Professional Research & Maritime Historian, Author, & Conservator

In the Spotlight!

About three weeks ago, when I gave my presentation in Bath on the family of Blackbeard, I met a woman of extraordinary talent named Gillian Hookway Jones. This is an excerpt from her bio:

Ms. G Hookway Jones of Washington NC was recently awarded a 2015 grant from the Bath Historic Foundation Small Grant Committee: her grant application proposed a colonial Port Bath educational program to include traditional hands on and virtual learning components suitable for K-12 students.  The project is called “Setting Sail for Colonial Port of Bath 1715” and includes several portable learning aids, print publications and e-based educational downloads for teachers and students.  The grant application proposed 12 items and within 60 days the first three items were completed and in use at this year’s BathFest in May.  Braxton O’Neal from Washington contributed the custom artwork for the first three portable learning aids. Ms. Jones and other Historic Bath volunteers will be showing the displays to children and families visiting the upcoming “Pirates in the Port” outdoor event in Bath Saturday 10-4, Bonner Point in Bath.

Ms. Jones has an MBA in Marketing from UNC CH, a Master’s in Public Health Management and Analysis from ECU BSOM, and recently completed post graduate doctoral studies at the University of Portsmouth.She is a dual American-British citizen, a widow, one daughter, and has always had an interest in Carolina coastal history and sailing.




Gillian Hookway JonesJohn & Patsy Collins

I met John and Patsy over research involving Edward Moseley. One day, we met at the J.Y. Joyner Library’s Special Collections reading room on the campus of East Carolina University. You see, they are particularly fond of Moseley. Actually, before he began his not-quite-legal (John & Patsy’s ears are burning!) activities in the Lower Cape Fear and with his surveys, Moseley favored the local church in Edenton, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with a specially made silver Communion set and was a long-time and influential member of that community. He was not perfect, but had his generous moments. I have written on the early life of Edward Moseley, detailing many of the early records pertaining to him. John & Patsy were able to collect and record them for all to enjoy! You can see them here (I put one on here to wet the appetite).

I was astounded at the amount of work this amazing team of John and Patsy and their massive number of associates have accomplished! I was also impressed with the massive library of resources he surrounds himself with in his office in one of the oldest historic homes in Edenton. I also enjoy the trips through Edenton, narrated by John (he would be a fantastic tour guide!)—and the stop at the local coffee shop!


The following is an excerpt from John & Patsy’s website on the Francis Corbin Research Project. It’s amazing that this man just can’t be slowed down in his zeal to research the history related to our state of North Carolina—even by heart surgery!

Having moved from England to Edenton, NC, when I married a native of that town - the first colonial capital of North Carolina - I had always been surprised that nobody there knew anything about Francis Corbin's life or family from before he became, in 1749, agent for Earl Granville, the English nobleman who then owned a swathe across the north of NC that was about one-eighth of the total area of the Carolinas.

While back in England for a heart operation, and with the impending celebrations in Edenton for the 250th anniversary of the Cupola House, built for Francis Corbin in 1758, I decided to research who he was and where he came from.

Initial clues were scarce.

1.   An 1895 article about Libraries and Literature in North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century mentioned a few titles that carried Francis Corbin's bookplate and were then in the library at Hayes, just outside Edenton. Some of these turned out to be still in the reconstruction of the Hayes Library at UNC - Chapel Hill. The bookplate bore the crest of the Corbyn family of Corbyn's Hall, Kingswinford, Staffordshire and (later) Hall End, Polesworth, Warwickshire (about 25 miles away from Corbyn's Hall). Henry Corbyn, a member of the Council of Virginia from 1663 to 1675, was third son of Thomas Corbyn of Hall End. Henry's descendants spelt their family name as Corbin.

2.   Francis Corbin's library included Mallet's Life of Francis Bacon (London, 1740), Shaw's Francis Bacon (3 volumes, London, 1733), and Salmon's Modern History, or the Present State of All Nations (3 volumes, London, 1744). These, together with his working as Granville's agent and serving on the North Carolina colonial council for almost a decade, indicate that he must have been well educated - although there is no record of his having attended either Oxford or Cambridge University.

3.   William Tryon, Governor of NC, in recommending Francis Corbin's appointment to fill a vacancy on the colonial council, wrote to the Board of Trade in London on 1st February, 1766: "Mr Francis Corbyn was in the Council till suspended by the late Governor, he is a near relation of Mr Corbyn Morris's, one of the Commissioners of his Majesty's customs." Corbyn Morris's unusual first name was his mother Margarett's family name: she came from the Corbyn family that leased Eymore (near Upper Arley, Worcestershire) from the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral for over 200 years.

4.   Francis Corbin's heir was Edmund Corbin of New Hanover county, NC. Joseph Hewes, Edenton's future signatory of the Declaration of Independence, deposed under oath in April 1775 that "he heard the late Francis Corbin declare that the said Edmund Corbin was the nearest relation he had in the world."

There is considerable variation in whether the family name is spelt with an I or a Y, both versions on occasion occurring within a single paragraph of a document!

Research is still continuing, and any additional information would be welcomed.


John Basset Collins
Francis Corbin

John Collins portrays Francis Corbin in the dining room of the 1758 Cupola House in Edenton

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