“Schoolmaster Yorke” II


Warren Dixon, retired Postmaster and well-known newspaper columnist, not to mention a Piedmont historian and my fellow member of the Randolph County Historic Landmark Commission, took an interest in my previous post on “Schoolmaster Yorke.” In fact, Warren found so much information that I decided to post it here.

Warren has identified ‘Schoolmaster Yorke’ as Robinson York. In “Hillsboro, Colonial and Revolutionary” (1903), author Francis Nash says “…Robinson York was probably clerk of the mock court whose entries upon the docket are still preserved in the courthouse here” (page 52).

Warren agrees with me that the faux-Faith Rock story about Yorke must be a later confusion with Andrew Hunter. But he writes that “Robinson is the only York indicted for riot in the Hillsborough incident.” The Colonial Records of N.C. (at page 399) record that in January 1771, “The House [of Commons] being informed that Robinson Yorke of Orange County is strongly suspected and charged with making and uttering the counterfeit Bills of this Province, On motion resolved that the Speaker issue his Warrant for apprehending the said Robinson Yorke and that he be brought to the Bar of the House to answer the said charge, and also for Darby Henly, Francis Thomas Richards, and Henry Pendleton to appear as evidences against the said Robinson Yorke &ca.”

There are no recorded land conveyances in Randolph County (1779 and forward) for Robinson York. Seymour (Semore) York was a much better known county resident, and he was also involved in the Regulation. In fact, both Seymour and Robinson York were captured at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge in 1776, along with James Hunter and other Regulators. Says Warren, “I think most of them laid low afterwards having been burned twice. As one said, ‘I have fought for my country and fought for my king and been whipped both times…’ ”

In Volume 10, at pages 594-603 of the Colonial Records the “Report by a Committee of the Provincial Congress Concerning British Militia troops, Apr. 20, 1776-May 10, 1776” and lists the “prisoners now in Halifax” in the aftermath of the Battle of Moore’s Creek:

“That John Bethune did actually take up Arms and march as Chaplain to General Macdonald’s Army for the purpose aforesaid.

“That John Piles did actually take up Arms and lead forth to War, as Captain of a Company Fifty men for the purpose aforesaid; that he is a Freeholder and lives in Chatham County.

“That John Piles junr did actually take up Arms and go forth to War for the purpose aforesaid.

“That William Bradford did actually take up Arms and go forth to War, for the purpose aforesaid.

“That Thomas Bradford did actually take up Arms and go forth to War as Ensign in Capt Garner’s Company for the purpose aforesaid.

“That David Jackson did actually take up Arms and lead forth to War as Captain of a Company forty four men for the purpose aforesaid. That he is a freeholder and lives in Guilford County.

“That Enoch Bradley did actually take up Arms and lead forth to War as Captain of a Company of Light horse thirteen men for the purpose aforesaid; that he hath entered and surveyed a tract of Land in Orange & Chatham.

“That John Downing did actually take up Arms and go forth to War as Ensign to Capt. Seymore Yorke’s Company for the purpose aforesaid; that he is a Freeholder in Guilford and Orange and lives in Guilford County.

“That Duncan St Clair did actually take up Arms and go forth to War for the purpose aforesaid.

“That Robinson Yorke did actually take up Arms and lead forth to War as Captain of a Company twenty seven men for the purpose aforesaid.”

The effect of the Regulation on the residents of Randolph and adjacent counties is a fascinating topic, especially the question of whether it directly or indirectly caused the Tory/Whig guerrilla war in the area after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. There is a lot more work to be done to sort out all the local participants like Robinson York and Warren’s favorite, Rednap Howell.

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