Another town named Dudley originally existed several miles north from its current location. It was founded by Labon Lewis, the son of a Revolutionary soldier, named for his deceased brother Dudley Lewis. On January 13, 1840, a post office was established for this town. This office's name was later changed to Everettsville, which was moved to a new location in 1849 and was closed in 1866.
The second and present town bearing the name was set up around 1836-1840 as a camp for the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad. This time, however, it was named for Governor Edward B. Dudley, the railroad's founder. In the years in which the village grew, it gained a depot and a passenger station. Its post office was established on February 3, 1850.
Dudley was incorporated in 1897, with J. W. Hatch elected as the town's first mayor. The town's government lasted for many years until eventually no more officials were elected and the incorporation ended.
The Georgia Pacific Corporation opened a facility in Dudley in 1973 and now employs over 625 people.