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New Hanover County was formed in 1729 from Craven. It was named in honor of the royal family of England, members of the House of Hanover. In 1664, King Charles II designated Carolina as a Royal Colony and this colony was divided into three counties: Albemarle, Clarendon, and Craven.

A brief history of the settlement of New Hanover County must begin with the end of the reign of terror by pirates. Edward Teach --Blackbeard, lived in Bath and sometimes sailed in and out of the inlets near the Cape Fear often hiding behind Topsail Island. Teach was captured and returned to Bath with his head on the bow sprite of the ship in 1718. The pirate Stede Bonnet was hanged in Charleston in 1718 after being captured in the Cape Fear river by Captain Ravenell of Charleston. The demise of these pirates left the Cape Fear area safe for settlement.

By 1725, population of this area had begun in earnest. In 1734 parts of New Hanover Precinct became Bladen Precinct and Onslow Precinct. With the abolition of Bath County in 1739, all of its constituent precincts became counties.

In February 25, 1740 the North Carolina General Assembly incorporated Newton as the Town of Wilmington. In 1750 the northern part of New Hanover County became Duplin County. In 1764 another part of New Hanover County was combined with part of Bladen County to form Brunswick County. Finally, in 1875 the separation of northern New Hanover County to form Pender County reduced it to its present dimensions.


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