Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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FANNING, David, freebooter, born in Johnston County, N. C., about 1754; died in Digby, N. S., in 1825. He seems to have been a carpenter, but claimed that he was a "planter in the back part of the southern provinces." He trafficked with the Indians, and was connected with the notorious Colonel McGirth on the Pedee. When Wilmington was occupied by the British in 1781, Fanning, having been robbed by a party of men who called themselves Whigs, attached himself to the Tories, collected a small band of desperadoes, and scoured the country, committing frightful atrocities, but doing such good service to the British that Major Craig gave him a commission as lieutenant colonel in the militia. By the rapidity and secrecy of his movements he succeeded in capturing many prominent Whigs, and hanged those who had incurred his personal resentment.
At one time he dashed into the village of Pittsborough, where a court was in session, and carried off the judges, lawyers, officers, and some of the citizens. Three weeks later he captured Colonel Alston and thirty men in his own house; and soon afterward, at Hillsborough, took Governor Burke with his whole suite and a number of the principal inhabitants. He was excepted in every treaty and enactment made in favor of the royalists, and was one of the three persons excluded by name from the benefit of the general "act of pardon and oblivion" of offences committed during the Revolution. When the Whigs gained the ascendancy in North Carolina he went to Florida, and afterward to St. John's, N. B., where he became a member of the assembly, but about 1800 was sentenced to be hanged. He escaped, and was pardoned. Fanning wrote, in 1790, a "Narrative of Adventures in North Carolina," which, with an introduction and notes by John H. Wheeler, was printed privately (Richmond, Virginia, 1861).
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