Clarendon County, South Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

Significance of County Name

Population (2020)

1785-1800 (Abolished)
1855 (Re-established)


Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon
(Original Lords Proprietor)


Legislative Act Creating County

First Settled / By

County Evolution by Decade

Official County Website

1785 / 1855

1750 / French Huguenots

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Historical Post Offices

American Revolution

American Civil War

Significant Education Events

Alphabetical / Date Started

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Coming Later

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Airports in Clarendon County

Maps of Clarendon County

Books About Clarendon County

Genealogy Sources

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A History of Clarendon County

Swamp Fox at Ox Swamp Mural

Click Here to learn more about the annual Francis Marion Symposium hosted by Carole & George Summers of Manning, SC. Amazing folks.

Clarendon County has a name of historical significance as it is named after Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. He was friend and supporter of King Charles II of England, and was at one time Lord High Chancellor of England and also one of the original eight (8) Lord Proprietors of the colony of Carolina.

In 1664, the Lords Proprietors created the first three counties of Carolina - Albemarle, Clarendon, and Craven. The original Clarendon County was along the Cape Fear River area in what is now North Carolina, but it only lasted about three years. The population was not happy with their conditions, and in August of 1667 a strong hurricane destroyed their homes and convinced the unhappy citizens to abandon this settlement.

In 1785, the County Court Act was passed which divided the overarching Camden District into seven new counties, one of which was Clarendon. This, the second incarnation of Clarendon County, was defined as "beginning on the Wateree at Person's Island, thence by the widow Grymes' plantation strait to Lynch's Creek, then along Santee River to the beginning."

In 1790, Clarendon County elected two members to the House of Representatives and shared one Senator with Claremont County. In 1792, Salem County was created from eastern Clarendon and Claremont counties. In 1800, these three counties (Clarendon, Claremont, and Salem) were combined to form Sumter District (county). From 1800 to 1855, Clarendon County ceased to exist once again.

During it's second incarnation (1785-1800), the county seat of Clarendon County was Jamesville.

Another legislative Act passed on December 19, 1855 re-established the Clarendon District (county) with the same boundaries defined in the County Coourt Act of 1785. This was the second incarnation of Clarendon County within South Carolina, and the third incarnation overall.

Just after the re-establishment of Clarendon County in 1855, Captain Joseph C. Burgess was selected to determine the geographical center of the county so that a court house village could be built. The center fell on the east side of Ox Swamp, about a mile east of the present court house. However, enough suitable land was not available at that spot, so the commissioners, who had been charged with the responsibility of locating the county seat, decided on the site where the present court house stands. Captain Burgess deeded to the state six acres, which provided sites for the court house and jail, in addition to streets 75 feet wide on four sides.

The Sumter Watchman of April 21, 1858, reported that court was held in Clarendon County court house for the first time on April 19, 1858, with a large number of lawyers in attendance. Then the state Constitution of 1868 renamed all districts as counties.

The town of Manning, which is the county seat, received its official charter on January 28, 1861, by an Act of the legislature, and was rechartered by the Secretary of State on March 15, 1904. Earlier, a Post Office was established in Manning on June 26, 1856.

In 1898, there were eighteen townships listed which included: Douglas, Sandy Grove, New Zion, Midway, Plowden Mill, Harmony, Sammy Swamp, Manning, Mt. Zion, Brewington, Calvary, Fulton, Concord, Friendship, St. Paul, St. James, Santee, and St. Mark.

Many of the first settlers of Clarendon County were Huguenots, meaning they were French Protestants who fled their country between 1685 and November of 1687, in order to avoid persecution in France because of their religious beliefs. In general, they were some of France's finest people, whose only crime was their religious convictions. Many of these early Huguenot settlers of the colony of Carolina had land given to them by King Charles II along lowcountry rivers and streams. They took their religion seriously, for in fact that is why they came in the first place. They left not only their native country but also their property and professions for the opportunity offered to live in peace and to worship according to their beliefs. Many had to leave under cover of darkness to avoid bodily harm, even death, because government soldiers were to be quartered in their homes to watch them.

Some of the most prominent names in Clarendon County today such as Cantey, DuBose, Gaillard, Des Champs, Richbourg, Lesesne, McFaddin, Guerry, Millette, Sprott, and Mouzon have their origins with the early settlers who came up the Santee River from coastal area in the 1700s with land grants. Counted among the most distinguished native sons of Clarendon County are five of the six men from the Richardson and Manning families who served as governors of the state of South Carolina. James Burchell Richardson served from 1802 to 1804; Richard Irvine Manning served from 1824 to 1826; John Peter Richardson, II served from 1840 to 1842; John Laurence Manning (for whom the town of Manning was named) from 1852 to 1854; and John Peter Richardson, III, from 1886 to 1890.

John Lawson, an English trader and explorer wrote of the Santee Indians of this area in 1701. In his writings he spoke of the friendliness and hospitality of the Santees. Examples of their ways of life and customs can still be found in and around their burial and ceremonial mounds. One of these is located at Fort Watson near the Santee riverbed. In 1711, the Santee Indians joined the settlers to fight the Tuscarora Indians of North Carolina, but in 1715 the Santees joined the Yamassee Indians in a war to destroy the South Carolina settlers, and they almost succeeded. The few Indians left at the end of that war moved up the river to join the Catawba Indians, leaving no Santee Indians in Clarendon County.

Five Revolutionary War battles or engagements took place in Clarendon County prior to the existence of the county seat of Manning and are made recognizable by historical roadside markers. The town of Manning came into existence seventy-five years after the Revolution. This area was bounded on three sides by swamps and the rest was pine forests with underbrush. It was Brigadier General Francis Marion's strategy to surprise and strike the British forces and then disappear into the swamps. British Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis sent one of his top officers to try to catch Francis Marion and they chased him to the edge of our Ox Swamp and then turned back in disgust, with the comment that "the devil himself could not catch that damned fox." From then until now, General Marion is known in history as the "Swamp Fox."

Clarendon County, named for Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, one of the Lord Properietors of Carolina, was identified since 1732. It has produced five governors of the state. It figured heavily in the Revolutionary War campaign of "The Swamp Fox," Brigadier General Francis Marion, and is where he earned his nickname as the "Swamp Fox." Many of the first settlers were French Huguenots, and many early settlers were farmers. The county seat is Manning, named for John Laurence Manning, Governor of South Carolina from 1852-1854, and is the geographical center of the county

Among the famous women who have called Clarendon County home are Anne Curtis Burgess who composed the music to the state song "Carolina," written by Henry Timrod; Althea Gibson, the first black woman to play tennis at Wimbledon; Peggy Parish who wrote the "Amelia Bedelia" series of children's books; Marion McKnight, Miss America 1957; Ann Worsham Richardson, and other famous artists. Civil rights leaders Harry Briggs and Joseph A DeLaine were born in Clarendon County. In the spring of 2000, "The Richardson Waltz" became the official South Carolina waltz. It was handed down from one family member to another in the family of Brigadier General Richard Richardson for more than 200 years in Clarendon County.

Clarendon County of which Manning is the county seat, has an area of 391,040 acres, or 704 square miles, is situated in the east-central part of South Carolina in the Coastal Plain region, and is bounded by Sumter, Florence, and Williamsburg counties, and the Santee River.

The county was named in honor of Edward, Earl of Clarendon, once Lord High Chancellor of England, one of the Lords Proprietors. Clarendon county was re-organized in 1855 with its own county seat, and was divided into nineteen districts.

The county seat was named in honor of Richard I. Manning, governor, 1824 - 1826 [wrong - see above]. Buildings went up rapidly, and stores, churches, and schools were established. A body of General Sherman's troops under command of General Potter raided Clarendon County early in 1865. The county recovered slowly from the Civil War, but today finds it prosperous, with a spirit of cooperation manifested everywhere.

Manning is on the Atlantic Coast Line railroad, about sixty miles from Columbia and eighty miles from Charleston, and in 1920 had a population of 2,022. The town is about 150 feet above sea level, and natural drainage gives it an enviable health record. The water supply is obtained from artesian wells, a six-inch overflow supplying the waterworks. Streets are broad, paved with asphalt, bordered with huge oaks, lighted with a "white way" system and arc lights. The court house plaza, on which are the court house built twenty years ago and the Confederate monument unveiled in 1914, is in the center of the town.

Five governors have been elected from Clarendon County: James Burchell Richardson, 1802; Richard Irvine Manning, 1824; John Peter Richardson, 1840; John Laurence Manning, 1852; and John Peter Richardson, Jr., 1886. The Richardsons were father, son, and grandson; the Manning's were father and son, and were nephew and grandnephew of the first Governor Richardson. Another Richard Irvine Manning, III, grandson of the first, was elected governor from Sumter County in 1914 and again in 1916.

Other incorporated towns are Summerton, 957; Pinewood, 338; Paxville, 185 ; Foreston, 115. The population of the county in 1920 was 34,878.

Five banks are operated in the county, three of them in Manning. The county has five public high schools and in Manning is a private college preparatory school. Churches of all denominations are represented and there is a well-supplied public library. The Manning Hotel has been adjudged by the state inspector among the best. The county has 79 miles of railroad.

Farm lands have a light sandy soil, fertile and productive of corn, cotton, tobacco, and diversified crops. Hog raising and dairying are important industries.

Three canneries are operated in Clarendon, one in Manning having a daily capacity of 40,000 cans and employing 300 hands. There are two tobacco warehouses, several lumber and planing mills supplied from the county's forests, a fertilizer factory, cotton gins, and a factory for manufacturing oil stoves. A poultry show is held annually. A printing plant is shipping its output to other states. Plans are being arranged to establish a feed manufacturing plant. An ice factory serves Manning and vicinity.

Clarendon County has a mild, pleasant climate with an average growing season of 225 days.

The county, with its beautiful and enterprising county seat, will appeal to prospective settlers as a good place in which to live and do business.

Immediately above, published in "South Carolina: A Handbook," prepared by The Department of Agriculture, Commerce, and Industries and Clemson College, Columbia, South Carolina, 1927. In the Public Domain. [with minor edits]


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