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Home North Carolina Onslow County City of Swansboro Historical Markers Col. John Starkey

Col. John Starkey

NC-24 at White Oak River, Swansboro, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Free school advocate, 1749; Southern District treasurer, 1750-1765; member of assembly for 25 years. Grave located at "The Bluff" 4 mi. N."
     John Starkey first appeared in the White Oak River area of Carteret County in 1723, and received his first land grant seven years later. He eventually would accumulate extensive properties in the vicinity. Starkey’s political career was launched in 1734 when he was appointed one of the justices of the peace for Onslow Precinct. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1734, and again in 1738, after which time he served in that office consecutively until his death in 1765. In 1750 the lower house, as was their privilege, elected their associate John Starkey to the office of Southern District Treasurer, another position that he held until his death. It was in his position as “Public Treasurer,” as he referred to it, that Starkey rendered the most influence.

     Governor Arthur Dobbs was outspoken in his opposition to the treasurer, declaring that he was “a professed violent Republican in every instance taking from his Majesty’s prerogative and encroaching upon the Rights of the Council, and adding to the Power of the Assembly to make himself popular.” Dobbs also disparaged Starkey for wearing plain shoe strings, rather than silver buckles on his shoes, and for dressing plainly and going without a wig. Dobbs would concede, however, that Starkey was “a man of good behavior . . . and of tolerable fortune.”

     John Starkey introduced in the House of Commons in 1749 the first bill to provide for a public school in North Carolina. He later introduced the bill to provide the post road and service between Virginia and South Carolina, linking Boston to Charleston. Starkey’s public career, on the regional level, also included service as chairman of Onslow County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, coroner, church warden, commissioner of the town of Johnston, colonel of the Onslow County militia, and treasurer of Onslow County. John Starkey died in March or April 1765, as he appears in records dated March 12, but his death was reported in the Assembly on May 3. He is buried in the family cemetery at “the Bluff.”

Samuel A. Ashe, ed., Biographical History of North Carolina (1905-1917)
John L. Cheney, comp., North Carolina Government 1585-1979: A Narrative and Statistical History (1981)
Jack P. Greene, “The North Carolina Lower House and the Power to Appoint Public Treasurers, 1711-1775,” North Carolina Historical Review (January 1963): 37-53
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 428-429—sketch by Tucker Reed Littleton