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A Word Of Caution About The Seven Perry Brothers

William, Nathaniel, Francis, Joshua, Jeremiah, John and Burwell Perry, the seven brothers, are supposedly the sons of Phillip Perry III of Nansemond county, Virginia. Displeased with their father's second marriage, left home circa 1740s and migrated to North Carolina establishing themselves in several areas, mostly in Perquimans and the Franklin/Bute/Warren area. While there are records which lend credence to this claim, no record has yet been found clearly stating it as fact.

There are those who consider the claims false because of the lack of proof. While their concern regarding the undocumented claims is valid, we should not discount family tradition entirely. By sharing the information we may discover the proof. Or, prove it false.

The purpose of the Burrell Perry Research Group is to identify our Burrell Perry and his two wives, Mary Ann Rainwater and Jane Botts. We, also, want to identify his parentage and verify or disprove the claims concerning the seven Perry brothers of Virginia and North Carolina. For this purpose we have individually and collectively accumulated much data. Because of the destruction of so many records it may be impossible to achieve our whole purpose in entirty. The following letter from Mr.Patrick McKenna to Pete Hamilton is included as a partial explanation concerning the origins of the seven brothers.

"Hi, Perry researchers --- This is Pete Hamilton, third great- grandson of the Burrell Perry who married Hester Bird. We have been "debating" the parentage of the "seven brothers", and specifically whether or not they were the sons of the Phillip Perry who died 1751 in Perquimans County, NC. Someone said that Mrs. Eudora Hodges had left some papers with the Dallas Library that might shed some light on this question. I've made some inquiries, and yesterday received a letter which I will now retype in its entirity. It is from Patrick McKenna of the Dallas Public Library.

"Your letter today was most welcomed and, although you do not trace your heritage in it, I assume you are from one of the 7 brothers named Perry. (I am from two: William and John. Down the line, second cousins Josiah Dixon Perry, son of Solomon Perry and Mary Louiza (or Louisa) Crudup ) married Rebecca Perry, (daughter of Joshua Perry and Patty Cheves). The "Battle Book", which you should see, mistakenly lists her as Rebecca Hare, but I have the original marriage bond copy from Franklin County, and this proves my point. Josiah D. was the son of Solomon, gr-son of old John ( wife unknown, but she was dead by 1796 ). Joshua (abv) son of old William. William died at 103 years, but this is calculated, not proven, as I see it.

Mr. Hamilton, I must warn you the Perry information you are quoting from appears to me to be from "History of the John Wesley Perry Jr. Family", part II. This book is erroneous, poorly researched, and ... an undocumented, sloppy and wasteful book. It causes more harm than it contributes. I bought a copy when it first came out, and was so disappointed I threw my copy away. He confuses a Solomon Perry Sr. of Granville Co, who died, will dated Feb 15, 1843, with the true grandson of John Perry, namely the Solomon Perry of Franklin Co, who died in 1815 (according to the Raleigh paper "from camp fever" - which means either typhoid or typhus fever, both are called "camp fever".) He was a milita private in the War of 1812, and that's where he contracted this malady, due to unclean water and poor hygiene.

I would like to give you a capsule rundown on our Perrys. The seven brothers are William (believed to be the oldest, although the DAR Patriot Index has Joshua as a year older - Joshua 1725, than William - I question this), Joshua, Jeremiah, Nathaniel, Francis (the only one who eventually moved out of the Warren/ Franklin Co. area - to Wake Co), John, and Burwell (the youngest and the one most well-heeled). About Jeremiah we know the least. Joshua was a Revolutionary soldier, our only one - he is the one who married Mattie Rush. On the other hand two of the seven brothers refused to sign the allegiance - swearing devotion to the Patriot side (in old Bute - the book excapes me today, so I can't give you their names). Anyway, we Perrys had a house divided about the Revolution. Old William did patriotic service for the Patriots; Old John did nothing, I guess.

I am digressing. Two things I want to say from your letter. First you state one of the sons is William "Wiston". All these boys have only one first name ( and those are either English or Bibical ). No one had the middle name "Wiston" or any middle name. Also, you keep saying the boys came to Granville (this is in the Wesley Perry book too). Actually they came even earlier than that; they came when it was Edgecombe County, and they did not all come together. We know this through the tax lists, and other things. Eudora Hodges worked this all out. ( More about her in a minute ). They came in ( I am working strictly today from guessing ) 1742 through 1750. They were there when it was Edgecombe; Granville; Bute; Franklin/Warren (in order). True, there is a separate Perry deed book in Franklin. But they are all court records. There is no Perry court book.

Now the following is HEARSAY (no documentation is known to back up this story whatsoever.) Supposedly the father ( I doubt we will ever know his name; too many researchers for too many years have searched fruitlessly everywhere to find his name ) married a second time after the first wife died. Then the sons, angry at him for doing this, went to North Carolina, they say. Actually, the Perrys settled in Nansemond River area originally, which became Nansemond County. It is true they owned land over into Isle of Wight County, but they seem to have lived only in Nansemond, not Isle of Wight. Of course Nansemond's records have burned three times. Also there was a Robert Perry there early, but no proof of any kin has been found back to him. Also the story goes, an eighth son remained behind (the oldest) with his father, because under the law of progenitor the oldest son inherited everything in the estate, and the other children were to get nothing. That is how early English law worked; later this practice was abolished. Also they supposedly never discussed in the later years their father or even his name. ( I cannot believe 7 boys would not even mention their father's name, no matter how they felt about him. But we just don't know.)

Years ago one member of the Perry family even went to England, to Yorkshire, where supposedly our Perry line came from. No proof of Yorkshire either. This descendant found nothing. I am not convinced it was even Yorkshire we came from. I do believe it was England, but where oh where. . .

Another point; there are no Philip or Phillip names anywhere in the children or grandchildren of the 7 Perry brothers. Eudora Hodges has worked on all 7 bros. and insisted on documentation. She is the dearest of the dear, my very favorite cousin (although it is far back, her great-grandfather, Dr. Harwood Pope Perry, and my gr-gr-g. Josiah Dixon Perry, were brothers). .... We have laughed, wept, and strained over the Perrys and love it, lots. She went, for many years, up to Franklin/ Warren and Raleigh every summer. I hasten to tell you yes, she did contribute things here ( but mostly on Texas or Dallas odds and ends ). Her entire collection, supervised by she herself, has been duplicated and is housed in the Harrison Co Historical Society, Old Courthouse, Peter Whetstone Square, Marshall TX 75670; 214/938-2680. Eudora is so meticulous, I know it is a joy to see her work. She is not so sharp on remembering things on the phone - she's 90, remember.

I'm a Library Associate here. Be glad to help you, if I can. Keep in touch, Patrick McKenna" "

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