The Royal Colony of South Carolina

The English Settlers During the Royal Period (1729 to 1775)

As the predominant group in both North Carolina and South Carolina, the English made up more than 50% of the population at the start of the Royal Period; by the end of British rule their dominance was a mere few percentage points versus the Scots-Irish. As during the rule of the Lords Proprietors, the English group effectively includes those of Welsh heritage since it is very difficult to distinguish the two ethnicities, at least based on surnames and claimed background, with only few exceptions. Those exceptions are spelled out in the separate section within this website for specific groups of Welsh who made it easy for historians to identify and track.

At the time of the first United States census, 1790 (only fifteen years after the end of this period, when the most accurate enumerations were available), the English made up 40.6% of the total North Carolina population, slightly higher than the 36.7% as recorded in South Carolina in that same year. Everyone thinks of the mid-1700s as when the Scots-Irish overwhelmed everyone else by their mass immigration into the Carolinas, but most folks are quite surprised to find out that the English actually outdid the Scots-Irish prior to the American Revolution.

There were many factors that brought the large numbers of immigrants to the Carolinas, both external to the colony as well as events within the colonies that lured new settlers. The external factors are discussed in a separate section in this website. The primary contibuting factors from within South Carolina were: cheap, fertile land with a moderate climate, relative freedom to pursue one's desired lifestyle, and an abundance of natural resources with which to gainfully use, employ, or consume.

The English pretty much settled in all areas of South Carolina, with very few exceptions. Not all areas were settled along with the other ethnic groups in the same location, but sooner or later the English found their way into the same places. The English were very tolerant of all the other groups, and in most cases this was reciprocated. So, those who got along lived together. In very rare instances did specific ethnic groups avoid each other.

Of course, there were conflicts among all of the groups in South Carolina, but most of these conflicts were not particularly caused by ethnic tensions - most were due to idealogical or religious reasons, no matter the groups' country of origin.

Prior to 1729, during the rule of the Lords Proprietors, most of the coastal lands of South Carolina had already been settled, however, most seacoastal areas were mostly very sparsely populated. Crops could not be grown very effectively near the Atlantic Ocean, so the early settlers aimed for the tidal areas along the sounds, rivers, and creeks, which are quite prolific in South Carolina. As indicated in the section covering the Lords Proprietors' rule from 1663 to 1729, the settlement of South Carolina was slow and steady, and it originated in the Charles Town region, then trickled north and south, up and down the coastline.

The colonists were not keen on settling further south of Beaufort due to the ever-present Spanish in Florida, who kept the British on their toes, well after Queen Anne's War of 1703-1714, and the Yamassee War of 1715-1716, which the Spanish helped to instigate. In 1733, Georgia became the last new British colony in the New World, and quite a few in South Carolina helped to explore it, survey it, and settle it.

In the 1720s, the English began settling along the Cape Fear River. Landgrave Thomas Smith II had been granted approximately one hundred thousand acres in what is now Brunswick County and New Hanover County in 1713, but settlement did not begin immediately. Settlement only started in 1725, when Governor George Burrington began to distribute land along the Cape Fear for colonization. Many of the new settlers came from South Carolina because of the lower taxes in North Carolina. Maurice Moore, a Goose Creek man, founded Brunswick Town on his grant on the west bank of the river and by June of 1726, a map of the town was filed with the Secretary of the Province.

The next year a ferry was in operation across the river. A letter of Governor Burrington dated 1723 says he sent out Indian Guides and some of his men to mark a road to the middle of this Province from Virginia to Cape Fear Province River and to discover and view the land lying in those parts until then unknown to the English.

When Anson County, North Carolina was established in 1750 - it included many thousands of acres of South Carolina that did not get "transferred" until the NC-SC border survey was finally agreed to in 1815.

Most of the South Carolinians that settled along the Cape Fear River were English, from the Charles Town and Goose Creek area, and they arrived in the 1720s and 1730s in great numbers.

Moving inland was not particularly easy, nor without much travail. Shallow-draft boats were specially built by ingenuous settlers who wanted to be "away from the maddening crowd" of the seacoast, and intrepid settlers went as far up the few navigable rivers as they possibly could, as early as the 1690s. But, there were Native Americans who were not too happy with this and they let the colonists know about it as early as 1693 as well as during the Yamassee War of 1715-1716. When this was over, the "west" began to open up, but it was a very slow and painful process.

It was not until 1730, when Governor Robert Johnson dreamed up the Township Act (click here to read more about this and see a map), that South Carolinians really began to move to the interior of the colony. Nine townships and one undefined tract were created, and within two years all were being settled by the various ethnic groups that would eventually comprise the total of South Carolina.

When the Crown took over the colony in 1729, the English were the predominant group in all of what are the present-day counties of Jasper, Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry. During the Royal Period, the English expanded into all areas of South Carolina that had been firmly settled by the beginning of the American Revolution.

In the 1730s, the English settled in what are the present-day counties of Williamsburg, Orangeburg, Calhoun, Kershaw, and Aiken. In the 1740s, they progressed to what are the present-day counties of Florence, Marion, Dillon, Darlington, Marlboro, Chesterfield, Hampton, Sumter, Lexington, Richland, Abbeville, and Union.

During the 1750s, the English made their way to what are present-day Lancaster, Chester, and York counties in the northern part of the colony, more than 140 miles from the Atlantic coastline. In the midlands, they went to what are present-day Lee and Clarendon counties. They also made it to what are present-day backcountry counties of Newberry, Laurens, and Greenwood. Not sure if they made it to Spartanburg of Edgefield counties by the 1750s, but the Scots-Irish did, so it is very likely.

By 1770, the English were in all of the present-day counties of South Carolina except for Greenville, Anderson, Pickens, and Oconee - all still considered Cherokee lands until 1777, a mere two years after the Royal Period.

Of course, there were pockets where some other ethnic group had prominence with very few English during the Royal Period, but these did not last long, and of course there were English nearby - and they were certainly the "power group" of both Carolinas since they were the largest and best financed group in both colonies.

Interestingly, during this period, there were very few who emigrated from North Carolina into South Carolina, even though the reverse is not true at all. The only real instance of this was when Anson County, North Carolina was created it "accidentally" included many thousands of acres that were actually in South Carolina, and the residents in the northeastern part of South Carolina went years before their land grants and deeds were finally straightened out - well into the 1830s. Some who discovered that their lands were "now" in South Carolina picked up and moved back to North Carolina.

There definitely was this "tension" between the two colonies, and it was mostly fostered by the North Carolinians who simply did not like that fact that South Carolina had been founded on the "plantation" concept of the Barbadians, who had virtually no influence on the northern colony. South Carolina had more wealth and more influence with England than did North Carolina, and for the longest time South Carolina had a larger population as well as many more slaves.

But, like any two siblings, if an outsider said anything "bad" about South Carolina, the North Carolinians would be the first to step in and get 'em to back off. 'Nuff said, huh?

Amazing what an artificial creation such as a "boundary" does to people, but it's a fact of life.

© 2007 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved