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Nathaniel Rice (d.1753 in North Carolina) & Col. Martin Bladen
Posted by: David Brown (ID *****9344) Date: June 12, 2007 at 19:05:44
  of 431

I am researching Nathaniel Rice who may be my 7th great-grandfather. Nathaniel Rice twice served as colonial governor of North Carolina as well as serving several years on the North Carolina Royal Council. At the time of Nathaniel Rice's death in 1753, he was married to Mary Bursey. However, an early North Carolina record indicates that Nathaniel Rice was a brother-in-law of Col. Martin Bladen (son of Nathaniel Bladen and Isabella Fairfax),and I was hoping to determine if this is true and, if so, was Nathaniel Rice married to one of Martin Bladen's sisters (or vice versa).

I am also intrigued by the connection of the Bladen family with that of the Hawke family as one of Gov. Nathaniel Rice's grandchildren married John Hawk in North Carolina (this John Hawk being the architect of Tryon's Palace in colonial North Carolina).

While Nathaniel Rice had a niece in Hampshire, England (per his will), I have located a probate record through Ancestry.com from Devon & Cornwall mentioning a Nathaniel Rice in 1725; unfortunately, I have no further details on this Devon & Cornwall record.

I am pasting the source below where it is stated that Nathaniel Rice was a brother-in-law of Martin Bladen. I am also posting some additional biographical information relative to Nathaniel Rice in addition to his will (as an FYI for anyone interested).

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

David Brown

The Colonial Records of North Carolina: Published Under the Supervision of the Trustees of the Public Libraries, by Order of the General Assembly collected and edited by William L. Saunders, Secretary of State (Broadfoot Publishing Company 1887) -- Volume 3, Page 139:
{B.P.R.O. AM: & W: Ind: Vol. 22 p. 13}
North Carolina 1st of July 1731
May It Please Your Grace
By his Majesty's Instructions I am commanded to transmit to one of the principal Secretarys of State Copies of the Proceedings of the Governor's Council, and Assembly with my report and remarks which having done, with care and diligence, I now do myself the honour to address them to your Grace.
My Lord
I have used my endeavours to settle this Government as commanded by the King's Instructions, if the Council would have assisted me much might have been effected, Mr. Smith the Chief Justice, Mr. Ashe and Mr. Porter Councellors violently opposed me, the Assemby by their instigation instead of observeing his Majesty's Instructions, and makeing Laws for the good of their Country, in concert with the before named Councellors imployed themselves in promoting private Agencys and Complaints, Smith resigned his seat in Council, it is beliv'd here he is gone to England to complaine against me, I treated him with great kindness and gave him very good advice, he might have lived very happily in this Country if he had either understanding or honesty. I have reason to think this ungratefull youth was seduced by Mr. Rice Secretary of this Province Coll: Bladen's Brother in Law, before his comeing everything looked well, he stayed but a short time then returned to his Family in South Carolina, I have heard from London and it is commonly reported here that upon any Complaint I shall be dismissed and Rice promoted to the Government by Mr. Bladen's Interest, Mr. Montgomery the Attorney General is very intent to prejudice me on all occasions, he came with Recommendations from Coll: Bladen...
I am Your Grace's most humble and most devoted servant
Geo: Burrington.

From the UNC – Chapel Hill On-line Library Collection
Rice, Nathaniel (d.29 Jan. 1753), colonial official, entered North Carolina form England early in 1731. Previously (ca. 1725) he had visited and acquired property in South Carolina. Rice carried with him commissions as provincial secretary and royal councilor, much to the dismay of the new governor, George Burrington. He owed his appointments to his brother-in-law, Martin Bladen, a Member of Parliament since 1715 and of the Board of Trade since 1730. Thus Rice had an independence from Burrington that most other North Carolina officials did not enjoy, and that independence generated increasing tension between the secretary and the governor.

