April 28, 2013.
THE HISTORY OF KNOTTS ISLAND, NORTH CAROLINA
CORNERSTONE OF THE STATE AND THE ENCLOSED SEA
by HAL JAMES BONNEY, JR.
University of Richmond Virginia 1951
This book was awarded the LT. Governor J. Taylor Ellyson Gold
for the best research in Virginia and Southern History.
Given at the University of Richmond, June 4, 1951
Copyright, 1949-1951. By Hal James Bonney Jr.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Reproduction of all, a part, or parts without written permissiom of copyright owner is strictly forbidden.
Other than the natives, few readers will find even the
slightest interest in this historical narrative of a tiny region
bearing the possessive appellation Knotts Island. To the author
and the inhabitants the very name is a spontaneous process that
warms certain cells of the heart fondly, very rarely
While the majority of Knotts Island lies in the Tar Heal state,
one can not justly type this North Carolina history, but rather
Virginia - Carolina as will be seen with the unfolding of the
account. The world abounds with similar small localities each
with a history unique in its own manner both recorded and of
The purpose of this paper is to piece together the unrelated
history into a smooth narrative capable of affording those
interested a picture of Knotts Island's events in her early
years. The people of a locality should harbor with pride the
facts surrounding its discovery, settlement, and contributions
to history. This history is compiled to meet this need and in so
doing set off a chain reaction of thoughts almost covered with
the dust of time. The author trusts it will recall memories and
create doubts among the strains of folklore that permeate so
much of our local American history. The reader may be assured
that this history is definitive with all existing records
carefully collected and criticized. The facts concerning Knotts
Island were then pieced into the generalizations that afford a
complete history of this Island and the surrounding "enclosed
sea" from 1585 to 1728.
HAL JAMES BONNEY, JR.
University of Richmond May 1951
Five years ago in the days when the author possessed that most
unusual phenomenon, leisure time, he began collecting small bits
of historical facts directly or indirectly affecting Knotts
Island, The facts proved to be sparse and very far between even
with this recent all out effort, but this "broken" history is
here offered with the regret that more data is not available.
This region was of little note and consequently does not appear
often in the records and when it does, it is through external
circumstances instead of internal occasion. With no local
government Knotts Island can not speak for itself; we can learn
of its past only as major events in history focus briefly upon
the region and shortly pass on. In existing historical records
mention of the Island may occur at a certain date in connection
with an event and then will not appear again for several
decades. Thus is this a broken history pieced into a smooth
narrative, but all available facts have been examined and
carefully weighted; nothing herein is hearsay.
As a contribution to the field of historical writing, this book
is nil. The author could well have chosen to compile the history
of a church or of an institution the writing of which would be
complete and not as the History of Knotts Island, as broken as
the unknown history of the early world. The author regrets this,
but offers no apology since his interest is genuine.
It affords a great challenge to seek the scattered facts of an
unknown community that contributed little to the mixture of
history. The accredited historian may suffer from an overdose of
deductions in this paper, however, they are necessary to view
Knott s Island' s part in the events.
This writing seeks first to determine the date and manner of
discovery and exploration as well as the early events of the
Island and its surrounding area. The first expedition of Sir
Walter Raleigh described the waters between the coastal sand
banks and the mainland as an "Enclosed Sea. " It is this sea
that contains Knotts Island.
The naming of a community holds many controversies and
mysteries with the search to determine the source quite
involved. This paper strives to reach a conclusion.
Her real claim in history occurred in 1728 as the
Virginia-North Carolina boundary dispute reached its height. By
the mechanics of nature the line crossed over Knotts Island and
from this account the secrets of the Island were laid open.
The entire contents of this history are derived from primary
sources alone, except when noted in the body of the text.
Nothing is left to hearsay, but all is engraved on the page of
history as truth.
Again the author wishes to emphasize that this is Virginia -
North Carolina history, for the majority of records are from
Virginia sources. What claim would such an insignificant spot
hold in history and if any, where would it be found.
The reader must remember this is local history that the author has compiled from broader events that dealt in some manner with Knotts Island. This narrative plans to expose these bits into the early history of the island and preserve the history of that location.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. DISCOVERY, EXPLORATION
A. Europe Discovers The New World
1. Crusades; Renaissance
2. Spain In America
3. France In America
4. The Claim of England
5. The Rise of England
B. Discovery of the Enclosed Sea
1. The Sir Walter Raleigh Expedition
2. The Enclosed Sea
C. The Discovery and Exploration of Knotts Island
1. Ralph Lane’s Voyage to the North
2. Currituck Sound
3. Knotts Island
4. Proof of Discovery
D. The Virginia Colony
2. Growth of the Colony
E. The Carolina Colony
1. Grant to the Lord Proprietors
2. Manner of Settlement
3. Original Land Grants to Knotts Island
F. The Indians of North Carolina
1. Arrival of Amadas and Barlowe
2. The Indians of Currituck
3. Description of the Savages
4. Tuscaruro War
II. THE SOURCE OF A NAME
A. What's In A Name
1. Types of Names
2. Nottingham, England
B. The Entrance of the Knotts
1. List of Knotts Entering Virginia
2. Settlement of the Knotts
3. A Seafaring Group
C. The Existing Deeds and Wills
III. THE GREAT DISPUTE
A. The Contention
1. Whence the Dividing Line
2. Voices of Protest
B. Attempts At Settlement of the Controversy
1. First Appearance of Knotts Island In History
2. The Commission of 1710
C. The Dividing Line Crosses Knotts Island: March, 1728
2. William Byrd's Histories
3. Trip to Currituck Inlet
4. The Commissioners Meet
6. Line Over Knotts Island
7. Description of the Island
8. The Line Proceeds
IV. THE HISTORY OF CURRITUCK
A. The Entrance of the Colony
1. Amadas and Barlowe
B. An Inlet Is Born
1. Congressional Investigation
2. Inlets of North Carolina
3. The Opening of New Currituck Inlet