Robert Williams - In Carteret County from 1765 until 1790

In Colonial Beaufort, historian Charles L. Paul gives us more insight into the years that Robert Williams lived in Beaufort and had a plantation on the north side of the Newport River.

“The thirteen years between the end of the French and Indian War and the establishment of North Carolina’s statehood in 1776 was a period when settlement in Beaufort was more substantial than it had previously been. In that period the number of taxables for the whole county grew from five hundred and forty-one to nine hundred or more, and deeds were recorded for at least sixty-three different lots or pieces of lots in Beaufort. Some of these lots, to be sure, had already been saved and were just being transferred to new owners, but quite a few were saved by having buildings erected on them. In fact, in the six years from 1765 through 1770, at least nine new buildings were erected in Beaufort. It was during this period that many of the waterfront lots of the west end of the town received their first residents…

“…[Though denied] in 1773 the inhabitants of the town petitioned the government of the colony that it be allowed representation in the General Assembly. Though they worded their petition in the form of a request or favor, they also made it clear that they could claim such representation as a right since the town then had sixty families, the number required for such representation by a law of 1715…”

In regard to the social structure of the population, Mr. Paul recorded some insight into the character Robert Williams. “The treatment which white servants and slaves received from their masters and the free population as a whole varied considerably…Two fugitive slaves…were treated quite differently by Robert Williams, a Quaker of the Beaufort area. This incident is revealed by the following advertisement which Williams had published in The North-Carolina Gazette on January 17, 1774.

"Taken up and committed to Gaol in Beaufort in Carteret County. Two new Negroes, they came in a canoe to Bogue Sound, but where from we cannot understand. Be some accident, or Act of Humanity, they got out of Gaol, of a cold Evening (almost starved even in the fore part of the Night, and must have inevitably perished before Morning) and Strayed to the Subscriber’s Kitchen, and wishes the proper owner had them, but cannot send them any more into Confinement to starve and freeze to Death according to Law: For the Great Law Giver Moses, had in Command, that we should do no Murder."

However, Robert Williams had his shortcomings, as recorded in the minutes of the Coresound Monthly Meeting and noted by Mr. Paul, “Robert Williams, who on July 13, 1774, was charged with living with and having a child by the servant girl of his deceased wife, a girl who at the time was married to another man. After due consideration of the matter, Williams was dismissed.”