Colonel David Fanning

David Fanning (October 25, 1755–March 14, 1825) was a Loyalist leader in the 
American Revolutionary War. He represented Kings County in the Legislative 
Assembly of New Brunswick from 1791 to 1801.

He was born in Amelia County, Virginia, the son of David Fanning, and grew up 
in Johnston County, North Carolina. Fanning claimed to have been originally a 
Patriot. However, he said that mistreatment by Patriots caused him to change 
sides. In the latter part of the war, he was commissioned colonel of a regiment 
of Loyalist militia.

In 1782, he married Sarah Carr. After the recognition of American independence, 
Fanning moved to Florida and then the Bahamas before settling to New Brunswick. 
In 1800, he was accused of rape. He was found guilty and sentenced to death 
despite contradictions in the evidence against him. He was pardoned but exiled 
from the province and expelled from the provincial assembly. Fanning settled in 
Digby, Nova Scotia where he later died in 1825.

Fanning remains a controversial figure in history. In 1790, he wrote The Narrative of 
Colonel David Fanning, which ironically would first see print in 1861 in Richmond, 
Virginia, then the capital of the Confederate States of America.

Additional info provided by Ralph Taylor:

Though Fanning was born in Virginia and was living in South Carolina in
1775, he grew up in Johnston County (that part that's now Wake); for a time,
Needham Bryan Jr. (a well-known name in east-central NC) was his guardian,
his father and mother having both died while he was young. He was made a
colonel of the Loyalist militia  by Major James Craig of the British 82nd
Regiment while Craig was occupying Wilmington, NC. He was a colorful
character, reviled by Patriots (BTW, the "Patriots" tended to be called at
the time Whigs or Rebels, depending on who was talking.)  and even wrote a
narrative of his actions in the War. Fanning was one of only three men
specifically exempted by name from a post-War offer of pardon.

