Search billions of records on

Early Arrowoods

by Ralph Clark

While the founders of some southern families may have come to the colonies in relative comfort, to establish great plantations, those early Arrowoods and Arwoods for whom records have been found arrived in more humble circumstances.

The colonial governments encouraged development of their territories by offering land grants to planters or businessman who would pay for the transportation of immigrants, who might then be bound to work for their importer for a time to pay for their passage.

Around 1658, the court of Charles City County, Virginia, recorded that a planter named Howell Pryne had proved his right to 3,850 acres of land for the importation of seventy seven people, among whom was William Arwood[Note 1]. The researcher who published abstracts of the court records listed him as "Wm Arwood [sic]," probably indicating that she suspected a misspelling of the name "Harwood." Indeed, in other colonial records the names Arrowood, Arwood, Harrowood, and Harwood are found to be used interchangably for the same man, but such variety can be attributed to clerks who imposed their spelling preference on unlettered frontiersmen who weren't going to argue with authority. But there did exist families who consistently are mostly found to have been called Arwood, and others called Harwood, so it can be said that there were really two separate clans. The author hasn't searched for evidence that the 1658 immigrant might have later called himself William Harwood, but no further record under Arwood has been found.

The next Arwood came to King and Queen County, Virginia, around 1701, when Gideon Macon was granted 172 acres in Pamunkey Neck, on the east side of Pampatike Swamp, for the transport of four persons, namely Alice Lawrence, Isaac Arwood, Mary Waters, and John Clerk[Note 2]. This grant was next to 425 acres Gideon Macon had received for importing nine others. "Pamunkey Neck" is the name of the region between the Pamunkey and Mattaponi Rivers, which merge to form the York River. Later in 1701, this area became King William County. It lies about thirty miles east of modern Richmond. The name Isaac Arwood has not been discovered again in the next ninety years; then, around 1790, two Isaac Arrowoods were born in North Carolina.

Twenty eight years after Isaac arrived, another English Arwood emigrant was recorded. In October, 1729, one Mary Arwood was sentenced by a court in Middlesex County, England, to be transported to the colonies[Note 3]. In the same month, Mary boarded the ship "Forward", bound for Virginia; she died during the voyage. As the year is not too late, it must be considered that a baby or child might have survived her, although none was mentioned in the record.

If he had bought no land and stayed out of the militia, one of these early Arwoods, or another immigrant whose arrival did not get his name on a list for a grant, could have moved around the middle Atlantic colonies without record. The next official document notes a February 17, 1738/9 marriage licence issued in Talbot County, Maryland, for Johannah Arrowood and a man named Richard, whose surname has been lost[Notes 4,5]. The license is said to have been issued to a Mr. Hunter of Kent Island, which lies in Chesapeake Bay near the west shore of the eastern peninsula of Maryland, and is a part of Queen Anne's County. On February 19, 1738/9, Rev. Henry Hunter began as rector of the Kent Island parish[Note 6].

In the middle of the 1700s begins a consistent set of records, through which a single man's life may be presumed to be followed. The possibility exists that these records are those of separate individuals who popped up in one place and then vanished, but the author believes that they define one person, James Arrowood, founder of the line of many of the Arrowoods and Arwoods in the South before 1850.

Another name appears for the first time around the time of the revolution, and reoccurs in many later generations of the family. John Arewood was counted in Queen Anne County in a 1778 census of Maryland taken to discover who had not signed the Oath of Fidelity to the new rebel government of Maryland[Note 7]. He is likely the same man as the John Arwood who was in Queen Anne County at the time of the first United States census in 1790. He probably brought his family south to one of the Carolinas or Georgia before 1800, as no further mention of any Ar(ro)wood has been found in Maryland before 1850.

On August 8 of the same year, 1778, the minutes of the court of Rowan County, North Carolina, recorded John Arrowood, Jr., in a similar list of "nonjurors" in Capt. Lyons' District. The implication of this is that there must be a John Sr. old enough to have a twenty one year old son; that is, to have been born around 1732 or earlier[Note 8].

Another early Arrowood, perhaps a son of James, was named Nathaniel. The only mention of this man is in Peter Hammonds' Rowan County will of Mar. 1, 1788, witnessed by Nathaniel Arrowood[Note 9]. It is possible that he may have been the husband of Ann Arrowood, listed in the 1790 census, and perhaps the ancestor of one of the later Arrowoods called Nathan.

Arrowoods in the 1790 Census

In the following tabulations, totals are given for Free White Males (FWM) in two age groups and for Free White Females (FWF). Those counts included the named head of household. The census also counted All Other Free Persons and Slaves. The latter two counts were all found to be zero. (The author has discovered no Arrowood family with slaves in any census up to 1860, with the exception of the household of Drury Arrowood in Lincoln County, where a woman and two infants were counted in 1830, and the same again in 1840.)

