William Dawson, Esquire

I thought it was important to have a separate section for William as he is the inspiration for calling this site Dawson’s Tavern.

William Dawson was the son of Geoffrey Dawson. It appears that William moved to North Carolina in the Bladen County region of the Cape Fear River in 1737 with his father when he was a teenager. It is unknown where the Dawsons lived prior to settling on the Cape Fear. The location of this property is near the present day location of the Averasboro Battlefield Museum.

William inherited the entirety of Geoffrey’s estate in 1745. In one deed it is mentioned that he was the only surviving member of the family at the time of his father’s death. He inherited the land, Ferry and Tavern and was apparently quite prosperous.

He beacme a Justice of the Peace in the early 1750’s  and later a vestryman of St. David’s Parish in 1754. After this time most documents list him as William Dawson, Esquire.

He married the widow Frances Rouse-Dawson between 1748 and 1752 although the firs record listing them as married is in 1754. From what little information there is about Frances’s first husband, Jonathan Dawson, it appears he may have been William’s brother.

William Dawson died in the summer of 1761 at the approximate age of 41.

Although I have found no record of his tavern’s name I do know that the Smith family, who purchased the property not long after his death renamed it the Smith’s Tavern. I thought there was a good possibility that the Smith family changed the “Dawson’s” Tavern to the Smith’s Tavern to reflect a change in ownership. This is pure speculation on my part though.


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