorney or Deputy-Receiver for the time being; the first payment thereof to be made on such of the aforementioned days of payment as shall first happen after the date hereof; and the said James Murphy for himself and his heirs and assigns, and for either and every of them doth hereby covenant, promise, and agree to and with the said Earl, his heirs and assigns, and to and with either and every of them by these presents, in manner and form following:  That is to say that James Murphy, his heirs or assigns, shall and will, yearly, and every year, forever, well and truly pay, or cause to be paid unto the said Earl, his heirs or assigns, or unto his or their lawful Attorney or Deputy-Receiver for the time being, on the days, and at the place aforesaid: Provided always, and their present grant is hereby expressly declared and agreed, by and between the said parties, to be, nevertheless, up on this condition, viz. That if it shall happen, the said yearly rent of 20 shilling and three pence or any part thereof, shall at any time hereafter, be behind or unpaid for the space of six months, next over of after any or either of the aforementioned days of payment (and no sufficient distress can be found on the premises, to levy such rent and arrears, with the full costs, charges, and expenses in making the same), that then, this present Grant, and all assignment thereof, shall be utterly void, and of none effect; and it shall be lawful for the said Earl, his heirs or assigns, to re-enter into the said lands, and to re-grant the same, to any other person or persons whomsoever, as if this Grant, and such assignments thereof, had never been made.  In witness whereof, the parties above-named have hereunto set their Hands and Seals, the day and year first above written.  Signed, sealed, and delivered, in the presence of us.  (Signed) W. Churton (surveyor), William Buis, and (with a full signature of) James Morphew. 



            Pinpointing the location of James Morphew’s 1756 land is a problem.   There is a 32x22 inch map sold at the Guilford Court House National Battlefield Monument.  This map shows the geographic locations of many pre-1800 settlers in Guilford County combined with troop movements for the 15 March 1781 Battle of Guilford Court House.  This map locates “James Murphey – 1756” too far north on the West Fork (formerly South Fork) of Deep River and does not correctly show the right locations for Morphew’s boundary neighbors William Baldwin (deeded 1751) and William Buis (deeded in 1752).   Baldwin is actually on Morphew’s west boundary survey line and William Buis on the north line, at least at the eastern end.   Also, the West Fork of Deep River does not seem to flow in a northeast or southwest direction as the survey indicates, unless the river has changed its course. 


            There is an answer to the location.  A creek called “Murphie’s Branch,” flows south and southwest to empty into West Fork of Deep River.  Today's State Highway 2 crosses slightly south of what I think is the mouth of Murphie’s Branch, which is 5.5 miles north of the center of today’s High Point, Guilford County, North Carolina.  The whole area is now a very up-scale residential metro area.  Murphies Branch is shown in the early settler’s map, but now has a different name today (which I don’t recall).   I now think the 1756 land of James Morphew is very close to the junction of Murphie’s Branch and Deep River; there is little doubt in my mind how Murphie’s Branch got its name.  This creek’s mouth is 2.1 miles from the Quaker Deep River Meeting House which still exists.         


            The neighbor on Morphew’s north boundary was William Buis who came to this country in 1751 when it was Anson County.  Buis built a tavern and inn called an “ordinary” for travelers on an intersection of two crossroads, one of which may be the important link joining Salisbury with the Great Road to Philadelphia.  Bewes (Buis) Ordinary is shown on a 1770 map by Collett.  In later years the old inn was moved behind a newer house and it has survived to become the oldest structure in Guilford County.   William Buis became a schoolteacher and had a schoolhouse on School House Branch of the West Fork of Deep River.   The first court sessions of newly formed Guilford County were held on his farm from 1771 to 1774.   Another inn called Sheppard’s Ordinary was also near Morphew’s land. 


1758 April 31 – Rowan County: James and Mary Morphew (“his wife”) of Rowan County sold their remaining land (297 acres) to John Farillow, Wheelright, for 30 pounds.  The property lines are noted adjacent to William Baldwin and William Buis and the deed is signed by “James Morphew” and “Mary Morphew” with the witnesses being David Jones and William Buis.  It is recorded in open court on 1 May 1758 and finalized in the January term 1767.  


