Carolina Lords Proprietors

William Thornburgh

A few historians assert that William Thornburgh was the legal guardian of Sir John Colleton, 3rd Baronet (1669-1754) upon the death of his father, Sir Peter Colleton, in 1679, and until he reached the age of maturity. However, most other historians assert that Sir Peter Colleton did not die until 1694, when his son was already 25 years old, clearly already at maturity.

Indeed, there are numerous records of meetings and letters signed by the Lords Proprietors of Carolina in London with the signature of "William Thornburgh for Sir John Colleton" between the years of 1694 and 1701. Interestingly, none before 1694, and certainly none as early as 1679.

Was William Thornburgh acting as a young man's legal guardian or as a busy man's legal representative in London?

This Author tends to think the latter. Sir John Colleton, 3rd Baronet was known as a very wealthy merchant in Exeter, Devonshire (Cornwall) who also had large land holdings in South Carolina. Since Exeter was not very close to London, it is easy to believe that a wealthy and busy merchant would "pay" someone to handle his affairs in London.

Finally, in all of the signatures found (so far), they all indicate "William Thornburgh for Sir John Colleton" - clearly a man acting as a legal representative. They do NOT show "William Thornburgh, guardian of Sir John Colleton."


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