Edward Hyde

President of Carolina Province 1710 to 1712 and First "Full" Governor of North Carolina in 1712


Edward Hyde, Deputy Governor and Governor of Carolina Province, was born in England about 1650 and died in North Carolina, 8 September, 1712.

From 1706 till 1710 the colony of North Carolina was in a state of confusion from the conflicting claims of Anglicans and Quakers, each party having its governor and its house of representatives. To restore order, Hyde was despatched in 1710 as Deputy Governor of the province, but he was to receive his commission from the governor in Charles Town, Edward Tynte, who had died before he arrived, and he had no evidence of his right except private letters from the Lords Proprietors.

From the summer of 1710 until May 9, 1712, Edward Hyde led as President of the Executive Council. On May 9, 1712, he received his official commission from the Lords Proprietors, dated January 24, 1711/12, and he took the oath of office on this date as the first "full" Governor of the colony of North Carolina, no longer subservient to the governor in South Carolina.

The legislature that he convened made severe enactments, which were condemned even by its friends, and which it had no power to enforce. Thomas Cary, the claimant of the Quaker party, and his friends, now took up arms. Fortifying his house against a possible attack, Cary armed two vessels, filled them with soldiers, and attempted to land in Chowan sound, where Hyde and his council were assembled.

Hyde called in the aid of Governor Alexander Spottswood, of Virginia, who sent a party of marines from the guard-ships, restored quiet, and expelled Cary - who was later acquitted by the Propretors.

In September, 1711, the Tuscarora indians, taking advantage of the dissensions among the colonists, massacred 120 white settlers along Roanoke, Meuse, and Pamlico rivers.

Governor Hyde called out the militia, and with a force of South Carolinians and several hundred friendly Yemassee Indians, attacked the Tuscaroras near New Bern, 3 January, 1712, and defeated them with great slaughter. Hostilities continued during the remainder of the winter and spring. Hyde died in a yellow-fever epidemic on September 8, 1712.

In the summer of 1710, Edward Hyde arrived in North Carolina as the deputy of Governor Edward Tynte of the southern province. But the sudden death of the latter had made it impossible for Hyde to procure his commission, and therefore he had to refer for proof of his claims to statements in private letters.

But these were convincing; William Glover at once retired in his favor; Governor Spotswood of Virginia recognized him, and most of the wealthier inhabitants of North Carolina submitted to his government. Thomas Cary did this at first, but later put himself again at the head of a factious opposition.

Hyde called a council, opened the courts which had been closed during the recent disturbances, and in the summer of 1711 summoned an assembly. He was thus organizing what proved in the end to be a legal government, but he was forced to wait nearly a year and a half for his commission as governor from the proprietors, and did not take the oaths of office until May 9, 1712.

The assembly, which had been elected under influences favorable to an establishment, passed acts requiring that the oaths should be administered and lawful government maintained. It also provided for the recovery of the rents and fees which Cary had collected and of the deeds of land to the Palatines which were in his possession. All of Cary's acts were declared illegal and void, and he, with Porter, was ordered to be taken into custody.

But Hyde was unable either to execute the laws or to bring the prisoners to trial. Cary soon escaped, declared himself president, and prepared with a brigantine and a force of men to attack Hyde. In this move, which was essentially warlike in its character, Cary probably had the assistance of only a few of the Quakers.

The governor and his council retired to a place of safety and sent an urgent message to Virginia for aid. Governor Spotswood and his council resolved at first to try mediation. Therefore they sent John Clayton with two letters to Cary, the one conciliatory in tone, and the other to be delivered only in case he should persist in his rebellion, declaring the purpose of the Virginia government to support Hyde.

At first Cary expressed his willingness to confer with his opponent and even named a place. But soon after, whether from fear of foul play or not, he changed his mind, and advanced again to attack the governor. Clayton now returned to Virginia bearing a request for armed assistance. Spotswood ordered out the militia of the southern counties and sent a body of marines from a guardship into Carolina. But before they reached the Chowan, Cary abandoned forcible resistance and with a few of his associates retired into the Tuscarora country, whence they soon passed into Virginia.

There they declared their purpose of going to England to justify their conduct before the proprietors. Spotswood, as soon as he ascertained by examining them that their only desire was a fair trial, hastened their departure, with such information as he could give about the uprising. Sometime later a preliminary complaint was sent over by Hyde and his council, who in the meantime had resumed the unobstructed administration of government.

In November, 1711, Cary was granted two hearings by the proprietors, and replied in person and in writing to Governor Hyde's accusations.

But the board of proprietors was weaker and more indifferent than it had been at the time of the previous rebellion. The pressure to which it, in connection with all the other colonial proprietors, was being subjected by crown and parliament, reduced the board to impotence in the face of internal disorder. It was content to let disturbances end as they might and with as little offence as possible.

Sorrow was expressed that Hyde had been compelled to resort to force to uphold his government. He was instructed to have Cary's accounts with the proprietors audited; also to make all possible reparation to those who had suffered injury. A full account of the disturbances should be submitted, so that, if the queen should require an answer, it might be given in satisfactory form. Beyond this no action seems to have been taken.

On January 24, 1711/12, the Lords Proprietors issued a commission and separate instructions to Governor Edward Hyde. For this appointment, the Lords Proprietors actively sought and obtained approval from the Crown to make Edward Hyde the first full governor over North Carolina. It was with this appointment that the Lords Proprietors and the Crown formally recognized that there were two separate provinces and the "Split" was now official. Hyde received his commission and instructions in early May and took the oaths of office on May 9, 1712 at his home in Chowan Precinct.
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