Abner Phillips &
Elizabeth Phillips(?)

Abner Phillips, possibly the son of Richard PHILLIPS & Hannah ANDERSON(?), was born Sept. 15, 1737, in Hunterdon Co., NJ, and died Nov. 18, 1813, in Surry Co., NC. He married Elizabeth Phillips(?), possibly his 1st cousin, the daughter of Phillip PHILLIPS & Anna HUNT, around 1763. She was born abt. 1745 in Hunterdon Co., NJ, and died after 1813 in Surry Co., NC. Abner and Elizabeth Phillips are believed to be buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Elkin, Surry Co., NC, but their gravestones can no longer be found.

Children of Abner Phillips & Sarah Phillips(?):

  1. Ephraim Phillips, b. 1755-1765, Hunterdon Co., NJ; d. bef. Aug. 1827, Surry Co., NC; m. Rebecca PHILLIPS, Aug. 14, 1784, Wilkes Co., NC. Rebecca may have been Ephraim's cousin but her parents have not been identified. At least 2 children, according to census records: a boy and a girl born bet. 1800-1810. Daughter might be the Rebecca PHILLIPS who m. John HOPKINS and moved to Tennessee, then Camden Co., MO.
  2. +Prudence Day Phillips, b. 1760-1770, Hunterdon Co., NJ; d. abt. 1845, Surry Co, NC; m. Gideon WOODRUFF, son of Moses "Manassa" WOODRUFF & Phebe MARSH, abt. 1785 (b. Aug. 6, 1764; d. Oct. 24, 1820); bur. Gideon Woodruff Cemetery, Yadkin Co., NC.
  3. Cornelius Phillips, b. Oct. 29, 1767, Hunterdon Co., NJ; d. 1834, Wayne Co., KY; m. Rhoda SHORES, daughter of Reuben SHORES & Susannah SPARKS, 1791 in KY. They moved to Wayne Co., KY, between 1800-1810. Children: Alfred Phillips (c.1784) m. Susannah CULLUM; Ephraim Phillips (c.1780's?); George Phillips (c.1780's?); Pleasant Phillips (c.1792) m. Lucinda ROBERTSON; Micajah Phillips (c.1796) m. Eliza JONES; Mary Phillips (c.1796) m. Micajah VANWINKLE; James Phillips (c.1798); Abner Phillips (c.1803) m. Bulia SCHOOLER; Hiram Phillips (c.1807) m. Vienna BERRY; Nancy Phillips (c.1808) m. Berry GATEWOOD; John Phillips (c.1812) m. Elizabeth BERRY; Lucinda Phillips (c.1816) m. Henry GATEWOOD.
  4. Micajah Phillips, b. 1770's?, Hunterdon Co., NJ, or Virginia; d. unk.; m. Mary SMILEY. He reportedly moved to Ohio and later to New York.
  5. Abigail Phillips, b. 1770-1780, Hunterdon Co., NJ, or Virginia; d. abt. 1850, Wilkes Co., NC; m. Abel NICHOLSON (b. 1770's; d. abt. 1832). Children: William Nicholson (c.1790's) m. (1st) Jensey SALE, (2nd) Patsy SALE; Rebecca Nicholson (c.1790's) m. Beverly COLEMAN; Sarah Nicholson (c.1792) m. John MESSICK; Ephraim Nicholson (c.1794) m. 1st cousin Prudence WOODRUFF; Micajah Nicholson (c.1794) m. 1st cousin Elizabeth WOODRUFF; James Nicholson (c.1797) m. Susannah SALE; Elizabeth Nicholson (c.1814) m. (1st) William KEMP, (2nd) Martin NICHOLSON.
  6. +Sarah Phillips, b. abt. 1776 in Virginia; d. abt. 1855, Surry Co., NC; m. (1) Moses WOODRUFF, JR., son of Moses "Manassa" WOODRUFF & Phebe MARSH, abt. 1795 in Surry Co., NC (b. Jan. 30, 1772; d. May 1803); m. (2) William BAGBY, Nov. 7, 1809, Surry Co., NC (b. bef. 1765; d. bef. 1830.)
  7. George Phillips, b. 1770's, probably in Virginia. He may have gone to Wayne Co., KY, with his brother Cornelius.
  8. Richard Phillips, b. Aug. 15, 1777, in Virginia; d. Sept. 6, 1851, Marion Co., TN; m. Susannah CHAMBERS, abt. 1797 (b. Jan. or June 4, 1778 or 1780; d. Mar. 5, 1853 in DeKalb Co., AL). Moved to Marion Co., TN, in the 1820's. Children: Rebeckah Phillips (1800); Matilda Phillips; Lucinda Cynthia Phillips m. Hugh ELLISON; Elizabeth Phillips (1803); Abner Phillips (1805) m. Martha ELLIS; Sarah Phillips (1807); Pleasant Dallas Phillips (c.1809) m. unk. BEESON; Ephraim Phillips (twin, 1809); Margaret Phillips (twin, 1809); Mary Ann Phillips (twin, b. 1811) m. James ELLIS; James Fletcher Phillips (twin, b. 1811) m. Lucinda RAYFIELD; Gideon Phillips (1813), William Phillips (twin, 1816); Nancy Phillips (twin, 1816); Prudence Phillips (1818) m. P. Morgan PRICE; Cornelius Phillips (1821) m. Sarah PRICE; Richard Phillips (1823).
  9. Elizabeth "Betsy" Phillips, b. abt. 1784, in Virginia; d. aft. 1860, Surry Co., NC; m. Robert King HURT, Sept. 11, 1803 (b. ?; d. 1830-1840.) Children: Mary, Rebecca.
  10. Phillip Phillips, b. 1785-1794, Virginia or Surry Co., NC; d. bef. 1850, Surry Co., NC; m. Carolina Susannah "Suki" SPENCER, daughter of John SPENCER & Sarah LYNCH, Feb. 2, 1809, Surry Co., NC (b. abt. 1779; d. abt. 1860); bur. Greenwood Cemetery, Elkin, Surry Co., NC. Children: John Spencer Phillips (1810) m. Susan ROBERTS; Nancy Phillips (1812) m. 1st cousin Richard P. WOODRUFF; Abner Phillips (c.1816) m. (1st) Susannah WILBORN, (2nd) Nancy COCKERHAM; Sarah Phillips (1817) m. Meredith GREENWOOD; Elizabeth Phillips (twin, 1818); Micajah Phillips (twin, 1818) m. Rachel JOHNSON; Mary Phillips (1822), Harriett Phillips (1823) m. James PERDEE; Omey Phillips (1828); Phebe Phillips (1829) m. Ambrose ROBERTS.