1757 July 18 – Rowan County: James Murphy sold 284 acres of his land to William Buis for 30 pounds.  The description mentions the lands lay in St. Luke Parish, Rowan County, on both sides of the South Fork of Deep River, with boundaries adjacent to William Buis’s old line.  The deed is signed “James Morphew” in the presence of Moses Teague and Francis Beaty and entered in court 22 July 1757.   The omission of Mary Morphew in this deed causes a “Dedimus Potestem” issue, explained below.


1758 October 20 - Rowan County Court: On the motion of John Dunn, attorney for a Dedimus Potestem, to issue to examine Mary Murphy, the wife of James Murphy, relative to her relinquishing her right of Dower of a certain trait of land conveyed from the said James to William Buese, Esquire.  Ordered that the Dedem. Potestem issue accordingly to Christopher Nation, Esquire, court adjourned until tomorrow at 8.


            After selling out, Morphew did not purchase further land and may not be continuously living in the county.  Possibly, they still lived somewhere in Guilford County on so-called "vacant lands."  The principle English land owner in the area was Earl of Granville who died in 1763.  His land offices closed until the American Revolution terminated British rights.  A number of pioneers began living on these lands and had no way to purchase them.*

* "Rowan County, North Carolina Vacant Land Entries 1778-1789," by R. A. Enochs, 1988


            A few scattered county tax records have survived and may offer clues. 


~1758 or 1759 Rowan County, North Carolina:  “James Murphew”

Rowan County, NC Tax Records 1758-1829, originals, familyhistory.org microfilm 2439219. 


1760/10th day /7th month – New Garden Monthly Meeting: “Mary Morphew” is a witness to a marriage at the New Garden Quaker Monthly Meeting (established 1754) at Rowan County (now Guilford County).  William Morgan of Rowan County, son of John of Virginia, deceased, married Rebeckah Mills, daughter of Thomas of Rowan County.   The pioneer’s map shows William Morgan living ½ mile northwest of the Deep River Quaker Meeting House in 1767.  The bride’s father, Thomas Mills, is noted north 2 ½ miles from the Deep River Meeting House in 1759.            One does not have to be a Quaker to witness a marriage at their meeting houses. 


The Deep River Meeting House (established 1754) is close to the Morphews; in fact, only 2.1 miles southeast of James + Mary Morphew lands purchased in 1756.  The Deep River Quakers established their meeting house in 1754, but all records before 1780 were mixed and entered on the New Garden Quaker files.   A thorough microfilm search found no other entries belonging to this couple.   Both meeting houses still exist today, with New Garden within today's Guilford College grounds, and the Deep River Meeting House just northwest of Jamestown, Guilford County, North Carolina


(1768 to 1770? undated) – Rowan County Tax: (1) James Murphy and a second (2) James Murphey.  One of these should be our James Morphew. 


Section 6 – Are there Quaker Naming Patterns for Morphew Children?


            Both William Morphew (1829 – 1912) and John Preston Arthur stated the Morphews were Quakers, but so far no such record can be found for James Morphew.   A reasonable question is whether children's names for this family followed strict Quaker tradition for naming children.  Take a look.


Quaker Name Patterns for Boys

            1st born - Mother's father was James Burk (1710-1783).  Name used was "James."

2nd born - Father's father is not known.  Name used was "Silas" and he might be the father's father.  If father's father was James, the name was already used.  Then "Silas" may be the father's grandfather or close relative on the male side.  Answer is unclear here.   The Latin form of Silas is "Silvanus."   Silvanus Morphew"(born 1684) did live in England about this time, but family name patterns are not compatible: i.e. father - Richard, wife Elizabeth Smithson, brother Henry, etc.  

            3rd born - Father: James Morphew – a name already used.  There was no 3rd son.


