CLASS, POLITICS, REBELLION AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
IN PROPRIETARY NORTH CAROLINA (1697-1720)
Charles B. Lowry
A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
The preparation of these acknowledgments is among the difficult
tasks I have had to undertake in completing this research, because the
list of people to be thanked is long and the temptation to be maudlin
great. However, it is also the most pleasant of all the assignments
related to this work. My experience at the University of Florida was
one of significant intellectual growth and maturing, and for that I
thank the departments of history and sociology. I would particularly
like to thank singly the members of my dissertation committee--John
Mahon, my chairman, whose expectation that his graduate students would
perform to a high level of professional standards was an inspiration
to do so; David Chalmers who infected all of us with a fascination for
the nuance and dynamism of the panorama of American history; Lyle
McAlister, who gave me a perspective of other cultures and places which
enriched my understanding of Colonial America; Eldon Turner, whose semi-
nar on Colonial America taught me how much there is yet to discover about
the genesis of our nation; and Benjamin Gorman of the Sociology faculty
who helped me learn that an understanding of the theory of social strati-
fication was indispensable to the conduct of research on the social
structure of early America. I also thank Max Kele, who taught me much
about modern Europe, but more about the word philosophy in the Doctor of
Drs. Paul Escott, Lyman Johnson and Fernando Bertoli, colleagues at
the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, were of great help in
focusing this work. Their urgings helped temper the fanciful and
overly ambitious ideas I brought to this work, particularly with
respect to the use of quantification and the computer. Norm Innes,
the Systems Analyst at UNCC, is the only one who will ever know how
much I have to thank him for in the fact that 5,111 machine readable
records were usable.
No one I know has ever worked at the North Carolina Department of
Archives and History without developing a deep appreciation for the
staff there. I should not fail to thank Dr. William Price who was al-
ways willing to share his knowledge of the Cary period, and Dr. Thornton
Mitchell, whose efforts to provide easy access to archives smoothed the
way at all stages of my original research. To Mr. George Stevenson and
his staff in the Search Room of the Archives, special thanks are due.
He seemed able to remember the document or collection which might shed
light on a particular problem when I had given up the search. My year's
work in the North Carolina Collection at Chapel Hill was of singular
importance for my understanding of the historical bibliography of the
period. Many individuals have contributed to the richness of that col-
lection, but I would like to thank those who were of personal help--Mr.
William Powell, formerly curator of the collection and now Professor of
History at Chapel Hill; Dr. H. G. Jones, Curator; Mrs. Jane Bahnsen;
Mrs. Alice Cotten and Mr. Jerry Cotten.
There comes a time in manuscript preparation when it is impossible
for the author to muster any further objective critique of his own work.
Four individuals at Elon College did that for me. Mrs. Kay Halbert, with
more good humor than seemed possible, typed and proofed the first drafts
of this dissertation and Mrs. Carolynn Lentz prepared the ribbon copy.
Dr. Anne Ponder proofed and corrected the entire manuscript prior to
final typing, and Mrs. Emma Lewis, the submission copy.
I come at last to my family to whom I owe the greatest thanks. My
parents, brother, sisters, their families, and my wife's family were
ever willing to support my effort. They were selfless when it came
to sharing the time which for us was so often in short supply. To
Bryan and Druhan who missed many a family outing and story hour because
of "dad's disso," I promise a change, particularly to Bryan who cannot
remember any time in his young life when I was not a student somewhere.
The person who above all shares in the completion of this goal is my
wife Fran. She helped in countless ways to give me the time to work at
my slow deliberate pace. For me the lasting effect of these years of
work is a deepened understanding of my family's constancy and love.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A ncr.m1 A ,tm
METHODS AND SOURCES . . .
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF DATA BASE MATERIALS .
NOTES . . . . .
THE FOUNDING AND SECURING OF ALBEMARLE .
NOTES . . . .
POPULATION, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT, AND
THE TUSCARORA WAR ...........
NOTES . . . . .
SOCIAL STRATIFICATION IN PROPRIETARY
SOCIETY . . . .
NOTES . . . . .
THE CARY REBELLION: REGIONAL CONFLICT
AND THE FAILURE OF COMPROMISE IN
THE POLITICAL ELITE . . .
NOTES . . . . .
AFTERMATH AND CONCLUSIONS . . .
NOTES . . . . .
TABLES I LXI . . . .
FIGURES I X . . . .
CATEGORIES FOR STATISTICAL AGGREGATIONS
OF POLITICAL OFFICEHOLDING, PROPERTY
AND STATUS CHARACTERISTICS . .
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . .
Abstract of Dissertation Submitted to the Graduate Council of the
University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
CLASS, POLITICS, REBELLION AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
IN PROPRIETARY NORTH CAROLINA (1697-1720)
Charles B. Lowry
Chairman: John K. Mahon
Major Department: History
Several themes have long dominated the historical exegesis of early
eighteenth-century North Carolina, among them the struggle between dis-
senters, notably Quakers, and Anglican establishment; the clash between
rival political groups presumed to be aligned along proprietary and
anti-proprietary lines; and an incipient regional differentiation within
the Colony taking shape in these early years of the century. Wanting in
each of these explanations has been a unifying theme which might tie
them together and provide a reasonably coherent pattern among the obvious
causes of economic and political struggle which resulted in the Cary
Rebellion. The present study focuses on the social structure of
Proprietary North Carolina during the years 1697-1720. The analysis of
the political status and class dimensions of the social stratification
system provides the vehicle for explaining the major political events of
these years. This study of social structure is based on the total
landholding population of the period, and samples drawn from it which
were representative of that total population and the political elite of
the Colony. From a detailed analysis of these samples emerged a picture
of the regional development, social stratification system, and the
political alignment of different religious and regional groups.
The southern region of Bath County prior to the Tuscarora War under-
went a period of rapid expansion as settlers took up land. This land
boom was directly linked to the Indian trade which fueled the economy of
the southern area while threatening the economic and political dominance
of the older area of Albemarle County to the north. Bath men strove for
political power and the equalization of the quitrent, poll tax, and
Assembly representation of their region. Until 1710 they were extremely
successful, but they were in direct competition with the older established
Albemarle elite, which was at the same time attempting to exclude from
the political life of the Colony the members of the Society of Friends.
Among the Quakers, therefore, the Bath men found natural political allies.
The tension within the upper levels of North Carolina's social
structure was reflected in contemporary events, notably the establishment
controversy and the attempts by the Albemarle interests to restrict the
political power of the Bath men. In early 1711 Governor Hyde under the
influence of the northern faction galvanized the opposition to action by
a precipitous attempt to exclude Bath men and Quakers alike from any role
in the government. The result was the Cary Rebellion and suppression of
the Bath men. No sooner had Hyde defeated Cary and his supporters than
the Colony was overwhelmed by the most serious Indian uprising in its
The Tuscarora War, which lasted until 1713, complicates but does
not confound the problem of historical explanation. If it had not
occurred, the post-1713 dominance of the Albemarle faction would have
been viewed as that group's revenge. The War, however, stands out in
dramatic relief and has the appearance of a major cause of these same
events. The findings of this study argue that the political, and not
the military, events played the more significant role in slowing down
Bath County growth and that it was the destruction of the power of the
Tuscarora on whom the Indian trade was dependent, rather than the devasta-
tion of the Bath settlements which weakened the region economically and
slowed its growth. Moreover, this study points to the regional economic
and political conflict, and not the religious issue, as the chief element
in the political crisis. It is to these developments that we must look
for the lasting significance of the period in understanding the history
of North Carolina as a royal colony.
METHODS AND SOURCES
Though studies of violence as a phenomenon of American social
and political history often characterize it as aberrant or anomalous,
violence has been a persistent feature of American history since the
first European set foot on the continent. 1In a sense North Carolina
is typical in the frequency with which these occurrences appear in the
colony's history. Cary's Rebellion (1711) was the second and last
major upheaval in the history of Proprietary North Carolina, and was
one of several other lesser instances of the use of force to change
the established order. The unsettled social structure of North
Carolina during this period exemplifies a society whose participants
were unsure of their relative positions in that social stratification
system. Out of the social structure of North Carolina this study will
unfold an explanation of the causes of the Cary uprising. In short,
the historical explanation for Cary's Rebellion is drawn from socio-
logical premises based on economic and social data. As Barber indicates,
any theory of social structure must be multidimensional to explain
effectively an actual society. 2 The theoretical approach in this
research is modeled on the work of two important social theorists--
Karl Marx and Max Weber.
Marx uses class as a dynamic term and an analytical tool, rather
than a static and descriptive term. He contended that the determinant
of class is property defined as effective means of production. Marx's
analysis and definition of property is based principally on a narrow
legal meaning. Because land quite clearly fits these constraints,
within the context of this research, land is considered a nearly synony-
mous term with property. Land is the chief unit of production in an
agrarian society. Its distribution within the various strata of such
society determines quite directly the social ecology. Land is the
prime determinant of wealth, power and prestige, and can, therefore, be
looked on as the pivot of a stratification system, since it is the
variable upon which all others are more or less contingent.
The extent to which the ownership and control of the land is
concentrated in a few hands or widely distributed among
those who live from farming is probably the most important 5
single determinant of the welfare of the people on the land.
For the purposes of this study, sampling of individuals to represent
the class structure of Proprietary North Carolina is based on the land-
holding population. However, as will be seen shortly, there are suf-
ficient grounds in accepted historical methodology to use exactly the
same approach regardless of the theory of class, property or production
Around Marx and Max Weber has sprung up a constellation of arguments
highly colored by the ideological positions of the proponents of first
one and then the other. Critics justifiably argue that neither man
completed a theory of classes. Less convincing, however, is the charge
that Marx developed a theory of social stratification, while Weber was
interested only in the taxonomy and description of social stratification.
Much effort has been squandered attempting to characterize Weber as
anti-Marxian. Even a cursory reading of his works would indicate the
large debt he owes to Marx and the fact that he moves in the Marxian orbit.
A fair assessment would be that Weber amplified and enriched Marx's
theory of social inequality, not that he superseded or supplanted it.
Marx's perspective stressed the dynamic aspects of stratification with
the result that change was his focus. Weber concentrated on the complex
interrelationships between class and what Marx called the superstructure.
The pivot of the Marxian stratification system of property is productive
power, but to the Weberian it is the unequal distribution of power within
components of the stratification system. "Now: 'classes,' 'status
groups,' and 'parties' are phenomena of the distribution of power within
a community we understand by 'power' the chance of a man or of a
number of men to realize their own will in a communal action even against
the resistance of others who are participating in the action." Central
to this position is the idea that the stratification system is multi-
dimensional. Consequently, the position of individuals and groups can-
not be determined solely by looking at their positions in the economic
(class) structure, but only by examining their relative positions in all
three orders of stratification.
For Weber as Marx, the basis for an individual's class is possession
of property or lack of property and the various stages between the ex-
tremes. Added to the distribution of property is the structure of
market exchange. "This mode of distribution gives to the propertied a
monopoly on the possibility of transferring property." 9 Weber left in-
complete a more developed scheme for the class dimension of stratification--
property classes, acquisition classes, and social classes, the latter
bearing strong resemblance to a "status group." 10 Thus far Weber and
Marx are in agreement. Class stratification is determined by not only
the kind and amount of property possessed in any historical period, but
also the ability to utilize and transfer property. At this point Weber
diverges. Since he could not accept the concept of corporate class
consciousness and the Marxian dichotomy of exploiter and exploited upon
which it was based, he stressed the interaction of class and status
In the discussion of status groups, the second of the three
dimensions of stratification Weber described, comes his most important
challenge to Marx, for therein lies the social psychological dimension
of his stratification theory. The "status situation" reflects a number
of fundamentally related features for.each status group or social class.
In his discussion of social classes Weber developed in more detail some
of the characteristics of the status group. "The terms of 'social
status' will be applied to a typically effective claim to positive or
negative privilege with respect to social prestige so far as it rests on
one or more bases" including mode of living, formal processes of
education and prestige of birth or occupation. 1 In addition, Weber
drew attention to the tendency of status groups to monopolize life styles,
occupations, "position of prestige by birth," and finally the "appropriation
of political or hierocratic authority." 1 One of the primary character-
istics of status groups is closure which is the basis for their exclusive-
ness and monopoly of consumption which can be legalized, as with sumptuary
What is the connection between class and status groups? Weber
understood that each recognizable symbol is defined by the status
group or status honor regularly reflected class, but emphasized, as he
often did, the reversible proposition. "Status honor need not necessarily
be linked with a class situation. On the contrary, it normally stands in
sharp opposition to the pretensions of sheer property." 15 Status member-
ship influences the class dimension of social organization by limiting
the kinds of property or economic pursuits which are considered acceptable.
Moreover, the prestige of birth frequently means that, even when an
individual demonstrates appropriate property or occupation and the correct
features of life style, acceptance into the status group is not necessarily
It is the tendency of the status group to override class considerations
and undermine class consciousness, which is the necessary ingredient in
the Marxian model for class conflict and concomitant social change. The
tendency of classes to fragment along status lines is a key feature which
undermines the effects of political action, including revolution, aimed
at overturning the dominant class. 18
Whereas the genuine place of "classes" is within the eco-
nomic order, the place of "status groups" is within the
social order, that is, within the sphere of the distribu-
tion of "honor." From within these spheres, classes and
status groups influence one another and they influence
the legal order and are in turn influenced by it. But
"parties" live in a house of power. 19
The structure of parties is founded in politics, its realm of
operation. Politics for Weber was "a common activity of men throughout
history and not to be confused with the state, which is only one of its
historical expressions, and precisely the one corresponding to the trend
of modern civilization toward rationalization." 20 The characteristics
of political activity are that political activity takes place in a
defined territory; that individuals within the territory adopt a
meaningful system of conduct; and that the principal instrument of
political action is force with the ultimate potential of violence.
Domination 2is the normal application of raw power and refers to the
probability that a command will be carried out. Political action is
the human activity which appropriates the right of domination within the
established territory. "In a word, politics is the process which cease-
lessly aims at forming, developing, obstructing, shifting or overturning
relations of domination." 22
The state is merely a "compulsory political association with con-
tinuous organization" of an administrative staff which has successfully
monopolized the legitimate use of physical force. Parties are as-
sociational groups oriented toward the control of the administrative
staff. Parties may draw their membership from class or status groups but
need not be purely class or status parties. Their organization is de-
pendent on the kind of "communal action" which they seek to influence.
Parties differ according to whether the community is stratified on a
basis of class or status groups.
Any study which proposes to examine the social stratification of a
society must be, above all, representative of the population of the
society studied. Novel approaches are often fruitful, but the total
population must somehow be represented in the data gathering, whether a
random sample is drawn from it or not. Scholars examining stratification
of modern societies may depend on national census data to satisfy this
requirement through total representation of populations. However, the
historian of eighteenth-century America must cast around for records
which meet scholarly criteria, but which were created for other purposes
as much as three centuries ago. Thus, two requirements must be met:
firstly, the record source must reasonably reflect the individuals who
made up the society; and secondly, sufficient care must be taken to insure
that portions of the data which would affect representativeness have not
been destroyed. The first requirement is met in part by two important
eighteenth-century sources for North Carolina, the lists of tithables
drawn for the poll tax and the quitrent rolls drawn to insure the Lords
Proprietors earned money from their dominions. The availability of data
relative to the second requirement presents historians with a problem.
In the northern colonies taxes on property provided the major per-
manent feature of the systems of taxation and reflected the major dif-
ference from government funding in the southern colonies. In the
South the principal sources of revenue were the poll tax for irregular
or unusual expenditures and quitrents and export duties for normal
government funding. The assertion that the poll tax was the "chief
source of revenue in North Carolina" 28 is not precisely true, since it
was used along with the temporary land tax and bills of credit as the
primary means for relieving extraordinary obligations. Notable among
these was the Tuscarora War debt.
The poll tax was a capitation which originated in England in the
mid-seventeenth century and by the end of the century was considered
too ineffectual to be continued. In North Carolina it took the form of
a tax on laborers, and in spite of continued application throughout the
colonial period, was a mixed success. The first instance of the use of
the poll tax was the legislation of 1715 which was intended to help
establish a sinking fund for the war debt. A tithable list was prepared
for each precinct and included all heads of household, free males of
sixteen, and slaves of both sexes above the age of twelve years--all
of which were subject to a fifteen shilling per-capita tax generally
paid in commodities. These tithable lists, if complete, would pro-
vide an excellent demographic sample for the period 1715-1720, but not
the remainder of the period under study 1697-1714. As it is, the
extant tithable records do not provide the firm basis necessary for
making generalizations, because of the possibility of avoiding taxes,
especially in the disorganized state of affairs following the Tuscarora
War. Tax evasion was repeatedly lamented by authorities. Moreover,
exemptions were allowed to the tax for paupers or financially incapaci-
tated individuals. Concealment, evasion and incomplete reporting
damage the value of the record source. Even the most ambitious study of
these lists can make only tentative estimates from these data. 3 More-
over, the use of the more comprehensive data provided by the land and
probate records indicates a population, slave and free, of considerably
different composition and size.
Since the land tax on acreage was only a temporary and infrequently
used source of revenue, it produced no records which could be applied
effectively to a stratification study. Moreover, the absence of an
effective land tax was in part due to the existence of the system of
quitrents, which, as applied by the Lords Proprietors, had a desultory
history. Quitrents were a customary institution in England which de-
veloped from feudal dues. By paying rents tenants were free of all
feudal charges. Rents were, therefore, part of the process whereby the
English peasantry was transformed from villeinage to freehold and copy-
hold, eliminating the old payments in kind and labor to the lord. In
this respect quitrents clearly illustrate the feudal relationship be-
tween the colonies and England.
