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Chapter 4

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of North Carolina

The Lewis Publishing Company
Chicago and New York, 1919
Volume I by
R. D. W. Connor

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 6

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

Vol. I
p64
Chapter 5
Growth and Expansion

With the appointment of Philip Ludwell as governor, North Carolina entered upon a brief period of order and progress. Ludwell's instructions reflected the purpose of the Lords Proprietors "to take care of the quiet and safety of the provinces under our [their] Governmt. "The first task, therefore, which they imposed upon him was to bring order out of the chaos into which the colony had been plunged by the misgovernment of Seth Sothel. He was to see that their letter to Sothel removing him from office was "carefully delivered to his own hands"; to inquire into the causes of the revolt against him; and to appoint a commission of "three of the honestest and ablest men" in the province not concerned in the revolt to hear and determine "according to Law" all complaints "both Civill and Criminall" growing out of his conduct. If Ludwell found anything in his instructions "deficient or Inconvenient to ye Inhabitants," he was to report it to the Lords Proprietors who promised to "take due care therein." Their readiness to hear and redress the grievances of their people had a good effect, the result of which was seen at the very beginning of Ludwell's administration in the failure of a Captain John Gibbs, a rival claimant to the governorship, to arouse any popular sympathy with his cause.

Under other circumstances, Gibbs' bombastic pronunciamento, now thought of only as a ludicrous and amusing incident, might easily have led to serious results. The grounds upon which "Governor Gibbs" based his claims are not certain; one plausible suggestion is that he had been elected by the Council upon the expulsion of Sothel; another is that he had been appointed by Sothel himself as his deputy. But whatever his grounds, he was not backward in asserting his claims which he set forth in a remarkable proclamation dated "Albemarle, June ye 2d 1690." He asserted his right to the office of governor, denounced Ludwell as a "Rascal, imposter, & Usurpr," and commanded "all Persons to keep the Kings p65peace, to consult ye ffundamentals, and to render me [him] due obedience, & not presume to act or do by Virtue of any Commission or power whatsoever derived from ye abovesd Ludwell, as they will answer itt, att their utmost perill." His claim, he declared, would "be justified in England and if any of the boldest Heroe living in this or the next County will undertake to Justifie the said Ludwell's illegal Irregular proceeding, left him call upon me wth his sword, and I will single out & goe with him into any part of the King's Dominions, & there fight him in this Cause, as long as my Eyelids shall wagg."

The valiant captain was as good as his word. Four days after issuing his challenge, he led a band of armed followers into Currituck precinct, broke up the precinct court then sitting, made two of the magistrates prisoners, and issued an order forbidding any court "to sitt or act by any Commission but his." But if he expected a popular uprising in his behalf, such as had followed the "Remonstrance" of the "Pasquotankians" against Miller in 1677, he was doomed to disappointment. The people, conciliated by the attitude of the Lords Proprietors in the Sothel affair, were in no mood for further violence or rebellion; indignant at the outrage perpetrated upon their court, they rallied to the support of lawful government, sprang to arms, and chased "Governor Gibbs" and his band out of the province. Gibbs took refuge in Virginia where Governor Nicholson, at Ludwell's request, took a hand in the affair and speedily brought him to terms. Both Ludwell and his bellicose rival thereupon embarked for England to lay their dispute before the Lords Proprietors who promptly repudiated the latter.

Upon his return from England, in 1691, Ludwell brought a new set of instructions based, as the Lords Proprietors privately informed him, not upon the Fundamental Constitutions, but upon their charter from the Crown. This was an important concession to the political sentiment of the people who had never accepted the Fundamental Constitutions, and its practical effect was to relegate that document to its place among the many abortive schemes which well-meaning theorists since the being of time have devised for the government of mankind. One of the objects of the new instructions was to strengthen the colonial government, a necessity plainly demonstrated by recent events in both the Carolinas. Greater dignity was to be given the executive authority by placing both North Carolina and South Carolina under a single governor whose hands were to be strengthened by eliminating p67from the Council the five members chosen by the General Assembly, thus leaving the Council to be composed exclusively of the deputies of the Lords Proprietors. The legislative department was to undergo a similar consolidation. There was to be but one General Assembly for the two colonies to which each of the four counties of Albemarle, Colleton, Berkeley, and Craven was to send five representatives. Such at least was the plan on paper, but it was never carried into effect because upon second thought the Lords Proprietors saw insuperable difficulties in the way. Additional instructions, therefore, were issued providing that, if it was found "Impracticable for to have the Inhabitants of Albemarle County to send Delegates to the General Assembly held at South Carolina," each colony should continue to hold its own Assembly. At the same time the governor was authorized to appoint a deputy-governor for North Carolina, a provision later extended to South Carolina also. The two governments, therefore, continued separate and independent of each other.

