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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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Little, William Person

by Sue Dossett Skinner, 1991

12 Nov. 1765–19 July 1829

William Person Little, state official, militia officer, and horse breeder, was born in Hertford County, the son of George and Mary Ann Person Little. Adopted by his uncle, General Thomas Person, from whom he inherited considerable money and land, he was educated at a school near Williamsboro in Granville County. As a planter he named his home in eastern Warren County Little Manor, from which the town of Littleton took its name. Mosby Avenue in the town was once the track where he raced his fine horses.

Little was a delegate from Hertford County to the Hillsborough Convention of 1788, which refused to ratify the U.S. Constitution. In 1791 he was elected a member of the Council of State but apparently declined to serve. He was a member of the state senate from Granville County from 1792 to 1798 and from Warren County from 1804 to 1806. For many years he was a justice of the peace in Warren County and a colonel in the militia. He founded a school in Littleton, where he also served as postmaster. On 27 Dec. 1787 Little took part in drawing up the Masonic "declaration of independence" from the British lodge.

In October 1798 he married Ann Hawkins of Pleasant Hill, Warren County, daughter of Philemon Hawkins, Jr., and sister of William Hawkins, governor of North Carolina from 1811 to 1814. They became the parents of George, Thomas Person, Susan, Lucy, Mary, Minerva, and William P., Jr. A portrait of Little hangs in the Mordecai House in Raleigh. He was buried at Little Manor, still owned by a descendant.


John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585–1974 (1974).

Estate Papers, Little-Mordecai Papers (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

Manly Wade Wellman, The County of Warren, North Carolina, 1586–1917 (1959).