The American Revolution in South Carolina

Capture of Georgetown

July 1, 1780

Patriot Cdr:

British Cdr:

Mariot Arbuthnot






Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Georgetown County

On July 1st, Vice-Admiral Mariot Arbuthnot with Capt. John Plumer Ardesoif seized ships in Georgetown harbor and sent sailors upriver in armed barges to plunder Patriot plantations. These British officers then read General Sir Henry Clinton's recent two proclamations to the residents of Georgetown informing them that they now must take up arms against the Patriot rebels.

Major John James, the recognized leader of the Kingstree Regiment now that Col. Archibald McDonald was on parole after being captured at the fall of Charlestown, decided to ride down to Georgetown and find out from the source if his men were truly expected to take up arms against their fellow Patriots. Major James rode into Georgetown, wearing the plain garb of a small-time country planter, and he was presented to Capt. John Ardesoif at his headquarters, not far from his nearby ship.

Capt. Ardesoif, surprised that such an emissary might come to visit him, answered, "the submission must be unconditional." To Major James's next question as to whether the local inhabitants would not be allowed to stay at home, upon their plantations, in peace and quiet... Capt. Ardesoif replied, "Although you have rebelled against his majesty, he offers you a free pardon, of which you are undeserving, for you ought all to be hanged, but as he offers you a free pardon, you must take up arms in support of the cause."

Major John James stated that the people he represented would not submit to such terms, and Capt. Ardesoif responded, "You damned rebel. If you speak in such language I will immediately order you to be hanged up to the yard arm..." Since Capt. Ardesoif was getting quite angry and he wore a sword, Major James quickly grabbed a chair and brandished it in the face of the angry British officer, then quickly retreated out the back door, mounted his nearby horse, and made his escape into the country.

Major James Wemyss, with the 63rd Regiment of Foot, arrived on July 11th and thus began the British occupation of Georgetown.

On July 14th, Major James Wemyss sent the following to Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis:

"We Inhabitants in and about George Town Winyah beg leave to represent to Major Wemyss, that as the original cause of the disputes between Great Britain and her colonies was our being taxed without being represented -- and by a Proclamation of the 1st June last issued by His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton Knight of the Bath General and Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Forces in America, and Mariot Arbuthnot Esquire Vice Admiral of the Blue and Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Ships, We are assured that we shall not be taxed but by our representatives in General Assembly, We are therefore desirous of becoming British Subjects in which capacity we promise to behave ourselves with all becoming fidelity and loyalty."


Daniel Tucker
William Heriot
George Heriot
Thomas Mitchell
Edward Mitchell
Paul Trapier
Samuel Wragg
George Croft
Benjamin Young
John Allston, Jr.

These men were granted protection by the British and sat out the remainder of the war. Most did not later lose their lands due to confiscation, but many paid a healthy fine as a result.

From other accounts, it is learned that many other men were sent to the "sea islands" south of Charlestown for their parole since the British considered them to be the most likely to stir up trouble if they were allowed to remain at their plantations while on parole.

© 2008 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved