Judge John B Howcott (about 1817-1852)


John B Howcott was one of eight children of Nathaniel Howcott, who died in 1820, aged about 50-55, and his wife Sarah (formerly Norcom), who died in 1827 in the 53rd year of her age. Nathaniel's will confirms that he lived in the Green Hall Road area, in Chowan county, North Carolina, which is about five miles north of Edenton. When he died in 1770, John's great grandfather, another Nathaniel Howcott, left to his grandson Nathaniel the plantation at Green Hall where had lived.


His father's will was signed in 1820 and indicates that John was not then of lawful age (i.e. had not reached the age of 21). John was in the 20-30 age group in the 1840 census, indicating that he was born in the 1810s. This is consistent with the age of 35 recorded when he died in 1852.


John attended Edenton Academy, the fees for which were paid to H. Wills by John’s guardian, James Hoskins [1]. By 1833, he was one of the 39 law students who were then enrolled at Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut [2].


John B Howcott was apparently still living in Chowan county on 7 May 1835, when he sold a slave, Wallace, to his brother Charles R Howcott for $450 [3].


Numerous deeds are registered at Madison county, Mississippi to which John B Howcott and Elizabeth W Howcott were parties. The earliest of each of these are on 23 September 1836 when John B Howcott of Madison county bought about 12 acres at Canton from Kellie Walton and his wife for $1,060 and a gift on 1 November 1840 from Hill Jones of Madison county to his daughter Elizabeth W Howcott, wife of John B Howcott, of six negro slaves and their issue.


John B Howcott was recorded in the 1840 census of Madison county, Mississippi, the free white members of his household consisting of one male and one female aged 20/30 and a female aged under 5. 


Judge John B Howcott, late of Canton, Mississippi, died at Memphis at 5 pm on 22 November 1852. Three days later, the members of the Memphis Bar resolved in tribute:

that we deplore the loss of another member of this Bar, in whom were united so many excellent qualities of head and heart. The deceased was a sincere and devoted friend and a polite and accomplished gentleman; and coming lately among us, he brought with him the reputation of a sound and effective lawyer.” [4]


John was only 35 years old when he died of pleurisy. His burial took place at the Morris cemetery, which was situated at the junction of South and Main Street, on the day after his death [5]. In 1860, his body was one of those transferred to Elmwood cemetery, Memphis, where his monument stands to this day. The Howcott plot at Elmwood cemetery is in Turley section, lot 40. It includes the graves of:


L (or T) Williams


Dr N Howcott

17 December 1852

Mrs Howcott

1 April 1857

Judge Howcott

3 April 1860

Mrs Mary Hardaway Wilburn


Mrs Elise C Hall



The inscription on a substantial monument that stands within the plot reads:

"Judge John B Howcott, Native of Edenton NC, Died 1852"


Description: D:\My Webs\howcutt site\howcott john b at memphis (1) reduced.JPG



Dr Nathaniel Howcott (about 1805-1856), a brother of John B Howcott, was a dentist and Methodist minister. He had evidently arrived at Memphis, Tennessee in 1839 or 1840, as in an advertisement published in the “Daily Appeal” on 7 February 1852 Nathaniel claimed to have been in Memphis for 12 years.


John’s widow had returned to the Canton area by 1859, when a newspaper published there, "The Commonwealth", recorded the death on 22 September 1859 at Sharon of Miss Martha Howcott, "only daughter of Mrs Elizabeth Holcott" (sic). Sharon is about six miles to the northeast of Canton. An index to the U.S. mortality schedules states that Cornelia Howcott died of congestion aged 18 in September 1859.


The 1860 census records Elizabeth Howcott aged 40 a white female with personal estate worth $26,000 and born in North Carolina. She was living at Canton with John (aged 16) and William Howcott (aged 13), both of whom had been born in Mississippi. The slave schedules of the same census for Madison county record Mrs E Howcott as the owner of ten male and ten female slaves, who were living in a total of four houses.


The known children of John B and Elizabeth W Howcott are:






Eugenia Sarah Elizabeth



Cornelia Martha



 Baptised as Martha Cornelia

John Calhoun




William Hill




Mary Rebecca Wilkinson





According to the transcription of a tombstone inscription at Canton cemetery, Elizabeth W Howcott (born May 1818) died on 12 November 1878. She is recorded along with Cornelia M Howcott and John B Howcott. A transcript of this monument says that John B Howcott was buried at Memphis. However, an index to the U.S. mortality schedules states that E W Howcott died of consumption aged 61 in November 1879.




TDA =  “The Daily Appeal”, which was a newspaper at Memphis.


[1] North Carolina State Archives: C.R.024.510.2 – Chowan county guardian accounts.


[2] "Catalogue of the Officers and Students in Yale College, 1833-34" includes John B Howcott of Edenton, NC as a law student lodging at B F Thompson's. 


[3] From bill of sale in Chowan county deeds, book W, page 329.


[4] TDA, 24 November 1852.


[5] TDA, 24 November & 2 December 1852.


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