Quaker Name Patterns for Girls

1st born – Name for father's mother is not known.  Name used was "Sarah or Sally."

2nd born - Mother's Mother was Mary Bane Burk (1710-1748): Named used was "Mary."

3rd born – Mother was Mary Burk Morphew.  Name was already used, so it appears the name went to the mother's grandmother who was Naomi Medley Bane (1685-1731).  Name used was "Naomi."

4th born – rules unclear, possibly father's grandmother whose name is not known.  Name used was "Anna."    


In review, the female line followed Quaker naming patterns.  James Morphew's side in not clear because so little is known about him.  If not a strict Quaker naming pattern, this could be very misleading.              


Section 7 - Last Years in Guilford County, North Carolina to 1775+


1774 April 16 – Guilford County: Their son, James Morphew “II” married Betty Chadwick in Guilford County (county record), but this marriage does not show up on Quaker Records.  Quaker marriages could not be registered as a county record because they did not use a minister.  Chadwick's origins are a mystery.   Later, Silas “Murphy” Morphew (1752-1807) is actually mentioned in the Deep River Quaker records requesting a membership on 7 July 1783 and this was granted (from Deep River Quaker microfilm records).  Silas is thought to have then moved elsewhere.   These Guilford County records give additional evidence that James + Mary Morphew are key players in our heritage.


1775 May 3 – Guilford County:  William Baldwin of Guilford deeded to Peres Chapman for 65 pounds, 297 acres on the waters of Deep River.  Michael Farlow to William Baldwin.  Signed: William Baldwin.  Witnesses: William Gray, James Morphew


1775 May 3 – Guilford County: William Baldwin of Guilford deeds to Peres Chapman of same for 450 pounds, 343 acres, part of a survey of waters of Deep River from Granville to Baldwin 6 November 1756......corner of land to the heirs of William Buis, deceased, ...comes through the plantation and enters Obediah Harris’s Mill Pond...bounded on the east by William  Baldwin’s other land:  Signed:  William Baldwin, William Gray, James Morphew, proved May 1775 term by William Gray, Esq.  


1775 May 5 - Guilford County Court:  Whereas it is sufficent that James Morphew of Guilford County in North Carolina, hath a right himself to the above described piece of land that William Baldwin hath sold to Peres Chapman.  He is (here) to certify that for a consideration of 5 shillings paid to the said James Morphew by the said Peres Chapman the receipt whereof the said James Morphew discharges forever to acquit the said Peres Chapman his heirs ... from all the right to the property or claim which the said James Morphew or his heirs hath or ought to have in ... the above mentioned land in (which) ... the said James Morphew hath here set his hand of seal this 5th day of May in the year of our Lord 1775.  In the presence of:  (signed) William Gray, William Baldwin.  (Signed) James Morphew (seal), Guilford County of May Court 1775.


            Obediah Harris’ Mill Pond is shown on the Guilford early settler’s map on the West Fork of Deep River just south of the mouth of Murphie’s Branch.   The 1775 court house records are the last ones found for James Morphew - so far.


1775 July 31 – County in question: Will of James Terry written 31 July 1775.   Daughter Sarah; Son-Oliver to get land bought of entry of James Tinsley; wife Rebecca; daughter in law Levinia King and her daughter Grace King.  Colonel Nathaniel Terry to make deed for James Murphew.  All surviving children, Nath. and David Terry to assist with the estate sale.   Entered March 1779 Caswell County Court.

Caswell County, North Carolina Will Books 1777-1814: 1784 Tax List, by Katharine Kerr Kendall and Mary Francis Kerr Donaldson, page 71.


            This writer thinks “James Murphew” may be a different James Murphey (1750? to 1783? + wife Mary), late of Rowan County, probably son of Alexander Murphey - brother of Caswell County’s Archibald Murphey.  This Private James Murphey died in the American Revolution and his widow received payment.   Terry’s will was later corrected in court in September 1778 to give the land to someone else.  Caswell County was established 1777 from Orange County.     


1781 March 13-14 Guilford County: Cornwallis’s British Army occupied the Deep River Quaker settlement for provisions and then skirmished with the American forces.  This lead to the Battle of Guilford Court House on 15 March 1781.  After the battle, most of the wounded, both American and British, were dumped upon the limited resources of the New Garden Quakers and I suspect the Deep River group came to their assistance.


1783 Surry County: Will of James Burke, Sr., was probated in Surry County and mentioned his daughter Mary Morphew and granddaughter Sarah (Morphew) Coleman. *   The will fails to name the husband of Mary Burk Morphew who was probably already dead.

* Surry County Will Abstracts 1771-1827, by Linn   


Section 8 - Last Years for Mary Burk Morphew

Wilkes and Ashe Counties, North Carolina to 1802 


What happened to Mary Burk Morphew?


1786 - North Carolina State Census for Wilkes County, with birth date estimates added:  James Morphew (born ~1750) with 4 additional males less than 21 or over 60 which match his four sons.  The five females include no daughters yet born, but should be his unmarried sisters – Anna Morphew (~1760), Naomi Morphew (~1760/70), Mary Morphew (19 May 1759), his wife Betty Chadwick Morphew, and Mary Burk Morphew (~1732).     


1789 May 18 – Wilkes County: Mary Murfee was granted fifty acres by the State of North Carolina on the south bank of the South Fork of New River.  The land lay in Wilkes County adjacent the property lines of her son-in-law Young Coleman and Jean Tilley and now lies with Ashe or Watauga County (est. 1849).  


1790 U.S. Census of Wilkes County: Mary Murphy is noted with a household of three women over 16 years of age and is listed next to “Sarah Colman,” her daughter.  Young Coleman died in April 1790. 


1799 - Ashe County, North Carolina: Ashe County was established from Wilkes in 1799.   1799 Ashe County tax record notes a Mary Murphy, but no other Morphews.  


1802 September 21 – Ashe County: “Mary Morphew” sold this very same land to Thomas Triplet for 25 pounds and Mary was listed a widow.   This is our last record of her.


Section 9 - Children of James Morphew and Mary Burk

All birth dates need greater accuracy


(I). James Morphew “II” (~1750 to ~1829).  Guilford County, N. C. county records state “James Murphew” married Betty Chadwick on 16 November 1774. They lived in Surry County, N. C. until 1799, in Wilkes County, N.C. until 1811, and Preble County, Ohio.  Most descendants of James live in the northern U.S.  See his chapter. 


(II). Silas Morphew (~1752 to 1808) married Elizabeth England in Chatham County, N.C. in 1775.  He lived various locations in Burke County and Wilkes County, North Carolina.  Most Morphews found in the southern U.S. are his descendants.  See his chapter.


(III). Sarah (Sally) Morphew (~ 1754 to >1840?).  Sally married Youngs (or Young) Coleman about 1772.   In 18 May 1789, “Youngs Coleman” was granted land along the south bank of South Fork of New River.  Young Coleman died in 1790 in Wilkes County, N.C.  Sarah Morphew Coleman was made administrator of her husband Youngs Coleman estate, filed 27 April 1790 at Wilkes County.   Sarah Coleman is listed on the 1790 U.S. Census for Wilkes County and 1800 U.S. Census for Ashe County, North Carolina.   The Coleman clan lived in Wilkes/Ashe Counties and then left for Hickman County, Tennessee before 1812, where David Coleman is listed in 1830 and a certain Sarah Coleman (age 70-80) in 1840.  The Coleman family is remembered in a bible of Minnesota’s Rev. William Morphew. 