Abner Phillips arrived in Surry County, North Carolina, before 1785, when his name first appears in the records.  His parents have not been positively identified.  However, there is good circumstantial evidence that he was a member of the large Phillips family of Hopewell, New Jersey.  UPDATE: Abner's connection to the Phillips family of Hopewell, New Jersey, has now proven by DNA testing.  Click here to go to the Phillips DNA Project webpage

The Phillips of Hopewell and the neighboring town of Maidenhead, New Jersey, were the descendants of two brothers—Maj. Phillip PHILLIPS (1673-1740) and Theophilus PHILLIPS (1678-1709)—who came to Maidenhead in 1694 from Newtown, Long Island (now the Elmhurst neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens).  They were sons of Theophilus PHILLIPS (1653-1689) and Anna HUNT of Newtown, Long Island.  Anna Hunt was a daughter of Ralph HUNT, Sr. (c.1610/30-1677), who was one of the founders of the village of Newtown in 1656.

Many people from Long Island moved to the wilderness of New Jersey during the late 1600's in search of new land and opportunities.  Hopewell and Maidenhead were originally part of Burlington County, which encompassed much of western New Jersey along the Delaware River.  Hopewell and Maidenhead later became part of Hunterdon County (formed in 1714), and then Mercer County (1838).  Maidenhead was renamed Lawrence in 1816 to honor a naval hero of the War of 1812.

Beginning in the mid-1700's, a wave of settlers from New Jersey's Hopewell Valley migrated to North Carolina.  This exodus was rooted in a bitter, long-running land dispute with an Englishman named Col. Daniel COXE.  Col. Coxe's father, Dr. Daniel COXE, was the Royal British Governor of New Jersey and one of the original colonial "Proprietors."  The "Proprietors" were basically real estate developers who were granted rights by the British Crown to economically develop the colony.  New Jersey did not have the climate for giant tobacco or sugar plantations, so the only way to build a lucrative colony was to distribute many small plots of land to a large number of settlers.  Settlers were such a valuable commodity that the Proprietors gave away land virtually for free.  Settlers were needed to fuel the economic engine of the British global trading empire, producing goods for export to England and consuming goods imported from other British colonies like tea, rum, and sugar.

In 1691, Dr. Daniel COXE purportedly sold a vast 30,000-acre tract in western New Jersey to a new group of Proprietors called the West Jersey Society, who heavily promoted it to settlers in Long Island and New England.  But in 1731, Dr. Coxe's son Col. Daniel Coxe suddenly showed up, claiming that he possessed superior title via a superseding deed that his father had recorded years earlier.  To the dismay of the settlers, the courts agreed with Col. Coxe's claim.  Hundreds of families were forced to repurchase their own property from Col. Coxe or be forcibly evicted.  The ensuing scandal was one of many injustices that enflamed American anger against the British during the years leading up the Revolutionary War.  There were lawsuits; there were riots; Col. Coxe was burned in efigy; but to no avail.  As a result, many Hopewell residents left New Jersey, either unable to pay Col. Coxe or disgusted with the colony's rampant political corruption.  One group of Hopewell expatriates settled on the Yadkin River in what was then Rowan County, NC.  This community, the Jersey Settlement, continued to attract new settlers from the Hopewell area for several decades.  (Source: Ethel Stroupe, "First Families of Jersey Settlement", Rowan County Register, Vol. 11, No. 1, Feb. 1996.)

