north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      Ann Marwood married George Durant in Northumberland County, Virginia, on January 4, 1659. Two years later, they moved to the “southern plantation,” settling on the peninsula today known as Durant’s Neck. George Durant served in various capacities in the colony, as speaker of the assembly and as attorney general. In 1677 he was one of the chief leaders of the uprising known as Culpeper’s Rebellion.

      In her husband’s frequent absence, Ann Durant ran their plantation, often providing accommodations for officials attending meetings of the Assembly and Council held at their house. Prisoners were sometimes held at the Durant home and it was on their tract that the first public structures in North Carolina, stocks and pillories, were built. Court sessions commonly met in private houses and ordinaries in the seventeenth century. The governor and council held meetings, variously known as General Court, Court of Chancery, and Palatine’s Court (among other names), in the 1670s.

      It was at such a session on May 25, 1673, that Ann Durant became the first woman to act in the capacity of an attorney in North Carolina. The meeting was held at the home of council member Francis Godfrey. (The exact site of Godfrey’s house is not known. He owned 1,400 acres in Perquimans Precinct.)

      Ann Durant in 1673 represented Andrew Ball in his successful effort to recover wages due him for work aboard the vessel Two Brothers. On at least twenty other occasions she appeared before colonial courts on behalf of herself, her husband, or others. She frequently appeared to collect debts owed her store. Through the proprietary period and the reorganization of the courts in 1739, it was not unusual for women to act as attorneys in court. In addition to her public role Ann Durant raised nine children. She died in 1695, one year after her husband.

Mattie Erma E. Parker, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, Higher-Court Records, 1670-1696, Vol. 2 (1968)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Vol. II, 122-125, 301 – sketches of Ann Durant, George Durant, and Francis Godfrey by Mattie Erma E. Parker
J. R. B. Hathaway, ed., North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, I (1900), 137
Linda L. Angle, “Women in the North Carolina Colonial Courts, 1670-1739” (M.A. thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1975)Alan D. Watson, Perquimans County: A Brief History (1987)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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