Carolina - The English Influence (Of Course)

How did the English and their collective "history" influence Carolina?

As can be seen in the adjunct Timeline, there were many "events" in English history that played some part (minor or major) in the establishment of Carolina. From the year that John Cabot first claimed Carolana on behalf of England (1497) until long after Carolina had split into two separate colonies (1729), the English were at war - with someone.

Furthermore, and probably more important, England was at war with itself as well. As Carolina was being established, England experienced its own internal Civil War (1642-1649), with King Charles I stripped of all power and even beheaded, and the country was "managed" for over ten years without any royalty whatsoever. England survived.

Without describing each of these English wars (as found on the timeline), it is sufficient to say that each of these wars altered the personal views of every Englishman, Welshman, Scotsman, and Irishman (and women) in the British Isles. As the British Isles yanked itself out of the Middle Ages and well into the Renaissance, many new ideas were erupting all over Europe. Most other nation-states began to lose their self-absorption and began looking outward, however, the diverse peoples of the British Isles were still fighting for some sort of national identity of their own - still looking inward.

Although the Welsh had long been subjugated into the English culture, they never gave up their fondness of dear old Wales (Cymry), and even though they swore allegiance to England in 1283, by the 1500s and 1600s they still called themselves Welsh (they do to this day). For purpose of this section, when the English are discussed, this includes the Welsh, who by the 1600s were certainly considered English.

Ireland wanted to be simply Irish. Scotland simply wanted to be Scottish. The English simply wanted to dominate and control everyone on the British Isles - for centuries they had this vision of a United Kingdom, and they were compelled by history to do whatever it took to see that it happened. Somehow. Sometime. And, a small group of these dominating English began to look "outward" for the first time.

Add to all of this, the Protestant Reformation simply "sprang up" almost overnight, and spread like a wildfire all over Europe as well as all over the British Isles. Wars of "religion" erupted all over the so-called civilized world. England and Scotland quickly accepted and embraced the downfall of the Catholic Church by the mid-1500s, just a few short years after Martin Luther tacked his 95 Theses on the door of the Church of All Saints in 1517. Ireland was a different story, and of course, the English could not let Ireland "slide" on this.

Henry VIII invaded Ireland in 1534 and an eight-year war ensued, with Henry asserting himself as the new King of Ireland and vowing to cram the newly-established Anglican Church down the Irish throats. Luckily, he died before he could do so. But, where he failed, his wife Mary dreamed up the idea of "the Plantations" and stormed northern Ireland in 1556, handing out Irish land to her loyal subjects. This was just the beginning of "the troubles" that continue to this day (even though this policy had been launched much earlier by Henry II in the late 1100s, it didn't really take off until Mary's plantations of 1556).

How a small country with so many internal "turmoils" could successfully launch a global imperialization effort in the late 1500s and early 1600s is very hard to imagine, but England did just that. It was not easy. It was not without the loss of many lives. Fortunately for the English, the other "world powers" had plenty of their own problems at the same time - and due to many of the same reasons.

So, how did all of this "history" influence Carolana?

The many wars in Europe kept the other countries from competing successfully with the English on the colonization of North America's eastern seabord. Spain, France, and The Netherlands - the only nations truly interested in the New World (Portugal had been taken out of the running thanks to their agreement with Spain not to interfere with any lands west of 50° W latitude) - were seriously embroiled in fighting each other over who should rule The Netherlands, as well as fighting against the Holy Roman Empire for many various reasons.

Although England was involved in some of these many European wars, England did not commit as much money or as many lives as France and Spain did. Therefore, England "won" the entire eastern seabord of North America by 1664. Carolina was firmly established as an English colony instead of having to worry about the French, the Spanish, or the Dutch.

The Protestant Reformation of the 1500s led to much internal stife within the British Isles and even helped to bring about the English Civil War, which many historians now assert was simply a "skirmish" of a bigger "War of the Three Kingdoms" that ran from around 1639 to 1651. Other skirmishes between 1630 and 1651 include The Bishops' War (1639-1640), The Rebellion of Ireland (1641-1653), the Scottish Civil War (1644-1645), and the Cromwellian Conquest of Ireland (1649-1653). Henry VIII firmly established the Church of England (also known as the Anglican Church) in the 1540s, and from that point forward almost every Protestant sect sprang up in the British Isles, each espousing that the others were "not as good as themselves."

By the mid-1600s, the many Protestant sects were all fighting each other in England, Scotland, and Wales - and all of them were just praying to get over to Ireland to totally destroy the deep-seeded Catholicism that continued there. By the mid-1600s, England had taken over the Dutch colonies of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania - and the New England colonies were actually beginning to thrive and expand. All coming over for the alleged "guaranteee" that they could worship as they wished. Some even actually could.

By the time that Carolina was firmly established by King Charles II and the eight (8) Lords Proprietors in 1663, just about everyone on the British Isles was more than ready to go to the New World. But, not all were granted that "right" - only the English (which of course included the Welsh since they were already considered to have been on the English team for two centuries) could go to the New World. As one might expect, most could not "afford" to just pick up and go - it was not a free trip for most, unless one was willing to go as an indentured servant to pay for passage.

The first English settlers of Carolina were Virginians (1663) - in the Albemarle region of what is now northeastern North Carolina. The "Virginian Influence" is covered separately in this website, so these Englishmen will not be discussed here.

The second group of settlers of Carolana were Barbadians - first along the Cape Fear River (only lasted three years, 1665-1667), then permanently along the Ashley River in 1670 at what is now Charleston, South Carolina. The "Barbadian Influence" is also covered separately herein, so those Englishmen will not be discussed at this time.

But, the English/Welsh who came later arrived directly from England - from 1670 to 1729, they primarily landed at either Charles Town or at Jamestown, Virginia. Some landed first in Philadelphia then caught smaller boats down to Carolina. Those that arrived were split roughly 50-50 between Anglicans and Dissenters (those Protestants opposed to the Church of England), and the Dissenters were of almost every Protestant denomination known in the 17th century.

Although the Lords Proprietors originally conceived of a colony with "landed gentry" - and even went so far as to define noble titles such as Landgraves, Cassiques (Caciques), and Barons - those who actually settled the colony soon said "this is bull." The landgraves, etc. were actually put into place and they all received great quantities of land, but the "working class folks" had no need for them. Those who came to Carolina came for "peace and quiet" and to be "left alone." That lasted about one day.

During the founding years of the colony, the English considered anyone who lived on "the Plantations" (in Northern Ireland) to be English - so, some folks left "the Plantations" and came to Carolana. Once here, some no longer considered themselves English - they called themselves Ulster Irish or Scots-Irish, which of course irritated the existing English - and those from "the Plantations" who continued to consider themselves English. However, prior to 1729, there were no big emigrations from "the Plantations" to Carolina - just a handful. After 1729, there was a different story.

So, this section is on the English, but we're leaving out two major portions of the English - the Virginians and the Barbadians. So, what does that leave?

English government, laws, customs, habits, and even their style of clothing. Even though Carolina was settled by many other groups, it was the English "style" that dominated everything in the colony. The English language was quickly adopted by all immigrants, no matter their country of origin. The English standards were adopted - weights, measurements, etc. And, the greatest majority of "place names" were of English origin. Charles Town. Dorchester. Albemarle. New London. George Town. Ashley River.

The English that had dominated the British Isles certainly dominated Carolina - from the beginning. This domination was not smooth, it was not painless, and it was not perfect - but, it worked in Carolina, as it had worked on the British Isles for hundred of years.


 


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