James Robert ERVIN Esq.

HAIRSTON.org ID#2641, b. 7 November 1788, d. 26 June 1836
Father*Col. John ERVIN1 b. 25 Mar 1754, d. 5 May 1810
Mother*Jane WITHERSPOON1 b. 23 Jan 1753, d. 20 Sep 1790
Birth*James Robert ERVIN Esq. was born on 7 November 1788 in Pee Dee, Marion District, South Carolina.1,2,3 
He was the son of Col. John ERVIN and Jane WITHERSPOON.1 
Court Record*"Granted to James R. Ervin letters of administration on the Estate of Robert Ervin bond for Forty Thousand dollars" Ordinary Office, Marion County, South Carolina Minute Book, South Carolina probate Records, 23 Jun 1810. 
Marriage*James Robert ERVIN Esq. married Elizabeth POWE on 3 February 1813.1,2,3 
Death Spouse*His wife, Elizabeth Powe, died in 1832.1 
Death*James Robert ERVIN Esq. died on 26 June 1836 in Montgomery County, North Carolina, at age 47.1,2 
Biography*JAMES R. ERVIN

The subject of this sketch was descended, by both fatherand mother's side, from some of the Scotch-Irish families whowere among the first settlers of what is now Williamsburg District. James R. was the son of Col. John Ervin, and Jane, his first wife. He was born on the Pee Dee, in the year 1788, in the lower part of Marion District.

Having been deprived of a mother's care in infancy, he was consigned to the charge of an aunt, Mrs. Witherspoon, for some years after. His education commenced at a common school in the neighborhood, and could the incidents of that period of his life be recovered, there would doubtless be found many indications of those original powers of mind, and that remarkable versatility of talent, which were so strikinglye exhibited in his subsequent career.

When about eleven or twelve years old, he was sent to the noted grammar school, then under the charge of the Rev. John M. Roberts, near Statesburg, an institution. which maintained for many years the first rank in the north-eastern part of the State. Here he remained two or three years, and, associating there with some of those who were to rise to eminence in the different walks of life and the service of the State, was probably induced to turn his thoughts to the study of the law, as the most successful mode of rising to usefulness and distinction!

For the law he was eminently fitted by nature, as well as for political life, to which his tastes and peculiar gifts caused him to turn at an early period.

Soon after leaving the school at Statesburg, he was placedunder the care of John D. Witherspoon, then the only resident lawyer in the old Cheraw District, comprising the present Districts of Chesterfield, Marlboro', and Darlington. He entered the office of Mr. Witherspoon, as a law student, in January, 1805, and not being a graduate of any college, it was necessary that he should devote four years to the study of the law, before he could be admitted to practice!

Mr. Witherspoon, though he had not himself been very long at the Bar, had acquired a considerable practice, particularly in the way of collecting.

Young Ervin was a ready writer, and had, therefore, the benefit of a large amount of office work; as such, rendering him familiar with, what is so often to young lawyers, the most difficult part of the practice.

In 1809, he was admitted to the Bar in Columbia, and settled immediately after in Marlboro' District, where an invitingfield opened before him. His rise to popular favor was rapid,and based upon those qualities which are always attractive to the people, secured for him their hearts and lasting confidence and regard. Soon after settling in Marlboro, he was returned a Member of the House of Representatives, which position he continued to fill, until his removal from the district.

In the year 1814, he married Elizabeth, daughter of Gen. Erasmus Powe, of Chesterfield---a lady of most lovely disposition, and who, by her devotion, contributed largely to his happiness.

Soon after his marriage, he removed to Marion District, and there acquired a highly respectable practice; but, becoming dissatisfied, returned to Marlboro'. From that district, he was again returned to the Legislature, but in the higher capacity of Senator, which position he continued to fill, until the expiration of his term.

Influenced probably by the relations with which his marriage had brought him, he was induced to leave his first field of public labor again, and to settle in the town of Cheraw. Here, also, after a brief residence, the appreciative regards of the people made him their Senator.

During his residence in Cheraw, he was left a widower, with six children. This season of trial passed, he intermarried with Mrs. Vereen, of Marion, by whom he had one child, a daughter.

About this time his health began to fail, and while on his way to the Rocky River Springs, in North Carolina, an accident, which led to a profuse hemorrhage, put an end to his life in a few moments. Few men were possessed, to so remarkable a degree, of the confidence and love of the people. The tidings of his untimely end were received with unusual marks of sorrow.

In person, Col. Ervin was attractive and commanding; about 5 feet 11 inches in height, and well-proportioned, with a countenance singularly open, and beaming with intelligenceand good nature, he inspired respect as he went, and captivated all with whom he came in contact. His talents wereof a high order-placing him, in point of natural genins, inthe opinion of competent judges, among the very first of those who have been reared on the Pee Dee; and had his application been equal to his endowments, he would probably have fallen behind no competitor in the way to fame!

As a speaker he was fluent and forcible; ready to take advantage of any turn and change of circumstance-abounding in anecdotes and repartee. His quickness and versatility made him, as was often confessed by the most learned andeminent advocates, an adversary always to be watched and dreaded.

Baffled at one point, which seemed to have been his stronghold, or driven from a position maintained against formidableodds, he would in a moment take other ground, with so much ingenuity, and such a show of reason or law, as often to confound his opponent, and not unfrequently to gain his case.In the celebrated trial of Mason Lee 'will, in Marlboro', inwhich some of the most distinguished lawyers of the Statewere employed-the late Col. Blanding and Chancellor Harper being associated with Col. Ervin, and Judge Evans and Col. Preston opposed to him —this striking trait wasremarkably displayed. He is said to have conducted his partin that singular case, with the most consummate tact. But, unfortunately, for his reputation and success, his convivialtemperament and aversion to steady labor, caused him to take a position behind those who might otherwise have been distanced in the race.

His habit was to appear without anything like thorough preparation, relying, as he did, mainly upon the weakness ofhis adversary, or his own ingenuity, to give strength to hiscause; or upon his general knowledge of the law, and his power so to present the facts of the case, as to carry the jury with him, which he seldom failed to do. As a jury lawyer,he scarcely had an equal. And so, before the people he maybe said to have been almost irresistible. Attached to themby sympathy, at ease in any company, with remarkable conversational talent, and though making no studied effort, master, notwithstanding, of those arts which are ordinarily usedto gain their esteem, he was their favorite through life. His rich vein of humor and inexhaustible fund of anecdotes,made him the very soul of social life at the Bar. Here hehad no equal. In 1832, he was the acknowledged leader ofthe Union party in his section of the State.

Singularly cool, and as fearless as he was cool; as able in counsel as he was efficient in action, to him the eyes of his fellow-citizens were invariably turned in times of emergency, nor were their hopes likely to be disappointed. He was prompt to respond to any appeal, and the confidence so implicitly reposed in him was never abused.

As a firiend, he was constant and self-sacrificing to a remarkable degree; and in every relation of life, all that a nobleaffection could prompt, or a generous impulse move him tobe-a true man and faithful!

His life, however, rich as it was in incident, and. singular in all those elements of power which made it up, was one of those, the most difficult to be written, and not often lived known only, as tradition may hand down some remains of it to posterity.

O'Neall, John Belton, 1793-1863. Biographical Sketches of the Bench And Bar of South Carolina. Charleston, S.C.: S. G. Courtenay & Co., 1859. Pages 374-377.3 


Elizabeth POWE b. 7 Mar 1798, d. 8 Jun 1832

Sources (www.HAIRSTON.org)

  1. [S148] Bible - Col. John Ervin 1754-1810, Ancestry.com.
  2. [S291] SAR - Application of Senator Samuel James Ervin, Jr. - 1961 86112,.
  3. [S3609] O'Neall, John Belton, 1793-1863. Biographical Sketches of the Bench And Bar of South Carolina. Charleston, S.C.: S. G. Courtenay & Co., 1859., Hathi Trust Digital Library.
Last Edited3 Oct 2021