This day in NC history: Old Bute County

On January 20, 1779, the North Carolina General Assembly abolished Bute County less than 15 years after establishing it.

The legislature had established the northeastern county in June 1764, and named it in honor of John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. A Scottish nobleman, Bute was the tutor of Great Britain’s Prince George. After the prince became King George III in 1760, Bute served as the king’s advisor and eventually became prime minister.

ames Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. Image from the National Portrait Gallery, London

ames Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute. Image from the National Portrait Gallery, London

Carved from eastern Granville County, Bute County provided the residents of the area better access to local government. In 1766, the legislature expanded the county by annexing part of northwestern Northampton County.

By the late 1760s, though, the Earl of Bute had become very unpopular with Americans. Many blamed him personally for instituting the 1765 Stamp Act. With Bute County’s population growing, support for dividing and renaming the county grew during the mid-1770s. After two years of discussion, the General Assembly decided to divide Bute County along Shocco Creek with the northern part becoming Warren County and the southern part, Franklin County.

With the incorporation of the two new counties, Bute ceased to exist. The courthouse that once served Bute County no longer stands.

This Day in North Carolina History is a production of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources.

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