The Royal Colony of South Carolina

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

In 1681, when the Society of Friends (Quaker) leader William Penn (1644-1718) parlayed a debt owed by King Charles II to his father into a charter for the province of Pennsylvania, many more Quakers were prepared to grasp the opportunity to live in a land where they might worship freely.

By 1685, as many as 8,000 Quakers had come to Pennsylvania. Although the Quakers may have resembled the Puritans in some religious beliefs and practices, they differed with them over the necessity of compelling religious uniformity in society.

The peak in the development of Quaker political leadership in the Carolinas was achieved in the appointment of John Archdale, convinced Friend, as Governor of the Carolinas in 1694-1696. During the period beginning with his governorship, a number of Friends were elected to the Assembly, and Quakers were the dominant power in the Carolinas in the last decade of the 17th century. Archdale also appointed several Quakers to the Executive Council in Albemarle County.

Quakers were amoung the earliest settlers of South Carolina. Many of the immigrants were from Barbados (Mayo, Pike, Flewelling) and Bermuda (Basden, Crosse, Bayley, Rawlings). William F. Medlin published an account of early South Carolina families entitled "Quaker Families of South Carolina and Georgia."

Remnants of the early records were sparsely kept. The Quaker records were maintained for the Charles Town Meeting from 1680 through 1786. The Quaker's meetings were held in private homes until 1715, when a meeting house was finally built in Charles Town. Many of the early members were buried in the Friends Burying ground. By 1791, there were only fifteen members in Charleston.

Other Quaker meetings in South Carolina were Bush River Monthly Meeting, in what became Newberry County, South Carolina (established in 1770) and Cain Creek Monthly Meeting, in what became Union County, South Carolina (established 1775), which in 1809 were merged with New Garden Monthly Meeting. Many of the members of Bush River and Cain Creek later moved to Ohio.

The Piney Grove Monthly Meeting in what became Marlboro County, South Carolina began around 1755. Pee Dee, Gum Swamp, and Piney Grove, all meetings on the North Carolina - South Carolina border, were transferred to the Deep River Monthly meeting, and in 1809, were part of New Garden Monthly meeting.

In 1730, Governor Robert Johnson presented his "township scheme" and nine new towns and one large tract were established to promote settlement of the interior parts of South Carolina. Click Here to learn more about this important historical event. In 1732, Fredericksburg Township was established and the town that later became known as Camden was first settled by Quakers and Scots-Irish from Virginia. This settlement happened in present-day Kershaw County, South Carolina.

There are virtually no other references to large-scale Quaker immigration into South Carolina during the Royal Period, but one can certainly believe that at least a few more Quakers made their way from Pennsylvania and Delaware into the colony between 1732 and 1775. When more information is available, it will be added herein.

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