North Carolina Education

North Carolina Education 1701 to 1800

In 1700, Henry Compton, Bishop of London (1675–1713), requested the Rev. Thomas Bray to report on the state of the Church of England in the American colonies. Rev. Bray, after extended travels in the colonies, reported that the Anglican Church in America had "little spiritual vitality" and was "in a poor organizational condition". Under Rev. Bray's initiative, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) was authorized by convocation and incorporated by Royal Charter on June 16, 1701. King William III issued a charter establishing the SPG as "an organization able to send priests and school teachers to America to help provide the Church's ministry to the colonists." The new society had two main objectives: Christian ministry to English people overseas; and evangelization of the non-Christian races of the world.

By 1710, the SPG's charter had expanded to include work among African slaves in the West Indies and Native Americans in North America. The SPG funded clergy and schoolmasters, dispatched books and supported catechists through annual fundraising sermons in London that publicized the work of the society's mission. Queen Anne was a noted early supporter, contributing her own funds and authorizing in 1711 the first of many annual Royal Letters requiring local parishes in England to raise a "liberal contribution" for the Society's work overseas.

In 1701, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Vestry Act to make the Church of England as the official church for the province. No copy of this Act has survived, and most historians assert that the Lords Proprietors probably disallowed it. A year later, in 1711, the North Carolina General Assembly passed another Vestry Act as above, but no copy of this Act has survived, and again, most historians assert that the Lords Proprietors probably disallowed it as well. In 1715, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the same Vestry Act as was passed in 1711, and this Act was signed into law. Click Here to read the entire Vestry Act of 1715. 

As was probably done in the first disallowed Act, the Vestry Act of 1715 established nine (9) parishes for the Church of England in North Carolina. As time went on, North Carolina established a total of forty-three (43) parishes for the Church of England; the last in 1774. Click Here to learn more about the many parishes established in North Carolina from 1701 to 1774.

In 1701, the above-mentioned Rev. Thomas Bray sent over one thousand books and pamphlets to what became North Carolina. This sizeable collection ended up in the town of Bath, which was the first town established in North Carolina in 1705. By 1715, the town of Bath was in St. Thomas's Parish. In that same year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act - Chapter LXII - to ensure that the "Publick Library beloinging to St. Thomas's Parish" Also in 1715, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act - Chapter XLIX - defining how Orphans were to be taken care of, including their education.
In 1705, Charles Griffin established the first documented school in North Carolina near Symond's Creek, about eight (8) miles south of what is now Elizabeth City in Pasquotank County. Click Here to read more about Charles Griffin and his first school from the North Carolina Highway Marker program. 
There were forty-one (41) known Acts passed by the North Carolina General Assembly from 1715 to 1790 pertaining to education. Most of the Acts passed prior to 1715 have been lost to history, but it is very unlikely that any included laws about education. This Author has not been able to locate copies of the Acts passed from 1791 through 1816, but if they can be found, any Acts pertaining to education from 1791 to 1800 will be added herein.

During the Colonial period and prior to the American Revolution, the legislature of North Carolina authorized schools in three (3) towns:

- 1745 - Edenton (town commissioners authorized to repair public buildings and to build a School-House)
- 1764 - New Bern (trustees authorized to have two lots in town for a school)
- 1766 - New Bern (Incorporated Society established and a duty on rum brought up the Neuse River to help fund the school)
- 1766 - Hillsborough (Act renamed Childsburg to Hillsborough, and commissioners to set aside a lot or lots for a school)
- 1768 - New Bern (text of Act not found; one source says it was repealed, another source says it was expunged)
- 1770 - Edenton (trustees authorized to have two lots in town for a school)
- 1773 - New Bern (identified the lots by lot number owned by the school, to have for ever)

Also in 1770, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act - Chapter III - to establish Queen's College in the town of Charlotte in Mecklenburg County, but the Crown rejected this Act and the college was never built.

During the American Revolution, the new State Legislature passed eight known (8) Acts pertaining to education. All eight (8) Acts were to promote learning and education via the construction of schools and academies:

- 1777 - Liberty Hall in Mecklenburg County
- 1778 - Charlotte to expand with more town lots authorized, proceeds of the sale/lease of those new town lots go to Liberty Hall
- 1779 - Granville Hall in Granville County
- 1779 - Science Hall in/near Hillsborough (Orange County)
- 1782 - Smith's Academy in Edenton (Chowan County)
- 1783 - Morgan Academy in Burke County and Martin Academy in Washington County (now part of Tennessee)
- 1783 - Innis Academy in Wilmington District
- 1783 - Two Schools in Onslow County - One at Swansborough, one at Rich Lands

After the American Revolution and before the turn of the century, the North Carolina General Assembly passed eighteen (18) known Acts pertaining to education, mostly creating schools/academies in various counties, but also to establish and fund the University of North Carolina in 1789.

- 1784 - New Bern Academy in Craven County
- 1784 - Liberty Hall in Decay - move from Mecklenburg County to Rowan County and rename as Salisbury Academy
- 1784 - New Trustees for Science Hall in/near Hillsborough (Orange County)
- 1785 - New Trustees for the Salisbury Academy (Rowan County) & Establish the Dobbs Academy in Dobbs County (now Lenoir County)
- 1785 - Authorization for part of the Commons Land in Edenton to be gifted to Smith's Academy in Edenton (Chowan County)
- 1785 - Davidson Academy in Davidson County (now part of Tennessee)
- 1785 - Grove Academy in Duplin County
- 1786 - Franklin Academy in Louisburg (Franklin County)
- 1786 - Pitt Academy in Greenesville (Pitt County)
- 1786 - Pittsborough Academy in Chatham County
- 1786 - Gift of old Glebe to the New Bern Academy (Craven County)
- 1786 - Warrenton Academy in Warren County
- 1788 - New Trustees for Innis Academy in Wilmington District
- 1788 - Richmond Academy in Richmond County
- 1789 - Currituck Seminary in Currituck County & Correct the Errors/Omissions in 1788 Act for Innis Academy in Wilmington District.
- 1789 - Centre Benevolent Society established in Mecklenburg and Rowan counties
- 1789 - University of North Carolina Established (Orange County)
- 1789 - Funding for Buildings & Staff for the University of North Carolina (Orange County)

This Author has not been able to locate copies of the Laws/Acts passed by the North Carolina General Assembly for the years of 1791 to 1816, so there were probably several more Acts passed on education prior to the end of this century. If they are ever found, the Acts will be added herein.

<< 1600s

1800s >>



© 2016-2017 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved