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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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Lords Proprietors

by Whitmel M. Joyner, 2006

"Seal of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina."  From <i>The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina</i>, published 1909 by the North Carolina Historical Commission.The Lords Proprietors were the eight Englishmen to whom King Charles II granted, by the Carolina charters of 1663 and 1665, the joint ownership of a tract of land in the New World called "Carolina." All of these men either had remained loyal to the Crown or had aided Charles's restoration to the English throne. Two of them-William Berkeley, former governor of Virginia, and John Colleton, a West Indies planter-actually had some personal knowledge of the New World. The other six Proprietors were Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon; George Monck, duke of Albemarle; William, Earl Craven; John, Lord Berkeley; Anthony Ashley Cooper; and Sir George Carteret.

Although the king retained full sovereignty over Carolina, he granted the Lords Proprietors extensive powers, mainly to establish civil structures, to collect taxes and duties, and to maintain order, as well as to have certain game and mineral ownership. Through a combination of problems-mostly their tentative and inefficient governance of the huge area-the Proprietors failed to attract and keep settlers and to avail those that came a secure and orderly life. Moreover, the Proprietorship endured disruption through troubles with the Tuscarora Indians and pirates along the coast. By January 1712 the vast tract was separated into northern and southern parts in hopes of improving civic conditions. With their venture so lacking in success, the Proprietors were feeling pressure from the Crown to return the land. In 1719 South Carolina was set apart as a royal colony, and in 1729 George II made cash payments to all but one of the Proprietors that ended their or their heirs' roles as grantees of the former Carolina. Only the heir of George Carteret, John Lord Carteret (later second Earl Granville), refused to sell his one-eighth share and was eventually granted a large tract known as the Granville District.

Many North Carolina districts, counties, settlements, bodies of water, and landforms once bore the names of the original Lords Proprietors, and several still do. Included in these are Hyde County and two small communities named Clarendon; Albemarle Sound and Albemarle Beach (Washington County); two townships and the city of Albemarle in Stanly County; Craven and Carteret Counties; and Dare County's Colington (a version of Colleton) Island, with its small community of Colington and the nearby Colington Creek.


William S. Powell, North Carolina through Four Centuries (1989).

Image Credit:

Grimes, Bryan J.; North Carolina Historical Commission. Great seal of the state of North Carolina: 1666-1909. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Historical Commission. 1909. (accessed May 2, 2012).



Nice sketch, but I should point out that saying that William Berkeley was a "former" governor of Virginia when the charters were granted in 166 and 1665 is incorrect, or at least misleading. He would continue to serve as governor until 1677.



I do agree that this sentence can be misleading. I will pass this the NCpedia editors and see if they can make a correction of some kind to address this.


Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library


This is just amazing; thanks for the relative details, it answered questions I thought wouldn't even be on here.


Dear Daniel,

Thank you for posting and especially for letting us know! It's great to hear when the resource helps people.

Best wishes,

Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library, State Library


this is a great site to use but i didnt find what i was looking for


this is a hrooible sorce it didnt tell me ehat i was lookom=ng for


For your information, "hrooible" is spelled "horrible." A more effective sentence might be something like:
"This is a horrible site because it did not provide the answers which I was seeking."
Personally, I thought this was a very informative site.


John Carteret was the heir of George Carteret and he was in charge of the Granville district.


The caption for the above image contains some egregious typos. Please correct them!


I am trying to connect the earlier settlers of Craven and Jones Counties with the Lords Proprietors of England. What resources are available to do so?

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