Name: Rebecca BUTLER
Given Name: Rebecca
Birth: 10 Jan 1746 in Chester Co., PA
Death: 30 Aug 1808 in Fayetteville, NC
Burial: Family Cem, Westside Deep Ri, Near Gulf
Ancestral File #: 2Z51-WC
Rebecca was the niece of Commodore John Barry, "Father of the US Navy".
Change Date: 26 Aug 2012 at 15:38:44
The Battle of the Courts
The Colonial Records of North Carolina show that on Monday, November 25th, 1771.
T'he clerk of the crown having certified that Mr. John Wilcox, and Mr. Isaac Brooks were duly Elected and returned representative for the County of Chatham; pursuant to which the said Mr. Wilcox and Mr. Brooks appeared.
John and Isaac Brooks were the first to represent the newly formed Chatham County in the Colonial Assembly. Isaac Brooks was the youngest son of John Brooks, Sr., who had settled at Cross Creek and later moved to Tick Creek, near Ore Hill, in Chatham County.
On November 26th, 1771, "Mr. John Wilcox moved for leave to absence himself from the service of this house." He must have left Newbern to make preparations for his marriage to Rebecca Butler, which took place on December 6, 1771.
Joseph Willcox, a Willcox family historian and the writer of Ivy Mills, thinks that they were married in North Carolina. He wrote that he could find no record of their marriage in Philadelphia and if the wedding had been in Philadelphia it would have been in the church and there is no record of their marriage in any Philadelphia church.
At this time John was forty-three years old and Rebecca was twenty-five. She was from Philadelphia and was born in 1746. Rebecca was the daughter of Jane Butler who was married a second time to James Byrne, also of Philadelphia. We know little about Rebecca's life and until recently almost nothing about her mother. Joseph Willcox wrote a book entitled, Historical Sketches of Some of the Pioneer Catholics of Philadelphia, in which he gives us some insight into the life of James Byrne and in turn into the life of Jane and Rebecca
Another name frequently mentioned in the early records of the Catholic Churches in Philadelphia is Byrne. James Byrne, born 1720 in Ireland, was the first of the family to come to Philadelphia. His name-appears among the list of subscribers to fund for building St. Mary's Church, 1762, for 30pounfd. In 1776 he was an innkeeper, and kept the Golden Fleece, on Front Street in Philadelphia. In 1781 he subscribed S.'6 toward paying for an old schoolhouse for St. Mary's Church, and 9-7. 1 0 for building a new school. In 1782, his name appears in the list of pew holders in St. Mary's Church; also from 1787 to 1790. In 1785 he lived at 507 Front Street. He was one of the trustees of St. Mary's Church mentioned in the incorporation, enacted September 13, 1788. He also served as trustee of that church in 1789. His name-appears among the list of subscribers to fund for building St. Mary's Church, 1762, for 30pounfd. In 1776 he was an innkeeper, and kept the Golden Fleece, on Front Street in Philadelphia. In 1781 he subscribed 6 pounds toward paying for an old schoolhouse for St. Mary's Church, and 7:1 0 pounds for building a new school. In 1782, his name appears in the list of pew holders in St. Mary's Church; also from 1787 to 1790. In 1785 he lived at 507 Front Street. He was one of the trustees of St. Mary's Church mentioned in the incorporation, enacted September 13, 1788. He also served as trustee of that church in 1789.
In 1795, he subscribed 10 pounds for building the dwelling house of St. Joseph's Church James Byrne, probably before 1758, married Jane Butter, a widow, whose maiden name is unknown to the writer. His step-daughter, Rebecca Butler, married John, oldest son of Thomas Willcox, of Concord, Chester County, Pennsylvania. She moved to North Carolina where her husband had been living since 1759. James Byrne died August 19, 1795, at his home on the north side of Walnut Street, west of Second and was buried in St. Mary's Church churchyard.
Jane, the wife of James Byrne was nearly related to Commodore John Barry, U. S. N. She did not long survive her husband, as on January 28, 1796, John Barry, of Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, was appointed administrator to her estate.
Recently from a book entitled, Gallant John Bam 1745-1803, The Story of a Naval Hero of Two Wars, by William Bell Clark, some of the mystery about Jane Butler has been cleared. Jane Butler was Jane Barry, the oldest sister of John Barry. The first names of her parents are unknown, but she came from a large family in Wexford County, Ireland. The exact number of children in the family is not known but there were Jane, Patrick, Thomas, John, Margaret, Eleanor, and maybe others. Jane first married a man by the name of Butler and had at least one child, Rebecca. She was married a second time to James Byrne. It is uncertain where they were married, but it was probably in Ireland. Her brother Patrick became a sea captain and was lost at sea during the Revolutionary War. Thomas came to live in Philadelphia, and Margaret and Eleanor stayed in Ireland, but some of their descendants also came to Philadelphia. John Barry went to sea as a cabin boy, at an early age, and was a captain by age twenty- one. After many successful years as a commercial captain, he entered the American naval service during the Revolutionary War and emerged a national hero. He was the first Commodore and was called the "father" of the United States Navy.
Rebecca had very warm and close feelings about her mother and her step-father. The feelings must have been mutual for James Byrne gave Rebecca several slaves, probably some time before 1790. It would have been quite a challenge for her to leave the heart of the largest city in the country for the undeveloped back country of North Carolina. The newly married couple first settled at Cross Creek, in a house that John owned there.
1. William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina (Raleigh: P. M. Hale and Josephus Daniels, 1886-1890), Vol. IX, 143.
2. Ida Brooks Kellam, Brooks and Kindred Families, pp. 10-12.
3. Saunders, op. cit., LX, 144.
4. Martha S. Albertson, Willcox Family History, number 2-1.
5. Raleigh Register and North Carolina State Gazette, September 15, 1808. In the North Carolina Archives, Raleigh.
6. Joreph Willcox, Historical Skewhes of Some of the Pioneer Catholics of Philadelphia. There is a copy of this publication in the archives of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
7. William Bell Clark, Gallant John Barry 1745-1803, A Story of a Naval Hero of Two Wars, (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1938).
8. Chatham County Court Records, November Session 1809.
Mother: Jane BARRY
John WILLCOX I b: 21 Jun 1728 in Chester Co., PA
6 Dec 1771
in Chatham County, North Carolina
- Note: I was also given their marriage date as 1755.
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,
- Elizabeth WILLCOX b: 15 Mar 1773 in Gulf, NC
- Mary Jane WILLCOX b: 17 Mar 1775 in Gulf, NC
- John WILLCOX Jr. b: 19 Nov 1777 in Cross Creek, Chatham Co., NC c: 11 Jul 1779 in Old Joseph's Church, Philadelphia, PA
- Jane WILLCOX b: 30 Sep 1779 in Chatham Co., NC
- Thomas WILCOX b: 4 May 1781 in Chatham Co., NC
- James WILLCOX b: 31 Dec 1782 in Chatham Co., NC
- George WILLCOX b: 4 Oct 1784 in Chatham Co., NC
- Rebecca WILLCOX b: 4 Jul 1786 in Chatham Co., NC