North Carolina Office of Archives & History Department of Cultural Resources
Historical Publications Section The Colonial Records Project
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Last Updated 05/24/00

The Natural History of North-Carolina.
With an Account of the Trade, Manners, and Customs of the
Christian and Indian Inhabitants,
Illustrated with Copper-Plates, whereon are Curiously Engraved the Map of the
Country, several strange Beasts, Birds, Fishes, Snakes, Insects, Trees, and Plants, &c.

John Brickell (Dublin, 1737).


THIS Province, and South Carolina, were granted by King Charles II. March the 24th in the Fifteenth Year of his Reign, and confirmed by Letters Patents bearing Date, June the 13th. in the 17th. Year of his said Majesty’s Reign, to the following Lords Proprietors, (viz.) Edward, Earl of Clarendon; George, Duke of Albemarl; William, Earl of Craven; John, Lord Berkeley; Anthony, Lord Ashley; Sir George Carterett, Knight, and Baronet; Sir John Colleton, Knight, and Baronet; and Sir William Berkeley; who possessed them until the Year 1729: At which time King George II. Purchased them from all the said Proprietors, excepting the Lord Carterett, who still retains his Eighth Part. Whilst it remained in the Hands of the Proprietors, they had a Governor who acted for them until the Year 1731, at which Time his Majesty sent over Governor Burrington, who was the first Governor after the King had made the Purchase, and with him came most of the Superior Officers; such as Secretary of the Province, Chief Justice, Attorney General, Provost-Marshal, and Naval Officers, the rest were at his arrival in the Country, but Nominated by the King, such as Surveyor General, Judge of the Admiralty, Comptrollers and Collectors.

They have two Houses, which resemble the two Houses of Parliament with us. The first or Upper-House consists of twelve Members and the Governor; in this House are heard all Chancery Suits, and other Causes that cannot be decided in the Inferior Courts; from whence there can be no Appeal, except to England.

The Lower-House consists of thirty five Members, being the most knowing, discreet and substantial Planters, chose out of each Precinct and Borough. In this and the Upper-House, are made all manner of Laws for the Safety and better Government of this Province. But whatever Laws are here made must be conformable to the Laws of England, and in no wise repugnant thereto. And such Laws as are made in these two Houses by the Governor, Council and Burgesses, are all recorded, and are as authentick and binding there, as our Acts of Parliament are with us.

There are likewise two other Courts in this Province, viz. the Precinct-Court, which is held in every Precinct of this Province, being much of the same Nature of our Court-Leets, or Court-Barons. The other is called the General-Court, which is held twice every Year, as the former is four times. This is much the same as our Assizes, where all Causes relating to Life and Death are heard, where the Chief Justice sits as Judge, and determines all Causes within the Jurisdiction of this Court. In the Precinct-Court, the Justices of the Peace sit on the Bench, and decide all Controversies brought before them. This Court upon any Grievance can Appeal to the General Court for Justice, and the General to Chancery. The Governor by the Power invested in him, Commissions all Justices of the Peace, and all Officers in the Militia, who upon any Occasion may call his Council, to advise with them, upon any Emergency that is necessary, or expedient, for the good and safety of the Country.

There are abundance of Attorneys in this Province, who are Licenced by the Governor, yet all Law-Suits are quickly decided in Carolina, to prevent the Planters ruining each other, as is too frequent to be met with amongst us.

These, and many other good Laws, that are to be met with in this Province, make it one of the best and mildest Governments to live under in all America. Whoever consider the Latitude and convenient Situation of Carolina, may easily inform themselves, that it is a most delightful and fertil Country, being placed in the same Latitude or part of the World which produces Wine, Oil, Fruit, Grain and Silk, with many other rich Commodities, besides a sweet moderate and healthful Climate to live in with all manner of Plenty, which are as great blessings as can attend any People upon Earth, which the Planters of Carolina at this Day enjoy, being subject to no vexatious Taxes, or Racking Landlords, to give them the least uneasiness or discontent.

The Planters by the richness of the Soil, live after the most easie and pleasant Manner of any People I have ever met with; for you shall seldom hear them Repine at any Misfortunes in life, except the loss of Friends, there being plenty of all Necessaries convenient for Life: Poverty being an entire Stranger here, and the Planters the most hospitable People that are to be met with, not only to Strangers but likewise to those who by any Misfortune have lost the use of their Limbs or are incapable to Work, and have no visible way to support themselves; to such Objects as these, the Country allows Fifty Pounds per Annum for their Support. So there are no Beggars or Vagabonds to be met with Strowling from place to place as is too common amongst us.

The Country in general is adorned with large and Beautiful Rivers and Creeks, and the Woods with lofty Timber, which afford most delightful and pleasant Seats to the Planters, and the Lands very convenient and easie to be fenced in, to secure their Stocks of Cattle to more strict Bounderies, whereby with small trouble of Fencing, almost every Man may enjoy to himself an intire Plantation.