The enforcement patterns for quitrent collection are impossible to
determine. We do know that the payment of salaries for individuals on
the civil list exhausted whatever collections were produced. Moreover,
as with other taxes, the rents could be paid for in commodities. The
constant complaint by officials that rent rolls and collection were in-
adequate and the local adjustments in rents made the Assembly would lead
one to believe that enforcement was difficult. Yet, efforts were made
to enforce the quitrent with regularity and, when this failed, officials
used litigation to seize lands. Governor Burrington claimed that there
were no arrears of rents in North Carolina at the end of the Proprietary
period. And while he was not an unimpeachable witness, it is indicative
that there were not wholesale violations. Nevertheless, it is striking
that the records of the enforcement of this "tax" are not to be found prior
to 1730. It should be remembered that these records were generated at
the local level and then passed to the provincial government. As late as
1767 no proper rent roll was readily available due to general lack of care
for records. Thus, what might be a promising record source for studying
the social stratification structure is virtually nonexistent.
In land records, the historian discovers a plentiful source of
materials for both demographics and property ownership. Why would land
records have been preserved with relatively more care than the records of
the land tax, poll tax and quitrents? In the first place, colonials had
good cause to ensure that the records of their property ownership were
adequately preserved. And it is likely that this natural, if self-serving,
inclination is the primary reason that a book of deeds was more valued
than a rent roll. It was important that the entire sequence of land
records be preserved in order to insure proper title, whereas, tax rolls
were constantly under revision from year to year since a new roll was
important for each annual taxation. Consequently, there are no extant
rent rolls for the period and tithable lists cover just five years.
But land records number in the thousands and cover the entire period
There is every reason to believe that most adult males owned land
by legal title. First of all, anyone who immigrated to the colony could
obtain a headright plus rights for members of his family. What poor
Virginian, immigrating to North Carolina, would overlook such largess?
Most immigration was overland (principally from Virginia); therefore,
instances in which individuals would have to pay for their transportation
by assigning their headrights to someone else were far fewer than in
colonies where initial immigration was trans-Atlantic.
The Lords Proprietors sought to limit the amassing of vast tracts of
land for speculative or estate building purposes. They were none too suc-
cessful in this objective. The colonial government constantly responded
to local needs in distribution of land as in the manipulation of the tax
system. And even if the bulk of the large grants were restricted to those
with influence, private sales were numerous. Thus, the evidence is so
overwhelming that, taken as a whole, the land records represent the popu-
lation, and in so doing provide the soundest basis for examination of the
stratification system of Proprietary North Carolina.
The representative character of the land records should be noted in
light of the theoretical assertion at the beginning of this chapter that
the landholding population represents the total population of the
stratification system. If there was a significant tenantry in North
Carolina, then some qualification would have to be made in this position.
In fact, any evidence of real tenantry as revealed by land rentals re-
corded in precinct deed books was minuscule. In addition, those cases
of land rentals which did occur were frequently for token amounts, such
as an ear of corn or a chickpea. This would suggest that they were in
fact not landlord-tenant relations at all, but consanguinity or friend-
ship. There remains, of course, the possibility that records of tenantry
were principally private, but it is worth noting that no significant
evidence for it exists in the many published works for the Colonial period.
Besides, specie was scarce, especially among poor farmers, and large land-
owners could make more speculating in land than by accepting commodity
payments for renting it. Finally, before accepting a tenant relationship,
a young man or immigrant could squat and secure title at a later time
through grants. This in fact happened often even among more notable
settlers. Thus North Carolina does not represent that tightly controlled
pattern of land development which characterized the New England village;
however, even in that more orderly environment, tenantry was virtually
A full discussion of the land system is presented in Chapter III.
Here the discussion is confined to the content and use of the two types of
land records as historical sources. The last section of this chapter is
devoted to the documentation of all printed and manuscript sources used
to create the data base for the study of property ownership. A study of
the land records for the period reveals that they have been distributed
through many manuscript collections, though some are available in print.
This scattering of records occurred in spite of the fact that "the granting
of land and the entering of the grants came to constitute not only the
most important records of the early colonial period, but also perhaps
the most important function of government other than the keeping of law
and order." Two types of records comprise this body of literature--the
original grants or patents issued in the names of the Lords Proprietors
and later the Crown, and the sales of the land which had passed into
Land grants were for the most part made for unimproved land, though
occasionally the land was actually settled for enough years prior to
patenting to have become an effective operating plantation. The informa-
tion which is normally encountered includes date of the grant, the name
of a single grantee, total acreage of the patent, county and precinct
location, and metes and bounds laid off in the traditional eighteenth-
century method using natural markers, such as streams, rocky out-croppings,
and trees, the measures of poles and chains, and frequent use of local
place names. Metes and bounds also frequently include the names of
individuals with adjacent property. Since the grants had to be recorded
with the secretary of state, the great bulk of these land grants are con-
tained in the records of the Land Office in Raleigh, but it is not pos-
sible to locate all the records there, as can be seen in the source
The second type of record, private sales, was by law and custom
recorded in the precinct deed books. Manuscript or microfilm copies of
these are now available in the State Archives and a few have been edited
and published. Since most of this land was improved, the relative amount
of information was considerably greater than in a land grant. Typically
the recorded transfer of property might include: the seller who was
usually the head of household; his wife who had dower rights; genealogical
information; the purchaser; purchase price expressed in sterling, "North
Carolina currency," a specified amount or value of commodities, or
indication that the transfer was by other means, such as deed of gift;
acreage and metes and bounds as in grants; names of former owners to
secure title; testators' names; amount of a penal bond if one were posted;
improvements in the land including houses and other buildings, livestock
when included in the sale, vineyards, and the like; indication if the
land were a principal residence; date of the transfer and date of the
recording of the deed in the precinct court; and often occupational or
prestige information, such as honorific titles and county of residence for
buyer and seller alike. Obviously, these are valuable data suitable for a
variety of research methodologies.
The use of quantification in historical research must adhere to the
normal canons of historical methodology. This rule is nowhere more evi-
dent than in dealing with the body of records discussed here. Careful
and sensitive analysis of these documents will reveal a mass of information
suitable for conversion into machine readable form. Conversely the now
cliched acronym of the data processing profession holds--GIGO or "garbage
in, garbage out." If these records are dealt with in a cursory or
superficial manner all the application of a powerful computer technology
will make nothing of them. It would not be possible to recount the subtle
nuances of each record or the numerous time consuming and detailed col-
lations which were required to interpret the land records. Problems
ranged from practical to paleographic; however, some of the general pitfalls
and practices recounted below establish the flavor of the research tech-
niques used. Among the most significant is identification of individuals,
Was the Nathaniel Blount who purchased a plantation on the Perquimans
River in 1705 the same Nathaniel Blount who obtained a land grant at the
mouth of the Chowan three years later? Such questions are principally
genealogical, but without answers to them general property ownership or
officeholding of any individual cannot be reconstructed. Without answers,
the historian is reduced to making only the most general observations about
distribution of property, prestige, and office.
The initial difficulty of comparing the records was the random
repetition of names. This potential problem was overcome by creating an
alphabetical card file of individuals. Each entry contained the name of an
individual involved in a land transaction between 1697 and 1720, a unique
"ID" number for the individual, and genealogical or other identifying
information from the records consulted. As the file grew in size and detail,
it was progressively possible to associate the multiple appearance of the
same individual. For instance, John White of Chowan, Cordwainer, and his
wife Lovenia who bought land in Perquimans in 1698 might not at first be
associated with the John White granted land in Beaufort in 1701. However,
when the land grant in Beaufort was sold by John White of Chowan and his
wife Lovenia in 1703, the association could be legitimately established.
An effort was made never to associate the same name unless there was a pre-
ponderance of evidence to do so. Genealogical reference tools listed at
the end of this chapter and the land records themselves provided a wealth
of information to make these distinctions. Decisions have been made on the
side of prudence, thus avoiding the spurious association. Ultimately this
file of names reached 2848 individuals and was increased by introducing,
as part of the file, persons whose property was mentioned in metes and
bounds, but who had not actively purchased land or obtained grants during
the 1697-1720 period.
A second type of information which required a fairly sophisticated
use of the records was establishing the geographical location of patents
or deeds. At first glance this might not appear too difficult a problem
since the precinct involved is frequently, though not always, mentioned.
However, to study with any precision the regional development of the
colony across nearly a quarter of a century, a more precise location than
political jurisdiction was needed. Metes and bounds are the key to pin-
pointing locations on the map. Contemporary place names presented a
serious obstacle, which was dealt with through the use of the sources
listed at the end of this chapter and by establishing a card file of place
names and collating them across a number of documents until their locations
could be established. For some place names this correlation was increas-
ingly specific as to location, whereas for others the precinct location
was the most precise that could be established. This file of geographic
place names was frequently helpful in identifying individual landowners
and vice versa.
The undertaking of a full study of the nearly 3000 individuals in the
population was neither necessary nor possible, but with the total land-
holding population established, it was possible to define appropriate
samples for the more detailed studies of political power and prestige. A
target sample size of 100 or 3.5 percent was designated, and a table of
random numbers was used to draw the sample on the "ID" numbers. Some
individuals were eliminated from the sample by further research and the
sample was augmented, thus creating a random sample which was statistically
representative of the general population.
As discussed earlier, a principal focus in this study was on the
role of the political dimension of the stratification system. This could
be achieved in part by a study sample of the general population.
However, an examination of political officeholders comprising the
political elite of the period was also made. The operational definition
for inclusion in the political elite was the holding of at least one
provincial level office during the period, with the result that any
individual elected an assemblyman or appointed to colony-wide office
was included for study. This sample produced a group of 147 individuals,
of whom seven had already appeared in the random sample of the general
population. Interestingly, though this sample was drawn on an independent
basis from the 1697-1720 landholding population, only eight of this po-
litical elite had not previously turned up in that population. The
definition of political elite by high officeholding has an element of
arbitrariness and is in part based on the availability of information
about officeholding at this level. All political officeholding, down to
the precinct level, was included in the analysis of the sample of general
population and the political elite.
For each of the individuals in both of these samples of population a
full genealogical and biographical search was conducted over an array of
printed and manuscript sources which are listed at the end of this chap-
ter. The purpose of this research was to establish what might be termed
full biographical inventories illustrating all political officeholding,
including minor public offices and appearances in court; all property
ownership, both real and personal; the level of life style or status as
illustrated by consumption of goods, minor entitlement, religious affili-
ation and the like; and finally occupational roles and political group
and party alignment.
Much biographical and genealogical information was available from
the study of the landholding population. In addition, probate records,
genealogical reference tools, printed sources, and a few miscellaneous
accounts of the period were consulted. If Clio could grant a wish with
respect to these records, it would be that for each individual in the
two samples, a will and estate inventory should exist. Unfortunately
the extant probate records do not fulfill wishes, especially early in the
century. Wills recorded in Proprietary North Carolina, while fairly
numerous, tend to represent upper strata of society, as do inventories
In the Southern colonies inventories were generally taken within
ninety days of the probate of a will by the executor, and the same period
applied for cases of intestate. Their purpose was to enumerate the
movable property of the deceased prior to the dissolution of the estate
so that the creditors could be satisfied and the terms of the will met.
Since landholding was already established for these individuals, the
probate records round out the picture of wealth. However, they do con-
siderably more, for items enumerated in wills provide an indication of
the consumption levels and life styles of individuals. Jewelry, fine
clothes, or silverware indicate wealth, just as earthenware, wooden uten-
sils and leather breeches tell us of a humbler existence. Estate's in-
ventories are even richer in details of consumption level and may be
mined for indications for all sorts of scholarly endeavor. The linguist
and intellectual historians may find information about literacy and
learning. Interest in symbols of social stratification are satisfied in
furnishings, cultural objects, silver, china, fine furniture, and car-
riages. The enumeration of the number and variety of livestock and
variety and number of tools add considerably to the picture of wealth be-
gun with landholding. In addition, goods were sometimes appraised by
those making inventories, and it has been shown that these evaluations
were accurate reflections of the current market value of goods. Un-
fortunately, in North Carolina the practice of inventory taking was not
consistent with the rest of the colonies insofar as evaluating property is
concerned. Because from the early eighteenth century down to the Revolution,
inventories often omit these precious evaluations, for only a handful of
the inventories studied is an actual value in pound sterling placed on the
The problem of identifying an individual with an appropriate will
and inventory presented a genealogical puzzle similar to that encountered
with the land records and one dealt with in essentially the same fashion.
However, research in the land records had, by the time wills and inven-
tories were used, provided the names of family members which made the task
of identification measurably easier. A special check list was designed to
record the data in wills and inventories later to be quantified.
The reconstruction of the political lives of members of the sample
began with the files kept while research was being conducted in the land
records, especially those of county deed books. It was further advanced in
the printed colonial records and in genealogical works. For each individu-
al in the sample, a complete review of all these sources was conducted and
notes maintained in loose-leaf binder to be later transformed into quanti-
fied data. Information on officeholding tends to be more complete for
important individuals and more complete for higher offices than those at
county or precinct level, but another student of the period may undertake
to use the massive amount of data on local officeholding in the records of
the courts of pleas and quarter sessions. Nonetheless, appointments to
many local offices would appear in the records of the colonial executive
and courts since they were often made there. Thus, the methods used in
this research do provide ample information on local officeholding to
make historical generalizations.
Two systems were used for manipulating the data resulting from this
work--the "Statistical Package for the Social Sciences" and the McBee
Keysort method. SPSS is a "powerful" (a data processing term) software
package which provides to the individual, who does not know a programming
language, the ability to use the advanced computer technology now avail-
able. It does require a knowledge of the use of basic statistics,
especially an understanding of the relationship between the level of data
being used and the type of statistics which may be legitimately applied.
The distinctions which are important are those between nominal, ordinal,
interval and ratio data. 50 Much, though not all, of the data used in this
study is nominal; that is, there is not measurable difference between the
categories they merely show the presence of a characteristic, such as
religion or alignment with a political faction. For such data the only
possible statistical applications are simple frequencies and co-occurrence
shown in cross-tabulations or contingency tables. Data preparation was one
of the most important tasks involved in this research. To accommodate
computer processing the land records were reduced to a two-card format for
each case, which consisted of a single land transaction, such as, a sale or
grant of patent. Ultimately in excess of 11,000 cards were punched to
accommodate 5,111 land actions of all kinds. The information gathered on
individuals for biographical inventories was processed completely by hand,
using keysort. Two cards were prepared for each individual from the random
sample of the landholding population and also the political elite. The
variables which were generated for the keysort are presented in Appendix
It is the final purpose of this chapter to present a full account
of all primary and secondary sources used in the compilation of data for
processing by SPSS and the McBee Keysort method. This data listing will
allow references in the narrative sections of this dissertation to refer
to the whole body of literature rather than footnoting all sources. This
expedient is used because the data as aggregated in a single statistical
statement, a contingency table, or a historical generalization often
refer to nearly all these sources and at other times to only a portion
of them. In all, seventy-three different sources were consulted to form
the data base.
Bibliography of Data Base Materials
Albemarle Surveys, 1681-1706. North Carolina, Secretary of State Papers.
North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
America and West Indies: North Carolina Entry Books of Letters, Instruc-
tions, Warrants, Commissions, Patents, etc., 1707-68. British Public
Records Office. Foreign Archives. North Carolina Department of
Archives and History.
Beaufort County, North Carolina Register of Deeds, Record of Real Estate
Conveyances, 1701-29. Vol. I. North Carolina Department of Archives
Benjamin Franklin Royal Collection, 1713-1891. No. 2835. Southern Histo-
rical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bertie County, North Carolina Inventories of Estates 1728-44. North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
A Book Consisting of Pattens from the Register's Office of Beaufort County,
1706-1719. Secretary of State Papers. North Carolina Department of
Archives and History.
Carteret County, North Carolina Record of Deeds, 1722-29, 1749-59. Vols.
A, B., C, E, F. North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
[Contains deeds as early as 17133
Carteret County, North Carolina Record of Deeds, 1728-48. Vol. D. North
Carolina Department of Archives and History. [Contains deeds as
early as 17133
Chowan County, North Carolina Estates. North Carolina Department of
Archives and History.
Cole-Taylor Papers and Books, 1707-1914. No. G-163. Southern Historical
Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Council Minutes, Wills, Inventories. Secretary of State Papers, SS874.2.
North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Council Minutes, Deeds and Inventories, 1695-1712. SS No.IA. North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Craven County, North Carolina Records of Wills etc. Book A, 1700-96.
North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Craven County, North Carolina Record of Deeds No. 2, 1708-70, North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Currituck County, North Carolina Record of Deeds, 1739-1805. Vol. 3.
North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Deeds, Land Grants, etc., 1712-90. Private Collection. PC 90.11.
North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Deeds, Wills and Inventories, 1695-1712. Secretary of State Papers.
SS No.IA. North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Estates, 1669-1759. North Carolina Colonial Court Records. North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Edenton Papers, 1717-1937. No. 1910. Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
General Assembly Laws 1715, Inventories of Estates, 1728-41. Secretary
of State Papers. North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Hayes Collection, 1687-1974. No. M-324. Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
James Beard Paper, 1706. Private Collection. PC 312.1. North Carolina
Department of Archives and History.
John Devereaux Papers, 1712-1867. Private Collection. PC 34.5. North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
John Steele Papers, 1716-1846. No. 689. Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Lamb Family Papers, 1704-1879. No. 1481. Southern Historical Collection,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Land Grant Record Book, March 14, 1693/4-February 17, 1696. Vol. I. North
Carolina Land Grant Record Office. CContains grants as late as 17203
Land Grant Record Book, April 4, 1713-May 8, 1750. Vol. II. North
Carolina Land Grant Record Office. CContains grants as early as
1705 and as late as 17583
Land Grant Record Book, April 5, 1720-July 17, 1730; May 19, 1735-March 2,
1738. Vol. III. North Carolina Land Grant Record Office. [Contains
grants as early as 17171
Land Grant Record Book, March 1, 1738-June 4, 1740. Vol. VIII. North
Carolina Land Grant Record Office. CContains grants as early as 17123
Land Patent Book No. 7, 1706-1740. Secretary of State Papers. North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Lists of Acreage, 1697-1720. North Carolina Colonial Court Records.
North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Matthias Manly Papers, 1717-1928. No. G1-485. Southern Historical
Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Mary (Farrow) Credle Papers, 1706-1946. No. 1853. Southern Historical
Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Miscellaneous Land Grants, Patents, and Indentures, 1712-76, Secretary
of State Papers. North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Miscellaneous Papers, 1697-1912. Private Collection. PC 21.1. North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Miscellaneous Records from Various Counties, 1699-1865. County Records.
