Proprietary Government, Ramsay's History pp 26-31 - Steven J. Coker
Subject: Proprietary Government, Ramsay's History pp 26-31
From: Steven J. Coker
Date: July 25, 1998


by David Ramsay, M.D. 
Preface dated "Charleston, December 31st, 1808"
Published in 1858, by W.J. Duffie, Newberry, S.C.  
Reprinted in 1959, by The Reprint Company, Spartanburg, S.C.   
Volume I, CHAPTER II, pp 26-31

Proprietary Government, 
From its Commencement in 1670, till its Abolition in 1719.

The proprietors resolved to try the expedient landgrave Smith had suggested,
and sent out John Archdale, a man of considerable knowledge and discretion - a
quaker and a proprietor.

The arrival of this pious man occasioned no small joy among all the settlers.
Private animosities and civil discords seemed for a while to lie buried in
oblivion. The Governor soon found three interesting matters demanded his
particular attention: to restore harmony and peace among the colonists: to
reconcile them to the jurisdiction and authority of the proprietors: and to
regulate their policy and traffic with the Indians. Such was the national
antipathy of the English settlers to the French refugees, that Archdale found
their total exclusion from all connection with the legislature was absolutely
necessary; and therefore issued writs of elections directing them only to
Berkeley and Colleton counties. Ten members for the one and ten for the other,
all Englishmen, were accordingly chosen by the freemen of the same nation. At
their meeting the Governor made a seasonable speech to both houses,
acquainting them with the design of his appointment - his regard for the
colony - and great desire of contributing towards its peace and prosperity.
They in return presented affectionate addresses to him, and entered on public
business with temper and moderation. Governor Archdale, by his great
discretion, settled matters of general moment to the satisfaction of all
excepting the French refugees. The price of lands, and the form of
conveyances, were fixed by law. Three years' rent was remitted to those who
held land by grant, and four years to such as held them by survey without
grant. It was agreed to take the arrears of quit-rents either in money or
commodities at the option of the planters. Magistrates were appointed for
hearing causes between the settlers and Indians, and finally determining all
differences between them. Public roads were ordered to be made, and water
passages cut for the more easy conveyance of produce to the market. Some
former laws were altered, and such new statutes made as were judged requisite
for the government and peace of the colony. Public affairs began to put on an
agreeable aspect, and to promise fair towards the future welfare of the
settlement. But as for the French refugees, the Governor could do no more than
to recommend to the English freeholders to consider them in the most friendly
point of light and to treat them with lenity and moderation.

No man could entertain more benevolent sentiments with respect to the savages,
than Governor Archdale. To protect them against insults, and establish a fair
trade and friendly intercourse with them, were regulations which humanity
required and sound policy dictated. But the rapacious spirit of individuals
could be curbed by no authority. Many advantages were taken of the ignorance
of Indians in the way of traffic. Several of the inhabitants, and some of
those who held high offices, were too deeply concerned in the abominable trade
to be easily restrained from seizing their persons and selling them for slaves
to the West India planters.

Governor Archdale having finished his negotiations in Carolina, made
preparations for returning to Britain. Though the government, during his
administration, had acquired considerable respect and stability, yet the
differences among the people still remained. Former flames were rather
smothered than extinguished, and were ready on the first stirring to break out
and burn with increased violence. Before he embarked the Council presented to
him an address, to be transmitted to the proprietors, expressing "the deep
sense they had of their Lordship's paternal care for the colony, in the
appointment of a man of such abilities and integrity to the government, who
had been so happily instrumental in establishing its peace and security." They
observed, "that they had now no contending factions nor clashing interests
among the people, excepting what respected the French refugees; who were
unhappy at their not being allowed all the privileges and liberties of English
subjects, particularly those of sitting in assembly and voting at the election
of its members, which could not be granted them without losing the affections
of the English settlers and involving the colony in civil broils - that
Governor Archdale, by the advice of his council, chose rather to refuse them
these privileges than disoblige the bulk of the English settlers - that by his
wise conduct they hoped all misunderstandings between their Lordships and the
colonists were happily removed - that they would for the future cheerfully
concur with them in every measure for the speedy population and improvement of
the country - that they were now levying money, for building fortifications to
defend the province against foreign attacks, and that they would strive to
maintain harmony and peace among themselves." Governor Archdale received this
address with peculiar satisfaction, and promised to present it to the

