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James Iredell Sr. (1750 - 1799)

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Hon. James Iredell Sr.
Born in Lewes, East Sussex, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Person, North Carolina, British Colonial Americamap
Descendants descendants
Died in Edenton, Chowan County, North Carolina, USmap
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Profile last modified | Created 26 Dec 2014
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Categories: Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the US | Immigrants to Province of North Carolina from England | Namesakes US Counties | Iredell County, North Carolina, Notables | North Carolina, American Revolution | Iredell County, North Carolina | Judges, United States | American Founding Fathers | American Notables.

Hon. James Iredell Sr. was a Founding Father in the American Revolution
James Iredell Sr. is notable.
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05 OCT 1750, at Lewes, East Sussex, England[1]


1768 from Lewes, East Sussex, England to Chowan County, North Carolina, US[1]

Death & Burial

20 OCT 1799, Edenton, Chowan County, North Carolina, USA[1]
Buried at Johnston Burial Ground at "Hayes Plantation", Edenton, Chowan County, North Carolina, USA.[1][2]
"In memory of James IREDELL, born at Lewes Sussex County England Oct. 5, 1750. Emigrated to North Carolina in 1768. Died at Edenton 20 Oct. 1799. Having filled honorably to himself and usefully to his country various important civil offices. He was at the time of his death, one of the associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the U.S."[1][2]


  • Comptroller of customs, Edenton, North Carolina, 1768-1774[3]
  • Private practice, Edenton, North Carolina, 1773-1790[3]
  • Collector of customs, Port Roanoke, North Carolina, 1774-1776[3]
  • Member, commission to draft and revise the laws of North Carolina, 1776[3]
  • Judge of the North Carolina Superior Court, 1777[3]
  • 2nd Attorney general, State of North Carolina, 1779-1781[3]
  • Associate Justice US Supreme Court May 12, 1790 – October 20, 1799. He was nominated by George Washington Feb. 8, 1790 and served until his death[3]


Husband: James Iredell
Wife: Hannah Johnstone
Married: 18 JUL 1773
Place: Person County, North Carolina, US[4]
Child: Mary Iredell
Child: Annie Isabella Iredell
Child: Helen Iredell
Child: James Iredell



"Thursday, November 29. Went at two O'clock to Mr. John W. Stanly's to dine, he had also invited Judge Spencer11, and Mr. Iredell12, an eminent Lawyer, Mr. Thomas Turner, Mr. William Shepard13, and Mr. Bryan were there. The Ladies present were Mrs. John W. Stanly, Mrs. Wright Stanly and Mrs. Green, the widow of Mr. James Green--The Court holding late kept us waiting for the Judge & Lawyers. I had a long tète a tète Conversation with Mr. John W. Stanly before Dinner; about half past four the Judge and Mrs. Iredell came, then we sat down to Dinner. Had a long discourse with Judge Spencer on the subject of Paper Money & c. I do not like his ideas, he contends that the Country cannot do without a Paper Medium, and that the value of this medium shall be regulated from time to time by a Scale of value or depreciation. I am afraid the Ladies were ill entertained while they staid with us.--We dropped the subject on going into the Tea Room, where more general topics took place--A while after Tea, I took my leave and retired to my Quarters--"
  11 Judge Samuel Spencer of Anson county held many offices under the Colonial government, and was one of the three Judges of the Superior Courts first elected under the constitution in 1777.
  12 Mr. Iredell emigrated to Chowan county from England when 17 years old. He studied law under Gov. Samuel Johnston and married his sister, Hannah. He became a very distinguished citizen of North Carolina. He held office successively as member of the Assembly, Judge of the Superior Court, Attorney General of the State and, later, was appointed by George Washington Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. In the presidential election of 1796 he received three electoral votes.
  13 William Shepard of New Bern was the father of Honorables Chas. B.; William B.; and James B. Shepard; and of Mary, the wife of Hon. John H. Bryan of Raleigh."[5]