These with many other Advantages, such as the cheapness and fertility of the Lands, plenty of Fish, Wild-fowl, Venison, and other necessaries that this Country naturally produces, has induced a great many Families to leave the more Northerly Plantations, and come and settle in one of the mildest Governments in the World, in a Country that with moderate Industry may be acquir’d all Necessaries convenient for life; so that Yearly we have abundance of Strangers that come amongst us from Europe, New-England, Pensilvania, Maryland, and from many of the Islands, such as Antegua, Barbados, and many others, to settle here; many of whom with small Beginnings, are become very Rich in a few Years.

The Europians, or Christians of North-Carolina, are a streight, tall, well-limb’d and active People; their Children being seldom or never troubled with Rickets, and many other Distempers that the Europians are afflicted with, and you shall seldom see any of them deformed in Body.

The Men who frequent the Woods, and labour out of Doors, or use the Waters, the vicinity of the Sun makes Impressions on them; but as for the Women that do not expose themselves to Weather, they are often very fair, and well featur’d, as you shall meet with any where, and have very Brisk and Charming Eyes; and as well and finely shaped, as any Women in the World. And I have seldom observ’d any Red-hair’d Women, or Men, born in this Country.

They marry generally very young, some at Thirteen or Fourteen; and she that continues unmarried, until Twenty, is reckoned a stale Maid, which is a very indifferent Character in that Country. These Marriages for want of an Orthodox Clergyman, is performed by the Governor, or the next Justice of the Peace; who reads the Matrimonial Ceremony, which is as binding there as if done by the best divine in Europe. The Women are very fruitful, most Houses being full of Little Ones, and many Women from other Places who have been long Married and without Children, have remov’d to Carolina, and become joyful Mothers, as has been often observ’d. It very seldom happens they miscarry, and they have very easie Travail in their Child-bearing.

The Children at nine Months old are able to walk and run about the House, and are very Docile and apt to learn any thing, as any Children in Europe; and those that have the advantage to be Educated, Write good Hands, and prove good Accompants, which is very much coveted, and most necessary in these parts. The young Men are generally of a bashful, sober Behaviour, few proving Prodigals, to spend what the Parents with Care and Industry have left them, but commonly Improve it.

The Girls are most commonly handsome and well Featur’d, but have pale or swarthy Complexions, and are generally more forward than the Boys, notwithstanding the Women are very Shy, in their Discourses, till they are acquainted. The Girls are not only bred to the Needle and Spinning, but to the Dairy and domestick Affairs, which many of them manage with a great deal of prudence and conduct, though they are very young.

Both Sexes are very dexterous in paddling and managing their Canoes, both Men, Women, Boys, and Girls, being bred to it from their Infancy. The Women are the most Industrious in these Parts, and many of them by their good House-wifery make a great deal of Cloath of their own Cotton, Wool, and Flax, and some of them weave their own Cloath with which they decently Apparel their whole Family though large. Others are so Ingenious that they make up all the wearing Apparel both for Husband, Sons and Daughters. Others are very ready to help and assist their Husbands in any Servile Work, as planting when the Season of the Year requires expedition: Pride seldom banishing Housewifery. Both sexes are most commonly spare of Body and not Cholerick, nor easily cast down at Disapointments and Losses, and seldome immoderately grieving at Misfortunes in Life, excepting it be the loss of their nearest Relations.

By the Fruitfulness of the Women in North Carolina, and the great Numbers of Men, Women, and Children, that are daily Transported from Europe, they are now become so powerful, in this and most of the other Provinces in the Hands of the English, that they are able to resist for the future any attempts the Indians may make on them. Add to this, the several Indian Kings that at present are in the Christian Interest, who pay some small Tribute as an Acknowledgment of their Subjection, and are ready upon all occasions to assist them when ever they are required so to do; therefore they live at present without any dread or fear of those Savages to what they formerly did.

The Men are very ingenious in several Handycraft Businesses, and in building their Canoes and Houses; though by the richness of the Soil, they live for the most part after an indolent and luxurious Manner; yet some are laborious, and equalize with the Negro’s in hard Labour, and others quite the Reverse; for I have frequently seen them come to the Towns, and there remain Drinking Rum, Punch, and other Liquors for Eight or Ten Days successively, and after they have committed this Excess, will not drink any Spirituous Liquor, ’till such time as they take the next Frolick, as they call it, which is generally in two or three Months. These Excesses are the occasions of many Diseases amongst them. But amongst the better Sort, or those of good OEconomy, it is quite otherwise, who seldom frequent the Taverns, having plenty of Wine, Rum, and other Liquors at their own Houses, which they generously make use of amongst their Friends and Acquaintance, after a most decent and discreet Manner, and are not so subject to Disorders as those who Debauch themselves in such a Beastly Manner. The former sometimes bring their Wives with them to be pertakers of these Frolicks, which very often is not commendable or decent to behold.

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