Today In Charleston History: July 1

1671-Arrivals. Barbadian Faction. 

Sir John Yeamans arrived from Barbados with 50 settlers and more supplies. The lure of Carolina was simple. On Barbados there was only about 100,000 acres of arable land. A large plantation consisted of 200 acres. More than half the landowners possessed less than 10 acres. Just by arriving in Carolina, a Barbadian land owner received fifteen times the amount of land he owned on the island.

Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans

According to the Fundamental Constitutions, Yeamans expected to be named Governor upon his arrival, as he was the only Landgrave present in Carolina. The Constitutions provided that the eldest of the Lords Proprietor who should be present in Carolina should be Governor; if no Proprietor was present then the eldest of the landgraves should assume the position.

Even though the Constitutions had yet to be approved by the Grand Council, it was being used as the blueprint for the colony. Yeamans’ push to become governor created a power struggle and divided the colonists into two groups – the group from Barbados (aligned with Yeamans) and the group from Europe (aligned with Capt. Joseph West). Yeaman’s property was about 30 miles up the Cooper River, in the Goose Creek area, which became a bastion for the Barbadians.

West wrote that Yeamans was “disgusted that the people did not incline to salute him Governor.” 

The Barbadians (Yeamans, Colleton, etc …) looked down on the English immigrants. The English were novices, still adjusting to the shock of colonial life, and stood no chance against this assault by the Barbadians in controlling the government and commerce.

After all, the Barbadians had years of experience in the New World. With their plantations and trading companies, they helped establish the most successful colonial society in the New World. They were independent, experienced, ambitious and often unscrupulous in their quest for riches. They also brought with them a fully established society and lifestyle.

The Barbadians had a well-defined slave code, which was adopted for Carolina. They were devoted to the Anglican Church and lived with:

a combination of old-world elegance and frontier boisterousness. Ostentatious in their dress, dwellings and furnishings, they liked hunting, guns, dogs, military titles liked ‘Captain’ and ‘Colonel’, a big mid-day meal and light supper. They enjoyed long hours at their favorite taverns over bowls of cold rum punch or brandy.

They cast a long shadow and influenced much of the life in Charles Town, establishing the blueprint for what was to become romanticized as “the Old South.” They had little interest in the Proprietors’ notions of a perfect government. Within the year, the Barbadians would control the Council and the Assembly.


Three hundred and thirty tons of rice were exported from Charles Town to England and the West Indies. Edward Randolph, Collector of Customs wrote:

They have now found out the true way of raising and husking Rice. There has been above 300 Tons shipped this year to England besides about 30 Tons more to the Islands.

1781-British Occupation

British Col. Nisbet Balfour ordered all wives and families of the St. Augustine Patriot exiles to leave South Carolina by August 1. Balfour had already learned of the prisoner exchange, and due to the difficulty the British were having in feeding the civilians, they were happy for an excuse to get rid of several hundred people. He also ordered that the St. Augustine prisoners must go to either Philadelphia or Virginia, not Charlestown.


Charleston’s sheriff was reimbursed for the “hire of a Pilot boat to convey Pirates to place of Execution” to Hangman’s Point in the city’s harbor.

1893-Dispensary Act

Saloons in South Carolina were closed by the state-wide Dispensary Act. Alcohol was available ONLY from a state-run Dispensary. Charleston, of course, ignored the law, instituting a “fine-licensing system.” The police “raided” illegal saloons (called blind tigers) on a quarterly basis. The owner pled guilty to violating the Dispensary Act and paid a fine of $25 ($600 in present day currency …and then re-opened until they were “raided” again.


Vincent Chicco’s establishment, c. 1920s. 


Today In Charleston History: May 18

Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans

Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, one of the Lords Proprietors, sent Joseph West a patent making him a Landgrave, and gave him the commission as Governor of Carolina. The Proprietors had received numerous letters of complaints about Governor Sir John Yeamans, 


Joseph Morton of Barbados replaced Joseph West as Governor. According to the Proprietors the change was due to West’s involvement in Indian slave trading. In reality, it was most likely a move to encourage more immigration from Barbados and other islands.

Today In Charleston History: April 19

1672 – Politics
Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans was proclaimed Governor at Charles Town. In the commission letter the Proprietors praised Joseph West’s service, but noted

the nature of our government … required that a Landgrove (titled landowner) should be preferred to any Commoner.

