Harriott Horry Ravenel.

Charleston, the place and the people online

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St. Michael's Church








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All rights reserved




Copyright, 1906,

Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1906.

Nortuooti $3rcs3

J. S. Cushing & Co. — Berwick & Smith Co.

Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.


This book has not the slightest pretension to be the
continuous history of the City of Charleston.

The writer has simply chosen from the story of its two
hundred and fifty years such events as seem to her to
have had most to do in shaping the fortunes of the men
who made the town, or best to illustrate the character of
their children who have lived in it.

What that fortune and character were, it is to be hoped
the book may show. The writer has made no attempt to
judge her people ; has only tried to draw them as they
appeared to themselves and to their contemporaries.

With this view she has used, wherever possible, the
accounts of the actors in the drama, or of those who knew
them best, — the earliest histories and memoirs to be
found, especially the publications of the Hon. William A.
Courtenay, and of the Historical Society of South Caro-
lina, the " Shaftesbury Papers," and others.

She is under great obligations to friends who have
assisted her with letters or information in their possession,
— to Mrs. Julius Hey ward of Middleton Place; to Mrs.
John Kinloch (daughter of the historian and novelist of
Carolina, W. Gilmore Simms) ; to Miss Pringle, Miss Alston
and Miss Conner ; to the Hon. James Simons, Vice Presi-
dent-General of the Cincinnati; to Captain Thomas and
Captain C. C. Pinckney; to Dr. Henry Middleton Fisher;
of Philadelphia; to D. Huger Bacot, Esq.; to Professor


Yates Snowden, University of South Carolina; and to
Theodore D. Jervey, Esq. Also to Miss R. M. Pringle,
Miss R. P. Ravenel, and others who have recalled to her
the tales and legends of bygone days. These latter, when
resting on tradition only, are introduced by " there was a
story" or "the legend was."

It is hardly necessary to mention the extraordinary
obligation which every student of the Annals of Carolina
must be under to her chief historian, the late General
Edward McCrady.

For the chapter entitled " Confederate Charleston," the
authorities are the " Life of General Beauregard," by
Alfred Roman, papers published in the " Year Books of
Charleston," and the " Defence of Charleston Harbour,"
by John Johnson, engineer in charge, — now rector of
St. Philip's.

For the reminiscent tone which has crept into the last
chapters, the writer apologizes. She could not write


Charleston, South Carolina,
June 20, 1906.




His Most Sacred Majesty. The Lords Proprietors . 1


The Founding of the City. The Coming of the Hugue-
nots 13

The Murder of the Scots. Intolerance .... 26

Church Acts. The Country for the Queen ... 37

Tuscaroras and Yemassees 59

The Conquest of the Pirates 69


The King against the Lords. The Building of St.

Philip's 83


General Oglethorpe and St. Augustine. The Reverend

George AVhitfield 105





Governor Glenn's Picture of Carolina .... 117

Attakullakulla. The Stamp Act 138


Governor Lord Charles Montagu. Gathering of the

Storm 164

State Government Established. The First Shot Fired 202

Battle of Fort Moultrie 230

Prevost's Raid. Siege and Fall of Charleston . . 249

The Captured City. Marion's Men 275

Execution of Colonel Hayne. Deliverance . . . 314

Restoration. Washington and La Fayette . . . 337

Characteristics. Structure of Society .... 378




War of 1812. Nullification 416

Social Topics. Mexican War 458

Confederate Charleston. The End 486



St. Michael's Church Frontispiece


Old Town Plantation 3

Along Goose Creek 8

Ashley Hall Plantation 14

Glebe House 19

The Huguenot Church 21

Congregational Church, Dorchester 24

Avenue of Oaks at " The Oaks," Goose Creek opposite 38

Goose Creek Church "58

Mulberry Castle, "Broughton's Fort," Cooper River . 64

A Corner of the Battery Garden 79

Drayton Hall 88

Magnolia Gardens, on Ashley River . . . opposite 90

The Second St. Philip's Church 96

St. Michael's Church from Broad Street ... 98

St. Philip's from the Huguenot Churchyard . . . Ill
Early Brick Houses on Tradd Street .... 115
Under the Portico, South Carolina Society Hall,