(p66)

[image ALT: zzz]

Governor Philip Ludwell

From a portrait in possession of Bennehan Cameron

The development of North Carolina had been too slow to keep pace with the plans and expectations of the Lords Proprietors, who sharply reprimanded the Albemarle planters for their failure to open up the wilderness between Albemarle and Charleston. But the Lords Proprietors did not understand the difficulties in the way. Wide sounds, broad rivers, dense forests, almost impenetrable swamps made progress difficult. Shallow inlets and shifting sands barred access to the markets of the world, placed the trade of North Carolina at the mercy of competing Virginia planters and shrewd New England merchants, and retarded the development of agriculture and commerce. Hostile Indians roamed the wilderness, committed many depredations and murders, and twice during the decade from 1665 to 1675 openly went on the warpath. There were, too, as we have seen, numerous causes for discontent which discouraged immigration and deterred the settlers already in Albemarle from undertaking new enterprises. Culpepper's Rebellion completely disorganized the government and for more than two years kept the colony in turmoil. The land question also checked immigration. Since the terms on which land was granted in Albemarle were less favorable than those which prevailed in Virginia, people were naturally slow to abandon the older colony for the new one; and even after the Great Deed partially removed this discrimination, the uncertainty of the titles by which the Albemarle planters held their lands discouraged others from joining them. Still another deterrent to new enterprises was the p68rumor that the other Lords Proprietors intended to sell their interests in Albemarle to Sir William Berkeley. In spite of all these difficulties, a few adventurers, hardier and bolder, or more restless than their fellows, pushed across Albemarle Sound and attempted to open the way for settlements to the southward; but they were "with great violence and Injustice deprived of any power to proceed any further * * * and were commanded back to your [their] great prejudice and inconvenience" by colonial officials "who had ingrosit ye Indian trade to themselves & feared that it would be intercepted by those who should plant farther amongst them."

A serious obstacle to the growth and prosperity of North Carolina was the hostile conduct of Virginia throughout the proprietary period. From her superior position as crown colony, Virginia looked down with unconcealed disdain upon all the proprietary colonies around her, but North Carolina was the special object of her aversion. The very existence of that colony was an affront to Virginia. It had been carved out of her ancient domain. It had been populated largely at her expense. It offered keen competition in the staple upon which her prosperity was founded. Its free and democratic society was in sharp contrast to the more aristocratic system that prevailed in the Old Dominion. Whatever checked the growth and development of North Carolina, therefore, Virginians regarded as indirectly promoting the interests of Virginia. This end they sought to accomplish in various ways. They spread abroad evil reports of the people of North Carolina. They attempted to undermine her economic prosperity by hostile legislation forbidding the shipment of North Carolina tobacco through Virginia ports. They encouraged Indians to advance claims to lands which the latter had formally ceded by treaty to the Lords Proprietors, and shielded Indian thieves who preyed upon the horses, cattle and hogs of North Carolina planters. They pretended ignorance of the charter of 1665 and laying claim to the region which that charter had added to the Carolina grant, undertook to close it to North Carolina settlers.

Two laws passed by the Albemarle Assembly in 1669 designed to encourage immigration, — i.e. the stay-law and the law exempting new settlers from taxation for one year — were especially resented by the Virginians, who declared that they were nothing less than open invitations to rogues and vagabonds. Yet the former was an exact copy of the Virginia statute of 1642 which the Virginia Assembly carefully re-enacted in 1663 because it had been inadvertently omitted p69from a printed collection of the Virginia laws. The Albemarle Assembly even copied the Virginia preamble which set forth as the reason for the statute that many people had "through their engagements in England, forsaken their native country and repaired hither, with resolution to abide here, hoping in time to gain some competency of subsistence by their labors, yet, nevertheless, their creditors, hearing of their abode in the colony, have prosecuted them with their actions to the ruin of said debtors." Unquestionably some scoundrels took advantage of the Albemarle statute, just as others had taken advantage of the Virginia law, but hardly enough of them came to justify Virginia's taunts and reproaches. "Rogues Harbour" was a favorite Virginia epithet for Albemarle. Advertent to the opportunities the statute offered to persons in an adjoining community to defraud their creditors, and attentive to the complaints of their neighbor, the North Carolina Assembly in 1707 exempted settlers from Virginia from the protection of the statute; nevertheless this friendly act did not sooth the ruffled feelings of the Virginians, and the "substantial planters" and industrious servants whom they earnestly tried to keep in Virginia continued to become immediately upon crossing the boundary line into North Carolina "idle debtors," "theeves," "pyrates," and "runaway servants." The people of North Carolina naturally resented these misrepresentations, and finally Governor Walker was goaded by Governor Nicholson's continued "intimations concerning runaways" into sharply repelling the "imputation of evil neighbourhood" which he had cast upon the colony.

Not content with fixing a bad name upon North Carolina, the Virginians undertook to destroy the source of her economic welfare. Tobacco was the staple of both colonies and the Virginia planters early became alarmed at the competition to which the increasing production of Albemarle subjected them. In 1679, the commissioners of the customs wrote that "the quantity of Tobacco that groweth in Carolina is considerable & Increaseth every year but it will not appear by the Customhouse bookes what customes have been received in England for the same for that by reason of the Badness of the Harbours in those parts most of the Tobaccos of the growth of those Countreyes have been and are Carryed from thence in Sloops and small fetches to Virginia & New England & from thence shipped hither. So that the Entries here [London] are as from Virgina & New England although the Tobacco be of the growth of Carolina & Albemarle." The p70Virginia planters had long sought a way to destroy this competition, and finally in 1679 the Assembly came to their relief by forbidding the importation of tobacco from Carolina into Virginia, or its exportation through Virginia ports. This act was re-enacted in 1705, and again in 1726. It was a hard blow for North Carolina and did not tend to improve her relations with her neighbor.

Another cause for indignation against Virginia was her action in taking under her protection a band of straggling Meherrin Indians who, near the close of the seventeenth century, had moved from "their ancient place of habitation" north of the Meherrin River, and placing themselves at its mouth, had "planted corne and built Cabbins" on the lands which the Chowanocs, after the war of 1675‑76, had ceded to the Lords Proprietors of Carolina. Their presence there was a constant menace to the peace of the province. They preyed upon the planters, drove off their hogs and cattle, destroyed their crops, and committed numerous murderous assaults upon their persons, and the planters retaliated with usury. To remove the danger, the North Carolina authorities negotiated a treaty with the Indians which required them "to return to the place of their former habitation," but the Virginia government intervened, assured the Meherrins of its support and protection, and induced them to refuse to carry out their agreement. Col. Thomas Pollock was then sent to remove them by force. With a band of sixty men, he attacked their town, took a large number of prisoners, and threatened "to burn their Cabbins and destroy their Corne if they did not remove from that place." Virginia promptly called upon North Carolina to disavow Pollock's act and demanded his punishment. That colony set up a claim to the lands on which the Meherrins had settled, declared that "the said Indians have their dependence upon and are under the protection of this Government," and denounced the "Clandestine Treaty" between them and the North Carolina government as derogatory to the rights and dignity of Virginia. The Virginia Council dismissed with contempt the statement of facts, as well as the arguments, of the North Carolina government, although as stated by the latter the question involved was "whether near a hundred familys of her Majty's subjects of Carolina should be disseased of the freehold to lett a few vagrant and Insolent Indians rove where they please without any Right and Contrary to their Agreement." Encouraged by Virginia's attitude, the Meherrins continued over a period of years to disregard their treaty, and growing more and more p71insolent, committed repeated depredations upon the property and assaults upon the persons of the Carolina planters, "supposing," as Governor Hyde complained in a letter to the governor of Virginia, "they can have protection from you."

Virginia's concern for these Indians was not inspired by any philanthropic interest in their welfare, but by the fact that in their fate was involved her claim to the region which they had occupied. This claim North Carolina disputed. The dispute arose from the fact that the exact location of the dividing line between the two colonies had never been ascertained and many of the settlers who entered lands along the frontier, ignorant that they were within the Carolina grant, had taken out patents from Virginia. Consequently when the Carolina government, in 1680, claimed jurisdiction over them and demanded payment of quit rents and taxes, Virginia entered a vigorous protest, declaring that those settlers were inhabitants of Virginia and must not "be in any sort molested disturbed or Griev'd" by the North Carolina authorities. The controversy thus precipitated was destined to strain the friendly relations of the two colonies for more than half a century. It grew in intensity as time passed and other questions arose to add fuel to the flames. The jurisdiction of the courts became involved, and on one occasion at least, court officials of the two provinces actually came into armed conflict.

The origin of the controversy may be traced to the change which the second charter of the Lords Proprietors made in the northern boundary of Carolina. The charter of 1663 fixed the boundary at the 36th parallel of northern latitude; the charter of 1665 fixed it in a line to be run from "the north end of Currituck river or inlet, upon a strait westerly line to Wyonoak creek, which lies within or about the degrees of thirty-six and thirty minutes, northern latitude, and so west, in a direct line, as far as the south seas." As early as 1681 the Lords Proprietors petitioned the Crown to have the line run as thus described; but Virginia having privately ascertained that such a line would defeat her claims, questioned the existence of the "prtended lattr Grant to the Lords Propryetrs of Carolina." On this point, however, she was easily beaten by an inspection of the record. The dispute was therefore shifted to the location of the natural objects along the line as described in the charter. The chief point at issue was the identity of Weyanoke Creek. Weyanoke Creek was doubtless a well known stream in 1665, but with the passage of years it had lost that name which by 1680 had disappeared p72from the map. Virginia maintained that it was identical with Wicocon Creek, while North Carolina as stoutly insisted that it was the same as Nottoway River, and both colonies easily secured testimony from earliest settlers to sustain their contentions. The difference was too considerable to be given up without a contest, since it involved a strip of territory fifteen miles in width.

