William Bull, Sr.

President of the Council and Acting Governor of South Carolina Province 1737 to 1743



Upon the death of Acting Governor Thomas Broughton on November 22, 1737, the Executive Council elected William Bull as the President of the Executive Council and he became Acting Governor of South Carolina until a new governor would be appointed by the Crown. On June 3, 1738, he was commissioned as Lieutenant Governor by the Crown, and he continued to run the government in South Carolina until Governor James Glen arrived on December 10, 1743.

William Bull was born at Ashley Hall in April of 1683, the son of Stephen Bull, the Deputy of Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, and who came to Charles Town with the first settlers of 1670.

William Bull was elected to represent Berkeley County in the 8th Commons House of Assembly that met from 1706 to 1707; the 10th Commons House of Assembly that met from 1707 to 1708; and the 15th Commons House of Assembly that met from 1716 to 1717.

On June 19, 1719, the Lords Proprietors sent a letter to Governor Robert Johnson informing him that they have appointed twelve (12) new members of his Executive Council, one being William Bull.

Although he clearly supported the Lords Proprietors during the rebellion of 1719, after the Crown took over the administration of South Carolina, William Bull was appointed to serve on His Majesty's Council (known in the province as the Executive Council) from 1721 to 1737. He served on the Executive Council under Governor Sir Francis Nicholson, Acting Governor Arthur Middleton, Governor Robert Johnson, and Acting Governor Thomas Broughton.

When James Ogelthorpe arrived in 1733 to settle Georgia, William Bull was appointed to assist him, and on February 9, 1733, "Mr. Ogelthorpe and Col. Bull marked out the town of Savannah."

Upon the death of Acting Governor Thomas Broughton on November 22, 1737, William Bull was elected President of the Executive Council and became Acting Governor of South Carolina. In 1738, a commission was issued to Samuel Horsey to be the next governor of South Carolina, but he died before leaving England. On June 3, 1738, the Crown issued a commission to William Bull as Lieutenant Governor, and he governed the province until the arrival of Governor James Glen on December 10, 1743.

During his administration, South Carolina suffered from a series of unfortunate events, such as Yellow Fever, Smallpox, destructive fires, and crop-destroying droughts. However, his adminstration was looked upon as one of the more successful and popular in the history of the province.

On September 9, 1739, the Stono Rebellion brought the first significant negro slave insurrection in the colonies up to that point in time. Lt. Governor William Bull managed to suppress it quite effectively, and he soon dispatched a full account to the Board of Trade in London.

William Bull married Mary, daughter of Richard Quintyne, and they had five children. His second son, William Jr., was also very active in South Carolina governmental affairs.

William Bull, Sr. continued as Lt. Governor until his death at his home, Sheldon, on March 21, 1755.

James Oglethorpe and a shipload of colonists, chiefly recruited among the London poor, reached Charles Town without incident on January 13, 1733, and recuperated there before going on to Beaufort. Leaving the Colonists there, Oglethorpe sailed along the coast in a small boat with Colonel William Bull (later to be acting governor of South Carolina), seeking a site for his new colony. 
A trained surveyor, William Bull assisted General James Oglethorpe in the laying out of the Georgia Colony and lent his skills to the plan for Savannah as well. From 1738 until his death in 1755, he served as Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina and between 1737 and 1743, Bull also served as Acting Governor.

Governor William Bull House - 35 Meeting Street, Charleston, South Carolina - The house is believed to have been built in 1720 by the first Lieutenant Governor of SC, William Bull. His son, William Jr. was the first native South Carolinian to recieve a medical degree and like his father, also served as Lieutenant Governor.

Savannah, Georgia - On the square is also a sundial dedicated to Colonel William Bull. Bull was a South Carolinian who came with James Oglethorpe to find a suitable site for the new colony and it was he who suggested the city's current site, after Oglethorpe rejected Tybee Island as being too marshy. Bull also helped implement Oglethorpe's design for the city and Bull Street, the Historic District's east-west dividing line, was named for him as well.
In a letter dated October 5, 1739, less than a month after the Stono Rebellion, Lieutenant Governor William Bull reported to Britian's Board of Trade, informing them of the revolt and updating them on the status of the rebels. Bull, who had personally spread the alarm regarding the revolt, also requests that rewards be offered to Indians who would help recapture the slaves. Click Here to read his 1739 letter.
The Stono Rebellion of 1739 tested the militia's ability to respond to domestic insurrection. The rebels began with a successful attack on a militia arsenal, and then, well armed with guns and ammunition, the slaves set off for Florida and freedom. But, most of the slaves were completely unfamiliar with firearms, and their defense crumbled before Lieutenant Governor William Bull's first charge.

A dozen insurgents were quickly killed and most of the rest taken prisoner. The colony spared no expense in pouring the militia onto the roads and into the swamps of South Carolina in search of escaped rebels, and even hired local Indians to help put down the uprising. Such sustained efforts contrast dramatically with the feeble earlier responses to local white insurrections. Slavery touched the way most whites lived in a manner that politics never could.

Click Here for information on the Executive Council under President and Acting Governor William Bull.

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