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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Vail, Edward

by William S. Smith, Jr., 1996

6 Aug. 1717–5 June 1777

See also: Edenton Tea Party

Edward Vail, colonial official and member of a large and active family, joined his brother John in 1749 in petitioning the Chowan County Court for permission to operate a mill near Sandy Point. Edward was one of six men who raised troops in North Carolina in Photograph of print of the Edenton Tea Party by Richardson, from the original engraving. Photograph by Wharton & Tyree Studios, Raleigh, NC, circa 1890-1910. Item H.1952.61.14, from the collections of the North Carolina Museum of History.  1754 to help defend Virginia during the French and Indian War; they were part of the first troops recruited in British America to fight outside their own territory in defense of a common cause. Vail also represented Chowan County in the Assembly in 1754–62, 1770–71, and 1773–74. Locally he was a member of the county court in 1756 as well as one of five trustees named in 1767 to erect the brick courthouse in Edenton that still stands.

As a colonel, Vail accompanied Governor William Tryon in the 1771 expedition against the Regulators. With the approach of the American Revolution he was one of eight members of the North Carolina Committee of Correspondence in 1768, 1773, and 1774. Remaining active in the militia, Vail was appointed brigadier general of the Edenton District in April 1776 and reelected within a month of his death.

Vail and his wife Susannah, whose maiden name is unknown, had four sons: Thomas, Frederick, Jeremiah, and Edward. Susannah was among the fifty-one "patriotic ladies" who participated in the Edenton Tea Party on 24 Oct. 1774.


John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585–1974 (1974).

J. R. B. Hathaway, ed., North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, vols. 1–2 (1900–1901).

William S. Powell, ed., The Correspondence of William Tryon and Other Selected Papers, vol. 2 (1981).

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, vols. 5–7, 9–10 (1887–90).

Vail family Bible (possession of Lillian Smith Hough, Eden, N.C.).

Virginia Gazette, 19 July 1754, 4 July 1767, 24 May 1770, 3 Nov. 1774.

Image Credits:

"Photograph, Accession #: H.1952.61.14." 1890-1910. North Carolina Museum of History. (accessed March 21, 2014).

Origin - location: