Province of North Carolina

Province of North Carolina
Province of Great Britain
Colonial NC.png
An orthographic projection of the world, highlighting North Carolina (green).
  • Bath
  • Edenton
  • Brunswick
  • Newbern
 • Coordinates35°45′N 83°00′W / 35.75°N 83.00°W / 35.75; -83.00Coordinates:35°45′N 83°00′W / 35.75°N 83.00°W / 35.75; -83.00
 • TypeConstitutional monarchy
 • MottoQuae Sera Tamen Respexit  (Latin)
"Which, though late, looked upon me"
• 1712–1714
• 1714–1727
George I
• 1727–1760
George II
• 1760–1776
George III
• 1712
Edward Hyde (first)
• 1771–1776
Josiah Martin (last)
LegislatureGeneral Assembly
• Upper house
• Lower house
House of Burgesses
Historical eraGeorgian era
• Partition of Carolina
January 24, 1712
July 4, 1776
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Province of Carolina
North Carolina
Today part ofUnited States

Province of North Carolina was a province of Great Britain that existed in North America from 1712[1](p. 80) to 1776. It was one of the five Southern colonies and one of the thirteen American colonies. The monarch of Great Britain was represented by the Governor of North Carolina, until the colonies declared independence on July 4, 1776.


"Carolina" is taken from the Latin word for "Charles" (Carolus), honoring King Charles II, and was first named in the 1663 Royal Charter granting to Edward, Earl of Clarendon; George, Duke of Albemarle; William, Lord Craven; John, Lord Berkeley; Anthony, Lord Ashley; Sir George Carteret, Sir William Berkeley, and Sir John Colleton the right to settle lands in the present-day U.S. states of North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.[2]


The Province of Carolina before and after the split into north and south

King Charles II granted the Charter of Carolina in 1663 for land south of the British Colony of Virginia and north of Spanish Florida. He granted the land to eight lords proprietor, namely Edward, Earl of Clarendon; George, Duke of Albemarle; William, Lord Craven; John, Lord Berkeley; Anthony, Lord Ashley; Sir George Carteret; Sir William Berkeley; and Sir John Colleton.[2] Charles granted the land in return for their financial and political assistance in restoring him to the throne in 1660.[3] The granted lands included all or part of the present-day U.S. states of North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.

The northern half of the Province of Carolina differed significantly from the southern half, and transportation and communication were difficult between the two regions, so a separate deputy governor was appointed to administer the northern region in 1691.[4]

The partition of Carolina into the Province of North Carolina and the Province of South Carolina was completed at a meeting of the lords proprietor held at Craven House in London on December 7, 1710,[a] although the same proprietors continued to control both colonies. The first provincial governor of North Carolina was Edward Hyde. Unrest against the proprietors in South Carolina in 1719 led King George I to directly appoint a governor in that province, whereas the lords proprietor continued to appoint the governor of North Carolina.[1] Both Carolinas became royal colonies in 1729, after the British government had tried for nearly 10 years to locate and buy out seven of the eight lords proprietor. The remaining one-eighth share of the province was retained by members of the Carteret family until 1776, part of the Province of North Carolina known as the Granville District.[6]

In 1755 Benjamin Franklin, the Postmaster-General for the American colonies, appointed James Davis as the first postmaster of North Carolina colony at New Bern.[7] In October of that year the North Carolina Assembly awarded Davis the contract to carry the mail between Wilmington, North Carolina and Suffolk, Virginia.[8]

By the late eighteenth century, the tide of immigration to North Carolina from Virginia and the Province of Pennsylvania began to swell.[9] The Scots-Irish (Ulster Protestants) from present-day Northern Ireland were the largest immigrant group from the British Isles to the colonies before the American Revolution.[10][11][12] Indentured servants, who arrived mostly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, comprised the majority of English settlers prior to the Revolution.[12][13] On the eve of the Revolution, North Carolina was the fastest-growing British colony in North America.

The Granville District

Differences in the settlement patterns of eastern and western North Carolina, or the low country and uplands, affected the political, economic, and social life of the state from the eighteenth until the twentieth century. The small family farms of the Piedmont contrasted sharply with the plantation economy of the coastal region, where wealthy planters grew tobacco and rice with slave labor. The Tidewater in eastern North Carolina was settled chiefly by immigrants from rural England and the Scottish Highlands. The upcountry of western North Carolina was settled chiefly by Scots-Irish, English and German Protestants, and the so-called cohee—poor, non-Anglican, independent farmers. During the Revolution, the English and Highland Scots of eastern North Carolina tended to remain loyal to the King because of longstanding business and personal connections with Great Britain. The English, Welsh, Scots-Irish, and German settlers of western North Carolina tended to favor American independence.