Meeting Street 118

A Bit of a Typical Charleston Garden .... 121
The Pr ingle House, King Street . . . opposite 128

Court House Square 135




The Old Building at Ashley Hall, where Indian

Treaty was Signed 142

St. Michael's from Meeting Street 157

The Rhett House, Hasel Street 167

The William Huger House, Meeting Street . . . 171

The Statue of Pitt opposite 172

St. Michael's Churchyard 174

St. Michael's Alley 181

The " Corner," Broad and Church Streets . . . 186

Entrance to Fort Moultrie 192

Relic of Tappy Wall 262

Old Powder Magazine, Cumberland Street . opposite 268

The Old Exchange, Foot of Broad Street . . . 272

The "Proyost" 277

House at Corner of Tradd and Orange Streets, from

which it is said general marion fell . . . 285

Gadsden's Wharf 333

Charleston College 347

Typical House in Meeting Street . . . . . 351

The Liye-oaks at Otranto 353

The House where President Washington stayed, in

Church Street . . . . .. . . . . 361

Castle Pinckney at Present Time 374

General William Washington's House .... 407

Judge Grimke's House 429

End of Drawing-room of the Pringle House . opjposite 432

The Pringle House 436

Stoll's Alley 439

The Mansion House — "Eliza Lee's" 460



The Old Planters' Hotel 462

Old Wharves along the Harbour Front .... 465
The Simonton Gateway, Legare Street .... 470

The Sea Wall — East Battery 477

The East Battery opposite 480

The South Portal and Gates, St. Philip's Church . 483

St. Philip's Church opposite 484

Fort Sumter " 488

Old Warehouses near East Bay ..... 493
Looking over the City toward the Cooper Kiver opposite 496
Gateway, St. Michael's Churchyard 502




IN the year of our Lord 1679 the Lords Proprietors of
the Province of Carolina on the Continent of North
America ordered the Governor of their said province to
remove his " Towne of Trade" (a small settlement on the
west bank of the Ashley River) to the peninsula opposite,
tying between what we call the Ashley and the Cooper
rivers, but which were known to the Indians as the Kiawah
and the Wando.

The Lords Proprietors were certain nobles and gentle-
men to whom his Most Sacred Majesty King Charles II.
had, in gratitude for services rendered to his father and
himself, given all that territory " situate between the south-
ernmost parts of Virginia, and the river San Mathias,"
the northern boundary of the Spanish dominions.

These gentlemen were : Lord Clarendon, the great his-
torian ; the Duke of Albemarle, who, as General Monk,
had brought back the King from exile to " enjoy his own
again"; the sagacious statesman, Sir Anthony Ashley
Cooper, Lord Ashley (afterward Earl of Shaftesbury) ;
Lord Craven, the preux chevalier of the age, who, like a
knight of old, had vowed life and fortune to the service
of the beautiful Elizabeth Stuart, Queen of Bohemia —
and of Hearts ; Lord Berkeley ; Sir George Carteret ; Sir
John Colleton; and Sir William Berkeley, — all gallant
and loyal cavaliers.

All these had done and suffered much in the service of
the two Charleses, and to allow them, at their own expense,

B 1


to secure and settle a province was an easy way to pay
a debt of gratitude. Moreover, the King expressly stated
in the charter, or patent, which he granted them, that he
did so, finding that they " were incited by a laudable and
pious design of propagating the Christian religion and the
enlargement of the English empire and dominion," —
matters which the Merry Monarch was suspected of not
having deeply at heart.

The territory which he gave had not always been
claimed by England; indeed, its very name "Carolina"
had been given a hundred years before, by a luckless band
of French Huguenots sent by the great Admiral Coligny
to find a refuge for "men of the religion' in the New
World. They, led by the Sieur Jean Ribault, had landed
at the " fair entrance ' to which they gave the name of
Port Royal. Delighted with the beauty and fertility of
the country, they claimed and named it for their king,
Charles IX. of France ; built a fort and raised the
French flag. But misfortune overtaking them, they
abandoned the place, only to be done to death by the
Spaniards at St. Augustine, — dying for their faith and
scorning to abjure.