1706 Map of Hopewell, NJ

1706 map of New Jersey
showing the area owned by Dr. Daniel Coxe.
Click here to view the original map

Researchers seem to agree that Abner Phillips of Surry County, NC, was a grandson of Maj. Phillip Phillips of Maidenhead, New Jersey, either through his son Phillip Phillips (b. 1704) (m. Anna HUNT), or Richard Phillips (b. 1705) (m. Hannah, possibly ANDERSON).  Abner's wife Elizabeth may have been a first cousin on the Phillips side.  Like Abner, her father could have been either Phillip Phillips (1704) or Richard Phillips (1705).  Unfortunately, the Phillips and their cousins, the Hunts, frequently intermarried, and they used the same first names generation after generation.  Untangling all the Richards, Phillips, Annas, Hannahs, and Elizabeths is virtually impossible.

The connection between Abner Phillips and Richard Phillips (1705) is suggested by two unrecorded deeds in the possession of the New Jersey Historical Society.  On April 3, 1770, Abner PHILLIPS "of Hopewell" and his wife Elizabeth conveyed their one-half interest in "all that tract and Parcel of land situated and being in the town of Hopewell aforesaid on Smith's mountain and butted and Bounded as by the survey thereof According to a Survey of a deed given by Daniel COXE unto Job PHILLIPS and Abner PHILLIPS containing forty acres of land … " The deed states that the parcel was purchased by Richard PHILLIPS from Daniel COXE, and that Job PHILLIPS and Abner PHILLIPS became tenants in common after the decease of Richard PHILLIPS.  (Click here for a transcript on the Hunterdon Co., NJ, GenWeb Archives).

Subsequently, on April 16, 1770, Abner PHILLIPS and Elizabeth signed over to Job PHILLIPS their interest in 160 acres of land on the Delaware River in Hopewell Township that Richard PHILLIPS had purchased from Cornelius ANDERSON on Dec. 1, 1749.  (Click here for a transcript.)

The above suggests that Abner Phillips and Job Phillips were both sons of Richard Phillips (1705) and inherited his property.  Then, Abner and Elizabeth gave their share of the property to Job prior to leaving New Jersey.  There is no record of them in Hunterdon County after 1770.

So this is the possible line descent of Abner Phillips:

  1. Theophilus Phillips (1653-1689) & Anna Hunt, Newtown, Long Island
  2. Maj. Phillip Phillips (1678-1740) & Hannah Stockton, Maidenhead, NJ
  3. Richard Phillips (1705-1764) & Hannah Anderson(?), Hopewell, NJ
  4. Abner Phillips (1737-1813) & Elizabeth Phillips(?), Surry Co., NC

For more information about the Phillips lineage, go to this GedCom which I posted several years ago on Rootsweb.  Note, DNA testing has since proved that Theophilus Phillips (1653-1689) of Newtown, Long Island, was not a descendant of Rev. George Phillips of Watertown, Mass.

So where did Abner Phillips of Hunterdon County and his family go after 1770?  According to research shared by Susan J. Avery, there was an Abner Phillips who, on June 19, 1775, bought 200 acres "in the great fork of the Rapahannack River" in Culpeper County, VA.  He sold this land 8 years later, on Nov. 21, 1783 (Culpeper Deed Book H:93 and M:92).

Susan Avery also discovered the following tidbit from the court records of Fauquier County, VA, which is next to Culpeper County.  In 1783, Abner Phillips acted as the "attorney in fact" (i.e., agent) for "Phillip Phillips of Maidenhead, New Jersey" in a lawsuit against one David Cale.  This is strong evidence that the Abner Phillips in Culpeper County was related to the Phillips of Hunterdon County, NC.

Because Abner Phillips disappears from Culpeper County, VA, after 1783, then he could be the same Abner Phillips who was in Surry County, NC, by 1785.  Another piece of evidence are the names of Abner Phillips' children, which include several names traditionally favored by the Phillips of Hunterdon County, NJ, such as Phillip, Richard, and Abigail. Note that Abner also had a son named Cornelius.  Abner's (possible) father Richard Phillips purchased land in Hopewell, NJ, from a Cornelius ANDERSON (see above).  This Cornelius Anderson may have been related to Richard Phillips's wife, who is identified as Hannah ANDERSON by some sources (which I have not been able to verify).  At the very least, the fact that Abner Phillips named one of his sons "Cornelius"—a common Dutch name—suggests a tie to New Jersey or New York, where there was a strong Dutch influence.  The Andersons of Hunterdon County, NJ, were the descendants of Dutch settlers.