Descriptions of Cornelius Harnett

There are no known sketches or portraits of Cornelius Harnett.  Sam Hummel has located the following three recorded descriptions:

1.  R. D. Connor provides a detailed description of Harnett, recorded as follows  by Archibald Maclaine Hooper, an  intimate friend of Harnett:

His stature was about five feet nine inches.  In person he was rather slender than stout.  His hair was a light brown, and his eyes hazel.  The contour of his face was not striking: nor were his features, which were small, remarkable for symmetry; but his countenance was pleasing, and his figure, though not commanding, was neither inelegant nor ungracefull. 1

2.  Janet Schaw, the Scottish Lady of quality who visited the Lower Cape Fear on the eve of the Revolution, referred to Harnett as a “brute”. 2  Co-sponsor of this site, Sam Hummel, points out that Miss Schaw’s loyalism contrasted starkly with Harnett’s vigorous patriotism.  Sam thinks that she is more likely referring to his activities, which she detested, rather than his physical characteristics.

3.    Dr. Arman DeRosset, at age 80, recorded the following observation that he made of Harnett when when he was an eleven year old child.  The observation was recorded in the family annals as follows:

One horrible recollection that remained with grand-pa as long as he lived, was the ‘the sight of Cornelius Harnett brought through the streets of Wilmington by Major Craig’s Cavalry, slung over the saddle of a horse like a sack of meal.‘ 3


1.   Connor, R, D, W. “CORNELIUS HARNETT”, REVOLUTIONARY LEADERS OF NORTH CAROLINA. Ed. W. C. JACKSON. RALEIGH, N. C.: North Carolina State Normal & Industrial College Historical Publications, 1916. p. 36 . Reprint by The Reprint Company, Spartanburg, S. C.; Print.

2.  Harnett, Hooper and Howe: Revolutionary Leaders of the Lower Cape Fear, by Alan D. Watson, Dennis R. Lawson  & Donald R. Lennon.  Published  c 1975.  106 pages.

3.  Annals of the DeRossett Family by Catherine DeRossett Meares, p. 50.  An online version can be found at: [If the hyperlink does not work, you may find it necessary to copy and paste the address into the url on your computer.  Locating page 50 is a tedious task of scrolling through the Annals]

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