Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Report by Joseph Boone and John Barnwell concerning the North Carolina boundaries
Barnwell, John, ca. 1671-1724; Boone, Joseph
November 23, 1720
Volume 02, Pages 394-396

[B. P. R. O. South Carolina B. T. Vol. 1. A. 17.]

November 23rd 1720.

May it please your Lordships,

Having received a letter from your Lordship's secretary directing us to attend your Lordships in order to give some Account of the bounds of North Carolina and the produce of the same, now to avoid any mistake

-------------------- page 395 --------------------
that may happen in answering such questions as may be put to us, we thought it convenient to reduce to writing what we know of that province and if upon perusing the same your Lordsps find anything that wants explanation then we shall give the best answers we can to your Lordsps satisfactn

North Carolina was always part of Virginia untill the year 1667 when K. Charles ye 2d granted it in favour of the Proprietors of Carolina and added it by his charter to that Province. For it was in that part that Sir Walter Raleigh's servants made their first settlement at a place called Roanoke.

The North Boundary that separates it from the west of Virginia is by the said Charter settled thus vizt A line beginning at the north end of Curratuck Inlett and so west to Wyanoke Creek in or about the latitude of 36 degrees and thirty minutes north latitude and soe in a due west line from thence to the south sea. The south and west bounds of North Carolina seperating it from South Carolina is the western or main branch of a large river falling into the Ocean att Cape Fear, and is Known by the name of Cape Fear River, all the lands lying to the south and west of the said river belonging to South Carolina.

We are to observe to your Lordships that the bounds between North Carolina and Virginia were never well ascertained, for though there were Commrs appointed in the late reign about the year 1710 yet they neither could agree about the latitude, or about which was the reall Creek called Wyanoke, for those Indians called Wyanoak removing from place to place occasioned severall Creeks to be named after them—and the words of the charter that names the latitude in or about rather puzzled the Commissioners then directed them, for North Carolina Comrs interpreted the words in their favour and so did the Virginians, and it was the opinion of most people that an arbitrary dicision of the dispute must be made by his Majty Coll. Barnwell being about that time in North Carolina was made acquainted with the whole matter, being desired to be one of the Commrs but declined the same

The south boundarys have also admitted of disputes for the Proprietors having in severall Comons named only Cape Feare as the boundary without mentioning the river, has given opportunities to wiked persons trading with the Indians in those parts, to declare they were under this or that Government as best suited with their views, but of late the Government of South Carolina have granted Lands as far ye River of Cape Fear. The Government of North Carolina very nearly represented that

-------------------- page 396 --------------------
in Virginia, for they are divided into two Countys and 7 Precincts each having petty Courts and Jurisdictions with Appeals to the generall Court above certain values held by the Governor and Councill (and not as in South Carolina were the lives and fortunes of his Majesty's subjects in that whole province were subject to the arbitrary judgement of a single Person without any appeal but to himself.)

Tho' there is a great quantity of good Land there and the Country very healthy, yet its situation renders it for ever uncapable of being a place of any consequence, for there lies a vast sound of 60 mile over between it and ye sea which break into the same thro' a chain of sand banks with barrs so shifting and shallow that sloops of 5 feet water runs great risqs, and if it sometimes happens that they have 8 or 10 feet water the next storm may alter it so, and perhaps in the very Chanell rise an island of sand as is really dreadfull and surprising This renders the place uncapable of a Trade to great Brittain and what is carryed on is by small sloops from New England who brings them cloathing and Iron wear and exports Pork and Corn of late they made abt 6000 barrells of pitch and tarre which the New England sloops carry first to New England and then to Great Brittain.

The number of inhabitants we can't positively tell but their Tithables or those paying taxes are about 1600, they are most whites, having not 500 blacks in the Government, and those in a few peoples hands, this place is the receptacle of all the vagabouns & runaways of the main land of America for which reason and for their entertaining Pirates they are justly contemned by their neighbours, for which reason and that they may be under good Government and be made usefull to the rest of his Majesty's Collonys it would be proper to joyn the same again to Virginia All which is most humbly submitted to your Lordship's better judgment by your Lordship's

Most obedient servant