            Their children are incompletely known and census records seem to indicate 3 sons:

(1) David Coleman married 1st to Elvira Hendricks (died ~1818) about 1788 and had 3 children: (i) Enos Coleman (~1790 – 1831 at Hickman County, Tennessee), (ii) Rachel Coleman (~1798), (iii) Youngs Levi Coleman (~1804).  David married 2nd to _ at Hickman County, Tennessee and had the following children:  (i) Sarah Ann Coleman (1823), (ii) Mary Coleman (1830), (iii) Eleanor E. Coleman, (iv) Calvin C. Coleman, (v) David Coleman, (vi) Jonathan Coleman, (vii) Benjamin Coleman.

(2) Jeremiah Coleman

(3) Jonathon Coleman

(4, 5) probably two daughters. 


(IV). Mary Morphew (19 March 1759 to ~1810) married on 7 April 1792 in Wilkes County (county record) to Ephriam Norris (2 January 1752 - ~1815).   Source of Mary’s birth date is unknown, but is probably a family record.  Ephriam Norris is listed on the 1800 U.S. Census for Ashe County, N.C., with both being age 45 or above.  The September 1807 Ashe County court ordered:  Daniel Eggers Sr., Daniel Eggers, Jr., Ephraim Norris Sr., Ephraim Norris Jr., Joseph Morphew, Landrine Eggers, and others be a jury to view and lay off a road from the turnpike road by Ephraim Norris and into the turnpike road again likewise to the Indian graves on Meat Camp.  When the Morphews left North Carolina in 1811, James Morphew Sr., and his son - Joseph Morphew sold their Elk Creek lands to Ephriam Norris.


Four children were born 1790 to 1800:  (1) Mary Norris (23 June 1794 Wilkes County, N.C.), (2) Elizabeth Rebecca Norris (15 November 1795 Wilkes County, N.C.), (3) Ephriam Norris (~1799), (4) Isaac Norris (~1797).


(V). Naomi Morphew (~1760-70 to 1806) married Ephriam Allison in 1788.  From 1806 Ashe County, North Carolina Court records: “Ephraim Norris is appointed administrator on the estate of Naomi Allison.”  A little later, he is appointed guardian of the child Elisabeth Allison.  Census and tax records do not seem to pick up this couple – why?


The only known child is:  (1) Elisabeth Allison


(VI). Anna Morphew (~1760”s to ?) married Thomas Allison in Wilkes County on 28 February 1791 (county record) and lived in Wilkes County.  Family records do not remember Anna, but the 1790 Wilkes County census gives striking evidence of how close Thomas was to the Morphews.   Thomas may be a brother to Ephriam Allison who married Naomi Morphew.   Their ages are difficult to estimate because census and tax records may reflect several Thomas Allisons/Ellisons.  Wilkes County lists two marriages:

        Thomas Allison to Casandren Bird on 17 August 1779

        Thomas Ellison to Ama (Anna) Murphey on 28 February 1791


Section 10 - Confusion with Reverend Joseph Murphy, a non-relative


   The search for our Morphew origins encountered a real problem with this Reverend Joseph Murphy (1734-1816) until he was discovered unrelated.  His two 1779 and 1783 land grants in Surry County on Forbush and Joseph’s Creek were very close to the Burkes, Englands, and “James Morphew.”   Rowan and Surry County records for Joseph Murphy (Murphey) belong to Reverend Joseph Murphy who is not a Morphew.       


Joseph’s Creek is the same creek that James Burk settled in 1761, and appears to now be the North Branch of Forbush Creek.    Forbush Creek is now known a Forbis’s Creek and empties on the west bank of the Yadkin River (present-day Yadkin County, old Surry County).  This is about 0.5 miles north of Deep Creek where Reverend Joseph Murphy had his Deep Creek Baptist Church 1769-1775 and later.  This Deep Creek Baptist Church may have been the church closest to our Morphews. 


            Reverend Joseph Murphy, Sr. (born 1 April 1734 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia) married 1st to Valentine Haley(?) and 2nd on 11 November 1802 in Surry County, north Carolina to Catherine Thompson.  His father was William Murphy.   On 7 September 1814 in Surry County, Joseph Murphy, Sr. recorded his will which was probated August 1816.   This will named his wife Catherine Murphy, children – Joseph Murphy, Richard Murphy, and Sarah Murphy who married James Baker. 


