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Wade, Thomas

by Carol E. Dalton, 1996

1720–Fall 1786

Thomas Wade, merchant, Revolutionary soldier, and legislator, was born possibly in Craven County. His father was probably the English immigrant John Wade. About 1743 Thomas Wade married Jane Boggan, a sister of Captain Patrick Boggan of Anson County. They had five children: Holden, Thomas, George (b. 1747), Mary, and Sarah. Throughout his life Wade was a communicant of the Anglican church.

In 1746 he received a land grant in Surry County, Va., but returned to North Carolina and settled in Granville County a year later. From 1761 to 1774 he owned land on Lynch's Creek and in Saint David's Parish (Chesterfield District), S.C., where he was the commissary general of purchases for the colony. Moving to Anson County in 1770, he became a tavern keeper at Anson County Courthouse and a large landowner in Mount Pleasant. For the next two years he served as a justice of the Anson County Inferior Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions.

Wade was a staunch opponent of British imperial policies. While serving as chairman of the Anson County Meeting of Freeholders (1774), he was elected a member of the Anson Committee of Correspondence. The next year he signed a petition protesting the establishment of the North Carolina–South Carolina boundary line and was elected a delegate to the Provincial Congress held in Hillsborough. During 1775 Wade was a captain of the Anson committee to recruit men and to procure firearms for the rebel cause. As a member of the Provincial Congress (1775–76), he was appointed to reorganize the Anson County Inferior Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions on which he again served from 1776 to 1778. In addition, he was chosen a commissioner for Anson County to supervise prisoners, especially former Loyalists, and to take care of "unhappy women and children."

The Provincial Congress of 1776 selected Wade as colonel of the Salisbury District of Minute Men. After pursuing Tories in the Pee Dee River area in 1778, he worked to obtain such needed supplies as salt, shoes, and cattle for the state Board of War. In 1780 Tories used his home as a rendezvous and took £50,000 worth of property and his crop. In the following year he participated in several encounters with the British. He won a battle at Raft Swamp in August 1781 against the Tory officers Neil and Ray, identified only as Loyalists from Bladen County. Later, while returning from fighting in the Neuse River area, Wade's troops were surprised by the Loyalist John Neil at Piney Bottom on Little Rockfish Creek. During the skirmish Wade's protégé, "a motherless boy," was killed although he had begged for mercy. Returning to Anson County, Wade raised a force of a hundred men and avenged the boy's death by executing many of the Loyalists and destroying their property. On 1 Sept. 1781 he lost a battle at Drowning Creek to Colonel David Fanning. Wade's final battle was at Lindley's Mill in present Alamance County, where he fought under General John Butler.

When the war ended, Thomas Wade was elected to represent Anson County as a senator in the General Assembly. While serving in New Bern, Hillsborough, and Halifax where the Assembly met in 1780, 1782, and 1783, he was chairman of the Committee on State Papers and on Petitions. In the 1783 session he sat on the committee that laid out the streets of Fayetteville. In addition to his senatorial duties, he was sheriff of Anson County in 1785. He was elected in 1786 to serve another term in the senate but died before taking his seat after becoming ill in Cheraw, S.C. He was buried in the family burial ground in Mount Pleasant. The next year, the General Assembly voted to change the name of New Town to Wadesborough in his honor.

References:

Anson County Court, Minute Docket, Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, 1772–74 (microfilm, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

W. K. Boggan, "Colonel Thomas Wade: Distinguished Citizen, Patriot, and Soldier," in The Colonial History of Anson County from Its Erection to the War of the Revolution (mimeographed, 1923).

Walter Clark, ed., State Records of North Carolina, vols. 11, 14–16, 19, 22 (1895–1907).

David Fanning, Colonel David Fanning's Narrative of His Exploits and Adventures as a Loyalist in North Carolina in the American Revolution (1908).

Brent Holcomb, comp., Anson County, North Carolina, Wills and Estates, 1749–1795 (1950).

May W. McBee, comp., Anson County, North Carolina, Abstract of Early Records (1950).

Robert L. Meriweather, The Expansion of South Carolina, 1729–1765 (1940).

New Bern North Carolina Gazette, 2 Sept. 1774.

North Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution, Markers Placed by the North Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution, 1900–1940 (1940).

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, vols. 4, 10 (1886, 1890).

Additional Resources:

Stevens, John Austin, B. F. DeCosta, Henry Phelps Johnston, Martha J. Lamb, Nathan Gillet Pond, and William Abbat. 1877. The Magazine of American history with notes and queries. New York: A. S. Barnes.https://www.worldcat.org/title/magazine-of-american-history-with-notes-and-queries/oclc/57262003 (accessed June 5, 2014).

Wade, Thomas. "Resolutions by inhabitants of Anson County concerning resistance to Parliamentary taxation and the Provincial Congress of North Carolina Wade, Thomas, 1720-1786; Et Al. August 18, 1774 Volume 09, Pages 1032-1034." Documenting the American South: Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr09-0298 (accessed June 5, 2014).

Wade, Thomas. "Letter from Thomas Wade to Richard Caswell Wade, Thomas, 1720-1786 September 05, 1777 Volume 11, Page 607." Documenting the American South: Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. http://www.docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr11-0515 (accessed June 5, 2014).

Wade, Thomas. "Letter from Charles Medlock et al. to Richard Caswell Medlock, Charles; Wade, Thomas, 1720-1786; Auld, James; Harrington, Henry William, 1747-1809; Huske, William October 17, 1777 Volume 11, Page 655." Documenting the American South: Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. http://www.docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr11-0567 (accessed June 5, 2014).

Wade, Thomas. "Letter from Thomas Wade to Richard Caswell Wade, Thomas, 1720-1786 October 29, 1777 Volume 11, Page 664." Documenting the American South: Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. http://www.docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr11-0580 (accessed June 5, 2014).

Wade, Thomas. "Letter from Thomas Wade to Horatio Gates Wade, Thomas, 1720-1786 November 23, 1780 Volume 14, Pages 750-752." Documenting the American South: Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. http://www.docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr14-0663 (accessed June 5, 2014).

Wade, Thomas. "Letter from Thomas Wade to Abner Nash Wade, Thomas, 1720-1786 June 28, 1780 Volume 14, Pages 865-866." Documenting the American South: Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. http://www.docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr14-0829 (accessed June 5, 2014).

Wellenreuther, Hermann, Maria Gehrke, and Marion Stange. 2006. The revolution of the people: thoughts and documents on the revolutionary process in North America, 1774-1776Göttingen: Universitätsverlag. https://www.worldcat.org/title/revolution-of-the-people-thoughts-and-documents-on-the-revolutionary-process-in-north-america-1774-1776/oclc/76809186 (accessed June 5, 2014).

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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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