Samuel Flake

Samuel Flake, the emigrant and the progenitor of the large Flake families found in different sections in the South and the ancestor of many by the name of Smith, thought to have been born about 1700 or 1701, landed in Charlestown, now Charleston, S.C., in 1720. From there he journeyed west and pitched his tent in the frontier of the Province of North Carolina, west of the great Pee Dee River, now known as Anson County. He is said to have been of Scotch-Irish parentage.

Anson County, erected in 1789, embraced all the Western section of the province of North Carolina, and by British claim extended to the Mississippi River. Substantially all the country was then inhabited by Indians and was territory of Great Britain only in name. Here, early, in this eastern section, Samuel Flake settled. He perhaps lived here for some years before title to the land could be obtained. He at length became a large land owner, receiving several tracts from his Majestyís Letters Patent and some tracts by purchase.

The attempt to conquer Scotland by English Kings, Edward the First, Second, Third and other kings, continued for more than 200 years, often ravaging the country with fire and sword, embittered the Scotch against the British. The ill-feeling now so prevalent among the Irish against England is not of recent date but only the re-opening of wounds, wrongs and imaginary wrongs, dating back for several centuries.

For these reasons we are not surprised to see him among the Regulators, as is shown by the Exhibits hereto attached. As tempting as the subject is, we cannot go at length into that matter in a book of this character, but if our readers will follow up our exhibits and obtain books of this insurrection, we feel sure you will be interested.

The tradition is that Samuel Flake was a Regulator and as such was in the battle of Alamance. He had petitioned for redress and with others said in part: "That the Province in general labors under grievances, and the Western part thereof under particular ones; which we not only see but very sensibly feel, being crushed beneath our sufferings, and not withstanding our sacred privileges, have too long yielded ourselves to remorseless oppression. Permit us to conceive it to be our duty, our individual right to make known our grievances and to petition for redress as appears in the Bill of Rights passed in the reign of Charles the First, as well as the Act of Settlement of the Crown of the Revolution (1688), we therefore beg leave to lay before you a specimen thereof that your compassionate endeavors may tend to the relief of your injured constituents, whose distressed condition calls aloud for aid. How relentless is the breast without sympathy, the heart that cannot bleed on a view of our calamity--to see tenderness removed, cruelty stepping in and all our liberties and privileges invaded and abridged." His son, Thomas Flake, as shown by Exhibit F, was a most trustworthy Regulator and as such he had been selected by them as one of committee to seek redress. Apparently it was accomplished, but the criminal is ever a deceiver. There is no doubt but that Samuel Flake would have been more active but he had even now approached the three score and ten years ordinarily allotted a man to live. Things went from bad to worse. At length came the battle. May 16, 1771, the battle of Alamance in N.C., was the first battle of the Revolutionary war. Some three or four thousand Regulators were charged by Gov. Tryon with attempting to set up a separate government, and with twelve hundred trained troops he gave them battle. The Regulators were defeated. Many were killed. Many were wounded. Scores were captured. Many escaped. Thirty were dragged up and down the highways as a scarecrow to others. Six leaders were summarily tried, convicted, and thirty-three days after the battle were executed. Some five thousand citizens were required to take a new coined oath of allegiance or else be imprisoned or executed. Samuel Flake was among the captured, while his son-in-law, John Smith, was among those who escaped. Samuel Flake was required to take the new coined oath or be executed. In a way things now went on but wrongs were not righted.

The name of Tory was first given to the free-booter or outlawed Irish, who dwelt in the inaccessible boglands of Ireland, then to one of the great political parties (Whig-Tory) successors to the Cavalier party of the times of James the First. They later favored the elevation of the Duke of York, a Roman Catholic, to the throne. The name of Tory was applied to them by the Whigs, as a nickname, confusing them with the outlaws dwelling in the Irish Bogs. In the reign of James II the Tory party was the Court party and maintained the prerogatives of the Crown of divine right. In American history Tory was applied to those Royalists who adhered to the cause of British sovereignty. In 1776, the War of the Revolution was on. John Smith, the son-in-law of Samuel Flake, enlisted as a Patriot in the Regular army for the space of three years. Tradition is that William Flake, the son of Samuel Flake, was a Patriot and soldier in the War of the Revolution. Exhibit J and Exhibit K following hereafter speak for themselves and show where his son John Flake stood. Samuel Flake was now about seventy-five years old and a Presbyterian in faith. His will indicates he was a man of deep religious feeling. Being a man of deep religious convictions, this oath he had been force to take rested with a peculiar force on his conscience. Tradition is that his sympathies were with his son-in-law. Exhibit L following shows his decision:

One writer says: "Possibly no more two facts in American history have been more doubted and discussed, and as a consequence of that discussion, more clearly and indisputably proved, than that the Battle of Alamance was the first battle, and here the first blood was shed; and that the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was the forerunner of the American Revolution. The blood shed at Alamance made possible the Declaration of Mecklenburgers. However, just as there were during the War of the Roses patriotic Englishmen who sided with the House of York, while others were allied with the House of Lancaster; as during the Protectorate there were patriots among the Roundheads as well as among the Cavaliers; so during the Revolution there were some good men who believed in Toryism and sided with England, while other good men became Whigs and opposed the English."

As Governor Richard Caswell read Exhibit L, hereinafter found, we wonder what thoughts came to his mind; for as Col. Richard Caswell he had joined Gov. Tryon in 1771 and had rendered good assistance in the battle of Alamance and was in part responsible for Samuel Flake now finding himself in the position where he had to commit what he thought a crime in the taking of a new oath and thus laying violence on what he had been compelled to swear, or else leave his country or go to prison. Samuel Flake was released from jail upon his own recognizance, promising to appear at stated intervals in testimony of non-partisanship. His conscientious scruples were respected and he finally became esteemed for his adherence to his convictions as to the sanctity of an oath once taken, even if under force. His sons and daughter comingled their blood by affiance and marriage with the first rank in patriotism, wealth and position, property and intelligence, and his descendants rank with the foremost and best of the land.

He made his will May 5, 1802, and he died a model of Christian conscientiousness and is buried on Smithís Creek, resting in the bosom of his homestead, the land of his heartís love. The life and career of Samuel Flake should be an inspiration to his descendants. Firm in his convictions, he bore calumny without flinching and contumely with contempt. Loving his home with filial devotion he refused to leave it at the behest of authority, and lived to be a centenarian, respected and honored. In North Carolina History he goes down as a Tory. Col. Richard Caswell goes down as Gov. Caswell, a Patriot.

Transcribed for this website by: Belinda Sellers Guerette

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