After his arrival in England he laid this address, together with a state of
the country and the regulations he had established in it, before the
proprietors; and showed them the necessity of abolishing many articles in the
constitutions, and framing a new plan of government. Accordingly they began to
compile new constitutions from his information. Forty one different articles
were drawn up, and sent out, by Robert Daniel, for the better government of
the colony. But when Governor Joseph Blake, successor of Archdale, laid these
new laws before the Assembly for their assent and approbation, they treated
them as they had done the former constitutions; and instead of taking them
under deliberation laid them aside.

The national antipathies against the French refugees in process of time began
to abate. In common with others, they had defied the danger of the desert and
given ample proofs of their fidelity to the proprietors, and their zeal for
the success of the colony. They had cleared little spots of land for raising
the necessaries of life, and in some measure surmounted the difficulties of
the first state of colonization. At this favorable juncture the refugees, by
the advice of the Governor and other friends, petitioned the legislature to be
incorporated with the freemen of the colony and allowed the same privileges,
and liberties, with those born of English parents. Accordingly an act passed
in 1696 for making all aliens, them inhabitants, free - for enabling them to
hold lands, and to claim the same as heirs to their ancestors, provided they
either had petitioned, or should within three month's petition, Governor Blake
for these privileges and take the oath of allegiance to King William. This
same law conferred liberty of conscience on all Christians, with the exception
of papists. With these conditions the refugees, who were all Protestants,
joyfully complied. The French and English settlers being made equal in rights,
became united in interest and affection, and have ever since lived together in
peace and harmony.

This cause of domestic discord was scarcely done away, when another began to
operate. In the year 1700 a new source of contention broke out between the
upper and lower houses of Assembly. Of the latter Nicholas Trott was made
Speaker, and warmly espoused the cause of the people, in opposition to the
interest of the proprietors. The Governor and Council claimed the privilege of
nominating public officers, particularly a Receiver General, until the
pleasure of the proprietors was known. The Assembly, on the other hand,
insisted that it belonged to them. This occasioned much altercation, and
several messages between the two houses. However, the upper house appointed
their man. The lower house resolved that the person appointed by them was no
Public Receiver, and that whoever should presume to pay money to him as such
should be deemed an enemy to the country. Trott denied that they could be
called an upper house, as they differed in the most essential circumstances,
From the House of Lords in England; and therefore induced the Assembly to call
them the proprietors' deputies, and to treat them with indignity and contempt,
by limiting them to a day to pass their bills and an hour to answer their
messages. At that time Trott was eager in the pursuit of popularity; and by
his uncommon abilities and address succeeded so far, that no man had equally
engrossed the public favor and esteem, or carried matters with so high a hand
in opposition to the proprietary counsellors.

In the fourteen years which followed Governor Archdale's return to England, or
From 1696 to 1710, there were four Governors; Joseph Blake, James Moore, Sir
Nathaniel Johnson, and Edward Tynte. The principal events, in this period,
were an unsuccessful invasion of St. Augustine by the Carolinians, and a
successful defence of the province against an attack of the French and
Spaniards; which shall be more particularly explained in their proper places.

