Not just a bystander as history was being made!

James Mason Rawlins was a known Loyalist during our War of Independance, well we can't always be on the winning side.

A conspiracy was formed to kill the Governor of Virginia, Gov Richard Caswell and Willie Jones. James either wrote the constitution of the conspirators or it was at least written in his home.

Those who spoke of him are:

Peleg Belote

Solomon Pippin

Daniel Leggett

James Rawlins - his version of the story

Abram Jones

Other sources on this conspiracy:

Torries in Bertie County

or do a Google Search for Gourd Parch Conspiracy or Llewelyn Conspiracy


"The Gourd Patch Affair" or "The Llewellyn Conspiracy"


The following information is from the North Carolina Historical & Genealogical Register

Affidavits Relating to Loyalists and Tories During the Revolution



Examination of Peleg Belote.

Examination of Peleg Belote in the County Court of Bertie at the Court begun and held for the said County the 12th day of August, 1777, present the Worshipful Thomas Pugh. James Campbell and Jonathan Jacocks, Esquires, Justices of the said Court and among others assigned to keep the Peace of the said County.

The said Peleg Belote being brought before the Court declared that in a conversation with one Absalom Legate about the first of June last, they discussed about a Report which was then prevalent among some People, that there was a design to impose a new Religion on the People, and Compel them to worship Images, and that they both expressed a very strong disapprobation of such a design; that the said Legate endeavored to persuade him, the said Belote, to go to a Sermon which was shortly to be preached near Sherrad’s, in Martin County, and the said Belote did accordingly go to Sherrard’s House in company with the said Legate and his son; that they found one Rawlins at Sherrard’s house; that after a private conversation which he observed between the said Legate and Rawlins, Rawlins asked him to walk, and they two being alone together, after some conversation relative to the worship of Images, Rawlins asked the said Belote if he could keep a secret The said Belote answering in the affirmative, Rawlins asked him if he would be willing to swear he could, and pulled a book out of his pocket which he tendered to Belote, and Belote then kissed the Book, promising to keep secret what Rawlins should tell him; that Rawlins then told him a good many had concluded to support the Church of England, and if he would swear to keep secret all that he should hear that Man read or tell him, he would mention the Person’s name, and refer him to him for further information; that the said Belote having agained kissed the book in ratification of a promise of this kind (believed by him to be swearing), Rawlins told him Sherrard was the Man, and gave him a stick with three notches which he said he was to show Sherrard, but he need not be particular as to any circumstances concerning it, as he would be there, otherwise it would have been necessary to do it in private; that nothing more passed on the subject this evening, but the next morning before Breakfast Sherrard asked Rawlins to take a walk, and Rawlins nodded to the said Belote to follow him; that they went in to the Barn, and Belote delivered the stick to Sherrard; that Sherrard then asked him “what that was for”; that Belote being at a loss for the answer Rawlins asked him if he had forgot already and desired him to speak after him, which he did some words that served to denote a concurrence in the Confederacy; that Sherrard then stepped and picked up a Sugar box which seemed to be concealed in a private part of the barn and took out a paper which he read very low, as if he had been afraid of being overheard, the place being very publick and that the time when the People were going to the Preaching; that the substance of the Paper was to the best of the “is Belote’s recollection an Engagement to support the Religion they had been used to, to decide disputes arising among the subscribers by arbitration. t’ oppose draughts (as he believed) and protect Men being draughted from being obliged to serve. Soon after they went out and Sherrard mentioned there was one thing he had forgot, which was that Belote should get half a pound of powder and two pounds of lead; and that he recollects no further particulars concerning the above agreement than what he has before received, but that they were to put in Money to support poor people in distress and employ a Reader.


Peleg X Belote


Taken in open Court.

Test: John Johnston.

Solomon Pippin being First Sworn Deposeth & Sayeth, that James Rollins Came to him & offer’d him a secret & that this Deponent asked him what it was & he Refused disclosing except this Deponent would Qualifie which he Refused but afterwards was Introduced by the persons mentioned in aforesaid Deposition & Further Sayth that the Deposition of John Hodge is Truth and this Deponent was present & heard the words & Further this Deponent sayeth not.


