Mile markers to the contrary, Bath County was settled by English, Scottish, Irish, French Huguenot, Quaker, and Swiss
colonists seeking religious freedom. The settlers arrived by sea and those with money or transporting new colonists were
rewarded shortly after arrival by land-grant acreage from the Lords Proprietors. Acreage grants to new wealthy
landowners were based on head rights and quitrents (annual leases): 100 acre head rights (acreage per head emigrating)
per man, 50 acres head rights or less were given for women and slaves whose passage was paid for. Only the sponsor
received the acreage, not the person who crossed the Atlantic. (See References p. 38 Learn NC web link Lords
Proprietors Carolina Sales Pamphlet for New Settlers).
Until 1712 the province of Carolina was considered a plantation colony just like the Bahamas and other West Indian
plantation colonies. The Lords Proprietors appointed governors and deputy governors, initially out of Charleston, with a
deputy governor assigned to live in the northern portion of the province. The northern colony capitol city moved as the
18th century colony grew: early governors lived in Bath, Edenton, New Bern, and eventually Raleigh. North and South
Carolina became separate royal colonies in 1729.
The early Carolina colony’s ethnic makeup included original Indians, small farmers, fur traders, merchants, and a group of
well to do English planter colonists from England, Scotland, and Ireland. In Charleston many of the latter sailed in from
the island of Barbados. In addition to English Anglicans the northerly precincts of Albemarle and Bath County attracted
Quakers and Huguenots, a French-speaking community of Protestants. The sparsely populated coastal county of Bath
was divided into three precincts (Pamticough, Wyckham and Archdale). In Bath County lived natives from two tribes,
Algonquin Indians from Albemarle and Tuscarora Indians from fifteen villages near the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers.
Settlers also seeking farmland drifted down from Virginia since vacant farm land there was hard to come by due to
overplanting of tobacco. In the early 1700’s Pamticough precinct included the Pamlico-Tar river basin up through Pitt and
Martin counties , in 1712 it was renamed Beaufort precinct.
Transatlantic voyagers to Carolina usually disembarked at York or James River entering the James River via “the Virginia
Capes” (Cape Henry and Cape Charles) or by entering the Ashley River and landing at Charles Town (Charleston SC).
Either route required land travel or a transfer to small watercraft. Large passenger ships avoided Ocracoke Inlet since the
shoals were tricky, the waters were shallow eight feet, and sometime pilots across the sound were not available. New
immigrants arrived in Jamestown at the mouth of the James River by the Virginia Capes (for example, Deputy Governor
Hyde in 1712 or the earlier Gordon and Urmston Anglican missionaries). Alternately sailing ships landed in Charleston at
the Ashley-Cooper deep harbor entrance to the Atlantic (for example surveyor-botanist John Lawson). Passengers once
disembarked would then travel overland to Bath using rough roads and Indian trading paths. Their other option was to
book passage to Port of Bath on shallow draft coastal schooners and sloops.
Nearly continuous frontier warfare during the King William's War (1690-1697) and the long War of the Spanish
Succession (Queen Anne's War 1702-1713) slowed the expansion of coastal Carolina trade; religious and political
conflicts, especially between Quakers and Anglicans, pitted farmers and merchants/planters against one another in
Carolina rebellions to gain political control. In addition disease, drought and Indian attacks dampened early Carolina
maritime trade despite high demand for naval stores and lumber by the mother country and her other colonies up and
down the North Atlantic. Indian resentment at hunting restrictions exploded in outbreaks leading to the Tuscarora War of
1711-1715. The latter led to a Carolina commerce and trade halt and for history researchers a big resulting gap in Bath’s
surviving colonial port records. At one point 200-300 colonists and women were garrisoned in the port and inside the
palisade defenses of Bath Towne, fearing for their lives during Tuscarora attacks. The 1715 Yamasee War set off another
decade of political turmoil.
By 1729 the Carolina proprietary government had collapsed: the Proprietors sold both colonies back to the British crown
and the province reverted back to royal crown colony status ruled by deputized governors until the American Revolution.
The provincial NC General Assembly governed coping with British civil and trade law dictated from Whitehall while
enacting its own colonial legislation. The population accepted a mix of home-grown and London-appointed officials
including governors, secretary of state, treasurer, along with chief justices, and appointed representatives in province,
precinct, parish and town.
Despite all the turmoil five Carolina colonial port districts were successfully established by the middle of the 18th century
and thrived in varying degrees: Currituck, Roanoke, Bath, Beaufort, and Brunswick. Port of Bath and the Town of Bath
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