Liberty County, South Carolina


Years in Existence

County Seat


1785 - 1798


N/A - Abolished in 1798

First Settled

First Settled By

Significance of County Name


Welsh Baptists

American Revolution

A History of Liberty County

The 1785 Act known as "the County Court Act" established new counties across the state of South Carolina, one being Liberty County, which was carved out of the continuing, overarching Georgetown District. Liberty County, as establihsed in 1785, was roughly equivalent to the succeeding Marion District/County of 1798, which at that time included all of present-day Marion and Dillon counties, as well as a good part of Florence County.

All of the newly-created counties within Georgetown District of 1785 became inactive quickly - they simply failed to take root with the local population because all of the previous records, deeds, and legal documents were still being maintained at the Georgetown District offices in Georgetown.

Apparently, the state never got around to erecting court houses or other public buildings in the newly-defined counties within Georgetown District between 1785 and 1798, thus adding to the failure of the new counties to take root with the local citizens.

In 1790, the first United States Census was conducted and the geopolitical breakdown for the enumerations included the existing seven "overarching Districts" as well as a mix of the newly-established counties of 1785 and some of the older-established parishes. There is no mention of Liberty County in the 1790 U.S. Census, all residents were listed under the long-established name of Prince George's, Winyah Parish.

In the 1800 U.S. Census, this location was identified as Liberty County, even though the name of Marion District/County had been established via legal Act in 1798. Apparently, the news had not made it to the officials preparing the 1800 census.

In the year of 1798, the locals struggled with the subject of what to name their county. Liberty was certainly considered, since the citizens certainly enjoyed their new-found freedom from the British Crown. It is currently unknown what other alternatives they considered during their deliberations for a new district/county name during 1798, but their final decision was probably a "no brainer."

In late 1798, the locals finally decided upon the new name - Marion District (county), named after Brigadier General Francis Marion, the legendary "Swamp Fox" that had frustrated the British Army all during the American Revolution.

Originally part of colonial Craven County, Marion County has also been part of Prince George's, Winyah Parish (1721), Prince Frederick's Parish (1734), St. Mark's Parish (1757), and St. David's Parish (1768), which served as early religious and civic jurisdictions. This area, which became part of newly-formed Georgetown District in 1769, was given its 1798 boundaries and named Liberty County in 1785. In 1798, it was renamed Marion District, and, in 1868, Marion County. In 1888, Florence County was carved out of Marion County, and in 1910, Dillon County was carved out, leaving Marion County with its present-day boundaries.
Researchers should be aware that there have been two Marion Counties in South Carolina:

Marion County (Georgetown District) was formed as Liberty County in 1785 but was not fully functional. It was revitalized as Marion District in 1798. Many deeds from the colonial period are recorded in the deed books of this county after 1798. This area was partly in the former parishes of Prince Frederick's and Prince George's., Winyah. An unusual series of tax lists 1808-1835 survives for this county.

Marion County (Charleston District) was one of the counties which also never functioned, also in the lowcountry. It was formed in 1785 in the overarching Charleston District, and corresponded roughly to St. John's, Berkeley Parish. Any records pertaining to this area will be in the Charleston County records.


© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved