James Rawlings (b. c1737) moved to Martin County around 1775, where he established himself as a lay reader in the local Protestant church. Rawlings was among the first men to join the Gourd Patch Conspiracy when John Lewellen and John Carter approached him after a militia muster about their concerns that the new state government might try to introduce Catholicism into North Carolina. As a church official, Rawlings lent credibility to the movement and acted as its spiritual leader. He helped write the organization's constitution and recruited several area farmers to join the plot and swear oaths of secrecy. Rawlings had second thoughts about the scheme when Lewellen urged him to help kill James Mayo, a local militia captain who had threatened to arrest Lewellen. Out of fear that the plot would be discovered or that Lewellen would turn against him, Rawlings and his family fled their home in early July and took a boat, hoping to reach Virginia. On August 1st, Abram Jones captured Rawlings near Mattamuskeet and brought him to the New Bern jail. Rawlings was charged with treason, but he escaped from jail on September 8th before he could face a trial or punishment. Any further records about his fate have not been located.
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