The North Carolina Colony
In the beginning, English explorers simply wanted to plant a colony anywhere in the "New World". Lane, Drake and others adventurers had traveled the American coast from Florida to Newfoundland, and had been impressed with the land around 38-degree latitude, and though it would make a fine site for a colony.
In 1585, Lane brought about 150 men, women and children to an area on the coast of America that he named Virginia. He returned to England for supplies, and war in Europe kept him there for about two years. When he returned to the Roanoke Island site, all the colonist were gone and the settlement in ruin. Lane named the site "Virginia", but it lies in present day North Carolina.
The first successful English colony came a few years later, about 100 miles northwest of Roanoke Island, at Jamestown. That colony became known as "Virginia" in 1607. A charter for another colony in the lands that Lane inhabited, now to be called "Carolina" was issued to Sir Robert Heath in 1623. Financial problems and the revolutionary climate evolving in England prevented any use of that charter. In 1649 Charles the First is killed by the forces of Oliver Cromwell, and colonial expansion comes to a halt.
We know that some expansion took place in the lands granted to Heath, by inhabitants of the expanding Virginia colony.
In 1663, Charles II, King of England, granted all lands south of 36 degrees, 30 minutes north latitude to eight men, who had helped him regain the throne of England from the Cromwell rebels. The eight men, called Lord Proprietors, were:
Several of these men had been residents of the Caribbean since the death of Charles the First, most notably on the island of Barbados. Their drive, and the social structure that had evolved on Barbados since 1628 will play an important part in the evolution of the south Carolina colony!
The Virginia Colony, by earlier general decree in 1606, (and more specifically in 1607, based on the actual location of Jamestown) had been granted all lands north of 36 degrees, and the southern overlap in ownership would not be resolved until 1728. The northern extent of Virginia had been modified in 1621, with the placement of a colony in Plymouth, and in 1632, with the grant of territory between those colonies to William Penn, for Pennsylvania.
The Lord Proprietors planned to develop the lands granted to them, now called Carolina, into three Shires.
Focus on Albemarle
By October 1664, William Drummond had been appointed Governor for the new lands. Thomas Woodward was appointed the state surveyor the following year and a Land Office empowered to grant parcels of land, in the name of the Lord Proprietors. Settlers were sought for these new lands from New England and Barbados, with little success. The Lord Proprietors, in an effort to generate more profit for themselves, had imposed more restrictive regulations for land grants in Carolina, than for those issued by others, like Virginia. Carolina issued laws from the Proprietors, instead of more represenative rule enjoyed in New England. The new lands seemed less attractive to new colonists, and few made the effort. . . officially. Instead of greater profits from the trade and industry of resident colonists, the trade with the Indians of Carolina, and therefore Carolina resources often passed back through "smugglers" -- Virginia residents -- to become Royal Colony profits instead of profits for the Proprietors.
On May 1, 1668, the GREAT DEED OF GRANT proclamation was issued by the Lord Proprietors and sent to the new Governor of the Territory, Samuel Stephens. It liberalized some of the earlier resident regulations, but also limited the emerging trade with Carolina Indian tribes to only landed residents of the Carolina colony. Virginia colonists, as well as new colonists from England and Europe, then sought these 50-acre-per-person grants for land in Carolina. One of my distant ancestors quotes one such grant, dated May 1, 1668, when he sold a portion of a 640 acre parcel, in the mid 1700's.
In 1670, Albemarle was divided into 4 judicial princincts. The present-day counties of Currituck, Pasquatank and Perquimmins are three of these original precincts, The fourth, Chowan, was the open-ended frontier area to the west, including present day counties of Bertie, Hertford, Gates, Northampton, and Halifax. Each precinct provided 5 delegates for a colonial assembly.
Groups of Quakers settlers began moving into Albemarle by 1672, extending the existing outposts in Chuckatuck and Somerton, in Virginia.
The warm weather and extensive system of rivers and shallow sounds made Carolina a favorite hiding site for pirates. Both Stede Bonnett and Blackbeard were visitors to these shores, but both were killed by 1719.
Edenton was not considered a "port" until 1722.