Charles "Don Carlos" Percy

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Charles "Don Carlos" Percy (1704–1794) was founder of the Percy family of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.


An Irish-Catholic adventurer, Percy arrived in British West Florida in 1775. For services to the Crown (rumored to be as a privateer), he initially received a 600-acre (2.4 km2) land grant in Louisiana near present-day St. Francisville. With this and other land parcels, he established three successful indigo plantations, which enabled him to amass great wealth. He named the main plantation in present-day Wilkinson County near Natchez, Mississippi, Northumberland Place in honor of supposed ties with the fabled British Percy lineage of Hotspur. For a while Percy was an alcalde or magistrate under the Spanish government, hence his nickname, 'Don Carlos.' At the age of ninety, Percy reportedly gave in to melancholia (depression) and drowned himself in a local creek, since named Percy's Creek.

His son, Thomas George Percy, Sr. (Princeton 1806), wed Maria Pope, (a relative of the British poet Alexander Pope) in 1814. Maria's sister Matilda wed John Williams Walker, a Princeton University graduate and one of Alabama's first two senators. Walker and Percy settled on two adjacent estates in Huntsville, Alabama, and named their sons after one another.

The sons of Thomas George Percy helped develop the Mississippi Delta into the leading cotton-producing area in the world. William Alexander Percy, the youngest son, became rich before the Civil War and married Nana Armstrong, a cousin of George Armstrong Custer and granddaughter of General James (Trooper) Armstrong, a hero of the War of 1812.

Nana's son, William Alexander Percy, became a famed Confederate colonel, and was a railroad lawyer after the war.

LeRoy Percy (1860–1929), son of William Alexander Percy, served as a U.S. senator and confronted the Ku Klux Klan in Washington County in 1922, thwarting their recruiting effort.

LeRoy Percy was father of William Alexander Percy, a World War I hero, lawyer, poet and memoirist, best known for Lanterns on the Levee: Memoirs of a Planter's Son. The senior Percy was the great-uncle of the writer Walker Percy (1916–1990), who wrote novels and essays; and William Armstrong Percy, III, an historian who became a gay activist beginning in the 1980s.

Senator Charles H. Percy of Illinois was also a direct descendant of Charles "Don Carlos" Percy.