John Royal: A Man of Mystery

By Jerome Tew

Recently, while copying some Sampson Co. NC estate records of John Fleming Sr. for 1844, I was shocked to see that he had a minor heir named Nancy Royal. I knew of no connection of the Royal family and Fleming family of Sampson County. John Fleming was a Revolutionary War soldier.

To find out what was going on, I first looked at the 1840 Will of John Fleming. John listed grand daughters Kitsey and Nancy as heirs of his daughter Susannah Fleming. John awarded them land where Joel Barks then lived, and where John Royal did live. The land was to be divided between Kitsey and Nancy. There is no hint in the Will of any Royal connection.

The next move was to see who John Royal was. In the 1830c for Sampson, there are only two men named John Royal. One John Royal lived next to John Fleming and had three young daughters. The other John Royal lived next to Isham Royal and had a son and daughter.

Looking at early Sampson Royal wills, I found that Isham Royal (d1832) had a son named John. I also found that Owen Royal (d1820) had a son named John. Both men named John Royal served in the war of 1812. The son of Isham appeared to be the younger. In the 1850c for Sampson, only John Royal b1795 and married to Susan Benton is listed.

Putting 2 and 2 together, I see that John Royal, son of Owen, was married to Susannah Fleming and that both Kitsey and Nancy Royal were their daughters. Since the two girls are listed as heirs of Susannah Fleming, both Susannah Fleming Royal and husband John Royal died. Since the 1840 Fleming will list another man on the land in question, John Royal died by 1838 and was about 55 years old. Since the girls are listed as heirs of Susannah, she too must have died.

In the 1840c for Sampson, there are two men named John Royal. However, one of them was born in 1815.

1820 Will of Owen Royal:
I leave to my son John Royal all my lands at my death except the one third above mentioned during his natural life. Together with the one third mentioned after the death of my wife aforesaid & after the death of my son John Royal, I give all the lands above mentioned to my daughter-in-law Nancy Royal & the heirs of her body lawfully begotten & share & share alike. Thirdly I leave the Negro man Cudger after the death of my wife to my son John Royal & I leave the woman Lucy to choose her master or be sold at the discursion of my Executor & the money arising there from together with all my other estate not above divided to be equally divided among my grand children to wit, the son & daughters of Biggers Royal, William Royal, Labon Royal & John Royal.

Ollen Mobley was executor

It does appear that John Royal was a favorite son of Owen Royal. In 1820, they both lived in the same house. It does also appear that John Royal was married in 1820 and the name of his wife was Nancy. John Fleming said in 1840, that his daughter’s name was Susannah. He also said, that the girls were Susannah’s heirs.

However, in 1822, John Royal sold 356 acres of the land of Owen Royal to Jesse Strickland (b1789) and Ollen Royal (b1804) for $100. These two are from the family of Biggers Royal.

John Royal also sold over 650 acres to Samuel Sewell and Allen King for $200. John Royal and Jordan Harden in 1821 sold to Elias Sewell over 240 acres for $180. I do not know how, if any way, these men are connected.

When the 1850 census and 1860 census for Sampson were published, it was known that Thomas McLamb had married Nancy Jane Royal. No one knew where she came from. I had thought that she might be a daughter of Noah Royal as there was a gap there for her.
Nancy Jane Royal was born 29 June 1823 and died 1875. In 1840 she was a minor. I have found no reference to Kitsey Royal in the estate records. Nancy Royal married Thomas McLamb in 1845.

Sampson County census, 1860
Thomas McLamb 43
Nancy McLamb 36
William McLamb 16
Philomen McLamb 14
Charles McLamb 7
Ballard McLamb 5

I am sure that Nancy Jane Royal who married Thomas McLamb was a daughter of John Royal and Susannah Fleming. It does appear that John Royal married 2nd, by 1822. It could be that he had one daughter before his first wife Nancy died.