Charles Eden (1673–1722)

Written By Dr. Troy L. Kickler

There were eight Lords Proprietors in Carolina from 1663 to 1729. What became South Carolina had 26 landgraves (a count who had jurisdiction over a large territory) and 13 caciques. What became North Carolina, according to historian William S. Powell, “had only a handful.”  Among them was Charles Eden (the namesake of Edenton and the last landgrave in North Carolina).  

After the Tuscarora Indian War and an unpredictable political times, Charles Eden became governor in 1714.  His administration is known for bringing more control to the colony.  Sixty-one laws were passed, including provisions punishing libel against public officials and participants in riots. Others defined the roles of local government officials, established the Church of England, and allowed Quakers to take an affirmation instead of an oath of allegiance. Towns with more than 60 people were given representatives in the Assembly. This act fostered the growths of towns. Other laws were passed to encourage certain businesses and industries such as sawmilling and ferry transport. The governor sent North Carolina troops to help South Carolinians fight the Yemassee.

Although Governor Eden sat over one of the most important gubernatorial terms in the state’s history, he acquired a reputation for befriending the pirate Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard. The pirate eventually settled in Bath and married a local woman, and some sources record that the governor “presided over the ceremony.”  In time, other leading North Carolinians criticized Eden for not aggressively stamping out piracy in the colony.  The extent of the governor and the pirate’s relationship is unknown, however.  

In 1722, the governor died at Eden House, his plantation near the Town of Queen Anne’s Creek. The town was shortly afterward renamed Edenton.