North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
North Carolina Inventories and Sales of Estates, 1712-98. Secretary of
State Papers. North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
North Carolina Land Grants and Deeds. (Miscellaneous), 1711-1719. No. 553.
Southern Historical Collection.
North Carolina Wills, 1663-1789. Secretary of State Papers, North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Pasquotank County, North Carolina Estates Records, 1712-1931. North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Pasquotank County, North Carolina Record of Deeds, 1700-1747. North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Pasquotank County, North Carolina Record of Deeds, 1700-1747. Vol. A.
North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Perquimans County, North Carolina Estates Records, 1714-1930. North
Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Preston Davie Collection, 1560-1903. No. 3406. Southern Historical
Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Old Will Book 2. SS 875. Secretary of State Papers. North Carolina
Department of Archives and History.
Old Will Book 3. SS 876. Secretary of State Papers. North Carolina
Department of Archives and History.
Richard L. Sawyer Collection, 1717-1881. Private Collection. PC 903.1.
North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Robert Ramsey Paper, 1715. Private Collection. PC 863.1. North Carolina
Department of Archives and History.
Taxes and Accounts, Beaufort Precinct, 1679-1754. North Carolina Colonial
Court Records. North Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Tillie Bond Collection. Private Collection. PC 16.1. North Carolina
Department of Archives and History.
Tyrrell County, North Carolina Estates Papers. North Carolina Department
of Archives and History.
Grimes, J. Bryan (ed.). Abstract of North Carolina Wills. Raleigh, N. C.,
North Carolina Wills and Inventories. Raleigh, N. C., 1912.
Gwynn, Zae Hargett (ed.). Abstracts of the Records of Onslow County North
Carolina, 1734-1850. 2 vols.; Memphis, Tenn., 1961.
Hofman, Margaret M. Ced.). Chowan Precinct North Carolina, 1696 to 1723,
Genealogical Abstracts of Deed Books. Weldon, N. C., 1972.
Parker, Mattie Erma Edwards and William S. Price, Jr. (eds.). The
Colonial Records of North Carolina. 2nd ser.; Raleigh, N. C., 1963-
Saunders, William L. (ed.). The Colonial Records of North Carolina.
10 vols.; Raleigh, N. C., 1886-1890.
Winslow, Ellen Goode Rawlings (ed.). History of Perquimans County, as
Compiled from the Records Found There and Elsewhere. Reprint,
Baltimore, 1974 C19313.
Biographical and Genealogical Reference Materials
Cheney, John L. Editor. North Carolin
Narrative and Statistical History.
a Government, 1585-1974, a
Raleigh, N. C., 1975.
Crabtree, Beth G. North C
Raleigh, N. C., 1958.
arolina Governors 1585-1968, Brief Sketches.
Hathaway, J. R. B. Editor. The North Carolina Histor
Register. 3 vols.; Merry Hill, N. C., 1900-1903.
ical and Genealogical
Hinshaw, William Wade. Editor. Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy.
Ann Arbor, Mich., 1936.
Ray. Worth S. Index and Digest to Hathaway's North Carolina Historical
and Genealogical Register.
Reed, C. Wingate. Beaufort County, Two Centuries of Its History.
Raleigh, N. C., 1962.
Stevenson, George. "A Narrative of Cary's Rebellion." Typescript.
Raleigh, North Carolina State Department of Archives and History, n.d.
Cumming, W. P. Editor.
Richard Ogilby. A
North in Maps. Raleigh, N. C., 1966. Plate V.
New Description of North Carolina By Order of the
Lords Proprietors, 1672. Plate VI. Edward Moseley. Late Surveyor
General of the Province. A New and Correct Map of the Province of
North Carolina, 1738. Plate VII. John Collet. A Compleat Map of
North Carolina from an Actual Survey, 1770. Plate VIII. Henry
Mouzon. et al. An Accurate Map of North and South Carolina With
Their Indian Frontiers
Shewing in a Distinct Manner all the
Moirntains~ Rivers. Swamns
Marshes. Bays. Creeks, Harbors, Sandbanks
and Soundings on the Coasts with the Roads and Indian Paths as Well
as The Boundary of Provincial Lines, Several Townships and other
Divisions of Land in Both Provinces, the whole from an Actual Survey.
North Carolina Department of Water and Air Resources. River Basin Maps.
Raleigh, N. C., n.d. Map 02-2a. Cape Fear River Basin. Map 02-2b.
Cape Fear River Basin. Map 04. Chowan River Basin. Map 09-1.
Contentnea Creek and Upper Neuse River Basin. Map 09-2. Neuse River
Basin (Kinston Area to Portsmouth Island). Map 11. Pasquotank River
Basin. May 12-2. Roanoke River Basin. Map 13-1. Tar-Pamlico River
Basin-1 (Head of Tar River to vicinity of Washington). Map 13-2.
Tar-Pamlico River Basin-2 (Lower Basin). Map 15. White Oak River
Mo n R r
Powell, William S. The North Carolina Gazetteer, a Dictionary of Tar Heel
Place Names. Chapel Hill, N. C., 1968.
1Norman S. Cohen, Civil Strife in America, a Historical Approach to
the Study of Riots in America (Hinsdale, Ill., 1972), iii, 3, 7-8.
2Bernard Barber, "Social Stratification," Gary B. Nash, Class and
Society in Early America (Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1970), 75-82.
Ralf Dahrendorf, "Marx's Theory of Class," Melvin M. Tumin, ed.,
Readings on Social Stratification (Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1970), 10-13.
A summary discussion of this whole issue is to be found in Part III
of T. Lynn Smith and Paul E. Zopf, Jr., Principles of Inductive Rural
Sociology (Philadelphia, 1970).
Smith and Zopf, Principles, 179.
Joseph Lopreato and Lawrence E. Hazelrigg, Class, Conflict and
Mobility: Theories and Studies of Class Structure (San Francisco, 1972), 11.
The three volume translation of Wirtschaft and Gesellschaft, Grundriss
der verstehenden Soziologie appearing in 1968 for the first time brought
together the bulk of Weber's theoretical work in a single English version.
See Max Weber, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology,
Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich, trans. (3 vols., New York, 1968).
Weber, Economy and Society, II, 927.
10Ibid., I, 302-05. Parsons in his translation of the same Weber text
notes, This chapter breaks off at this point but is obviously incomplete.
There is, however, no other part of Weber's published work in which the
subject is systematically developed, although aspects of it are treated in
different connexions at many points." See Max Weber, The Theory of Social
and Economic Organization, A. M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons, trans.
(reprint, New York, 1964)E19473, 429. The precision Weber introduced into
Marx's theory of class at this juncture need not be applied in the simpler
economic organization of Proprietary North Carolina. For instance, while
merchants during the period were members of an "acquisitions class," that
is oriented towards a market situation, they also reflect characteristics
of a "property class" in their ownership of landed property, that is, the
means of production.
11Weber, Economy and Society, II, 928-32.
13eber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, 428.
1Weber, Economy and Society, II, 932.
Lopreato and Hazelrigg, Class, Conflict and Mobility, 84.
1Weber, Economy and Society, II, 932-38.
1Lopreato and Hazelrigg, Class, Conflict and Mobility, 84-84, 87-88.
1Weber, Economy and Society, II, 938.
20Julien Freund, The Sociology of Max Weber (New York, 1969), 218.
21Herrschaft has been translated variously. Freund, The Sociology of
Max Weber, p221, uses "dominance," while Parsons in Weber, The Theory
of Social and Economic Organization, 152, uses "imperative control."
2Freund, The Sociology of Max Weber, 218-21.
23Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, 154.
2Weber, Economy and Society, II, 938-39.
25See, for instance, W. G. Hoskins, Industry, Trade, and People in
Exeter, 1688-1800 (Manchester, 1935). In this work the author uses a
count of hearths to establish an "index" of social stratification. Like-
wise the same author uses taxable wealth to establish an "index" for
Leicester. See W. G. Hoskins, "An Elizabethan Provincial Town: Leicester,"
J. H. Plumb, ed., Studies in Social History (London, 1955).
26The history of the maintenance of public records in North Carolina
was dramatically affected by the absence of a settled capital or court
houses during the bulk of the Proprietary era. "Except for the reports
and correspondence sent to the Proprietors, there existed probably no
single complete set of records in the Colony--not even of the laws."
H. G. Jones, For History' Sake: The Preservation and Publication of North
Carolina History, 1663-1903 (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1966), 19-23.
2The records of the property tax on real and personal property provide
a good overview of the population and distribution of wealth. A good
example of their effective use is Alice Hanson Jones, American Colonial
Wealth, Documents and Methods (3 vols., New York, 1977), 1731-99.
2Coralie Parker, The History of Taxation in North Carolina During the
Colonial Period, 1663-1776 (New York, 1928), 155.
2Mattie Erma Edwards Parker and William S. Price, Jr., eds., The
Colonial Records of North Carolina, second series (Raleigh, N. C., 1963- ),
III, v, xix-xx, xxviii, xvl; Benjamin U. Ratchford, "A History of the North
Carolina Debt, 1712-1900," (doctoral dissertation, Duke University, 1932),
30Parker, The History of Taxation, 31-32, 95-109; Herbert Paschal,
"Proprietary North Carolina, a Study in Colonial Government," (doctoral
dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N. C., 1961).
3Parker, The History of Taxation, 102.
Jacquelyn Hinda Wolf, "The Proud and the Poor: The Social Organization
of Leadership in Proprietary North Carolina 1663-1729," (doctoral disserta-
tion, University of Pennsylvania, 1977), 152-73.
33Parker, The History of Taxation, 29-30, 126-27.
4Beverly W. Bond, Jr. The Quit Rent System in the American Colonies
(New Haven, Conn., 1919), 24, 115.
3Ibid., 111-12; Parker and Price, Colonial Records, III, xx.
6Bond, The Quit Rent System, 111-15.
P8arker, The History of Taxation, 52-53.
3Conversation with George Stevenson, Director of Search Room and
Archivist, North Carolina Department of Archives and History, February 9,
4Jones, For History's Sake, 28-29.
41Extant tithable lists for the various precincts include: 1) Currituck,
1715-20; 2) Craven, 1716-19; 3) Pasquotank, 1718-21; 4) Perquimans, 1717-20;
5) Chowan, 1717-1720. See Wolf, "The Proud and the Poor," 167-69, 173.
Beside the fact that there is broken coverage for.even this short period,
it is vital that no lists exist for the southern precincts of Beaufort and
Hyde and that Chowan which was the most expansive precinct in size and
population is represented by only two years.
Once adjustments were made for the duplications which occurred,
especially in records of land grants, 5111 land records of all types were
analyzed for this study.
C. Wingate Reed, Beaufort County, Two Centuries of Its History
(Raleigh, N. C., 1962), 19-22.
4Kenneth Lockridge, A New England Town, the First Hundred Years: Dedham,
Massachusetts, 1636-1736 (New York, 1970), 8-10, 70-72; Sumner Chilton
Powell, Puritan Village, the Formation of a New England Town (Garden City,
N. Y., 1965), 107-09, 119-23, 229-31.
45Jones, For History's Sake, 8.
The principal source for determining this elite of political office
holders was John L. Cheney, ed., North Carolina Government, 1585-1974,
a Narrative and Statistical History (Raleigh, N. C., 1975). Further data
to augment the higher courts of the period was drawn from Parker and Price,
The Colonial Records.
4For a brief but quite adequate account of the historical development
of probate records see William S. Price, Jr., "Historical Origins of Wills
and Estates Papers" (mimeograph) (North Carolina Department of Archives
and History, n.d.).
The most striking use of these records thus far is the work on Alice
Hanson Jones for the Revolutionary era. Her American Colonial Wealth is
a fine example of the precision which can be achieved using modern
statistical and social science techniques to answer historical questions.
9See Norman H. Nie, et al.,SPSS: Statistical Package for the Social
Sciences (2nd ed., New York, 1975).
50For a full discussion of the significance of levels of data, see
THE FOUNDING AND SECURING OF ALBEMARLE
From the end of the Elizabethan period England experienced increas-
ing internal pressures of a broad variety which culminated in a massive
migration or "swarming" as Carl Bridenbaugh puts it. 1 The early at-
tempts at colonization were largely the result of the pecuniary interest
of members of the English elite. Their overseas efforts were motivated
by a mixture of patriotic idealism and desire to increase their fortunes.
Nevertheless, such activities in other periods and other places did not
result in transformation of a continent. The earliest attempt (1585-1590)
to colonize at Roanoke Island in what is now North Carolina ended in a
failure, leaving one of those historical mysteries which have more impact
for the fascination they cause later generations than the historical
significance the events alone might warrant. What these early efforts
provided was experience in colonizing and knowledge of the region which
permitted permanent penetration in 1607.
For seventy years after the failure of the Raleigh colony, English
interest in colonization along the South Atlantic coast continued until
the region of Albemarle Sound again was occupied by Europeans. Each
attempt to settle in the region was legitimized by a patent from the
English crown. All the failed attempts to settle in Carolina, that is
those prior to the first permanent settling, have in common the fact that
attempts were made by sea. The last two of these occurred around the time
of the 1663 charter. Expeditions from New England were landings and
departures from Cape Fear; however, the expeditions from Barbados took
the character of an extended attempt to settle the Cape Fear region.
In 1663 William Hilton, a leading figure in a half-hearted attempt
of New Englanders to settle Carolina, began a further series of explora-
tions. He and the other leading figures--John Vassal, Peter Colleton,
and John Yeamans--were responsible for the establishment of a colonization
attempt called the County of Clarendon which, in spite of initial promise,
disintegrated by the Fall of 1667. 5 In the meanwhile, North Carolina had
been successfully settled with little notice.
After years of grandiose schemes and plans, the job had been
done by the farmer pushing out from the Virginia frontier
seeking new and richer lands. The relentless pressure of the
frontier that was to carry settlement to the Pacific in the
centuries ahead had achieved what all the king's men could
The precise moment of this colonization will never be established.
An early interpretation relying on the Cumberford map suggested that
"evidence exists of a settlement at the mouth of the Roanoke River which
dates at the latest [italics added] from 1657." More recent work
indicates a date for the first real entry around 1660. 8Thus, before
the abandonment of the attempt to settle Cape Fear and the award of the
Carolina to the Lords Proprietors, the region of Albemarle Sound was
effectively settled by Europeans. The granting of the proprietary by
Charles II in 1663 meant that "Carolana" would not be governed from
Virginia as a royal colony. Instead, a series of documents based on this
charter form the foundations for the establishment of government and
society in North Carolina down to the opening of the eighteenth century.
The royal charter of March 24, 1663--in fact, a letter of patent
from the crown establishing the rights of the eight Lords Proprietors--has
been viewed until recently as an essentially backward looking document
intended to establish a feudal dominion. Daniel Fagg has cast real
doubt on both this view and on a series of historical assumptions sur-
rounding the founding of the proprietary. In the first place, he argues
against the position that a powerful coalition was necessary to "extract"
the grant from Charles, a view based on the belief that there was a royal
policy to establish crown colonies. In fact, the Crown's principal
concerns at the beginning of the Restoration were to establish its own
authority quickly through any convenient means and to earn revenues from
the control of commerce.
Contrary to general interpretation, it can be shown that in their
charter the Lords Proprietors secured from the Crown a colony with a
northern border running, not through Albemarle Sound but, along 36 degrees
31 minutes, or approximately the present Virginia-North Carolina boundary.
The southern boundary was "within" 30 degrees north latitude on the St.
Matthews (i.e. St. John's) River. The subsequent charter of 1665 merely
clarified the northern boundary, but extended the southern frontier deep
into Spanish-occupied Florida. It is interesting that most historians
of North Carolina have tended to validate the Virginia claim that the
Albemarle Sound was the northern border of the 1663 charter.
Within this dominion the Lords Proprietors had a specified set of
powers which were typical for the time, and set no new precedent. The
proprietary charter conveyed powers similar to those previously granted to
the Muscovy and East India Company. However, where the company charters
had no precedent in English common law, the Carolina proprietary grant
fit into the traditional tenurial system and found its model in the Heath
and Baltimore grants. From the latter the 1663 charter drew much of its
Neither the power to convey titles of nobility, which were to be
different from those of England, nor the Bishop of Durham Clause, 12
which appeared in all proprietary charters, reflected a particular de-
sire on the part of the Lords Proprietors to establish a feudal empire.
In fact, the actual drafting of the charter was left to the attorney
general. The purpose of the Bishop of Durham Clause was not to establish
the rights and authority of the Lords Proprietors, which were spelled out
in detail elsewhere in the charter. It was intended to establish a con-
nection with English common law by reviving an old form for a new purpose.
A reading of the charter of 1663 should be leavened with the cautionary
admonishment that it had ample precedent in current practice and was
modeled on the Maryland proprietary charter, and the fact that the Lords
Proprietors had received the widest possible grant of powers that the Crown
could grant was not unusual in itself. Among these powers were full
rights to establish a political and legal system so long as laws were not
contrary to those of England, to make laws with the approbation of an
elective assembly to establish a system of justice, to wage war and to build
or destroy fortifications.
Beneath the feudal terminology, the land system was clearly based on
freehold. The provision that subinfeudation was prohibited merely insured
that unseated lands would not revert to the Crown but to the Lords Proprietors.
Feudal dues no longer existed in .England, nor perforce in her colonies. In
addition, the charter extended to any prospective colonists and their pro-
geny the rights of Englishmen including the right to trade in a closed and
protected mercantile system. The Lords Proprietors could impose customs on
goods, but the Crown retained its own rights in this respect. The provision
for religious toleration was permissive only, since the charter clearly
envisioned an Anglican establishment. This was characteristic of all
colonial charters granted after 1660. 15
The second charter of 1665 changed the rights of the Lords
Proprietors in few instances and was principally extended to enlarge their
territory at the expense of Spanish Florida, that is, as a foreign policy
tactic. It has been seen that the extension of proprietary terri-
tories was a mere fiction, but in two instances the charter was really
modified. The Lords Proprietors were permitted ". to erect, Constitute,
and make several Counties, Baronies, and Colonies of and within the said
Provinces and territories with several and distinct Jurisdictions,
powers, liberties, and privileges." 18 This provision instituted the
legal basis for the ultimate division of the colony. In addition, the
grant of religious toleration was rewritten to allow the establishment of
other churches within the various political jurisdictions to be erected.
These changes reflect the goal of the Lords Proprietors to build a colony
composed of several political units by attracting settlers of religious
In 1662 when Lord Proprietor and colonial grandee, Sir William Berkeley,
returned to America with a new commission as governor of Virginia, he con-
tinued to act on the assumption that the southern boundary of that colony
was Albemarle Sound. 2 In early summer 1663 he confirmed by Virginia land
grants the titles of settlers already in the Chowan region and then in October
appointed Samuel Stephens "commander of the southern plantation" with power
to appoint a sheriff there. The Lords Proprietors saw their Virginia
counterpart as a key figure in the settlement of the colony, and in August
and September prepared a series of documents to the furtherance of that
The "Declaration and Proposals to All that Will Plant in Carolina"
was dated August 25 and Berkeley's "Instructions" and Commission at the
Cockpit September 8. The Declaration was intended to attract New
Englanders and Barbadians to the new province, not as a proposal for
governing the Albemarle region. 2 Nevertheless, Berkeley's instructions
for establishing proprietary authority over Albemarle differed in only a
few respects. Most notably, Berkeley would appoint a governor and
council for Albemarle, whereas prospective immigrants were allowed to
nominate a slate of their own candidates. The Lords Proprietors claimed
the right to appoint the surveyor and secretary. An Assembly was provided
for, and a series of separate governments tied together in a federal system
by a general council. The purpose of this arrangement, the accommodation
of diverse political and religious ideas within the province, is clearly
reflected in the 1665 charter. The major portion of the August document
was devoted to an explication of the land system, on which the Lords
Proprietors placed their greatest hope for profits. 23
The Lords Proprietors made it clear that these provisions be enforced
closely, which indicates that they were not inclined to negotiate with the
Albemarle settlers whom they hoped would be a more "fassill people, whoe
by your Interest may settle better tearmes for us. Under the
provision of these instructions Berkeley commissioned William Drummond
as governor of Albemarle in October 1664, and an additional commission was
issued by the Lords Proprietors in early 1665. By the spring the first
Assembly had met. The principal focus of the Lords Proprietors was now
turned away from Albemarle and toward prospective new settlers from New
England and Barbados. Their disinterest continued until the failure of
these attempts late in the decade. 25
The "southern plantation" of Albemarle functioned for nearly two
years under the initial instructions until the Lords Proprietors provided
the first plan of government or constitution. The "Concessions and
Agreement between the Lords Proprietors and Major William Yeamans and
Others," January 7, 1665, was applied as a general frame of government,
which in a sense was a culmination of all the documents drafted to that
time. The dominions of the Lords Proprietors were to be divided into
large counties, each in turn to contain districts administered as judicial
units. There was no mention of the federal aspects of the Declaration.
Since no provision was made, it is possible that, as in the Declaration,
the governors could be nominated by the people of the county. Approval of
the governor was by the Lords Proprietors and that office was in turn
responsible for appointing councilors. Together they would appoint all
subordinate officers. What is most striking in the document is the ex-
tensive authority of the Assembly with annual elections and wide powers of
taxation. It was empowered to create new political units, charter towns,
establish manors and baronies, create a militia, erect courts, regulate
and collect quitrents. Assemblies were given extensive powers to establish
religions but were forbidden to legislate against religious freedom. Liberty
of conscience was also provided for. 27
Had the Lords Proprietors seen fit to maintain this frame of government
which was put into effect by 1667, it is likely that many of the conflicts
which occurred in the history of Albemarle and later North Carolina would
have been obviated. However, with the continued focus on new settlements,
especially in the South, the Lords Proprietors proceeded to develop their
conceptions of an ideal society and polity. These ideas reached culmination
in the Fundamental Constitutions.
The question of the authorship of the Fundamental Constitutions is
one which has interested historians of North Carolina as much as that of
the origin of the Carolina charter. During the early years of the pro-
prietary, the Proprietary Board was dominated first by Sir John Colleton
until his death in 1667 and then by Anthony Ashley Cooper, the first Earl
of Shaftesbury, who died in 1683. It was Ashley who made the young
scholar, John Locke, a member of his household, his personal physician
and then secretary to the Proprietary Board. It is highly unlikely
that the authorship of the Fundamental Constitutions will ever be assigned
to an individual. "The entire question is probably a highly artificial one.
The document appears to be the result of a collaboration." 29 Nevertheless,
Locke, a young scholar of minor experience, was greatly influenced by
Ashley. Locke changed his mind on a number of key issues shortly after
their association began. It is probable that the Constitutions were a
product of fruitful interaction in which Locke did the lion's share of com-
position and Ashley provided the bulk of the substance. 3 The generally
accepted position that the two were influenced by James Warrington's
Commonwealth of Oceana published in 1656 is doubtful, because little evi-
dence exists that either had read it prior to 1669. Even if Ashley and
Locke had read Harrington's treatise, they turned its theories of organizing
society and government to quite other purposes. The Venetian Republic
provides a more consistent model.
For the present study it is important to note that the Fundamental
Constitutions were drafted, not for Albemarle, but for new settlements
not begun at that time. The Lords Proprietors recognized how difficult
implementation of the Constitutions in the settled region would be, though
they retained the somewhat naive hope that this might be accomplished
gradually. The plan for the "Grand Model," as the Constitutions came to be
called, was first seen in Albemarle in 1670, and some steps were taken to
implement the elaborate proposal. The Lords Proprietors projected that
the plan could be implemented piecemeal in Albemarle and in the new
colony to be established at Port Royal, with full implementation by 1700.
The government of the Albemarle region was conducted, though not without
complaint, according to the modifications of the "Grand Model" allowed in
instructions to the governors.
The Fundamental Constitutions went through several versions and North
Carolina's institutions continued to evolve as constitutional influence
declined. By 1691 when the Constitutions were suspended theyhad ceased
to have much direct application, though vestiges were still evident after
1700. When the final version of the Constitutions adopted in 1698 was sent
to the colonists of Carolina as a suggestion, it was immediately rejected.
By 1697 there was no pretense whatever that North Carolina was governed
under the Fundamental Constitutions, and the Lords Proprietors shortly
dropped all mention of it. Nevertheless, the outlines of the "Grand
Model" must be understood in order to grasp the institutional development
of Albemarle and North Carolina.
Unlike the Declaration and Concessions which were based on the
practical experience of John Colleton, the Fundamental Constitutions bore
the imprint of the utopian ideals of Locke and the ideals of "Grand Whiggery"
for which the major exponent was Lord Ashley. The fundamental principle
of social and political organization of the "Grand Model" was the division
of interest and wealth based on land. The province was to be divided into
counties and within each of these a fifth of the land belonged to the Lords
Proprietors and to the two orders of hereditary nobility called landgraves
and caciques and the remaining three-fifths to the people. The land of
the nobles was divided into tracts called baronies and that of the com-
moners into colonies which were grouped into political units called pre-
cincts. The nobility could hold feudal courts within their jurisdictions
for cases involving the freemen who might appeal as well as a class of
nonfree "leetmen" of their domains. 3 The whole system was kept in
balance by provisions assuring appropriate distributions of land would
"The government erected on this social base was made up of a series
of checks and balances among the monarchical, aristocratic and democratic
elements. The three organs of central government--the Proprietors' courts,
the Grand Council and the Parliament--not only checked each other's powers,
but within each there was a careful mixing of the three elements." 7The
system was capped by its most powerful single institution, the "Palatine's
court," composed only of proprietors and presided over by the eldest with
the title "Palatine." The remaining seven Lords Proprietors each presided
over one of the administrative agencies and were entitled admiral, chamber-
lain, chancellor, chief justice, constable, high steward, and treasurer.
The agencies, bearing the same names and called courts, closely corresponded
to the Privy Council and royal courts and departments of government of con-
temporary England. The majority of each of these administrative courts
were members of the Carolina nobility.
The other principal agencies of government were the Grand Council
composed of the Lords Proprietors and the six councilors from each of their
courts, and the Parliament, a unicameral legislature composed of the nobility
and one elected freeholder from each precinct. The Grand Council had broad
powers functioning as: an arbiter of jurisdictional disputes between the
other organs of government; the chief agency for conducting war; the
agency for disbursing funds of the treasury; a court to hear certain
actions of the Lords Proprietors; and the body to propose bills to be
brought before the Parliament. The Parliament was to meet biennially
without summons but could consider only matters brought to it by the Grand
Council and could only accept or reject bills without amendment. Acts had
to be ratified by the Palatine and three other Lords Proprietors within
two years after which time they expired. The Palatine's Court was em-
powered to veto all actions of either of the other two principal bodies,
with one exception--the Parliament acting to fill a vacancy on the
Local government was likewise court administered. In addition to
administrative functioning, precinct courts tried all civil and non-capital
causes, except those involving nobility. The court of appeal for precinct
courts and manorial court cases involving freemen was the county court,
meeting five times a year. Appeals went from the county courts to the
appropriate Proprietor's court. All the justices of precinct and county
courts were freeholders owning specified acreage. Intervening between these
courts and the Lords Proprietors' courts were the semiannual assizes, which
heard all capital cases at the local level. Qualifying of juries and
justices, jurisdiction over different classes of individuals, provisions
for grand juries, helped to balance the court system in order to further
the "monarchical, aristocratic and democratical" elements of society so as
to bring them into balance and harmony.
The breadth of political idealism, the comprehensiveness of social
detail, and the sophisticated attempt to base a society and policy on the
distribution of productive property--land--make the question of why the
Fundamental Constitutions failed so completely more compelling. Why,
for instance, did the utopian experiments in New England succeed while
that of "Carolana" did not? 41 The answer is quite simple. The Lords
Proprietors were not revolutionaries conceiving a new society in a
revolutionary situation. Their experiment, unlike those in New England,
had too much of a prior social theory and not enough of the practical
application of traditional and familiar forms of social and economic
organization. Nor was it very well adjusted to the Carolina frontier
environment. The historical working out of this failure will be seen
shortly in an examination of the institutional development of North Carolina.
Related to this historical problem is the historiographic one--why have
historians heaped such obloquy on the experiment? 42
The consistent evaluation of early hsitorians, such as Charles M.
Andrews, Edward McGrady, R. D. W. Connor, A. S. Salley, David Wallace, and
Hugh T. Lefler, has tended to place emphasis on the Lords Proprietors' de-
sire for gain and their regressive policies. More recent works have
amplified the proprietary role and brought needed detail to the study of
the period. Two features of historical interpretation have continued to
dominate the discussion: first, the assumption that the ideal of the Lords
Proprietors was a feudal and perforce regressive one, which is a dubious
assertion, and secondly, the demonstrably true one that the Lords Proprietors
neglected and even ignored their northern settlements.
It is one of the paradoxes of the history of North Carolina that the
principal minds behind the "Grand Model" should be thus condemned. Anthony
Ashley Cooper, the first Earl of Shaftesbury, has long been considered the
most liberal politician of the Restoration, and John Locke was no less
celebrated a liberal. The interpretation taken here, is that of Daniel
Fagg, that the activities of the Proprietary Board should be viewed in the
context of their vast colonial empire, not just the portion which became
North Carolina, and that they were more evenhanded and enlightened in
their governing of the colony than has been believed. Moreover, the
Fundamental Constitutions were not feudal and archaic but modeled on the
"mixed polity of the classical commonwealths." Beneath the quaint forms
and elaborate structures is to be found their ideal of balanced government
which found its way into the Anglo-American constitutional traditions during
the next century. However, Fagg's assertion that the "form of government
as projected was probably workable" is without base.
No matter how determined the Lords Proprietors were to fully imple-
ment their plan, they initiated its use by accommodating the settlers and
more so in Albemarle than on the Ashley River. This accommodation took the
form of a temporary plan of government which from the outset eliminated the
outstanding feature of the government of the Fundamental Constitutions,
centralization, by establishing one government for Albemarle and one for
the Ashley River colony. "The form of government under the Temporary
Laws became the permanent government of Carolina. It resembled more
closely the conventional pattern of colonial government by governor, council
and assembly than did the form contained in the Constitutions." The
governor and Palatin's Court, Grand Council and Assembly--three principal
agencies of the government-- correspond, however, to the provisions of the
Since the Constitutions read as though the Palatine's Court would sit
in Carolina, they necessitated an arrangement whereby deputations had to be
issued by each of the Lords Proprietors. The deputy of the Palatine was to
be the governor and with the representatives of the remaining Lords
Proprietors composed the Palatine's Court. The legislative Assembly was
to be unicameral and to consist of the governor, five appointed Lords
Proprietors' deputies, and twenty elected freeholders, five from each of
the precincts. The Assembly elected five members to sit with the members
of the Palatine's Court as the Grand Council. The governor with the
Council's consent would establish such courts as were deemed necessary.
This remained the essential organization of the government until the
suspension of the Constitutions in 1691.
Theoretically the "Grand Model" decreased the powers of the governor,
who would now act only with the approbation of three other deputies, and
of the Assembly, which lost control over the court system and its right
to initiate and amend bills. Conversely, the powers of the Grand Council
were extended both because of its power to act in concert with the governor
and to determine what legislation would be brought to the Assembly. In
practice, because they did not know Albemarle inhabitants, the Lords
Proprietors issued blank deputations for each new governor to establish a
government. This extra-legal development had the effect of allowing the
governor to dominate the Palatine's Court. Moreover, the deputies he
appointed shared his authority to approve the acts of the Grand Council,
extending his practical authority over that body as well, with the most
important effect that the executive gained direct power to establish courts
and commission justices.
These arrangements had the same effects on the Grand Council's power
over the legislature. Coupled with the requirement that all acts of the
Assembly be signed by the governor and three deputies, the developing
practice gave extensive control over the formerly independent Assembly.
"Thus, as the system operated, it was possible for the governor to control
all governmental agencies of the colony--the palatine's court, the grand
council, the assembly and the courts." 50 However extensive gubernatorial
powers were, the history of Albemarle and North Carolina down to 1697
revealed that the ability to wield those powers depended on the willing-
ness of the colonists to accept executive policies. More than one governor
discovered that the institutional structure which permitted arbitrary ac-
tions did not secure the ability to do so with impunity.
It is not within the scope of this study to retrace the first thirty-
five years of the history of North Carolina, but the major developments
serve as a basis for understanding the institutional structure and develop-
ment of the colony at the opening of the eighteenth century, the point at
which this study begins. As yet we have no thorough studies of the
economic growth and expansion of the frontier of the Albemarle region and
nothing at all on the development of the social system during the period
of 1668-1697. This can be attributed to the dearth of historical sources
during the period.
Principal work in the period perforce recognizes the political history
of the time, but the conclusions are often tentative since economic and
social issues are involved or because the records of the colonial govern-
ment are few. Examples abound, but the Culpeper rebellion is typical.
There were two parties, one claiming loyalty to the Lords Proprietors. The
principal individuals involved are known but the local issues around which
the parties coalesced are not. The major modern interpretations of the
period are embodied in a few published works and dissertations.
Because Albemarle was both a frontier and a developing society, its
early social and political history was not unlike that of other colonies.
Bernard Bailyn makes the argument that the patterns were in fact repetitive.
In all of the colonies the original transference of an ordered
European society was succeeded by the rise to authority of
resident settlers whose influence was rooted in their ability
to deal with the problems of life in wilderness settlements.
These individuals attempted to stabilize their positions, but
in each case they were challenged by others arriving after
the initial settlements, seeking to exploit certain advantages
of position, wealth, or influence. These newcomers .
came to constitute colonial officialdom. This group intro-
duced a new principle of social organization; it also gave
rise to new instabilities in a society in which the traditional
forms of authority were already subject to severe pressures. 53
Though he was speaking of Virginia, the processes of the coalescing of
elites and attempts to legitimize power, which he describes, are evident
in Albemarle. However, the historical conflicts of the era have generally
been viewed in the context of constitutional issues and economic and
political conflict between the Lords Proprietors and colonists. Little
notice has been given to the possibility that the social order was un-
stable and that the events are attributable to that instability.
The major political conflicts of the early period may be classified
into internal (local) and external, or endogenous and exogenous sources
of change. The four major problems of external origin which caused
trouble were taxes, land policy, colonial boundaries and the constitution.
The former two were closely related. The land and quitrent policy of the
Lords Proprietors was never fully settled during their ownership of North
Carolina, but by the opening of the eighteenth century, it was argued
within a framework which colonists found tolerable.
The effects of the implementation of proprietary land policy is dealt
with in detail in Chapter III. With respect to the pre-1697 development of
that policy, three major points were at issue. First, the Carolina settlers
opposed the programs of settlement in both the Concessions and Agreements
and the various versions of the Fundamental Constitutions, which were in-
tended to ensure compact settlement, demographic density, and relatively
small holdings among the mass of the population. What they desired was
a more open settlement pattern similar to that of Virginia, and the
chance to engross large tracts to build estates and to speculate.
Second, they wanted a quitrent of a farthing per acre as in Virginia,
instead of the higher and differentially applied rents of the Lords
Proprietors. Finally, they wished to have a headright system like that of
Virginia, which allowed more extensive holdings and the right to purchase
land which had the same effect. On these issues the Lords Proprietors
fought a series of losing battles with settlers already disposed to the
Virginia land system.
The taxation issue involved, in addition to quitrents, taxes on the
trade, notably the "penny-per-pound tax" levied on Albemarle tobacco
which had to be transhipped through other colonial ports to Europe. 55
This tax, as part of the Plantation Duty Act of 1673, was beyond the power
of the Lords Proprietors to remedy. However, the taxation issue also em-
braced duties levied locally by the Albemarle government over which they
did have control. These usually involved special levies and fines, which
were often the retribution taken by the faction in power of their opponents.
