The land known today as Granville County was once the home of many Indian tribes, dominated mainly by the Tuscarora. After the Tuscarora War of 1711, settlers mostly from Virginia began to populate this area, attracted by the abundant game, well-watered wood and rich land.

By 1746, the area had a population sufficiently large enough to merit becoming an independent county, separating itself from Edgecombe County’s western frontier. Since most of the land in the northern half of North Carolina was part of the proprietary domain of Lord John Carteret (by title known as the Earl of Granville) the county was named Granville in his honor. Over the years, Granville yielded areas to new counties as settlements grew: Orange (1752), Bute (1764, which in turn became Franklin and Warren in 1779), and Vance (1881).