The Royal Colony of South Carolina

There were two Acts that established new Townships in South Carolina - 1730 and 1761

Click Here to see a map of the Townships established in South Carolina during the Royal Period

There are many contradicting histories on what really led to the establishment of "Townships" in the interior of South Carolina immediately after the Crown took over the colony in 1729. The Lords Proprietors recognized very early during the formation of Carolana that towns were essential to the growth of the overall colony, but they had no formal plan to achieve their goal, nor did they provide any strong encouragement or money to make it happen.

In the Albemarle region - in what is presently northeastern North Carolina - the settlers did not particularly want to establish towns, they wanted to live freely on the many acres that they could acquire. After the Tuscarora War (1711-1715) they immediately woke up and realized that having towns would offer some protection against the Native Americans, and the formation of towns in North Carolina began to unfold.

In what is now South Carolina, the Lords Proprietors demanded that the first settlements would be in and around the town of Charles Town, and this was accomplished in 1670. New London was established in 1682 and Dorchester was founded in 1696. However, by the end of the rule of the Lords Proprietors, South Carolina had added only Beaufort (1711) and George Town (1729-barely).

As early as 1721, a few short years after the second major Indian uprising - the Yamassee War (1715-1716) - Colonel John Barnwell, who had participated in both of the Indian wars, drafted a plan and presented it to the governor of South Carolina, Sir Francis Nicholson. Barnwell's plan was to purposefully establish towns well into the interior of South Carolina and populate these towns with, "hardy fighting men," to serve as a deterrent against any future Indian hostilities. Governor Francis Nicholson did nothing.

During the first two decades of the eighteenth century, many plans were presented to the Lords Proprietors, to the Crown, and to the governors of the two colonies by "independent interested parties," such as Jean Pierre Purry, a Swiss/Palatine who had been on a major "PR campaign" all over Europe and in England, pressing anyone he could get to listen about his desire to take his brethren French Huguenots to the New World. His efforts finally paid off - after pressing the Crown continuously for seven years.

The man who is credited most often with the "idea" of establishing Townships in the interior of South Carolina is Governor Robert Johnson, who in 1730 was the man who finally made it happen. Whether he relied upon Colonel Barnwell's earlier plan, or if he was "instructed" by King George II to make this happen, or if he simply dreamed it up himself - all three have been suggested, but there is insufficient evidence to clearly state why this idea suddenly took off, but it finally did in 1730, again fairly slowly.

There are references to an official Act called the Township Act of 1730 (also seen reference to 1731 and 1733), but again, it has not been located as yet to prove its existence. Nevertheless, within several years after 1730, nine townships were surveyed and laid out into lots, and another large piece of land - unsurveyed - was allocated to new settlements. The laid-out Townships were allocated either 10,000 acres or 20,000 acres, depending on the location.

The original nine townships identified and named in 1730 were: Amelia, Congaree, Edisto, Fredericksburg, Kings Town, New Windsor, Purrysburg, Queensborough, and Williamsburg. In 1735, Congaree was renamed to Saxe-Gotha Township, and Edisto was renamed to Orangeburgh Township (later shortened to Orangeburg). Queensborough was later shortened to Queensboro, and Kings Town was shortened to Kingston.

In 1734, the Welsh Tract was established, without boundaries or a survey, along the Great Pee Dee River in northwestern South Carolina. It was soon thereafter settled in 1736 by Welsh Calvinists/Baptists from Delaware and Pennsylvania.

In 1732, Purrysburg Township was settled by Jean Pierre Purry, a Swiss/Palatine who brought over several hundred Protestants, including French Huguenots and German Lutherans. Some also went to Amelia Township in the same year.

Fredericksburg Township was first settled in 1732 by Quakers and Scots-Irish, primarily from Virginia, with a few from Pennsylvania and Maryland. That same year, the permanent town of Camden was founded in Fredericksburg Township - it was named Pine Hill for quite some time.

Kings Town was surveyed in 1732, and the first settlers arrived in 1734, mostly Scots-Irish and some English from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.

Queensborough Township followed in 1735 and was settled by Scots-Irish and Welsh from Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Williamsburg Township was also settled in 1735 by Scots-Irish from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland.

Orangeburgh Township was first settled in 1735 by approximately 250 Swiss/Palatines - mostly German, but some French as well.

Congaree was renamed before settlement began, and the newly-named Saxe-Gotha Township was settled in 1735 by German Lutherans.

New Windsor Township was settled in 1737 by 200 Swiss/Palatines, mostly French, but some Germans as well.

Out of these nine townships and the Welsh Tract, only Kings Town, Orangeburg, Williamsburg, and Fredericksburg really made a go of things that actually lasted. There remain virtually no vestiges of the other "townships" today; all are essentially lost to history.

New Windsor could not compete with Augusta, right across the Savannah River in Georgia, and it effectively disappeared. Purrysburg Township lasted perhaps a hundred years. Amelia and Saxe-Gotha Townships evaporated by the early 1800s.

In 1761, "The Bounty Act" was a direct result of the French and Indian War (1756-1759 in the colonies) and the Cherokee War (1760) in South Carolina. This Act provided cash money to anyone who brought settlers to the "upcountry" area of South Carolina - again, to serve as a deterrent against future Indian attacks on the colony.

In 1762, Boonesborough Township was established and settled by Scots-Irish Presbyterians from Virginia.

In 1764, Hillsborough Township was established and settled by 212 French Huguenots - they even founded two small towns, New Bordeaux and New Rochelle - but, these did not survive into the modern era.

In 1765, Londonborough Township was established and settled by 300 Swiss/Palatines, mostly Germans, but also some French. This was also referred to by some as the Belfast Township, but this name was not used by many nor found on many maps thusly.

Once again, these three townships did not survive into the modern era. The American Revolution brought about the factions of Loyalists (Tories) and Freedom Fighters (Patriots), and the many years of conflict during the war caused many of the new settlers to pack up and move to other parts.

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