With no cities and very few towns or villages, the province was rural and thinly populated. Local taverns provided multiple services ranging from strong drink and beds for travelers to meeting rooms for politicians and businessmen. In a world sharply divided along lines of ethnicity, gender, race, and class, the tavern keepers' rum proved a solvent that mixed together all sorts of locals and travelers. The increasing variety of drinks on offer and the emergence of private clubs meeting in the taverns showed that genteel culture was spreading from London to the periphery of the English world.[14] The courthouse was usually the most imposing building in a county. Jails were often an important part of the courthouse but were sometimes built separately. Some county governments built tobacco warehouses to provide a common service for their most important export crop.[15]

The Great Valley Road

Expansion westward began early in the eighteenth century from the provincial seats of power on the coast, particularly after the conclusion of the Tuscarora and Yamasee wars, in which the largest barrier was removed to provincial settlement farther inland. Settlement in large numbers became more feasible over the Appalachian Mountains after the French and Indian War and the accompanying Anglo-Cherokee War, in which the Cherokee and Catawba were effectively neutralized. King George III issued the Proclamation of 1763 in order to stifle potential conflict with Indians in that region, including the Overhill Cherokee. This barred any settlement near the headwaters of any rivers or streams that flowed westward towards the Mississippi River. It included several North Carolina rivers, such as the French Broad and Watauga. This proclamation was not strictly obeyed and was widely detested in North Carolina, but it somewhat delayed migration westward until after the Revolution.[1]

Settlers continued to flow westwards in smaller numbers, despite the prohibition, and several trans-Appalachian settlements were formed. Most prominent was the Watauga Association, formed in 1772 as an independent territory within the bounds of North Carolina which adopted its own written constitution. Notable frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone traveled back and forth across the invisible proclamation line as market hunters, seeking valuable pelts to sell in eastern settlements, and many served as leaders and guides for groups who settled in the Tennessee River valley and the Kentucke County.


The oldest counties were Albemarle County (1664–1689) and Bath County (1696–1739). During the period of 1668 to 1774, 32 counties were created. As western counties, such as Anson and Rowan Counties were created, their western borders were not well defined and extended west as far as the Mississippi. Toward the end of this period, the boundaries were more well defined and extended to include the Cherokee lands in the west.[16][17]

Two important maps of the province were produced: one by Edward Moseley in 1733, and another by John Collet in 1770. Moseley was surveyor general of North Carolina in 1710 and from 1723 to 1733. He was also the first provincial treasurer of North Carolina, starting in 1715. Moseley was responsible, with William Byrd, for surveying the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia in 1728. Other maps exist dating to the early period of the Age of Discovery that depict the coastline of the province along with that of South Carolina.[18]

The ports for which there were Customs Agents in the Province of North Carolina included: Bath, Roanoke, Currituck Precinct, Brunswick (Cape Fear), and Beaufort (Topsail Inlet).[19][18]

There were 52 new towns established in the Province of North Carolina between 1729 and 1775. Major towns during this period included: Bath (chartered in 1705), Brunswick (founded after 1726, destroyed during the Revolution), Campbellton (established in 1762), Edenton (chartered in 1712), Halifax (chartered in 1757), Hillsborough (1754), Newbern (settled in 1710, chartered in 1723), Salisbury (chartered in 1753), and Wilmington (founded in 1732, chartered in 1739 or 1740). Each of these nine major towns had a single representative in the North Carolina House of Burgesses in 1775. Campbellton and the town of Cross Creek (established in 1765) were combined in 1783 to form the town of Fayetteville.[20]

1715 Homann Map of Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey - Geographicus - VirginiaMarylandiaCarolina-homann-1715.jpg1738 map of North Carolina.jpgA new accurate map of the provinces of North & South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana in 1752.jpg
Map of Virginia, Maryland, and Carolina (1715)Map of North Carolina (1738)Map of North and South Carolina and Georgia (1752)


King George III, Monarch from 1760 to 1776
Josiah Martin, Governor from 1771 to 1776 (last)

There were two primary branches of government, the governor and his council and the assembly, called the House of Burgesses. All provincial officials were appointed by either the lords proprietor prior to 1728 or The King afterwards. The King received advice for appointment of the governor from the Secretary of State for the Southern Department. The governor was accountable to the Secretary of State and the Board of Trade. The governor was also responsible for commissioning officers and provisioning the provincial militia. Besides the governor, other provincial officials included a secretary, attorney general, surveyor general, the receiver general, Chief Justice, five Customs Collectors for each of the five ports in North Carolina, and a council. The Council advised the governor and also served as the upper house of the legislature. Members of the lower house of the legislature, the House of Burgesses, were elected from precincts (counties after 1736) and from districts (also called boroughs or towns, which were large centers of population).[21][22][23][24][25]

Large sand-coloured building of Gothic design beside brown river and road bridge. The building has several large towers, including large clock tower.
The Governor's Palace, Newbern, seat of both houses of the General Assembly of North Carolina

The eight provincial governors appointed by the King were:

  1. Edward Hyde (1712)
  2. Charles Eden (1714–1722)
  3. George Burrington (1724–1725), (1731–1734)
  4. Sir Richard Everard (1725–1731)
  5. Gabriel Johnston (1734–1752)
  6. Arthur Dobbs (1754–1764)
  7. William Tryon (1764–1771)
  8. Josiah Martin (1771–1776)

The last British governor, Martin, served from 1771 to 1776. The last provincial council included the following members:[19]

  • Samuel Cornell
  • William Dry
  • George Mercer (Lieutenant Governor)
  • James Hasell (Chief Baron of the Exchequer, Acting Governor in 1771)
  • Martin Howard (Chief Justice)
  • Alexander McCulloch
  • Robert Palmer
  • John Rutherfurd (Receiver General)
  • Lewis Henry De Rosset
  • John Sampson
  • Samuel Strudwick (Clerk)
  • Thomas McGuire (Attorney General)

Governor Martin issued a proclamation on April 8, 1775, dissolving the General Assembly after they presented a resolve endorsing the Continental Congress that was to be held in Philadelphia. The provincial council met for the last time onboard HMS Cruizer in the Cape Fear River on July 18, 1775, they believed that the "deluded people of this Province" would see their error and return to their allegiance to the King.[19]

The Court Act of 1746 established a supreme court, initially known as the General Court, which sat twice a year at Newbern, consisting of a Chief Justice and three Associate Justices. The 14 chief justices of the Supreme Court appointed by the King included the following:[26]

Took officeLeft office
Christopher Gale17031731interrupted by Tobias Knight and Frederick Jones
William Smith1 Apr 17311731left for England
John Palin173118 Oct 1732
William Little18 Oct 17321734died 1734
Daniel Hanmer1734
William Smith1740on return from England, died 1740
John Montgomery1740
Edward Moseley17441749
Enoch Hall1749
Eleazer Allen1749
James Hasellname also spelled Hazel or Hazell
Peter Henley1758died 1758
Charles Berry17601766committed suicide, 1766
Martin Howard17671775Loyalist, forced to leave
1773–1777 No Courts held


Historical population
Source: 1720–1760;[27] 1770[28]


  1. ^ The Craven House at Drury Lane in London was named after William, Lord Craven. The five story house was demolished in 1809.[5]


