ONE OF THE MORE interesting names I have come across in m research is that of Henry Eborn Sears. This was the name of a Gates County resident who lived from about 1750 to 1806. His estate record file is quite long, he owned slaves, and had descendants in Gates and Hertford counties. There are two records that tie the local Collins family to this man, however.
1788 – Ebran Sears appointed overseer of the new road that leads from old Somerton rd to the Virginia Line lately laid off and that the hands of William Goodman, Henry Goodman, John Bethey, William Gatling, Anness Goodman, Henry Lee, Jacob Walters, William March, Thomas Hiatt, Henry Delday, Samuel Collings, and Watson Howell work on the same.
1789 – Henry Dilday to Henry Eborn Sears 50 acre plantation, Lemuel Collins, witness
In trying to trace the background of this Sears, one thing immediately popped out at me — his unique name, “Eborn.” “Henry Eborn” was actually the name of a landholder in Hyde County, North Carolina. He left a will there in 1732. It begins, “I, Henry Eborrn, of Matchapungo …”
I have pondered if the Henry Eborn Sears of Gates County is somehow related to the Henry Eborn of Hyde County. Perhaps his mother was descended from this Henry Eborn. In the 1790 US Federal Census, you find Eborn families in exactly three counties: Gates, Hyde and Beaufort. Likewise, you find Sears families in Gates, Hertford, Beaufort, and Craven counties.
The name “Sears” is also of interest. There is a smattering of records related to a William Sears in the region going back a century to the time of Culpepper’s Rebellion in 1677. According to these records, William Sears was one of the men who played a role in the rebellion, including the formation of an independent government.
This 1680 affidavit provides a list of the men who made up the new rebel government:
they created a Prlement consisting of Tho. Collen, Speaker, James Blunt, Anthony Slocum, Jon Vernham, Henry Bonner, Jon Jenkins, Sam. Pricklove, Willm Therrill, Caleb Calloway, Alexander Lillington Willm Craford, Vallantine Bird since dead Willm Jenings, Tho. Jarvies Enoch Billings Rich Sanders Patrick White & Willm Sears who was ther Drummr in all about 18 of them
Very interesting to see Crawford and Bird here, names that one finds alongside these families in Gates County and again on the Virginia-North Carolina line much later. You can also see one “Tho. Collen” listed as the speaker in the new government and one “Willm Sears” shown as its drummer. This same William Sears left a will in 1679,naming one brother Thomas Sears, in Bermuda. The Bermuda connection is intriguing.
July 9, 1667.Attestation of SAMUEL MEANS, Seaman of Ketch Anne who swore that about 13 months past he was on Roanoke River and had conference with WILLIAM SEARS who he understood was a Bermudian, and that he had been there cast awaie and that the vessel came from Bermuda. MEANS also said he heard THOMAS KEELE and THOMAS HORNER who were cast awaie at the same time say that the aforesaid SEARS was a Bermudian and they had heard him wish himself back in Bermuda with his Mother.
Letter from WILLIAM SEARS from Albemarle in the Province of Carolina [present day North Carolina], April 12, 1673.To loving brother THOMAS SEARS, living at Bermuda at Pembrick.
So the William Sears of the Culpepper Rebellion documents was actually a cast away from Bermuda. The 1679 will names a wife Ann as executrix, but there are no children listed. However, in 1713, in another colonial document, a William Sears is shown transporting a Seneca Indian from New York to Edenton. And that same year, we find the following deed:
Tredle Keefe, to Jonathan Sears, of New England. 530 acres between Meherrin River and Meherrin Creek ; January 20, 1713. Test, Robert Hicks, T. Luten, Jr.
There is no evidence at this point that ties the Bermudian William Sears of the Culpepper Rebellion era to the Jonathan Sears of 1713 to the Henry Eborn Sears of Gates County, but we can say that this name was in the region by at least 1673, and appears to have spread between the Gates-Hertford area and the Craven-Beaufort-Hyde County area. If my instinct is correct, and the “Lamuel Collins” mentioned in the Gates County records where Eborn Sears appears was an agricultural laborer, as his descendants were, then it is possible that this family relocated between plantations owned by the Eborn or Sears families. In this way, mestizo Collinses from the Hyde County area might have arrived in Gates County.
One thing that is interesting to note here is that 1713 deed places the Sears land on the west side of the Chowan River between Potecasi Creek and the Meherrin River. This was very close to the Meherrin Indian Town as well as the Nansemond Indian Town.