James Iredell was born at Lewes, Sussex County, England. He was the eldest of the five sons of Francis Iredell, a Bristol merchant, and Margaret McCulloh Iredell, originally of Dublin. Young James came to the New World in 1768 because, after his father suffered a stroke in the mid-1760’s, it was necessary for the boy to leave school and accept an appointment arranged for him by his Irish cousins who owned a considerable property in North Carolina. James’ salary of £30 as Comptroller of the Customs in Port Roanoke (Edenton) went directly to his parents. The boy himself lived off port fees (about £100 per annum). After presenting his credentials to the Board of Customs
Commissioners in Boston, this ambitious stripling journeyed southward swiftly. There, if he had no fortune, he soon began to make one, moving in a circle of gifted friends to whom he was soon firmly attached. This circle stood behind him for the remainder of his life and defined his place in Southern society, the political life of his state and (finally) American politics at large.
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