North Carolina Maritime History Council

2017 Annual Conference Speakers


Lindley S. Butler, Ph.D.

Lindley S. Butler, a senior North Carolina historian, resides in Wentworth. He received his Ph. D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1971. He is Professor Emeritus and was Historian-in-Residence at Rockingham Community College. Now a historical consultant, he researches and writes North Carolina history. He was a volunteer diver and served as Historian of the Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project from 1997–2013.

Among Dr. Butler’s significant contributions to the history of the state are numerous publications, television commentaries and consultations, and service to several historical organizations. He is author or editor of twelve books, including Pirates, Privateers, and Rebel Raiders of the Carolina Coast and a widely-used college supplement, The North Carolina Experience; as well as scores of monographs, articles, and reviews. He is currently engaged in writing a comprehensive history of Proprietary North Carolina, 1629–1729.

The past president of the Historical Society of North Carolina and the Friends of Archives and former chair of the North Carolina Maritime History Council, he also served on the advisory editorial committee of The North Carolina Historical Review. He was Director of Wright Tavern Restoration in Wentworth and is a founder and former board member of the Museum & Archives of Rockingham County (MARC). For “significant contributions to North Carolina history” he received the Christopher Crittenden Award in 2005.

Proprietary North Carolina: What’s Old and What’s New?

Dr. Butler is currently engaged in writing the first comprehensive scholarly history of Proprietary North Carolina, the least known and understood period in the state’s history. In his study the reader will encounter a North Carolina that was neither so poor nor so isolated as previously portrayed. The proprietors set a progressive agenda, attracting immigrants by protecting the rights of Englishmen, establishing elected representative government, and guaranteeing complete religious liberty.

Proprietary “benign neglect” fostered a self-made society and economy and a self-governing polity that had achieved stability by the 1690s. From its beginnings in the Albemarle, in the eighteenth century the colony expanded southward to the Cape Fear. Despite the challenges of the Cary Rebellion, the Tuscarora War, and a pirate invasion, port towns were founded and the economy burgeoned with the export of naval stores and other forest products. By the end of the era in 1729, North Carolina was poised to become the fourth largest American colony by 1775.