Do counties have charters? (no and yes)

 After I posted earlier this week about city charters I got an inquiry about whether counties have charters. I would view the initial act creating a county as its charter, but no county that I know of has ever sought an enactment to codify its local acts into one document as municipalities do from time to time.  Even the initial “act” creating a county has many sources — Lords Proprietors, Governor and Council, colonial assembly, or the General Assembly.  County “charters” were also apparently repealed by the Governor on instructions from the Board of Trade and/or the Crown in London, and then the crown consented to the colonial assembly reenacting them.

 The best compilation of these initial enactments and boundary amendments is Corbitt’s “Formation of the North Carolina Counties 1663-1943“, second printing with corrections 1969, which excerpts boundary descriptions and contains citations to the acts, orders, and colonial records establishing each county.

 There is a compilation of local acts relating to counties:

North Carolina County Legislation Index: A Complete Listing of the Local or Special Acts Passed by the General Assembly for Each County 1669-1961“, ed. by Clyde L. Ball and “North Carolina County Legislation Index: Supplement 1966”  — which covers the 1963 and 1965 sessions. Both of those indices are in the Legislative Library and the School of Government Library. They contain citations only and not the texts of any acts. New Hanover County apparently used these documents in preparing what became Chapter 354 of the 1979 Session Laws, AN ACT TO REPEAL ACTS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY RELATING TO NEW HANOVER COUNTY which repealed almost 200 local acts dating back to 1777.

The North Carolina State Library recently received a grant to digitize and publish  text searchable versions of many original North Carolina documents. Among the first to be done will be Session Law (including private acts, public acts, etc) volumes from the 1700s forward to 2000.  I will post as this project moves forward (I do not know any timeline yet)

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