Membership in the distinguished Order of the First Families of North Carolina (OFFNC) requires having an ancestor who lived in North Carolina before it became a royal colony on July 12, 1729. Several years ago, the OFFNC commissioned esteemed genealogist John Brayton to prepare a series documenting the genealogy of the organization’s qualifying ancestors, and in 2005 Mr. Brayton’s published the maiden volume entitled Order of First Families of North Carolina: Registry of Ancestors, Volume 1. Most of the genealogies in that work, which cover more than a score of qualifying ancestors trace the subject’s family for a full first and second generation, down to the fourth, with drop-charts describing descent to members of the OFFNC.
In this volume John Brayton concerns himself with the many different colonial WILLIAMS families of the Tidewater area who subsequently settled in northeastern North Carolina. The Williams of Virginia’s Isle of Wight and Surry counties figure prominently not only in the ancestry of many colonial North Carolina families but also in the settling of southeastern Virginia and that part of North Carolina just east and southeast of the Piedmont: Albemarle, Chowan, Bertie, Edgecombe, Northampton, Halifax, Warren, Granville, Hertford, Duplin, Sampson, Jones, Onslow, Wayne and Nash counties. In addition to the main Williams branches, Volume 2 contains numerous references to hundreds of other families, including the following allied ones: Alexander, Browne/Browne, Castellaw, Cobb/Cobbs, Councill, Daughtrey/Doughtry, Davis, Drake, Edwards, Hardy, Herring/Hearing/Hearin/Herron, Hicks/Hix, Jones, Joyner/Joiner, Kerby/Kirby, Pierce/Peirce, Pitts, Redditt, Smith/Smyth, Whitfield, and Whitley/Wheatley.
Spanning 550 pages, Volume 2 demonstrates John Brayton’s usual fastidious approach to family history. The author documents all of his sources, chapter by chapter, and includes abstracts and transcriptions of the original documents supporting his findings. The introduction is a learned essay that explains the particular problems posed by the sources for documenting each qualifying ancestry. With a full-name index, place index, slave index, membership charts for Williams ancestors, and a comprehensive bibliography, this volume refers to more than 12,000 ancestors and their descendants. Destined to stand alongside John Dorman’s impeccable Adventurers of Purse and Person, its Virginia counterpart, the Order of the First Families of North Carolina is must reading for anyone interested in the genealogical origins of the Tarheel State.