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North Carolina in the 1600s


Picture of King Charles II
Picture of King Charles II

Although Raleigh failed to plant a permanent colony, he gave impetus to ventures that succeeded elsewhere, some of them on land that had been part of his grant. In 1606 King James I of England granted patents to two commercial companies, the Plymouth Company of Virginia and the London Company of Virginia, to colonize Virginia. The London Company dispatched three ships, the Susan Constant, the Goodspeed, and the Discovery, under the command of Captain Christopher Newport. In May 1607 the voyagers landed on a swampy peninsula and erected James Fort, the nucleus of Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America.

In 1629 James’s son, King Charles I, split off the part of Virginia south of Albemarle Sound, which was still unsettled, to make a new proprietary colony called, after himself, Carolana. Charles granted Carolana to his attorney general, Sir Robert Heath. The grant was from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean between latitudes 31° north and 36° north.

The Lords Proprietors


Heath was never able to undertake the settlement of Carolana. So in 1663 King Charles II, the son of Charles I, changed the name slightly to Carolina and regranted the land to eight lords who had helped him regain the English throne. In 1665 these men, known as the lords proprietors, obtained a new charter that greatly extended the boundaries to the north and the south to include all the land between latitudes 36°30’ north and 29° north.

The lords proprietors planned three counties in Carolina, each named for one of them: Albemarle, Clarendon, and Craven. Albemarle County already had some settlers who had come from Virginia in the 1650s and was the only one of the three counties to play an important role in North Carolina history.

Until 1689 Albemarle County had the only proprietary government in Carolina. During that period 12 officials served by appointment, under varying titles and for irregular terms, as governor of the county.

The governor was assisted by a council, which he appointed. The council advised the governor in executive and legislative matters, sat with the elected assembly as part of the legislature, and served with the governor as the general court for legal disputes. In most matters the legislature was subordinate to the governor. It could not convene unless he called it, and he could veto its decisions. However, the legislature controlled the governor’s salary and used this power to strengthen its authority. In 1689 the proprietors, in an effort to improve administration, began appointing governors over that part of Carolina lying north and east of Cape Fear. This was a first step toward creation of a distinct identity for North Carolina, although the governor was a deputy under the governor of Carolina. North Carolina and South Carolina became popular terms. "North Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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