  • Powell, William S. (2000). Powell, William S. (ed.). Dictionary of North Carolina biography. Vol. II. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-67013. - Alternative link to Davis biography
  • Lee, James Melvin (1923). History of American journalism. Boston, New York, Houghton Mifflin Company. (Alternative publication)
  1. ^ a b c Hugh T. Lefler and William S. Powell (1973). Colonial North Carolina: A History. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. ISBN 9780684135366.
  2. ^ a b Poore, Ben. Perley, ed. (1877). The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the United States, Volume II. Washington: Government Printing Office. pp. 1382–1390. OCLC 958743486 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ Danforth Prince (March 10, 2011). Frommer's The Carolinas and Georgia. John Wiley & Sons. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-118-03341-8. Archived from the original on April 27, 2016. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  4. ^ Lawson, John (1709). A New Voyage to Carolina. London. pp. 239–254. Archived from the original on November 10, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  5. ^ Wheatley, Cunningham (1891). London Past and Present. Vol. 1. London: John Murray. p. 472. OCLC 832579536. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  6. ^ Mitchell, Thornton W. (2006). William S. Powell (ed.). Granville Grant and District, Encyclopedia of North Carolina. UNC Press.
  7. ^ Lee, 1923, pp. 53-54
  8. ^ Powell, 2000, pp. 34-35
  9. ^ Bishir, Catherine (2005). North Carolina Architecture. UNC Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-8078-5624-6.
  10. ^ David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, 1986
  11. ^ "Table 3a. Persons Who Reported a Single Ancestry Group for Regions, Divisions and States: 1980" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on August 30, 2019. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Table 1. Type of Ancestry Response for Regions, Divisions and States: 1980" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on July 8, 2019. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  13. ^ "Indentured Servitude in Colonial America"
  14. ^ Daniel B. Thorp, "Taverns and tavern culture on the southern colonial frontier," Journal of Southern History, Nov 1996, Vol. 62#4 pp. 661–88
  15. ^ Alan D. Watson, "County Buildings and Other Public Structures in Colonial North Carolina," North Carolina Historical Review, Oct 2005, Vol. 82 Issue 4, pp. 427–463,
  16. ^ Richard A. Stephenson and William S. Powell. "Maps". North Carolina Government & Heritage Library. Archived from the original on February 9, 2014. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  17. ^ Medley, Mary Louise (1976). Anson County Historical Association (ed.). History of Anson County, North Carolina, 1750-1976. Heritage Printer, Inc., Charlotte, North Carolina. ISBN 9780806347554. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  18. ^ a b "New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina". Archived from the original on October 23, 2019. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c Lewis, J.D. "Josiah Martin's Executive Council". Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  20. ^ Lewis, J.D. "27th House of Burgesses". Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
  21. ^ "Overview of the Colonial Period". NCPEDIA. Archived from the original on October 23, 2019. Retrieved October 22, 2019.
  22. ^ Lewis, J.D. "House of Burgesses of North Carolina". Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  23. ^ Lewis, J.D. "Executive Councils of Royal Governors". Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  24. ^ Lewis, J.D. "The Royal Colony Governors". Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  25. ^ Robinson, Blackwell P. (1963). The Five Royal Governors of North Carolina 1729-1775.
  26. ^ "History of the Supreme Court of North Carolina" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2016. Retrieved October 20, 2015.
  27. ^ Purvis, Thomas L. (1999). Balkin, Richard (ed.). Colonial America to 1763. New York: Facts on File. pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-0816025275.
  28. ^ "Colonial and Pre-Federal Statistics" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. p. 1168.

Further reading

External links

Media files used on this page

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: PD
British Empire 1897.jpg
The World in 1897. "The British Possessions are coloured Red"
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.5
1715 Homann Map of Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey - Geographicus - VirginiaMarylandiaCarolina-homann-1715.jpg
An exceptionally beautiful example of J. B. Homann's c. 1715 map of Virginia, Carolina, Maryland, and New Jersey; considered one of the most important and decorative maps of is region to appear in the 18th century. This fine decorative map covers from New York City and Long Island south along the Atlantic Cost as far as modern day Georgia, and as far west as Lake Erie. Homann drew this map in response to Virginia Lieutenant-Governor Alexander Spotswood's plan to settled the little known interior of Virginia with German immigrants. Shown here is the first mapping of Germantown Teutsche Statt on the Rappahanock River and Fort Christanna (Christ Anna Fort) on the Makharing River. Fort Christanna was built with the intention of defending the region against incursions from hostile American Indian groups such as the Tuscarora to the west. Christanna also acted as the headquarters of the Virginia Indian Company, a stock venture founded in 1714 with the intention of trading with indigenous groups in the interior. Though Homann's remarkable representation of Spottswood's plan is extraordinarily up-to-date considering that Fort Christana was founded in the same year that this map was initially published, the remainder of the map embraces a number of common misconceptions and cartographic inaccuracies common to the region. Probably the most notable of these is his inclusion of Apalache Lacus. This fictional lake, the source of the May River, appeared on maps of this region since the mid 16th century Le Moyne-De Bry map and was popularized by Mercator and Hondius in 1606. It would remain on maps well into the mid 18th century before exploration and settlement finally disproved the theory. Further north Lake Erie and been expanded dramatically and shifted somewhat to the south where it takes on the appearance of a vast inland sea occupying the entire northwestern quadrant of the map. This region, west of the English colonies and north as far as Pennsylvana, Homann attaches to the Spanish claims in Florida. Homan's also offers a wealth of detail along the Atlantic coast, where most of the European colonization efforts were focused. From Long Island, about two-thirds of which is shown, south to Craven County, Carolina, countless towns and cities are identified. New York City is mapped on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, but is not specifically labeled. New Jersey is divided into the colonial provinces of East New Jersey and West New Jersey. Curiously Homann maps a large inland lake Zuyd Lac straddling the New Jersey - Pennsylvania border. This is no doubt a early misinterpretation of the natural widening of the Delaware River at the Delaware Water Gap. Heading south along the Delaware River Philadelphia is identified and beautifully rendered as a grid embraced in four quadrants. Both the Delaware Bay and the Chesapeake Bay are rendered in full and even include a number of undersea notations and depth soundings. In Virginia and Carolina the river systems are surprisingly well mapped and a primitive county structure is beginning to emerge. The early Virginia counties of Rappahannock, Henrico, City, Isle of Wright, Nansemond, Northumberland, Middlesex, Gloster and Corotvk are noted. Similarly in Carolina a number of counties are named, most of which refer to the Lords Proprietors, including Albemarle, Clarenden, and Craven. Cape Fear, Cape Lookout, and Cape Hattaras are noted and a number of anchorages, reefs, and depth sounding are noted along the entire coastline. The lower right quadrant of this map is occupied by a fabulous decorative title cartouche. Centered on an enormous scallop shell bearing the map's title and Homann's Privilege, the cartouche features a number of stylized American Indians trading with European merchants. The wealth of the region is expressed by an abundance of fish, game, and other trade products.
A new accurate map of the provinces of North & South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana in 1752.jpg
Scale ca. 1:2,900,000. Relief shown pictorially. "No. 60." From the author (Bowen, Emanuel, -1767): A complete atlas or distinct view of the known world. [London, 1752]
Crown of Saint Edward Heraldry.svg
Author/Creator: This W3C-unspecified vector image was created with Inkscape., Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Artistic representation of Saint Edward's Crown (the crown of the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms). Used in heraldry and vexillology.
Coat of Arms of Great Britain (1714-1801).svg
Author/Creator: Sodacan, Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0

