Charleston County, South Carolina History


Colony of Carolina: the Beginning

A fleet of three ships set sail from England in August 1669, designation_the New World, to a place described as the Colony of Carolina. After a couple of stops and a few hardships along the way only one out of the three lowered its anchor off the Carolina coastline.

The 'Carolina' landed at Bull's Run on March 15, 1670. The first settlers established their town at Albemarle Point, which was located on the west bank of the Ashley River. They chose to name the settlement Charles Towne, in honor of King George, II [sic] of England.

In 1679, the Lord Proprietors had decreed that Oyster Point, a peninsula defined by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers was a better site for the settlement than Albemarle Point. Built on the Cooper side of the peninsula, Charles Towne was laid out in a regular grid pattern. Since the site was exposed to attacks from the sea, a wall was placed around the settlement complete with moat and drawbridges. In 1718 the walls were torn down and the grid pattern continued across the peninsula. However, fortification remained on the Cooper River side of town and on the neck between the two rivers. Charles Towne (which in 1783 was changed to 'Charleston'), was on its way to becoming one of the most important landmarks in American history and to becoming the oldest English city south of Virginia.

Parishes of Charleston County...

Parishes were established to help govern the surrounding areas. South Carolina was given nine of the eleven names of parishes that was established in Barbados. The Church Act of 1706 created 10 parishes in South Carolina and by 1775 there were 21 parishes. Charleston (District) County claimed 12 of 20 (some of which was later split off)_ St. Philip/St. Michael, St. Andrew, St. James Santee, St. John Colleton, Christ Church, St. Paul, St. John Berkeley, St. Stephen, St. James Goose Creek, St. Thomas/St.Denis, St. Bartholomew and St. David. The Election Act of 1716, made the parishes, instead of the counties, the election districts of of the colony. By doing this, they made the Commons House more representatives and made it easier for the voters to participate (prior to this act, all elections were held in Charleston).

In 1769, by an act of the General Assembly, the Province was divided into seven Judicial districts. Beaufort, Charleston, Camden, Cheraws, Georgetown, Orangeburg and Ninety Six districts were laid out. The Parishes ceased to being the dividers of sections in the mid 1800's. Charleston District stayed the same from 1769 until portions were split off first in 1800 to form Colleton County and then again in 1882 to form Berkeley County.

Political and Social standings...

It was considered one of the top four political, social and economic leaders in Colonial America and remained so until after the Civil War. Charleston served as the State Capital from the first settlement in 1670 until 1790 when the seat was then moved to Columbia, SC...Charleston County produced some of the best lawyers, statesmen, governors and Revoluntionary War officers in Colonial History and times.

Charleston County was known for its wealth. From its planters, that first made their fortunes in producing and exporting rice, then indigio [sic] and finally cotton, to its merchants, that made Charleston one of the busiest ports along the Atlantic seaboard. However, there is one darkside of this wonderful paradise...slavery!
Charleston County was the main port of transporting and selling of slaves from Virginia to Alanta. But_before we pass judgement we have to get a better understanding of the times and of the thoughts.

Lifestyles and the Famous...

There was more than one millionaire living the elite life that Charleston County was definitely able to offer, even as early as the first part of the 1700's. By 1774, Charleston County was the wealthiest colony in the United States. It was known that even the modest planter, with slaves only ranging in the teens, producing cotton could easily make in the 20k-40k (equal to todays income) No other colony came close to matching the wealth of our SC ancestors.

Needless to say, with all the wealth, we today, can see examples of the by-products that it enabled them to produce through the beautiful homes and plantations that still grace Charleston County.

Charleston County was also home to families that produced offspring that grew to become some of the most important, famous men in our history. Four of those men were signers of the Declaration of Independence_Arthur Middleton, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Thomas Heyward, Jr. and Edward Rutledge. Thomas Lynch, Sr. was suppose to be the fifth delegate to sign but had a strokeon his way there to Philadelphia and was paralyzed. On the englossed copy of the Declaration, there was a space left among the South Carolina delegates for him to sign, but unfortunely he never recovered and died enroute back home to Charleston County.

Another set of very important political gentlemen from Charleston County were three of such that were signers of the United States Constitution_Charles Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and John Rutledge. There was also the famous 1800's architect_Robert Mills, two writers, DuBose Heyward and Archibald Rutledge and many more.

Washington's Visit...

In 1791 George Washington visited Charleston County during his tour of the Southern States. He stayed with Thomas Heyward, Jr. in his home located at 87 Church Street, Charleston and Charles Pinckney invited him to his Sneed Farm Estate in Mount Pleasant, SC for breakfast, which Washington gladly accepted both offers. George Washington wasn't the first in his family to visit Charleston. His cousin, William Washington, came for a earlier visit and decided to stay and call the area home.

Famous Forts...

Charleston County is known for two forts that played a major role in both of the wars on American soil...Fort Moultrie, located on Sullivans Island was a palmetto log fort that withstood and defeated the British attack in June 1766, during the Revoluntionary War. It is said that is how the Palmetto Tree got its proper place upon the South Carolina Flag and the official tree to represent the state. The second fort, Fort Sumter, where in April 1861 Federal Troops were fired upon by Confederate Forces, which is referred to as the first shots of the Civil War.
Read more about these Forts and their roles in both wars on the
Military Page of this site.



Old Parishes included...

Present day Charleston County includes the old parishes of St. Philip, St. Michael, Christ Church, St. Andrew,
St. John Colleton, and part of St. James Santee.

Cities, Towns and Places...

Present day Charleston County includes...
Adams Run, Awendaw, Bull Island, Cape Island, Cape Romain, Capers Island, Charleston(county seat), Dewees Island, Edisto Island, Folly Beach(Island), Goat Island, Hollywood, Isle of Palms, James Island, Johns Island, Kiawah Island, Ladson, Lincolnville, McCellanville, Meggett, Morris Island, Mount Pleasant, Murphy Island, North Charleston, Osborn, Parkers Ferry, Rantowles, Ravenel, Rockville, Seabrook Island, Sewee, Slann Island, Sullivan's Island, Wadmalaw Island, Whithall Terrace and Yonges Island

This page was last modified 11 Sept 2011 by Victoria Proctor.

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