Carolina Lords Proprietors

Sir John Colleton, 1st Baronet

Sir John Colleton, 1st Baronet (1608 - 1666) rose to rank in the King's army during the English Civil War, spent £40,000 in the service of King Charles I, and lost much more when his property was seized by the forces of Parliament. He retired to Barbados and was one of about a dozen Stuart followers there who were knighted by King Charles II.

He was a member of the Council for Foreign Plantations and of the Royal African Company which introduced slavery into British possessions in North America (not just in the South). He was an early promoter of the Carolina grant and actively interested in the successful development of the Province. He was the first of the original eight Lords Proprietors to die.


By the decade of the 1660s, Barbados had a surplus population which was not only ready to consider emigration to other West Indian islands but to the mainland as well. Sir John Colleton, who took the initiative in securing the Carolina charter, was one of the most enterprising of the Barbadian planters.

He had served as a colonel under John Berkeley, 1st Baron of Stratton in the royalist army during England's Civil War, and after King Charles I's execution he migrated to Barbados, where he had become embroiled in a series of political intrigues involving royalists and Parliamentarians. Colleton had normally, although not always, supported the Royal faction, and immediately after the Restoration of 1660, like so many other royalists, he set out for London to claim his reward.

His connections in London were excellent; several of his relatives were London merchants, his friend Lord John Berkeley enjoyed favor with the new government and his distant cousin George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle was the hero of the Restoration. When Lord Berkeley presented a memorial to the King in Colleton's behalf, King Charles II not only knighted Colleton but also promptly appointed him to the Council for Foreign Plantations.

Among Colleton's colleagues on the Council for Foreign Plantations were men knowledgeable about colonial settlement in America and influential in formulating colonial policy. Sir William Berkeley, governor of Virginia, was appointed when he returned to London in 1661. His brother, Lord John Berkeley was important in naval affairs and very close to the Duke of York, Lord High Admiral and heir to the throne. Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, later to become the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, was a former owner of Barbados property. Others include Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, King Charles II's first minister, and Sir George Carteret, Vice Chamberlain of the royal household and treasurer of the navy.

It was while he was working with these and other influentially placed men that Sir John Colleton seems to have conceived the idea of the Carolina Lords Proprietorship. His hope was to secure a royal charter, and for the achievement of this purpose he became associated with several of the most powerful men in the kingdom.


Upon his death in 1666, the first of the original eight Lords Proprietor of Carolina to die, his share of Carolina was inherited by his eldest son, Sir Peter Colleton, 2nd Baronet.
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