North Carolina's Five Oldest Towns

In Colonial Carolina, a town was established by legislative action—permission from the Lords Proprietors and approved by the General Assembly for a township to be laid out and named. 

"Incorporations of towns had to be approved by the royal council and that was only done seven times in the colonial era." (Ansley Herring Wegner, NC Office of Archives and History) New Bern and Beaufort were incorporated on the same dayNovember 23, 1723.

1705 BATH
March 2, 1705, David Perkins received a patent from Governor Thomas Cary for 160 acres on Old Town Creek adjoining the land of William Barrow. Six days later, a portion of this grant was incorporated by the General Assembly as the township of Bath. (Herbert R. Paschal Jr. and Colonial Records)

Craven House, London, September 1709—"Sign''d a Warrant for Christoph de Graffenried for 10,000 Acres of land in North Carolina Agreed that Mr Luis Michel have a Warrant for 3500 Acres of land in North Carolina to him and his heirs he paying for the same according to the rate the Swiss Cantons purchased their Land in that part of the Province aforesaid." The settlement was made in 1710 and laid out by surveyor John Lawson.  (Colonial Records)

In November 1712, the Assembly passed "an Act to Promote ye building a Court House & house to hold ye Assembly in, at ye fork of Queen Anne's Chowan Precinct…" Among other things, this act empowered Nathaniel Chevin and Thomas Peterson to lay out and sell one-half acre lots to such person "as shall be willing to build at the afsd fork of Queen Anne's Creek." Shortly after the death of Governor Charles Eden in 1722, "ye towne on Queen Anne's creek" was renamed in his honor. (Charles L. Paul)

Prior to the fall of 1713, permission had been obtained from the Lords Proprietors to lay out a town by the name of Beaufort. On October 2, 1713, Robert Turner had Richard Graves, Deputy Surveyor, lay out the town. A plat was made of the town and recorded in the office of the secretary of the colony. Streets were named; allotments were provided for a church, town-house, and market place; lots were offered for sale. (Charles L. Paul and Colonial Records)

In 1733, William Gray surveyed "the intended town." From 1734 to 1736, the town was called "New Liverpool." During 1736, "Newton" began to replace "New Liverpool." On "Monday the 25th of Febry 1739/40–Recd from the upper House the bill for an Act for erecting the Village of Newton in New Hanover County into a Town & Township by the Name of Wilmington." (Alan Watson and Colonial Records)