Arnoldus VanderHorst

8th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1794 to 1796

Date Born: March 21, 1748

[No Known Picture]

Date Died: January 29, 1815

Place Born: Christ Church Parish

Place Buried: St. Michael's in Charleston, SC

Residence: Charles Town    

Occupation: Planter, Politician


Arnoldus VanderHorst (aka Vanderhorst) was an American politician. He was a Federalist governor of South Carolina from 1794 until 1796.

Arnoldus VanderHorst was born in Christ Church Parish on March 21, 1748, the son of Arnoldus and Elizabeth (Simons) VanderHorst. He married Elizabeth, daughter of William and Sarah (Stanyarne) Raver on March 5, 1771.

Arnoldus VanderHorst was vice-president of the St. Cecelia Society which was formed in 1766, vice-president of the American Revolutionary Society and a delegate to the second Convention 1775-6.

In 1775, Arnoldus VanderHorst was commissioned a Captain in the SC 1st Regiment - first Provincial Troops, then State Troops, then attached to the Continental Line. After the Fall of Charlestown in May of 1780, he was Captain of the Christ Church Parish Volunteer Mounted Infantry, in the Charles Town District Regiment of Militia, and then a Captain under Col. Richard Richardson, Jr. in the Berkeley County Regiment of Militia, which was part of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion's Brigade. Several sources assert he was ultimately promoted to Colonel during the war, but this Author has found no clear evidence of this. His brother, John VanderHorst was a Major and a Lt. Colonel under Col. Richard Richardson, Jr. and Brig. Gen. Francis Marion, so perhaps the two have been confused. He did not take protection and his estate was taken by the British. He later became a member of the Society of Cincinnati.

In 1776, Arnoldus VanderHorst was first elected to represent Christ Church Parish in the House of Representatives of the
- 1st General Assembly that met in 1776
- 2nd General Assembly that met from 1776-1778
- 3rd General Assembly that met from 1779-1780

In 1781, Arnoldus VanderHorst was first elected to represent Christ Church Parish in the SC Senate of the:
- 4th General Assembly that met in 1782
- 5th General Assembly that met from 1783-1784
- 6th General Assembly that met from 1785-1786
- 7th General Assembly that met from 1787-1788, replacing Isaac Legare, who had died in office
- 8th General Assembly that met from 1789-1790
- 9th General Assembly that met in 1791

In 1791, he was elected as Commissioner to settle the accounts of former Commissioners of the SC Treasury on 2/17/1791 and had to give up his seat in the Senate.

In 1784, he gave land for a school.

Arnoldus VanderHorst was elected Intendent (Mayor) of Charleston for two terms. He was first elected on September 12, 1785, and again in 1791. During his second office, he made the address to welcome President George Washington to Charleston during his Southern Tour. In 1792, Charleston was hit with Yellow Fever, which held sway for over four months and killed many inhabitants of the city. He was also Commissioner of the Charleston Orphan Asylum, founded in 1792.

In 1794, Arnoldus VanderHorst was again elected to represent Christ Church Parish in the House of Representatives of the:
- 10th General Assembly that met from 1794-1795

In 1794, that legislature elected him as the next governor of South Carolina and he had to give up his seat in the House.

Gov. Arnoldus VanderHorst first proposed a state penitentiary in the 1790s. In later decades reformers repeatedly tried to establish a penitentiary without success. They argued that a penitentiary was needed to overhaul the state’s harsh criminal code, which in 1813 included 165 offenses punishable by death. During his administration, the SC legislature passed an Act abolishing the age-old English law of primogeniture, which required all lands to be handed down to the eldest son.

Arnoldus VanderHorst died on January 29, 1815 in Charleston.


The State of South Carolina

To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting:

Know ye, That in pursuance of an Act of the Legislature, entitled “An Act for establishing the mode of “granting the lands now vacant in this State, and for allowing a “commutation to be received for some lands that have been granted,” passed the 19th day of February, 1791; We Have Granted, and by these presents Do Grant unto Reuben Hartsfield his heirs and assigns, a plantation or tract of land containing Five hundred acres, Surveyed for him the 15d day of December 1794 Situate in the district of George Town on Catfish Creek Waters of Great Peedee River bounded by lines running North West + North East by lands granted to Jonathan Avant Erasmus Rothmahler land belonging to Lewis Boatwright, and on or near Henry Davis's Land South West by William Thomsons Land and unknown land having such shape, form and marks as are represented by a plat hereunto annexed, together with all woods, trees, waters, watercourses, profits, commodities, appurtenances and hereditaments whatsoever there= unto belonging: To Have and To Hold the said tract of Five hundred acres of land, and all and singular other the premises hereby granted unto the said Reuben Heartsfield his heirs and assigns forever, in free and common soccage.

Given Under The Great Seal of The State.

Witness his Excellency Arnoldus VanderHorst Esquire, Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the said State, at Charleston, this third day of August Anno Domini, one thousand seven hundred and ninety five and of the Sovereignty and Independence of the United States of America the Twentieth

Arnoldus (L. M. S.) VanderHorst

And hath thereunto a plat thereof annexed representing the same, certified by
A. B. Darby pro
Surveyor General
3d Augt 1795


General Arnoldus VanderHorst, Governor of South Carolina from 1794 to 1796 and twice mayor of Charleston, built his home on the eastern half of Kiawah Island in 1802.

VanderHorst’s side of the island was always a working plantation, while Schoolbred’s side remained a tropical retreat for he and his family. In 1864, with the ravages of the Civil War, the Schoolbred mansion was vandalized and then destroyed by fire. In 1900, the Vander Horsts purchased the Schoolbred property, to reunite Kiawah Island under one owner.

During those 200 years of VanderHorst occupation, many events occurred in the colonies that affected Kiawah Island. Although there is no evidence of actual combat during wars, there is evidence of soldiers occupying the Island during times of war.

Soldiers in the Revolutionary War were issued passes allowing the sick and wounded junior officers to pass through the lines to get to Kiawah Island for rest and recreation, while soldiers from the War of 1812 were located on the island to protect the city of Charleston.

The first shots of the Civil War, fired on April 2, 1861, could be heard on Kiawah Island coming from Fort Sumter, located just 21 miles away. During the Civil War, Union soldiers scribbled the graffiti "How are you General Beauregard" and "varitas vincit" (truth overcomes) on the walls of the VanderHorst Mansion (which still stands today with the visible graffiti). Throughout World War II, U.S. Army teams were assigned to patrol the Island’s coast with horses and jeeps.

The VanderHorst legacy ended in 1951 when C.C. Royal purchased Kiawah Island for a mere $125,000.


Longitude Lane to High Battery

Directly across the street from Longitude Lane is VanderHorst Row. (The uninitiated of you would pronounce this like it's spelled: Van-der-horst, but the proper pronunciation is Van-dross). This row was built in 1800 by Gen. Arnoldus Vanderhorst and has been claimed as one of the first tenement or multi-family dwellings in the country. Whether this is true or not, it is known that at the time it was built, everybody in the town scoffed, saying nobody would want to live in a multi-family dwelling.


Mr & Mrs VanderHorst are up here for change of air they remained a few days in the Village spent an evening with us, were at the Palmetoe house, and then to the Cherokee Springs. Arnoldus VanderHorst has had a duel with Alfred Rhett, neither of them hurt, the bench of honor managing the affair.

<< Last Governor - William Moultrie

Next Governor - Charles Pinckney >>



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