Copyright notice

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.

Printer-friendly page
No votes yet

Wilkinson, William

by William S. Powell, 1996

d. September–November 1780

William Wilkinson, Revolutionary leader in New Hanover County, was a member of the Safety Committee in 1775 and 1776, serving as deputy chairman in November 1775. He was a member of the committee to collect carriage guns and swivels in 1775 and of numerous local action groups during the war. Wilkinson also was paymaster for several independent companies of troops, a merchant, a constable of the peace, and a member of St. James's Anglican Church, of which he was a warden. In partnership with Cornelius Harnett he owned a rum distillery located on the Cape Fear River between Walnut and Red Cross streets as well as the schooner Mary.

In his will dated 22 September and proved in November 1780, he left property to his brother Robert of Duplin County. To his nephew William Wilkinson he left his house and lot in Wilmington near the church. Each of the other children of Robert received £5; William Maclaine, son of Archibald, £500; Elizabeth, the wife of Archibald Maclaine, £250; the Reverend James Tate, £5 yearly and the forgiveness of debts due Wilkinson; and William Henry Hill, the son of William Hill, £250. The will also provided £500 to build a Presbyterian church in Wilmington. To nephew John, the son of his brother Thomas, Wilkinson left his silver watch, buckles, buttons, and silver plate. He also freed a female slave and her daughter and supplied funds to establish them in Philadelphia on condition that they wash, mend, and make clothes for his nephew, John Wilkinson, during the time he was in school in Philadelphia. To Cornelius Harnett and Archibald Maclaine he left a cask, about thirty to forty gallons, of his oldest rum to be equally divided between them.

There is no evidence that Wilkinson ever married.


Walter Clark, ed., State Records of North Carolina, vols. 11 (1895), 13 (1896).

Leora H. McEachern and Isabel M. Williams, comps., Wilmington–New Hanover Safety Committee Minutes (1974).

William S. Powell, ed., The Correspondence of William Tryon and Other Selected Papers, 2 vols. (1980–81).

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, vols. 7, 9–10 (1890).

William Wilkinson will (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

Additional Resources:

Waddell, Alfred M. (Alfred Moore). History of New Hanover County and the Lower Cape Fear region, 1723-1800. Wilmington, NC. 1909. (accessed March 12, 2014).


Origin - location: 

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at