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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.

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Granville Grant and District

by Thornton W. Mitchell, 2006

When Charles II granted "Carolina" to the eight Lords Proprietors in 1663 and 1665, he gave them an area that extended, in modern terms, from south of Daytona Beach, Fla., to the Virginia-North Carolina border and from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Although the Proprietors provided for an elaborate system of government in the Fundamental Constitutions, many problems arose as shares in Carolina were sold or were the subject of bequests. In 1728 all of the Proprietors except John Lord Carteret, second Earl Granville, who had inherited the share of Carolina originally granted to Sir George Carteret, agreed to sell their interests in the province back to the Crown. In 1729 Parliament approved the purchase of seven undivided parts of Carolina, with Earl Granville's share specifically excluded.

On 15 Sept. 1742 King George II and the Privy Council finally approved the setting off of Granville's one-eighth of Carolina. The Granville District was a wide stretch of land encompassing the area between the present Virginia-North Carolina border and a line about 65 miles south (35°34' north latitude). With the acceptance of the grant, Granville surrendered any claim on the remainder of Carolina; he also gave up any participation in the government of North Carolina. Governor Gabriel Johnston later complained that Granville not only had more than half the province but that he had the better half.

Earl Granville administered the district from across the Atlantic through agents, the most noteworthy of whom were Edward Moseley, Francis Corbin, and Thomas Child. Further grants of unclaimed land were made in the period beginning in 1748 and ending in 1763, following the death of John Earl Granville. The district was then tied up in chancery litigation. Although his heir, Robert Earl Granville, planned to reactivate the district with Josiah Martin as agent, the Revolutionary War prevented him. Other Granville heirs, to whom the district was bequeathed by Robert Earl, filed unsuccessfully for recovery of the district in 1801.


A. Roger Ekirch, "Poor Carolina": Politics and Society in Colonial North Carolina, 1729-1776 (1981).

Helen F. M. Leary, ed., North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History (1996).

Thornton W. Mitchell, "The Granville District and Its Land Records," NCHR 70 (April 1993).

W. N. Watt, The Granville District (1992).

Additional Resources:

"Thomas Child." N.C. Highway Historical Marker A-53, N.C. Office of Archives & History.

Ballantyne, Archibald. Lord Carteret, a political biography, 1690-1763. London, R. Bentley & son. 1887.