1672 – Move to Oyster Point

Ashley Cooper also gave notice that the settlement should permanently move from Albemarle Point to Oyster Point. The Albermarle settlement did not adhere to the “Grand Modell” specified by the Proprietors. The peninsula, formed by the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, also created natural harbor, perfect for a commercial port. Lord Ashley ordered that the new town be:

layd out into regular streets … six score squares of 300 feet each … the great street should not be less than 100 or six score feet broad; the lesser streets none less than sixty; alleys eight or ten feet.

Each owner of a lot was required to “build a house of two stories in height and at least 30 feet by 16 feet.” One could make the case that this plan of wide, regular streets, laid out in “broad and straight lines” was influenced by Sir Christopher Wren’s checkerboard plan for rebuilding London after the 1666 fire.

1732 – First Concert

The first advertised concert in Charlestown appeared in the Gazette as a “consort [concert] of Musick at the Council Chamber, for the Benefit of Mr. Salter.

1770 – Slavery

An advertisement appeared in the South Carolina Gazette for this runaway slave:

CAESAR: Absented himself from my Plantation . . . plays well on the French horn. 

Today In Charleston History: November 15


Sir John Yeamans wrote to Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper from Barbados: “Sending 12 cedar planks as the first fruits of that glorious province (Carolina).”

Yeamans was well-known to the Carolina Lords Proprietors due to his success as a business man and landowner in Barbados. Yeamans looked down upon his new fellow English colonists as unexperienced. He was determined to use the Carolina venture as a means of elevating his statue and wealth in the New World.

yeamans, sir john

Sir John Yeamans


Today In Charleston History: August 3

 1674 – Deaths.

Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans

Sir John Yeamans died in Carolina.  He was one of original landgraves of the Carolina colonial and became governor. In 1674 Yeamans was removed from office, and at once sailed for Barbados, where he soon afterward died. Robert Weir wrote: 

Yeamans epitomized the enterprising Barbadians who played a large part in settling South Carolina. That some, like him, resembled pirates ashore probably both promoted and retarded development of the colony; it certainly contributed to political factionalism endemic during the early years.

1769 – American Revolution – Foundations.

William Henry Drayton was a twenty-seven year old planter who refused to join the Association. Educated in England, Drayton had expensive tastes and his fondness for gambling left him deeply in debt. He was described as “a rather frivolous young lightweight, unable to get his life in order.”

When Drayton discovered there was no market for his plantation goods, he attacked the Association in the Gazette. The publication of his name was “an infringement of individual rights” and “only the legislature could brand a man an enemy of his country.” He contemptuously called Gadsden: “either traitor or madman who looks upon himself as a monarch … the ruler of the people …[who should be] locked in an insane asylum until the change of the moon.”

1776American Revolution – Continental Congress.  

Most of the members of the Continental Congress officially signed the Declaration of Independence on this day. They then turned their attention to creating a union of the thirteen colonies. South Carolina signers were: Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, Thomas Heyward, Jr. and Thomas Lynch, Jr. 

South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence

South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence.

1781 – British Occupation.

A group of citizens meet Lord Rawdon at the Miles Brewton House to plead for Issac Hayne’s life. Col Hayne’s son, William Hayne wrote:

I recollect also going with my brother Issac & sister Sarah in Company of my Aunt Peronneau to Lieut. Col. Balfour … and on our knees presenting a petition to him in favor of my father but without effect. 


The trial of Aaron Burr began before a packed house. His daughter,Theodosia Burr Alston, sat in the courtroom next to her Charleston husband, Joseph Alston, during the trial. It was written about her:

There is nothing in human history that is more touching than her devotion during this ordeal. Beautiful, intelligent far beyond the average woman of her time, she was the center of admiration throughout the trial.

1836 – Religion.
Angelina Grimke Weld

Angelina Grimke Weld

Angelina Grimke was moved to speak at a silent prayer at the Orange Street Quaker Meeting in Philadelphia. She was interrupted by Jonathon Edwards, suggesting that she stop speaking. This convinced Angelina that she could no longer live in Philadelphia, since the Quakers were not supportive of her abolitionist views.  She wrote, “The incident has proved the means of releasing me from those bonds which almost destroyed my mind.”

     She became a full-fledged public abolitionist.

1864 – Bombardment of Charleston.

In the North Channel just outside the Charleston harbor during the morning, Union officers were exchanged for an equal number of Confederate officers.