The chief sufferers in these controversies were the inhabitants of the disputed territory who were of course anxious to have the line fixed. Accordingly in 1699 the Crown ordered that it be run as called for by the charter of 1665. Governor Harvey promptly sent Daniel Akehurst and Henderson Walker to Virginia as commissioners to represent North Carolina; but the Virginia officials alleging that Harvey had not been formally confirmed in his office by the king, refused to recognize his commissioners and informed him that "it is not convenient with us to treat with any person or persons by you appointed." After this experience, North Carolina, suspecting that Virginia's purpose was to resist indefinitely the settlement of the dispute and satisfied that her own claims were well founded, proceeded as if her title to the territory was beyond controversy. Virginia too began to suspect that she could not make good her pretensions. In 1705 the Virginia Council ordered the official surveyor of that province to ascertain "whether the line between this Government and North Carolina if run according to the patent of the Lords Proprietors may cut off any plantations held by titles from this Government," at the same time directing him "to keep secret the intentions of this Government * * * that the people of North Carolina may have no other suspicion than that those Surveyors are only going about laying the Maherin Indians lands."

Nothing more was done until 1709 when both colonies received orders from the queen to settle the dispute. North Carolina accordingly appointed John Lawson and Edward Moseley as her commissioners, while Virginia was represented by Philip Ludwell and Nathaniel Harrison. After several failures to arrange a meeting, the commissioners finally came together at Williamsburg, August 30, 1710. The attitude of the Virginians doomed the enterprise to failure from the first. No good thing could come out of Nazareth. In every act of the Carolina commissioners, the Virginians detected some ulterior, dishonest motive. They accused both Lawson and Moseley of a secret purpose "to obstruct the Settling the Boundarys," charging that they were privately interested in p73the lands in dispute. The witnesses cited by the North Carolina commissioners were all "very Ignorant persons, & most of them of ill fame & Reputation," while those called by Virginia were "Persons of good Credit." If Moseley raised legal objections to the powers conferred upon the Virginia commissioners, it was "with design to render their conference ineffectual"; if he questioned the accuracy of their instruments, it was merely one of his "many Shifts & Excuses to disappoint all Conferences with the Commissioners of Virginia"; if his statement of a fact did not correspond with what the Virginians understood it to be, it was set down to his propensity to "prevarication." Such at least the Virginia commissioners, in their efforts to prejudice the Proprietors' case, set down in the report they wrote for the Crown, a report afterwards severely criticised in His "History of the Dividing Line," by Col. William Byrd, one of the Virginia commissioners when the line was finally run in 1728. Colonel Byrd thought that "it had been fairer play" to have furnished Lawson and Moseley a copy of the report thus giving them an opportunity to answer the charges against them; confessed that Moseley "was not much in the wrong to find fault with the Quadrant produced by the Surveyors of Virginia" as it was afterwards shown "that there was an Error of near 30 minutes, either in the instrument or in those who made use of it"; and admitted after careful surveys that the Nottoway River was probably the same as Weyanoke Creek. The spirit with which the Virginia commissioners approached their task in 1710 and their uncompromising attitude made agreement impossible and served only to intensify the ill-feeling between the two colonies.

For a long time the Lords Proprietors did not appreciate the obstacles against which their colony was struggling. They looked upon its inhabitants as a sluggish, unenterprising people who neither understood their own nor regarded the Proprietors' interests; upbraided them for their failure to open communications between the Albemarle colony and the Ashley River settlement, and declared that to be the reason why they had neglected the former in the interest of the latter.

There were not wanting, however, intelligent colonists in North Carolina who labored diligently to present the situation to the Lords Proprietors in its true light. As early as 1665, Thomas Woodward, surveyor-general, wrote them plainly that settlers would not come to Albemarle upon harder conditions than they could secure in Virginia. Thomas Eastchurch presented facts which forced them to acknowledge p74that the fault was not with the people but with "those persons into whose hands wee [they] had committed the Government." Timothy Biggs bluntly told them that Albemarle owed nothing to them, and declared that if had received but a tenth part of the aid and encouragement which they had given to the Ashley River settlement it would have been a prosperous colony. The truth gradually dawned upon the Lords Proprietors who tardily took steps to are the situation as far as possible. They granted more liberal terms for land-holding; instructed their governors to issue patents to landowners; assured the settlers that they had no intention of parting with Albemarle to Governor Berkeley or "to any persons whatsoever"; and appointed a governor for the region south of Albemarle Sound whom they instructed to encourage settlements along Pamlico and Neuse rivers. But more important than all of these reforms was the decade and a half of good government which began with the appointment of Ludwell in 1691.

