Joseph Blake was elected President of the Executive Council and Acting Governor of Charles Town upon the death of Gov. Thomas Smith on November 16, 1694. He remained in office this time until the arrival of his uncle, Governor John Archdale, on August 17, 1695.
Joseph Blake, son of Benjamin Blake, married Deborah Morton, daughter of Governor Joseph Morton, prior to 1685. Deborah died, and Joseph married a second time to Elizabeth Axtell, daughter of Landgrave Daniel Axtell and widow of Francis Turgis. They had a son, also named Joseph Blake, Jr. Governor Joseph Blake was born in 1663 and he died in 1700. He owned a plantation called "Plainsfield" on the Stono River, near "New Cut," and another plantation called "Pawlet" in Colleton County.
In 1683, Joseph Blake, a nephew of the great English admiral, devoted his fortune and the last years of his life to bringing a large company of dissenters from Somersetshire to Charles Town.
In 1685, Joseph Blake was appointed a Deputy by his uncle and Lord Proprietor, John Archdale. He served on the Executive Councils of Gov. Joseph Morton, Gov. James Colleton, and Gov. Philip Ludwell. When John Archdale gave his proprietorship to his son Thomas, Joseph Blake was appointed a Deputy of Sir Peter Colleton, 2nd Baronet.
In 1696, Joseph Blake purchased the share of Thomas Archdale and became one of the eight (8) Lords Proprietors.
Prosperity now began to dawn on the twin colonies as it had not done before. About this time came the wise John Archdale as governor, and he was followed by Joseph Blake, a man of like integrity and wisdom, a nephew of the great admiral of that name. Governor Joseph Blake died in 1700, and South Carolina entered upon a long season of turbulence and strife.
John Archdale, previously one of the Lords Proprietors, was then sent over for the purpose, if possible, of restoring harmony. The question of quit-rents was then uppermost. By the new governor's conciliatory attitude and the concessions which he was empowered to make in reference to land grants, he allayed strife and won considerable personal popularity.
His successor, Joseph Blake, also enjoyed a quiet administration, which continued from 1696 till the close of 1700.
During that time the final revision of the Fundamental Constitutions was submitted to the Commons House of Assembly for acceptance. The articles concerning manors, leet-men, the system of Lords Proprietors' courts, and certain other features of the system had been omitted, though the provisions for a nobility remained. The whole was reduced to forty-two articles, and their acceptance without change was requested.
But a committee of the Assembly proposed several amendments, which were directed against the right of the nobility to sit in the legislature and the size of their baronies, while they were intended to secure to the people their lands at the existing rents and prices. These proposals caused the Lords Proprietors to again lay aside the Fundamental Constitutions, and thereafter they never again appeared as an issue in Carolina politics.
Upon the resignation of Governor John Archdale on October 29, 1696, Joseph Blake, previously appointed by Archdale to be Deputy Governor, took the reins of the government in Charles Town as the next Governor. The Lords Proprietors followed up with his commission as Governor, dated April 25, 1697. He remained in office until his death on September 7, 1700.
The frontier interests of men like Joseph Blake (Governor, 1696-1700) and James Moore (governor, 1700-1702) had a consequence for the colony unrecognized by their critics. At the end of the seventeenth century the Indian trade was weaving a web of alliances among tribes of Indians distant many hundred miles from Charles Town. Blake and his successor, active promoters of the trade, developed a conception of the destinies of the English in that quarter of America, an imperial vision, notably in advance of the parochial ideas of Lords Proprietors and provincials alike; in advance, too, of the notions of policy of the imperial government itself.
In 1695, Joseph Blake purchased land in Charles Town and soon thereafter made a gift of the land to the Presbyterian Church.
In 1696, Thomas Archdale sold his share of Carolina, originally owned by John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton, to his cousin Joseph Blake, who was already well-settled in what soon became South Carolina. Carolina Governor John Archdale, Thomas's father, was an uncle to this Joseph Blake.
When Joseph Blake became governor in 1696, the Indian trade of South Carolina was just entering on a phase of more than local importance. A decade before this, in 1684, the revolt of the Yammasee against the Florida government and their emigration from the province of Guale to the borders of South Carolina had turned the scale against the Spaniards in the coastal region.
Already the expulsion of the Westoes from the lower Savannah River area had cleared the way for trade expansion southwestward, among the inland tribes. Their route protected against flank attack from St. Augustine, the Charles Town traders made rapid progress among the populous Oconee, Ocheese (Kawita and Kasihta), and Ocmulgee Indians seated on the upper Oconee and above the forks of the Altamaha River.
With her expanding Indian relations South Carolina became the center of the traffic in Indian slaves, as well as in deerskins, among the English colonies. When the early wars had exhausted the supply near the settlements the friendly Indians were encouraged to range farther afield, especially to the south, where slave-catching raids had the additional advantage of weakening the allies of the Spaniards.
Timucuan Indians from the interior of Florida had long been bought from the Yammasee; and now the inland Indians found ready sale for captured Apalachee, from the province of Apalachee, which fronted the Gulf between the Suwanee and Apalachicola rivers - the richest and, strategically, the most important of the outlying Spanish provinces. The raiders were supplied with arms, incited, and even led by the traders who lived among them; retaliatory expeditions were headed by Spanish officers.
In 1699, when South Carolina was hit with major storms, an earthquake, fire, and pestilence, Governor Joseph Blake "deeply sensible of the public distress, tried every art for alleviating the misery of the people and encouraging them to patience."
Joseph Blake, together with Paul Grimball, a Baptist, and five other persons, was a committee for revising the "Fundamental Constitutions" prepared by John Locke. It was during his second administration as Governor that the French Huguenot refugees, who had come in large numbers, in consequence of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, 1685, and the renewal of Roman Catholic persecution, received equal rights with those born of English parents.
The minister, Mr. Lord, and others of the Church who had remained in Charles Town were urged by "ye Lieut. General Blake (Joseph Blake, Governor and Lords Proprietor, then residing on his plantation called "Plainsfield", on Stono River, near New Cut) and many others" to settle at New London (on Pon Pon River, generally known as Willtown) and had gone to Landgrave Morton's near that place.
Elder Pratt and his companion also went to Landgrave Morton's to view the land at New London, and there Elder Pratt gave Mr. Lord his preference for Ashley River, and the latter agreed with him. From Landgrave Morton's they returned, stopping first at Mr. Curtises and then at Mr. Gilbosons and Governor Joseph Blake's.
Joseph Blake, governor of South Carolina, was persuading the Reverend Mr. Lord and his congregation to settle at New London (later called Willtown), and sent them to discuss the matter with Landgrave Joseph Morton, son of the late governor of the same name.
His wife, Lady Elizabeth Blake, and her mother, Lady Axtell, were valuable accessions to the infant Baptist church, and it is likely that Screven was a neighbor of theirs in England. Joseph Blake himself, if not a communicant, at least entertained the sentiments of the Baptists and favored their cause. He was twice subsequently Governor of the province; and his sister was the wife of Governor Joseph Morton, and the mother of Joseph Morton, who was a friend of liberty and voted against the establishment of the Church of England as the religion of the province.
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