The Shirley Association has been a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies since 1988
  Shirleys of Edgecombe North Carolina
African-American Lineages

George Shirley born about 1815 NC. A resident of Tarboro Township, Edgecombe Co NC in the 1870 census; occupation: farm laborer. A Dicey Shirley (b abt 1805 NC) is living next door to George Shirley in 1870. George died prior to the 1880 census when his wife was enumerated as a widow

married Caroline MacNair on 25 Dec 1866 in Edgecombe Co NC after the end of the Civil War. She was born about 1837 in NC; Living alone in Sparta Twp, Edgecombe Co in 1880 census, widowed.


1(i). Gray Shirley born about 1855 NC

1(ii). Gille Ann Shirley born about March 1856 NC; living in Sparta Edgecombe Co NC in 1880 with 3 children (surname Shurley), unmarried. She is found in the 1900 census with considerable number of children "widowed" (but with the same surname). It appears that some (or all) of her children were fathered by John S. Gray, a white farmer of Edgecombe Co NC. It is not determined yet whether they married.

children: (surname SHIRLEY)

2(i). Frank Shurley born July 8, 1873 NC (source: WWI draft); He is not enumerated with his wife in 1900 census; They are likely the mulatto family living in Falls River, Bristol Co Mass, wife Polly, son Frank age 11, dau Maud age 8, son James R age 7 all born NC; He was a self employed auto repairer in Falls River Bristol Mass at the time of the 1918 WWI draft registration; They are also likely the family living in Manhattan NYC in 1930 census with son James R and grandchildren;

married Polly Black 03 Jun 1897 in Edgecombe Co NC; Daughter of Nathan and Mariah Black; She is enumerated in Edgecombe Co census in 1900 with sisters, brothers and aunt living in the household. Married 2 years, only 1 of 2 children alive at the time


3(i). Frank Shirley Jr. born 27 Jan 1899, age 1 in the 1900 census; He was an auto repairer at the time of the 1918 WWI draft registration

3(ii). Maud Shirley born about 1902 NC, age 8 in 1910 census

3(iii). James R Shirley born about 1903 NC, age 7 in 1910 census and 27 in family's 1930 census

2(ii). Martha Shurley born about April 1876 NC

2(iii). Mathew Shurley born about December 1877 NC

2(iv). Disraeli Shurley born about June 1881 NC; A William D. Shirley age 21, son of John S. Shirley [Gray?] and Gillie A Shirley, born Tarboro NC married Sadie M. E. Lewis in Norfolk VA on 8 Dec 1902; She was daughter of William H. and Martha Lewis.

2(v). Stanley Shurley born about Sep 1884 NC; He was a boarder in the HH of John Gray in 1900 (white); He was living in Princeville Town in 1910 census with his new wife (mulatto)

married Elizabeth Williams on 17 Jul 1905 in Edgecombe Co NC, age 23

2(vi). Christina Shurley born about June 1887 NC; death certificate says her father was John S. Gray

2(vii). Samuel P. (J.) Shurley born 13 December 1892 in Tarboro NC; living in Sparta Twp in 1910; He lived 8 Pike Street, Staten Island, Richmond Co NY in 1920 census. He was described as 5'11" 225 lbs in his WWII draft card.

married Blanche ______ in NY


3(i). James Shirley born about 1915 in NY; He is likely the same James Shirley, born 12 Dec 1914 who died Jun 1987 in Staten Island Richmond Co, NY

3(ii). Blanche Shirley born about 1918 in NY (twin)

3(iii). Stanley Shirley born about 1918 in NY (twin); not in family's 1930 HH;

Richmond Co Death Record: Shirley, Stanley 1 y Feb 3 1920

3(iv). Raymond Shirley born about 1921 in NY; He is likely the same Raymond Shirley born 30 Jun 1920 who died 24 Oct 1988 in Staten Island, Richmond Co NY

Email from Raye, December 2013 - Raymond Shirley who passed on October 24, 1988 was my Dad. James (Uncle Jimmy), was my uncle, Blanche and Lorraine, my aunties. Please have someone from the family contact me. I moved from Staten Island to Arizona in 1996. dmattison03 (at)

3(v). Lorraine Shirley born about 1922 in NY

2(viii). Arizona Shurley born about May 1895 NC; she is living with her brother Stanley in 1910 census

2(ix). Paul Parmentus Shurley born 31 May 1897 in Tarboro Edgecombe Co NC; living with his brother Samuel in 1910 census; living with sister Christina in 1920 in Edgecombe Co. Occupation: contractor; He died 27 Apr 1979 in Tarboro Edgecombe Co NC, age 81; buried 30 Apr 1979.

married 1st Gatsy Knight; She is named as the mother of son Paul Jr at time of his death.

married 2nd Caroline Renalton Keys on 12 Apr 1937 at Edgecombe Co; wife at time of Paul's death (death cert); She was born 25 Nov 1906 at Martin Co NC; she was the daughter of George Keys and Leader Mullins


3(i). Paul Shirley Jr. died 16 Jul 1924, age 1 mo 5 days; buried Wilson Cem in Edgecombe Co NC

1(iii). Isaac Shirley born about 1859 NC; In 1880 he was a laborer on the farm of Noah Pender, a black farmer of Sparta Edgecombe Co NC; he was age 23 at time of marriage in 1883. Not found in 1900 census.

married Puss (Lizzie) Hagins on 3 March 1883 at Edgecombe Co NC (no Twp listed), She was age 19 at time of marriage. A Lizzie Shirley, age 37, b 1863, is head of household in Edgecombe Co in 1900 cenusus. It lists her as "single" but with 2 of 3 children alive at the time. She was a cook.


2(i). Alice Shirley born 28 May 1896; She married Turner Pender; Widowed at time of her death on 7 June 1963, age 77, in Tarboro Edgecombe Co NC (parents named in death cert); Buried at Wilson Cemetery, near Priceville NC

1(iv). Silvia Shirley born about 1861 NC

1900 Edgecombe Co Census

Gillia A. Shirley Mar 1856 NC; widowed
Martha A. April 1876 NC
Mathew Dec 1877 NC
Disraeli, June 1881 NC
Stanley Sept 1884 NC
Christina June 1887 NC
Samuel P. Dec 1892 NC
Arcyann May 1895 NC
Paul P. 1897 NC

1880 Sparta Edgecombe Co census

Gillyann SHURLEY Self S Female B 23 NC Cook --- ---
Frank SHURLEY Son S Male MU 6 NC At Home --- ---
Martha Ann SHURLEY Dau S Female MU 4 NC At Home --- ---
Matthew SHURLEY Son S Male B 2 NC At Home --- ---


June 23 2011

I was hoping you could maybe help me with my research. I will try to be as specific as possible but please let me know if you need additional information and I will try to find it. On your African-American research page, you have Shirleys in the 1900 census. They are noted in the Edgecombe county, North Carolina section. It shows Gillie Ann Shirley and her children. Gillie was my great-great grandmother. I have followed her back one more generation to the 1870 census, although the spelling is Shurley. The info on the 1870 census shows Gillie as age 13, her brother Gray at 15, her brother Isaac at 11, her sister Tilna at 9 and her parents George and Caroline Shurley at 55 and 33. They were still in Edgecombe county, NC.

What I'm hoping you can help me with is finding information from family bibles or wills from this area. Considering this was only 5 years after the end of the war, this was an established family and none could read or write, I am assuming they were slaves owned by one of the Shirley families in Edgecombe County, specifically the Tarboro area. If you could identify slave owning Shirleys from this area, this will be of great help to me before I make a trip to North Carolina.


Thank you so much! As far as I can tell, Gillie Ann had 9 children, all mulatto. Family history has always been that my great grandmother, Christiana was fathered by a white Shirley man who was related to original slave owners. However, on Christiana's death certificate, her father is listed as John S Gray. There was a John S Gray in Edgecombe county, he was a white widower. I don't know if the S stands for Shirley. So, of course, the children all took Gillie's name. I found it quite interesting that she would have 9 children with a white man at that time, that many children seems to imply some type of relationship. Please let me know if I can answer any other questions, I'm so pleased that you have taken the time to look into this and I thank you


Any docs you can find would be helpful, I'm leaning towards George and his family being owned by Henry Shirley then Elizabeth Shirley who was left the Southerland Plantation in Tarboro, by her husband. Henry and Elizabeth are also currently on your site, I have the wording of his will leaving her slaves and property. So hopefully you have documents that will help me narrow that down.

On a side note about John S. Gray and Gillie Ann, from what I can piece together from the 1900 census, although 8 of the children are listed as living with Gillie, I believe their son Stanley is also listed as living with John Gray as a boarder and is noted as white. On the 1910 census, their sons Samuel and Paul are shown living together but there are also 2 mulatto Shirley men living with John Gray as servants. One of the names looks like Paul, but its hard to read. The ages are correct for Samuel and Paul. Perhaps there is something in journals or records from the time that might mention Gillie and John.

Samson Shirley born about 1845; He signed a labor agreement in Edgecombe Co with (former master?) Robert D. Wimberly after the Civil War. He was age 35 at marriage to Katie and age 58 at marriage to Sallie Barlow

married 1) Katie Porter on 19 May 1881 at Edgecombe Co NC; She died (or divorced) after the 1900 census.

married 2) Sallie Ann Barlow on 30 Dec 1903 at Edgecombe Co NC, She was age 35 at marriage


1(i). Lucy Shurley born Mar 1882 NC

1(ii). Frank Shurley born 1884. He died 21 Feb 1972 at Rocky Mount Edgecombe Co NC, His death certificate names him Frank SHELLEY son of Sampson and Priscilla SHELLY, shoe repairman, widowed age 87, colored. Listed as divorced in 1930 census. There is another Frank Shirley born about the same time, truck driver who died in 1961 in Edgecombe Co but he's white. His parents are untraced and a descendant participated in the DNA project

married Anna Williford on 26 February 1902 in Edgecomeb Co NC; daughter of Alford and Lincy Williford. Divorced before 1930 (per census)

1(iii). Estee Shurley born June 1884 NC

1(iv). Rachael Shurley born July 1886 NC

1(v). Courtney Shurley born Feb 1890 NC;

1(vi). Martha Shurley born Sep 1893 NC

1(vii). Mary Shurley born Sep 1894 NC

Edgecombe Co NC Labor Contracts- Dated January 1, 1866
These are assorted labor contracts for people in Edgecombe and Nash Counties, NC, in the two years after the Civil War. Typically, labor contracts are between former slaveowners and their former slaves, so this is can be a good indication of that relationship.

