William Bull, Jr.

Royal Governor of South Carolina Province 1760 to 1761, 1764-1766, 1773-1775

Increasing numbers of Scots-Irish from the north arrived in the upcountry of South Carolina between 1750-1760, with the peak around 1755. New lands had opened up in 1753 when Governor James Glen made a treaty with the Cherokee Indians for the purchase of Indian lands. When Governor William Bull took over the reins of government in 1760, however, the Cherokee were on the warpath. Bull sent some British soldiers and local militia to conquer the Indians who surrendered this northwest portion of South Carolina. This conquered Indian land includes present day South Carolina counties of Edgefield, Abbeville, Laurens, Newberry, Union, and Spartanburg. It became known as the 96th District.


In 1760, William Henry Lyttleton was made Governor of Jamaica, and the charge of the colony devolved on William Bull, a native -- "a man of great integrity and erudition."
In his memoirs, Colonel Wiliam Moultrie tells us: "A little time after we were in possession of Fort Johnson, it was thought necessary to have a flag for the purpose of signals: (as there was no national or state flag at that time) I was desired by the council of safety to have one made, upon which, as the state troops were clothed in blue, and the fort was garrisoned by the first and second regiments, who wore a silver crescent on the front of their caps; I had a large blue flag made with a crescent in the dexter corner, to be in uniform with the troops: This was the first American flag which was displayed in South Carolina."

Well, from where did the idea for the silver crescent cap badges come? Looking back to 1760, South Carolina raised a Provincial Regiment as part of a force to quell the Cherokees. Interestingly, the headgear for this regiment was the light infantry cap with a silver crescent badge. That venerated historical scholar, Fitzhugh McMaster, suggests the crescent for the caps came from the coat of arms and seal of Lt. Gov. William Bull, in which a crescent is prominently displayed.

William Bull was serving as interim governor, and appealed to General Amherst for help in fighting the Cherokee. Amherst sent Lt. Col. James Grant and 1,200 regulars to Charles Town to march against the Cherokee. Governor Bull ordered the formation of a regiment to join them. It was led by Col. Thomas Middleton, Lt. Col. Henry Laurens, Maj. John Moultrie, with William Moultrie a captain, who recruited Francis Marion as a lieutenant. As was custom in those times, this regiment was known as "Middleton's." Also in this campaign, Francis Marion experienced his first combat.


A fort against Indian attacks was built in 1761 in what is present-day Abbeville County, South Carolina. It was called Bull Fort in honor of William Bull, the Royal Governor of South Carolina. Governor Bull made peace with the Indians in 1761 and ended the French and Indian War in South Carolina. Peace brought great expansion and prosperity to the Back Country. Bull Fort was later used as protection against the British and the Tories during the Revolutionary War. Today it no longer exists.
The cultural ambivalence of outlaws was a common concern for the more industrious backcountry settlers. Rather than practice settled agriculture, many of the bandits were instead part of a marginalised hunting population. A justice of the peace in 1762, for example, placed an advertisement in the Gazette concerning one Samuel McKay who escaped from him while en route to the Charles Town jail. The peace officer called for the recapture of McKay so that he could obtain information about “a gang of Villains who are associated on the borders of this and the North province."

It was reported that McKay was near thirty years old and “follows hunting". A petition by back settlers near the North Carolina border also made the connection between hunters and outlaws. They grieved “that there are Numbers of Idle Vagrant Persons, who follow no other employment than hunting and killing of deer…and after the season of hunting is over Steal cattle, Hogs and Horses". Lieutenant Governor William Bull empathised with the petitioners, noting that those whites who lived by “the wandering indolence of hunting” could “endanger the public peace of our Frontier Settlements” by destabilising Indian-white relations. Governor Tryon of North Carolina warned Bull more specifically that “such lawless settlers on our frontier I apprehend may soon provoke the Cherokees to commence hostilities."

Dennis Hayes, a backcountry storekeeper, related what these consequences entailed when he informed the Assembly a full year after the Regulators disbanded that the “interior parts of this Province has and do still abound with a Number of Villains, who make practice of committing Robberies". A backcountry constable likewise said of the outlaws, “the Country doth abound with such though the Regulators thinned them."

Lieutenant Governor William Bull verified these reports during a tour of the backcountry in the summer of 1770. When Bull called the militia together at the Congarees, he remarked that hardly a man showed because of the “apprehension of having their horses stolen away, if they were all absent from home." Indeed, the outlaw gangs were still such a problem that the lieutenant governor issued a proclamation against “several persons of notorious ill Fame, have lately molested the Western Settlements of this Province, by going in confederate Gangs, with Fire-Arms, stealing Horses, robbing Houses, and committing other Outrages."

To put a stop to the bandits, Bull offered £20 to those “who shall apprehend, and bring to Goal, within One Twelve-Month from the Date hereof," all persons who had committed such atrocities.


Minutes of the Dec. 24, 1763 meeting of the Provincial Council in Charles Town carry the following: "His Honor the Lieutenant Governor
William Bull informed the Board that he had this morning sent an Express to Patrick Calhoun to desire him to proceed directly to the spot
where the Dutch People were to be settled and there to build a large Log House to shield them on there arrival from the Inclemency of the
Weather, That he expected Wagons in Town in about Ten days to carry up their baggage, That he should write to Mr. Fairchild the Deputy Surveyor to proceed with them and survey Lands for them and settle them on them immediately, That they might avail themselves of the earliest
opportunity in raising there Hutts and there planting there Crops and several of them attending they were Called in when they were sworn to
their petitions and also took the Oath of allegiance."

Then the minutes list 56 names and allotments of land from 100 to 400 acres each. The route of the Germans and their baggage wagons to their new home is not given.

