North Carolina Poll Tax

North Carolina tax lists – definition of white and black “polls”

The poll tax was imposed on males and slaves in every household.

It was started in 1715 by the General Assembly and applied to all males over the age of 16 “white poll” and all slaves, male and female, over the age of 12 “black poll”, were also taxed at this time.

This tax was modified in 1777 and 1784 to include property owned.
In 1784, the black poll was changed to include freeman and male servants over the age of 21 (with males over 45 being exempt after 1835) and male and female slaves between the ages of 12 and 50.

In 1801, the poll tax was changed to exempt males over the age of 50 and in 1817, the age was dropped to 45.

After the abolition of slavery in 1868, the tax was changed to all males between the ages of 21 and 50 until the poll tax was ended in 1970.

Source: “North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, 1996”, by Helen Leary, pages 231-232.


1777 Tax Lists Caswell County NC – Williams

In 1777 Caswell County, NC consisted of 6 districts – Richmond, Gloucester, St. David’s, St. Luke’s, St. James, and Nash. In 1792, St. Lawrence, St. Luke’s, St. James, and Nash counties became Person County.

According to the 1777 Caswell County Tax list, there were 8 Williams men being taxed:

St. David’s District – Henry Williams was taxed for 3722 acres, 6 white polls, and 6 black polls; Colonel John Williams was taxed for 1299 acres, 0 white polls, and 0 black polls

Gloucester District – 0 Williams families were taxed

St. James’ District – George Williams was taxed and Thomas Williams was taxed for 194 acres, 17 white polls and 6 black polls

St. Lukes District – Benjamin Williams was taxed

Nash District – Benjamin Williams and John Williams were taxed

Richmond District – William Williams

Source: Caswell Co., NC List of Taxables for 1777, 1780, & 1784 , microfilm, North Carolina State Archives, Call No. 020.70001

1784 Tax Lists Caswell County NC – Williams

In 1784 Caswell County, NC consisted of 8 districts – Richmond, Caswell, Gloucester, St. David’s, St. Lawrence, St. Luke’s, St. James, and Nash. In 1792, Caswell County was split into two counties – Caswell and Person. St. Lawrence, St. Luke’s, St. James, and Nash counties became Person County in 1792.

According to the 1784 Caswell County Tax list, there were 5 Williams men being taxed:

Richmond District – 0 Williams families were taxed

Caswell District – 0 Williams families were taxed

Gloucester District – 0 Williams families were taxed

St. David’s District – John Williams, Att, taxed for 1500 acres on Country Line Creek, 1 white poll and 6 black polls

St. Lawrence’s District – Tobias Williams taxed for 0 acres, and 1 white poll (0 black polls) and William Williams taxed for 163.5 acres on Cane Creek, 1 white poll and 0 black polls

St. Luke’s District – 0 Williams families were taxed

St. James’ District – Bennett Williams was taxed for 231 acres on Deep, 1 white poll and 0 black polls

Nash District – John Williams was taxed for 0 acres, 1 white poll and 0 black polls

Source:Caswell County NC Will Books 1777 – 1814, and 1814-1843 (Abstracts), 1784 Tax List, Guardian Records, etc… by Katherine Kerr Kendall (searchable online at; abstracted from the NC State Archives, Book C.R. 020.701.1, Compiled by Henry E. Kendall

The Regulator Movement

Last weekend I drove to Siler City, North Carolina to attend a lecture on The Regulator Movement of Chatham County, North Carolina, given by Mr. John H. Emerson. The lecture was sponsored by the Chatham County Historical Society and took place at the Rives Chapel Church in Siler City, North Carolina.  Tours of the church and the nearby Old Tick Creek cemetery, where the Regulator James Emerson was buried, were given prior to the lecture.  I did not make it to the church in time for the cemetery tour, however I made it inside the hall in time to get a good seat. I think attendance was higher than they expected because the organizers had to set up more chairs. The lecture itself ran for just about an hour. The Chatham County Historical Society had some books and pamphlets on a table at the back of the room that we could visit after the lecture. Another gentleman also had some weapons on display for us to look at.

The Regulator Movement is said to be the precursor and possibly even the first battle of the American Revolutionary War.  What started out as a peaceful movement enacted to change the policies governing land and property taxation and to rid the colony of corrupt politicans, ended in a gun fight at the Battle of Alamance Creek.

I decided to attend this lecture for a couple of reasons: My ancestor, Henry Williams, was living in nearby Caswell County, NC during this time (1766-1771) and was believed to have been in the Caswell County Militia. I think he may have had some involvement in the Regulator Movement. There’s been some confusion about his involvement in the Revolutionary War (see previous post here) and I was hoping to clear it up by learning about his possible role in the Regulator Movement.

