Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives

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The Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives is the presiding officer of one of the houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. The Speaker is elected by the members of the house when they convene for their regular session in January of each odd-numbered year. Perhaps the most important duty of the Speaker is to appoint members and chairs of the various standing committees of the House.

The office evolved from the office of Speaker of the lower house of the legislature in the Province of Carolina, called the House of Burgesses. Since the House was the only elected body in the colony, the Speaker was often seen as the leading voice of the people. In 1776, North Carolina established its first constitution, which created a Senate and a House of Commons, both of which were elected. In 1868, the name of the house was changed to "House of Representatives."

For most of the twentieth century, the office's power was limited, because Speakers usually only served for a single legislative session. This changed with Speakers Carl J. Stewart, Jr. (1977–1980), Liston B. Ramsey (1981–1988) and James B. Black (1999–2006).

Democrats held the speaker's chair continuously from 1899 until 1994, when Republicans gained a majority and elected Harold J. Brubaker in January 1995.

In the 2003–2004 session, a unique power-sharing arrangement was created by Democrats and a handful of Republicans. This resulted in the first election of two speakers simultaneously, Jim Black (Democrat) and Richard T. Morgan (Republican). The two held roughly equal power and took turns presiding over the House. After Democrats won a majority in the 2004 election, this arrangement was ended, but Morgan again supported Black and was named Speaker Pro Tempore.

List of Speakers[edit]

Speakers of the House of Burgesses[edit]

Note that some sources refer to the lower House as the House of Commons before the Revolution as well as afterward.

  • George Catchmaid 1666
  • Valentine Bird 1672–73
  • Thomas Eastchurch 1675
  • Thomas Cullen 1677
  • George Durant 1679
  • John Nixon 1689
  • John Porter 1697–98
  • William Wilkison 1703
  • Thomas Boyd 1707
  • Edward Moseley 1708
  • Richard Sanderson 1709
  • William Swann 1711
  • Thomas Snoden 1711–12
  • Edward Moseley 1715–23
  • Maurice Moore 1725
  • John Baptista Ashe 1726
  • Thomas Swann 1729
  • Edward Moseley 1731–34
  • William Downing 1735–39
  • John Hodgson 1739–41
  • Samuel Swann 1742–54
  • John Campbell 1754 – c. 1760
  • Samuel Swann c. 1760–62
  • John Ashe 1762–65
  • John Harvey 1766–69
  • Richard Caswell 1770–71
  • John Harvey 1773–75

Speakers of the House of Commons[edit]

Abner Nash, 1st Speaker of the House of Commons, 1777
Speaker Richar Dobbs Spaight, 1785

The following members were elected speakers of the House of Commons[1][2][3][4]:

Speakers of the House of Representatives[edit]

The following members were elected speaker of the House of Representatives[2][1][6]:


  1. Holden resigned in the middle of the 1869–1870 session and Moore was elected to succeed him, according to the North Carolina Manual of 1913.
  2. Webster was elected by the coalition of Independents and Republicans in the House, according to the New York Times and J. G. de R. Hamilton.
  3. Connor resigned after the January 8 – March 12, 1913 session. Walter Murphy served as speaker during the "extra" session that began September 24, 1913, according to the North Carolina Manual of 1913.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Connor, R.D.D. (1913). A Manual of North Carolina (PDF). Raleigh: North Carolina Historical Commission. p. 453-. Retrieved April 27, 2019., Alternate link
  2. ^ a b Wheeler, John H. (1874). "The Legislative Manual and Political Register of the State of North Carolina". Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  3. ^ "Session Laws: North Carolina". HeinOnline. New York: William S. Hein & Co., Inc. Retrieved March 22, 2019. (subscription required)
  4. ^ Lewis, J.D. "NC Revolution State House 1780". The American Revolution in North Carolina. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  5. ^ Robins "served several months" (see http://www.co.randolph.nc.us/hlpc/downloads/OutspokenCritic.pdf and http://www.co.randolph.nc.us/hlpc/minutes/hlpc_minutes_110928.pdf) as Speaker at some point in 1862 or 1863, but exactly when is unclear. The North Carolina Manual of 1913 does not list him as Speaker, however.
  6. ^ "North Carolina General Assembly". Ballotpedia.org. Retrieved March 22, 2019.