north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Arthur Dobbs, named Royal Governor of North Carolina in 1753, arrived on the colony’s soil the following year at the age of sixty-six. A longtime bureaucrat, Dobbs had served as surveyor general of Ireland, and was responsible for the immigration of nearly 500 Irish Protestants to North Carolina.

     Prior to arriving in North Carolina, Dobbs had met with Virginia and Maryland authorities in Williamsburg concerning a proposal to unite against the French. Notified of the lack of arms and equipment in North Carolina, Dobbs brought with him a determination to re-equip the colony’s militia and militarize the western frontier. Because of his actions, North Carolina was initially prepared for the French and Indian War that erupted shortly after his arrival. Upon his initiative the colony constructed Fort Dobbs to protect the frontier from incursions by the Cherokee and French.

     Keenly aware of divisions within the colony’s Albemarle and Cape Fear factions, Dobbs proposed the establishment of a provincial capital in Kingston (modern-day Kinston). In December 1758 the assembly put forth a measure to purchase 850 acres “upon the plantation Tower Hill” from Dobbs at the price of £450 sterling. The capital intended to be built upon the land was to be called “George City” in honor of the King, and include “a governor’s house, house for assembly and office for the secretary to be built with all possible expedition.” The act was never executed, and by 1762 Dobbs was petitioning the King for redress, stating that the “land was found to be unfit” and that since it had sat idly he “had not gained any production from it.” In 1763, the assembly had recommended that the proposed capital instead be built at New Bern.

     Dobbs himself had settled at a plantation near Brunswick called Russellborough. Frustrated with the infighting in the colony, Dobbs received a leave of absence in 1764, but died on March 24, 1765, shortly before his proposed departure for Ireland. He was buried at St. Phillips Church in Brunswick. The new governor, William Tryon, agreed to have the colonial capital placed in New Bern, and Tryon Palace was built under the supervision of architect John Hawks between 1767 and 1770.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 83-86—sketch by Richard Beale Davis
Michael Hill, ed., The Governors of North Carolina (2007)
Hugh T. Lefler and William S. Powell, Colonial North Carolina (1973)
Walter Clark, ed., State Records of North Carolina, XXII, XXV
William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, V, VI
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north carolina highway historical marker program

Arthur Dobbs

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources