The Royal Colony of North Carolina

The French Huguenot Settlers During the Royal Period (1729 to 1775)

Among the first Virginians to settle into the Albemarle region of North Carolina were French Huguenots.

Into the Bath area, about 1704 or 1705, came a group of French Huguenots from Virginia where they had settled in 1699 at a place known as Mannakin Town on James River. Discontented over economic conditions there, this group moved into Bath County, attracted by its fertile and plentiful lands. Here they proved an industrious people noted for the excellent linen cloth and thread which they made and exchanged “amongst the Neighborhood” for other commodities which they desired.

While some of these Huguenots appear to have settled permanently on the Pamlico River, the majority of them soon moved on to the Trent River where Von Graffenried and his colonists found them in 1710. Almost nothing is known of these French Huguenots and their settlement, and one authority has termed them the “Lost Colony” of the coastal midlands.

In 1707, French Huguenots from Marakin Town, near Richmond, Virginia, settled on the Trent River, two miles from New Bern. These, with Rev. Claude Phillips de Richebourg, as minister, were the first Presbyterian congregation in North Carolina.

Since the first landing by French Huguenots in 1709, Beaufort, North Carolina has been visited by patriots, privateers, and pirates alike. It is North Carolina's third oldest town right after Bath and New Bern and was surveyed in 1713.

During the Royal Period (1729-1775), there are virtually no recordings of significant immigration into North Carolina by French Huguenots, at least not as a separate group as can be found in South Carolina. Apparently, the few that did make their way to the colony did so rather inauspicously or they arrived with other larger groups that received all the recognition.

In the first United States census of 1790 - only fifteen years after the Royal Period - North Carolina's population included approximately 1.7% with French heritage, much less than the 3.9% as found in South Carolina the same year.

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