Anyone who has attempted to do research on the THORN(E) family lines knows how very difficult a project this is. Family legends are confused and exaggerated. Existing records within the family are few. Apparently the early Thorns kept no Bible records to speak of. Graves are marked with fieldstones. The only public records that have been found are court actions (few), census tapes (which haven't been tremendously helpful since only the head of household is listed by name), and court house records (primarily Probate records and land transactions). Much of the linking that appears in the Family Chart for the earliest Thorns is done based on assumptions. To most genealogists, assumptions are not acceptable. Yet, there is strong evidence to support these links within the family, but there is no absolute proof. Instincts are often very close to the mark, so we have to rely in some part on our instincts to sort this out.
This write up is a compilation of the work of several people. It includes information from Dot Gwinn, Barbara Broman, Janet Biondo and Joanne Thorn. It also includes some information gleaned from family legends. Again, lacking absolute proof, some assumptions have been made based on naming traditions, proximity of the families, etc.
The Theophilus Thorn who is found in Spartanburg District, SC beginning in 1804 MUST be the same Theophilus Thorn found in the Edgecombe County census in 1800. If so, he was the son of William THORN and Mary TAYLOR.
1800 Edgecombe County, North Carolina Census, p. 247:
Theophilus Thorn, 1 male to 10, 1 male to 26, 1 female to 26, 1 female to 45.
Theophilus is not found in the 1810 Census of Edgecombe County. He is first found in Spartanburg District, South Carolina involved in a land transaction as follows:
Spartanburg County/District South Carolina, Deed Abstracts, Books A - T, 1785-1827
The above gives more credence to the assumption that the Theophilus who is found in Edgecombe County in 1800 and this Theophilus are the same person. In the 1806 land transaction where the children of Mary Taylor Thorn sold the land they inherited from their mother, Theophilus was the only child who did not to sign the transaction. He must have been gone from the area by that time, which would explain the absence of his signature on that document.
Edgecombe County, North Carolina DB12-206:
Theophilus does appear in the 1810 Spartanburg District Census (he does not appear in the index, which has led some to believe he was absent in the 1810 census, but an examination of the microfilm does find him residing in Spartanburg District in 1810).
William THORN, Beady POPE, Winifred ROBERTSON, Theophilus THORN, Martin THORN, Taylor THORN, Mary POPE, and Elizabeth THORN were the children of William THORN and Mary TAYLOR. The land that they sold together in 1806 was inherited from their mother. This is the same tract of land that Mary TAYLOR inherited from her father, William TAYLOR (left a will in 1783, recorded 1786 in Edgecombe County, NC).
NOTE: William Taylor's wife was probably Mary BATTLE. Mary BATTLE was probably the niece of Elisha BATTLE, SR. as he (or Elisha, Jr.) and sons Jethro and Dempsey Battle witnessed William Taylor's Will.
William THORN was probably the son of Martin THORN, Sr. This is an assumption based on a great deal of evidence. Martin THORN, Sr. left all of his property to Martin THORN, Jr. Court records state that Martin, Jr. was the grandson of Martin, Sr.
The THORN line is first found in Edgecombe County in 1752 when Martin THORN and Charles LEE jointly bought land. It is possible that this Martin was the son of Thomas THORN and Mary LEE of Northampton County, NC. In fact, there is a record in the FHC submitted by James H.L. Lawler c/o Mary I Lawler that states: Thomas Thorn, b. abt. 1705, Bath, Northampton , N.C. who married Mary Lee b. abt. 1705, Bath, Northampton, N.C. are the parents of Martin THORN, b. abt. 1735, Bath, Northampton, M.C. and John Thorn b. abt. 1737, Bath, Northampton, M.C. The record did not state sources and to date, attempts to contact the Lawlers concerning their sources have not been successful. Mary LEE was the daughter of Dr. John Lee and had a brother named Joshua LEE.
Granville District of North Carolina 1748-1763, Land Grants, Vol. I. by Hofmann:
Abstracts of Deed - Edgecombe Precinct - Edgecombe County, NC 1732-1758 by Hofmann:
From these land transactions, we can see clearly that there were close ties between the THORN and LEE families. We find that in 1741 Thomas and Mary (LEE) THORN sold Northampton land to William BATTLE and Thomas and Mary's son, Joshua, sold "Bertie County" land to William BATTLE. It seems probable that William II and John II BATTLE were brothers and that Mary BATTLE and Elisha BATTLE were descended from the brothers. The land Joshua LEE sold had at one time been granted to John LEE, his grandfather. So, we have close relationships between the THORNs, LEEs, BATTLEs, and TAYLORs.
It is possible that the Martin THORN was a descendent of the William THORN who first appeared in America before 1653 in Gloucester County, VA. After this William's estate was settled in 1666, two young men, Martin and William THORN, turn up in Surry County, VA. There were three Martin THORNs in Colonial Surry County. Martin III died there in 1695 and we lose the thread at that point. We don't pick it up again until we find Martin THORN purchasing land in Edgecombe County in 1752.
The borders of Edgecombe, Bertie, Granville, Halifax, Nash, Hertford and Johnston Counties were in a state of flux during these early years, so some attention has to be given to dates and boundaries. Johnston County, at that time, stretched in a crescent all the way to the Virginia border. A map that shows the location of Martin I's land in Surry County, VA illustrates how close Surry County's Southwark Parish was to the border with Isle of Wight. It is possible that our William Taylor was grandson to William Pope. William Pope's will was probated in Edgecombe County, but his son, Stephen, heired a plantation in Isle of Wight. So, this gives some evidence of the ties from Surry County, Virginia to Isle of Wight, Virgina to Northampton County, North Carolina to Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Looking at maps of Virginia and North Carolina for this time, it is easy to see the migration pattern that probably occurred. Sussex County was not terribly far from the NC border, and Isle of Wight was even closer. Given the state of flux of the county borders, the migration into N.C. could have been into any of the counties bordering VA in the general area of discussion, with Northampton being the most likely choice.
There are many missing links here and more research needs to be done in an attempt to prove some of the assumptions. Still, it is clear that there are close ties between the THORNs, LEEs, BATTLEs, POPEs and TAYLORs who lived in the same general area of North Carolina during the 1700s.