How Did North Carolina Get Its Name?

did-north-carolina-its-name Credit: Dennis Macdonald/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

The Carolina colony was so named for three monarchs named Charles: Charles IX of France, Charles I of England and his son Charles II of England. The Latin name for Charles is Carolus. The name Carolana, or Carolina means "land of Charles" in Latin. The name refers to lands between latitudes 31 degrees and 36 degrees north.

French explorers, under the financing of Charles IX, called the land Carolina in 1563 or 1564. Charles I of England then gave land grants, in 1629, to several lords in return for monetary compensation after they developed the land. The land grant came after news reached Charles I that the French were also interested in the area.

Charles II chartered the Carolina colony in 1663 when the English king gave the territory to eight men, who helped restore the monarchy, after the brief reign of Oliver Cromwell. This charter superseded the original land grant made by Charles I.

Separate governments arose in the Carolina colonies in the late 1600s. One government, in the northeastern part of the territory on the Atlantic coast, became Albemarle County. A second major settlement, now known as Charleston, flourished further south along the ocean. Both areas contained separate legislatures, courts and executives. Despite attempts to unify the colony, North Carolina split from South Carolina in 1712.