Heath Charter

October 30, 1629–March 24, 1663

The Heath Charter is important because it was the model for the successful 1663 Carolina Charter, and it was the first colonial charter that included the area of modern South Carolina.

King Charles I of England granted a proprietary charter on October 30, 1629, to his attorney general Sir Robert Heath. The colony, named “Carolana” in honor of the king, included the territory between 31o and 36o north latitude and west to the edge of the continent. This vast region stretched from Albemarle Sound, North Carolina, to the northern boundary of Florida and west to the Pacific Ocean. As proprietor, Heath was expected to settle and develop his domain with the same broad governing authority as the Bishop of Durham, feudal ruler of the County Palatine of Durham in England. The charter also authorized the proprietor to make laws with “the counsel, assent, and approbation of the Freeholders . . . or the Major part of them.”

Heath initially sought settlers from the numerous Huguenots who had taken refuge in England during religious conflicts in France. He soon lost interest when several of these projects failed, and he thereafter restricted his colonists to communicants of the Church of England. A Puritan merchant of Huguenot ancestry, Samuel Vassall, sponsored a coastal exploration to locate settlement sites, but the colonists that followed in 1633 were stranded in Virginia. By 1638 Heath had assigned his proprietary rights to Henry Frederick Howard, Lord Maltravers, who established the County of Norfolk in Carolana but was no more successful than Heath in settling the region. The Heath Charter is important because it was the model for the successful 1663 Carolina Charter, and it was the first colonial charter that included the area of modern South Carolina.

Kopperman, Paul E. “Profile of Failure: The Carolana Project, 1629–1640.” North Carolina Historical Review 59 (January 1982): 1–23.

Parker, Mattie E. E., ed. North Carolina Charters and Constitutions, 1578–1698. Raleigh, N.C.: Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission, 1963.

Powell, William S. “Carolana and the Incomparable Roanoke: Explorations and Attempted Settlements, 1620–1663.” North Carolina Historical Review 51 (January 1974): 1–21.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Heath Charter
  • Coverage October 30, 1629–March 24, 1663
  • Author
  • Keywords proprietary charter, attorney general Sir Robert Heath, model for the successful 1663 Carolina Charter,
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date October 31, 2020
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 15, 2016
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