The quaint and charming coastal town of Beaufort, NC, located on Beaufort Inlet, holds the title of the fourth oldest town in the state of North Carolina. It was settled as early as 1709 — even before the colonial capitol of New Bern was founded.
“Hungry Town” & “Fish Towne” were some of the early names for Beaufort, North Carolina. That was over 300 years ago. Many changes have taken place since that time in our history.
Though “traditionally” dated circa 1709, the township of Beaufort was laid out and named October 2, 1713. After obtaining permission from the Lords Proprietors, Robert Turner, then owner of the 780-acre land patent, hired deputy surveyor Richard Graves to lay out a 100-acre town, with 106 lots for sale.
The words “Hungry Town” and “Hongry Town” were inscribed on the 1713 plat of Beaufort, NC. This plat is the only documentation that the newly laid-out town may have been casually called “Hungry Town.” The words, “Plan of Hungry Town” were crossed out at the bottom of the plat and replaced with “Plan of Beaufort Towne.” The scribbles may have referred to the new town full of lots “hungry” for buyers, or to a few struggling settlers in the area.
Plan of Beaufort Towne (October 2, 1713)
1713 Map of Beaufort drafted by Richard Graves
Named in honor of Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort, the town was incorporated in 1723 and has been the seat of Carteret County ever since.
Street names reflect the early development of the town: Ann Street for Queen Anne; Craven Street for the Earl of Craven; Turner Street for Robert Turner, owner of the land that was surveyed for the town; Pollock Street for Gov. Thomas Pollock; and Orange Street for William, Prince of Orange, who became William III of England.
Beaufort, the seat of popular tourist destination Carteret County, has a year round population of approximately 4,000 with a high stream of visitor traffic during the warmer months.
The town is a community where history comes alive and its residents are so proud to be a part of its cultural heritage. Uncovering local history is a favorite pastime for new travelers and locals alike who dedicate time diving deeper into Beaufort’s extraordinary past.
When you are in downtown Beaufort, the opportunities are endless.
- Take a walking tour or even a tour on a historic double decker bus!
- Visit the glorious waterfront where you can eat, shop, and catch glimpses of the wild horses that roam Carrot Island.
- Pay a visit to one of the countless churches or historic sites.
- Stop to read one of the many historical markers that are dotted throughout the landscape.
- Discover all the fascinating stories that Beaufort has to share when you explore.
Photo courtesy of Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority
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Beaufort’s a town with history…
Images from North Carolina Postcard Collection (P052, P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill