Death of Royal Governor William Tryon, the Palace’s Namesake

On January 27, 1788, William Tryon, royal governor of both North Carolina and New York, died.  Born in England, Tryon was not formally educated, but was boosted by family connections.  A professional soldier, he was first commissioned as a lieutenant in 1751 and rose through the ranks thereafter.

Tryon was appointed lieutenant governor of North Carolina in 1764 and moved to the colony with his family that year. He assumed the duties of governor in 1765 upon Arthur Dobbs’ death. Tryon erroneously believed that the colonists would not object to a tax levied to erect a capitol and governor’s residence.  The assembly appropriated funds and authorized Tryon to oversee the project, which quickly exceeded the budget.

Some North Carolinians felt that injustices in the colony, including the tax for “Tryon’s Palace,” corrupt officials and lack of representation for the backcountry, needed change.  They formed a resistance group known as the Regulators.  After several defiant incidents, a special session of the assembly was called, which caused only further agitation.  Tryon led militia into the backcountry in 1768 and 1771, defeating the Regulators in the 1771 Battle of Alamance.  While on the expedition, Tryon was notified of his transfer to the governorship of New York.

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