   Rev. Joseph Murphy was ordained at Deep River, North Carolina in 1766 and served first as a missionary to Southwestern Virginia.   Next, he settled on the Little River of the Pee Dee (Montgomery County – old Anson County), North Carolina from 1759 to 1768 years.  The Pee Dee is just the down-river extension of the Yadkin River.  He later served at Shallow Ford in 1769 to 1780, and then Deep Creek from 1790 to 1803.   Joseph Murphy died in Surry County after 1803. 

From “Colonial Clergy of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina,” by Rev. Frederick Lewis Weis, 1955


            Because he was a Baptist Minister, he moved about.  A German Moravian, named Brother Soelle, described him on Deep Creek in North Carolina during the years of 1771 – 1775.  In 1776, people at Deep Creek "had no preaching for a long time, for Murphy and the Bryants have been hiding, and have not yet returned."   Deep Creek is not Deep River and the hiding was due to Regulator activity.


 Section 11 - County Tax Records for Murphy and Morphew


      1759 Rowan County, North Carolina: James Murphew (future Guilford County)

1768 Rowan County list, all on the same page.  Joseph Murphey.  Next to him is

            Jno England (Father-in-law of Silas Morphew). Two names later are: Jas. Burk, followed next by Joseph Burk (father and brother of Mary Burke Morphew), then another James Burk (one is Sr., the other Jr.).

1769 or 1770 Rowan County (actually undated): (1) James Murphey (2) James Murphy; Joseph Burk, James Burk Sr., James Burks Jr., and on the same page is Daniel Boone.

1771 Surry County, North Carolina: no Murphys, except Richard Murfee; Benjamin Burk, Joseph Burk, James Burk, Jr., no Morphews. 

1772 Surry County: Burk - Benjamin, Joseph, James, and John.  John Burk is thought to be the son of James Burk, Sr.

     1774 Surry County, N. C: No Murphys, except Pady and Richard Murphy.

     1782 Surry County, N.C.  James Murphree – 300 acres on waters of Hunting Creek

     1784 Surry County, N.C.:  James Murphey – 200 acres, James Murphee – 300 acres,

                             Joseph Murphy 1140 acres;

     1785 Surry County, N.C.:  James Murphre – 300 acres, Silas Murphy

     1786 Surry County, N.C.   Silas Murphew, James Murphy – 300 acres, Joseph

                            Murphy 100_ acres.

     1789 Surry County, N.C.   James Murphy – 300 acres, James Murphy 220 acres,

                            Joseph Murphy 940 acres

     1812 Surry County, N.C.  Joseph S. Murphey, 342 acres

     1813 Surry County, N.C.  Joseph Murphey, Sr., 340 acres


Rev. Joseph Murphy had land in Surry County and may have been exempted from certain taxes when he was an active minister in the county.   The James Murphy with 300 acres is non-related, and in 1797 was noted living in Pendleton County, South Carolina when he sold his 300 acres of Surry County land.  Oddly enough, a witness to his two grantor deeds was a Daniel Murphew, who cannot be found again.  There is one listing for Silas Murphy (Morphew).  Guilford County’s James Morphew is the 1759 Rowan County James Murphew and is James Morphew (1715/1725 – 1775+).  The James Murphey with 200 or 220 acres in 1784 and 1789 should be our James Morphew (~1750 – 1829).      


In conclusion, a Joseph "Morphew" does not separate out in the above Rowan or Surry County tax records.   The 1768 record for Joseph Murphey showing him next to the Burkes and Englands could be the exception, but there is reason to doubt he was a Morphew. 


Additional information shows the following: On May 12, 1768, “Joseph Murphey” gave consent to the marriage of his ward, Georganna Griggs to James Riddings in Rowan County.   In 15 March 1769, “Joseph Murphey” witnessed the wedding of William Riddings to Mildred Head in Rowan County.  These two records probably belong to Reverend Joseph Murphy.  In 1777, Surry County (established 1771 from Rowan County), William Riddings, Benjamin Burk, Joseph Chadwick, James Morphew,” and others, purchased property in the Ann Elliot estate sale in Surry County.  


