The 19th century starts off with yet another spelling of Bembry—and a mystery. (Read part I of the story here.)
Miles is found on the 1800 census of Bertie county. His name is transcribed as “Banbury” but in fact it looks like “Bembury” or “Bembery” to me.
He is listed as owning 69 slaves, after owning just one slave in 1790. I can find no record of Miles ever owning land in Bertie county, so I do not believe he owned these slaves, either.
There are two possibilities. One is that this is the wrong Miles Bembry. The 1790 census of Martin county is incomplete, so it possible that he never left Martin county in the first place and this is an entirely different Miles Bembry in Bertie county.
However, this census matches up in all other respects, including the four sons born between 1790-1800 (William Miles, John, Thomas, and Kenneth) as well as a wife of the right age and one unidentified daughter. And I can’t find any other Miles Benbury, Berry, etc. in Bertie county who would be this Miles with the 69 slaves. So, I think that this probably is Miles Bembry and he was managing another plantation at the time, as he did later, in Halifax County for David Clark. He was counted as the owner of the slaves, rather than the overseer, but it’s easy to see how that mistake could have been made on the census.
Unfortunately, the 1800 census is a copy, and lists residents alphabetically, instead of in order of visitation. So, there is no way to tell who Miles’ neighbors were at the time. The Bryans owned land in Bertie county, so that is one possibility. Or, it might have been someone on his side of the family, in which case this brief residency in Bertie could be key to figuring out where Miles came from. More on that in a later post.
Miles was a not a big-time planter, just a relatively well-off farmer. He certainly didn’t own a Greek Revival mansion with big white columns. His house may have looked like this farm house from the same period and in the same neighborhood, with a modest home for the family and a small collection of slave quarters and outbuildings around it.
I know that Miles kept his property in Martin County, because he is mentioned in several deeds between 1802 and 1805.
Martin County Deed Book entries:
25 May 1802: William R. Long to John Long. 25 May 1802 150 pounds 125 acres. South side of Bellflower’s Branch beg, at Richard Jones line…at a sweet gum then along line to a red oak to a lightwood tree…on Joel Bryan’s line, to two pines on Miles Bembrey’s line to beginning. Wit. Thomas Watson, Joseph Long.
Unknown date, 1803: James Belflower to Miles Bemery, 50 pounds, land granted to James Belflower containing 50 acres. Beginning Jesse Cherry’s line to Hardy Bryan’s line in the Piney Glads (?) to John Burnitt’s line to Turner Bryant to Jessie Cherry’s line to the first. James (O) Belflower. Wit: John D. Williams, Thomas D. Boyette.
19 Feb 1803: John Hyman, Administrator for Estate of Hardy Bryan to James Bryan, 50 pounds, 11 shillings, 50 acres. It being the remainder of a tract of land that Nedam Bryan held by a deed of grant from the secretary office containing 150 acres bearing date 10th November 1784 except that part of land that Nedham Bryan sold to Robert Savage. John Hyman (seal). Miles (U) Bemberry (seal) Wit: Thomas Boyette, John D. Williams.
The Bellflower, Cherry, Hyman, and Long families were Miles’ neighbors in the 1790s, so this must be the same property Miles owned before his residence in Bertie. Turner Bryan is the son of the Lewis Bryan that was mentioned in earlier deeds along with Miles.
Miles also purchased more land in Martin County during this decade, apparently adjacent to, or in the same neighborhood as his original property.
7 May 1803: John Hyman (admin to estate of Hardy Bryan) to Miles Bembrey, 96 pounds, 3 & 6 pence. 1.) 50 acres 2.) 50 acres. 1.) beginning at a pine in Jonathan Cherry’s line to the line that divides Belflower land and Hardy Bryan’s to a corner tree in Cherry’s line back to the beginning. 2.) Beginning at a Post Oak to a line of marked trees south to John Hyman’s corner and Belflower’s then to Miles Benberry corner to a line of marked trees to Cherry’s line back to the beginning. John Hyman (seal) Wit: Thomas Boyet, John D. Williams.
8 Oct 1805: John Long to Miles Benbrey, 8th October 1805, 750 dollars 125 and 225 acres. 1st tract- beginning at a sweet gum tree in Dicky Jones line to Joel Bryan’s line then to two pines in Miles Benbray’s line then to the beginning. 2nd tract – Beginning at a pine standing in a marsh near Belflower’s branch running to a lightwood tree and two oaks in William Long’s line then to Dicky Jones line along various courses to a hickory tree on the head of a small branch on James Bryan’s line then down to the run of Bellflower Branch and up said Branch to the beginning. John Long (seal), Wit: Abner Joyner.
On 12 Jan 1810, Miles was mentioned in the will of Richard Jones, no doubt the “Dicky” Jones of the deed above. I only have the abstract for the will, not the actual text, so I don’t know whether or not he was an heir. He may have been mentioned in a descriptor for a tract of land, since they were neighbors.
In the spring of 1810, Miles began preparations for his move to Edgecombe county by buying several parcels of land there.
Edgecombe County Deed Books
19 April 1810: This Indenture made this the nineteenth day of April in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and ten between Joseph Bell of the County of Edgecombe and state of North Carolina of the one part and Miles Benbery of the County of Martin and state aforesaid of the other part _________for and in consideration of the sum of three thousand six hundred _________ ________ Dollars in hand paid to the said Joseph Bell or otherwise to be received before the sealing and delivery hereof …
Five tracts of land____of Deep Creek…
1st tract: “the old ? plantation” 520 acres
2nd tract: 28 acres
3rd tract: 142 acres in Edgecombe, 160 in Halifax county (this places the land on the border between the two counties)
4th tract: 100 acres
5th tract: 38 acres “along the main road”
Totaled as 728 acres.
Neighbors mentioned: Carlisle’s corner, Joshua Bell, Samuel Hogan.
My question: where did Miles get three thousand six hundred dollars? That’s was a very large sum at the time. He had not yet sold his Martin county holdings. Did he inherit money?
The next, smaller and apparently adjoining, tract, seems to have been purchased in order to get access to the road to Tarboro.
6 June 1810:This Indenture made the 6th day of June One Thousand eight Hundred and Ten between Robert Carlisle of the same and county aforesaid and Miles Bembery of the same and County aforesaid Witnesseth that the said Robert Carlisle for and in consideration of the sum of twenty dollars to him in hand paid by Miles Bembery…….a certain tract of land containing six Acres of Land or the same more or less……along the “new road” to the Indian Branch… Neighbors mentioned: ? Haynes, James Downing.
This takes the timeline up to the summer of 1810, when Miles is still found on the census for Martin County. Story to be continued in my next post.
Just for fun, here are all the spellings for Bembry found up until this point: Benbory, Bembry, Bembray, Bembery, Banbury, Bambury, Bembrey, Bemery, Benbrey, Benbray, and Benbery!