Mr. John Corbyn, Surgeon


The Company of Surgeons was created in the Summer of 1745 because the surgeons wanted to separate themselves out from the City livery company, the Company of Barber-Surgeons, created in 1540 by a merger of the Company of Barbers with the Fellowship of Surgeons. The new Company had a 10 member Court of Examiners, the Minutes of whose fourth ever monthly meeting on 3 October 1745 included the appointment of John Corbyn as a Surgeon in the Royal Navy with the rank of 2nd Mate to serve on a 3rd rater. From about 1660 ships of the line were rated according to their firepower.

January 8, 1755. Joseph Blake of New Hanover Co Esq to John Corbyn of same gentleman. 40 lbs ... land in Town of Wilmington known as Lot #60 lying bet Province St & Chestnut St which sd lot was by indenture Feb 28, 1745 convyed to me by James Long dec'd .. Wit: Samll Bridgin, John Walker. Mary, Wife of Joseph relinquished right of dower. [Province St appears to be an error for Princess St.] This is on the opposite side of 3rd Street from the future location of Innes Academy and Thalian Hall.

May 1, 1758. John Corbyn of Wilmington practioner of surgery to Maurice Nevin of same, carpenter. 30 lbs .. land joining to the land which sd Corbyn now dwells being 1/2 of the lot which sd Corbyn purchased from Joseph Blake Esq .. Wit: Marmaduke Jones.

In a Wilmington Tax List of May 24, 1758, John Corbyn's house is valued at 100. A 1% tax was being raised to pay for fire hooks and the balance due on a fire engine.

In a letter to The Reverend Dr. Burton (Secretary of the SPG) dated December 27, 1762, Rev. John Macdowell (rector of Brunswick) wrote: "My Sickness has again Obliged me to draw another Set of Bills payable to Dr. John Corbyn or Order, for 20 Sterling dated this day, videlicit Decr. 27th 1762."

The New Hanover Tax Lists of 1762 & 1763 include John Corbyn and Francis Corbin (then living at his wife's plantation, Point Pleasant, on the northeast branch of the Cape Fear).

On February 10, 1764, the Committee of Public Claims met in Wilmington: "Arthur Benning, Sheriff of New Hanover county, was allowed his claim of eight pounds for castrating and curing two negro slaves, one belonging to John DuBois, Esq., and the other to Dr. Corbyn, as per account filed".

On October 31, 1764 - 26 days after first meeting Governor Arthur Dobbs upon his arrival in Carolina - Lieutenant Governor William Tryon drew a Bill on his London bankers, Messrs. Drummond, for 25 payable to Mr. John Corbyn. This suggests that Tryon, or someone in his family, must have been ill on or shortly after arrival.

On Monday 29th day of January 1765, the Mayor, Aldermen and Freeholders of Wilmington convened in common council at the Court House therein. John Corbin is listed first of the freeholders present.

Corbyn left Carolina for London on or shortly after April 30, 1766, carrying the duplicate of a letter from Governor William Tryon to The Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations. Because of the inherent dangers of maritime transport, it was common practice to send a backup copy of correspondence on a different ship.

John Corbyn is not listed in the 1767 New Hanover Tax List, the last in which Francis Corbin appears and the first in which Edmund Corbin appears.

On July 18, 1769, "John Corbyn, surgeon (late of Wilmington, NC & now of city of London), by his attorney Marmaduke Jones esq, to Francis Clayton, merchant (Wilmington, NC); for 210.10 proclamation money sold E half of lot #60 in Wilmington; where John Corbyn lately lived; border: fronts on Third Street, & joined on S by James Campbell deceased; between Princess Street & Chesnut Street." Francis Clayton bought the other half of Lot #60 from Maurice Nevin's widow Hannah on December 24, 1772.

John Corbyn's wife was Ann Moore, daughter of Col. Maurice & Elizabeth (Lillington) Moore. She was named after both her grandmother Ann Lillington and her aunt Ann Lillington, who had been married firstly to Henderson Walker (Deputy Governor of Carolina 1699-1703) and secondly to Edward Moseley. She is named in her father's will dated May 17, 1742. Her grandfather was James Moore, Governor of Carolina 1700-1703. Ann Moore on February 9, 1754, witnessed the sale by James Green to Samuel Swann of 220 acres on Holley Shelter Creek - Samuel Swann was Ann's older half-brother. It appears likely that the marriage was in 1755 and that Ann died before Corbyn sold half of Lot #60 in 1758. There is no record of any children from this marriage.

Porters Neck (the most easterly point on the mainland within New Hanover county, beside Futch Creek some 12 miles from downtown Wilmington) was originally part of a royal land grant to Maurice Moore by King George II, 960 acres of which was sold in 1732 to John Porter. It was the property of John Porter, the third of that name. It was afterwards owned by Dr. Corbin, Governor Sam Ashe, and others, the original tract having been divided into two or three. [Dr. Corbyn only held a life interest, following his wife's death.]

Ann (Moore) Corbyn's sister Mary's first husband was John Porter III, who died in 1744, and Ann's niece Elizabeth Jones's second husband (married in 1769) was Samuel Ashe (Governor Of North Carolina 1795-1798).

On December 11, 1770, Dr. John Corbin was allowed his claim of sixty pounds for negro Jack, executed in New Hanover county for felony, and valued to that sum, as per certificate produced by Mr. John London and filed. John London (1747-1816) had come to Carolina in 1765 to be Governor Tryon's private secretary.

John Corbyn held a life interest in 1000 acres on Barren Inlet Sound [i.e. Porter's Neck plantation], which was owned by his wife at her death, and was subsequently inherited by her four nephews/nieces as her co-heirs: John Porter, Fredrick Jones, Elizabeth Hall and Sarah Taylor. John Porter sold his one-third to Samuel Ashe on March 7, 1771. Frederick Jones sold his one-third to Samuel Ashe on May 1, 1771. Elizabeth Hall sold her one-sixth to Samuel Ashe on February 23, 1774. No deed for the sale of Sarah Taylor's one-sixth has been found: her husband Nathaniel Taylor was a loyalist resident of Massachusetts who fled to Canada, where he made a claim to the British government for his losses, including her share of this land.

The payment of a claim on December 11, 1770, and the two sales in early 1771 suggest that John Corbyn likely died in London towards the end of 1770.

Company of Surgeons, Court of Examiners Minute Book 1745-1800, p 4.
New Hanover County Deed Book, Vol D. pp 218-219 & p 334.
James Sprunt Historical Monograph No. 4. p 75 & p 77.
The Colonial Records of North Carolina (Second Series) Volume XI: The Church of England in North Carolina: Documents, 1742-1767. p. 337.
William S. Powell, ed. The Correspondence of William Tryon. Volume I, 1758-1767. Raleigh. Division of Archives and History. 1980. p. 21, p. 225 & p. 288.
New Hanover County Planning Department Porters Neck ... Facing the Future. 1989. p 5.
Alfred Moore Waddell A History of New Hanover County and the Lower Cape Fear Region: 1723-1800. Volume I. p 72 (unnumbered).
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, Volume 22. p. 837 & p. 857.
New Hanover County Deed Book, Vol E. 141, 1063, 1071, 1280, 1477, 1637, 1641, 1642, 1791, 1792.
Second Report of the Bureau of Archives for the Province of Ontario. Part II. 1904. pp 924-925.