Solomon X Pippin


The 4th July. 1777, Sworn before me.

Nathan Mayo.

State of North Carolina,

Chowan County, Ss. Personally appeared Daniel Leggett who being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelist, Deposeth & says, that he went from Bertie to Martin County, to the House of John Collins, where he stayed all night being Saturday the seventh day of June, from thence he went the next morning to James Sherrod to a meeting where one Rawlings was to preach, the said Rawlings took this Deponent out on one side and asked this Deponent what he thought of the times who answered he did not know, but that they were very bad, the said Rawlings asked this Deponent if he did not think they were in great danger of loosing their Religion, that it was reported that Thirteen or Fourteen persons in the Provincial Congress had objected the Trinity, the said Rawlings asked the Deponent if he did not think it would be a good Thing if the People were to join in a Society to support their religion, who answered he thought it would, the said Rawlings then asked this deponent if he would Join in such an undertaking who replied he thought he could, the said Rawlings then asked this Deponent if such a thing was on hand, if he would not swear to keep a Secret, he replied he thought he could keep a secret, he then asked this Deponent if he would swear, who said he thought he could, the said Rawlings having a book in his pocket swore this deponent to secrecy, he then told this deponent there was such a thing in hand, that they had formed Constitutions as a Guide to go by, that there was a Man appointed to keep them, and provided I would swear to keep his name secret & all he should read or say to this deponent Secret, he would give this deponent a sign to go to him that he might know he was and that he had been qualified in order to go to him, after this deponent had been Qualified Rawlings then told him James Sherrod had the Constitution and Oath, and was called Senior Warden, the said Rawlings gave this deponent a stick with three notches in it to carry to Sherrod, who by that knew, this deponent had been sworn twice, that when this deponent gave Sherrod the stick, he asked him what he gave it for, who said for a sign, he Sherrod said a sign of what, this deponent said a sign of a Word, he Sherrod said have you that, deponent answered I have, he Sherrod said give it to me, deponent said he would letter it with him, he said begin, deponent said B. Sherrod said E. I said T, he said R, deponent said U, Sherrod E, then Sherrod read the Constitution to this deponent, who then swore this deponent and gave him the other sign, and this deponent says that since the scheme of the Association has been discovered he wandered about from place to place and has been supplied with victuals by Josiah Harrison and further he says not.

Daniel Leggett


James Rawlins, of Martin County, fleeing from thence to Mattimuskeet, being there apprehended on a Report that he had a hand in a Conspiracy carried on against the State of North Carolina, Deposeth and Saith:

That about the time of Laying the Constitution of Government (as well as he can remember) a General Muster was held, at Plymouth, the Court House of said Martin County, on or about the 28th day of March last past, when John Lewelling & John Carter, Both of that County, going home in Company with the sd Rawlins (told him, one or both), that the Country was Like to become subject to popery, for which reason Lewelling sd there ware a Necessity of Indeavoring to seek relief and had thought on Means proper, and hop’d for a Blessing on the Indeavour he, the sd Lewelling, said there must be an Instrument of Writing Drawn to which people Might agree under oath and Related something of the form and some few Days after ye sd John Lewelling and his son William came to the house of ad Rawlins and the sd Jno. Lewelling further declared the form which contained much writing and also the form of an oath of Complianceall of which John Lewelling sd to the said Deponent if he would Take the Trouble to write down he should be well satisfy’d. (But sd Rawlins refused, but agreed in hope of a Reward to assist him.) And that then his son should Coppy from the same which he also did as he the sd Wm. Lewelling Told sd Dpo. that he had wrote some for Martin, Edgecombe, Halifax and think he sd for Bartee and Teril. He also heard James Sherod say he had wrote some and likewise John Lewelling. Now after Many had come into this Society, as it was Term’d, they became known to each other by word and sign; and some time after John Lewelling told sd Deponent that if they could destroy Whitmel Hill, Colonel Williams, Thomas Hunter, Nathan Mayo, Colonel Salter and one Taylor, that then the Country would soon be settled In Behalf of the King this being proposed by John Lewelling, seem’d to be approv’d off by several others, But not yet put in practice as the Dep’t knows off. After this John Lewelling Told the Deponent it would be a good scheeme to Git some Body to Diseffect the negroes and thought David Taylor would do it and Give out an oration of their Rising would draw the soldiers out of Halifax, whilst he and Company could seize the Governor and Magazene, (At this time the Govenor was expected at Halifax) but hearing the Governor was not to Come at the appointed time it was Dropt for that time, but that scheeme became not public to Many, the Dept. believes, for when he objected against it John Lewelling said if he Divulg’d anything, Death was the portion to him or any one else. Another scheeme was to go to General Howe. John Lewelling with the Deponent agreed if he would go with him to do for him what ever he Could to advance him as also the Deponent expected to see his father and friends, but going as far as Scotland Neck, returned Back and in a few days something of the matter Became Discovered, (Though William Mayo had sworn something of the matter before but all seem’d Quiet at the Time.) When John Lewelling persuaded the Deponent to flee and not to be taken by any means; accordingly he fled from home the 5th day of July.

