Copyright notice

This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

Printer-friendly page


Dissenters were those people living in the North Carolina colony after the Anglican Church was established who rejected its beliefs and rituals. In 1711, ten years after the church was established by law in North Carolina, missionary John Urmston found few churchmen in the colony. Instead there were numerous Presbyterians and Independents, "but most anythingarians." Nevertheless, in that same year acting governor Edward Hyde recommended harsh legislation against dissenters. James Reed, an Anglican missionary but not an objective observer, wrote in 1760 that dissenters "can hardly be said to be members of any particular Christian society, and great numbers of dissenters of all denominations come & settle amongst us from New Eng[lan]d[,] Particularly, Anabaptists, Methodist, Quakers and Presbyterians, the Anabaptist are obstinate, illiterate & grossly ignorant, the Methodist, ignorant, censorious & uncharitable, the Quakers Rigid, but the Presbyterians are pretty moderate except here & there a bigot or rigid Calvinist." Huguenots and Roman Catholics, of course, were also considered dissenters.


William S. Price Jr., ed., North Carolina Higher-Court Records, 1702-1708 (1974).

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina (10 vols., 1886-90).