Robert Sandford

In 1666, the Lords Proprietors commissioned Robert Sandford to explore the Carolina coast. Sandford sailed southward from Charles Town at Cape Fear in a ship of fifteen tons with a three-ton shallop.

He published "A Relation of a Voyage on the Coast of the Province of Carolina" in 1666 describing his voyage. By the end of June 1666, Sandford had reached the North Edisto River in South Carolina. There he met Shadoo - Captain of the Edistow, that had been with Hilton in Barbados. Sandford also met a Cacique of the Kiawah Indians, who wanted to show Sandford the benefits of Kiawah (present-day Charleston Harbor). Unwilling to retrace his steps, Sandford insisted that he must visit Port Royal first. The cacique of Kiawah sent a message ahead to the cacique of Port Royal to prepare a welcome for Sandford and then accompanied Sandford as a guide.

Sandford described the coast from Edisto to Port Royal as:

"nothing else but severall Islands made by the various intervenings of Rivers and Creekes, yett are firme good Lands (excepting what is Marsh) not of soe smale of sieze, but to continue many of them thousand of acres of rich habitable wood land, whose very banks are washed by River or Creek, which besides the fertility adde such a Comodiousnesse for portage as few Countryes are equally happy in."

On July 3, 1666, Sandford reached Port Royal Sound. The next day he anchored off the same Escamacu town on Parris Island that Hilton had visited two years earlier. He saw the ruins of Charlesfort and a bowling green whereon stood "a faire woodden Crosse." The captain and his crew were entertained in the Escamacu's large meeting house.

Sandford explored Port Royal Sound by proceeding up the Broad River to the confluence of the Tullafinny and Coosawhatchie Rivers. Later he entered Calibogue Sound between Hilton Head and Daufuskie Island. He noted the myriad of waterways and observed that "if the Sound goe through to such a great River as the Indian talk off (which seems very probable) it will but in addiconall value upon the Settlemts that shal be made in it." The great river of the Indians may have been the Savannah River. Nisquesalla, the Escamacu Cacique, boarded the English ship as it was about to return to the Cape Fear and offered to let his nephew stay with Sandford and be educated in English ways. In exchange, Sandford placed Henry Woodward in Nisquesalla's care in order to learn the native languages and make trade contacts for the Lords Proprietors.

"The Cassique placed Woodward by him uppon the Throne, and after lead him forth and shewed him a large feild of Maiz which hee told him should bee his, then hee brought him the Sister of the Indian that I had with mee telling him that shee should tend him and dresse his victualls and be careful of him that soe her Brother might be the better used amongst us."

Henry Woodward remained with the Escamacu and had the distinction of being the first permanemt English settler in South Carolina.

Excerpted, with edits, from "The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina - Volume 1, 1514-1861" by Lawrence S. Rowland, Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers, Jr., published in 1996 by the University of South Carolina Press.


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