I also wanted to have any excuse to drive out that way. Siler City is on the outskirts of Randolph County, North Carolina. My Godwin family settled in Randolph County in 1800 in the small community of Seagrove. Seagrove is about a 20 minute drive West of Siler City. A few weeks ago I took my first trip out to Randolph County to visit the Genealogy room in the Randolph County public library located in downtown Asheboro. You can read about my visit on my other blog here. I hope to make more trips out there to take in more of the scenery.

I did not learn any new information about my ancestor, Henry Williams, believed to have been an officer in the Revolutionary War.  There was a copy of William Powell’s book, The Regulators in North Carolina: A documentary history, 1759-1766 on one of the tables.  I did not find any mention of my ancestory, Henry Williams, in it. This was not surprising as I had already read much of the book in 2006 when I wrote a paper on the Regulator Movement for my North Carolina History Class.

A Mr. Brooks Gilbert opened up his family home, originally owned and  occupied by Isaac Brooks, also a Regulator, to the lecture attendees.  His home is located at 1958 Ike Brooks Rd, which was just a quick turn off of the Rives Chapel Church Road in Siler City. Isaac Brooks was a descendant of John and Susan Brooks, whose descendants meet every August in Siler City for a huge family reunion.  I have yet to find a connection between this Brooks family and my own of Caswell County, North Carolina, however I believe both families came from the same part of Virginia prior to their migration to North Carolina.  This Brooks family even has a highway named after them!  More to come about my visit to Isaac Brooks’ House.

Henry Williams – A Revolutionary War Soldier?

Many researchers of my Henry Williams have indicated that he was a Colonel in the Revolutionary War, citing page 71 of William S. Powell’s book When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, North Carolina 1777-1977  (Durham, NC: Moore Publishing Company, 1977) as their source. This is the only source I can find indicating that Henry Williams was a soldier in the Revolutionary War.  I did not find a pension application for him or his widow or heirs in Heritage Quest’s Revolutionary War database.

Maybe Henry Williams was in the Caswell County militia and maybe he was active in that militia during the Regulator Movement (of which William S. Powell also wrote a book about – The regulators in North Carolina: a documentary history, 1759-1776).  However, I do not believe he saw duty during the Revolutionary War.  His brother, Colonel James Williams, was instrumental in the War.  He was living in the 96th District of South Carolina at the time.  In 1780, James Williams travelled to Caswell County, NC to visit his brother. It was there he wrote his will and transferred much of his property and possibly his slaves to his brother’s house for safe-keeping from the Tories. That Henry Williams was at home with his family, instead of away at war also indicates to me that he did not participate in the War.

After James’ death during the Battle of King’s Mountain in October 1780, Henry Williams, his brother and executor of his estate, reported an accounting of $25,000 that had been given to his brother, James Williams from the State of North Carolina to use to raise militia in Caswell County and surrounding counties to fight against the Tories. James’ son John Williams testified that this money was used to rally troops who were taken to King’s Mountain with him.  There is no mention of Henry Williams’ active participation in the rallying or marching of said troops. [Source: Graves, William T., James Williams: An American Patriot in the Carolina Backcountry, San Jose: Writers Club Press, 2002, p. 56]

The Author, William S. Powell, did not provide any sources or a bibliography to his book aforementioned. He did, however, note that all notes, chapter materials, and source material was given to the Gunn Memorial Library in Yanceyville, NC.  I therefore intend to visit this library and review his notes to see what source he used for his list of Caswell men who saw action in the Revolutionary War.


Richard Brooks of Caswell Co., NC (1730-1790)

Richard Brooks was born about 1730, probably in Virginia, and died about 1790 in Caswell County, North Carolina.  In his will written October 3, 1789 he mentioned his wife Ann Brooks and his 5 children (see original will transcript here):

  1. William Bird Brooks (c. 1774-after 1830)
  2. Elizabeth “Betsey” Brooks (born c. 1789)
  3. Francis Armestead Brooks (c. 1781 – after 1860 in Alabama) married James Sheppard
  4. John Brooks (c. 1785 – after 1809)
  5. Ann Smith Brooks (c. 1770 – c. 1805), married Solomon Graves

Richard Brooks was living in Kingston Parish, Gloucester County, Virginia prior to his removal to Caswell County, North Carolina between 1770 and 1780.  Caswell County was formed from Orange County in 1779.  It is possible, Richard lived in Orange County, North Carolina from 1770-1779 when part of the county became Caswell County.

On December 10, 1754, Richard and Thomas Brooks were listed in a survey to divide land equally between the two men according to the last will and testament of Mr. Jonathan Brooks in Kingston Parish, Gloucester Co., VA. [1]

On April 10, 1770, Richard and his wife _____’s daughter, Ann Smith Brooks, was baptized in Kingston Parish, Gloucester Co., VA [1].  Unfortunately, I did not see a marriage record for Richard Brooks in the Kingston Parish Book.

Richard’s wife Ann was listed on the 1800 Caswell County, NC census report after he died. She was listed between the ages of 26 and 45, born between 1755 and 1774. This would have made her about 16 years of age at the time of Richard’s daughter, Ann Smith Brooks’ date of birth in 1770 in Virginia.  It is possible Ann Smith Brooks’ mother was someone other than Ann. It is also possible her mother’s maiden name was Smith, for whom she was named after.

