The Durant Family
Of George Durant very little is known before his arrival in Perq Co, but it is an undisputed fact that he landed in Va before 1658. He made deposition in Northumberland Co Va, July 1658, that he “came to Virginia in the ship Potomack, age 25 years.” As this book is very much faded with age, all of this statement can not be deciphered. (Northumberland Co record, 1658-66. Archives Richmond Va.) In Berkeley Parish Reg Perq Co, his marriage is given as follows: “George Durant and Ann Moorwood was Married the 4th of January 1658/9, By Mr David Lindsey, Minister of gospel and was Licensed by Mr George Cowbough Magistrate, in Northumberland County Verginia.”
He had several grants for land in Va. prior to coming to N. C. One of these 400a in Lower Norfolk Co, on East side of North River, Sept 30, 1670, by Sir William Berkeley, for trans’ fourteen persons, and another grant by same authority, on same date, 700a on East side of North River, “which falleth in to Corotock” adj Thomas Tullies land, in what is now Currituck Co N. C. Prior to this date he had taken up land in Perq Co, and was already settled in what is called to this day, “Durants Neck.” This deed, or grant from the Indian Chief Kilcocanen, King of Yeopim, for all the land between the River Perquimans, & Roanoke Sound, March 1, 1661, where he had seated a Plan’ before Aug 4, 1661. In the second conveyance of the Indian King he spelled his name Cuscutenew, but they are supposed to be one & the same person, and it was the usual procedure at that time, to spell a name just as it sounded to the copiest. This deed is found in Deed book A, No 374, and has as Test’ Thomas Weymouth, & Caleb Calleway. Thomas Weymouth was a great navigator, and adventurer, sailing with Capt Pring, and he was among those who started out in 1603, in search of the ill fated colony on Roanoke Island.
How he came to be in Albemarle at this time is not explained. Caleb Calleway was of course already settled in the Province. This deed of the Indian King to sd Durant, is the oldest recorded document in North Carolina. If there were older records they were all destroyed in the uprising of 1677/79. Fifty-five years elapsed between the making of the deed by King Cuscutenew, and its recording on the books in the Reg Office, which was done by John Stepney “Reg of all writings for Perq Precinct” Oct 24, 1716 George Durants Plan’ was known by the name of “Wicocombe” and was situated between “two Rivers, Perquimans, & Kototine” (Little River). According to the record George Durant seems to have been a fair minded man, and quite honest in his dealings with both the Indian Chief, and George Catchminy, who set up a counter claim for said land, claiming a prior right, by a grt from Sir William Berkeley, therefore Mr. Durant, “who had cleared a small Peice of Ground,” at once “desisted” on hearing the contention of sd Catchmaid, who on Mar 13, 1662 made a bona fide deed to sd Durant for the disputed land. Later the Lords Pro’ made a secure deed to Mr. Durant for this land, Dec 26, 1673. No man with the exception of Timothy Clare, is more often, or more honorably mentioned in Perq. He stand out, virile, hardy, opinionated, with a following of all faiths, and from the records died much respected in the community. Some have classed him as a Quaker, but the records do not verify that fact. He was certainly married by an Episcopal Minister (Rev David Lindsey) and his children all but one (Deborah) m into Episcopal families. Not once is his name mentioned in the Quaker records, nor are the ages of any of his children recorded there. It is the opinion of many that he was a Scotchman, and therefore of Presbyterian faith, but his Church affiliations in Perq are uncertain. From the records he appears to have come from London to America. Exactly where this renowned man lies buried is shrouded in mystery. It is said his grave was once to be seen on the bank of a large drain, in Durants Neck, and that in cutting out the ditch, mud from the bottom was thrown out over it, until it disappeared. In the will of William Sherrell, Perq Co, George Durant’s place of residence is named as “Berty Point,” and the deeds in Perq speak of his “seating” being on a “Point which divides sd land from a Neck called Langleys.” His house has long ago disappeared, and even the location is now in doubt. There can be small doubt, however, about its being in the lower part of Durants Neck somewhere near the village of Little River. (See N. C. Hist & Gen Reg, for this family.)
Source: History of Perquimans County as compiled from records found there and elsewhere by Ellen Goode Rawlings Winslow. published 1931.