Lieut. Col. David Fanning, from Randolph County
(25) Not to be confused with Edmund Fanning. The two were radically
different, both in their persons and backgrounds, and probably not relatives
(at least not directly.) Fanning was a rather extraordinary individual, in
both good and bad ways, and any brief sketch of him is bound to fall very
short of the full man. But we will try our best.
From the very early part of the war he acted as a loyalist, and was involved
in a number of scrapes, and skirmishes. At one point, he was taken prisoner
and made to suffer terribly in captivity (including being shackled naked in
the jail at Ninety Six.) Eventually, however, he was pardoned by Gov. John
Rutledge in 1779, and served in a Whig militia. When the British returned to
the Ninety-Six area in July 1780, he then served for a while under loyalist
William Cunningham.
Following this, with his own independent band of followers he then acted as
a partisan in South Carolina against the whigs. After King's Mountain he
removed to Randolph County in North Carolina where for a few months he was
involved in minor raids or skirmishes, often involving the abduction of
horses. After the British occupied Wilmington in February 1781, he was
elected head of the loyal militia in Randolph and Chatham counties; which
election Maj. James Craig validated, commissioning him lieutenant colonel.
From that point on into 1782, Fanning was the terror of the rebels in
eastern North Carolina, carrying out some of the most incredible raids by a
militia leader in the entire war, including the capture of Governor Thomas
Burke. Despite his success, Caruthers (in his account of Raft Swamp in
October 1781) states that the Scotch loyalists of southeast N.C. would not
serve under him -- evidently insisting that they would act
only under their own Scotch officers.
Fanning himself has been described as unprincipled, and a malignant
freebooter. Even the British, some years after the war almost ended up
hanging him. Yet if only a purported scoundrel and a savage murderer of the
helpless,250 we are hard pressed to understand how he could have been at the
same time such a genuinely valiant and resourceful military leader. But then
this is part of the puzzle of David Fanning. His Narrative shows wit and
intelligence, and is one of the prime examples of Revolutionary War
autobiographies. Although colored by partisan bias, a useful survey of his
life and career also is contained in Caruthers' Revolutionary Incidents in
the Old North State, see CNS1pp. 33-69; also WNC pp. 84-85, WRM p.112, SLA1
pp. 417-418.
"David Fanning was a very interesting Ancestor to research. He was born in
Virginia in 1755. When the Revolutionary War started he felt loyal to
England and therefore fought for the English, called a "Loyalist". He
attained the rank of Colonel in the Randolph and Chatham Co's, NC Militia on
July 7, 1781. After the War, on May 17, 1782 the Act of pardon and Oblivion
passed, exempting him from pardon in NC. David and his wife were sent to
Florida, awaiting deportation to Canada. On September 23, 1784 they arrived
in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. In 1799 the growing family moved to
Digby, Nova Scotia. David and his family remained there. In his later years,
David Fanning wrote a book about his experiences during the war.
"From "The Narrative of Col. David Fanning" by Col. David Fanning, Edited
with an introduction and notes by Lindley S. Butler. In December 1861 in
Richmond, Virginia appeared a slim volume entitled "The Narrative of Colonel
David Fanning", Edited by Thomas H. Wynne, the secretary of the VA
Historical Society, and with an introduction by John Hill Wheeler, a former
diplomat and a NC Historian, the limited edition of fifty copies was the
first publication of the most significant loyalist narrative about the
American Revolution in the southern provinces.........David Fanning finished
the journal of his wartime experiences on June 24, 1790, at his home on the
St. John River in the Province of New Brunswick, Canada..............
His grandfather, Bryan Fanning, was the first of the family to settle in the
county, and his father, David, had moved his family to NC where he was
drowned in the Deep River before his son was born. His widow remained in NC
with her young daughter and new son, but the struggle was apparently to much
for her. She succumbed in 1764, leaving her two children, Elizabeth and
David, to be bound as orphans to guardians in Johnston County (the present
Wake County). In later years David Fanning would claim his father's property
in VA, two plantations totalling 1100 acres, but he never succeded in
securing his inheritance. In July 1764, the county court bound the
nine-year-old Fanning to a guardian, Needham Bryan, Jr, a county justice,
who at least fufilled his obligation to educate the boy. Fanning was
apprenticed to Thomas Leech, who may have been a loom mechanic.
In 1778 Fanning was reportedly working as a mechanic and loom builder in
Chatham County, although he said nothing of his early life other that he was
"farmer bred". Some insight on this period is provided by the folk
traditions compiled by Eli W Caruthers in his history published in 1854.
According to Caruthers, Fanning left his guardian because of harsh treatment
and fled to Orange County where he was taken in by the John O'Denniell
family. It was here that he was supposedly cured of scald head or tetter
worm, an offensive scalp disease that left him bald. Thereafter he wore a
silk skull cap. Another tradition from Caruthers is the widespread
reputation that Fanning had as a youth of being a superb horseman and a
tamer of wild horses.""
xaMEwQSlGd4&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPA14,M1, is an
excerpted version.
Beginning in 1775, Fanning was captured 14 times by the "rebels" & was
released or escaped each time.
"Fanning continued the struggle long after the surrender of Cornwallis at
Yorktown in October 1781. By the spring of 1782, however, he had finally
decided to "settle myself being weary of the disagreeable mode of Living I
had Bourne with for some Considerable time." As a first step in attempting
to establish a normal life, he married Sarah Carr, a 16-year-old woman from
the settlement of Deep River in North Carolina. In June the two arrived at
Charleston, which was overflowing with loyalist refugees, and in November, a
month before the British evacuation of the city, they went with other loyal
refugees to St Augustine, East Florida. Since by the terms of the Treaty of
Paris the Floridas were returned to Spain, Fanning sought yet another new
home. After a futile attempt to reach the Mississippi, he went to Nassau in
the Bahamas and then to New Brunswick {Canada} where he arrived on 23 Sept.
He served in the New Brunswick  legislature and introduced, among other
bills, an act for civil registration of births, marriages and deaths; it was
defeated. In 1800, he was convicted of the rape of a black woman on (what
was termed) inconclusive and contradictory evidence and sentenced to death.
He was pardoned, but exiled to Nova Scotia where he lived until 1825.
This statement might equally relate either to his Revolutionary War or New
Brunswick period, "Fanning fought tenaciously, fiercely, and sometimes
cruelly against his ex-friends and neighbours,"

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