In Governor Johnson's administration, which lasted from 1702 to 1709, parties
in Church and State ran high, and there were great commotions among the
people; but on the death of Governor Tynte, in 1710, a civil war was on the
point of breaking out. When Tynte died, there remained only three deputies of
the Lords proprietors. Robert Gibbes, one of these three, was chosen and
proclaimed Governor; but by the sudden death of Mr. Turbevil, one of the three
deputies, who in the morning of the election day had voted for Colonel
Broughton, another of the three deputies, but upon adjournment to the
afternoon changed his mind and voted for Robert Gibbes, it was discovered that
Robert Gibbes had obtained the said second vote of Turbevil by bribery.
Colonel Broughton laid claim to the government, alleging Turbevil's primary
and uncorrupted vote in his favor. Gibbes insisted on his right,* as having
added his own vote to Turbevil's and thereby obtained a majority; and in
consequence thereof was proclaimed Governor, and quietly settled in the
administration. Each persisted in his claim. Many sided with Broughton, but
more with Mr. Gibbes. Broughton drew together a number of armed men at his
plantation and proceeded to Charlestown. Gibbes having intelligence thereof,
caused a general alarm to be fired and the militia to be raised. At the
approach of Broughton's party to the walls and gates of Charlestown, Gibbes
ordered the drawbridge, standing near the intersection of Broad and Meeting
streets, to be hauled up. After a short parley, Broughton's party asked
admittance; Gibbes from within the walls inquired why they came armed in such
a number, and if they would own him for their Governor? They answered, that
they heard there was an alarm and were come to make their appearance in
Charlestown; but would not own him, the said Gibbes, to be their Govervor. He
of course denied them entrance; whereupon many of them gallopped round the
walls towards Craven's bastion, to get entrance there; but being prevented
they soon returned to the drawbridge. By this time some of the inhabitants of
the town, and many sailors appearing there in favor of Broughton, they
proceeded to force a passage and let down the drawbridge. Gibbes' party
opposed, but were not allowed to fire upon them. After blows and wounds were
given and received, the sailors and men of Broughton's party prevailed so far
as to lower down the drawbridge over which they entered and proceeded to the
watch-house in Broad street. There the two town companies of militia were
posted under arms and with colors flying. When Broughton's party came near
they halted, and one of them drew a paper out of his pocket, and began to
read; but could not be heard, because of the noise made by the drums of the
militia. Being balked, they marched towards Granville's bastion, and were
escorted by the seamen on foot who were ready for any mischief. As they passed
the front of the militia, whose guns were presented and cocked, one of the
sailors catching at the ensign, tore it off the staff. On this provocation
some of the militia, without any orders, fired their pieces, but nobody was
hurt. Captain Brewton resolutely drew his sword, went up to the sailor, who
had committed the outrage, and demanded the torn ensign. Captain Evans, a
considerable man of Broughton's party, alighted and obliged the sailor to
return it. Broughton's party continued their march for some time, and then
proclaimed Broughton Governor. After huzzaing, they approached the fort gate,
and made a show of forcing it; but observing Captain Pawley with his pistol
cocked, and many other gentlemen with their guns presented and all forbiding
them at their peril to attempt the gate, they retired to a tavern on the bay;
before which they first caused their written paper or proclamation to be again
read, and then dismounted. After much altercation, many reciprocal messages
and answers, and the mediation of several peace-makers, the controversy was
referred to the decision of the Lords proprietors; and it was agreed that
Colonel Gibbes should continue in the administration of government, until they
determined which of the two should be obeyed as Governor. Their determination
was in favor of neither. The proprietors appointed Charles Craven, who then
held their commission as Secretary, to be Governor. He was proclaimed in form,
and took upon him the administration. During his government, the province was
involved in two sharp contests with the Indians. One in North Carolina with
the Tuscaroras, and another much more distressing with the Yamassees, which
were ably and successfully conducted by the Governor, as shall be related in
its proper place. On his departure for England, in 1716, he appointed Robert
Daniel, Deputy Governor. In the year following, Robert Johnson, son of Sir
Nathaniel Johnson, succeeded to the office of Governor. He was the last who
held that office under the authority of the proprietors.

* These particulars relative to the contest between Gibbes and Broughton for
the office of Governor are stated on the authority of an old manuscript in the
handwriting of the venerable Thomas Lamboll, a native of South Carolina, who
died in the year 1775, upwards of 80 years old.


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