Charles Eden was one of the first governors of North Carolina. Born in England in 1673 to an aristocratic family Eden, he would be appointed to governor in 1714. He would marry a young lady named Penelope who was the widow of a previous marriage. It appears that Mr. Eden’s wife’s connections might have given him the Governorship. She had at least two offspring, a daughter named Penelope and a son John. She died about six years before Eden passed away. Together they had what is thought to be an elegant house located on the banks of Bertie County. The plot of land today is still referred to as “Eden House”. His titles upon first arriving in the colony were, “Charles Eden Esquire, Governor, Captain General, and Admiral. While Eden was first in office, the colonists of North Carolina saw their first taxes, a poll and land tax. Eden would also bring with him the Church of England. Overseeing the Church was quite hard as there were few qualified priests in the colony but they managed. Dealing with the Church and taxing the Carolinians, it would seem Eden had his hands full but he also had dealings with the Native Americans. During Eden’s terms in office he saw that sixty-one laws were passed. One of the most progressive acts that Eden achieved in office was sending troops to the colony of South Carolina during an Indian uprising. Eden took control of the colony right after the French and Indian War. The Chief of the Tuscarora in the area was on friendly terms dealing with Eden. After their meeting, it was determined that the Tuscarora Indians relocate to a tract of land in Bertie County known as “Indian Woods.”
Governor Eden owes the majority of his historical fame to the pirates with whom he dealt. In 1717 King George I of England plagued with troubles caused by pirates, issued a proclamation that stated that if pirates would turn themselves in and pledge an oath to never turn back to their plundering ways, then they would be pardoned. Upon issuing this, one of the most notorious pirates in history turned himself in to Governor Eden. That pirate was Blackbeard or Edward Teach. Many tales have come forth over the infamous pirate turning himself into Eden, who pardoned Blackbeard. One such tale suggests that he gave two plundered treasures to Eden that was shipped to Eden through tunnels. Tunnels may seem outlandish on the banks of the Chowan River, but many early historians suggest that many early houses had tunnels in order for the colonists to escape Indian raids. Eden, because of the treasure rumors, receives criticism from some of the other colonists because Blackbeard soon would turn to his old ways. One such colonist, Edward Mosely, was outspoken, suggesting that Eden had pardoned Blackbeard in his own interests. Mosely also criticized the fact that Eden seemed to do nothing to catch Blackbeard once he started raiding ships again. Eden had the man arrested and prevented him for running for any public office for three years.
Governor Eden passed away March the 26th 1722. His head stone was inscripted with the words, “Here lyes ye body of Charles Eden, Esq., who governed the Province eight years to the great satisfaction of the Lord Proprietors and ye ease and happiness of ye people. He brought the county into a flourishing condition and died much lamented.” He was buried on the Bertie County side of the Chowan River Bridge. His remains have since been placed in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Edenton. His legacy lives with his governing of the Colony of Carolina. Eden gave his name to what is now known as Edenton.
Carolina Governors. (2007). Charles Eden: Governor of North Carolina Province 1714 to 1722. Retrieved April 13, 2013 from: Link
Haywood, Marshal D. (13th October 2011). Governor Charles Eden. Retrieved April 13, 2013 from: Link