The administration of Thomas Miller (1677) is a clear example. The
boundary issue during the early period concerned only Virginia. The dis-
pute found its origins in the fact that the Lords Proprietors' grants
usurped the area between 36 degrees and 36 degrees 31 minutes, which under
the Heath patent had been defined as part of Virginia. While the Crown
had a perfect right to alienate land which was part of a royal colony,
Virginia interests, in particular the Carolina Proprietor, William Berkeley,
sought to regain the region. The uncertainty, which resulted, disturbed
the politics of Albemarle and North Carolina, causing continued conflict
over land grants, rents, Indians and law enforcement in the most densely
populated area of Albemarle. This issue was not fully resolved until
1727 when the Crown was on the verge of purchasing the rights of the
The final set of externally related problems has to do with the
organization of the government in Albemarle. Albemarle, during its
existence as a separate political entity, was, like the rest of Carolina,
in the unique position of having an elaborately detailed constitution
which established its government and society. The Fundamental Constitu-
tions were a source of contention, but the colonists apparently tried to
implement them piecemeal, as requested by the Lords Proprietors and to
eliminate by appeal, and to obstruct the more repugnant features of the
Fundamental Constitutions. The colonial government ultimately developed
along lines similar to other colonies, but only at the expense of serious
political tension and conflict.
The initial forms of government in Albemarle were both familiar and
acceptable, but the land system was not. Conflict over land policy thus
dates from the founding of the proprietary, and it was the central issue
until the submission of the Fundamental Constitutions to the colonists
in 1670. During the tenure of William Drummond and Samuel Stephens,
the communications with the Lords Proprietors were chiefly concerned with
the colonists' need for more liberal land terms. The Lords Proprietors'
response to the colonists' request was the "Great Deed of Grant" (1668)
so named by the colonists. The importance they attached to the document
is not surprising, since it reduced the quitrents to a farthing per acre
and removed the danger of escheat, and they interpreted it to extend the
Virginia practice of fifty-acre headrights. However, the Lords
Proprietors instructed Stephens to secure the land policies they had thus
abolished through legislation by the Assembly. By some means he was suc-
cessful in persuading the Assembly to pass legislation which nullified
all but the central concessions on quitrents, but this legislation re-
mained unpopular and the colonists sought its removal by proprietary
Stephens' successor, Peter Carteret, was sent with John Harvey to
London in 1672 with instructions to request from the Lords Proprietors
secure quitrent, provisions for defense, headrights for children reaching
their majority, repeal of a 660-acre legislative limit on land grants,
repeal of the act against "ingrocers," and assistance in removing
Virginia clearing fees on North Carolina goods. 5 The colonial
position was by this time further undermined by the Fundamental Constitu-
tions which proposed the establishment of a totally new form of government
and social order, as well as an elaborate land system. These were par-
tially implemented--to the extent the Lords Proprietors requested--prior
to Carteret's departure. To make matters worse, by the time Carteret ar-
rived in London the Lords Proprietors were actively considering ways to
alienate Albemarle to their Virginia associate, Sir William Berkeley.
From Carteret's departure until the end of the decade the political
history of the colony is highlighted by the struggles between opposing
alignments each attempting to punish opponents out of office. The un-
solved mystery of these years is the basis for the organization of the
respective factions. Virtually all historians have adopted the position
of the "loyal party" headed by Thomas Eastchurch and Thomas Miller who
claimed they supported the Lords Proprietors against what has been identi-
fied as the antiproprietary party of John Jenkins and George Durant. This
interpretation is based on the testimony of the so-called proprietary
party; on that party's more thorough enforcement of the "penny-per-
pound tax" on tobacco and the Lords Proprietors' land policy; and on
the assumption that the party represented the colony's newcomers, who
were building power against an established order. 5 While this con-
jecture is plausible, especially when one examines the enforcement of
proprietary policy and royal customs by the two groups, a more thorough
study of the composition and material interests of the two groups will
be needed to verify it.
The struggle reached a crisis with Culpeper's Rebellion (1677), named
for one of the lesser figures of the antiproprietary faction who managed
to be tried for treason before the King's Bench in 1680. Neither party
could claim to have a legal government during the period and both acted
arbitrarily in the courts which they held. The last de jure govern-
ment had been that of John Jenkins, appointed deputy governor by Carteret,
whose deputations expired in 1673. The Lords in 1679 established a new
government, first by appointing their new colleague, Seth Sothel,
Governor, and when he was captured by Algerian pirates, John Harvey, a
Jenkins' supporter, in his stead as President of the Council. More
significantly they now sought to mollify the settlers by issuing more
liberal land policies, which included the Virginia quitrent for all who
had settled prior to 1663 and a graduated rent for subsequent arrivals.
Land allowances remained the same as in Carteret's instructions, but the
"Temporary Plan" for governing the colony under the Constitutions was re-
These liberalizations revealed that the Lords Proprietors were at last
giving more attention to the northern area of their dominions. This fact
is also implicit in the even-handed way they dealt with the opposing
factions in Culpeper's Rebellion. It would have been easy for them to
support the Eastchurch-Miller faction. Instead, Lord Shaftesbury himself
defended Culpeper in the King's Bench. This act calls into question the
theory that the Lords Proprietors were attempting to gloss over their
own mistakes to prevent a royal takeover of their colony. The testi-
mony of Shaftesbury that there had been no settled government would in
itself have been sufficient evidence for a quo warrant proceeding by the
Crown against the proprietary charter if one were contemplated. The
royal government reversed this laissez faire policy after James II came
to the throne when the attorney-general and solicitor-general were ordered
to begin such proceedings against all proprietary colonies.
During the 1680's the disturbances in Albemarle tended to cluster
around individuals rather than factional groups. Robert Holden, who
held a number of offices, was most influential as customs collector and
secretary; and gained ascendancy over the government and practically the
entire colony. His malfeasance and abuse of the colonists led to his
forcible ouster in 1680, by which time the relations with Virginia over
the boundary issue had deteriorated and Virginia rent collectors began to
make their appearance in Albemarle. Probably in early 1683 Seth Sothel,
now freed from the Algerine captivity, took up his place as governor,
beginning an episode of abuse of power which led to his forcible ouster
by the colonists and arrest and trial by the Assembly in 1689. Sothel,
who as a Lords Proprietor could have solved numerous problems, used his
office chiefly as a tool for his own enrichment. The means he applied
were false arrest, unlawful imprisonment, acceptance of bribes, seizure of
land and estates of both living and deceased colonists, and outright theft
of small articles of personal property.
In 1689 John Gibbs, kinsman of the Duke of Albemarle, challenged the
right of the newly appointed governor, Philip Ludwell, a Virginian. On
the grounds of his title of cacique and as heir apparent of the Duke's
proprietorship, he asserted that the Fundamental Constitutions entitled
him to be governor. Gibbs was recognized briefly in the colony until the
official papers arrived, when he attempted with force to secure his
position. Denounced by the Proprietary Board in 1690, his legal claim
was removed by the suspension of the Fundamental Constitutions in 1691.
Significantly, Ludwell's commission of 1689 ended the existence of
Albemarle as a Palatine County since he was appointed as governor of
Carolina north and east of Cape Fear.
The period of the 1690's was significant for a number of reasons.
With Ludwell's appointment as governor of all the Carolina colony (1691),
a new more liberal governmental organization was instituted and North
Carolina came under the direction of a deputy governor. Ludwell recog-
nized the colonists' claims that the "Great Deed of Grant" was irrevocable.
The courts of Carolina spent a good part of their time clearing land
titles, proving headrights under the new terms, and rectifying the abuses
of Sothel concerning numerous estates.
By the middle of the 1690's many of the problems that had
caused turmoil in Albemarle had been solved. The form of
government had been changed was stable and its
authority was recognized by the colonists. Land policies
had been liberalized. .Settlement had expanded, and
in December, 1696, a new county, the County of Bath, was
erected south of Albemarle Sound. In fact, as well as in
name, the County of Albemarle had become the colony of
With a more diversified economy, no longer completely dependent on to-
bacco, and a government reorganized in its executive, judicial and legis-
lative branches, North Carolina had evolved into a more mature colony. As
Will be seen, political issues after 1697 tended to be more sophisticated.
The government of North Carolina by 1697 was no longer dependent on
the Fundamental Constitutions which were permanently suspended the next
year. Its organization had evolved to a point that made it quite similar
to royal and proprietary government elsewhere, though it did continue to
demonstrate some idiosyncratic features. The executive was, typically,
composed of the governor, council and a small group of permanent officials.
During the proprietary years the governor succeeded in five ways: by
Lords Proprietors' commission, by commission as deputy governor from the
governor of all Carolina, by election to the presidency of the council on
the death of the governor, by appointment as deputy governor when the
governor was out of the colony, and by armed rebellion. Proprietary ap-
pointees were sent out with a commission stating general powers to fulfill
the trust of the Lords Proprietors and serve as the commander-in-chief of
the colony. The commissions also usually included enumerated powers to
erect courts, make appointments of officeholders, and enact and consent to
laws. They were also supplied with a specific set of instructions, in-
forming them in detail of those policies they should undertake to imple-
ment. These instructions never became stereotyped as in royal colonies
and unlike their royal counterparts, Carolina governors were obligated to
make their instructions public. In addition, the instructions were cumu-
lative. After the Navigation Act of 1696, proprietary governors became
more answerable to the Crown through the Board of Trade and Plantations,
especially in the matter of enforcement of customs.
In few of his powers or instructions could the governor act without
the Council. In Carolina the Council's role was more extensive, particu-
larly due to the legal principle that councilors were representatives of
individual Lords Proprietors. While this principle was progressively
undermined in practice, it continued to affect relations between the
governor and Council throughout the Proprietary era. Thus, early in
the history of North Carolina, the principle was established that the
governor was the first among equals, and this was a reflection of the
structure of the Proprietary Board. Nevertheless, the powers of the
governor, even when exercised with the approbation of the Council, were
large, and ultimately, because of the blank deputations issued to gover-
nors in North Carolina, they could build a dominance in the Council.
The most significant power of the governor was general control of
the land system, which was the basis for the profit of the Lords
Proprietors and the chief instrument of economic development. The gover-
nor signed the order for the initial survey and the patent granting land.
He was in charge of the quitrent system and any sales of land during the
intervals when these were permitted. Closely related to expansion of
the land system was the governor's power to treat with and make war on
The power of the governor to make appointments was an extensive one
ranging from the higher officials of the colonial executive and judici-
ary down to the local justice of the peace. He was charged with the
responsibility of supervision of the conduct of all these offices. These
powers, along with the authority to establish courts and conduct investi-
gations into governmental matters, were intended to insure effective con-
trol and oversight over the executive branch of the Lords Proprietors'
government. Concomitant with them were the governor's powers to issue
writs for the election of the General Assembly, after the suspension of
the Fundamental Constitutions. He was also empowered to dissolve and pro-
rogue that body. Of course no act of the Assembly could become law with-
out his consent.
Like any executive, the governor of Carolina was constantly called
on to fulfill special tasks, such as the submission of reports, vital
statistics, accounts of his and subordinates' actions, and to maintain
a strong link of communications. The chief source of remuneration for
all these activities was the governor's salary which was funded through
quitrents. In addition, fees of office 6and special grants of compen-
sation, such as monopolies, were sources of income.
The governors of Carolina shared most of these powers with their
council, and some more important ones denied to them entirely were in-
stead assigned to a body of lesser officials. As has been mentioned, "it
is difficult to overemphasize the significance of the council in the de-
velopment of proprietary policy. From the beginning, it was an integral
part of the government of Carolina." 6 In 1695 with the termination of
the Grand Council of the Fundamental Constitutions, the Council began a
third phase of its history. The Lords Proprietors' councilors were now
the sole members and the powers of the Grand Council devolved on them.
An important departure in appointments of councilors occurred at this
time. When a vacancy occurred, the governor and Council were to fill it
subject to the approval of the Lords Proprietors. In the absence of close
oversight of North Carolina by the Lords Proprietors, the Council was pre-
vented from becoming a self-perpetuating board only by the policy of
issuing blank deputations for a new council when a governor was appointed
The Council existed as a functioning unit of government in conjunction
with the governor who called and presided over every session. Only in the
event of the governor's death would a president of the Council be elected.
Nevertheless, it was always considered a high distinction in North Carolina
to hold a commission as a deputy of the Lords Proprietors, and hence a
seat on the Council, in spite of the fact that members served without
remuneration. The councilor was a legislator, member of the Court of
Chancery, as well as an important member of the executive. So placed,
the opportunities for profit were significant, notably in securing ac-
cess to the best lands and to governmental appointments which carried
The duty most demanding on the time of the councilor was handling
of matters related to land--lapsed patents, signing land grants, estab-
lishing land policy and rules for quitrents, working with the receiver
general, and a host of other duties. Significant amounts of time were
also devoted to Indian affairs, judicial business, and colonial finance,
though the Assembly had many responsibilities in the latter area. As
with the governor, the Council had numerous ad hoc duties--investiga-
tions, frontier expansion, proclamations of new monarchs, internal
boundaries, appointment of officers and many other matters affecting
public interest. Such variety must have added interest to the meetings
of the Council.
Of all the offices which comprised the colonial government of the
Lords Proprietors from governor at the top to road overseer at the bot-
tom, three were singled out for special attention by the Lords Proprietors.
The Lords Proprietors went to considerable length to ensure their control
of appointments and activities of the colonial secretary, surveyor/
general, and receiver/general. Each of these offices was closely related
to the governor and Council and each had a significant role in the land
system. It was in the interest of the Lords Proprietors to maintain both
their integrity and independence.
From the beginning, the secretary of the colony and Council was
responsible for maintenance of land records and preparation of relevant
documents, and for each step in the process fees were assigned which
made the office quite lucrative. Other work was added to the post as
time passed, such as maintenance of records of other government of-
fices, proprietary instructions, activities of the Council, and acts of
the Assembly. The secretary also transmitted to London the records
created by the receiver/general and surveyor/general and their subordi-
The surveyor/general was empowered to survey and lay out the
boundaries for land taken up by settlers through grant and purchase,
and to certify the acreage. Though the Lords Proprietors maintained
the right of appointment, the governor and Council were empowered to
fill the post if they failed to do so and also to remove an individual
guilty of misconduct. The extent of the responsibility of the office
was multiplied by the expanding frontier, the need to resurvey private
lands, and the disputes over title which frequently resulted from local
politics and changes in proprietary land policy. The work naturally re-
quired a host of assistants. Complaints concerning surveys were heard
before the Council. While the surveyor/general received only one fee
for surveying, it is clear that the post was quite lucrative.
The last of the three offices, that of receiver/general, did not
appear until after 1670, and did not function regularly until early in
the eighteenth century. The principal responsibility of the office was
to collect and disburse proprietary revenues. Thus it combined the
functions of tax collector and treasurer. Among the tasks assigned to
the office by the Lords Proprietors were the collection of dues, rents,
fines, forfeitures, escheats, share from shipwrecks and ambergris, and
any other revenue which might present itself. The chief source of
proprietary income was to be the quitrent and the most important duty
was, therefore, the preparation of the rent roll. The office was en-
titled to 10 percent of all the monies collected. The task of col-
lection and compilation of the rolls went to deputies, but the governor
was expected to keep close watch over these activities and the receiver/
general to report to the London Board at least once every three months.
All surplus funds were to go to the receiver/general, but it is clear
that the colonial list exhausted virtually all the revenues collected
throughout the period. At the end of the Proprietary Era the Lords
Proprietors owed their receiver/general money.
The second major arm of the proprietary government, the judiciary,
was founded on the virtually complete power of the Lords Proprietors to
establish a court system. So long as the Fundamental Constitutions were
nominally in effect, the judiciary was to a great extent an arm of the
executive branch. 7 During the period here considered, legal juris-
diction over the whole Colony was exercised by the Court of Chancery, a
court of equity; the General Court, a court of law; and on occasion
courts originated for special purposes. The Palatine's Court still
existed in 1697, but its functions were largely superseded and the last
document assignable to that Court appears in 1704. Among the ad hoc
courts originated for special purposes were the local Magistrates and
Freeholder's Courts and three higher courts--Court of Ordinary, Court of
Claims, and Aperiodic Courts of Oyer and Terminer. North Carolina
Admiralty Courts did function spasmodically and extralegally, if not il-
legally, during the period. North Carolina and Virginia remained locked
in a jurisdictional struggle over admiralty, the latter claiming and at
times exercising jurisdiction south of 36 degrees 31 minutes. This issue
was not resolved until after 1720.
Certain practices and forms of the General Court remained stable
throughout the period under study. Six justices was the norm, though
periodically the number increased, and the General Court maintained both
appellate and concurrent jurisdiction with the precinct courts. A num-
ber of administrative tasks assigned to the precinct courts were also
within its jurisdiction, including laying out of roads and repairing of
bridges which were assigned to juries. Like the precinct courts, it acted
also in probate matters, proof of headrights, and appointments of guardi-
ans for orphans. The total amount of time spent in such administrative
matters was small and continued to decline. The original jurisdiction of
the Court was also broad, and together with its other duties made it the
busiest court of the colony. Even small actions involving as little as
twenty shillings were within its purview.
The General Court consistently met three times a year, though the
dates varied, and its meetings, like those of the Council, were usually
held in private homes. Its executive officer, the provost marshal, was
appointed by the governor and Council and, in turn, appointed the deputy
provost marshals. These officers were responsible for enforcement of the
actions of the Court. Records of the Court were kept by the clerk, who
was appointed by the secretary of North Carolina, and charged with
responsibility for preparation of all Court documents. The attorney
general of the Colony was appointed by the governor and Council. He
argued civil cases and administrative actions before the Court in the
name of the Lords Proprietors, but criminal cases for the Crown. All
these officers were paid through the fee system.
In addition to these officers, Court participants included members
of the petit jury, grand jury, attorneys licensed to plea before the
Court, litigants, witnesses, and others not involved in civil or crimi-
nal actions, such as administrators of estates and individuals proving
headrights. The most notable development in Court offices was the
creation of the chief justiceship. Prior to 1712 it seems that one
justice held a position of first among equals. But beginning with
Christopher Gale's appointment by the Lords Proprietors, the office of
chief justice for the General Court took on increasing importance,
principally due to Gale's forceful personality.
