Hyde County (1705)

Written By Sai Srikanth

Sparsely populated but frequently visited, Hyde County might be North Carolina’s least known yet most historically important county. Carved out of the large Bath County in 1705, Hyde County was initially named Wickham Precinct, named for then Governor John Archdale’s ancestral home near Buckinghamshire, England. In 1712, the county received its first name change, becoming Hyde Precinct, in honor of the current governor and lord proprietor of North Carolina, Edward Hyde. When Bath County was abolished in 1739, the precinct’s name was permanently changed to Hyde County.


Since its establishment, no county in North Carolina has experienced more boundary shifts than Hyde County. In 1819, a portion of Hyde County, west of the Pungo River, was annexed to Beaufort County. In 1823, Hatteras Island fell under Hyde County’s jurisdiction. Similarly, 1845 witnessed the transfer of Ocracoke Island from Carteret County to Hyde County, elongating the length of the county’s boundary to the southeast. By 1870, the county’s boundaries were reduced to present day dimensions when its northeastern part was amalgamated with portions of Currituck and Tyrell Counties to form the newly established Dare County.


The county contains nine townships and cities, with its county seat located at Swan Quarter. The eight other townships or cities are Engelhard, Fairfield, Germantown, Last Chance, Nebraska, Ocracoke, Scranton, and Stumpy Point. Though the populations of these townships are rather miniscule (Swan Quarter’s population according to the 2000 Census was 958), they are frequently visited by North Carolinians and out of state tourists. Ocracoke draws the largest number of visitors in the county due to its pristine location on the Outer Banks, its famous lighthouse, Fort Ocracoke (a Confederate fort during the Civil War), and for being known as the reputed location of the notorious pirate’s, Blackbeard, death.


Hyde County’s is also known for its preservation of national deemed wildlife refuges. There are four refuges located in Hyde County (Alligator River, Mattamuskeet, Pocosin Lakes, and Swan Quarter), while part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is contained within the county’s boundaries. Moreover, the county’s shoreline boundaries give access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pamlico Sound provide great spots for fishing, boating, and other recreational activities that blend with nature.