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Margaret Yonge Norwood


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At a Glance

Margaret Yonge Norwood was one of three Hillsborough, NC sisters who attended the Burwell School [1].


Margaret (Mag) Yonge Norwood was the sixth child and youngest daughter of eminent lawyer and State Senator John Wall Norwood and Annabella Giles. Her grandparents were Judge William Norwood and Robina Hogg Norwood of Hillsborough, NC, and William Giles and Anabella Fleming Giles of St. James Parish, Wilmington, NC. Margaret Yonge Norwood was named for her great-aunt, Margaret Giles, sister of William Giles, who married Dr. Phillip Yonge on April 13, 1830, according to Kellam-McKoy's St. James Parish Historical Records, 1737-1852. Mrs. Yonge appears to have been almost a second mother to the Norwood girls.

Margaret Yonge Norwood attended the Burwell School in the 1850s and seems in her early days to have generally been known as Mag. She lived over the Eno River with her large family in the old family home, Poplar Hill Plantation in Orange County, NC, built by James Hogg. There are many passing references to her in Burwell student letters, and her name appears in various Burwell keepsake albums, but there is no sustained description of her as a young girl. She appears to have been subject to colds and small indispositions on various occasions.  "Mag Norwood has been sick this week,"  wrote Mary Huske Pearce  on November 1, 1851, to her cousin, William N. Tillinghast,  "but Rob said she was a good deal better, & would be able to come to school next week."

Margaret developed into a tall, stately, most impressive woman, such a person as her grandmother Robina Hogg Norwood must have been in her prime. She lived on at Poplar Hill Plantation in Orange County, NC with her bachelor brother, James Hogg Norwood, famous for breeding fighting cocks ("the Norwood War Horses"), until it was decided in 1891 to sell the old place to industrialist Julian Shakespeare Carr. Margaret Norwood, then fifty-three years of age, moved to Occoneechee Hotel in Hillsborough, NC (Colonial Inn). Since she was a spinster, numerous letters to her exist. One such group was reprinted by the late Prof. Thomas Felix Hickerson in his Echoes of Happy Valley [2], which includes a collection of Joseph C. Webb"s Civil War letters to Norwood ladies, including  "Cousin Mag."

In her later years Margaret Norwood became known as something of an amateur historian, especially where Hillsborough, NC and family history were concerned. One of her letters, attached to his sketch, is so immensely valuable that it has become a major source of historic information. Preserved in the John De Berniere Hooper papers, the letter, dated April 20, 1905, gives accounts of 1) the Nash-Hooper House in Hillsborough, NC; 2) the  "Rye Patch"  (i.e., the ground between the Nash-Hooper House in Hillsborough, NC and the cemetery); 3) the private cemeteries to the west of Lot 98 (the original Old Town Cemetery), sold from the Hooper (Watters) estate after 1846; 4) a sketch of the Hooper private burial plot and of the adjoining Norwood plot; 5) and eye-witness account (her own) of the opening of the Signer's grave [the disinterment of Declaration of Independence signer, William Hooper], which she attended as a representative of the family. The letter is solid proof of Margaret Norwood's extraordinary sense of history.

Margaret Yonge Norwood died unmarried at the age of eighty-seven and is buried in the Norwood plot in the Old Town Cemetery in Hillsborough, NC beside her father and mother [1].

Biographical Data

Margaret was called Mag.

Important Dates

Margaret Yonge Norwood was born on February 20, 1838. She died on January 15, 1925, and was buried in Old Town Cemetery in Hillsborough, NC.

Places of Residence

Schools Attended



  1. Mary Claire Engstrom. The Book of Burwell Students: Lives of Educated Women in the Antebellum South. (Hillsborough: Hillsborough Historic Commission, 2007).
  2. Echoes of Happy Valley.