In the reign of Charles II. a ruined fort, a broken
column carved with the fleur-de-lys, and the names " Caro-
lina " and " Port Royal " alone remained to tell the tale.

The country had, for nearly a century, "lain like a
derelict' to be taken by the first comer, so England
stepped in and claimed it for her own. There were
many difficulties and delays, but the Proprietors sent
exploring expeditions, on one of which a bold captain,
Robert Sandford, coasting along from the Cape Fear to
Port Royal, landed and " took seizin by turtle and twigge '
of the territory in the name of the King and realm of

Three years later the first settlement was made by a


colony sent from England via Barbadoes and Bermuda,
commanded by Captain William Sayle. Sayle, after ex-

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Old Town Plantation

Site of the first Charleston. The present city lies across the Ashley River, in

the distance.

amining St. Helena Island and Port Royal, decided upon
going northward to what the Spaniards called St. George's
Bay, but which Sandford, in honour of the Proprietor


who had taken the chief interest in the matter, had named
the "River Ashley."

Here they landed and built a little town and called it
" Albemarle Point," afterwards " Charles Town," a small
place of nine acres, with the river on one side, a creek
on the other, and a little ditch and palisade between it
and the boundless forest at the back, — the forest in which
were terrible beasts and yet more terrible men — the men
of the " shaven head and the painted face," who had laid
St. Helen's waste only a year before. In this little com-
pany of one hundred and sixty souls were several women.
Surely the women of those days must have been heroic
creatures ! What did they think and feel, those mothers
of Carolina, as they looked from their low bluff upon the
wilderness around ? Had they the prophetic vision of
comfort and plenty and happy homes for their children,
or did the trials and privations of the present fill their
hearts? However they may have felt, no word of fear
escaped them; the letters tell of suffering, but never of

At Albemarle Point they endured all the first horrors
of colonization. Want, hunger, sickness, danger from
Indians, and so on. Their food was for a time reduced to
one pint of " damnified peas " a day, and but for the help
of the friendly Indians they might have starved. These
were their neighbours, and their friendship was gained
chiefly by the wisdom of one man, a " brave chirurgeon,"
Mr. Henry Woodward, who, having accompanied Sand-
ford on his exploring expedition, had offered to remain
for a whole year alone among the savages, to learn their
language and interpret for his people when they should
return. The nephew of the chief, " the Cassique of
Kiawah," had taken his place on Sandford's ship in
order to learn English, and had great influence in deciding
the choice of Ashley River as the place of settlement.


Woodward had gained the favour of his Indian hosts and
was thus enabled to avert dangers which would have
overwhelmed the little band.

For the government of their colony the Proprietors
had prepared a singular code of laws. By their charter
from the King, Avhich granted them all the territory
now comprised in the states of North and South Carolina
and Georgia, with an indefinite extension westward " to
the South Seas," they were enjoined to establish the
Church of England, and permitted to grant liberty of
conscience. They might make iaws, but only with the
consent of the " greater part' of the people (a most
unusual provision for those days) ; they were to estab-
lish a nobility, but not to give the nobles English titles;
and place and people were ever to remain " of His
Majesty's allegiance."

The Province was to be created a County Palatine,
and the Proprietors, the oldest of whom, for the time
being, was to be the Palatine, were authorized to build
forts, castles, towns, etc., to appoint governors and
officers, to make laws, levy taxes and customs, establish
the Church of England, wage war, pursue their enemies,
put down rebellion, tumult, and sedition. All these
powers they were "to have, use and enjoy in as ample
a manner as any Bishop of Durham in our kingdom of
England ever heretofore held, used, or enjoyed."

A " County Palatine ' is a frontier province where,
for the prompt action needful when enemies are close
at hand, the King delegates the supreme power to a
" Palatine," who can exercise for the time all regal func-
tions. Such had been the English counties of Chester,
Lancashire, and Durham, in the days when the Welsh
threatened the west country, and the Cathedral of Dur-
ham was " half Church of God, half tower against the
Scot." Of the three, in the reign of Charles II., Durham


alone kept its ancient privilege ; and so the powers of
that feudal potentate, the Lord Bishop, were cited as the
model for those of the Proprietors of Carolina.

