John Stokes (March 20, 1756 – October 12, 1790) was a North Carolina attorney, politician, and judge.
Stokes was born in Virginia, and became an attorney with a private practice in Salisbury, North Carolina. A Continental Army Captain from 1778 to 1783, Stokes was severely wounded when British Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s cavalry practically destroyed Col. Abraham Buford’s Virginia regiment in the Waxhaw massacre in 1780. Stokes served in the North Carolina State Senate from 1786 to 1787 and in the North Carolina House of Commons in 1789, also serving at that time as a member of the North Carolina convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
He was nominated by President George Washington on August 2, 1790, to be the first judge of the United States District Court for the District of North Carolina, a new seat created by 1 Stat. 126. The following day, Stokes was confirmed by the United States Senate, and received his commission. He served until his death, less than three months after his appointment.
Stokes County, North Carolina is named for him.