New counties formed from New Hanover County were Onslow and Bladen Counties created in 1735, and Duplin in 1750. In 1764 Brunswick was separated from New Hanover. In 1875, Pender was broken off. Since that time New Hanover has kept its present boundaries. It is essentially an urban area.
In 1726, Maurice Moore founded the town of Brunswick. It became the county seat when New Hanover was created in 1729.
In April of 1733, James Wimble, John Watson, Joshua Grainger and Michael Higgins founded a new town on the other side of the river. It was called first, New Carthage, and then New Liverpool. It became known as New Town or Newton. In 1739, Newton was designated the location of court sessions for the southern judicial district of North Carolina.
In February 25, 1740 the North Carolina General Assembly incorporated Newton as the Town of Wilmington. Wilmington became the county seat. The town was named for Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington. He later became the prime minister of England.
The primary colonial economy of New Hanover County was agriculture and naval stores.
Much of the information for these notes has come from the following referenced book by Lawrence Lee. It is an excellent short history of New Hanover County for those who would like to know more.
Lee, Lawrence: New Hanover County...a brief history; North Carolina Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, N.C.; 1977.