The Governors of Carolina

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governors during the rule of the Lords Proprietors 

Although Carolina was originally envisioned by the Lords Proprietors to be a single colony with a single government, it was immediately set up to be two distinct colonies - the Albemarle Region in North Carolina and the Charles Town region in South Carolina - with two distinct governments. Clarendon Couny was a third, short-lived, "sub-colony" with its own government from 1664 to 1667.

In 1664, Sir William Berkeley (one of the Lords Propretors) appointed William Drummond as the first governor of the new colony of Carolina , and he convened the first governmental assembly on the banks of Hall's Creek in what is now known as Pasquotank County, North Carolina. From 1664 to 1670, the entire colony was living in what is now North Carolina - the first South Carolina settlement arrived in 1670.

From 1670 to 1691, the Lords Proprietors appointed separate governors - one for the Albemarle region, one for the Charles Town region. Most of the early governors were "less than adequate" in their administration of their domains, and "the people" complained bitterly to the Lords Proprietors and demanded better leadership. Many sailed over to England at their own expense to bring about positive change. They soon learned that this effort brought about very little change.

In 1691, the Lords Proprietors attempted to solve the problem by appointing a "single governor" (Philip Ludwell) over the entire colony - to be based in Charles Town - and that governor would have a "deputy governor" to administer the Albermarle region. The goal was to have a "single voice" and to provide the people with access to that single voice. In theory, this was a good start, but it simply did not work out as envisioned. Change took time, yet "the people" persisted.

None of the original eight (8) Lords Proprietors ever lived in their colony, and most of their appointed governors had never before held any public office nor had any real idea of how to govern - some did, but very few. Many times, the Lord Proprietors did take action - but, many times these actions turned out for the worse instead of for the better.

Later Lords Proprietors, who had either inherited or purchased their 1/8th portion of the Carolina Colony, did become governors of part or all of the province. Seth Sothel bought out Edward Hyde's original proprietorship from Henry Hyde in 1679 and sailed to Carolina, but was captured by Algerian Pirates and not released until late 1682, and he took over as Governor of Albemarle in early 1683. In 1689 he was removed from office by the local population, but soon went to South Carolina and seized the office of Governor of "Ye Lands South and West of Cape Feare" from 1690 to 1691, when again the locals threw him out of office.

In 1696, Joseph Blake purchased John Berkeley's original proprietorship from the current owner, Thomas Archdale. He was governor of the entire Carolina Province in Charles Town in 1694, and again from 1696 to 1700, when he died.

John Archdale purchased John Berkeley's original proprietorship in 1678 and gave it to his son, Thomas Archdale. In 1705, he purchased Sir. William Berkeley's share and in 1708, Archdale conveyed his ownership to his daughter Mary and son-in-law, Peter Danson. John Archdale was governor of the entire Carolina Province in Charles Town 1694-1696 - at that point in time he was no longer considered a Lords Proprietor, but a former proprietor.

In 1711, the Lords Proprietors appointed Edward Hyde as the first true governor of what was now called North Carolina. The existing governor at Charles Town, Charles Craven, now only administered South Carolina. From this point forward North Carolina and South Carolina "officially" had separate governors and separate state administrations, never to look back.

In South Carolina, the last governor appointed by the Lord Proprietors ended his term in 1719, whereas the last governor appointed by the Lord Proprietors in North Carolina ended his term in 1731.

In 1719, the new governor of South Carolina was "elected by the people," and the Crown immediately took control of South Carolina. Between 1719 and 1729, the Crown began asserting its will in North Carolina, but it was not considered under royal control until the Crown actually purchased the colony from the Lords Proprietors in 1728/1729.  

In 1729, the Crown dissolved the Lords Proprietors' charter and assumed full control of both colonies. "The Split," that had been in the works for decades had only become official - finally. From this time until the American Revolution, all governors were either appointed or approved by King George II or King George III of England.

The governors of the Royal Period and later will be discussed in each separate colony's successive web pages herein. 


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