Ludwell, appointed December 2, 1691, was the first governor of Carolina. His deputies in North Carolina were Thomas Jarvis (1691‑1694) and Thomas Harvey (1694‑1699). In 1693, Thomas Smith succeeded Ludwell, but retired within less than a year and was succeeded by John Archdale. Both Smith and Archdale continued Harvey in power as deputy-governor of North Carolina. Upon the death of Harvey in 1699, Henderson Walker, president of the Council, took over the administration in North Carolina which he conducted until the appointment of Col. Robert Daniel in 1703. During the decade and a half in which these men administered the government, North Carolina enjoyed such a reign of law and order as she had not known before. Her governors brought to their task greater abilities, better personal characters, and larger experiences in colonial affairs, than any of their predecessors. Ludwell had been active for many years in the public affairs of Virginia where he had won a reputation for courage, integrity, and devotion to the public interests. As governor of North Carolina, he showed that he "understood the character and prejudices of the people thoroughly; and as he was possessed of good sense and proper feeling, he had address enough * * * gradually to restore a state of comparative peace."1 He made himself acceptable to the people by recognizing the validity of the Great Deed, but by the same act incurred the displeasure of p75the Lords Proprietors who, unable to find any record of that document in England, repudiated his action and revoked his commission. John Archdale, the Quaker governor (1694‑1697), like Seth Sothel, was a Lord Proprietor, but he was like Sothel in nothing else. He was appointed governor because his predecessor, Governor Smith, advised the Lords Proprietors that it was impossible to settle the disorders which had broken out in South Carolina "except a Proprietor himself was sent over with full power to heal grievances." Archdale's sagacity, prudence, and sound judgment, together with his experience in colonial affairs, pointed him out as the man for the task and he was given extraordinary powers for dealing with the situation. The confidence of his colleagues was justified by the results in both colonies. As a Quaker, Archdale was particularly acceptable in North Carolina where since 1672 the Quakers had grown numerous and influential. He spent the winter of 1696‑97 in North Carolina personally directing the government; there his deep religious faith and impeccable personal character tended to encourage religion and morality, while his administration of public affairs was so successful as to elicit from the Assembly the tribute that "his greatest care is to make peace and plenty flow amongst us." Both Jarvis and Harvey, deputies of Ludwell and Archdale, had long been leaders in North Carolina affairs, understood and sympathized with the feelings and ideals of the people, and were men of excellent character and good judgment. Henderson Walker, who succeeded Harvey in 1699, had been in the colony for seventeen years and had served as attorney-general, justice of the General Court, and member of the Council. A man of education, a lawyer of ability, a Churchman of sincere religious convictions, he was deeply interested in the material and the moral and spiritual welfare of the colony, jealous of its good name, and quick to resent the "imputation of evil neighbourhood" which some of its neighbors endeavored to fix upon it. These men gave to North Carolina fifteen years of good government under the stimulus of which the colony grew and prospered.

Settlers pushing across the wide expanse of Albemarle Sound, slowly penetrated the wilderness to the southward. The way was probably opened by English pioneers from Albemarle, but the first settlers south of the Albemarle Sound of whom we have any record were French Protestants. The drastic measures of Louis XIV against the Huguenots, soon to culminate in the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, were already p76driving many of these industrious people from France to seek new homes in England and in English colonies. They possessed the qualities necessary to make good colonists, and the Lords Proprietors were eager to induce them to settle in Carolina. Doubtless with this object in view, in 1683, they had the Fundamental Constitutions, one clause of which guaranteed religious freedom, translated into French. Large numbers of Huguenots, in their search for religious freedom, as is well known, settled in South Carolina, while others found their way to North Carolina. The first Huguenot colonists in North Carolina came about 1690 from Virginia and settled on Pamlico River. Their enterprise quickly attracted the attention of the Lords Proprietors who, in 1694, instructed Governor Archdale to erect in that region as many counties as he thought necessary "for ye better regulating and ye encouragemt of ye people." Accordingly the region from Albemarle Sound to Cape Fear was erected into the county of Archdale although none of the vast wilderness south of Pamlico River was yet inhabited by white men. As the settlement on the Pamlico grew in importance, the colonial authorities thought it advisable to extend to it still further encouragement. In 1696, therefore, the Palatine's Court ordered that the region extending from Albemarle Sound to Neuse River be erected into the county of Bath and given the privilege of sending two representatives to the General Assembly. Above this time, too, a pestilence among the Indians decimated the tribes along the Pamlico and still further opened up that region to settlers who continued to arrive from Albemarle, from Virginia, and from Europe.

