John Williams (Continental Congress)

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John Williams (March 14, 1731 – October 10, 1799) was a signer of the United States' Articles of Confederation. He was one of the founders of the University of North Carolina. During the American Revolutionary War, Williams was a colonel in the North Carolina militia. In 1777 and 1778, he was a member of the North Carolina House of Commons and served as Speaker of the House. Williams was a member of the Continental Congress in 1778 and 1779. He served as a superior court judge both during the colonial era and after the new state of North Carolina was established in 1776. Sitting alongside other superior court judges as part of a Court of Conference (forerunner to the North Carolina Supreme Court), Williams heard the landmark case, Bayard v. Singleton, which announced the principle of judicial review on the state level before Marbury v. Madison did so on the federal level.[1][2]

Family and political career[edit]

John Williams was born on July 7, 1740 in Hanover County, Virginia, the son of Nathaniel Williams and Elizabeth Washington. He married Elizabeth "Betsy" Williamson on March 16, 1767 in Charlotte County, Virginia, and they had two known children. He died on December 1, 1804 in Caswell County, North Carolina. John Williams was elected to represent Caswell County in the House of Commons during 1778-1780, and in the state Senate during 1782 and 1793-1794.[3]

Revolutionary War[edit]

John Williams was commissioned on September 9, 1775 as a Lieutenant Colonel under Col. James Thackston in the Orange County Minutemen Regiment. Both men participated in the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge on February 27, 1776. All Minutemen regiments were disbanded on April 10, 1776.[3]

He was a colonel and commandant of the 9th North Carolina Regiment of the North Carolina Line from 1776 to 1778.[3]

Family and Namesakes[edit]

The town of Williamsboro, North Carolina, for which he donated the land, is named for Williams.[4]

Williams was a first cousin and law partner of Judge Richard Henderson.


  1. ^ North Carolina Historical Marker: Bayard v. Singleton
  2. ^ Edmonds, M.M. (1996). "John Williams". NCPedia. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Lewis, J.D. "John Williams". The American Revolution in North Carolina. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  4. ^ North Carolina Historical Marker: Williamsborough

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