John Lewellen (c. 1715-1794) was a farmer in Martin and later Edgecombe County. In 1777, in response to the state's turn away from the Church of England as an official religion, Lewellen formed a secret religious society in what became known as the Gourd Patch Affair. Although the movement had peaceful origins, Lewellen's intentions for the group grew increasingly violent as he made plans to instigate an enslaved rebellion, seize a gunpowder magazine, and kidnap or kill the governor. When the plot was discovered in the summer of 1777, he was arrested and found guilty of treason. Governor Richard Caswell eventually granted him clemency, making Lewellen the first name to receive such a pardon in the state. After his pardon, the state returned the lands they had taken from him as punishment and he continued to live as a farmer near the Conetoe Swamp for the rest of his life.
His last name is spelled variously as Lewelling, Luellen, Lywellen, and sometimes modernized as Llewellyn.
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