Spelling Variations in North Carolina Estate Files

The 1791 Mecklenburg County, North Carolina estate file of Isaac Phipps contains over a hundred pages. A digitized copy can be accessed in Family Search, where the file consists of 108 images, including the file folder itself.

A “Phipps” etc. presence in Mecklenburg County and nearby surrounding areas has been noted in past posts. Mecklenburg County is, at present, situated along the South Carolina line.

One of the more interesting facets of this estate file is the variety of spellings of Phipps, Fips, etc. employed. Two “Phipps” individuals appear in the file, Henry and Isaac. Henry appears once as Henry Phips.

Isaac, however, appears with his name spelled in a variety of ways. His given name was spelled Isaac, Issac, Iick, Isick, Isac, Isace, Isack, and Isac. His surname appears as Fibs, Phibs, Fips, Fipps, Phips, and Phipps.

When Isaac signed documents, he signed with a characteristic mark which evidently was intended to look like a handwritten letter “I.” The fact that he was evidently illiterate might have encouraged the proliferation of given name and surname spelling variations.

The range of spellings suggests some of the variants which appear in other records pertaining to the “Phipps” family in other locations.

Although it’s not entirely clear, one of the more colorful documents is the following receipt. This one is dated 1792, and is a receipt for 11 gallons of whiskey.

Rcd [i.e. received] of Francis Ross the sum of theree [i.e. three] pounds six shillings for Eleven gallons of whiskey for the Vendue of Isa[ce?] phips Decaesed [sic; deceased]
I say Red By me
Henary [phifer?]
May th 2 1792 –

Part was crossed out. That part is difficult to read, but suggests that the original wording might have been ” . . . for the use of his Vendue . . . . ”

Perhaps it was intended for the purpose of hospitality during the estate sale. But then another record, dated 1791, mentions a debt from 1789 owed by Isaac Fips for 4 gallons of rum.

Another North Carolina estate file is the 1803 Craven County file associated with Nathaniel Phipps. Digitized copies of the documents in that file also appear in Family Search, in this case consisting of 14 pages.

In that file, some of the “Fips” or “Phipps” etc. names cannot be read with any degree of confidence. Of those which can be read, the names of several family members appear, including Joseph, Sophia (who also appears as “Sufiah”), Charlotte (who appears as Lottey), Robert, Joseph, another Nathaniel, and Robert.

In that file, the surname is spelled Fips, Fipps, and Phipps.

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