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Home North Carolina Brunswick County City of Pinelevel Historical Markers Charles Town

Charles Town

NC-133 at Town Creek, Pinelevel, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 34° 8' 3.246", -77° 59' 5.3592"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Center of a colony from Barbados led by John Vassall, 1664. Abandoned by 1667. Was located 2 mi. E. on Town Creek."
Sir John Colleton of Barbados, one of the eight Lords Proprietors, played a role in securing the Carolina Charter of 1663. John Vassall, a Barbadian merchant, in 1663 organized the “Corporation of Barbadian Adventurers” with Colleton as their chief advocate in England. The company selected William Hilton to make an exploratory voyage to Carolina. Hilton left Barbados on August 10, 1663, sailed to Port Royal and then up to coast to Cape Fear. He spent several weeks exploring and scouting the location for a colony. Hilton returned to Barbados in January 1664.

A rift developed within the company with some urging immediate settlement and with others holding out for the negotiation of better terms with the Lords Proprietors. John Vassall organized a rival group and sought rights from the Proprietors. Vassall sailed to Cape Fear in May 1664 and selected a settlement site for Charles Town on a high bluff on the west site of the Cape Fear River north of Town Creek. He erected a fortified compound with several buildings. Within two years about 800 people were living in the colony. Many chose to settle along the branches of the river, seeking out the higher ground, some as far as sixty miles from Charles Town.

The Proprietors, meanwhile, had backed the plans of the rival group, the leadership of which had been taken over by William Yeamans. Their objective was to promote a settlement at Port Royal, not at Cape Fear. The Charles Town colony was effectively cut off from support. Problems from within and from the outside led to its failure. These included stress, internal complaints and bickering, and fighting with nearby Indians. In London the government was distracted by fire, plague, and other domestic and foreign crises. In 1666 Sir John Colleton died removing from the scene their patron. The settlers drifted away from Charles Town beginning in the fall of 1666. By early 1667 John Vassall, who had invested much of his personal fortune to keep the colony in place, reported that it was abandoned. A second “Charles Town” backed by many of the same Barbadians arose on the Ashley River in 1670. This in time developed into present-day city of Charleston, South Carolina.

Lindley S. Butler, “The Cape Fear Voyages, 1662-1667, and Their Impact on Southeastern Cartography,” Tributaries, no. 4 (October 1994): 20-29
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, VI, 95-96 and 288-289--sketches of John Vassall by James M. Clifton, and John Yeamans by Lindley S. Butler and Herbert R. Paschal
Lawrence Lee, Lower Cape Fear in Colonial Days (1965)
Charles Town Historical Marker Location Map, Pinelevel, North Carolina