It was named for Spencer Compton, first earl of Wilmington (1673-1743), a leading British politician who was a long-serving speaker of the House of Commons (1715-1727) before his elevation to the peerage and later the second British prime minister (1742-1743).
North Carolina’s colonial governor, Gabriel Johnston, chose the name because the earl of Wilmington was his political patron. The colonial Assembly made it official when it chartered Wilmington in February 1740. Before then, the settlement had been known as New Liverpool and later as Newton. (One early developer, James Wimble, marked it as “Wimbledon Castle” on a map he drew up. It didn’t catch on.)
Date posted: March 4, 2009