It is certain none of these vile proceedings were Incerted in their writings; but very Repugnant to them, some of the Express words in their writings were those to Govern their Lives and actions By the Just Laws of Morality and by the Scriptures of old and New Testament, to which they were sworn, which caused Many to be Cald in the proceedings of Cruelty, I believe altho first proposed by John Lewelling.

James Rawlins

Sworn before me this 10th August, 1777.

James Davis.

From James Rawlins to the Worshipful Justices of New Bern

Some days past, George Wainwright, from Martin County, a Great Friend to John Lewelling, was here. I expect to endeavour to hear some News by his short stay of what I had Related, and I knowing the Great Influence Capt. Lewelling has over that Neighborhood have Great Reason to fear he will make any attempts to invalidate my Testimony, and though no other person but myself could have discovered the Beginning of the Scheeme, unless himself. Yet I will acquaint you of some Evidence as yet I believe unknown, that may be Material. Richard Taylor, Sr., a near neighbour to Capt. Lewelling, told me in private that Lewelling had Told him if he could git but ten Men to Joyn him he would fall to work and kill them every one, speaking of Whitmel Hill and others that had threaten’d him as a Tory. This Richard Taylor told me Long since the Seheeme was begun; also James Mayo, Captain, had threatened Mr. Lewelling. To take him up for a Tory for which Reason Mr. Lewelling Desired Peter Tyler and myself to waylay sd Mayo on the Road to kill him, but when I told him I could not he persuaded, Peter Tyler and lent him his Gun and told him Tarry till he sent him victuals, which Tyler did, but saw Mayo not. This may be prov’d by Tyler and Myself. Again a few days before I made My Escape, Mr. Lewelling said to me it would be no Damage if he were Taken to swear that a Traveling Man brought the writings to My house and that I and that Travelling man Carried the same to his house, by which Means the Beginning would not be Discovered, so that I being a poor man have Reason to fear. his power and Influence over others to My hurt, as all the friends or power I have is to declare the Truth and Humbly Crave pardon for having had any hand in sd plot or Scheme, testifying whatever shall Come to my Memory I will make known about the matter.

James Rawlings

Affidavit of Abram Jones

HYDE COUNTY, Mattamuskeet.

One Friday, August 1777, I hunderstood By Report that a certain James Rawlins was one of the Heads amongst the Tories and that he was Expected to pass by the Settlement of Mattamuskeet or to Call there about the next Day and as I was Resolved to apprehend him if possible and keeping a watch out for him spied a small sail off in the Sound I fitted out in a boat with four men along with me. Came up with said Saile and found it to be the same Jas. Rawlins with his family upon which I apprehended him and Caned him Before a Magistrate which took the Deposition of the said James Rawlins,

August 6th, 1777. Abram Jones

Sworn to before me this 9th August, 1777.

James Davis.


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