Colonial North Carolina Religion History, Facts: Information on Religious Toleration and Diversity
NC Colonies: The Anglican Church, Proprietors John Lock and Cooper, Quakers

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The proprietors of the Carolina Colonies were Locke and Cooper.  John Locke was one of the great advocates of religious liberty. Addressing the role of the magistrate and Church, Locke stated that the magistrate had no concern with the business of menís souls.   quote The power of civil government relates only to menís civil interests, is confined to the care of the things of this world, and hath nothing to do with the world to come. end of quote  Furthermore, Locke stated that the Church was a voluntary society of men based on unconfirmed opinions. Religion is of the conscience  and thereby cannot be controlled by outside forces. To make a man lie for the sake of their salvation is absurd. Locke being true to his convictions established a colony where the inhabitants would enjoy religious toleration and the benefits of English common law.


The charter received from the King Charles II had a provision authorizing Religious toleration.  This provision stated that the Church of England was to be the established Church but the proprietors (Locke and Cooper) had license, liberty, and authority to grant indulgences and dispensations to all who in their own judgment could not conform to the ritual beliefs of the Anglican Church. Granting liberty of conscience so long as the inhabitants of the colony exercised their liberties peacefully and quietly, and did not use this liberty to cause civil injury or disturb others. These liberties applied to Native American Indians, Jews and other dissidents. Any group of seven or more people could establish a church and declare it separate from all other churches by naming it. The members of the said church were assured that others would not harass them. The Church of England was still in authority and could retract the religious tolerance clause at anytime.

In 1701, during the reign of William III, the English assembly passed an act creating five parishes in the Carolinas. After creating the parishes, the English assembly enacted ecclesiastical laws requiring all religious dissenters to take an oath to obey the Church of Englandís 39 articles of faith and confirm their belief in the trinity. In 1704, during the reign of Queen Anne. the governor of Carolina insisted that all Quakers take the oath to hold any kind of office. Because it conflicted with their religious beliefs, the Quakers refused. Thus, Quakers no longer served in office.

After 1715, the Carolina Colony was required to a pay tax to the Anglican Church to support the established Parishes. Distances made it difficult for the Church to collect these taxes and kept people from attending Church. There were few trained clergy in Carolina to maintain the Church. More importantly, the people were accustomed to the ethnic and religious diversity of the colony.



except from Sketches of Western North Carolina, Historical and Biographical by CL Hunter

North Carolina, in the days of her colonial existence, was the asylum and the refuge of the poor and the oppressed of all nations. In her borders the emigrant, the fugitive, and the exile found a home and safe retreat. Whatever may have been the impelling cause of their emigration--whether political servitude, religious persecution, or poverty of means, with the hope of improving their condition, the descendants of these enterprising, suffering, yet prospered people, have just reason to bless the kind Providence that guided their fathers, in their wanderings, to such a place of comparative rest.

On the sandy banks of North Carolina Coast the flag of England was first displayed in the United States. Roanoke Island, between Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, afforded the landing place to the first expedition sent out under the auspices of Sir Walter Raleigh, in 1584. "The fragrance, as they drew near the land, says Amadas in his report, was as if they had been in the midst of some delicate garden, abounding in all manner of odoriferous flowers." Such, no doubt, it seemed to them during the first summer of their residence in 1584; and, notwithstanding the disastrous termination of that, and several succeeding expeditions, the same maritime section of North Carolina has presented its peculiar features of attractiveness to many generations which have since arisen there, and passed away. In the same report, we have the first notice of the celebrated Scuppernong grape, yielding its most abundant crops under the saline atmospheric influence, and semi-tropical climate of eastern Carolina.

In 1665, it being discovered that the "County of Albemarle," as the settlement on the Chowan was called, was not in the limits of the Carolina charter, but in Virginia, King Charles, on petition, granted an enlargement of that instrument so as to make it extend from twenty-nine degrees to thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes, north latitude. These charters were liberal in the concession of civil rights, and the proprietors were permitted to exercise toleration towards non-conformists, if it should be deemed expedient. Great encouragement was held forth to immigrants from abroad, and settlements steadily increased. They were allowed to form a representative government, with certain limitations; and thus a degree of popular freedom was conceded, which it seems, was not intended to be permanent, but it could _never be recalled_; and had an important influence in producing the results which we now enjoy. As the people were chiefly refugees from religious oppression, they had no claims on government, nor did they wish to draw its attention. They regarded the Indians as the true lords of the soil; treated with them in that capacity; purchased their lands, and obtained their grants. At the death of Governor Drummond in 1667, the colony of Carolina contained about four thousand inhabitants.

