Was your ancestor involved in or affected by any of these things?
- Jury duty?
- Civil dispute or criminal proceeding? (Say, as a witness or a party?)
- A permit for a road, ferry, mill or tavern?
- An exemption from legal requirements? (Say, paying taxes or serving in the militia?)
- Administrator or executor of an estate? Purchased items at an estate sale?
- An orphan? Or, party to a bastardy case?
- Poor or disabled?
- Petition to the government?
- A government job or office?
If so, a court would likely have heard the question and issued a ruling. Courts handled many matters and made records which are generally well-preserved.
In the colonial era, courts were involved more in administrative matters than in being solely arbiters of the law. They appointed County officers, granted permits (e.g., for ferries & mills), set taxes, regulated commerce and, basically, saw to the day-to-day administration of local government.
North Carolina Court System
Supreme Court & Appellate Court
North Carolina's Supreme Court originated in the the state constitution of 1776. The Court of Appeals was formed in 1799. Then, as now, these courts tended to hear appeals form the decisions of the lower district & circuit courts.
District Court/Superior Court
Do not make the too-common mistake that, because a record exists in the New Bern Court, your ancestor resided in New Bern or even in Craven County.
Long after formation of the counties carved out of Craven's territory, New Bern's District Court continued to be the major judicial institution in the region. The New Bern Judicial District served Craven, Beaufort, Pitt, Johnston, Jones, Greene/Glascow, & Lenoir counties.
In less-populated areas, the courts traveled to the people on a periodic basis. Legal matters would wait until the judge, clerk and attorneys came to town.
Some very dedicated people have abstracted and published the records (some online) of court proceedings in the area. We've extracted the Taylors from them, but don't neglect to visit & view our sources.
Here are links to the Taylor extracts:
- Carteret Court minutes from book by Rebecca W. Sanders
- Criminal Court records from posting by Christine Fuller
- Dobbs Court records from 27 postings by Sue Guptill
- Settlements with North Carolina by Russell King