Robert Quarry

President of the Council & Acting Governor of Charles Town 1685

In the short space of four years, from 1682 till 1686, there were no less than five Governors; Joseph Morton, Joseph West, Richard Kyrle, Robert Quarry, and James Colleton.

Soon after Governor Joseph Morton was superseded by Sir Richard Kyrle, an Irish gentleman, who died within a month after his arrival in the country. After his decease, Joseph West was again elected by the Executive Council as President and Acting Governor of Charles Town. He held this office from August of 1684 to July of 1685, when he resigned.

Colonel Robert Quarry was then chosen his successor. He was elected President of the Executive Council and Acting Governor from July to October of 1685. During the time of his government, a number of pirates put into Charles Town, and purchased provisions with their Spanish gold and silver.

Those public robbers, instead of being taken and tried by the laws of England, were treated with great civility and friendship, in violation of the laws of nations. Whether the governor was ignorant of the treaty made with Spain, by which England had withdrawn her former toleration from these plunderers of the Spanish dominions; or whether he was afraid to bring them to trial from the notorious courage of their companions in the West Indies, we have not sufficient authority to affirm.

But one thing is certain, that King Charles II for several years after the restoration, winked at their depredations, and many of them performed such valiant actions as, in a good cause, had justly merited honors and rewards. Even as the case was, King Charles II, out of mere whim, knighted Henry Morgan, a Welshman, who had plundered Porto Bello and Panama, and carried off large treasures from them. For several years so formidable was this body of plunderers in the West Indies, that they struck a terror into every quarter of the Spanish dominions.

Their gold and silver, which these pirates lavishly spent in the colony, ensured to them a kind reception among the Carolinians, who opened their ports to them freely, and furnished them with necessaries. They could purchase the favor of the governor, and the friendship of the people, for what they deemed a trifling consideration. Leaving their gold and silver behind them, for clothes, arms, ammunition and provisions, they embarked in quest of more.

However, the Lords Proprietors, having intelligence of the encouragement given to pirates by Acting Governor Robert Quarry, dismissed him from the office he held; and, in October of 1685, Landgrave Joseph Morton was reinstated in the government of the colony.

On June 3, 1684, Robert Quarry was commissioned Clerk of the Crown. On the same date (another sources says June 9th), Robert Quarry was appointed as a Deputy of Thomas Amy, a Trustee for the Lords Proprietors. On February 20, 1684/5, Robert Quarry was commissioned as Receiver General and Escheater. On March 20, 1684/5, Robert Quarry was commissioned as Secretary.
The splendid adventures of certain buccaneers, during the former century, had thrown a veil over the criminal part of their conduct; and piracy became a fashionable vice. King Charles II, in a paroxysm of folly, conferred the honor of knighthood upon Henry Morgan, who had distinguished himself at Panama and Porto Bello, by his piratical adventures; but it never was suspected that piracy had need of royal patronage.

One of the acting governors of South Carolina, Robert Quarry, was degraded for harboring pirates; and the character of Fletcher, a governor of New York, was stained with the same reproach.

Instructions to James Colleton, Governor of the Province of Carolina, South and West of Cape Fear

March 3, 1687. These include orders to arrest Governor Joseph Morton to answer the complaint against him of encouraging privateers; to arrest Robert Quarry if one Browne, whom he entertained, prove to be not a trader but a pirate; and several other more relating to the harbouring and abetting of pirates.

Bath (for Lord Carteret)
P. Colleton

Imperial control as a remedy for colonial ills was advocated, not merely by interested merchants and zealous officials in England; it was also urged by a small but energetic party in America, including certain officers of the British customs service.

Edward Randolph, for instance, was again busily engaged in writing reports on the violation of the navigation acts in various colonies, and occasionally quarrelling with less zealous officials. Another important representative of the same class was Robert Quarry, for a time Councillor and Acting Governor of South Carolina, afterwards an admiralty judge in the middle colonies, and finally surveyor-general of customs for North America.

Robert Quarry made himself particularly obnoxious to William Penn by his incessant complaints of misgovernment in Pennsylvania. (circa 1689).

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