James Innes

Confusingly, there were two men named James Innes who are referred to with ranks of Captain and Colonel. He who immigrated to North Carolina died in 1759, and was buried at his plantation, Point Pleasant, on the northeast branch of the Cape Fear River in 1759. He who remained in Scotland was captured at Carlisle in the '45, tried the following year, pleaded guilty, and was executed on the Capon Tree at Brampton on 21 October 1746 at age 70.

James Innes of Point Pleasant was the second son of Rev. James Innes, who descended from the family of Blackhills in Moray, was laureated at the University and King's College, Aberdeen, 11th June 1666, entered [the ministry] 22nd December 1667, and died on 24th December 1704 in the 67th year of his age and the 28th of his ministry. James Innes of NC had an elder brother, Theodore Innes, who became a merchant in Edinburgh, and a sister, Barbara Innes, who married (contract 19th August 1732) John Sutherland, a merchant in Thurso.

An alternative source says that Rev. James Innes was educated at Marischal College, Aberdeen (M.A. 11th June 1666), entered 22nd December 1667, did not conform to Presbyterianism in 1690 but was allowed to remain in the charge (of Cannisbay) until his death. He married Jean Munro, who died before 1725.

As a young officer, James Innes was among the 25,000 Irish, English, and Scotch (mostly Catholics) who had followed James II to France and had served with distinction in the French army. They had become so reduced by 1715 that their numbers were barely sufficient to form five scanty regiments of a single battalion.

All hopes of serving King James in the Highlands being lost, the Scotch officers who had served under John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount Dundee (killed while leading the Jacobites to victory at Killiecrankie in 1689), came to terms with the English government, and, according to their request, were conveyed to France. Immediately upon landing, they had their rank confirmed according to the tenor of the commissions and characters which they bore in Scotland. They formed for a while the military household of James II at St Germain's, and derived their whole means of subsistence from the bounty of Louis XIV. But after the destruction of the French fleet, off La Hogue in May 1692, they volunteered a great sacrifice, related in an interesting pamphlet written by one of the corps.

"The Scotch officers, considering that, by the loss of the French fleet, King James' restoration would be retarded for some time, and that they were burdensome to the King of France, being in garrisons on whole pay without doing duty, when he had almost all Europe in confederacy against him, humbly entreated King James to have them reduced into a company of private sentinels, and chose officers amongst themselves to commaud them."

The number of this company of officers being only 120, Major Rutherford's company, and Captain John Foster's veteran troops of Dumbarton's Regiment, were ordered to join them. Their destination was Perpignan in Roussillon, close upon the frontiers of Spain, where they were to join the army under the command of Marshal de Noailles. Dundee's officers were always foremost in battle, and the last to retreat. They were often in want of the first necessaries of life, yet they were never heard to complain, save of the misfortunes of their exiled sovereign.

On 4 December 1693 the company of officers, with the other two Scotch companies, received orders to march to Alsace. Their final action was in December 1697 through January 1697/98, on an island in the Rhine, against a German force commanded by General Stirk. The company was broken up and dispersed following the Treaty of Ryswick, concluded on 11 September 1697.

In his Memoirs, published in 1711, Lord Viscount Dundee lists the names of the 120 officers who volunteered to serve as privates. This list includes Captain James Innes, who was appointed as a Corporal by his fellow officers, and Captain William Innes [not yet identified].

No trace of what James Innes did or where he was between 1697 and 1715 has yet been found. He possibly continued a military career in the French army during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). The war was concluded by the treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714).

In September 1715 orders were issued by the Marquess of Huntly (Alexander, son of George, Duke of Gordon) to John Stewart of Boggs and Col. James Innes, whom he appointed commander of that district, to raise all vassals in Strathbogie. This was for the first Jacobite uprising / rebellion against the Hanoverian kings of England.

During the Battle of Preston, on Saturday 12 November 1715 a party of 50 Highlanders, under Captain Innes, were posted in a very high house belonging to Sir Henry Houghton, which overlooked the whole town. The inexperienced Jacobite commander Brigadier William Mackintosh ordered them, contrary to their own wishes, to less important stations - leaving the house empty when government forces under Lord Forrester arrived at it.

