Carolina - The New England Influence

How did New England and its short "history" influence Carolina?

Little is known about any early interactions between the New England colonies and Carolana after the first grant in 1629 to Sir Robert Heath. Although Heath and his successors made feeble attempts to colonize Carolana between 1629 and 1663, there simply are no records of any successful landings of new settlers along the Carolina coast until after the new eight (8) Lords Proprietors took over the colony in 1663.

Certainly, the colonists in New England knew about the establishment of Carolana in 1629, but, of course, their attentions were almost entirely focused on eking out an existence and taking care of their immediate needs where they were situated. All the New England colonies had been chartered by 1639 and all were well along in their settlement by the time that Carolina was really "up and running" in the late 1660s.

In August of 1662, William Hilton, Jr. of the Massachusetts colony sailed in the Adventurer to the Cape Fear River and returned with enough information for mapmaker Nicholas Shapley to make a very detailed map of the Carolina coast.

Engaged by a group of businessmen from New England, London, and Barbados, Hilton embarked on a second exploration of the southeastern coast. On August 10, 1663, again commanding the Adventurer, he set out from Speights Bay with Captain Anthony Long and Peter Fabian.

Upon their arrival in the vicinity of St. Helena Sound and the Combahee River they discovered the English castaways being held captive by the local American Indians. During negotiations with the local natives for the release of the castaways, he learned much about the local culture. After sounding the entrance to Port Royal Sound, he set out for Cape Fear, but the ship was blown off course toward Cape Hatteras. On October 12, the crew of the Adventurer finally arrived at the entrance to the Cape Fear River and explored the area until December.

In 1664, Hilton published a book about this expedition called "A Relation of a Discovery Lately Made on the Coast of Florida," which spurred interest in colonizing the area.

After Hilton's 1662 first exploration of the Cape Fear River, a small group of New Englanders decided to go check it out. In 1663, this small group attempted to establish a settlement on the south bank of the Cape Fear River, about 20 miles inland from the river's mouth. These folks loved the land, but they hated the climate, and apparently they did not like the local natives either. Within months, this settlement was abandoned and everyone went back to New England where the climate was much more to their liking, leaving behind much of their livestock to roam wildly.

In 1695, a small church group in Dorchester, Massachusetts sent several of its members to Charles Town to "scout" for a suitable location to relocate their church. In 1696, the church was relocated west of Charles Town and the town of Dorchester was established "along the frontier" of Carolina - the second "permanent" town after Charles Town. This group managed to stay in Carolina for more than a few months and Dorchester was "thriving" at the time of "the Split."

However, when Oglethorpe founded the colony of Georgia in 1733, the folks in Dorchester were tempted by the offer of more and better lands. In 1752, the congregation "up and moved" to the coast of Georgia, between the Medway and Newport rivers, in what is now Liberty County. What was once a thriving church community of Dorchester soon became a purely secular settlement that struggled to survive.

New England continued commerce with Carolina, but the northerners had had enough of trying to "live" in the southern colonies, except for very few that came and went as Carolina grew. Other than the usual inter-colonial commerce, New England had very little "influence" on Carolina - at least until long after "the Split."


 


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