R[obert]D Wimberly and...

Charles Bullock 54
Pompey Wimberly 27
Henry Nicholson 40
Grandison Wimberly 34
Ralph Wimberly 30
Sampson Shirley 25
Ben Powell 25
Laura Wimberly 13
Henry Wimber;y 11
Sandy Wimberly 11
Sarah Killebrew 30
Isabella Killebrew 14
Alice Killebrew 12
Spencer Killebrew 9
Pattie Hart 18
James Sessoms and sons Daniel and Isaac

Sylvia Shirley, born about 1783 NC; living with her son Edgar Shirley in the 1870 and 1880 census. Died after 1880.

mother of :

1(i). Edgar Shirley born about 1828 NC; sawyer living at Walnut Creek in 1870 and farmer of Tarboro, Edgecombe Co NC in 1880;

married Mary _____


2(i). Alice Shurley born about 1862 NC

2(ii). Augustus Shirley born about 1863 NC

married Milly Williams 12 Nov 1885 at Edgecombe Co NC

2(ii). James E. Shirley born about 1869 NC

1880 Edgecombe Co NC census (others)

Burton SHURLEY 54 NC Farmer ; lives at Sparta, Edgecombe Co NC in 1880
Rebecca SHURLEY 45 NC Farm Laborer wife
Sherman SHURLEY 16 NC Farm Laborer son
Pharaby BAKER 70 NC Keeps House Mother (she is living in Tarboro in 1870, with several occupants including Ella Shurley age 14, and living near Henry A Shurley (w))

Edgar SHIRLEY 52 NC Farmer NC NC ; living Tarboro Twp Edgecombe Co NC in 1880
Augustus SHIRLEY 17 NC Laborer Son
James SHIRLEY 10 NC Farm Laborer Son
Sylvia SHIRLEY 96 NC Mother

Sam SHIRLEY Self M Male MU 43 NC Farmer NC NC living at Walnut Creek Twp Edgecombe Co NC
Delia SHIRLEY Wife M Female B 44 NC Farm Laborer NC NC
David SHIRLEY Son S Male MU 15 NC Farm Laborer NC NC
Mary SHIRLEY Dau S Female MU 13 NC Farm Laborer NC NC
Maria SHIRLEY Dau S Female MU 9 NC NC NC
Cornelia SHIRLEY Dau S Female MU 7 NC NC NC
Geogiana SHIRLEY Dau S Female MU 3 NC NC NC
Richard SHIRLEY SonL Male B 21 NC Farm Laborer NC NC

Joseph SHURLEY Self M Male B 63 NC Farm Laborer --- --- living at Sparta Twp Edgecombe Co NC
Rebecca SHURLEY Wife M Female B 42 NC Keeping House --- ---

Solomon SHURLEY Self M Male B 45 NC Farm Laborer NC NC living at Lower Fishing Creek, Edgecombe Co NC; He is living alone at Swift Creek Twp in 1910, age 80 [sic] widowed
Amanda SHURLEY Wife M Female B 38 NC Farm Laborer NC NC
Ransom SHURLEY Son S Male B 5 NC NC NC
Eliza SHURLEY Dau S Female B 2 NC NC NC

Feb 1855 - Inventory of the Estate of Henry Shirley of Edgecombe Co NC, page 399. "Negroes Divided: Peter (Hayles?) Peter (Hemctre?) George Burton Joe Mary & 2 children Courtney & Adaline Esther & four children Mourning Dicy & Jim (Bradly) Sylva, Lettice, Jim, Lewis Alsin, Amos Ned, Charlotte & child, Jane and child, Sampson, Bob, Gray, Penny, Pat, Clary, Roger, Polly, Edgar, Bill, Abram, Peter (old) Sampson Stephen Rose & child, ?Samey Judy & child, Hillard, Daniel Frank, Caroline, Tulol, Bob Jordan, Soloman, Harriett (small) Ellick. Negroes undivided: Clara, Harriet, Eliza"


1870 Edgecombe Co census

James Shurley age 32 (jail)

Alex Shurly M 28y
Lucinda Shurly F 21y
Emily Shurly F 6m
Frederick Lane M 24y
Peter Lane M 25y

Soloman Shurley M 34y
Maude Shurley F 30y

George Shurley M 55y
Caroline Shurley F 33y
Gray Shurley M 15y
Gillie Ann Shurley F 13y
Isaac Shurley M 11y
Silvia Shurley F 9y

Edger Shurley M 47y
Mary Shurley F 45y
Alice Shurley F 8y
Augustus Shurley M 7y
James E Shurley M 1y
Silvia Shurley F 87y


Home Page | Contact

© copyright Shirley Association
All Rights Reserved