On 1 February 1716 Alexander Abercromby (1677-1729), MP for Banffshire, wrote to Much Honoured Colonel James Innes in his absence to Mr (Lodvi?) Innes:
M. H.
Conform to your desire have sent of the bearer hereof John Ord officer with nyne guns four swords and if we can fall upon any more swords conveniently they shall be forward to ffochabers. I am M. H. your most humble servant Abercromby
Cullen feb 1 1716

The bearer of this letter, John Ord (eldest son of William Ord of Findochty and his wife Jean Innes), had married Elizabeth Innes (daughter of Sir Alex Innes of Coxton) on 9 August 1710 and had a sasine of lands of Findochty in 1712. He sold the lands of Findochty to James, Earl of Findlater, in 1724 and nothing more is recorded of him. [John Ord of Findochty died in Cullen in 1752 and "Lady Findochty" was recorded as such in 1735.]

James Innes was among the 637 Scottish rebels sentenced to transportation to the American colonies as indentured servants for a 7 year term after being captured at Preston, Lancashire, on 14 November 1715. His home parish is given as City Edinburgh, and he was prisoner # 048 in Chester prison. He was transported on 15 July 1716 from Liverpool to Barbados on board the Africa Gally (listed as Ennis, Ja). He was the only prisoner carried on this ship, which indicates that he must have received special treatment: the other 636 were packed into nine ships, none headed to Barbados.

He may have chosen to go to Barbados because of already having relatives there: a James Innis had been buried in St James Parish on 14 July 1679; and another James Innis married Mary Roy in St Michael Parish on 22 July 1709.

After the end of their indentures, many people moved from Barbados to the American mainland. No record has been found of James Innes' move from Barbados to North Carolina. The fact that people in Scotland later thought that he lived in South Carolina may indicate that he came into Carolina through Charleston.

AT a meeting of Justices of Peace held at Banff on 26 Oct. 1725:
Present The Earl of ffindlater, Bracco, Glassaugh, Achoynanie, Edengeith, Tullich, Recletich, Kinardie, Kempcairn My Lord ffindlater preses.
< ... >
Collennell James Innes haveing given in ane account of fourty five days that he has attended by the Commrs order for repairing the [roads] within the shyre, they appoint their Collector to pay to him for his pains and trouble fourty shillings Scots for each of the said fourty- five dayes extending to nynety pounds.

The minutes of the following year show his appointment as general overseer under the designation of Capt. James Innes, and there are continuing references to him in this office until two meetings of the Commissioners of Supply in 1747, which refer to him as deceased:
From the following minute of 22nd July 1747: Present Lord Braco, Sir Robert Abercrombie, Alexander Duff of Hatton, Thomas Grant of Achoynanie, William Donaldson of Kinnairdie, George Joass of Colleonard, James Ogilvie of Melross, Alexander Innes of Rosyburn Lord Braco, preses, the following additional particulars regarding the overseer appear:
The said Commissioners, considering that the sallary appointed for the now deceast Capt. James Innes as overseer and director of the highways at their generall meeting in May 1745 lyes yet in the Collector's hands, and that William Leslie of Melross having procured bill on the Collector immediately after said generall meeting to the extent and value of the said sallary, being three hundred mks, in order to reimburse him of what he had necessarily expended preceeding that time for the subsistance of the said Captain and his family, which still ly over unpaid, the Commissioners therefore ordain Alexander Innes their Collector to pay the said sum to the said William Leslie, and to take his receipt and discharge therefor, which shall be allowed to him.

There is a grave marker in Banff churchyard that states Mary Ramsay was the wife of Colonel James Innes:
Mors janua vitae. Here lies the body of Mary Innes, wife of Alexander Paterson, a loving, faithful, and dutiful wife in prosperity and adversity, who departed this life January 28th, 1744, with their children James, aged 5 years, William, aged 7 years, Alexander, John, and Jean Patersons, also the body of Mary Ramsay, her mother, wife of Colonel James Innes, a loving and dutiful wife and mother, who departed this life September 24th, 1747. Sacred to the memory of the above Alexander Paterson, merchant in Banff, husband to the said Mary Innes, and father of the aboue children, is here inter'd, who was according to his ability charitable to the poor, and ready to releive those in desstress, who departed this life the 23rd March, 1775, aged 80 years.