Strictly speaking there was no appeal from the General Court except
to the Lords Proprietors. However, the Court of Chancery could hear ap-
peals of cases for which there was no legal remedy in common law. Thus,
Chancery Court undertook cases in equity which had been decided under
law in the General Court. Simply put, a case in the General Court,
bound by strict observance of legal forms and practices, might be decided
unfairly; for instance, a legal but fraudulent transfer of land. The
Chancery Court could consider evidence which was not admissible in other
courts; such as, the condition of the litigants, and it was not bound to
rigid legal forms in its proceedings. These features in practice made it
a court of appeals for both the General Court and precinct courts. More-
over, it was an executive court, since it was composed of the governor
The legislature of North Carolina, usually referred to as the
Burgesses, was an institution required of the Lords Proprietors by their
1663 charter. Under the constitution of the Concessions and Agreements
the legislature had extremely broad powers, which were dramatically
reduced by the Lords Proprietors in the Fundamental Constitutions. In
spite of failure of their protests at the removal of powers of their
elected body, the settlers of Albemarle tenaciously defended the right
to biennial legislatures even after the suspension of the Constitutions.
By their instructions in 1691 the Lords Proprietors of Carolina in
effect suspended the operation of a unicameral legislature, and by 1695
North Carolina elected a separate Assembly and the governor and Council
sat as the Upper House.
To their strong support of regular and frequent elections, North
Carolina's settlers added a broad franchise. The proprietary system of
franchise tied to property qualifications in a mixed polity never ap-
proached reality in North Carolina. In 1691 when the Lords Proprietors
granted freemen the right to vote, they provided the basis for a liberal
election law allowing any free, white male, age twenty-one, who had paid
a year's levy, the right to vote. However, it seems clear that election
to the Burgesses, while not monopolized by a particular class, frequently
went to the most prosperous members of the Colony. Many assemblymen
later appeared as members of the Council or colonial officers. Moreover,
they were reimbursed on a per diem basis for their services which was an
extraordinary arrangement. During the period under study the number of
representatives increased from twenty-two to twenty-seven as new political
jurisdictions were added.
The greatest prestige, of course, redounded to the speaker of the
house of Burgesses, an office provided for as early as 1665 in the
Concessions and Agreement. The importance of the office increased with
the creation of the bicameral legislature and it became more clearly a
spokesman for popular opinion. Of those fifteen men holding the
speakership during the Proprietary period, one became governor and over
half, Councilors. The office received no special compensation. The
other officers of the General Assembly were a clerk, messenger and
doorkeeper, whose exact duties are indeterminant.
The chief responsibility of the Burgesses to enact legislation was
abetted by the frequent sessions, in spite of restrictions against the
initiation of legislation prior to 1695. After that time powers of the
legislative branch grew. It developed powers and a system of enacting
laws peculiar to North Carolina. Perhaps the most interesting feature
is that the signing of laws by the governor became almost purely ritu-
alistic since the governor and Council had already assented in them
One of the continuing problems of the government of North Carolina
was to obtain proprietary assent to laws. The fault was twofold, that
of the governors for failing to send many enactments and the Lords
Proprietors for waiting too long for approval. Initially, the acts of
Assembly remained in force for one year and then two without proprietary
assent. The codification of 1715 is an example of the fate of the North
Carolina enactments. The Lords Proprietors' initial response was that
they would review the laws quickly and submit their approval. All
mention of the laws by London Board ceased in 1723 and, so far as is known,
they were never approved or rejected. In order to deal with this problem
the Burgesses usually followed the policy in its biennial meetings of
approving past laws for two additional years. The 1715 codification was
treated as though it had proprietary assent. 80
The powers of the Assembly throughout the proprietary period exceeded
the requirements of the Carolina charters. During the last years of the
seventeenth century the House of Burgesses began the gradual process of
accrual of prerogatives which was to move forward at an accelerated pace
during the eighteenth century until the powers of that body surpassed
those of its early years. It has been argued that this was due to the
weak executive. More precisely, it was due to the executive bowing
to local needs since the men who served as governor frequently had
strong ties to the Colony or were in fact residents.
The lower house of the legislature gradually assumed the right to
establish religion, incorporate towns, legislate on Indian matters, pro-
vide both court jurisdiction and procedure, levy taxes, regulate business,
control currency, and establish codes for slave and indentured servants.
In addition, by 1711 the lower house had begun to develop one of its
most important powers, that of "nominating and appointing public treas-
urers to collect, hold, and apply moneys arising from provincial reve-
nue. Most striking, however, was the Burgesses entry into regulation
of the land and quitrent system through the passage of broad legislation.
In doing so, they gained influence, if not control, over the one area the
Lords Proprietors had considered exclusively their own.
By the second decade of the eighteenth century the Assembly
unquestionably secured for itself a position of tremendous
power in the government of the colony. Beyond question, too,
the Assembly acted in areas which had never been opened to
them by any constitution or set of instructions from the
Two agencies of local government existed during the Proprietary
period--the Anglican vestries and the courts of pleas and quarter ses-
sions, which were precinct courts. The former were not in existence at
the opening of the eighteenth century. The latter, on the other hand,
already functioned as the principal local institutions, and were of great
importance in North Carolina where town life did not develop to any
The precinct courts find their origin in the Fundamental Constitu-
tions where they are elaborated as part of the ideas of Locke and
Shaftesbury. They were probably functioning by 1671. By the end of
the century the jurisdiction of the precinct courts was modified, re-
flecting the suspension of the Fundamental Constitutions. The justices
were authorized to try non-capital criminal cases, appoint constables
and road overseers, regulate and lay out the roads and bridges, and
approve sites and erection of gristmills. As the precinct courts
began appointing the local officials to exercise these functions, the
courts began to take on new significance as local administrative insti-
tutions. The judges, whose number varied from six to twelve, were
justices of the peace holding their office as individual magistrates by
virtue of appointments from the governor and Council to serve "during
our pleasure." These appointments seem to have been made from among
locally prominent individuals. The order of the appointments, usually
by seniority, was significant since the chairman of the court was the
first named. To the chairman fell the duties of officiating for the
The justices of the peace were assisted by several other officials.
The provost marshal, who exercised the duties later assigned the sheriff,
remained beyond the control of the court since he was an officer of the
General Court responsible for several precincts and he appointed a
deputy marshal to serve in each precinct. The provost was the executive
officer of the court, supervising its proceedings and also its policeman
carrying out its orders and sentences. The clerk, appointed by the
secretary of the Colony, was responsible for the paperwork of the court
and for the maintenance of all its records. In addition, the registrar
of the precinct courts, an office frequently held by the clerk, was
responsible for the records of all real estate conveyances and at
times vital statistics. Constables were always in attendance when the
courts were in session, serving writs, and assisting juries, while be-
tween terms they acted as police officers in their precincts. Over
the constables the precinct courts had complete authority.
The jurisdiction of the precinct courts grew in time, making them
the focus of local political, regulatory and judicial matters. In the
area of criminal jurisdiction the courts were empowered to "try by Jury
of twelve true & Lawfull men all Petty larcenies and unlawfull riotts
and routes" occurring in their jurisdiction. Though granted extensive
rights to preside over criminal cases, "the precinct courts never sought
to exercise more than limited jurisdiction in this area." 89
The civil jurisdiction of the court was limited only to the extent
that the case could not involve sums in excess of fifty pounds. The
criminal and civil jurisdiction of the court was held concurrently with
the General Court, and any of its decisions could be appealed to that
court on a writ of error. The precinct court itself served as a court of
appeal for cases tried in the magistrates courts, composed of at least two
justices of the peace hearing trials of "Small & Mean Causes."
A substantial part of the precinct courts' activities at the quar-
ter sessions consisted of probating and certifying legal documents, in-
cluding deeds, bills of sale, wills and inventories, and recording the
sizes of families, and marks and brands for livestock. Settlers turned
to the precinct court for these services because it was more convenient
than the General Court which also rendered them. The court had also
virtually complete jurisdiction over the care and supervision of orphans,
which complimented its probate authority in settlement of estates. Like-
wise, the legislation of 1715 gave the court extensive authority over
the conduct and welfare of slaves and servants. For instance, the
justices heard complaints against masters, decided the amount of corporal
punishment to be administered to slaves and servants in certain offenses
and assisted in capturing runaways. They enforced the mutual obliga-
tions of indentures and administered summary justices in cases where
slaves were accused of criminal offenses.
A number of the administrative responsibilities of the precinct
courts, which would develop fully during the royal period, find their
genesis before 1720. Control over public buildings was first assigned
to the courts by the Assembly in 1715, but no practical applications of
that authority occurred before 1718. Powers of finance were also slow
to develop. The authority to levy taxes was first granted in 1715 when
Beaufort and Hyde precincts were authorized to use the poll tax to build
courthouses, but no general delegation of taxing authority by the Bur-
gesses occurred until 1772. The poll tax was in general used sparingly
in the period under study. 91 The courts were responsible for mainte-
nance of the lists of "tithables" or "taxables" subject to the poll, and
for collection of the tax which was payable in specified commodities due
to the shortage of specie. The primary source of funds for the precinct
courts during the period remained the ability to levy fines. By law
fines were assigned to the Lords Proprietors, the precinct or the parish. 92
In addition to control of finance, precinct courts exercised juris-
diction in supervision of roads and ferries as early as the 1690's.
They were responsible for repair of roads, laying out of new byways,
and therefore had to organize the male inhabitants of the precinct to
the task. The system of road supervision legislated in 1715, remained
unchanged until after 1750, and involved court appointment of surveyors
and overseers of the roads. The supervision of ferries extended princi-
pally to licensing and monitoring the licensees.
Gradually, the precinct courts developed also considerable re-
sponsibility for business within their jurisdictions. Among the first
was control of gristmills, for which they were authorized by the Assembly
to assist millers in securing good sites, and the public by supervising
the millers. By degrees they secured also control over ordinaries or
inns and taverns. Their powers extended to licensing and setting stan-
dards of operation.
The county court of North Carolina, as it developed
throughout the Colonial period, gave to the inhabi-
tants an institution of local government adapted to
their needs. Originally its function was to relieve
the General Court from trying petty civil cases
and probating routine records. As the colony de-
veloped, the county court's authority expanded until
it included criminal as well as civil jurisdiction
and administrative powers adequate for an agricultural
community. With these powers the county court resem-
bled closely the English quarter sessions court and the
Virginia county court. 95
The evolution of North Carolina institutions had by 1700 reached a
state of relative stability, even if its political maturity did not re-
flect this fact. This institutional structure provided the framework for
the expansion of the Colony and the growth of its social stratification
system, as well as the context for its political and social conflicts.
1Attention to the demographic and other pressures leading to this
great migration will be dealt with in Chapter III.
2Recent scholarship points away from the more romantic versions of
the survival of this colony through race mixture with Indians. Lefler
and Powell place emphasis on reports from numerous contemporary sources
indicating that the colony was virtually exterminated by Powhatan. For
a full account of the Raleigh colonizing efforts and their interpre-
tation of the mystery of the "Lost Colony," see Hugh T. Lefler and
William S. Powell, Colonial North Carolina, a History (New York, 1973),
3For a detailed account of the tribulations and continued lack of
success of various expeditions to the region see Herbert Paschal,
"Proprietary North Carolina, a Study in Colonial Government" (doctoral
dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1961), 1-65.
These patents, loosely referred to as charters though they were not,
span roughly a century. Most of them have been brought together in a
single volume. See Mattie Erma Edwards Parker and William S. Price, Jr.,
eds., The Colonial Records of North Carolina, second series (Raleigh,
N. C., 1963- ), I. These documents include "Charter to Sir Humphrey
Gilbert, June 11, 1578"; "Charter to Sir Walter Raleigh, March 25, 1584";
"Charter to the Virginia Company, April 10, 1606"; "Charter to the
Virginia Company of London, May 23, 1609"; "Charter to the Virginia
Company of London, March 12, 1612"; "Charter to Sir Robert Heath, October
30, 1629"; "Charter to the Lords Proprietors of Carolina, March 24, 1663";
and "Charter to the Lords Proprietors of Carolina, June 30, 1665."
However, at least three other manuscript versions of the grant to the
Lords Proprietors are extant. See Parker and Price, Colonial Records, II,
xxii, footnote. In addition, the Lords Proprietors themselves issued a
series of documents which form the de jure if not the de facto basis for
the settlement of North Carolina. See Parker and Price, Colonial Records,
I. These documents include the "Concessions and Agreement, January 7, 1665"
and the "Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina" which went through half
dozen versions--July 21, 1669 and its revisions of March 1, 1670, January
12, 1682, August 17, 1682, and April 11, 1698.
5Daniel Webster Fagg, Jr., "Carolina, 1663-1683: The Founding of a
Proprietary" (doctoral dissertation, Emory University, 1970), 88-101;
Lawrence Lee, The Lower Cape Fear in Colonial Days (Chapel Hill, N. C.,
Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 65.
William P. Cumming, "The Earliest Permanent Settlement in Carolina:
Nathaniel Batts and the Cumberford Map," The American Historical Review,
XLV (October, 1939), 83.
Lefler and Powell, Colonial North Carolina, 31-32; Paschal,
"Proprietary North Carolina," 62-65.
Fagg, "Carolina," 32. For opposing views in this matter, see
Charles M. Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History (4 vols.,
New Haven, Conn., 1934-1938), III, 183-84; Wesley Frank Craven, The
Southern Colonies in the Seventeenth Century (Baton Rouge, La., 1949),
322; Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 66-76. Good synoptic biogra-
phies are provided for the Lords Proprietors by Fagg, "Carolina," 1,
7-29; Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 66-76. Both agree that Sir
John Colleton with his Barbadian experience is the most likely candidate
for "prime mover" in the generation of the project, which removed a
frontier for Virginia and replaced it with a competitor in a depressed
tobacco market. For an account of the descent of the eight proprietary
shares, see ibid., 97-109.
10Fagg, "Carolina," 46-47, 86-88.
See, for instance, Lefler and Powell, Colonial North Carolina, 32;
Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, 75; Paschal, "Proprietary North
12For the historical development of the County Palatine of Durham and
the powers vested in the Bishop of Durham, see Gaillard Thomas Lapsley,
The County Palatine of Durham; a Study in Constitutional History, New
13Fagg, "Carolina," 41-43. The opposing view, that the purpose of the
Charter fully developed in the Fundamental Constitutions was to establish
an essentially feudal society, has been the generally accepted interpre-
tation. See, for instance, Lefler and Powell, Colonial North Carolina, 30,
33; Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, 75; Paschal, "Proprietary North
1Fagg, "Carolina," 42, 53.
15Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, 76-89.
171bid., 90; Fagg, "Carolina," 86-88.
18Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, 93-94.
19Ibid., 103-104; Fagg, "Carolina," 85-86.
2This assumption was based on the Heath Patent which provides a
clear formula for the establishment of the line at thirty-six degrees.
See ibid., 45-46.
2Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 91-92. Paschal believes
that Berkeley took action in this situation due to his bold character and
surmises about the content of his yet to arrive instructions. This seems
an unlikely interpretation, since Berkeley had arrived in Virginia on
December 2, 1662 after a crossing of several months and the drafting and
signing of the Charter was not completed until March 24, 1663. If, in
fact, he had known about the inclusion of the area above Albemarle Sound,
then his actions might be better interpreted as an overt attempt to
establish a disputed claim to the area for Virginia. While this is pos-
sible, it seems more likely that he was making Virginia grants because
he believed the area was part of Virginia. Furthermore, he desisted when
late in 1663 the full instructions and commissions arrived from Whitehall
proving otherwise. In any event, though Berkeley was aware of the incipi-
ent charter and was consulted at the time of his mission to London, there
is no evidence that he had such large influence in the councils of the
other seven Proprietors to influence the draft. For the timing of
Berkeley's voyage and a discussion of his role, see Fagg, "Carolina,"
19-20, 70, 244-45.
22Ibid., 67-68; Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 89.
23Fagg, "Carolina," 64-70. The development of the land system of the
Lords Proprietors is discussed in Chapter III.
24William L. Saunders, ed., The Colonial Records of North Carolina
(10 vols., Raleigh, N. C., 1886-1890), I, 53.
25Fagg, "Carolina," 70-109; Lee, The Lower Cape Fear, 41-53; Paschal,
"Proprietary North Carolina," 95.
2Fagg, "Carolina," 78; Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, 107.
The chief biographies of Lord Ashley and Locke are respectively
Louise Fargo Brown, The First Earl of Shaftesbury (New York, 1933);
Maurice Cranston, John Locke: A Biography (New York, 1957).
29Fagg, "Carolina," 129.
30Ibid., 116-117; Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, 128; Paschal,
"Proprietary North Carolina," 73-76, 99, 113-20.
31Fagg, "Carolina," 141-48. Those asserting Harrington's influence on
the "Grand Model" include Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, xxiii;
Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 134.
32Fagg, "Carolina," 131-134.
33Ibid., 184, 340-41; Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, 130-31,
II, xxii-xxiii, xxvii.
Fagg, "Carolina," 184. For a complete discussion of the several
versions of the Fundamental Constitutions, see Parker and Price, Colonial
Records, I, 128-31, II, xxii; Fagg, "Carolina," 141-45.
35Ibid., 150-52 suggests that this curious feudal arrangement providing
for nonfree laborers might have sprung from the desire to raise the status
of slaves since it seems unlikely that either Locke or Ashley could have
believed it possible that free Englishmen would bind themselves and their
progeny perpetually for the seed and implements to farm ten acres of land.
36bid., 148-54; Parker and Price, Colonial Records, II, xxiii-xxiv.
Fagg, "Carolina," 154.
An interesting feature was a seventeenth century "sunset law" which
required all acts of parliament to lapse after sixty years.
It is noteworthy that the Fundamental Constitutions required a large
measure of record keeping at the local level including vital statistics
of all types and records of commercial and property transactions. This is
one feature of the "Grand Model" the historian would wish had been fully
4Fagg, "Carolina," 130-32, 154-60, 164-65; Parker and Price, Colonial
Records, II, xxiii-xxvii. The full text of the Fundamental Constitutions
serving as the basis for this discussion may be found in ibid., I, 132-64.
