kids encyclopedia robot

Province of North Carolina facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Province of North Carolina
Province of Great Britain

Flag Coat of arms
British Red Ensign Royal coat of arms
Location of North Carolina
An orthographic projection of the world, highlighting North Carolina (green).
Capital city
Government Constitutional monarchy
 -  1712–1714 Anne
 -  1714–1727 George I
 -  1727–1760 George II
 -  1760–1776 George III
 -  1712 Edward Hyde (first)
 -  1771–1776 Josiah Martin (last)
Legislature General Assembly
 -  Upper house Council
 -  Lower house House of Burgesses
Historical era Georgian era
 -  Partition of Carolina January 24,
 -  Declaration of Independence from Great Britain July 4,
Today part of United States

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.


King Charles II of England granted the Carolina charter in 1663 for land south of Virginia Colony and north of Spanish Florida. He granted the land to eight Lords Proprietors in return for their financial and political assistance in restoring him to the throne in 1660. The northern half of the colony differed significantly from the southern half, and transportation and communication were difficult between the two regions, so a separate deputy governor was named to administer the northern half of the colony starting in 1691.

The division of the colony into north and south was completed at a meeting of the Lords Proprietors held at Craven House in London on December 7, 1710, although the same proprietors continued to control both colonies. The first Governor of the separate North Carolina province was Edward Hyde. Unrest against the proprietors in South Carolina in 1719 led King George I to appoint a royal governor in that colony, 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 Proprietors. The remaining one-eighth share of the Province was retained by members of the Carteret family until 1776, part of North Carolina known as the Granville District.

Granville district
The dividing line showing the area managed by the descendants of George Carteret
Great Valley Road Map
Map of the Great Valley Road

In the late eighteenth century, the tide of immigration to North Carolina from Virginia and Pennsylvania began to swell. The Scots-Irish (Ulster Protestants) from what is today Northern Ireland were the largest immigrant group from the British Isles to the colonies before the Revolution. In total, English 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 American Revolution, North Carolina was the fastest-growing British colony in North America. The small family farms of Piedmont contrasted sharply with the plantation economy of the coastal region, where wealthy planters had established a slave society, growing tobacco and rice with slave labor.

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 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, the so-called "cohee". During the Revolutionary War, the English and Highland Scots of eastern North Carolina tended to remain loyal to the British Crown, 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 from Britain.

With no cities and very few towns or villages, the colony was rural and thinly populated. Local taverns provided multiple services ranging from strong drink, beds for travelers, and 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, as well as 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 18th century from the province's seats of power on the coast, particularly after the conclusion of the Tuscarora and Yamasee wars, in which the largest barrier was removed to colonial 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 tribes were effectively neutralized. King George III issued the Proclamation of 1763 in order to stifle potential conflict with Indians in that region, including the 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 River and Watauga River. This proclamation was not strictly obeyed and was widely detested in North Carolina, but it somewhat delayed migration westward until after the American Revolutionary War.

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 country.

Geography and administrative divisions

1715 Homann Map of Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey - Geographicus - VirginiaMarylandiaCarolina-homann-1715
Albemarle County in an upper portion of Carolina in a 1715 map by Johann Baptist Homann
1738 map of North Carolina
1738 map of North Carolina
A new accurate map of the provinces of North & South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana in 1752
North Carolina in 1752

The oldest precincts (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. Edward Mosely was the Surveyor General of the Province of North Carolina before 1710 and 1723 to 1733. He was also the first colonial Treasurer of North Carolina, starting in 1715. He was responsible, with William Byrd II of Virginia Colony, 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 portions of the province, or, more specifically, the coastline of the province along with that of South Carolina.

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).

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 American Revolution), Campbellton (established in 1762), Edenton (chartered in 1712), Halifax (chartered in 1757), Hillsborough (1754), New Bern (settled in 1710, chartered in 1723), Salisbury (chartered in 1753), and Wilmington (founded in 1732, chartered in 1739 or 1749). Campbellton and the town of Cross Creek (established in 1765) were combined in 1783 to form the town of Fayetteville. Each of these nine major towns had a single representative in the North Carolina House of Burgesses in 1775.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1720 21,270 —    
1730 30,000 +41.0%
1740 51,760 +72.5%
1750 72,984 +41.0%
1760 110,442 +51.3%
1770 197,200 +78.6%
1780 270,138 +37.0%
1786 123,785 −54.2%
Source: 1720–1760; 1786 1770–1780
Tryon Palace
From 1770 to 1775, the Governor's Palace in New Bern was the meeting place of the North Carolina Colonial Assembly.

There were two primary branches of government, the governor and his council and the colonial assembly, called the House of Burgesses. All colonial officials were appointed by either the Lords Proprietor prior to 1728 or The Crown afterwards. The Crown 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 colonial 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 Burgess, were elected from each precinct (called county after 1736) and from districts (also called boroughs or towns, which were large centers of population).

Governors of the Province of North Carolina

The eight persons appointed by the Crown to serve as Governor of the province during nine Executive councils included the following:

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

The last Executive Council

The last Governor of the Province of North Carolina was Josiah Martin, who served from 1771 to 1776. His Executive Council included the following members:

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

Governor Josiah Martin and the Executive Council issued a proclamation on April 8, 1775 dissolving the Province of North Carolina's General Assembly after the House of Burgesses presented a resolve endorsing the Continental Congress that was to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As the Council met for the last time onboard HMS Cruizer in the Cape Fear River on July 18, 1775, they noted that the "deluded people of this Province" will 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 New Bern, consisting of a Chief Justice and three Associate Justices.

Chief Justices of the Supreme Court
Incumbent Tenure Notes
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
Daniel Hanmer 1734
William Smith 1740 on return from England, died 1740
John Montgomery 1740
Edward Moseley 1744 1749
Enoch Hall 1749
Eleazer Allen 1749
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
1773–1777 No Courts held

Related events


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1720 21,270 —    
1730 30,000 +41.0%
1740 51,760 +72.5%
1750 72,984 +41.0%
1760 110,442 +51.3%
1770 197,200 +78.6%
Source: 1720–1760; 1770

Images for kids

kids search engine
Province of North Carolina Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.