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John Haywood: Wikis


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Honorable John Haywood

In office
1787 – 1827
Preceded by Memucan Hunt
Succeeded by William S. Robards

Born February 23, 1754(1754-02-23)
Edgecombe County, North Carolina, USA
Died November 18, 1827 (aged 73)
Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina, USA
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Sarah Leigh (d. 1791);
Eliza Williams
Children 1 son with Sarah;
12 children with Eliza
Residence Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina
Occupation North Carolina Senate clerk, North Carolina State Treasurer

John Haywood (born Edgecombe County, North Carolina, February 23, 1754; died Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina, November 18, 1827[1]) was an American politician, who was the longest-serving North Carolina State Treasurer (forty years, from 1787 until his death).[2]



Haywood began public service in 1781 as clerk of the State Senate, and held this office for five years, after which he was elected Treasurer by the state legislature. Haywood also became the first "Intendant of Police", or mayor, of Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1795.[1]

Haywood County was named in his honor after its creation in 1808, and he also subsequently had a town named after him in Chatham County.[1]

Financial discrepancies

Following his death in 1827, it was discovered that over $68,000 was unaccounted for. That was a massive shortfall in those days – more than half the State's entire budget for the year. The estate of John Haywood re-imbursed nearly $48,000 back to the State, and then was found a total shortage of nearly $22,000 in Cherokee bonds, from sale of lands in western North Carolina. Haywood had been cleared of "abusing his trust" in 1820, after an investigation by the state legislature.[2]

William K. Boyd, the historian, commented that the accounting of public funds in those days was flawed in three ways: "First the comptroller did not have oversight of the actual money in the treasury; the auditing by the comptroller did not include all State funds; and the method of bonding the Treasurer was not adequate."[3] In 1784, a law had been passed requiring the Treasurer to post a bond in the sum of "one hundred thousand pounds". An 1801 change in the law meant that only a bond equal to the balance of treasury funds, plus a forecast annual revenue, was necessary, and that there would be no penalty for failure to provide a security.[2]

Haywood had posted no bond for 1826 to 1827, so the State was left short when the difference in his accounts was discovered. His handling of the public funds was so chaotic that even though many banks had been opened in North Carolina, he preferred to keep money in a trunk, stored in the "Public Chest" in his office, and would use this to pay governmental expenses.[2]

The State took Haywood's estate to court to recover the missing funds, but the jury found that an executor had properly disposed of everything except just over $7,000 of his assets, which were duly awarded to the State. This in effect meant that most of Haywood's personal assets, barring a small amount in widow's dower rights, were handed over, and therefore his heirs inherited nothing at all.[2]


After Haywood's death, the legislature elected his son, John S. Haywood, to succeed him as Treasurer, but he declined the office, as the scale of the scandal was becoming clear.[2]

Personal life

When it became law for State officials to live in Raleigh, Haywood bought land bounded by New Bern, Blount, Edenton and Person Streets, and built Haywood Hall, which remains a popular venue for small groups to this day.[2] Thereafter, for many years, Haywood and his first wife Sarah Leigh[1] used their new premises to entertain official State dignitaries.[2] Sarah gave him one son, named Leigh.[1]

After Sarah's death in 1791, he became involved with Eliza Eagles Asaph Williams, they married on March 9, 1798, and then had a further 12 children. When Haywood himself died in Raleigh in 1827, such was his popularity that "a great procession was given in his honor and his funeral was conducted in the Presbyterian Church by Reverend Doctor McPheeters".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Biographical detail: Haywood Hall website.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Further profile on Haywood: North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer website.
  3. ^ William K. Boyd, History of North Carolina, Vol. II, The Federal Period 1783-1860 (Chicago and New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1919), p.109-113.


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