James Innes was in North Carolina by January 1732, when he received a grant of 320 acres in what became Bladen county. He received another of 640 acres there sixteen months later. At that time a grantee received 50 acres for each person that he brought into the colony, so he must have brought in 18 people besides himself. These two grants were about 100 miles upriver on the main branch of the Cape Fear. The New Hanover county Court Minutes of 27 September 1740 record the assignment of a patent of 640 acres in Bladen county from James Innes to Donald and Duncan McKieham (sic) and William McFarline.

Within a month of his arrival as Governor of North Carolina, Gabriel Johnston (a fellow Scot) issued commissions to justices to hold precinct courts and, among the justices for New Hanover Precinct, he named James Innes. In May 1735 the Governor recommended Innes for a place in His Majesty's Council and appointed him assistant to William Smith, chief baron of the province.

The Moseley map of 1733 does not give any name at what was to become the site of Point Pleasant, on the northeast branch of the Cape Fear, although other landowners are named further upriver. The record of the grant to James Innes of what became Point Pleasant has apparently not survived.

James Innes had acquired a lot in Wilmington (originally called Newtown) before 10 January 1736/37, when James Murray wrote from there in a letter to Henry McCulloh: "We are very upish upon Capt Woodard, Mr Johnston, Capt Rowan and Capt Innes each of them purchasing a good lot in this town, which thrives a pace." James Innes bought water lot #2 in Wilmington on 6 November 1740 and sold it for £600 to merchant Thomas Clark of Wilmington, NC, on 1 June 1745.

During the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739-1748) Captain James Innes was commander of the Cape Fear company of troops that, together with three companies raised in the Albemarle section that had sailed from Edenton to Wilmington, departed from Wilmington for Jamaica on 15 November 1740 to join the united British and colonial forces that were to attack the Spanish at Cartagena de Indias (in present-day Colombia). This major amphibious attack launched by the British under Admiral Edward Vernon in March 1740/41 was the largest action of the war. George Washington's elder brother, Lawrence Washington, participated in this unsuccessful action. The survivors of the Cape Fear company, originally 100 strong, returned to Wilmington in January 1742/43 reduced to 25 men. Most were not killed in action, but died of illnesses, principally yellow fever.

On March 2, 1750/51, Earl Granville allowed Thomas Child to return to England and appointed James Innes in his stead as co-Agent with Francis Corbin.
James Innes resigned as a Granville agent in 1753, but not until August 8, 1754, was Benjamin Wheatley appointed in his stead.

At a meeting of the Lord Justices in Council on May 28, 1752, James Innes was appointed a member of the Royal Council of North Carolina, on which he served until his death seven years later. Francis Corbin (who married James Innes's widow Jean in 1761) and John Rutherford (who became executor of Francis Corbin's widow Jean in 1775, and whose three children were the main beneficiaries of her will) were also appointed at the same meeting.

In 1754 Colonel James Innes was appointed by the North Carolina Assembly as Colonel of the Regiment being raised at the outbreak of the French and Indian War (known in England as the Seven Years War). Shortly thereafter he was appointed by Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, to command all the troops sent to Ohio. Colonel Fry had originally been the commander-in-chief and Lieutenant-colonel George Washington was under him, but Colonel Fry died and Washington might have expected to succeed him. However, on being informed by Governor Dinwiddie of the appointment of Innes, Washington wrote "I rejoice that I am likely to be happy under the command of an experienced officer and man of sense. It is what I have ardently wished for." Dinwiddie appears to have known Innes well, addressing him as "Dear James," and conveying in his letters messages from his wife and daughters. Innes must initially have objected to his appointment on the grounds of his age - assuming that he was the man who served in France in the 1690s, he would by then have been in his 80s: Dinwiddie wrote back "Your age is nothing when you reflect on your regular method of living." On arriving to take up his appointment, James Innes made his will at Winchester, VA, on July 5, 1754.

James Innes' Will

IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN. I, James Innes, of Cape Fear, in North Carolina in America, Coll. of the Regement of sd. Province, (Raised for His Majestys imediate Service and Commanded in Chief of this Expedition to the Ohio, Against the French & there Indeans, whoe have most unjustly Invaided & fertified Them Selves on His Majestys Land), Being now readdey to enter upon Action & of Sound minde, Memory & Understanding, Do make this my Last Will & Testament, in Manner & Forme following, viz:

I recomend my Soul to the Almighty God that gave it, relying on the merits of Jesus Christ for Mercy at the last day. My Bodie, I most freely Offer to be disposed off as God in His wise providence shall please to direct.