 Section 12 - Land Entries Filed by Rev. Joseph Murphy


These two land grants were originally interpreted to belong to Joseph Morphew.  On a return trip (11/2001), later deeds revealed something very different.  The one and only “Joseph Morphew” thought to be written on the first record is now questionable in spelling.  In fact, everything points to Reverend Joseph Murphy being the actual owner.  The North Carolina State Archives has returned a copy of this grant (12/21/2001), Joseph Murphy - Grant NameJoseph Murphy - Grant Entry (1783 Surry County),    Joseph Murphy - Surveyor's Orders in 1779 Surry County (low resolution, high resolution), Joseph Murphy – 1779 Surry County Grant Survey (low resolution, high resolution).




1779 Land Grant to Joseph Murphy (#539)


            This Surry County grant #539 is entered 28 August 1779 and issued 13 October 1783 for Joseph Murphy, 640 acres of Forbis’s Creek, book no. 53, page 90.  (also Surry County deed book B, page 346).


State of North Carolina (#0539) from Joseph Winston Entry Officer of claims of lands in the County of Surry to the surveyor of said county:  “Greeting (you) are hereby required as soon as may be (possible) to lay off and survey for Joseph M_rphew? a parcel of land containing 640 acres in the county aforesaid on Forbis’s Creek, beginning at Forbis’s Creek, including his own improvement...this 28th day of August 1779.”  (Joseph Winston’s separate land entry states the land is on Forbis’s Creek beginning at Forbis’ line at Plumb Branch and running up the creek including Murphey’s own improvement for compliment.)


State of North Carolina, Surry County (Grant #0539):  “This plank represents the abstract of land survey for Joseph Murphy on Forbis’s Creek, beginning at a white oak in the fork of __ __ running thence north 31 degrees west 71 chains to a __ __, thence north __ __ degrees west 9 chains to __ __, being ... agreed on by said Murphy and John Benton, thence west 30 chains to a white oak on Davenport’s line, thence south along said line 4 ½ chains to his corner pine thence west twenty eight chains to a hickory, thence south 16 degrees west of said creek 39 chains to a white oak to lines agreed on by said Murphy and Moses Baker , just thence south 29 chains to a (post), thence __ east __ said Creek to the beginning including 640 acres.  Survey, November 4th 1779.  Signed:  James Baker and __ Speer.” 


Probable Sales of this Same Land


Surry County, North Carolina, 5 October 1803 (deed book K- page 220):  Joseph Murphy, Senior, of Surry County, deeds to John North, of same county, for 50 pounds, land on the west side of Forbis Creek.  Signed: Joseph (“j”) Murphy. 


Surry County, North Carolina, 21 February 1812 (M-475):  Joseph Murphy deeds to Francis Lakey, both of Surry County, waters of Forbis Creek... to Francis Lakey’s corner...Stoez’ corner...on the bank of Forbis Creek, 105 acres...land granted to Joseph Murphy, bearing the date of 13 October 1783.  Entered August term 1812.  Witnesses: Wile Dowling, M. Brown.  Signed “Joseph Murphy” with seal.


            Surry County, North Carolina, 24 March 1812 (M-49):  Joseph Murphy, of Surry County, deeds for $574 to Jonathan Miller, of Stokes County, 164 acres, on Forbis’ Creek...east on Hardy’s line and Culvard’s and Johnsons line.  Signed Joseph (“s”) Murphy with seal. 


Surry County, North Carolina, 25 July 1818 (O-102):  Joseph Murphey, of Surry County, deeds for $10 to Joshua Creson, of the same county, 91 acres of land on Forbushes Creek.  Willed to said Joseph Murphy by his father. Witnesses:  William Glen, Wm. Thornton.   Signed: Joseph (x) Murphy, with seal.   Entered November term 1812.     