4lFor a discussion of New England towns as utopias, see Charles B.
Lowry, "'The City on a Hill' and Kibbutzim: Seventeenth Century Utopias
as Ideal Types," American Jewish Historical Quarterly, LXIV, (September
O2ne of the features which has consistently drawn praise from
historians is the provision for religious toleration. The original
1669 version allowed the establishment of any faith in a county but guaran-
teed the toleration of all others. The 1670 version called for Anglican
establishment and toleration. This in fact was not unusual at all, but
typical of the restoration charters.
Andrews, The Colonial Period; Robert Digges Wimberly Connor, North
Carolina, Rebuilding an Ancient Commonwealth 1584-1925 (4 vols., New
York, 1929); Hugh Talmage Lefler, History of North Carolina (2 vols., New
York, 1956); Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina Under the
Proprietary Government, 1670-1719 (New York, 1899); Alexander Samuel
Salley, Jr., ed., Narratives of Early Carolina, 1650-1708, James Franklin
Jameson, ed., Original Narratives of Early American History (New York, 1911);
David Duncan Wallace, The History of South Carolina (4 vols., New York,
P4arker and Price, Colonial Records; Paschal, "Proprietary North
Carolina"; William S. Powell,ed., Ye Countie of Albemarle in Carolina:
a Collection of Documents, 1664-1675 (Raleigh, N. C., 1958); Hugh F.
Rankin, Upheaval in Albemarle: The Story of Culpeper's Rebellion,
1675-1689 (Raleigh, N. C., 1962); M. Eugene Sirmans, Colonial South
Carolina: A Political History, 1663-1713 (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1966).
4The most obvious evidence of this disregard is the attempts at the
Proprietary Board to alienate Albemarle to Sir William Berkeley and the
almost total lack of correspondence between Albemarle and Lord Ashley
during the long years he dominated the Board. See Fagg, "Carolina,"
243-44, 253-54; Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 126.
Fagg, "Carolina," iii, 184, 330-34.
48Parker and Price, Colonial Records, II, xxvii. The temporary plan
was contained in the instructions to the governors of Carolina and the
"Temporary Laws" for which various dates have been given. The 1679
date is used by ibid., xxvii. This dating is based on J. R. B. Hathaway,
ed., The North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register (3 vols.,
Merry Hill, N. C., 1900-1903), 27-29. However, Fagg, "Carolina," 174,
176, infers from the lack of a date in the manuscript and its relative
position with other papers that 1671 is the correct date for the first
issuance and that is confirmed by the second issuance in the next year.
The Hathaway date is probably contingent on the fact that an official
copy was issued and sent to Albemarle in 1678, arriving in 1679.
Fagg, "Carolina," 174-80.
50Ibid., 160, 174-75, 179-89; Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina,"
xxvii-xxviii. Fagg asserts that the primary cause for government insta-
bility in South Carolina was that governors in that portion of the
Proprietary were not as a standard practice issued blank patents. Thus
the laissez faire attitude of the Lords Proprietors towards Albemarle
was in this instance helpful to political development.
51For instance, there are no extant records of the Admiralty Courts
or customs office on which to base a study of the development of North
Carolina's export trade. See Parker and Price, Colonial Records, III,
liv-lv. Studies of the political history of the period often emphasize
the issue of the enforcement of the "Penny a Pound Tax" on tobacco, but
in the absence of records are dependent on the scant testimony of contem-
poraries to that effect. Absence of other typical records such as rent
rolls, property tax rolls, plantation records, probate records and the
like all affect studies of the economic and social evolution of the
region. Chapter I provides a more detailed discussion of these records.
At the present writing Ms. Barbara Lathroum Wilson, a doctoral candidate
at Johns Hopkins University, is preparing a dissertation which concentrates
on the social and economic growth of Albemarle before 1700. This work
should do much to fill a void in our knowledge of the early history of the
5See Fagg, "Carolina"; Lee, The Lower Cape Fear, 19-53; Lefler and
Powell, Colonial North Carolina, 29-55; Parker and Price, Colonial Records,
II, xiii-lxii; Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina." Rankin, Upheaval
in Albemarle is also helpful in covering much of the period down to the
end of Seth Sothel's term as governor in 1689. In addition, Lindley S.
Butler, "The Governors of Albemarle County, 1663-1689," North Carolina
Historical Review, XLVI (July, 1969), 281-99 throws much light on the
same years, as does Mattie Erma E. Parker, "Legal Aspects of 'Culpeper's
Rebellion'," North Carolina Historical Review, LXV (April, 1968), 111-127.
The principal studies based on source material are the introductions in
the volumes of the Parker and Price Colonial Records and the Paschal and
Fagg dissertations. The former two works tend to emphasize North Carolina
sources. Fagg, by contrast, has drawn heavily from the records of the
Proprietary Board. This emphasis has meant that his work provides in
many cases an important amplification of the others and in some instances
clearly opposing interpretations.
53Bernard Bailyn, "Politics and Social Structure in Virginia," Paul
Goodman, ed., Essays in American Colonial History (New York, 1967), 294-95.
4This is the terminology of functionalist analysis. A detailed
description of the use of functionalist theory which partly underlies this
study is to be found in Chalmers Johnson, Revolutionary Change (Boston, 1966).
5Albemarle was at a disadvantage in the tobacco trade due to the
lack of a deep water port. All of her goods, including the prized naval
stores yet to be exploited fully, were to have the market liability of the
56Butler, "The Governors of Albemarle," provides a "revised list of
governors of Albemarle County," which includes all individuals who acted
as governor in any capacity. Inasmuch as the Lords Proprietors often left
the colony without an officially appointed governor, this list is helpful
in clarifying the succession of governments which was often dependent on
provisions in the Fundamental Constitutions. See also Parker and Price,
Colonial Records, I, xxx-xxxi.
5Carteret's instructions as governor had included a repeal of the last
untouched concession of the "Great Deed," the farthing quitrent. Thus
within two years all the Proprietary concessions had been repealed by
either the Lords Proprietors or the Albemarle Assembly. Nevertheless, the
colonists ever after rested their claims to liberty and land on the "Great
Deed," and their arguments ultimately prevailed.
8Ibid., II, xxx-xxxix; Butler, "The Governors of Albemarle," 281-91.
5Ibid., 117-26; Fagg, "Carolina," 243-53; Parker and Price, Colonial
Records, I, lx-liv; Rankin, Upheaval in Albemarle, 23-46.
It may also verify Bailyn's thesis, for it is equally plausible that
an appeal to loyalty was only an adumbration of the desire to gain local
political advantage. Moreover, this interpretation should be considered
in light of the fact that the Lords Proprietors neither had communications
with the "loyal party" nor did they side with them once all the facts were
6'arker, "Legal Aspects," 117-27.
62Butler, "The Governors of Albemarle," 281-99; Fagg, "Carolina,"
279-93; Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, liv-lvi.
6Rankin, Upheaval in Albemarle, 57-58.
64Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, Ivi-lxii.
6For the development of the fee system during the Proprietary era, see
William S. Price, Jr., "The Fee System in Colonial North Carolina,"
(master's thesis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1969).
66Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 180-226.
68Ibid., 231, 245-46, 250, 254-55, 257.
The full array of offices comprising the political dimension of the
stratification system is described in Appendix III. They are dealt with
as part of the stratification system in Chapter IV.
T0Ibid., 259-60, 262-73.
71Ibid., 335-41; Parker and Price, Colonial Records, I, lxiii-lxxv.
72George Stevenson and Ruby D. Arnold, "North Carolina Courts of Law
and Equity Prior to 1868," Archives Information Circular Cno. 9, 1973).
3See Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 353-64; Parker and Price,
Colonial Records, III, lv-lix, IV, xxxiv-xxxv, V, xxxvi, xl-xli.
Ibid., III, xxxviii-xliii, V, xxxvi-xl. The best account of the
legal forms and procedures of the General Court is found in ibid., xliii-
lii. For the historical development of its officers and jurisdiction,
see Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 338-49.
P5arker and Price, Colonial Records, III, lii-liv, IV, xxxiii-xxxiv,
6For the most complete account of the summoning, election, organi-
zation, and procedures of the Burgesses, see Paschal, "Proprietary North
7The full discussion of the political dimensions of the social
stratification system is to be found in Chapter IV.
78Ibid., 277, 281-82, 285-88, 296-99, 302-08. Practically no evidence
remains of the procedures and organization of the Assembly during the
seventeenth century. However, a good account of the practices in the
early eighteenth century is available. See ibid., 308-14, 317-21.
81This argument is largely based on the fact that the Lords Proprietors
did not send over strong governors with the power to dominate the other
branches of the government. It is surprising that historians have complained
on the one hand of this neglect while on the other praising the development
of a strong legislature. See, for instance, ibid., 330-31.
82Ibid., 328-32; Jack P. Greene, "The North Carolina Lower House and
the Power to Appoint Public Treasurers, 1711-1775," North Carolina Historical
Review, XXXX (January, 1963), 37-53.
Ibid., 332. For an opinion somewhat at odds with Paschal, see Jack
P. Greene, The Quest for Power, the Lower Houses of Assembly in the
Southern Royal Colonies, 1689-1776 (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1963), 42. This
work concentrates on the development of legislative power, principally in
the royal period of North Carolina's colonial existence.
84Precincts were the exact equivalent to what we now call counties.
In North Carolina the latter term applied to the Palatine counties which
the Lords Proprietors envisioned and of which only Albemarle and Bath had
any practical existence. This usage persisted throughout the period and
the terms precinct and precinct court will, therefore, be used here.
Vestries were first summoned after the 1701 Act of Establishment. They
were potentially influential institutions of local government. However,
as will be seen in Chapter V, the anti-establishment forces were strong
and their resistance prevented the practical fulfillment of this influence.
8A number of less extensive discussions of the development of precinct
courts should be mentioned. See David Leroy Corbitt, The Formation of the
North Carolina Counties, 1663-1943 (Raleigh, N. C., 1950), xiii-xxi;
William Conrad Guess, "County Government," James Sprunt Historical Publi-
cations (Chapel Hill, N. C. 1911), 7-39; Paul Woodford Wager, County
Government and Administration in North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1928),
1-16. While these are helpful, the discussion here is principally based
on Paul M. McCain, The County Court in North Carolina Before 1750 (Durham,
N. C., 1954).
8Ibid., 6, 9, 12-13, 24-28.
8Ibid., 28-34. For a detailed account of procedures, legal forms and
organization of the court, see ibid., 35-42, 54-63.
88Quoted in ibid., 43.
8Paschal, "Proprietary North Carolina," 351.
90McCain, The County Court, 43, 51, 53, 64-98.
9See Chapter I for a full discussion of the use of the poll tax.
92Ibid., 99-109, 114, 116, 119.
93Ibid., 122-24, 128.
POPULATION, REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT, AND THE TUSCARORA WAR
All great historical migrations find their impelling force in demo-
graphic pressures and in the availability of the means to move. We see
these characteristics in the migration of Mongol and Tartar peoples into
Europe and the Near East and the Chinese into South China, the oceanic
migrations of South Pacific peoples, the Germanic invasions of Europe,
and the Arab invasions of North Africa and the Middle East. The pres-
ence of other causes and explanations of these great movements--cultural,
political, economic or idealistic--while not without merit should never
be given the weight assigned to the dynamic force of population, nor to
the presence of appropriate technology of transportation to allow the
migratory safety valve to function. The longboats of the Norsemen, the
camel of the Arab, the short sturdy horse of the Mongol, each explains the
nature and extent of the migrations resulting from demographic pressures.
Likewise, in Western Europe between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries
recurring waves of out-migration were permitted by new transportation
technologies, which were nonetheless insufficient by themselves to prevent
demographic disasters; such as, that in Ireland in the 1840's.
By the end of the sixteenth century Western Europe had more than ample
means for massive inter-oceanic migrations. The sailing vessels of the day,
while demonstrating clear national differences, had the capacity first to
explore uncharted regions and then carry significant numbers of settlers
to alter dramatically population composition. 1The initial cause for the
projection across the Atlantic of Spain's power was, like that of England
later, the interest of upper middle class and upperclass. Much has been
made of the individuals whose imagination and adventuresome natures began
the European penetration of America which had for tens of thousands of
years been the monopoly of Mongoloid peoples. Even if these had been the
only Europeans to come as conquerors, the fate for the Amerindian would
have been virtually the same for two reasons. The superior technology of
Western Europe transformed Indian culture as surely as disease, notably
smallpox, destroyed Indian population.
The demographic disaster which befell the American Indian is without
counterpart in history. When we consider that the native American popu-
lation of around 50,000,000 in 1492 was reduced to approximately 2,000,000
within a century, the 25 percent decline in European population resulting
from bubonic plague during the Middle Ages seems much less dramatic. 2
The demographic impact of European immigration on North America has been
greater than for South and Central America for two reasons: first, until
the twentieth century, amount of immigration was monumentally larger,
and second, the native populations, though decimated, were greater south
of the Rio Grande.
Even the highest estimates of Spanish migration to the New World
assert only about 1 percent of Iberian population, or around 100,000,
could have come during the early peak period of 1509-1599, and it de-
clined thereafter for more than a century. This population contained a
far higher proportion of women than has been previously believed (at least
10 percent), but it spread itself over a larger geographic area much
earlier than the English population of North America. The English came
in greater numbers, concentrated on the Atlantic coast, and had a greater
proportion of women with the net result that they transformed the conti-
nent into a cultural and racial extension of Europe. Between 1620
and 1642 alone, around 2 percent of England's population, or close to
80,000 out-migrated. At least 58,000 came to North America and the
migration from the British Isles continued, though it changed ethnically,
through the next century. By the eve of the American Revolution the
European population was 2,600,000. 5 Not until the twentieth century
would Latin American population catch and outstrip that of North America.
Viewed in this context the invasion of the homeland of the North Carolina
Indians was part of one of the significant population changes in all of
history. Why did Englishmen leave their homeland in such numbers? Carl
Bridenbaugh has provided an extensive account of the malaise which
troubled England during the first half of the seventeenth century.
To most of them "Merrie England" was but an empty phrase.
In the countryside, large numbers of people had been de-
prived of their ancient rural security; they had no land
to cultivate; unemployment threatened the agricultural
laborer and village artisan most of the time; at best
their housing was inadequate. .. .Undernourishment and
unbalanced diets sapped.the strength of thousands of lower
orders, and many fell victims to disease. .. .In the hearts
and minds of respectable, if impoverished men, the payment
of ship money, impressment billeting and similar demands
by government aroused bitterness. Approximately half
the peasantry lived in extreme poverty, and depressed
conditions affected townsmen and city people everywhere.
The swarming of tens of thousands of Englishmen--like bees
indeed--is a phenomenon almost impossible to explain except
as a consequence of what we may call a national shock. 6
To New England and Virginia they came first. From Virginia they
found their way south in numbers larger than has been suspected. Esti-
mates of North Carolina population during the Proprietary period are based
on estimates of contemporary observers or the documentary evidence of
tithable and land tax lists. Thomas Pollock, an astute contemporary
tithable and land tax lists. Thomas Pollock, an astute contemporary
observer, estimated a total tithable population in 1717 of 2,000 slaves
and Whites, and a good case has been made for his accuracy. However,
his estimates may be merely a reflection of the normal reporting prac-
tice, not a demographic statement. It is also possible that the under-
reporting was the result of a liberal interpretation of the 1715
statute's provision which exempted those who were paupers or indigent.
The highest estimates of population for the period assert a population
of 14,220 Whites and 900 Blacks in 1710, which by 1720 had risen to
21,270 total with a Black population of 3,000. These figures are
drawn from two studies of the colonial period which assert populations
far smaller. The conservative estimates range from a low of 2,500
Whites to 11,200 White and Black in 1715. 12
The land records provide an altogether more satisfactory record on
which to base population estimates. We know, for instance, that
there were nearly twice as many landholders in 1720 as there were tith-
ables. For instance, the 1721 tax list for Chowan lists 525 landholders,
but there were nearly 1,200 known landholders in the precinct. Estimates
based on extant records indicate around 1,680 tithables. There were
2,848 known landholders in the colony between 1697 and 1720, and the loss
of many land records, notably precinct deed books, along with the absence
of individuals acquiring their land before 1697 or through inheritance,
makes this figure an extremely conservative base for estimating total popu-
lation. 1 The key to estimating population is the average family size.
There is a close correspondence between landholders and heads of household
in the colonial period. For colonies where the land tax is the basis for
demographic estimates, the taxables are always assumed to be heads of house-
hold. Sampling controls for women and landholders who were not North
Carolinians are the principal adjustments needed to make the landholding
population of North Carolina correspond to householders. 1 The best
estimates available for North Carolina suggest an average family size of
5.3 due to a high childhood mortality. 17 North Carolina's population in
1720, extrapolated from this base, had reached a minimum of 13,887 Whites.18
Estimating slave population presents even more serious obstacles
than White, and the tithables records are no more useful than before,
since the polls or taxables enumerated most often are not differentiated
by race. The landholding cohort of the colonial population, however, pro-
vides a basis for estimating Black population. In the first place slavery
was closely associated with landholding. 19 Among sample group land-
holders in North Carolina, the average number of slaves was .86 which re-
sults in a minimum of 2,449 Blacks in the colony. Unfortunately, these
estimates must be based on probate records or other documentary evidence
of ownership, which, no doubt, seriously underestimate slavery. The
highest estimates for slave population for the period indicate a total
of 3,700 in 1715 and 3,000 in 1720. These figures should be con-
sidered with caution, but they may not be too far wrong, if the base
figures already given are enhanced.
Slaveowners in North Carolina, as elsewhere, were characteristically
planters and large landowners, but they often had some other profitable
professional sideline such as: millwright, merchant, or shipmaster.
