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Johnson, Charles

by James Elliott Moore, 1988

d. 23 July 1802

Charles Johnson, state senator and congressman, was born in Scotland. According to family tradition, he was a member of the great Johnston family in southern Scotland. As a youth he took part in the unsuccessful rising of Prince Charles Edward in 1745. After the Battle of Culloden, he escaped to the Continent and dropped the "t" from his name. After a time he returned to Scotland and later went to London where he worked for the East India Company for several years.

After his arrival in North Carolina, Johnson located in the Albemarle region and married Ann Earl, the daughter of the Reverend Daniel Earl, rector of St. Paul's Church, Edenton, and owner of nearby Bandon plantation. After his marriage he pursued extensive agricultural interests.

Johnson rose to prominence in the region and became active in politics. An ardent Federalist, he aligned himself with Samuel Johnston, James Iredell, and Allen Jones. Johnson was elected to represent Chowan County in the state senate from 1781 to 1784 and from 1788 to 1792. During his second term, he was speaker of the senate (1789) while Samuel Johnston presided over the constitutional convention. Johnson vigorously supported ratification of the Constitution. He was elected to the Seventh Congress and served from 4 Mar. 1801 until his death at Bandon more than a year later. He was buried in Edenton. By his marriage to Ann Earl he left one son, Charles Earl.


Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina, vol. 2 (1905).

Biog. Dir. Am. Cong. (1961).

Additional Resources:

"Johnson, Charles, (Birth date unknown - 1802)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Washington, D.C.: The Congress. (accessed May 23, 2014).

"CSR Documents by Johnston, Charles." Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed May 23, 2014).


Origin - location: 


Charles Johnson married Elizabeth Earl, a daughter of Rev. Daniel Earl. He did not marry Ann Earl. Elizabeth Earl and Ann Earl were both daughters of Rev. Daniel Earl. Charles Earl Johnson was the child of Charles Johnson and his wife Elizabeth Earl. Evidence of Charles Johnson's marriage to Elizabeth Earl: (1) February 10, 1785 Chowan County marriage bond for marriage of Charles Johnson and Elizabeth Earl in the NC Archives. (2) The will of Reverend Daniel Earl in the NC Archives refers to his daughter "Elizabeth Johnson." (3) The will of Ann Earl (who never married) was admitted to probate in Chowan County in 1796. In her will, Ann Earl refers to her "beloved nephew Charles Earl Johnson."

Hi Daniel,

Thanks for sharing this important information!  If I can locate the marriage bond and will, we will investigate making a correction to the entry.  In the meantime, your comment will stay with the entry for future viewers to see that there may have been a mis-attribution of Johnson's wife.

Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

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