How Beaufort Got It's Name

Photograph by James Piver
In Beaufort-by-The-Sea, Journey Back in Time, by Rick and Marcie Carroll, Ann Goellner wrote, 

“Beaufort—pronounced “boe,” not “bue” (except in South Carolina)—is a French name that means “handsome” or “great” or “strong,” as in a fortress. The name originated in Europe in the 900’s, when a strong man built his fortress to protect local interests from the Vikings who had landed on the continent and were plundering France. In any case, France has 13 Beauforts, and several others exist around the world.

In the 1600’s the name Beaufort was brought into English by Henry Somerset (1629-1700), an exceptional Englishman. His wealthy family supported the last Catholic rulers of England and thereby lost their fortune in the civil war that resulted in Protestant rule.
Henry spent those tumultuous years in Catholic France and upon return home to England, rebuilt his fortune and political power by marriage to Mary Capel Somerset, (1630-1715) an aristocratic woman of equal intelligence and energy.

The Somersets were at the forefront of Enlightenment science and rationalism, and they built an extraordinary home and garden at Badminton House. The game of the same name was first played there after Royal Horse Guards brought it from India.

When King Charles II offered Henry Somerset a dukedom, Henry chose to become the first Duke of Beaufort. 

After gaining permission from the Lords Proprietors, on October 2, 1713, Beaufort, North Carolina was officially laid out and named for Henry Somerset, the 2nd Duke of Beaufort (1684-1719).