From the description to James Iredell, Sr., Diary, August 1770; November 1773-February 1774: we learn:

"English-born James Iredell-- a future United States Supreme Court Justice immigrated to North Carolina at the age of seventeen in 1768. As a relative of Henry Eustace McCulloh, collector of Port Roanoke, Iredell was appointed His Majestys comptroller of customs at the port, located in the town of Edenton. Iredell began his diary at the age of nineteen, submitting his activities to paper as a great means of producing an [sic] habit of Industry, & Application, which I hope will be of the greatest utility to me in my future Walk of Life"[6]
He read law under Samuel Johnston, beginning in 1770, and was licensed to practice in the inferior courts of North Carolina. His diary ends in 1773, just before his marriage to Hannah Johnston, a sister of Samuel.
The diary reveals James as "a high-minded and ambitious young man,"[6] It shows us his social world, friends and acquaintances, and his thoughts on political ideas. It tells of his courtship with Hannah, "and his desire for mutual respect as a basis for marriage."[6] An entry dated November 16, 1772, helps to illustrate this:
"Heard in the Course of the Evening many discharges of Guns on account of Horniblows being married to Nancy Rainbough---Was told she was averse to the Match, & forced to it by her Father & Mother. ---Is it true? can such cruel Parents exist?---& too easy, too compliant Daughter with the desire of your Parents in a point they have no right to command. The married State to Parties whose Minds are in unison with each other, & whose hearts are connected by the fondest Ties of Affections is the most blissful Situation The Mind of Many can conceive. Oh! Hannah, I trust We shall be happy---Our Hearts are disposed to good & Benevolent Actions---Our Wishes formed on no Visionary Basis---& our Affections cemented by the strongest, dearest Ties of the most tender Attachment.---God grant, I may have it in some degree in my powers, by a pleasing, unremitting Attention to make her happy, to succeed in my Endeavors."[6]
"In the year following his marriage, Iredell wrote To the Inhabitants of Great Britain opposing the concept of Parliamentary supremacy over America. This essay helped establish Iredell as the most influential political essayist in pre-Revolutionary North Carolina. Also during 1774, McCulloh negotiated the transfer of the collectorship of the Port of Roanoke to Iredell's post he held until June 1776 when he irrevocably cast his lot with the Patriots."[6]

From The Supreme Court Historical Society:

"Mail pours in to number one First Street Northeast, Washington, D.C. all day every day, sometimes from prisoners hoping against hope, often from people of every type seeking help with problems and, infrequently, from children....Beyond the spelling are the children's concern with getting answers to questions teachers have posed. Sometimes an imaginative child himself has thought up an inquiry or two. Sometimes the requests scoop in vast territories of data, e.g.:

"I would like to know who were the first men on the Supreme Court and if possible some information about them too where they were born, who did they marry, and when did they die". (John Jay, New York, Sarah Livingston, 1829; John Rutledge, South Carolina, Elizabeth Grimke, 1800; Wililam Cushing, Massachusetts, Hannah Phillips, 1810; James Wilson, Scotland, Rachel Bird, 1798; John Blair, Virginia, Jean Balfour, 1800; James Iredell, England, Hannah Johnston, 1799.)"[7]

From The Colonial Records Project
"Women in Colonial North Carolina: Overlooked and Underestimated"
by Alan D. Watson

"Certainly married life was not always an idyllic affair. Lawyers Samuel Johnston and James Iredell, while riding the court circuit, spent some time with Richard Bennehan and his recent bride in Orange County. Iredell noted that Mrs. Bennehan had not a single woman she can associate with nearer than Hillsborough, which was eighteen miles away. When Johnston indicated that he would bring his wife to visit, Mrs. Bennehan could scarcely speak; tears flowed into her eyes. There, indeed, was a lonely woman. But so were the wives of the lawyers. Noticeable tension appeared between Hannah and James Iredell in 1779. Younger than his wife, charming, and away from home on circuit four to six months a year, James Iredell apparently embarrassed and humiliated Hannah in what might have been only a silly flirtation.... At any rate, Iredell learned well, and the incident concluded with a stronger marriage and a greater appreciation of his wife."[8]

From Justice James Iredell, by Willis P. Whichard: Prologue

"..The oldest of five surviving children of Francis Iredell, a merchant of Bristol, England, and his wife, the former Margaret McCulloh of Ireland, Iredell sailed to the New World in 1768, at age seventeen, to be King George III's comptroller of customs in the northeastern North Carolina village of Edenton. Family poverty impelled his voyage. In 1766 his father suffered a paralytic stroke that forced his retirement from the mercantile business. Even while healthy, the elder Iredell fared poorly. According to his brother Thomas, he was weak and wanting in enterprise and ambition. As a result, he and his family soon experienced penurious circumstances. Fortunately, felicitous family connections enabled Francis to survive and produced remunerative positions for three of his sons. Margaret Iredell's uncle, Henry McCulloh, and his son, Henry Eustace McCulloh, aided the eldest son, James, in securing the comptroller's post at Edenton..."[9]


Iredell County, North Carolina is named in his honor.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 CHOWAN COUNTY, NC - Cemeteries - Hayes Plantation. USGENWEB CEMETERY RECORDS COPIES DONATED BY SHEPARD-PRUDEN LIBRARY IN EDENTON, NC. Compiled by Historical Record Survey of N.C. Transcribed and contributed by Dayle Noble Biba.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Photo at Find a Grave # 5865
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Biographical Directory of Federal Judges. Iredell, James. Federal Judicial Center
  4. Source: #S116 Data: Text: 24 OCT 2003
  5. Attmore, William. "Journal of a Tour to North Carolina" by William Attmore, 1787. The James Sprunt Historical Publications. Vol. 17 No. 2. The North Carolina Historical Society. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1922. at
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Description of "James Iredell, Sr., Diary, August 1770; November 1773-February 1774." North Carolina Digital Collections. State Library of North Carolina. at North Carolina Digital Collections
  7. McGurn, Barrett. "Small Fry and the Court's Mailbag." Yearbook 1978 Supreme Court Historical Society. pp 106, 107. [ Yearbook downloads as a pdf] or Supreme Court Historical Society. Search cite for "Hannah Johnston"
  8. Watson, Alan D. "Women in Colonial North Carolina: Overlooked and Underestimated" North The Colonial Records Project Vol. 58 (1981), 1-22. North Carolina Historical Review cites: Higginbotham, Iredell Papers, II, 7-8, 134-135, editorial note.
  9. Whichard, Willis P. "Justice James Iredell." Carolina Academic Press, 2000.
  • Source: S116 Author: RH Fisher Title: Book, Biographical Sketches of Wilmington Citizens - Frank Green Harriss Publication: Name: Wilmington Stamp & Printing Co. Publishers, Wilmington, North Carolina, 1924; Repository: #R116 NOTESource Medium: Book CONT
  • Repository: R116 Name: HR-1150-BOK Address: Original owner noted "Frank G Harriss July 1929", now in possession of Frances Green Harriss Mason of Easton, MD. E-Mail Address: Phone Number:
  • Source: S57 Author: William Attmore, Edited by LIDA TUNSTALL RODMAN Title: Book, JOURNAL OF A TOUR TO NORTH CAROLINA BY WILLIAM ATTMORE, 1787 Publication: Name: CHAPEL HILL, PUBLISHED BY THE UNIVERSITY 1922; Repository: #R57 NOTESource Medium: Book CONT
  • Repository: R57 Name: HR-1112-BOK Address: Link E-Mail Address: Phone Number:
  • Wikipedia:James Iredell

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On 3 Aug 2017 at 13:18 GMT Anonymous Moore wrote:

Wikipedia and Find a Grave sow his birth year as 1751 vice 1750

James is 32 degrees from Jelena Eckstädt, 14 degrees from Theodore Roosevelt and 16 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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