Captain John William Llewellyn

Contributed by: Billy Mayo

Among Frances and William Llewellyn’s children was Captain John William Llewellyn, 
famous Martin County, and North Carolina Tory who died in 1794. His family were 
communicates of a small chapel of the Church of England in Hamilton, Martin County, 
NC. They were wealthy and did not approve of the American Revolution and believed the 
Church of England would not survive if the Colonists were successful in breaking away 
from England. Hence. they were Tories. Lord Cornwallis, who led the British Forces, 
was a cousin of Captain Llewellyn. He quartered the British troops and opened up his 
manor house to the officers when they captured the town of Halifax, not far away. He 
also gave forage and supplies to the British troops when they were in the area, and for 
this, he was tried for “High Treason” against the colonists. The Baptists in Martin County 
were witnesses against Captain Llewellyn stating that Llewellyn had been heard to 
remark that the colonists were “the rag-tag and bob-tail of humanity” and that Governor 
Richard Caswell was “an infidel and didn’t believe in the Holy Trinity”. He was even 
accused of plotting against the lives of Colonel Nathan Mayo and his brother Captain 
James Mayo, both staunch members of the Kehukee Association of Primitive Baptist. 
Many pages of the trial are contained in the Clerks State Records of North Carolina. 
(Nathan Mayo and John W. Llewellyn’s plantations were adjacent to each other in 
Edgecombe County, NC, near Tarboro and the Conetoe River).

Capt. Llewellyn carried a personal grudge against Nathan and James Mayo. Col. Nathan 
Mayo had been very active in the Colonial Militia and served as a Justice of the Peace in 
Martin County, and both Mayo’s were steadfast Colonists. Llewellyn said that Nathan 
Mayo was a “Very Busy Body”, and that he was put there to watch over him and that the 
“Son of a Bitch” would get killed and there was talk that James Mayo would also be killed 
because he was a man that was very particular in attacking any that was thought to be 
enemies of the state. Llewellyn had instructed his compatriots to “waylay” James Mayo 
from ambush along a Martin County road. Capt. Llewellyn’s violent intrigue was never 
carried out.

Captain John W. Llewellyn was proven to be guilty on 16 Sep. 1777, and sentenced to 
be executed. His daughters had all married some of the most prominent patriots of the 
Revolutionary Cause in Martin County and you can well imagine what went on “behind 
the scenes” while their father was in the Edenton jail awaiting his execution.

At long last, his wife Mary, accompanied by Col. Nathan Mayo, one of the witnesses 
against him during his trial for treason, rode horseback from Martin County to Hillsboro, 
the seat of the Colonial Government of North Carolina, to intercede with Governor Caswell. 
He was finally pardoned and lived to the ripe old age. He died in Martin County, and his 
will was probated in Edgecombe County in 1794.

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