John Gibbs

Governor of "Ye Lands North and East of Cape Feare" 1689 to 1690

John Gibbs claimed the governorship after Governor Seth Sothel was deposed in 1689 and apparently served in that office until the arrival of Phillip Ludwell with a commission and instructions from the Lords Proprietors. In 1689, the county of Albemarle was allegedly disestablished and for the next decade or so the Carolana colony was simply called, "Ye Lands North and East of Cape Feare" - referring to North Carolina, and "Ye Lands South and West of Cape Feare" - referrring to South Carolina. However, in all practical sense, Albemarle County continued in all correspondence and other terminology, well into the 1720s.

A discussion of John Gibbs's claim for the governorship and his armed revolt against Governor Ludwell in 1690 can be found in Parker, Higher-Court Records, lix-lxi, and in the same work, on pages 452-453, a transcript is printed of a deed dated January 7, 1689, from Thomas Price by which he sold "...Unto John Gibbs Governor of the Said North Carolina all My Plantation, I now live on in Pascotank River...." See also Saunders, Colonial Records, I, 363-365, for a transcription of Gibbs's claim dated June 2, 1690, and Ludwell's response dated July 19, 1690.
John Gibbs challenged the appointment of Philip Ludwell's right to the governorship, claiming that he had right to the office. John Gibbs took advantage of the Fundamental Constitutions that provided that if no Proprietor or heir of a Proprietor was physically in the colony of Carolina, the governor should be selected from the eldest among the Landgraves of the Executive Council, and if there were no Landgraves physically in the colony, then the governor should be selected from the eldest among the Caciques of the Executive Council. John Gibbs had been made a Cacique of Carolina in October of 1682 by his relative, Christopher Monck, the 2nd Duke of Albemarle. Christopher Monck died childless in 1688, and his proprietorship was "in limbo" for several years.

After the appointment of Philip Ludwell, John Gibbs made a determined effort to retain his governorship. In June of 1690, he issued a declaration denouncing Ludlwell as "a Rascal, imposter, and Usurper," offering to fight "as long as my Eyelidds shall wagg" anyone justifying Ludwell's "illegal Irregular proceeding," commanding all citizens to keep the peace, "consult the Fundamentals," and render him "due obedience," forbidding the people to assume any office by virtue of a commission issued by Ludwell, and stating his determination not to permit "the Lords Proprietors or Country" to wrong him.

Click Here to read John Gibbs's declaration denouncing Philip Ludwell as the next governor.

John Gibbs then took further action. On July 6, 1690, he proceeded with armed men against the Pasquotank Precinct Court, breaking it up and seizing two of the magistrates, which he then took to Virginia, where he held them prisoners in a house he owned there.

Gibbs was then advised by the governor of Viriginia to go to England and settle his dispute against Ludwell with the Lords Proprietors. Both Gibbs and Ludwell did just that. The following year, the Lords Proprietors denounced the activitites of John Gibbs and his followers, reinforcing their earlier commission that Philip Ludwell be the governor. The Lords Proprietors also suspended the Fundamental Constitutions, thus removing the legal basis that John Gibbs used for claiming the governorship. Gibbs apparently did not return to Albemarle, but he did not give up his right to the governorship.

While Gibbs and Ludwell were in England, Thomas Jarvis, a member of the previous Executive Council, assumed the position of Deputy Governor in North Carolina. When Ludwell finally arrived and assumed the governorship of the entire colony, Thomas Jarvis was officially named the Deputy Governor of "Ye Lands North and East of Cape Feare."

Click Here for what little is known about the Executive Council under Governor John Gibbs.
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