Salisbury District, North Carolina
The Salisbury District of North Carolina, was originally one of several colonial judicial districts established in 1766. Immediately preceding the onset of the American War of Independence, these six regions, in 1775, were broadened into "de facto" militia districts.
In 1766, the North Carolina colonial legislature, at the direction of North Carolina colonial governor, William Tryon, divided the state into six judicial districts. These were: Edenton, New Bern, Wilmington, Halifax, Salisbury, and Hillsborough. Since Tryon County boundaries originally stretched into territory which was later found to belong to South Carolina (due to surveying errors), the Salisbury District was, for a time, the legal center of modern-day northwestern South Carolina as well.
After the Third Provincial Congress held at Hillsborough, North Carolina (Aug. 20-Sept. 10, 1775), the districts became militarized, each supplying a regiment of militia volunteers under the command of a brigadier general. At that time, two additional districts were added, further dividing the western part of the state. Also, district representatives were chosen and sent to the North Carolina Provincial Congress. These representatives were instrumental in the passage of the Halifax Resolves, in April 1776, during the Fourth Provincial Congress, which is now often referred to as the "Halifax Congress."
Edmund Fanning was made the first official associate justice for the District of Salisbury in March 1766. The third colonial court, which regularly assembled at Salisbury, was the court of oyer, terminer and general jail delivery. This court had jurisdiction over criminal cases. The Salisbury District court met in June and December of each year.
James Smith had served as the justice presiding over the "Court of Pleas and Quarter Session for Rowan County," under King George III, from 1770 thru 1775. From 1775, he "took a prominent and active part in every movement tending to throw off the yoke of tyranny..." On April 22, 1776, he was appointed a major in the militia of the Salisbury District, of which Francis Locke, Sr. was colonel, and Griffith Rutherford was brigadier-general.
Later in 1776, under orders from General Rutherford, Colonel William Graham, and Captain Joseph Hardin of the North Carolina Light Horse Rangers led a successful expedition into the neighboring Washington District against the British allied Cherokee, helping re-establish peace on the Salisbury District's western frontier.
The Salisbury District originally included Anson, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Surry, and Tryon counties. A later addition was the Washington District (also known as the original Washington County, North Carolina) which covered most of the present day State of Tennessee. Eventually, as new settlements were carved out of the wilderness, the Salisbury District encompassed the counties of Lincoln, Montgomery, Richmond, Rutherford, Wilkes (all in present-day North Carolina), and Sullivan (in present-day Tennessee) as well.
- "History of Rowan County". Retrieved 2011-06-25.
- "The American Revolution in North Carolina". Retrieved 2011-06-26.
- "...all that part of this State comprehended with the lines aforesaid shall be henceforth be and remain Washington County and is declared to be part of Salisbury District."—North Carolina State Records, Vol. 24; p. 141; NC Laws -1777; Chapter 31; Whitney; p. 681
- North Carolina Revolutionary pay vouchers