Among the last were a "great many French Protestants" who came under the auspices of the king "depending on the Royal assurance which was given for their encouraging the Exercise of the Protestant Religion and the benefit of the laws of England." In 1704, on a bluff overlooking Pamlico River, they selected a fine site for a town which a year later they incorporated under the name of Bath. In 1709, when Bath was only five years old, William Gordon, a missionary, wrote that it "consists of about twelve houses, being the only town in the whole province. They have a small collection of books for a library, which were carried over by the Reverend Doctor Bray, and some land is laid out for a glebe; * * * in all probability it will be the centre of trade, as having the advantage of a better inlet for shipping, and surrounded with most pleasant savannas, very useful for stocks of cattle." In spite of these fancied advantages, Bath, p77though at times the home of wealth and culture, never became anything more than a sleepy little village and derives its chief distinction from the unimportant fact that it was the first town in the province. The settlers on the Pamlico, however, prospered and their good reports induced others to join them. They declared, in 1704, that they had "at vast labour and expense recovered and improved great quantities of land thereabouts"; and this boast was borne out by the Council which, in December 1705, "taking into their serious consideration" the fact that Bath County had "grown populous and [was] daily increasing," divided it into three precincts, and conferred upon each of them the right to send two representatives to the General Assembly. One of these precincts embraced that portion of Bath County south of Pamlico River "including all the Inhabitants of News."

The earliest settlers on the Neuse, like those on the Pamlico, were Huguenots. For the most part, they came from Mannakintown, a French settlement in Virginia a few miles above the falls of the James, founded in 1699 by Claude Phillipeº de Richebourg. They had not prospered there "because," as Lawson says, "at their first coming over, they took their Measures of Living, from Europe; which was all wrong; for the small quantities of ten, fifteen, and twenty Acres to a Family did not hold out according to their way of Reckoning, by Reason they made very little or no Fodder; and the Winter there being much harder than with us, their Cattle failed; chiefly, because the English took up and surveyed all the Land round about them; so that they were hemmed in on all Hands from providing more Land for themselves or their Children."2 The mildness of the climate in North Carolina, the ease with which lands could be entered there, and the favorable reports of their brethren on the Pamlico lured many of them, including Richebourg himself, away from the James to seek new homes on the Neuse and the Trent. They brought with them the thrift, the industry, and the skill for which their race had been noted in the Old World, and the colony soon felt the effects of their presence. John Lawson, who visited their settlements in 1708, wrote of them: "They are much taken with the Pleasantness of that Country, and, indeed, are a very industrious People. * * * The French are good Neighbours amongst us, and give Examples of Industry, which is much wanted in this Country."3

p78 In 1710, the Neuse River settlement was strengthened by the arrival of a colony of German and Swiss immigrants. This colony, in one important respect, differed widely from the other settlements then in North Carolina. All the other settlements were the outcome of individual initiative and enterprise; this one was the result of organized effort. It was composed chiefly of natives of that region along the Rhine known as the Palatinate, whence the name Palatines by which they are generally called. Their story is a tragic one. Protestants in religion, they were under the dominion of an irresponsible Roman Catholic prince who subjected them to many forms of religious persecution. Their country was the battleground of Europe and in the barbarous and sanguinary wars of the seventeenth century was frequently overrun and devastated by hostile armies. To these misfortunes were added the burdens of exorbitant taxes and tolls which swept the greater part of their earnings into the coffers of their rulers. These conditions produced such widespread misery and hopeless poverty, that at the beginning of the eighteenth century many of them determined to seek relief by emigration.

In this determination, they met with encouragement from England. Queen Anne, who looked upon herself as the guardian of the Protestants of Europe, eagerly extended both protection and assistance to all Protestants who sought safety in her dominions. In this policy she received the support of the British nation, and Parliament, in 1709, passed a bill providing for the naturalization of foreign Protestants. Generous as this policy was, it was not altogether free from the taint of selfishness. England needed just such industrious and thrifty people as the German Protestants for the development of her colonial empire. For many years, therefore, those who were interested in colonial enterprises carried on in Germany a widespread propaganda for the purpose of inducing emigration to America. More than fifty books, pamphlets and broadsides relating to Pennsylvania alone were circulated in Germany. Among those whose attention this propaganda attracted was Rev. Joshua Kocherthal, a Lutheran clergyman at Landau in the Palatinate, who, in 1703, went to England, to seek relief for his own congregation. There he seems to have conferred with the Lords Proprietors of Carolina for after his return to Germany he published, in 1706, a glowing account of their province in which he pointed out its advantages as a home for his countrymen. His book aroused such general interest among the Protestants of Germany that by 1709 it had reached its fourth edition. Stimulated p79by Kocherthal's publication, and secretly encouraged by the British government, the Palatines and other German Protestants in large numbers abandoned their native land to seek new homes in England, or beyond the Atlantic. Following the passage of the naturalization act in 1709, more than 10,000 of them landed in England. They came in such great numbers that the facilities provided for taking care of them proved utterly inadequate. Several months passed before plans could be perfected for their ultimate disposition. Numerous schemes, embracing settlements in England, Ireland, the Canary Islands, and America, were suggested, but of them all, colonization in America seemed the most feasible.