The first assembly that made laws for Carolina convened in the Fall of 1669. "Here," says Bancroft, "was a colony of men scattered among forests, hermits with wives and children resting on the bosom of nature, in perfect harmony with the wilderness of their gentle clime. The planters of Albemarle were men led to the choice of their residence from a hatred of restraint. Are there any who doubt man's capacity for self-government? Let them study the history of North Carolina. Its inhabitants were restless and turbulent in their imperfect submission to a government imposed from abroad; the administration of the colony was firm, humane, and tranquil when they were left to take care of themselves. Any government but one of their own institution was oppressive. North Carolina was settled by the freest of the free. The settlers were gentle in their tempers, of serene minds, enemies to violence and bloodshed. Not all the successive revolutions had kindled vindictive passions; freedom, entire freedom was enjoyed without anxiety as without guarantees. The charities of life were scattered at their feet like the flowers of their meadows."[B] No freer country was ever organized by man. Freedom of conscience, exemption from taxation, except by their own consent; gratuities in land to every emigrant, and other wholesome regulations claimed the prompt legislative action of the infant colony. "These simple laws suited a simple people, who were as free as the air of their mountains; and when oppressed, were as rough as the billows of the ocean."[C]

In 1707, a company of Huguenots, as the French Protestants were called, settled on the Trent. In 1709, the Lords Proprietors granted to Baron de Graffenreidt ten thousand acres of land on the Neuse and Cape Fear rivers for colonizing purposes. In a short time afterward, a great number of Palatines (Germans) and fifteen hundred Swiss followed the Baron, and settled at the confluence of the Trent and the Neuse. The town was called New Berne, after Berne, in Switzerland, the birth-place of Graffenreidt. This was the first important introduction into Eastern Carolina of a most excellent class of liberty-loving people, whose descendants wherever their lots were cast, in our country, gave illustrious proof of their valor and patriotism during the Revolutionary war.

In 1729, the Lords Proprietors (except Lord Granville) surrendered the government of the province, with all the franchises under the charter of Charles II, and their property in the soil, to the crown for a valuable consideration. The population at that time did not exceed ten thousand inhabitants. George Burrington. Governor of the province under the Lords Proprietors, was re-appointed to the same office by the King. In February, 1731, he thus officially writes to the Duke of New Castle. "The inhabitants of North Carolina are not industrious, but subtle and crafty to admiration; always behaved insolently to their Governors; some of them they have imprisoned; drove others out of the country; and at other times have set up a governor of their own choice, supported by men under arms. These people are neither to be cajoled nor outwitted. Whenever any governor attempts to effect anything by these means, he will lose his labor, and show his ignorance." Lord Granville's part of the colony of North Carolina (one-eighth) was not laid off to him, adjoining Virginia, until 1743. At that date, a strong tide of emigration was taking place from the Chowan and Roanoke, the pioneer attractive points of the colony, as well as from abroad, to the great interior, and Western territory, now becoming dotted with numerous habitations. The Tuscarora Indians, the terrible scourge of Eastern Carolina, having been subdued, and entered into a treaty of peace and friendship in 1718, no serious obstacle interposed to prevent a Western extension of settlements. Already adventurous individuals, and even families of hardy pioneers had extended their migrations to the Eastern base of the "Blue Ridge," and selected locations on the head-waters of the Yadkin and Catawba rivers. In 1734, Gabriel Johnston was appointed Governor of North Carolina. He was a Scotchman by birth, a man of letters and of liberal views. He was by profession a physician, and held the appointment of Professor of Oriental Languages in the University of Saint Andrews. His addresses to the Legislature show that he fully appreciated the lamentable condition of the colony through the imprudence and vicious conduct of his predecessor (Burrington) and his earnest desire to promote the welfare of the people. Under his prudent administration, the province increased in population, wealth and happiness. At the time of its purchase by the crown, its population did not exceed thirteen thousand; it was now upwards of forty five thousand.

A late author has truly said, "Men will not be fully able to understand North Carolina until they have opened the treasures of history, and become familiar with the doings of her sons, previous to the revolution; during that painful struggle; and the succeeding years of prosperity. Then will North Carolina be respected as she is known."[F]

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