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Salisbury District, North Carolina
Colonial judicial district established in 1766
The Salisbury District of North Carolina, was originally one of six colonial judicial districts established in 1766 by the Governor William Tryon of the Province of North Carolina. Immediately preceding the onset of the American War of Independence in 1775, these six regions were renamed "Military districts" by the North Carolina Provincial Congress and used for organizing the North Carolina militia. The other districts were Edenton, Halifax, Hillsborough, New Bern, and Wilmington districts. The districts designation was discontinued in 1835 during the North Carolina Constitution Convention.
In 1766, the Province of North Carolina House of Burgess, at the direction of Province of North CarolinaGovernor William Tryon, divided the state into six judicial districts. The districts did not do away with the county divisions of the state, which continued. Since the boundaries of Tryon County (part of the Salisbury District) originally stretched into territory which was later found to belong to South Carolina (due to surveying errors), the Salisbury District was, for a time, the legal center of modern-day northwestern South Carolina as well.
After the Third North Carolina Provincial Congress held at Hillsborough, North Carolina (Aug. 20-Sept. 10, 1775), the districts became known as "military" vice "judicial" districts. These districts were used to organize the North Carolina Minutemen Battalions for a six month trial as state troops, beginning on September 1, 1775. By April 10, 1776, the Provincial Congress decided in favor or District Brigades of militia with county militia regiments. Each brigade was led by a brigadier general. The county militia regiments were subordinated to the brigade. At that time, two additional districts were added, further dividing the western part of the state (Washington District Regiment in 1776 and Morgan District in 1784). Also, district representatives were chosen and sent to the North Carolina Provincial Congress. These representatives were instrumental in the passage of the Halifax Resolves, in April 1776, during the Fourth Provincial Congress, which is now often referred to as the "Halifax Congress."
The Salisbury District was based in the town of Salisbury, North Carolina, in Rowan County. Salisbury was established as the county seat of Rowan County in 1755, two years after Rowan County was created from Anson County.
Edmund Fanning was made the first official associate justice for the Judicial District of Salisbury in March 1766. The third colonial court, which regularly assembled at Salisbury, was the court of oyer, terminer and general jail delivery. This court had jurisdiction over criminal cases. The Salisbury District court met in June and December of each year.
In 1775, Salisbury District included the following countries: Rowan, Anson, Guilbord, Mecklenburg, Surry, and Tryon counties.
In 1779, Salisbury District included the following counties: Rowan, Anson, Burke, Guilford, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Richmond, Rutherford, Surry, and Wilkes counties.
In 1783 at the end of the war, Salisbury District included: Rowan, Anson, Guiford, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Richmond, and Surry counties.
As late as 1800, the term Salisbury District was used in reference to the regional Federal Census headquarters in part of North Carolina. This 1800 Census district headquarters was located in Salisbury, Rowan County and the Census for Iredell, Mecklenburg, and Rowan counties all list Salisbury as the location for these counties, even though Salisbury was and still is located in Rowan County.
The Provincial Congress included representative from counties and districts. The six districts continued to be used under the North Carolina General Assembly after 1776 until 1835 when the State Constitution Convention changed the way representatives and senators to the General Assembly were determined. After the war, the districts were sometimes referred to as boroughs or just cities. In 1835, the general assembly set up 120 districts with representation in the assembly.
The delegates from the Salisbury District to the North Carolina Provincial Congress were:
William Kennon, 1st Provincial Congress, August 25-27, 1774 in New Bern
William Kennon, 2nd Provincial Congress, April 3-7, 1775 in New Bern
William Kennon and Hugh Montgomery, 3rd Provincial Congress, August 20 - September 10, 1775 in Hillsborough
David Nesbitt, 4th Provincial Congress, April 4 - May 14, 1776 in Halifax
David Nesbitt, 5th Provincial Congress, November 12 - December 23, 1776 in Halifax
The delegates from the Salisbury District to the North Carolina House of Commons were:
^"...all that part of this State comprehended with the lines aforesaid shall be henceforth be and remain Washington County and is declared to be part of Salisbury District."--North Carolina State Records, Vol. 24; p. 141; NC Laws -1777; Chapter 31; Whitney; p. 681
Rumple, Jethro (1916). A History of Rowan County, North Carolina Containing Sketches of Prominent Families and Distinguished Men. Daughters of the American Revolution. Elizabeth Maxwell Steele Chapter (Salisbury, N.C.).