A favorable opportunity for transporting a colony of the Palatines to America was offered by the presence in London of Franz Ludwig Michel and Christopher de Graffenried, representatives of a Swiss syndicate of Bern which had been organized to plant a Swiss colony in America. De Graffenried, who was the scion of a noble German family of Bern, had excellent connections in England through whom he succeeded in interesting English capitalists in his scheme. Even the queen agreed to contribute £4,000 to his enterprise in consideration of his taking 100 families of Palatines to America. In what part of America should he plant his colony? During one of his sojourns in England some years earlier, De Graffenried's interest in America had been aroused by the Duke of Albemarle, one of the Proprietors of Carolina, who had discoursed to him on "the beauty, goodness, and riches of English America," and now that he was about to seek "a more considerable fortune in those far-off countries," his thoughts naturally turned to the province in which the duke had been especially interested. He was confirmed in this determination by information received from John Lawson, surveyor-general of Carolina, who was then in London supervising the publication of his "New Voyage to Carolina." The Lords Proprietors themselves had shown an interest in the Palatines as possible colonists, even proposing to settle all of them between fifteen and forty-five years of age in their province if the queen would defray the expenses of their transportation; and they now offered De Graffenried "very favorable conditions and privileges." De Graffenried, accordingly, determined upon Carolina and purchased in that province 17,500 acres of land to be located south of the Neuse River.

In making his preparations, De Graffenried acted promptly and prudently. From the thousands of Palatines, eager for the enterprise, he chose only "young people, healthy and p80laborious and of all kinds of avocations and handicrafts," in number about 650. Tools, equipment, and ships were all selected with great care. The colony was placed under the direction of "three persons, notables from Carolina, who happened then to be in London and who had lived already several years in Carolina." They were John Lawson, the surveyor-general, Christopher Gale, the receiver-general, and another colonel official. Twelve assistants, "both sensible and able," were appointed from among the colonists themselves. In all his plans and preparations, De Graffenried had the advice and approval of a royal commission which passed on his contracts, inspected his transports, and were supposed in other ways to look after the interests of the Palatines. When all was ready, the colonists went aboard their ships at Gravesend and after suitable religious ceremonies weighed anchor for the New World, leaving De Graffenried in England to await the arrival of his colony from Bern.

The Palatines sailed in January, 1710. Misfortune dogged their tracks. The royal commissioners, to whom their interests had been entrusted, had shamefully neglected their duty. The transports were badly overcrowded. The food supply was inadequate in quantity and in quality. The cost of transportation had been reduced to the lowest possible amount and the ship's captain paid in advance for each passenger; the death of a passenger, therefore, meant a financial gain to the ship-owners. Even nature seemed to conspire against the welfare of the Palatines. A few days out of port, they were overtaken by a storm which threatened them with destruction. Contrary winds tossed them about on the Atlantic for thirteen weeks. Crowded into poorly ventilated quarters, reduced to a salt diet to which they were not accustomed, attacked and plundered by a French man-of‑war, the wretched Palatines suffered many of the horrors of the middle-passage. Throughout their long voyage, disease was their constant companion and death a daily visitor. More than half of them perished at sea and many others succumbed after landing. Thus, as De Graffenried says, "that colony was shattered before it had settled."

Sailing up the James River, the survivors of the colony landed in Virginia, where they were well received, and remained there long enough to recover somewhat from the effects of their voyage. Then, under the guidance of John Lawson, they set out overland for Carolina. Lawson who had been entrusted with the task of locating the settlement chose a point on the tongue of land between the Neuse and p81Trent rivers, near the site of the present city of New Bern. No preparations had been made to receive the Palatines. They found themselves in a wilderness, during the hot and unhealthy season, without shelter and with an inadequate supply of food. The experiences of their first summer in America were paralleled only by those of their voyage across the Atlantic. Reduced to the direst poverty, they were compelled, "to sell all their clothes and movables to the neighboring inhabitants in order to sustain their life." When De Graffenried arrived in September, he found them in wretched condition, "sickness, want and desperation having reached their very climax."