Coat of Arms of Great Britain from 1714 to 1801 used by King George I, George II and George III

Quarterly, First quarter, Per pale, dexter, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure (for England), sinister, Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory counter-flory Gules (for Scotland), Second quarter Azure three fleurs de lys Or (For France), Third quarter Azure a harp Or stringed Argent (for Ireland), Fourth quarter, Tierced per pale and per chevron, First Gules two lions passant guardant Or (for Brunswick), Second Or semée of hearts Gules a lion rampant Azure (For Luneburg), Third Gules a horse courant Argent (For Hanover), an inescutcheon over all three, Gules the Crown of Charlemagne Proper (As Archtreasurer of the Holy Roman Empire), the whole surrounded by the Garter; for a Crest, upon the Royal helm the imperial crown Proper, thereon a lion statant guardant Or imperially crowned Proper; Mantling Or and ermine; for Supporters, dexter a lion rampant guardant Or crowned as the Crest, sinister a unicorn Argent armed, crined and unguled Proper, gorged with a coronet Or composed of crosses patée and fleurs de lys a chain affixed thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back also Or; Motto 'Dieu et mon Droit' in the compartment below the shield, with the Union rose, shamrock and thistle engrafted on the same stem.
  • PINCHES, J.H & R.V., The Royal Heraldry of England, 1974, Heraldry Today.
Granville district.jpg
Author/Creator: Copyright 2008, The University of North Carolina School of Education, Licence: CC BY-SA 2.5
The division of proprietary rights between the Carteret Family and the crown in the Province of North Carolina between 1729-1776
1738 map of North Carolina.jpg
"Chart of his majestie's province of North Carolina with a full description of the coast, 1738." Courtesy of the North Carolina State Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Great Valley Road Map.png

Family Search Wiki user: Description: Map of the Great Valley Road in the southeast United States. Drawn by: Diltsgd (FamilySearch Wiki). Date: 26 July 2010. Source: Self. Based on description in Wikipedia article.

Permission: Public domain. I, Diltsgd (FamilySearch Wiki), the copyright holder of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In case this is not legally possible: I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law., Licence: CC0
The Great Valley Road went from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Roanoke, Virginia. There it split with one fork going to Knoxville, Tennessee, and the other to Augusta, Georgia
Josiah Martin.jpg
"Gov. Josiah Martin (1737-1786)." ca. 1775
Tryon Palace, North Carolina's First Colonial Capital, New Bern LCCN2011631094.tif
Title: Tryon Palace, North Carolina's First Colonial Capital, New Bern

Physical description: 1 transparency : color ; 4 x 5 in. or smaller.

Notes: Title, date, and keywords provided by the photographer.; Digital image produced by Carol M. Highsmith to represent her original film transparency; some details may differ between the film and the digital images.; Forms part of the Selects Series in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive.; Gift and purchase; Carol M. Highsmith; 2011; (DLC/PP-2011:124).; Credit line: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.