The council minutes for Jan. 31, 1765 note that two Charleston merchants, William Woodrop and Andrew Cathcart, presented petitions for
"bounty" due them "as agents for the Committee in London for the relief of poor German protestants lately arrived."

Named in the minutes are 175 adults and children over 12, bounty of five pounds sterling apiece; 86 children between two and 12 years old, bounty of three pounds sterling each; and 45 names of persons who died either aboard ship or after landing in Charleston.

A township totaling about 25,000 acres was allotted to the Germans. Its name Londonborough honored the colonists' benefactors. The
occasional use of "Londonderry" for the township is incorrect.


Palatines settled Cuffee Town in January of 1765 - Lt. Governor William Bull strongly encouraged the Germans to clear their lands and bring in a crop of hemp (what we know today as marijuana, but at that time, its uses were benign) as soon as possible. He provided the seed for that purpose and established a system of appropriately situated agents to distribute the supplies on which the immigrants were to subsist while they waited for their fields to produce. The benevolent committee in London had provided funds for their subsistence, but only until the end of September, 1765.

No doubt the living conditions were extremely difficult and the process of clearing, planting and cultivating was slow and tedious, but Lt. Goveror William Bull was nevertheless irritated when Peter Dorst and Henry Adolph appeared before the Council October 11, 1765, to request relief for their fellow Germans. The flow of supplies had stopped and the Palatines were unable to provide for themselves. But the Lt. Governor was not impressed. He criticized them vehemently for having been so slow in moving onto their land that they had missed out on the best growing season, and sent the two representatives home with nothing more than payment of their travel expenses.


The first public museum in South Carolina – January 1773 - A special committee of the Charlestown Library Society met to discuss the establishment of a museum in Charles Town. Several months later another committee was appointed by Lieutenant Governor William Bull II (1710-1791) to collect materials for the new Charleston Museum, which is now located on Meeting Street. 
During the Stamp Act crisis the now venerable fort played its role. The populace of Charles Town was incensed at the arrival in the colony of the offensive stamps. Lt. Governor William Bull, fearing violence in the streets, sent the hated stamps to Fort Johnson for safekeeping. The colony was outraged by the Stamp Act legislation - legislation which was destined never to be enforced. The garrison at Fort Johnson was strengthened, and there the hated stamps were to remain until Parliament rescinded the Stamp Act.
On December 22, 1773, Robert Dalway Haliday, the collector of customs for Charles Town, had the tea shipment seized, unloaded, and stored in the warehouse under the Exchange for non-payment of duties. Since the consignees refused to receive the tea, it became liable to seizure by the crown after twenty days in port. A second meeting of the citizens on December 17 had resolved that the tea should not be landed, and Captain Curling received several anonymous letters threatening damage to his ship unless it was moved away from the wharf.

When Lieutenant Governor William Bull was informed of the threats, he called an emergency meeting of the Council at his home. The sheriff was instructed by the lieutenant governor to assist the collector of customs if necessary, and to arrest anyone who attempted to obstruct the landing of the tea. Accordingly, the customs officers began moving the chests into the Exchange warehouse at sunrise on December 22, and at noon their task was almost finished. The patriots were taken completely by surprise, but they declared themselves satisfied as long as the unpopular merchandise remained under lock and key.

The tea remained in the Exchange until the government of the province fell into the hands of the patriots, and it was sold in 1776 to provide funds for defense against the British.


In February 1774, the Earl of Dartmouth, the king's secretary for American affairs, wrote South Carolina Lt. Gov. William Bull:

"What passed at Charles Town ... although not equal in criminality to the proceedings in other colonies can yet be considered in no other light than that of a most unwarrantable insult to the authority of this kingdom."

This was about the tea shipment seizure described above.


On the nineteenth of April, 1775, the day when the first blow was struck for liberty at Lexington, the packet ship Swallow arrived at Charles Town, bringing dispatches for the governors of the Southern colonies. Among others was a dispatch for the acting governor of South Carolina, William Bull. His disputes with the Committee of Safety and the Provincial Congress had risen to a high pitch of acrimony, and the public mind was greatly excited.

Yet all hoped for reconciliation, and few could believe that civil war would actually ensue. The arrival of the Swallow extinguished these hopes, for a secret committee who had been appointed to seize the next mail that should arrive from England, performed their duty well. On opening the dispatches to the governor, it was found that the British ministry had resolved to coerce the colonies into submission.

The royal governors were ordered to seize the arms and ammunition belonging to the several provinces, raise provincial troops, if possible, and prepare to receive an army of British regulars to aid them. Gage and Dunmore, we have seen, acted upon these instructions, but the patriots of Lexington, Concord, and Williamsburg thwarted them; and the Charles Town Committee of Correspondence, giving those of North Carolina and Georgia timely warning, enabled them to assume an attitude of defense before it was too late. A messenger, with these dispatches, was sent to the Continental Congress, and this was the first intelligence which that body had of the real intentions of the British ministry.


Bull Street in Charleston, South Carolina was named for William Bull, a native South Carolinian, who was the last to fill the Royal office of Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina.
Given sixty days to leave the colony or suffer imprisonment and perhaps death, Alexander Hewat left his congregation and his property and took passage to Nantes; from there, he went to London. Before leaving Charles Town, Hewat had secured a testimony of his loyalty to the king from James Henderson, moderator of the Presbytery of South Carolina, and upon arrival in London he secured testimonies from Governor Lord William Campbell and from Lieutenant Governor William Bull. With these testimonies, Hewat secured a temporary Treasury allowance of £100 per year until he could return to Charleston. He now devoted himself to completing his history, which he published anonymously in 1779.
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