1782 Land Grant to Joseph Murphey (#1815)


Surry County grant #1815 entered __ March 1782 and issued 9 March 1784 for Joseph Murphy, 450 acres, on Joseph’s Creek.  (also in Surry County Deed book D, page 184)


State of North Carolina.  “Joseph Winston appointed by the Court of Surry County to take charge of the Land Office Books, to the Surveyor of said County, Greeting:  You are hereby required as soon (as possibly to begin a) survey for Joseph Murphey a tract or parcel of land containing 500 acres in the county aforesaid on Joseph Creek, adjoining James Bruce, Robert Forbus and __ own land, including his improvements on this day of __ March 1782.  John Winston.”


Survey for land #1815 shows a “T” shaped piece of land with creek curving through the middle. “This plan represents a tract of land surveyed for Joseph Murphey on Joseph Creek in the County aforesaid.  Beginning at the former corner white oak in the Hugh Branch on Forbis’s line, runs then west 107 chains to a white oak thence south 16 chains to a pine and a postoak in Bruce’s line thence east 48 ½ chains to a persimons tree on the bank of said creek thence down the same as the meanders ten chains to a Hickory on Bruce’s corner thence south 48 chains to a stake 3 chains from a marked post oak, thence east 44 chains to a pine thence north 48 chains to a stake, thence east 12 chains to a stake, thence to the beginning.  Hesper C. Lunig.”


Deed Selling What May be the Same Land


19 October 1797, Surry County (H-17):  Joseph Murphy, of Surry County, deeds to Francis Lakey, of Surry County, for 60 pounds, 102 acres a tract or parcel of land in Surry County on the waters of Joseph’s Creek on Stow’s line.  Witnesses:  John (x) Stewart and James (x) Lakey.  Signed:  Joseph ("j") Murphy and entered November term 1797.



Section 13 - Census Records for the Daughters of J. Morphew + Mary Burk


1787 Wilkes County, North Carolina, Tax List


        Coleman, Young, 100 acres, 1 poll

        Alleson, Thomas, no acres, one poll

        Norris, Ephraim, 100 acres, 1 poll


1790 U.S. Census for Wilkes County, North Carolina – all are on the same page:


        Line 10 – Chambers, Henry: 2 males 16 up, 1 male <16, 4 females

        Line 12 - Ellison, Thomas: 1 male 16 up, 1 female

        Line 13 - Murphy, Mary:  3 females, all ages

        Line 14 - Colman, Sarah:  1 male 16 up, 2 males <16, 3 females all ages

        Line 20 – Egers, Danl: 1 male 16 up, 2 males <16, 3 females all ages 


1800 U.S. Census of Ashe County, North Carolina


        Coleman, Sarah: 1 male + 1 female 10-<16, 2 males + 2 females 16-<26, 1 female 45+

        Coleman, Jonathan: 1 male 16-<26, 1 female 26-<45 (listed next to Sarah Coleman)

        Coleman, David: 1 male + 2 females 0-<10, 1 male 10-<16, 1 male + female 26->45         

        Norris, Ephraim:  2 males and 2 females 0-<10, 1 male and 1 female 45 up


1800 U.S. Census of Wilkes County, North Carolina


         Allison, Thomas:  1 male and 1 female 16-<26.


1830 U.S. Census of Hickman County, Tennessee, page 264


         Coleman, David: 2 males and 1 female 0-<5; 1 male and 2 females 5-<10; 1 female 40-<50; 1 male 50-<60, 1 female 60-<70.  Could this be Sarah (Sally) Morphew Coleman?


1840 U.S. Census of Hickman County, Tennessee, page 177


         Coleman, Sarah, age 70-80, with a large family.  Can she be ours?

                  1 male 0-<10; 2 males + 1 female 10-<15; 1 male + 2 females 15-<20; 1 female 40-<50, 1 male 50-<60, 1 female 70-<80.