Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry


Thomas Burke

Virginia & North Carolinia

Physician, poet,and lawyer

Thomas Burke was born in Ireland and upon his arrival in North America settled originally in Virginia. He practiced medicine and studied law. He moved to Hillsboro, North Carolina in 1771 and became involved in politics. He served as a delegate to the North Carolina state constitutional convention in 1776 and was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Northern Carolina that same year. Burke was a member of the North Carolina legislature and served as North Carolina's third governor (1781-1782). He died on December 2, 1783 at Tyaquin, his plantation, and was buried at Mars Hill Churchyard, Hillsboro, North Carolina.

Thomas Burke has the distinction of being, along with Jonathan W. Gordon, Edward Robeson Taylor, George D. Prentice, and Thomas Dunn English, not only a lawyer-poet, but having practiced medicine as well. (Thomas Dale, another poet, while not a lawyer, served as a judge.)

Thomas Burke

Thomas Burke



Richard Walser (ed.), The Poems of Governor Thomas Burke of North Carolina (Raleigh, North Carolina: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1961)


Thomas Burke, Abstract of Debates in Congress

Research Resources

Thomas Burke Papers
Southern Historical Collection
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Historic Hillsborough
North Carolina