Albemarle and Clarendon counties were formed in 1664 as original counties. Albemarle consisted of "all that parte of the province [of Carolina] which lyeth on the north east side or starboard side entering of the river Chowan now named by us Albemarle river together with the Islands and Isletts within tenn leagues thereof." By 1668, Albemarle County was divided into Shaftesbury, Currituck, Pasquotank, and Berkeley (later Perquimans) precincts for the purposes of local administration.
Shaftsbury Precinct of Albemarle County was renamed Chowan Precinct about 1685. The original territory of the precinct included all inhabitable lands west of Perquimans Precinct just to the east of the Chowan River and bounded to the north by the Virginia line and to the south by Albemarle Sound and the lower portion of the Morattuck (Roanoke) River. In theory, Chowan Precinct covered a swath of land extending from the Chowan River to the west indefinitely since it was common at the time to not designate western boundaries.
In 1689 Albemarle County, as a unit of government ceased to exist, although the name continued intermittently in use for at least another ten years. Precincts became the principal unit of local government, later known as counties.
Settlers continued to push westward across the Chowan River to the banks of the Roanoke and both sides of Fishing Creek. Settlements extended so far that by 1722 it became necessary to establish a new governmental precinct. The new precinct was carved from Chowan Precinct and named Bertie. It contained all the territory west of the Chowan River, the lands to the east remaining in Chowan Precinct
Gates, Perquimans, Washington, Bertie and Hertford counties.
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