Return to Hyde County
History of the Formation of Hyde County, North Carolina
The boundaries of Hyde County have evolved over almost three hundred years. Because of the changes in the county’s boundaries, a person may have lived in several counties during his lifetime, while residing in the same location. Hopefully this will aid in your research.
The lands lying south of the Albemarle Sound, along the Pamlico River, had begun to be settled by 1691. This area became Bath County in 1696 and in 1705, it was divided into three precincts: Wickham, Pamptecough and Archdale, with Bath Town as the county seat. Wickham Precinct began just east of Bath at Mellyne's (later Sinclare's) Creek on the west side of the Matchapungo (later Pungo) River and on the north side of the Pamlico River including all the land from the creek eastward to Matchapungo Bluff, near present day New Holland. About 1712 the precincts of Bath County were renamed Hyde, Beaufort and Craven Precincts, respectively. Hyde was named in honor of Governor Edward Hyde.
In 1729 the act separating Beaufort and Hyde Counties authorized a courthouse to be built on the lands of William Webster, on the west side of the Pungo River. In 1739 the Precincts of Bath Counties were redesignated Hyde, Beaufort and Craven County. In Hyde County the town of Woodstock had been laid out on Webster’s plantation and became the first county seat of Hyde County. It remained so for fifty years. In 1745, the eastern part of present day Hyde County, ”Mattamuskeet and the lake thereunto belonging“ was annexed from Currituck County. The area is generally believed to run from present day New Holland to beyond Engelhard at the eastern end of Hyde. The boundary line between Hyde and Tyrrell was authorized to be established. The line was to run as follows: ”Beginning where the counties of Beaufort, Martin and Tyrrell corner, thence a direct course to Long Shoal River, and thence the same course continued to Pamptico Sound“.
Around 1790 the county seat was moved from Woodstock to Bell’s Bay or Jasper’s Creek and in 1791 a law was passed establishing a town ”where the courthouse stands“. It was named Germantown for German Bernard, who owned the property. The county seat was moved to Lake Landing in 1820. In 1819 all that part of Hyde County lying on the west side of the Pungo River was annexed to Beaufort County. In 1823, part of Currituck which was south of New Inlet was annexed to Hyde. It is believed that this included the area of the Outer Banks known as Hatteras Island. Swan Quarter, established about 1812, became the county seat in 1836 and a courthouse was built there around 1850. Ocracoke Island, which was previously part of Carteret County, became part of Hyde County in 1845. Dare County was formed in 1870 from Currituck, Hyde and Tyrrell Counties. (Hyde County ceded Hatteras Island to Dare County.) And lastly, the boundary line between Hyde and Tyrrell was established in 1890 and validated by law in 1921.
Present day Hyde County is bounded on the north by Dare and Tyrrell Counties, on the northwest by Washington County and on the west by Beaufort County. Across the Pamlico River is Pamlico County and across the Pamlico Sound to the south are Carteret and Craven Counties. To the east of Ocracoke Island is the Atlantic Ocean.