Matthew Rowan

Acting Governor of North Carolina Province 1753 to 1754

After Governor Gabriel Johnston's death in 1752, Nathaniel Rice (President of the Executive Council) followed by Matthew Rowan were Acting Governors until Arthur Dobbs reached New Bern in October of 1754.

Salisbury, named after a cathedral town in England, and Rowan County, named after Matthew Rowan who held the land grant from the King of England, have been welcoming visitors and travelers for over 250 years, since the days when young Daniel Boone called it home.

In 1747, the first wave of settlers, the Scots-Irish, arrived in the western part of Rowan. The population grew so quickly that in 1753 Acting Governor Matthew Rowan signed a bill creating Rowan County and Saint Luke's Parish. Rowan was the largest and most populous county in the colony and the state until 1836 when current boundaries were drawn. Twenty-six counties were eventually formed out of Rowan County.

In 1754, it was reported that there was an Indian settlement consisting of fifty families located on Drowning Creek. That same year, North Carolina Acting Governor Matthew Rowan proclaimed the county of Anson a "frontier to the Indians."
In 1743, 1744, and 1752, the colony’s General Assembly met in Bath and in 1746, Bath was considered as a location for the capital of the colony. Colonial governors Robert Daniell, Thomas Cary, Charles Eden, and Matthew Rowan all lived in the town.
Arthur Dobbs, later governor of North Carolina, wrote Matthew Rowan in April of 1751: "This I hope will be delivered to you by Mr. Robert Milhouse, who with Mr. Samuel Wyly and their families and several other of my tenants, neighbours and friends, go to settle in North Carolina and have freighted a ship from Dublin to land them in Cape Fear River at Brunswick. To them. . .I have disposed of one of the 12,800-acre tracts. . .I want you to befriend them and assist them in their settlement and advise them for the best." (The South Carolina Historical Magazine)
The land stretching along the Yadkin River drew Native American tribes, explorers, woodsmen, and settlers here to linger as long ago as 1670. The two Great Wagon Roads led immigrants to their new home in the south, with Scots-Irish settlers arriving as early as 1747 and the German immigrants following several years later.

The convergence of those two great wagon roads–the Trading Path from eastern Virginia and the Great Wagon Road from the north–made the area easily accessible and spurred a growing population of settlers. By 1753, Acting Governor Matthew Rowan signed a bill creating Rowan County and Saint Luke’s Parish. Two years later, in 1755, Salisbury was established as the county seat. The county continued to grow and was the largest and most heavily populated county in the colony until 1836 when the boundaries were redrawn to form 26 counties out of Matthew Rowan’s original county.

Matthew Rowan, President of the Executive Council, 1753-54, was an Ulsterman.
In 1746, Matthew Rowan estimated there could be only about 100 fighting men in all of the western section of North Carolina, but by 1753, he estimated this number to be 3,000. About 1750, Quakers settled in the New Garden community. In 1753, Rowan County was established which covered northwestern NC.
Upon the death of Governor Gabriel Johnston, President Nathaniel Rice was in charge until the next year, when, upon his death, Colonel Matthew Rowan succeeded to the place thus made vacant. Colonel Rowan lived in Bladen County, and was a planter of large means. He was greatly valued, and his name is perpetrated in a county which has long been important in North Carolina.
Click Here for information on the Executive Council under President Matthew Rowan.
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