Creation of the Carolinas (Corporate) Colony

Union Flag of England and
Scotland (1606-1801)

In 1521 the Spanish were the first Europeans to explore the Carolinas, establishing their claim. A settlement near present day Charleston was built in 1526, but it failed quickly.

In 1629 Charles I of England granted the lands of what is now North and South Carolina to Sir Robert Heath, but no settlements were started during his ownership. At this time, the mother county was self-involved because of the English Civil War. Charles I was deposed and executed, and Oliver Cromwell was appointed Lord High Protector.

With the crowning of Charles II of England, he was anxious to reward those responsible for restoring the monarchy. In 1663 the Carolinas Colony, which extended north to south from Virginia to the St. John's River in Florida and east to west from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, was established by grant from Charles II to eight Governors. The Governors were:

1. Lord Chancellor Edward Hyde Clarendon, 1st Earl of Clarendon & Prime Minister
2. Sir George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle
3. Lord Craven
4. Lord John Berkeley of New Jersey
5. Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury
6. Sir George Carteret of New Jersey
7. Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia
8. Sir John Colleton.

The Governors set up the colony as a business; colonists (their source of labor) were imported at the Governors expense and agricultural produce and natural resources were to be their exports. And, the Carolinas Colony was a business failure from the beginning. But with the planting of the initial colonists, a migration stream was established which would bring great multitudes of Europeans and African slaves.

Charles Town (SC), the first permanent settlement, was established in 1670. Initially, the settlement effort for the entire colony centered on the Charleston area and south, even as far as the St. John's River of Florida. This led to conflict with Spain which would continue until Florida was ceded by Spain to the US in 1815. The area which would come to be known as North Carolina was largely ignored and remained under-populated until the late Colonial Period.

Of note, there were no North and South Carolina until the later Colonial Period. This has been the cause of confusion for historians and genealogists. In 1715 North Carolina separated from the Carolinas Colony. Persons born before 1715 would have simply stated that they were born in the Carolinas, and subsequent researchers could have innocently attributed a qualifier of North or South inappropriately. And even if a resident identified North versus South Carolina, there could be genuine confusion; as the boundary survey was initiated in 1735 but not completed and certified until 1815. Adding to the confusion, individual records for North and South Carolina were not kept until 1716.

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For a more detailed discussion of the topic, go to Colonies Carolina by Paul R. Sarret, Jr. at


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