Maryland, Queen Anne County :

    Arwood, John          1 FWM 16+, 0 FWM 15-, 1 FWF

North Carolina, Rowan County, Salisbury District :

    Aniwood, James        1 FWM 16+, 0 FWM 15-, 5 FWF
    Arriwood, Ann         0          1          3
    Yarwood, Benjamin     1          0          1

North Carolina, Lincoln County, Morgan District :

    Arrowwood, Jno        1          2          2
    Arrowwood, Zach       2          1          3
    Earwood, Jno          1          0          2
    Earwood, Mary         1          3          3
    Earwood, Thom         2          1          1
    Earwood, Wm           2          2          5

(The Earwood family is apparently a separate group. The name disappeared from North Carolina after the early decades of the 1800s. However, some deeds in Lincoln County between 1804 and 1813 are indexed to Thomas Arrowood, although the grantee of one of them was called Thomas Earwood Jr.)[Note 10]

Arrowoods in the 1800 Census

                                           Males                 Females
                 ---------------     0  10  16  25          0  10  16  26
                 Name of Head       to  to  to  to  45+    to  to  to  to  45+
    County Page  of Household---     9  15  25  44          9  15  25  44
    ------  ---  ---------------     ------------------    -------------------

North Carolina :

    Lincoln 883  Arriwood, Benj      1   0   0   1   0      0   1   0   1   0
    Rowan   408  Harrwood, Zacharia  0   0   1   0   1      0   0   2   0   0
    Rowan   430  Arrowood, Henry     1   0   0   1   0      2   1   1   0   0
    Rowan   430  Arrowood, James     1   0   0   0   1      1   2   1   0   1
    Rowan   430  Arrowood, John Jr   1   0   0   1   0      1   0   1   0   0
    Rowan   430  Arrowood, John Sr   0   1   1   0   1      0   1   0   0   1
    Rowan   432  Harawood, Henry     2   0   0   1   0      1   0   0   1   0
    Rowan   435  Arrowood, James     2   1   0   0   1      2   2   0   0   1
    Rutherford   Arrowood, James     2   2   0   1   0      2   1   0   0   0

South Carolina :

    Spartanburg  Arowood, John       1   1   1   1   0      1   0   0   1   0

It should be remembered by anyone who tries to sort out relationships from the above numbers that, in the custom of the time, John Senior and John Junior would not necessarily have been father and son. The designation simply indicated that one was recognized to be older than the other. One of the three Johns found in 1800 seems likely to have been the 1790 resident of Maryland.


  1. Nell Marion Nugent, comp., Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, Vol.3: 1695-1732 (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1979), p.46.
  2. Beverly Fleet, Virginia Colonial Abstracts, The Original 34 Volumes Reprinted in 3, Volume III (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1988), p.211.
  3. Peter Wilson Coldham, Bonded Passengers To America, Two Volumes In One, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983), Volume II, Middlesex: 1617-1775, p.9
  4. Sara Seth Clark, comp., Talbot County, Maryland, Marriage Licenses, 1657-1691; 1738-1751; and 1781, Volume III, (Maryland: 1971), p.10, cites "The Leed's List of Talbot County Marriage Licenses, 1738-1751", which was copied from original records of John Leeds, the Clerk of the Court. This reference gives the year as 1738/39, and notes that the license was "issued to Mr. Hunter, Kent Island."
  5. Robert Barnes, comp., Maryland Marriages, 1634-1777, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1975), p.1, cites "Leeds' List of Marriage Licenses, handwritten copy in MS. 801 at Maryland Historical Society. This book gives the year as 1738, and doesn't mention Mr. Hunter.
  6. Frederick Emory, Queen Anne's County, Maryland, Its Early History and Development, (Baltimore: The Maryland Historical Society, 1950), p.140. Rev. Hunter is said to have removed or died within a year. In October, 1741, Samuel Hunter became lay reader. The latter name appears in earlier records of the county. In 1714 and 1715, Samuel Hunter bought and sold two town lots in Queenstown for ten thousand pounds of tobacco.
  7. Bettie Stirling Carothers, comp., 1778 Census of Maryland (n.p., n.d.), p.28
  8. Jo White Linn, comp., Abstracts of the Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Rowan Co. NC, 1775-1789, Vol. III (Salisbury NC: Mrs. Stahle Linn, Jr., C.G., R.G., 1982), p.43 cites Book 4, p.174.
  9. Jo White Linn, comp., Rowan Co. NC Will Abstracts, Vol.1, 1753-1805, Abstracts of Books A-F, (Salisbury NC: Mrs. Stahle Linn, 1970), p.40, cites Will Book C, p.97.
  10. Lincoln Co. NC Deeds, Index of Grantors 1769-1907 (LDS Film 19,245)