De Graffenried sailed in June with a colony of 100 Switzers, and after "a happy voyage," landed in Virginia on September 10th. Bad news from his Palatines was awaiting him and he pushed on to their relief with as little delay as possible. His hopes, however, of obtaining speedy succour for them were doomed to disappointment. He had expected help from the colonial authorities, in accordance with a promise which the Lords Proprietors had given him, but he found political conditions in North Carolina in such a turmoil that nothing could be obtained from that source. Provisions were scarce in North Carolina and flour that he had ordered from Pennsylvania and Virginia was slow in coming. Consequently, not only was he unable to relieve the distress of his Palatines; he could not even provide for the needs of his Switzers, who, like the Palatines, were soon "obliged to sell their clothes and implements in order to get the necessary victuals from the neighboring inhabitants and keep themselves from starvation." Finally, after a period of intense anxiety and suffering, grain, pork, salt, butter, and vegetables were secured in sufficient quantities for the immediate needs of the colony.

In the meantime De Graffenried had taken steps to bring some order out of the chaos which he had found upon his arrival. He had the land surveyed and the colonists settled on their several tracts. Encouraged by his presence they went to work with a will, cleared the forests, built cabins, erected water-mills for grinding grain, and laid out a town. This town was placed on the point of land between the Neuse and the Trent. It was laid off in the form of a cross with one arm extending from river to river and the other from the extremity of the point back indefinitely. De Graffenried planned to erect a church at each of the four corners. Above the town, he threw across the peninsular a line of fortifications as a protection against the Indians. In honor of his native p82city, De Graffenried named the town New Bern. Prospects for the future of New Bern seemed so favorable that people in Pennsylvania and Virginia invested in lots there. Indeed, such was the improvement in the situation that De Graffenried boasted that his colonists "within eighteen months [had] managed to build homes and make themselves so comfortable, that they made more progress in that length of time than the English inhabitants in several years." "There was," he adds, "a fine appearance of a happy state of things," when suddenly, without warning, the colony was overwhelmed by the greatest of all its misfortunes. In September, 1711, the most disastrous Indian war in the history of North Carolina broke out and raged with intermittent violence for two years. The losses and suffering fell heaviest upon the settlers along the Neuse. Their cattle were killed or driven off, their crops destroyed, their homes burned; many of the settlers themselves fell victims to the merciless cruelty of the savages. The rest were reduced to such desperation and despair that they determined to abandon the settlement, and De Graffenried went to Virginia to arrange for their removal to a new location on the Potomac. His negotiations failed and the scheme came to naught. De Graffenried himself, broken in fortune and in spirit, now abandoned his efforts and returned to Europe. The Palatines never recovered from the losses they had sustained and soon ceased to exist as a distinct German settlement. Scattered throughout the southeastern section of North Carolina, they were ultimately absorbed in the English population; even their names lost their German forms to conform to the English spelling.

By 1710, settlements extended from the Virginia line on the north to the Neuse River on the south, and up and down the Roanoke, the Pamlico, and the Neuse for twenty and thirty miles inland. The French and Germans were not the only ones who came, for many Virginians were abandoning the older colony for the new, and not a few adventurers were finding their way hither directly from the mother country. For the most part, the Virginians and the English did not follow the French and Germans to the outskirts of the settlements, but entered lands in Albemarle which was rapidly filling up with a sturdy people. While it is impossible to estimate the population of the colony accurately, there is ample evidence of its steady growth. In 1694, for instance, the total number of tithables in the colony as reported to the General Court was 787, which meant a population of about 3,500; eight years later the tithables of Chowan precinct alone were 283, i.e., a p83total population of about 1,400; and in 1708 the population of Pasquotank was more than 1,300. In 1690, the vanguard of the French colony had just entered the unbroken wilderness along the Pamlico; in 1704, the settlement on the Pamlico had grown so populous that it contained 200 children who had never received the rite of baptism. Further evidence is found in the complaints of the Virginia authorities that North Carolina was draining the Old Dominion of her population. The president of the Virginia Council wrote in 1708, that "many of our poorer sort of Inhabitants daily remove into our neighboring Colonies, especially to North Carolina which is the reason the number of our Inhabitants doth not increase proportionally to what might be expected"; and the Virginia Council explaining this situation said: "the chief cause of this Removal is want of Land to plant and cultivate * * * this has occasioned many families of old Inhabitants whose former plantations are worn out as well as great number of young people & servants just free to seek for settlements in the province of North Carolina where Land is to be had on much easier terms than here, & not a few have obtained grants from that Government of the very same [amount of] land which they would have taken up from this, if liberty had been given for it."


The Author's Notes:

1 Hawks: History of North Carolina, Vol. II, p494.

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2 History of Carolina (ed. 1718), p114.

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3 Ibid., p83.


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