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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Burwell School

by Robert E. Ireland, 2006; Revised December 2021.

See also: North Carolina Women's Colleges; Queens University of Charlotte; Peace College

Burwell School with reenactors gathered for a family photo on the porch. Image courtesy of Burwell School Historic Site. Burwell School in Hillsborough was established in 1837 by the Reverend Robert Amistead Burwell and his wife, Margaret Anna Burwell. The Burwells opened the Presbyterian school for young females shortly after arriving from Petersburg, Va. The school enrolled 40 girls aged 8 to 18 in its first year, at a tuition rate of $17.50 per term. By 1848, when the building that housed the school was enlarged a second time, the school's catalog boasted 107 pupils from as far away as New York. In 1857, however, the Burwells moved to Charlotte to become directors of the Charlotte Female Institute. This later became named Queens College, and Queen's College adopted the name Queens University of Charlotte in 2002. In 1871, after the death of Margaret Burwell, Robert and his son John Bott Burwell presided over Peace Institute. Peace Institute was later named Peace College, and Peace College adopted the name William Peace University in 2011. The original Burwell School in Hillsborough was purchased by the Historic Hillsborough Commission in 1965 and became a public museum.


Hugh T. Lefler and Paul Wager, eds., Orange County, 1752-1952 (1953).

M. C. S. Noble, A History of the Public Schools of North Carolina (1930).

Additional Resources:

Burwell School Historic Site:

Visit Hillsborough NC:

Armistead Burwell Papers, DocSouth, UNC:,Armistead.html

Image Credit:

Burwell School with reenactors gathered for a family photo on the porch.  Image courtesy of Burwell School Historic Site.

Origin - location: