Charles Craven

Governor of South Carolina Province 1712 to 1716


Charles Craven was the son of Sir William Craven and Margaret Clapham. He was a younger brother of the Palatine, William Craven, 2nd Baron Craven, and was born in 1682. He died on 27 December 1754. He held the office of Governor of Carolina between 1712 and 1716. Charles Craven was married to Elizabeth Staples and they had one son, John.

On February 21, 1710/11, the Lords Proprietors issued a commission and instructions to Charles Craven as the next governor of South Carolina, but he did not arrive in the province and take the oath of office until 1712. On April 25, 1716, he appointed Robert Daniell as Deputy Governor and left South Carolina for London, never to return.
Charles Craven was Secretary of South Carolina, and governor of the colony from 1712 till 1716. During 1712, he was ordered to sound Port Royal River, and it is then when the town of Beaufort was started, after being approved by the Lords Proprietors on January 17, 1710/11.

Three years later all of the Indians from Cape Fear to St. Mary's River combined under the leadership of the Yamassees for the purpose of destroying the colony at Ashley River. Governor Craven at once proclaimed martial law, laid an embargo on all ships to prevent the departure of men or provisions, and at the head of 1,200 men, part of whom were faithful slaves, met the Indians in a series of desperate encounters and finally drove them beyond the Savannah River.

In 1710, a speck of civil war appeared in Charles Town, when two claimants to the office of Acting Governor, on the death of Gov. Edward Tynte, the successor of Sir Nathaniel Johnson, disputed for the honor. A compromise was effected, by referring the case to the Lords Proprietors for a decision. They wisely discarded both candidates, and appointed Charles Craven, brother of one of the Lords Proprietors, as Governor of the province. Under his administration the colony prospered, settlements extended, and the power of a dangerous Indian confederacy against the Carolinas was effectually broken.
The Lords Proprietors appointed Charles Craven, who then held their commission as Secretary, to be Governor. He was proclaimed in form, and took upon him the administration. During his government, the province was involved in two sharp contests with the Indians.

One in North Carolina with the Tuscaroras, and another much more distressing with the Yamassees, which were ably and successfully conducted by the governor, as shall be related in its proper place. On his departure for England, in 1716, he appointed Robert Daniell, Deputy Governor. In the year following, Robert Johnson, son of Sir Nathaniel Johnson, succeeded to the office of Governor. He was the last who held that office under the authority of the Lords Proprietors. [Ramsay]

A commission was sent out to Charles Craven, a man of great knowledge, courage and integrity, by his brother, investing him with the government of the colony. His Executive Council was composed of Thomas Broughton, Ralph Izard, Charles Hart, Samuel Eveleigh, and Arthur Middleton, &c.; all men of considerable property, and experience in provincial affairs.

The Commons House of Assembly in his time was not elected, as formerly, in a riotous and tumultuary manner, but with the utmost harmony and regularity, and proceeded to their deliberations with great temper and mutual friendship.

The governor had instructions to defend the province against the French and Spaniards, and for that purpose to form and cultivate the firmest friendship and alliance with the Indians; to promote fisheries and manufactures, which was certainly an absurd and ridiculous instruction; for while they had so much land, agriculture was evidently more profitable and beneficial to both the possessors and the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.

He was required to oversee the courts, and take special care that justice be equitably administered, and that no interruptions or delays attend the execution of the laws: he was ordered to employ eight men to sound Port Royal river for the benefit of navigation, and to fix on the most convenient spot for building a town, with a harbor nigh it; and to transmit all Acts of Assembly made from time to time to England, for the Lords Proprietors approbation or disapprobation; and such other public matters as appeared to him of general concern and utility, he was required carefully to study and promote. [Hewat]

In May 1715, upon the recommendation of Governor Charles Craven and John Lord Cartaret, the legislature passed an arms confiscation act. It allowed the government to "impress and take up for the publick service" ships, arms, ammunition, gunpowder, military stores and any other item "they shall think to employ and make use of for the safety and preservation of this Province."

The Indian War had severely taxed the resources of the province and the government was desperate for arms, ships and supplies. Impressment seemed to be the only alternative to "standing naked against the Indian Enemy and their Confederates." The public treasury was required to make restitution, and officers were required to give receipts for the reasonable value of confiscated materials.

The act also allowed the militia officers to "seize and take up such quantities of medicines, spices, sugars, linen and all other necessaries" required by both the poor and wounded militiamen. The governor planned to send a ship "northward" to trade peltries for arms and ammunition and, since it was expected that Governor Craven would have to bargain for arms and supplies, he was authorized to seize furs with a value not to exceed £2,500, giving receipt for such seizures.

During the Yamassee War, Governor Charles Craven ordered "about two hundred stout negro men" to serve in the militia. Since there were less than 1,500 able-bodied whites in the colony, Governor Craven felt justified in enlisting the slaves.

In the spring of 1715, war broke out with the Yamassees. As usual with their race, the Indians began hostilities with treachery. The wily savages rose upon the frontier settlements and committed an atrocious massacre. Nearly one hundred unsuspecting farmers were killed in one day.

The people of Port Royal were alarmed just in time to escape in a ship to Charles Town. The desperate savages rushed on to within a short distance of the capital. It seemed that the city would be taken and the whole colony driven to destruction. But the brave Charles Craven, governor of the province, rallied the militia and began a vigorous pursuit of the savages.

A decisive battle was fought and the Indians were completely routed. The Yamassees collected their shattered tribe and retired into Florida, where they were received by the Spaniards as friends and confederates.

Charles Craven was one of the wisest and ablest governors of the period. The colony's religious factionalism continued until Charles Craven, who supported toleration, became governor in 1712. Although he was a member of the Church of England, he maintained religious freedom for the duration of his tenure in office.
1721 - The 1st Cherokee Treaty with the Governor of the South Carolina

Charles Craven is thought to be the first concession of Cherokee land. The Cherokees agreed they would supply warriors
in an exchange for the commitment from the English to defend, in their absence, their families against the Creeks & Choctaws.

1721 - With the above "Commitment" came frontier Forts and outposts so that the promise of defense now became a threat of
"encroachment" the sequence seemed inevitable; Forts were built and white settlers followed, creating an unresolvable tension.

[Author's Note - Since Governor Craven left office in 1716, either the citations above are referring to a later governor, or the years are wrong.]

Governor Charles Craven used his own money to finance a good part of the Yamassee War. In 1715, the Executive Council enacted legislation to repay him - Click Here to read it.
Click Here for information on the Executive Council under Governor Charles Craven.
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