This charter was for a long time as dear to the people
of Carolina as is Magna Carta to the English. In
addition Lord Ashley (not yet Lord Shaftesbury), call-
ing to his aid the great philosopher John Locke, pre-
pared the " Fundamental Constitution," which enlarged
and added to the statutes of His Majesty. Among
other things it arranged for the proposed "-nobility," "in
order to avoid a too numerous democracy." This nobility
was little more than a plutocracy, depending upon the
amount of land owned by a man, which might be bought
by him, without regard to birth or breeding, or service
to the State. The titles passed by purchase as well as by

As land was held at a penny an acre, it did not re-
quire a large fortune to become a " baron " with twelve
thousand acres, a cassique with twenty-four thousand,
or even a landgrave (these were the titles chosen) with
forty-eight thousand. The estates were called " baronies,"
and there were many which long kept the name, as the
" Wadboo," the " Broughton," the " Colleton," the " Fair-
lawn BaronjV but no one was addressed as "baron"
or "cassique," and the landgraves, who were generally
given the title to qualify them as governors (there were
some exceptions), simply prefixed the title to their sur-
names. No man was landgrave of Edisto or of Accabee,
but Landgrave Morton or Landgrave Smith. Neither
did any " lord of the manor " exercise manorial rights over
white leetmen or negro slaves. Furnished w T ith this con-
stitution and with some more practical " Temporary
Laws," the colony began its career.

A contemporaneous, facsimile copy of this constitution
(commonly called " Locke's ") is among the treasures


of the Charleston Library, and may be seen by the

Governor Sayle had brought with him only one hun-
dred and sixty persons, bat the number of inhabitants
was rapidly increased by subsequent immigration.
Especially was this the case when Governor Sir John
Yeamans came from Barbadoes, bringing with him ne-
groes accustomed to the agriculture of the islands and
to labour under tropical suns. By so doing he decided
the institutions and conditions of Carolina for all future

Yeamans was the son of an alderman of Bristol who
had suffered death for his fidelity to the crown. He
himself had warmly supported the royal cause in Bar-
badoes, already a thriving colony. For so doing and
for prospective services in colonization he, Sir Peter
Colleton, and some other gentlemen of like principles, had
been made baronets ; — the old people used to refer to
them as "only-badian Baronets." He had. provoked the
colonists by not accompanying them on their voyage and
they vainly protested against his appointment now. In
many respects he made a bad Governor, oppressing the
people by his exactions, and offending the Proprietors by
demands for buildings and fortifications, which although
needed they had no mind to give.

Still, he had the advantage of understanding the needs
and resources of a new colony, putting the place into a
tolerable state of defence, and pointing out the agricul-
ture suited to the climate. He also showed the resources
of the forests, cutting and sending to Lord Ashley twelve
great logs of cedarwood, as the first-fruits of his new
possession. From that time the demand for cedar was as
constant and eager as was that of Solomon upon Hiram,
King of Tyre.

A still more important service was, that by his advice



and influence many rich planters from Barbadoes and
other West Indian Islands came to the Province, bringing
their negroes with them. They settled themselves chiefly
on a small affluent of the Cooper, called, from the fancied

WW" ' y -T ■

Along Goose Creek

resemblance of its winding course to the curving neck of
the goose, " Goose-creek. ' Thence, they and their friends
on the Ashley and Cooper were known as the " Goose-
creek men."

They differed from the " plain people " — mostly dis-
senters — who had come out with Sayle, in being generally


of a higher class, wealthy, and members of the Church of
England. Thus began — and not from the fanciful no-
bility — that untitled class of landed gentry which, per-
fectly well understood and accepted during the colonial
period, survived the Revolution and formed a distinct and
influential element of Charleston society down to 1865.

Long after Yeamans had been removed this movement
continued, and gentlemen of wealth and position arrived
from England and the Islands to the great benefit of the

It was during Sir John's term of office that the question
of removing the first town was mooted, and Mr. Dalton,
secretary to the " Grand Council," wrote the following
letter to Lord Ashley, who had proposed a new " Towne
of Trade" in January, 1671.

