Robert Gibbes

President of the Council and Acting Governor of Carolina Province 1710 to 1712

Robert Gibbes (1644-1715) was a Landgrave and the last Acting Governor of the entire Carolina province.

Robert Gibbes was born on January 9, 1644 at Sandarich, Barbados. He came to Charles Town with the early settlers in 1670, and was elected to the First Commons House of Assembly in 1692, representing Colleton County. He died on June 24, 1715.
Upon the death of Governor Edward Tynte on June 20, 1710, a civil war was on the point of breaking out in the southern colony. Mr. Robert Gibbes was elected by the Executive Council to succeed Governor Tynte; but he received only one vote more than Mr. Thomas Broughton; and this one vote, as Broughton said, was obtained by bribery.

Broughton insisted, therefore, on his own claim, to act as governor. But Gibbes insisted on his with the same perseverance, and the greater part of the people took sides with him.

Broughton, however, collected a number of armed men at his plantation, for the defense of his own supposed rights, and marched to Charles Town. Gibbes, who resided in that town, soon got intelligence of his approach. He immediately caused a general alarm to be fired, and the militia to be called together. Broughton, by this time, had approached the walls and gates of Charles Town.

Gibbes ordered the drawbridge, standing near the intersection of Broad and Meeting streets, to be hauled up. After a short parley, Broughton's party who had now come up, the latter demanded admittance. Gibbes called out to them from within the walls, and asked why they came armed in such numbers, and whether they would acknowledge himself their rightful governor.

"We have understood," answered they, "That there is an alarm about something or other in the town, and have come to see what is the matter. As for Gibbes, they said they would not want him for their governor."

Gibbes now denied them entrance. Before this, many of them began to gallop round the walls, towards Craven's bastion, so called, to get entrance there; being prevented, however, they soon returned to the drawbridge. But by this time, some of the people of the town, and quite a number of sailors, appeared to be mustering together from vessels then in the harbor, in favor of the Broughton party. The latter undertook, therefore, to force down the drawbridge, and effect a passage. Gibbes' party opposed, but were not allowed to fire upon them.

Several blows and wounds, however, were given and received on both sides. The sailors, who were within, and Broughton's own party without, finally prevailed so far as to lower the drawbridge. They entered it and proceeded to the watch-house on Broad Street.

There the two town companies of militia were posted, under arms, and with colors flying. Broughton's party approached them and halted. One of them drew a paper from his pocket. It was probably some proclamation of Broughton's. The man undertook to read it; but the militia made such a tremendous uproar with their drums, and all other means in their power, that the poor fellow stretched his voice to its utmost compass in vain. Not a syllable of the proclamation could be heard.

Broughton's party now marched off towards "Granville's bastion," being escorted by the sailors on foot, who were ready for any mischief. As the party passed the front of the militia, whose guns levelled, loaded and cocked, some of Broughton's sailors catched at the colors, and tore them from the staff.

On this provocation, a few of the militia, without any orders, fired their pieces; but nobody was hurt. One Capt. Brewton resolutely drew his sword, at this moment, stepped up to the sailor who had committed the outrage, and demanded the torn ensign. Capt. Evans, one of Broughton's best men, alighted, and prudently obliged the sailor to return it.

Broughton's party continued their march about the town for sometime. They then proclaimed Broughton governor. After hurrahing as loudly as they were able, and making various other noises, they approached the gate of the town fort, and made a show of forcing it.

Here, however, they observed Capt. Pawley with his pistol cocked, and many other gentlemen with their guns presented, who forbade them, at their peril, to attempt the gate. This attempt seemed to have a salutary effect in cooling down these hot headed people. They soon withdrew a tavern on the bay, where their proclamation was read a second time.

After much altercation and several messages and answers between the parties, the dispute was referred to the decision of the Lords Proprietors; they later decided in favor of neither Gibbes or Broughton, though the former acted as governor in the meantime.

Charles Craven was soon appointed to take the place of Robert Gibbes; and thus ended all this mighty noise and smoke. Such, generally, is the result of hot-headed quarrels.

The Lords Proprietors declared Gibbes's election illegal because of bribery. Howerver, he was allowed to continue in office for practically a year and served as an excellent Acting Governor during his tenure.

During Robert Gibbes's term as Acting Governor of Carolina, the Tuscarora War began in North Carolina. He dispatched Col. James Moore and Col. John Barnwell to assist those in the Albemarle region.

Although sizable parties of his own Indians deserted almost at once, taking all the Tuscarora captives except for one girl for sale as slaves in South Carolina, Col. John Barnwell was flushed with the quick and solid success of his first action in North Carolina.

He wrote excitedly to Acting Governor Robert Gibbes at Charles Town to offer congratulations "for the success of our army hitherto and the honr & glory of virtuous South Carolina...." The victory at Torhunta, he proclaimed, had placed at his disposal "a fine Country full of provisions," including many fruit trees.

The enemy, he could now estimate, probably included some 1,200-1,400 fighting men under a chief named "Hancock," whose headquarters lay at Catechna Creek, a northern branch of the Neuse some thirty-five miles distant to the east.

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