Brunswick, established in 1745, was made a borough town in 1754, and when Brunswick County was established in 1764 it was made the county seat. In 1779 the county seat was authorized to be moved to the plantation of John Bell near Lockwood's Folly Bridge. In 1784 Walkersburg, named in honor of John Walker on whose land it was situated, was established. Provisions were made in the act for a courthouse and other public buildings to be established there. It was located near Deep Water Point. This act specified that the courts were to be held at the most convenient place until the courthouse was completed. It is doubtful that the act was put into effect because in 1808 an act was passed authorizing the removal of the courthouse from Lockwood's Folly to Smithville. Court was held at the courthouse from 1805-1858. The record does not indicate where the courthouse was. This town, established in 1792, was named in honor of Benjamin Smith, Governor of North Carolina, 1810-1811. In 1879 an effort to move the courthouse failed. In 1887 Smithville was changed to Southport. Southport served as the county seat until 1977 when the county seat was moved to Bolivia, following a referendum on the question.
Brunswick County was named in honor of the town of Brunswick, which was named for King George I, Duke of Brunswick and Lunenberg. Smithville, established in 1792, was named in honor of Benjamin Smith, Governor of North Carolina, 1810-1811.