Province of North Carolina was a province of Great Britain that existed in North America from 1712(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.
|Province of North Carolina|
|Province of Great Britain|
An orthographic projection of the world, highlighting North Carolina (green).
|• Type||Constitutional monarchy|
|• Motto||Quae Sera Tamen Respexit (Latin)|
"Which, though late, looked upon me"
|Edward Hyde (first)|
|Josiah Martin (last)|
• Upper house
• Lower house
|House of Burgesses|
|Historical era||Georgian era|
• Partition of Carolina
|January 24, 1712|
|July 4, 1776|
|Today part of||United States|
"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.
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. Charles granted the land in return for their financial and political assistance in restoring him to the throne in 1660. 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.
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. 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.
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. In October of that year the North Carolina Assembly awarded Davis the contract to carry the mail between Wilmington, North Carolina and Suffolk, Virginia.
By the late eighteenth century, the tide of immigration to North Carolina from Virginia and the Province of Pennsylvania began to swell. 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. Indentured servants, who arrived mostly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, comprised the majority of English settlers prior to the Revolution. On the eve of the Revolution, North Carolina was the fastest-growing British colony in North America.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The eight provincial governors appointed by the King were:
- Edward Hyde (1712)
- Charles Eden (1714–1722)
- George Burrington (1724–1725), (1731–1734)
- Sir Richard Everard (1725–1731)
- Gabriel Johnston (1734–1752)
- Arthur Dobbs (1754–1764)
- William Tryon (1764–1771)
- Josiah Martin (1771–1776)
The last British governor, Martin, served from 1771 to 1776. The last provincial council included the following members:
- 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.
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:
|Took office||Left office|
|Christopher Gale||1703||1731||interrupted by Tobias Knight and Frederick Jones|
|William Smith||1 Apr 1731||1731||left for England|
|John Palin||1731||18 Oct 1732|
|William Little||18 Oct 1732||1734||died 1734|
|William Smith||1740||on return from England, died 1740|
|James Hasell||name also spelled Hazel or Hazell|
|Peter Henley||1758||died 1758|
|Charles Berry||1760||1766||committed suicide, 1766|
|Martin Howard||1767||1775||Loyalist, forced to leave|
|Source: 1720–1760; 1770|
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- Cheshire, Jr., Joseph Blount (May 1890). The Church in the Province of North Carolina (Speech). Joint Centennial Convention of the Dioceses of North and East Carolina. Tarboro, N.C. – via Internet Archive.
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