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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Cullen, Thomas

by Mattie Erma E. Parker, 1979

d. ca. 1689

Thomas Cullen, colonial official, came to the North Carolina colony from Dover, England. He arrived before October 1669, when he was granted 660 acres of land. He had a plantation on Salmon Creek in Chowan Precinct and engaged in the Indian trade as well as planting.

Cullen was a member of the council in 1670, 1673, and 1675. He also served on the rebel council that governed the colony for about two years following the uprising called Culpeper's Rebellion, which occurred in December 1677. Cullen, who was one of the leaders of the uprising, had served as speaker of the assembly held in the fall of 1677 under Thomas Miller, then acting as governor. Cullen also was speaker of the rebel assembly elected after Miller's overthrow. In 1680, after reestablishment of a legally constituted government, Cullen was the presiding justice of the Chowan Precinct Court; in 1683 he was a justice of the county court of Albemarle.

Cullen and his wife, Sarah, had eight children, all of whom appear to have been born in England. The children were Thomas, Jr., John, Richard, Sarah, Anne, Mary, Christian, and Martha. In March 1678/79, Cullen executed a deed of gift conveying his Salmon Creek plantation to his wife for her lifetime and afterward to two of his daughters, Mary and Martha. Whether the other daughters were then living is not known. At the time of the deed, Cullen's daughter Mary was the wife of John Currer, who died a few years later. Martha was then unmarried, but she later became the wife of Robert West and after West's death married Thomas Pollock; she died 17 Mar. 1700/1701. Only one of Cullen's sons, Thomas, Jr., appears as an adult in North Carolina records. He witnessed a bill of sale in March 1683/84, but his later history is not known.

Cullen and his family, with the exception of Martha, appear to have left North Carolina in the late 1680s. They may have moved to Isle of Wight County, Va., where a Thomas Cullen died in 1689.


The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, 3 vols. (1900–1903).

North Carolina State Archives (Raleigh), for Albemarle Book of Warrants and Surveys (1681–1706), Timothy Biggs, "A Narrative of The Transactions past In the Conty of Albemarle Sence Mr. Tho. Miller his Arrivall there" (original in the Arents Tobacco Collection, New York Public Library, New York City), Minutes of Shaftesbury (Chowan) Precinct Court (1 Apr. 1680, in Colonial Court Records), W. H. Parker, "The Cullen Family of North Carolina" (typescript).

Mattie Erma Edwards Parker, ed., North Carolina Higher-Court Records, 1670–1696, and 1697–1701 (1968, 1971).

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, vol. 1 (1886).

Annie Noble Sims, "Three Early Landowners of the County of Isle of Wight, Virginia," William and Mary Quarterly 27 (1918).

Clayton Torrence, comp., Virginia Wills and Administrations (1972).

Additional Resources:

Sims, Annie Noble. The William and Mary Quarterly. Thre. (accessed May 1, 2013).

Hathaway, James Robert Bent. Edenton. The. (accessed May 1, 2013).



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