Printer-friendly page

Culpeper's Rebellion

by Matt Stokes
Research Branch, NC Office of Archives & History

Related student activity guide from UNC-CH: Conflicts in North Carolina colonial history: Culpeper's RebellionA print portrait of Ashley-Cooper. It is grey and black on a beige page. He has a curly long hair and is wearing a fancy collar and metal armor. There is cherub with a shovel in the foreground.Culpeper’s Rebellion took place in 1677-1678 in Albemarle County (what is now Pasquotank County). The rebellion was in response a variety of complaints about the government, but arose primarily as a reaction to the Navigation Acts imposed on the colonies by England. At the time, North Carolina was ruled by eight Lords Proprietors. The government in North Carolina consisted of the following: the Governor; the Council, half of which was appointed by the Lords Proprietors; and an Assembly elected by popular vote. The Council was powerful while the Assembly was weak.

The people were unhappy with the government. The Proprietors, who paid little heed to the increasing discontent, kept appointing deputies, and the people saw this as a way for the Proprietors to continue to limit the people’s privileges. With the passage in England of the Navigation Acts, resentment for the Proprietors grew. The Navigation Acts regulated the shipping of goods, and many of the acts passed imposed duties or taxes on items shipped between colonies.

In 1672, Governor Peter Carteret traveled to England to try and convince the Proprietors that they should not enforce the new laws. His attempt failed. Tensions ran high between two factions that existed in Albemarle. The three opposition leaders were John Culpeper, John Jenkins, and George Durant. Thomas Miller, one of the supporters of the Proprietors, was appointed secretary and collector of the duties. He later became acting governor. He abused his power by tampering with local elections and imposing heavy fines on colonists.

Finally, the opposition had had enough. Durant, Culpeper, and some armed supporters captured and imprisoned Miller. They arrested other officials and eventually seized the reins of government. For two years, the colonists enjoyed peace and the government ran more smoothly. The Proprietors summoned Culpeper to England, where he was arrested and charged with treason. He was put on trial, but he was found not guilty, marking the end of the rebellion.

Educator Resources:

Grades 9-12: Life in Colonial North Carolina (Primary Source Sets):

References and additional resources:

Rankin, Hugh F. 1970. Upheaval in Albemarle; the story of Culpeper's Rebellion, 1675-1689. Raleigh, N.C., Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission.

Mattie Erma E. Parker, “Legal Aspects of Culpeper’s Rebellion,” North Carolina Historical Review (April 1968): 111-127

Powell, William Stevens, and Jay Mazzocchi. 2006. Encyclopedia of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Elizabeth City & Pasquotank County website page on Culpeper’s Rebellion:

William S. Smith, Jr., “Culpeper’s Rebellion: New Data and Old Problems” (M.A. thesis, North Carolina State University, 1990), available at: #

Image Credit

Houbraken, Jacobus. [Cooper, Anthony Ashley]. Accession no. H.1988.149.1. From the North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC.

Origin - location: 



I wish there was more information here


hi hello how you doing


the conley were way better with less leaders because their was less complications.


this was a good story




Hey Ncpedia!Thank You So Much For The Info!It Helps Alot With My SchoolWork And its Super easy now! Sincerly Jencynn Russell❤


Hi, Jencynn. It's great to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words, and best of luck with your future school work. I hope we can continue to be helpful.

Mike Millner, NC Government & Heritage Library


Doing a paper I have procrastinated over during the summer session at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. It is on Bacon's Rebellion. It seems that Nathaniel the Rebel was married to Culpeper's cousin Francis. Is this true? Please help me tease this out. My thesis has evolved beyond Berkeley's and Bacon's shared English aristocratic upbringing as the main foment of the rebellion. It now seems that the rebellion itself was a pot set to boil over, and that the Governor and the Bacon's similar backgrounds and imperious temperaments served to exacerbate an already strained situation. Did Bacon's Rebellion precipitate Culpeper's Rebellion as well as the Chowan River Rebellion?

As an aside, I lived near Culpepper Road in Warren County North Carolina for a decade. It is a narrow road with an horrific 'C' shaped curb, perfect for viewing a fancy mansion or picking off enemies. Warren County is on the famous Indian Trading Path, and in order to nail down the Native Americans' position in this complex battle, I need to authenticate HOW the rebellions could have spread so quickly along such a wide geography, and the Trading Path would explain that.

Thanks so much,
jd quinitchette


not enough info



Thanks for visiting NCpedia and I'm sorry this may not have been helpful for you.  Please let us know what additional information you're looking for and we'll try to help.

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library

Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at