McCrory took oath of office on one of state’s oldest Bibles

Durant Bible, open
The stack of Bibles on which Governor Pat McCrory took the oath of office earlier today included one believed to be the oldest associated with a North Carolina family in the state. The Durant Bible, as the volume is commonly known, was with George Durant, a 25-year-old Englishman, when he arrived on American shores about 1658. The volume was passed down through generations of Durant’s descendants before it was donated to the North Carolina Historical Society, the predecessor to the North Carolina Collection, in the mid-1800s.

McCrory’s use of the Durant Bible marks the third time the volume has been used for an official function in the past 25 years. In 1988 Paul Hardin III was sworn in as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with his left hand placed on the volume. Hardin’s successor, Michael Hooker, also used the Durant Bible during his installation in 1995.

Little is known of the early history of the Durant Bible. Its provenance is derived mostly from the biography of George Durant and the few pages of births and dates listed within the volume. George Durant settled first in an area now known as the Northern Neck of Virginia. From there he moved south into Virginia’s Tidewater region. By 1661 Durant was married and had bought land from the Indians in what is now Perquimans County. He built a plantation near the Albemarle Sound in an area now known as Durants Neck. Although Durant identified himself as a mariner, he appears to have spent most of his time developing his plantation and participating in the region’s government. Durant’s first wife, Ann Marwood Durant, also helped run the plantation and lead other of her husband’s business interests. Her occasional representation of George Durant in court earned her a place in North Carolina’s history as the first woman known to act as an attorney in North Carolina courts.

The Bible passed through the Durant family until the mid-1700s when it reached Mary Durant, George’s great-granddaughter. Mary married Christian Reed, whose father, William, served briefly as governor of the colony. Mary Reed’s descendants held onto the Bible until sometime between 1844 and 1851, when Rebekah Reed, who lived in Perquimans County, donated it to North Carolina Historical Society.

During its 414-year history, the Durant Bible has suffered some wear and tear. Some pages are missing from the volume and others are torn or stained.In 1995 Wilson Library’s conservator spent more than 100 hours cleaning the Bible and repairing the binding and some of the damaged pages. The volume, bound in leather (likely its second binding) is 6 inches wide and 8 1/2 inches high. The Bible is about 3 inches thick.
Durant Bible, cover

This morning the Durant Bible was driven and carried by hand to the old House chambers of the state Capitol building in the specially-made box in which it is stored. After the swearing-in, the Bible was returned to one of Wilson Library’s vaults. It awaits its next call to duty, or, just as importantly, your request for a viewing.

8 thoughts on “McCrory took oath of office on one of state’s oldest Bibles”

  1. What was the first bible to be printed in North Carolina? Seems like that would be a good candidate to use for a swearing-in ceremony for statewide office.

  2. Inauguration planners in Raleigh have asked to use the Durant Bible again at Gov. McCrory’s public swearing-in on Saturday in Raleigh. The good ol’ book sure gets around “good” for a 400-year-old.

  3. George Durant is my direct ancestor. His youngest daughter, Ann Durant, married William Bartlett/Barclift. My daughter’s name is Emma Marwood, after Ann Marwood (who married George Durant). My Barclift family only left Perquimans during the Great Depression, to seek work. We’re up in the Washington, DC area now, but still make trips back to Durant’s Neck and the town of New Hope.

  4. Love this history of the Bible and hope to see it one day.

    George and Ann Marwood Durant are my 8th great grandparents on my maternal Kitrell side.

  5. George Durant were my 8th Great-Grandfather and Ann Marwood Durant is my 8th Great-Grandmother
    on my mother’s side of the family… His youngest daughter Ann married William Barlett/Barclift… My
    7th Great Grandparaents… Thomas Barclift & Elizabeth Wilson were my 6th Great Grandparents…
    Joseph Barclift and Deborah Trumball were my 5th Great-Grandparents … Dempsey Barclift Sr. and
    Martha Sutton were my 4th Great-Grandparents… Dempsey Barclift Jr. and Elizabeth Toms are my GreatGrandparents…
    George Bascom Parker and Ella Thomes Barclift (daughter of Dempsey Barclift Jr.) were
    my 2nd Great-Grandparents… Jasper Columbus Miller and Isa Toms Parker (daughter of George Bascom
    Parker) were my Great-Grandparents… Uel Nelson Miller ( son of Jasper Columbus Miller and Isa Toms
    Parker) and Emma Elizabeth Johnson were my Grandparents… Frank John Avitto and Jean Elizabeth
    Miller ( only daughter of Uel & Emma were my parents. I am so very proud to know the history of my
    descendants.

  6. Hello, cousins! George and Ann are also my 7th great grandparents.
    His son, John Durant and Sarah Cooke are my 6th gg
    Henry Durant Sr and Ann Walbank 5th gg
    Henry Durant Jr and Rebecca Warnock 4th gg
    Bethel Durant and Hannah Hankins 3rd gg
    Martha Maria Durant and Robert Hudson Hiwren 2nd gg

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