Henry Osborne Held Various State Offices

By Dr. John H. Christian

There were few citizens living in Camden County in 1785 when Henry Osborne first set foot here as an unmarried young man.  In fact, so few people lived here that the machinery of county government had not yet been set up.

In this same year, the Georgia Land Law was liberalized, making it easier to get land as grants from the state.  A land court was set up and began to issue grants in 1786.  This was a great boon to the county, for many people began to arrive here and apply for a land grant.

During the year 1787, Osborne appeared before the land court nine times and received a total of 29,515 acres in Camden County and received two land grants in Franklin totaling 1,000 acres.

Osborne was on hand that Nov 20, 1787, on Cumberland Island when a group of men met to sign the Articles of Agreement that would establish a town on Buttermilk Bluff.  He paid his required amount and in later years would sell these lots that he received as one of the proprietors of St. Marys.

He served as representative from Camden and Glynn counties in the State Legislature from 1786 to 1788.  In the county election of 1788, he was elected as a delegate to the state convention that would ratify the U.S. Constitution.

Osborne had great influence in Georgia.  That fact is shown in his appointment by the governor as chief justice of Georgia in 1788.  He resigned after a few months.

In 1789, the State Legislature organized the state judiciary system of Superior Courts.  Osborne was appointed as Judge of the Superior Courts of the Eastern Circuit.

Osborne made his home in Augusta, and then the state capital, after he was appointed judge.  But he maintained his home in St. Marys and spent quite a bit of time there.  After his death, his family returned there to live for many years.

The town of Brunswick was laid out in 1771.  By the time of the Revolutionary War, 179 lots had been granted.  But most of the citizens moved away during the war because most of them were Tories.  After the war many of these lots were regranted.  Osborne received a grant of 10 lots in Brunswick in 1789.

On Feb. 1, 1788, the General Assembly passed an act to resettle Brunswick.  Eight men were appointed as commissioners by the legislature to survey and sell lots in Brunswick.  One of these men was Osborne.

The money from the sale of the lots was to be used for the erection and maintenance of an academy, which is now known as Glynn Academy.

In the early educational program of the state, each county was to have an academy.  Of the early academies established, only three remain to this day: Glynn, Chatham and Richmond.

After Osborne was appointed judge, he moved to Augusta, where he met a young lady by the name of Catherine Howell, the daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth Howell.

The Aug. 27, 1791, issue of the Augusta Chronicle and Gazette reported that on the previous Sunday, the Hon. Henry Osborne, one of the judges of the superior courts of this state, was united in matrimony to Miss Kitty Howell of Augusta.

We learn of Osborne's death from the files of the Augusta Chronicle and Gazette.  In the Nov. 22, 1800, issue are these words:  "At St. Simons island on the 9th, Henry Osborne, attorney-at-law, former judge of the superior court and a patriot.  He was a good husband, and a tender and affectionate parent."

Osborne was visiting on St. Simons Island at the time of his death.  Although no known gravesite or markers have been found, it is believed he was buried on the estate of Major Wright.

Osborne owned several larger tracts of land in Camden County.  There were several judgments against him, and it was some time before his family was able to benefit from the property.

Almost eight years after his death, his widow, Mrs. Catherine Pearis, was in inferior court on April 12, 1808, to report that she had not received any of the estate of the late Hon. Henry Osborne, on account of same being levied on by the sheriff to satisfy judgments against the deceased.  Soon after this, most of the property was back in the hands of the family.

The name Osborne lives on in the hearts and minds of the people of St. Marys and the many people who come here to visit each year.

(Additional note: Henry Osborne & Catherine Howell were the parents of Mariah Jane, James Gunn and John Howell OsborneJohn Howell and Mariah F. Parsons, married 19 Aug 1821.)

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