When these characteristics occur together, there is a strong correlation
with slaveownership. Taking all landowners who had 1,000 acres and
could be identified as planters, craftsmen or merchants adds 57 percent to
the slaveowning population of the period, and brings the total slave popu-
lation to 3,845 in 1720. 23Thus, we arrive at a slave population for the
lation to 3,845 in 1720. Thus, we arrive at a slave population for the
colony of 2,449-3,845, representing the conservative to liberal range
It is important to remember that historians have traditionally
emphasized the low saliency of slavery for the colony. However, an
average of 1.35 slaves per landholder is far from the assertion of
Messrs. Boone and Barnwell in 1720 that the colony with 1,600 tith-
ables was mostly White with "not 500 blacks in the government." By
contrast it appears that the White population of North Carolina was on
the order 14,000 and the enslaved Black population brought the total to
around 17,646. This population contrasted with the sister colony of
South Carolina which in 1720 had a relatively small White population of
6,525 and a contrastingly large slave one of 11,828. Thus while size
of the non-Indian populations of the Carolinas was quite close, the racial
composition dictated a socio-economic organization which was quite dif-
ferent. By any standard this was a massive intrusion which Amerindian
took for what it was, an invasion of their homeland.
The proprietary land system which controlled colonists' access to the
lands of the Indians remained in a state of change throughout the first
four decades of the colony's settlement, and then became more stable. As
already explained, the principal points of contention were the quitrent to
be charged, the amount of land to be acquired under the headright system,
and the access to land through outright purchase with the concomitant
question of whether payment could be made in specie or commodities. The
administration of the land system has already been examined with respect
to the structure of colonial government.
By 1697 the quitrent issue had been resolved to an extent. 25 The
seeming difficulty the Lords Proprietors had in settling on a land policy
was a factor of the desire to make a profit from the colonial venture, the
objective of developing balanced polity, and the fact that a portion of
their dominions had already been settled by land hungry Virginians on their
own familiar terms. Typical of the confusion is the situation in 1672
when the colonists were faced with the third rent rate in two years. The
rate had risen from a farthing, to half-penny, and finally a penny per acre.
Throughout the pre-1700 era colonists maintained that the only legal
quitrent was the farthing per acre charge of Virginia allowed by the
Great Deed of Grant. After the Lords Proprietors acceeded to this inter-
pretation during the governorships of Philip Ludwell and John Archdale,
they attempted to limit the effects of the Great Deed by asserting that it
applied only to Albemarle County and by restricting Albemarle to the area
east of the Chowan and north Albemarle Sound. The colonial opposition to
this interpretation was so vehement that no proprietary governor dared to
collect more than the farthing quitrent within the precincts of Albemarle
County. The establishment of Bath County, however, raised the problem anew.
It was not until 1708 during the second governorship of Thomas Cary that
the Bath County rents were lowered. The allowance of commodity pay-
ments at legislated rates in the 1690's solved the settlers' difficulties
with respect to specie shortage. Afterwards, the Lords Proprietors never
succeeded in obtaining specie payments in spite of specific instructions
to their governors to demand payments in fine silver. Ultimately the
colonials, through legislation of the Burgesses in 1716, arranged to pay
their quitrents and land sales as well in provincial bills of credit.
With respect to headrights the Lords Proprietors' policy foundered
again on the needs of the settlers. Intended as a means of attracting the
colonists, the headright system fell victim to vacillating policy and abuse.
The Lords Proprietors proposed a number of different acreage allotments
for headrights at different times and these usually had an element of
discrimination among different types of settlers. However, the colonists
were able, by and large, to sustain their claims to the fifty-acre head-
right allowed under the Great Deed and to extend its provisions by intro-
ducing the practice of multiple importation of themselves and their fami-
lies. This was a transparent scheme in which merely leaving and returning
to the colony was considered to have satisfied the obligation to claiming
the fifty-acre headright. With the connivance of the North Carolina govern-
ment the headright came also to be viewed as a commodity to be traded,
bought, sold, and assigned from the original claimant to others. 2 It
was not until 1712 that the government of North Carolina made an attempt
to control the abuse somewhat by restricting its use by transients in the
colony and allowing the use of headrights only once.
It seems certain that North Carolina settlers manipulated the head-
right system because of the continued proprietary resistance to sale of
land which led to periodic prohibition of sales. The allowance of sales
at a rate of 4-20 per thousand acres was ignored and the size of grants ex-
ceeded consistently the limit. Prohibition of sale of lands in 1709 is
contemporaneous with the outbreak of the political struggle leading to
the Cary Rebellion and followed by the Tuscarora War. The number of land
grants dropped during the years 1709 to 1712 but not much considering
these upheavals. Because of the seriousness of the political struggle and
the Indian war which followed, it seems more plausible to attribute the
downturn in land grants to these events than to the proprietary prohibition
of sales. In 1716 when the Lords Proprietors prohibited sales once again,
the rate and size of land grants remained unaffected. The significant
difference between 1709 to 1712 and 1716 to 1720 was the absence of
political upheaval and Indian war, not proprietary sanctions.
In early 1712 the Lords Proprietors allowed sales once again but at
a rate of E20 per 1,000 acres and with a 640-acreage limit, which was by
and large ignored. The North Carolina government arranged quickly to
remove the requirement for payment in silver, substituting merchandisable
commodities. In 1716 the Burgesses extended payment from commodities to
provincial bills of credit and the Lords Proprietors responded by again
prohibiting sales except at the Board in London. This restriction was
circumvented by a ruling of the governor and Council allowing land taken
up prior to the order to be patented when purchase money was paid. It
would appear that the Council order itself was ignored since grants,
presumably purchases, continued and accelerated down through 1720.
In summary, with respect to proprietary land policy North Carolinians
were able to ensure the Virginia standard for rents at a farthing per acre,
headrights at fifty acres per settler, and to ensure largely their access
by sale in commodity and provincial bills to any amount of land which
they wanted. If the government of the colony was notably lax or partisan
in this matter, it was only because its chief officers were so often resi-
dents of the colony. Thus, the frequent lament by historians that the
Lords Proprietors failed to provide strong leadership, though-essentially
correct, was a favorable development for the colonists.
The Lords Proprietors controlled the original distribution of the
lands given to them by the Crown through the colonial officers described
in Chapter II. These colonial officers were governed by policies set at
the Board in London and interpreted locally. The mechanics of acquiring
land by grant were fairly well established by the opening of the eighteenth
century, though the codification of 1715 spelled them out in detail. The
process had five steps: request for entry of the patent; issuance of the
warrant for a survey; survey and sketching of the plat showing the metes
and bounds and acreage; the return of the plat and warrant to the secre-
tary of the colony; and, finally, the issuance of the grant or patent
which described the parcel and required the signature of the governor
and councilors. Each of the grants was recorded in a grant book, an
innovation in practice borrowed from Holland. For each step in the pro-
cess a fee was charged and these could mount to the sum of 3sl6d4. 31
Once lands had thus passed into private hands they were subject to
division and resale but continued to carry a quitrent obligation. Though
the Lords Proprietors attempted to discourage speculation in lands by re-
quiring they escheat or revert if not settled, it is clear from the
large acreage held by settlers that they were wholly unsuccessful.
Nearly 16 percent of the landholders could claim more than 1,000 acres.
Private transactions were largely administered through the courts of quarter
sessions at the precinct level. 3 The thousands of transactions in the
Precinct Deed Books indicate that once land passed into private hands, it
was often used for speculative purposes.
The regional development of North Carolina during these years re-
flects both the development of the proprietary land system and the history
of the period. Evolution of the political units within the Colony was
largely a product of the gradual spread of settlement. By 1697 North
Carolina was organized into two counties, Albemarle, an original county
palatine, and Bath, which had been formed in 1696. Albemarle was further
divided into Chowan, Currituck, Pasquotank and Perquimans precincts. Bath
remained as a single administrative jurisdiction until 1705 when it was
subdivided into Archdale, Pampetcough and Wickham. These underwent
name changes in 1712 of Craven, Beaufort and Hyde respectively. From
their creation in 1705 the southern precincts had two representatives
in the legislature against five for the Albemarle precincts. Hyde pre-
cinct was nominally independent, for while it had its own place of voting
and sent two representatives to the Burgesses, precinct residents were
obligated to use the Beaufort precinct court to register deeds, litigate
minor matters and provide precinct administration. This presented no
major physical inconvenience to them since the bulk of Hyde precinct's
population was clustered along the banks of the Pungo River.
One of the knottiest problems in studying the regional development
of the period is that of determining the areal distribution of these pre-
cincts, a necessary preliminary to understanding the spread of settlement.
Most maps of the region reflect the modern political boundaries as much
as the contemporary ones and there is no map contemporary to the time under
study. However, a careful plotting of the land grants and private ex-
changes, using those with known geographic locations and the county in
which the parcel was located, makes a clearer delineation possible. It
seems certain that political demarcations ran along the most important
streams and, where there were none, along the high ground, and that later
boundaries approximated them. 3 The generally accepted boundaries for the
period differ somewhat from those used in the early eighteenth century.
It is clear that the plotted boundaries of the precincts are roughly com-
parable to those which have been commonly accepted; however, two major dif-
ferences stand out: first, Perquimans precinct had a frontier area in the
region south of Albemarle Sound, and second, the northern boundary of
Craven precinct was the Bear (modern Bay) River, rather than the Pamlico
River as defined by the order in Council setting up the precinct boun-
daries in 1705. 38
Practically without fail, historians comment on the rural nature
of North Carolina's development and the absence of towns during the
period. While it is true that towns remained insignificant in size and
had modest commercial activities, it does not follow that they were not
important to the colony. To begin with, they remained the focus of
both provincial and precinct government. In addition, they were the
centers for the trade conducted by New England merchants in their shal-
low draft vessels. North Carolina was a colony isolated from direct
Atlantic communications by the barrier of the Outer Banks. Moreover,
internal communications were not rapid since they were dependent on
ferries and the few roads which existed within Albemarle, and there was
virtually no overland road communications system between Bath and
There were five extant settlements during the 1697-1720 period
large enough to be called towns. The settlement near the mouth of the
Little River was the nominal seat of government, but it was not incorpo-
rated. It remained a small stable community with practically no growth
potential. Only one lot was sold in Little River from 1697 to 1720.
The location was on the southwest side near the mouth of the river in
Perquimans precinct. The Assembly met there in 1713, and it was the
seat of the Perquimans precinct court and General Court. The Council
met there frequently at the home of John Hecklefield. It was also the
probable site of the "Gran Courthouse," the colony's first substantial
public building erected in Perquimans in 1693 to 1694 and which disap-
peared suddenly, probably destroyed by fire. To an extent its influence
in the colony was a product of the residence of important figures
like William Glover, Richard Sanderson, Thomas Jacocks, George
Durant, and Thomas Blount, as well as Hecklefield. In fact, a mea-
sure of importance of the towns of North Carolina is that the notables
of the colony resided in towns, or at least kept residences there.
Known first as the Town of Matecomack Creek and then the Town on
Queen Anne's Creek, Edenton rose to preeminent position during the
period before 1720, and from 1722 to 1743 served as the capital of the
colony. Between the time it was settled around 1710 until 1720, twenty-
four lots were sold in Edenton. By 1720 the colony's second effort at
erecting public buildings was completed with the construction of a court
house authorized by an act of the Assembly in 1712. Edenton's pivotal
position rested on two principal facts, that it was the focus of Chowan
precinct which was easily the most populous and expansive region and
that St. Paul's parish was a center for the Anglican establishment.
Located near the mouth of the Chowan, it was well placed for trade.
Edenton was incorporated and laid out in 1712 and has since remained the
seat of the Chowan court.
Bath, located in Beaufort precinct at the juncture of Old Town
(Bath) and Back Creeks, near the Hyde precinct line, has the distinction
of being North Carolina's oldest incorporated town, and it may possibly
have antedated Little River as a settlement in the 1690's. Three notables
of the colony, John Lawson, Joel Martin, Sr., and Simon Alderson, Sr.,
were responsible for laying out the town in 1704 to 1705. It was incor-
porated by the Assembly in 1706 and a brisk trade in town lots began im-
mediately. The fact that there were 129 lots bought and sold over the
next fifteen years is somewhat misleading, however, since it had only
about fifty to sixty inhabitants in 1708 and remained small due to
the sparse population of Bath County and the devastation of the Tuscarora
War. It served as a trade center after the war and the precinct court
of Beaufort, which served Hyde also, sat at Bath.
Settled at about the same time as Edenton in 1710 was New Bern
which was the result of the colonizing efforts of the Germans and Swiss
under the leadership of Baron Christopher Von Graffenried. It was not
incorporated until 1723. Due to its location on the confluence of the
Trent and Neuse in Craven precinct, it had great potential as a trading
center for the surrounding region and in trade with the Indians to the
west. Moreover, it had the advantage of an industrious more tightly-knit
community of settlers than was again to be the case in North Carolina be-
fore the arrival of the Highland Scots or Moravians. Within a short span
it had around 100 inhabitants and most heads of households were craftsmen
and artisans. The intensity and quality of settlement thus contrasts
with the paltry surviving records of settlement which indicate the sale
of four lots in New Bern. It was the bad luck of this promising settle-
ment to be founded at the time when the powerful Tuscarora finally made
an organized effort to expel the Europeans and to be located so that it
bore the brunt of this attack. During the Tuscarora War, New Bern was
totally abandoned and it was not reoccupied until after 1720.
Beaufort in Craven precinct, the last of the five settlements to be
discussed, was laid out after the Tuscarora War in 1713. The seeming
potential of its location across from Topsail (Beaufort) Inlet on the
west side of the mouth of the North River was negated by the fact that it
did not play a large role in the overland trade. Even though it was
named a port of entry by the Lords Proprietors in 1722, its population of
around sixty grew little. Twenty-five lots were sold between the town's
founding and 1720. Incorporated by the legislature in 1723, it served
as the precinct seat of Carteret after 1722.
The Assembly, by incorporating towns, usurped a power of the Lords
Proprietors. Moreover, it sought to maintain this control by creating
a system of government by two to five town commissioners which it ap-
pointed. These commissioners formed self-perpetuating bodies with one
of their members often serving as the treasurer and receiver of the town.
Their functions, though limited, were important and included laying out
the town, and making provisions for streets, commons markets and a court-
house. Other powers of the commissioners evolved beyond those legislated;
such as, responsibility for sanitation, oversight of public nuisances,
and regulation of the building standards and neatness in order to maintain
the appearance and quality of life in the town. In effect, they were en-
forcing the equivalent of modern zoning and building codes. For enforce-
ment of all these powers the commissioners were dependent on the precinct
courts which met in their town. Politically the most important privilege
extended to the towns by the Assembly was that of borough representation
in the Burgesses.
The towns and precincts of North Carolina were the nexus for the
expansion of the frontier. It is clear that the regions surrounding each
of North Carolina's small settlements were highly attractive areas in
which to claim patents and to buy and sell land. In the geographic cell 41
around Edenton, for instance, 35,367 acres were acquired by sale or patent,
34,130 at Bath, and 26,080 at Beaufort. Of the seven geographic cells
with the greatest acreage exchanged, towns were located in three. Likewise,
and not unexpectedly, the rivers and streams of North Carolina attracted
settlers first. Typically acreage density was greatest along the Chowan,
Wiccacon and lower Roanoke in Chowan precinct. In the other original
precincts of Albemarle County, however, the relative intensity of land
activity was not so great as that along the Neuse and Pungo River in
Bath County. The general expansion of the frontier moved south and west
from Albemarle Sound and the Chowan River and along the courses of the
Neuse and Pamlico. But, as will be seen, the growth of the frontier of
Chowan precinct and that of Bath County was clearly partitioned by the
major historical watersheds of the era.
Gradual expansion of private ownership clearly illustrates regional
growth. Over 35 percent of the geographic cells had 500 or fewer acres
worth of land actions from 1697 to 1720. On the other hand, over 20 per-
cent involved 10,000 or more acres. The greatest portion of these were
in the frontier precincts of Bath County and in Chowan, which, properly
speaking, was the frontier of Albemarle County since the region south of
Albemarle Sound remained an inhospitable swamp which the Indians used as
a base for staging a protracted guerilla war. Thus in the older pre-
cincts of Perquimans, Pasquotank and Currituck relatively fewer acres
were sold privately or granted by the Lords Proprietors. This is a sure
sign of the changing trends in the nature of land exchanges in these
precincts. Generally speaking, these older precincts had as many land
actions but a greater portion of them were private exchanges of smaller
average, while the bulk of land actions in the expanding frontier of
North Carolina were patents granted by the Lords Proprietors.
What of the value of land? The Carolina Lords Proprietors en-
visioned the land system as the means to populate their domains and
frequently restricted sales. Settlers wished to acquire large tracts for
development and speculation and resisted restrictions of sales and
small headrights. It is impossible to compare the relative values of
developed and undeveloped land since the prices charged by the Lords
Proprietors for patented land were arbitrary standards and the deeds to
private sales do not give us a complete picture of whether a particular
tract was developed or not. Thus, we are forced to treat a highly de-
veloped small tract of land the same as a virgin tract of large propor-
tions, if they sold for the same value. However, from the aggregate
data available to us, we can discern steady increase in the valuations
placed on lands during the period.
Taking 500-999 acre tracts as an example, 20 percent were valued at
more than L30 during 1697-1704, 26.4 percent during 1705-1711, and 39.4
percent during 1712-1720. This gradual increase in the value of land
sold privately was also characteristic of sales of smaller tracts of
land, and gradually land sales of quite high values were made. For
instance, during 1712-1720 nearly 8 percent of the sales were L100-500
while no single sale was made at such a high value before 1704. 46
Thus, settlers could expect a gradual increase in the value of lands
they patented, and a fairly strong demand for such lands. Demand in-
creased after the Tuscarora War. This was especially true where instances
of private transactions were high, as in the oldest settled regions of
Chowan, Perquimans and Pasquotank precincts, and as along the banks of the
lower Neuse in Bath County. These areas had the heaviest concentrations
of population and private exchanges of land versus proprietary grants.
The internal regional development of North Carolina deserves detailed
attention. Remembering that the County of Albemarle had a longer settled
history than Bath, we can begin to discern subtle differences between them.