" We cannot reasonably believe that the world is now
asleep, or that the Spaniard has forgot his sullenness,
therefore as it has been the practice of the most skilful
settlers, soe it will become us, to erect townes of safety as
well as of Trade, to which purpose there is a place —
between Ashley and Wando rivers, about six hundred
acres left vacant for a towne and Fort, by the direction of
the old Governor Coll. Sayle, for that it commands both
the Rivers. It is not a mile over between River and
river, with a bold landing free from any marsh, soe as
many shipps as can may ride before the Towne at once,
and as many shipps as can come into the River under the
protection of the fort, if one should be there.

" It is as it were a Key to open and shut this settlement
into safety or danger ; Charles Towne [their first town]
indeed can very well defend itself, and that's all ; but
that like an iron gate shutts up all the Townes that are or
may be in these rivers ; besides it has a full view of the
sea, being but a league or a few miles from the mouth of
the river and noe shipp can come upon the Coast but


may be seen from thence and may receive the benefit of a
Pilott from that Towne."

" The settlements being thick about it, it cannot be
surprised [he probably means by Indians] it is likewise
the most convenient for building and launching of shipps
as large as can come into this harbour. It must of neces-
sity be very healthy, being free from any noxious vapors,
and all the summer long being refreshed with continual
cool breathings from the sea, which up in the country men
are not soe fully sensible of."

No better description of the site of Charleston and of
its harbour could be written to-day. Its inhabitants are
still "all the summer long refreshed with cool breathings
from the sea" ; and for its strength, the fleets of France
and Spain, of England, and of the United States, have all
tried to force the iron gate, — and failed.

In September of the same year Lord Ashley wrote to
Sir John, "Above all things let me recommend to you the
making of a Port Town upon the River Ashley," etc.

Sir John was evidently of the same mind as his old
predecessor, and took the first steps by negotiating with
the persons who had taken up the land between the two
rivers. Accordingly in February, 1672, Mr. Henry
Hughes and " John Coming and Affra his wife " appeared
before the Grand Council and surrendered their land,
" nere a place upon Ashley River known as Oyster Point
to be imployed in and towards enlarging of a Towne and
Common of Pasture there intended to be erected."

" Mr. John Coming and Affra his wife " are perhaps the
most interesting people of that early time, because it is
impossible not to suspect a romance concerning them.

For why should " Mistress Affra Harleston of Mollyns,
daughter of John Harleston Gent., of a family long seated
at South Ockenden Essex, and having estates in Ireland,"
come out to America as servant to Mr. Owens, but for a


sentimental reason? Her father's house, as described in
the inventory, contained "seller, parlour, kitchen, larder,
great chamber, painted chamber, nurserie, butterie, gal-
lerie to the garretts," etc. Why, having everything thus
handsome about her, did she leave it all, if it were not to
marry John Coming, first mate of the Carolina, and
afterward captain of the good ships Edisto and Bless-
ing? Coming was a hardy Devonshire sailor of the
race of Drake and Raleigh and Kingsley's heroes. The
family tradition says, that having lost a ship some time
before he had been accused of cowardice, whereupon he
had with his own hands built and rigged a longboat, in
which he had crossed the Atlantic. He must have been
a man of means, for on first arrival he settled a place on
Ashley River and afterward one on the Cooper. His
name lives in " Comings Point," the southern cape of
Charleston Harbour, charted by him in 1671, and in the
fine plantation " Coming-tee," now in possession of his
collateral descendants, the Balls.

This may have been the first runaway match in South
Carolina !

Mrs. Affra has kept the town waiting, but in fact it
waited long. Sir John Yeamans fell into disgrace with
the Proprietors, as before said, and was superseded before
anything more Avas done. He withdrew to Barbadoes
"with much estate but small esteem." His wife, " Dame
Margaret," had been known in a right womanly way while
in the Province. Two unfortunate men had been con-
demned to death for desertion, but were pardoned " on
account of the warmest solicitations of Margaret Lady
Yeamans and the rest of the ladyes and gentlewomen
of this Province." Her daughter married James Moore,
afterward Governor, and has left numerous descendants

Online LibraryHarriott Horry RavenelCharleston, the place and the people → online text (page 1 of 38)