Josef Dorris
William Dorris
(Abt 1710-1795)


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William Dorris 2

  • Born: Abt 1710-1715, County Down, Ireland
  • Marriage: Unknown
  • Died: 1795, North Carolina about age 85

bullet  General Notes:


Our family has only been able to be traced back to William Dorris. He was born in Northern Ireland between 1710-1715. He is believed to have been from an area in Northern Ireland which was historically linked to the linen trade. William migrated to the American Colonies sometime in the 1750's, probably as an indentured servant. He first settled in Middlesex New Jersey where he made a pledge to the Cranberry Presbyterian Church of eight shillings eight pence to help purchase a parsonage in February 1758. By 1770 he was living in Fairfax County Virginia and moved to Louden County Virginia by 1772. William was back in New Jersey in 1774 where he remained until 1785 when he moved to Orange County North Carolina.

It is believed that William may have married twice. His first wife may have been Nancy Irwin and his second wife may have been a Mary Williams. We do know that when William died in 1795 in North Carolina his wifes name was Mary. William may have had as many as thirteen children.

There have been many theories on the origin of the Dorris family. One such theory is that a group of settlers fled to Ireland from Greece in the province of Dorea on account of cruelties of their Turkish rulers. More than likely the Irish referred to these settlers as the Dories which later progressed to Doris or Dorris.

Another theory is that the original Dorris settler swam to the Irish shore from the wrecks of the Spanish Armada. Still another theory is that the Dorris patriarch came to County Tyrone or County Down Ireland in the 16th or 17th century and at that time was probably known as O'Daris or O'Dowrish. In the 18th and 19th century the name progressed to Dooras or Dowrish to Doris or Dorris.

Still another theory is that the original Dorris came from the border of County Fernaugh and County Monaghan and was originally known as O'Dubhruis. From there his descendants spread southward to County Langford and County Roscommon and some northward to County Tyrone to a little town based in the vicinity of Raugh and Neagh by the 16 and 1700's.

A couple of records found on William Dorris the immigrant.

Fairfax Co. VA Court Record May 20, 1772
James Lane and Simon Triplett acting for Wm Carr Lane Estates versus William Dorris: The defendent confesses the plaintiffs action. Defendent ordered to pay 12.2.7 with legal interest from 7 March 1771 and costs. On motion of Plaintiffs, thr defendent is committed to the goal of this county until discharged by due form of law.

James Lane and Simon Triplett acting for Wm Carr Lane estates versus Samuel Dorris and William Dorris. Defendents confess to plaintiffs action, Defendent ordered to pay 2.7.6 plus interest from May 27, 1771 and costs. On motion of the plaintiffs the defendants are committed to the goal of the county until discharged by due form of law.
Possible wife's name: Mary Williams or Mary Roake
Possible father's name: Josef, a native of County Downs, Ireland. He supposedly had 9 sons, 7 of which emigrated to America in the early part of 1700.
The following is a excerpt from an article written by William Dawson Dorris, a
Great Grandson of William Dorris, in Nashville, Tenn., November 22, 1888.

"The history of the Nationalities of Our Ancestors as brought down to us will begin with the Dorris' first. My Great grandfather, Wm. Dorris, was born in the County Down, Ireland, whose ancestors fled from the Provinces of Dorea in Greece, on account of the Cruelties of their Turkish Rulers. Our Great Grand Father, Wm. Dorris, emigrated to New Jersey. His sons names, William,Samuel, Isaac, John, James, Joseph and Benjamin. His daughters, Mary Sarah, Martha, Margaret and Nancy. Mary married William Pitt Bowers, and one married a Mr. Sebastian, Dr. Samuel Sebastian was her son who lived in Centerville, Tenn. The third daughter, Nancy, married a Mr. Drake. the 4th married John McMurrey who died in Sumner County, Tenn. Grand Uncles William and Isaac was in the American Army, and John Dorris. They were in the Battle when Col. Washington clipped the cue of hair for Gen. Tarlton in Carolina. My Grandfather, Joseph, married Mary Griffin in Maryland. My Father was born on the eastern shore of that State. His name was John Irwin, his brother's name was William. She had two other who died in childhood. And after she died, Grandfather married Katherine McDaniel and her sons were Thomas, Isaac, James, Samuel, Benjamin, Daniel, and Stephen and his daughters Sarah and Elizabeth.
Uncle Samuel died in Robertson County, Tenn., in A.D. 1808. Uncle Benjamin died in the Hermitage District of this county and was buried at the graveyard of Hollis Hagars, Esq., A.D. 1815. Aunt Sarah married Dr. John Conger who moved to Missouri. Aunt Elizabeth married Dr. Jones of Jonesborough, Ill., and died there. Uncle Isaac moved to New Orleans and died there, his sons, Joseph and Elijah, were drowned on the Gulf of Mexico, and Uncle Isaac and the balance of his family died in New Orleans in 1816. Grandfather Joseph Dorris moved from Maryland to Orange County, North Carolina, on Stone Creek. His brother, Benjamin, died. He was cradling oats and died suddenly.
The rest all moved to Tennessee, A.S. 1798, and settled in Roberston, Davidson and Sumner Counties in three settlements, and their farms joined so that they could visit each other as often as they wished and especially when there was preaching. Grandfather and his kindred and friends built the first Baptist meeting house in Robertson County on the Sulphur Fork Creek four miles above Springfield, Tenn. He was well known in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. He was Chaplain in General Jackson's Army and many of his kindred and Church members were soldiers and his respect for his General was warm until death. Uncle Stephen Dorris was assistant surgeon in Jackson's Army. He settle in Princeton, Ky., and married there. He came to see us when Grandfather was on his deathbed in Coopertown, Robertson County, Tenn., and stayed two days and nights and left $50.00.
My Father, John Irvin Dorris, was born on the eastern shores of Maryland, October 22, 1773. The Dorris' were Greeks. My Father's Mother was Scotch Lady, Mary Griffin. My Father was her first son. He came to Cumberland in 1792, he came to Nashville when there was but a ffew cabins and a blockhouse, and was then call French Lick Station. Old Captain Demonbrance, a french trader, came up the Cumberland River to trade with the Indians, he had a keel boat well manned, and had arms and ammunition to defend himself and crew. There was no whites here when he first came and Indians came on him near the sulphur lick then called French lick. He made signs of peace to them, but they attacked with bows and arrows, his boast was fixed for defense and when he gave them a volley from his firearms it alarmed them and they fled. They came again in peace and traded with him and hence the place was called French Lick Station. He went back to New Orleans and returned here, bought property here and lived with us until his death and there is a street named for him. Father and family move to Nashville, A.D. 1820. Father became acquainted with all the old settlers, cultivated the soil and helped to conquer the Indians.
On the 14th of September 1794 his last battle was at Nickejac, Deerhead, and Runnin Water towns. He swam the Tennesse River going and coming. Those who could not swim made rafts and rawhide skifts and carried over the guns and ammunition, and they took those Towns, peace was made with the Cherokees permanently and the people prosperous and happy in their new homes.
My uncles and cousins moved to Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas and lately some moved to Mississippi, California, Texas, and Oregon. There is many of our relatives in Tennessee and Kentucky, some still own land and live on the farms of their grandfathers and when called on to defend our country they have turned out liberally and served their country faithfully and were good citizens at home and abroad. They were mechanics naturally, they marry early and have from eight to twelve children apiece. They are adapt in learning any- thing that they wish. I have never known of their disgracing themselves by murder or theft.
They cared but little about seeking office, their fellow citizens made some of them Magistrated and constables, only two have been legislators, one in Oregen and one in Texas and on senator in Congress, Wm. K. Sebastian from Arkansas. We have had six doctors of Medicine thus far and four lawyers, twenty school teachers, five Baptist preachers, two Christians and one Methodist. I have known among our relations but seven sportsman or gamblers. The name is a very ancient one according to the Bible and Rollins Ancient History. When the second R was put in our name I do not know but it is believed among some of us to be about the time they migrated from the Province of Dorea, greece to the County Down in Ireland or shortly after. There were two young Dorris's came from County Down and enlisted and was on the gunboat that came up to Nashville in time of our last war. They came to see us and cousin Samuel Frost Dorris counted up the kinship and to our children they were fourth cousins and they favored our families. Cousin Samuel died in the year 1879 aged 91 years. He was well posted on the four generations of the American Dorris's. He had visited all the families before they moved to other states above named and could give names of all their children. Grand Uncle Samuel was his grandfather who was 84 years old when he died. His son William was Samuel Frost's father, his mother maiden name was Frost her parents lived in Maryland when she was married and where Samuel F. and his brothers, William and Joseph, were born and his sisters also, his uncle Samuel married his mother's sister and their sons, Isaiah and Josiah, were born in Maryland and his sisters were born in Sumner County."


Migrated from Northern Ireland to New Jersey sometime after 1750. Could have been the ship Funchal.
Probaby a bond servant of John Stevens


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