Landgrave - Thomas Smith, Sr.

It has been said that Landgrave Thomas Smith was the son of Cassique John Smith, but this is entirely untrue.

This man appears to have been a "Chirurgeon" because of a clause in his will which bequeaths to his son, George, "all my instruments that belong to chiurgevy and one-half of all my medicines... alsoe my large brass mortal and pestle."

His wife, Barbara, died prior to March of 1687. She had been the widow of John d'Arsens, Seignieur de Wernhaut, apparently a Dutch or Flemish gentleman of some means, and whom the Lords Proprietors authorized, on September 29, 1686, a quantity of land, not exceeding 12,000 acres, simply because he was the first of his nation to settle in the Province. Thomas Smith, having married the widow, made application that the 12,000 acres be transferred to him, and since there were no children involved, the Lords Proprietors, on December 9, 1689, granted his request.

On October 6, 1690, the Lords Proprietors commissioned Thomas Smith, "one of the Cassiques of Carolina," as the next governor of the Province. However, due to the recent arrival of one of the Lords Proprietors and ex-governor of North Carolina, Seth Sothel had taken it upon himself to appoint himself governor instead.

It is then recorded that Thomas Smith was among the Grand Council (Executive Council) on May 13, 1691. He was soon appointed Deputy for Thomas Amy, one of the Lords Proprietors, on April 19, 1692. On April 12, 1693, he was commissioned as Sheriff of Berkeley County. Then, on November 29, 1693, he was appointed Governor once again. He served until his death, at the age of 46 years, in November of 1694. He was buried on his Medway Plantation on the Black River, where his tombstone still exists.

Thomas Smith was created a Landgrave on May 13, 1691, which entitled him to 48,000 acres of land, but he apparently never sought or received that much. His total grants included six lots in Charles Town, 2,850 acres on Medway or Black River, 500 acres on Ashley River, and 350 acres elsewhere in Berkeley County. His home in Charles Town was of considerable size because on September 20, 1692, the Commons House of Assembly met there.

By his will, dated June 26, 1692, the first Landgrave devised all his lands to his eldest son, Thomas, who was at that time styled as "Capt. Thomas Smith, and who was a member of the Commons House of Assembly in 1694. By a codicil of his will, dated July 15, 1693, he assigned to Landgrave Joseph Blake his patent as Landgrave with all the baronies and rights thereto. This was most likely a temporary transfer as security for debt, for we soon find his son, Thomas II, as Landgrave and acquiring more lands.


Source: The Baronies of South Carolina by Henry A.M. Smith, as published in the South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Volume XIII, 1912.
In 1779 An Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of the Colonies of South Carolina and Georgia, by Rev. Alexander Hewat, D. D., was published in London. After alluding to Landgrave Thomas Smith’s accession to the governorship in 1693 Dr. Hewat says:

"About this time a fortunate accident happened, which occasioned the introduction of rice into Carolina, a commodity which was afterwards found very suitable to the climate and soil of the country. A brigantine from the island of Madagascar touching at that place in her way to Britain, came to anchor off Sullivan’s island. There Landgrave Smith, upon an invitation from the captain, paid him a visit, and received from him a present of a bag of seed rice, which he said he had seen growing in eastern countries, where it was deemed excellent food, and produced an incredible increase.

The governor divided his bag of rice between Stephen Bull, Joseph Woodward, and some other friends, who agreed to make the experiment, and planted their small parcels in different soils. Upon trial they found it answered their highest expectations. Some years afterwards, Mr. DuBois, treasurer to the East India Company, sent a bag of seed rice to Carolina, which, it is supposed, gave rise to the distinction of red and white rice, which are both cultivated in that country. Several years, however, elapsed, before the planters found out the art of beating and cleaning it to perfection, and that the lowest and richest lands were best adapted to the nature of the grain."

In his History of South Carolina, published in 1809, Dr. David Ramsay furnishes this account of how rice was introduced into South Carolina:

"Landgrave Thomas Smith who was Governor of the province in 1693, had been at Madagascar before he settled in Carolina. There he observed that rice was planted and grew in low and moist ground. Having such ground at the western extremity of his garden attached to his dwelling house in East bay-street, he was persuaded that rice would grow therein if seed could be obtained. About this time a vessel from Madagascar being in distress, came to anchor near Sullivan’s island. The master of this vessel inquired for Mr. Smith as an old acquaintance.

An interview took place. In the course of conversation Mr. Smith expressed a wish to obtain some seed rice to plant in his garden by way of experiment. The cook being called said he had a small bag of rice suitable for that purpose. This was presented to Mr. Smith who sowed it in a low spot of his garden, which now forms a part of Longitude lane. It grew luxuriantly. The little crop was distributed by Mr. Smith among his planting friends. From this small beginning the first staple commodity of Carolina took its rise."

In 1704 Edward Crisp prepared a map of Charles Town, to which he appended a key giving the locations of the principal landmarks, public and private. This map was published in London soon thereafter. It is in thorough accord with the early official plans of the town, which are still in possession of the State. Running up into the square bounded by Church, Tradd and East Bay streets and a creek which ran about where Water Street is now located was a creek which almost divided the square into eastern and western parts.

Crisp marked this creek with an M on his map and noted it on his key as a creek. His key letters stopped at W. Ramsay reproduced Crisp’s map for his history, crediting it to Crisp, without saying that it had been altered or revised by Ramsay, and omitted the creek from the key and assigned each letter from M to V to the next succeeding object on Crisp’s key. That left him without an object for his W. He provided one. He placed a W on the east side of the creek and entered it on the key as “first rice patch in Carolina.” The following facts constitute the basis for such a claim. Lot No. 5 on the original plan of Charles Town lay on this square and was the second lot south of Tradd Street and extended from East Bay to the creek above referred to. It was granted to Thomas Smith, June 14, 1689.

This lot is not mentioned in the Landgrave’s will, made in 1692, but on March 26, 1698, the wharf before that part of lot No. 5 belonging to Thomas Smith was granted to the said Thomas Smith and the wharf before that part of lot No. 5 belonging to George Smith was granted to the said George Smith. These were the two sons, only children, of the elder Landgrave Thomas Smith, who had died in November, 1694. By his will he gave his town house to George Smith but did not state where it was. Crisp’s map of 1704 shows that Landgrave Thomas Smith, the son above referred to, had his dwelling on lot No. 5 at that time and upon that showing Ramsay boldly assigned the back end of that lot as the site of the alleged rice patch of the first Landgrave Smith, notwithstanding the fact that the said creek and marsh were both salt and that that “low and moist ground” would not have produced rice.


 


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