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Province of North Carolina

Province of North Carolina

Motto: Quae Sera Tamen Respexit
"Which, though late, looked upon me"
The Province of North Carolina in 1776, prior to the American Revolutionary War
The Province of North Carolina in 1776,
prior to the American Revolutionary War
StatusColony of Great Britain
Official languagesEnglish
LegislatureGeneral Assembly
Provincial Council
House of Assembly
Historical eraGeorgian era
• Separation from Province of Carolina
January 24, 1712
July 4, 1776
CurrencyNorth Carolina pound
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Province of Carolina
State of North Carolina
Today part ofUnited States
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee

The Province of North Carolina was a British colony that existed in North America from 1712 to 1776, created as a proprietary colony. The power of the British government was vested in a governor of North Carolina, but the colony declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. The Province of North Carolina had four capitals: Bath (1712–1722), Edenton (1722–1743), Brunswick (1743–1770), and New Bern (after 1770). The colony later became the states of North Carolina and Tennessee, and parts of the colony combined with other territory to form the states of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.[1]


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.[2] 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.[3]

The division of the colony into north and south was completed at a meeting of the Lords Proprietors held at Craven House[a] 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.[5] 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.[6]

The dividing line showing the area managed by the descendants of George Carteret

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.[5]

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.


Two important maps of the province were reproduced: one by Edward Moseley in 1733, and another by John Collet in 1770. 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.[7]


From 1770 to 1775, the Governor's Palace in New Bern was the meeting place of the General Assembly, North Carolina's provincial legislature.

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 [8]
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

See also


  1. ^ Craven House, Drury Lane, London was named after William Craven, 1st Earl of Craven (1608–1697). The five story house was demolished in 1809.[4]


  1. ^ Lawson, John (1709). A New Voyage to Carolina. London. p. A2. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  2. ^ Danforth Prince (10 March 2011). Frommer's The Carolinas and Georgia. John Wiley & Sons. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-118-03341-8.
  3. ^ Lawson, John (1709). A New Voyage to Carolina. London. pp. 239–254. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  4. ^ Wheatley, Cunningham (1891). London Past and Present. Volume 1 A-D. London: John Murray. p. 472. OCLC 832579536. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b Hugh T. Lefler and William S. Powell, Colonial North Carolina: A History (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1973)
  6. ^ Mitchell, Thornton W., "Granville Grant and District", Encyclopedia of North Carolina, William S. Powell, ed. (UNC Press, 2006)
  7. ^ Richard A. Stephenson and William S. Powell. "Maps". North Carolina Government & Heritage Library. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  8. ^ "History of the Supreme Court of North Carolina" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 21, 2016. Retrieved October 20, 2015.

Further reading

External links