Samuel Ashe

7th Governor of the State of North Carolina - 1795 to 1798

Date Born: March 24, 1725

Date Died: January 22, 1813

Place Born: Bath, NC

Place Buried: Rocky Point, Pender County

Residence: New Hanover County, NC

Occupation: Lawyer


Samuel Ashe was born in Bath in 1725 to John Baptista Ashe and Elizabeth Lillington (Swann) Ashe. They moved to Rocky Point and the Sloop Point Plantation, built by the Governor's father, in 1726. The Sloop Point home has been authenticated as the oldest surviving structure in North Carolina.

After attending school out of state, he became an active supporter of the colonial revolt. He served in the state legislature, where he was elected in April, 1777, Speaker of the first North Carolina Senate. Ashe also served on local council of safety groups, and as a judge of North Carolina's first Superior Court. While on the court he took part in the historical and landmark decision of Bayard vs. Singleton, which was the precedent used by the United State Supreme Court for Marbury vs. Madison (Marbury vs. Madison 5 U.S. 137 [1809]: The Constitution of these United States is the supreme law of the land. Any law that is repugnant to the Constitution is null and void of law.

After eighteen years on the bench, he was elected governor. During his term as governor, he worked to improve court practice. During Ashe's term, there was a plot to steal the trial records of a land fraud case from the comptroller's office in the state Capitol and to burn the State House. Governor Ashe learned of the plans and took steps to end the plot.

Later, the Secretary of State, James Glasgow, was convicted of the plot. Governor Ashe was instrumental in the founding of the University of North Carolina and became President of the University's Founding Board of Trustees. He is buried in the Ashe Family Cemetery in Rocky Point on the grounds of his plantation "The Neck."

Much of the information in this section has been provided by Samuel Ashe Flint, Governor Ashe's great-great-great grandson, who lives in Hampstead, North Carolina. We thank him for his assistance.


Samuel Ashe was born on March 24, 1725 near Beaufort, NC, in what was then Bath County, the son of John Baptista Ashe and Elizabeth Lillington (Swann) Ashe. His father and brother, John Ashe, both served as Speaker of the North Carolina Colonial Assembly, or House of Burgesses. Samuel Ashe became an orphan at the age of nine.

He married Mary Porter, daughter of John Porter, III and Mary (Moore) Porter, in 1748; they had three children, including John Baptista Ashe, who would serve in the Continental Congress. After Mary died, Samuel Ashe remarried, this time to Elizabeth Jones Merrick, daughter of Thomas Jones and Elizabeth (Moore) Jones, and they had one son.

Ashe studied law and was named Assistant Attorney for the Crown in the Wilmington District of the colony.

In 1775, Samuel Ashe was first elected to represent New Hanover County in the:
- 3rd Provincial Congress that met in August of 1775
- 4th Provincial Congress that met in April of 1776
- 5th Provincial Congress that met in November of 1776

For a little more than one month in 1776 (August 21 - September 27), Samuel Ashe served as President of the Council of Safety, the state's executive authority. He was also appointed to the committee that drafted the first North Carolina Constitution later in 1776.

In 1777, Samuel Ashe was elected to represent New Hanover County in the NC Senate of the
- 1st General Assembly that met in 1777

He was elected the first Speaker of the Senate. The following year, Samuel Ashe was appointed presiding Judge of the state Superior Court, a post which he held until 1795.

In 1795, the General Assembly elected him Governor at the age of 70. He served three one-year terms, the maximum constitutional limit, before retiring in 1798. Ashe continued to remain active in politics after his term as governor, serving as a member of the United States Electoral College in 1804, when his fellow Democrat-Republican, Thomas Jefferson, was re-elected over Federalist Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.

Samuel Ashe died on February 3, 1813 and was buried in the Ashe Cemetery in Rocky Point, NC.


Samuel Ashe was born near Beaufort, NC on March 24, 1725. After the death of his parents, he was sent north, where his early education was attained. He went on to study law, and then established a successful legal career, serving as the assistant attorney for the Crown in the Wilmington District. Ashe first entered politics as an active supporter of independence, and consequently became involved in North Carolina's first revolutionary convention that was held in 1775. From 1775 to 1778 he served in the Provincial Congress; and in 1776 he served in the Halifax Congress. Ashe served as lieutenant and paymaster of the First North Carolina Continental Regiment from September 1775 until he resigned on April 16, 1776. He later served as a captain of the First Troop of North Carolina Continental Dragoon Regiment from March 1777 until the regiment was disbanded on January 1, 1779. He was a member and Speaker of the North Carolina Senate in 1777; and served as the presiding justice of the North Carolina Superior Court from 1777 to 1795. Ashe next won election to the governorship in 1795, and went on to win re-election annually until 1797. During his tenure, court reform measures were promoted; and a land grant controversy in the comptroller's office was dealt with. Ashe also served as Trustee President for the University of North Carolina. After leaving the governorship, he later served as a member of the Electoral College, a post he held in 1804. Governor Samuel Ashe passed away on February 3, 1813, and was buried in the family cemetery at Rocky Point, North Carolina.

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