Lord Charles Greville Montagu

Royal Governor of South Carolina Province 1766 to 1773



Lord Charles Greville Montagu was the penultimate Royal Governor of South Carolina. He arrived in Charles Town on June 17, 1766 and was received by the citizens with large demonstrations of loyalty since the hated Stamp Act had just been repealed. Although he was wildly popular at first, he was recalled in disgrace by the British government - it seems he had angered everyone on all sides.

The second son of Robert Montagu, Duke of Manchester, he was born on May 29, 1741; educated at Oxford, 1759; House of Commons, 1766-1773; married Elizabeth Balmer, on September 20, 1765. He was a knight of the shire of Huntington, and was at one time the governor of Jamaica.

On May 23, 1768, he traveled for his leisure to Philadelphia and Boston, and returned on October 30, 1768. Lt. Governor William Bull, Jr. took the reins of the government during his absence. Upon his return, he devoted his attention to the disturbed condition of the newly-settled backcountry, where, owing to the absence of regular courts of justice, the association of "Regulators" was formed by concerned citizens with the objective of summarily dealing with offending bureaucrats.

An effort was made to suppress the Regulators and ultimately the Circuit Court Act was passed, with new courts of justice established at Ninety-Six, Orangeburgh, Camden, Long Bluff, Georgetown, and Beaufort. Governor Montague pardoned 75 leaders of the Regulator's rebellion and worked to clearly locate the North and South Carolina border.

On July 29, 1769, Governor Montagu left for England to recover his poor health, and the government again devolved to Lt. Gov. William Bull, Jr. Lord Montagu returned to South Carolina on September 15, 1771 and immediately became embroiled in disputes with the Commons House of Assembly over the non-importation agreement, tax bills, quartering of troops, and other such issues that stirred the minds of an increasingly irritated population.

By the end of his tenure the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly had reached a state of direct confrontation with the British government. He was considered inept by many of the colonists.

He left for the final time on March 11, 1773, and sailed directly for England.

Lord Charles' loyalties do not appear to have been completely clear, and he obtained a commission in Jamaica where he would not serve against the Americans. He owned (and kept) 18,000 acres in South Carolina, and remained close friends with prominent South Carolina families (the Pinckneys, Manigaults, Moultries, and Elliots are mentioned).

Another source asserts that Lord Charles Greville Montagu joined the British Army in 1780 in America where he obtained leave to raise a regiment from "rebels" taken as prisoners.

The official British Parliament website (see below) asserts:

".... [he] wrote to Dartmouth, on 26 June 1780, complaining that a man of his brother’s rank, capable and willing to serve his country, should be totally refused and forced to seek refuge in another. The meaning of this concluding remark is obscure, for the story that Montagu ‘had declared himself attached to the American cause, and offered his services to Dr. Franklin in Paris, to take command of an army,’ seems hardly credible. By the end of the year a scheme of his to raise a corps from among American prisoners of war for service in Jamaica was accepted; by September of 1782 he was raising a second battalion for the Duke of Cumberland’s Provincial Regiment of Foot; and when the regiment was disbanded, he went with his men to Nova Scotia for the purpose of forming a colony. He arrived at Halifax about the middle of December 1783, and died there on 4 February of 1784."

The horse thieves, their associates, and other criminals, who were numerous, made a common cause in supporting themselves against the Regulators. Most of the inhabitants favored one or other of these parties. The one justified their proceedings on the score of necessity and substantial, though irregular justice; the other alleged the rights of British subjects to a legal trial by a court and jury. Though the former meant well, yet justice is of so delicate a nature that form as well as substance must be regarded. It is therefore probable, that in some cases, the proceedings of the Regulators may have so far partaken of the infirmities of human nature, as to furnish real grounds of complaint against them. Their adversaries made such high colored representations of their conduct, that the civil authority interposed.

Lord Charles Greville Montagu, governor of the province, adopted measures for their suppression. With this view he conferred a high commission on a man named Scovil, whose conduct, character and standing in society, had rendered him in the opinion of his neighbors, and especially of the Regulators, very unfit for the office. As if the country had been in rebellion, Scovil erected something which was intended to be a royal standard; and afterwards called upon the Regulators to answer for their transgressions of the law. In addition to many other acts of severity, he arrested two of their number and sent them under a guard to Charles Town, where they were imprisoned.  

In 1765, the Townships of Amelia and Orangeburgh were erected into St. Matthew's Parish by an Act of the General Assembly of the Province of South Carolina. Click Here to read the entire text of: "An Act for establishing a Parish in Berkeley County, by the name of St. Matthew, and for declaring the road therein mentioned to be a public road." Signed by Governor Lord Charles Greville Montagu.
June 9, 1768 - The Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia):

Thursday last his Excellency the Right Honourable Lord Charles Greville Montagu, Governor of South Carolina, and his Lady, came up to Town, from New Castle [Delaware], where they arrived the Day before, in his Majesty Sloop-of-War the Fowey, Captain Robinson, from Charles Town.

The four parishes of the Beaufort area began to vie with the Charles Town parishes for political influence. An attempt by the Royal Governor, Lord Charles Greville Montagu, to move the capitol to Port Royal (the Beaufort Assembly of 1772) was listed by Thomas Jefferson as one of the grievances in the Declaration of Independence. Opinion in Beaufort was sharply divided over Revolution. Thomas Heyward, Jr., of St. Luke's Parish, was the most prominent Patriot, while the powerful De Veaux family led the substantial Loyalist support for the king.
Colonel Thomas Fletchall was probably born in South Carolina, where he was the owner of a large plantation in the Ninety-Six District. He was already a justice of the peace and a coroner when, in the year 1769, he accepted the appointment of Colonel of a militia regiment of over 2,000 men, from Governor Lord Charles Greville Montagu.
The ineptitude of the chief executives reached a high point in 1772, when Governor Lord Charles Greville Montagu moved the government of South Carolina from Charles Town to Beaufort. His intention was to make it inconvenient for Charles Town Patriots to attend the autumn session of the Commons House of Assembly, leaving a legislature that could be more easily managed by the royal faction.

Since only five members failed to appear, the attempt was a complete failure and within the month the governor and the Commons House of Assembly were back in Charles Town. This fiasco ended with Montagu’s return to England.

Lord Charles Greville Montagu, Governor of South Carolina - Born 1741. Married September 20, 1765 to Elizabeth Bulmer, daughter of James Bulmer.
A new section of Charles Town, Harleston was developed and its streets were opened up in 1770. The Harlestons, during the colonial period, were active in the government of the province and were also accomplished breeders of racehorses.

Streets in the village of Harleston were named for prominent men of the period, in England and the province. The Royal Governor, Lord Charles Greville Montagu, along with Lt. Governor William Bull, Jr.; Hector Beranger de Beaufain, Collector of Customs and member of His Majesty's Council; William Pitt, the British member of Parliament who defended colonial rights; as well as John Rutledge, Thomas Lynch, and Christopher Gadsden, who were active in the provincial government and later leaders in the American Revolution; all were commemorated.

Click Here for more information on Lord Charles Greville Montagu provided by Parliament online.
Click Here for information on the Executive Council under Governor Lord Charles Greville Montagu.

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