Before 1731 ended, Rice had joined with William Smith, John Baptista Ashe, and others in firm and consistent opposition to Burrington’s dealings with the two houses of the legislature. When Smith resigned from the Council in May 1731 to carry his objections about Burrington to London, Rice as next senior councilor assumed presidency of that body. From that vantage point he became the governor’s chief nemesis, and the growing opposition tot Burrington increasingly began to rally around Rice. The secretary led petition-writing efforts against the governor—documents that were sent to many powerful figures in London, including Burrington’s patron, the Duke of Newcastle.

The tension surrounding the governor reached a high point at the legislative session in the summer of 1733. Wishing to dissolve the body but fearing some clever manipulation by Rice, Burrington on 17 July 1733 seized all of the official secretarial seals of office and dissolved the legislature the following day. When it became necessary for Burrington to go to South Carolina on business in April 1734, Rice became acting governor by virtue of his presidency of the Council. No records of Rice’s activities in this period survived, but shortly after his return in September 1734, Burrington suspended Rice from office, claiming that the secretary had plotted to kill him.

With the replacement of Burrington by Gabriel Johnston in November 1734, Rice was again restored to the Council. The following year he became a member of the General Court and a justice of the peace for New Hanover County. With the passage of time he became embroiled in Lower Cape Fear politics and sided with the pro-Brunswick forces in opposing the establishment of Wilmington, which was advocated by the governor and William Smith. By 1750, however, Rice and Johnston were reconciled, having been brought together by the common and mutual attacks on them of Henry McCulloh.

When Johnston died in July 1752, Rice as senior councilor began acting as governor. He was by this time an ill, old man. He left a son named John and his wife Mary. He will refers to a niece in Hampshire, England, which may have been his birthplace.

See: William S. Price, Jr., “A Strange Incident in George Burrington’s Royal Governorship,” form the North Carolina Historical Review 51 (1974); William Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vols. 3-4 (1886); Secretary of State Papers and Wills (North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh).

“Craven County, North Carolina Deed Abstracts Deed Book I, Deed Book 5 1707-1775 Book I” by Weynette Parks Haun
“#956 DB: 5-288: 7 Dec 1752. Will of Nathaniel Rice…Debts to be paid
Item: Sister in law Hannah Bursey 1 grown Negro Wench, 1 young Negro Girl
Item: Sister in law Penny Bursey the Gift I have made her by word of Mouth of a grown Negro Wench and a little Negro girl to be delivered 9 months after my decease.
Item: My Wifes Niece Elizabeth Dale a Negro woman and a Negro Child named Lun__ on Day of Marriage if she marys with my Wifes Consent else not till she is 20 years old
Item: Rest of estate excepting 5 Pounds Sterling to my Niece Elizabeth Turner of Rumsey in Hampshire I give as follows: Wife Mary Rice during term of her natural life half my sd estate which at her Discease I give to my son John Rice & his children in equal proportion, the other half I put absolute in her own Disposal to do as she please & to leave it to whom she thinks fit when she dyes excepting wt. the sd half part may be chargeable with after her death in regard of any Engagements I have entered into wch. Are not to take place till after both our Deaths.
Exrs: Wife & my friends James Hasel C.J. & Samuel & John Swann. Wit: James Potterfield, David Limsay, Archibald McClaine. Regtd. Lib. C fol: 736 6/Dec. 1752. At a Court held at Wilmington 27 Feb 1753 Present: Edwd. Hynne, Wm. Farris, John Sampson, Geo. Moor, Wm. Ross, Corn. Harnett, Jno. Lyon, proved by David Lindsay & Archibald McClaine. Isaac Fares C.C. James Hasell qualified 3 Mar 1753 before Matt. Rowan”

“Records of Craven County North Carolina: Volume One” by Elizabeth Moore; Genealogical Records (Publisher) “John Hawks, architect of Tryon’s Palace, was a distinguished figure in Colonial New Bern. He married Sarah Rice, daughter of the Secretary of the Crown, John Rice, and granddaughter of Royal Governor Nathaniel Rice, whose twenty plantations on Old Towne Creek at Brunswick near Orton Plantation consisted of more than 60,000 acres (note: This is probably a typographical error as other sources show he had 6,200 acres). Among the Rice neighbors were Royal Council members Matthew Rowan, John Baptista Ashe, Eleazer Allen, and Chief Justice James Hasel.”



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