I recomend the paying of all my Just & Lawful Debts, instantly or when demanded. I direct a remittance may be made to Edinburgh, Sufficient to pay for a Church Bell for the Parish Church of Cannesby, in Caithness, agreeable to my Letter to mr. Jams. Broadee, Minister there.

I also appoint and direct, that there may be a furder remittance made of one hundred Pounds, Sterll., for the Use of the Poor of the said Parish of Cannesby, and the said summ of One hundred Pounds, to be put to Interest for the use of the Poor of Said Parish, as formerly directed by me

I also give & bequeath, att the Death of my Loving Wife, Jean lnnes, my Plantation Called Point Pleasant, & the Opposite mash [marsh] Land over the River, for which there is a Separate Patent, Two Negro young Women, One Negro young Man, and there Increase; all the Stock of Cattle and Hogs, halfe the Stock of Horses belonging att the time to that Plantation With all my Books, and one hundred Pounds Sterling, or the Equivalent thereunto in the currency of the Country, For the Use of a Free School for the Benefite of the Youth of North Carolina. And to see that this part of my Will be dewly Executed att the time, I appoint the Colonell of the New Hanover Regiment, the Parson of Willmington Church & the Vestrey for the time being, or the Majority, of them as they Shall from time to time be Choised or Appointed.

The Residue of my Estate, both reall and personall, I lave to the Sole disposall of my Loving Wife and companion of my Life, Jean Innes, whome I appoint to be Sole Executrix of this my last will and Testament, which I desire may be recorded in the Publique Regester.

In testimony hereof, I have put my hand and Seall, this fift day of July, and in the Year of our Lord, God, One thousand, Seven hundred, fifty and four.


Done at Winchester, in Virginia, in presence of us, Sign'd, Sealled, & published:




The foregoing Last Will and Testament of James Innes, Esquire, was duly proved before me by the oath of Caleb Grainger, who made Oath on the holy Evangelists, that he saw and heard the said James Innes, sign, seal and publish the foregoing as, and for, his last Will and Testament in the presence of the said Caleb Grainger, John Carlyle, and William Cocks, who subscribed their respective Names as Evidences thereto, in presence of the Testator, who was at the same time of sound and Disposing Memory and Understanding.

Let Letters Testamentary Issue hereof to Jean Innes, Executrix in the foregoing Will named.

Brunswick, 9th., Octor., 1759.


Copied from the Original Will, filed in the Office of the Secretary of State.

No record of James Innes marriage to Jean has been found, and her maiden name is unknown. Reverend James Innes, Minister of Banff 1716-1753 (licensed by the Presbytery of Strathbogie in May 1709), married Jean Brodie in Banff, Banffshire, on 8 October 1723, and some writers have incorrectly identified this couple as the James & Jean Innes of Point Pleasant.

There was a marriage on 25 June 1690 between James Innes and Jean Hiller in Thurso, Caithness. It has been suggested that this couple were the James & Jean Innes of Point Pleasant. However, Jean's age makes this couple appear unlikely: assuming that she was about 20 at the time of her marriage, this would make her age 91 when she married 51 year old Francis Corbin in 1761, and 105 at her death. Had she been a centenarian, it is likely that Janet Schaw would have commented on this.

Janet Schaw, who met Jean at Point Pleasant in 1775 shortly before her death, described her as "an old lady" and "an old woman not of the best character or most amiable manners". This may have been a polite way of telling her readers that Jean had reached the American colonies as a convict or an indentured servant, in which case Jean's marriage to James Innes could have taken place either in Barbados (where there is no record of it) or in Carolina (where there are no marriage records to search). It is also possible that Jean was James Innes common-law wife.

Note on dates: Scotland had been using the Gregorian calendar (in which the year begins on 1 January) since 1600; England did not adopt it until 1752 - so dates in England and its American colonies before 1752 falling in January, February or March are now commonly given with the year shown in the format 1697/98.

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