Richard’s will was written in October of 1789 and proved in January of 1790.  His Wife, Ann Brooks’ will was written March 4, 1806 and was proved in January court of 1809.  In her will, she listed her 9 grandchildren, 6 of whom were the children of her son William Bird Brooks and 3 of whom were children of her daughter Frances A (Brooks) Sheppard. Her son in law, Solomon Graves (married to Ann Smith Brooks) was listed as executor. Ann Smith Brooks Graves must have died prior to her mother writing her will in 1806 since she was not listed as an heir (or she was not the daughter of Ann).

Richard and Ann Brooks’ son William Bird Brooks settled in Giles County, Tennessee after his parents died. He was married to Sarah Paine in Person County, North Carolina.

Richard and Ann Brooks’ daughter Frances Armistead Brooks Sheppard removed to Butler County, Alabama where she died about 1860.

Richard Brooks was probably the brother of Thomas Brooks and son of Jonathan Brooks of Gloucester County, Virginia.  I believe Richard’s brother, Thomas Brooks, and his wife, Mary Blacknall, were the parents of my ancestor, Christopher Brooks (1755-1781), along with his siblings, Sarah/Sallie Brooks Holderness, Charles H Brooks, Thomas Brooks Jr., George Brooks and possibly Mary and Jonathan Brooks.

Caswell Co NC Wills – BROOKS

The following original wills are housed at the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The collection title is “Caswell County, North Carolina Series of Original Wills, 1771-1927” and the call number is C.R. 020.801.1. The Brooks family wills were contained in the first box of the series (no. 1).  There might have been more Brooks family wills contained in the box written after 1900. I only inventoried those wills written before 1900 (on 10/25/2008).

  1. Richard Brookes, dated 1790 (wife Ann)
  2. Ann Brooks, dated 1808 (wife of Richard)
  3. Thomas Brooks, dated 1855 (wife Martha)

The will of Richard Brookes was recorded in Caswell County, North Carolina Will Book B, p. 321.  This will was abstracted in Katherine Kerr Kendall’s book “Caswell County, North Carolina will books, 1777-1814” on page 30. (See entry below)


The abstract reads the following:

Richard Brooks (spelled Brookes on original) [actually the “e” is crossed out on the original that I looked at in 2008] – Will – w. 3 Oct 1789. Wife Ann; 4 youngest children William Bird Brooks (under 21), Betsy Brooks, Frances Armstead Brooks, John Brooks; daughter Ann Smith Graves; Exec: wife Ann and son in law Solomon Graves. Wit: W. F. Smith, Israel Barker.

The will of Ann Brooks was recorded in Caswell County, North Carolina Will Book E, p. 379.  This will was abstracted in Katherine Kerr Kendall’s book “Caswell County, North Carolina will books, 1777-1814” on page 109. (See entry below)


The abstract reads the following:

Ann Brooks – Will – w. 4 Mar 1806. Son William B. Brooks; 9 grandchildren: Wm B. Brooks sons John, Robert, & William and daughters Betsy, Ann, and Joanna; Frances A. Sheppard’s daughters Ann, Betsy, and Polley.  Exec:  son Wm B. Brooks. Wit:  Sol Graves, S. Graves, John L. Graves.

The will of Thomas Brooks includes the following:

Thomas Brooks – Will – written 31 Mar 1855
Wife: Martha Brooks
Children: son William Brooks (under 21), daughters Nicy and Mary Ann.
Exec: Wife Martha Brooks
Wits: Charles G Russell and Byrd D Paylor

There was no estate folder for Richard Brookes at the archives. There are, however, estate folders for the Thomas and Ann Brooks listed above.



  1. To copy, scan, and transcribe the wills of Richard, Ann, and Thomas Brooks of Caswell Co., NC from the Archives

– Update 10/25/08:  These 3 wills were copied by the Archives.

–  Update 4/2/09: Wills were scanned into my computer and info entered into my genealogy software.

–  Update 9/7/2010:  The wills of Richard, Ann, and Thomas Brook(e)s were scanned, transcribed and uploaded to this blog.

  1. To copy, scan, and transcribe the estate records of Ann and Thomas Brooks of Caswell Co., NC from the Archives


  1. Caswell County, North Carolina Series of Original Wills, 1771-1927, C.R. 020.801.1, North Carolina State Archives.
  2. Katherine Kerr Kendall, Caswell County, North Carolina will books 1777-1814. 1784 tax list. guardians’ accounts 1794-1819 and Caswell County North Carolina will books 1814-1843. guardians’ accounts 1819-1847. 1850 & 1860 census mortality schedules powers of attorney from deed books 1777-1880, can be searched online at

Related Posts:

Brooks family estate records from Caswell County, North Carolina