The Scotch Irish in Charleston and Williamsburg, South Carolina, after 1718
Settlements which were so far to the south that they were constantly menaced by the Spaniards and their Indian allies grew slowly. At Port Royal and Charleston the Scotch, both free men and deported prisoners taken in battle, were very early in residence.
About the year 1685 an Independent, or as some called it, a Presbyterian church was organized, and it had a prosperous history for half a century. The career of its chief minister, the Rev. Archibald Stobo, has already been referred to. His successor, the Rev. William Livingston, from the North of Ire land, preached from 1704 to 1720, when he died.
In 1731 or 1732 about a dozen members of this first church, including James Abercrombie, John Allen, Daniel Crowford, John Bee,John Fraser, George Ducaff or Ducat, and James Paine or Payne, withdrew and formed a new organization, worshipping in a small wooden building, with the Rev. Hugh Stewart for their minister. These families were alarmed by an evident trend in the sentiment of the majority toward Congregationalism, and since they adhered loyally to the Westminster Confession they wished to be free to maintain a minister of their own faith.
Some of the founders of this seceding or Scotch Presbyterian church in Charleston in 1732 were probably Scotch Irish. The statement that John Witherspoon s daughter, who had died immediately after his arrival from Ireland, was the first person buried in the new church field implies that there were religious and perhaps racial ties which governed this choice of a spot; although in the older church there continued members bearing Scottish names.
In 1717 the town of Beaufort on the Island of Port Royal was laid out. To the west of this town were lands lying along the northern bank of the Savannah River; they had recently been left uninhabited by the retreat of the Yamassee Indians after their re bellion and defeat. These lands the Assembly opened up to Protestants in 1719, increasing the usual allotment of fifty acres to two hundred acres for each settler. It is said by Rivers, the historian, with how much authority is not known, that several hundred emigrants from Ireland were to take pos session of these and other lands the same year, but the grants were soon after annulled by the Colonial Proprietors, the territory was surveyed, and from it fifteen baronies were erected.
Mr. A. S. Salley, Jr., secretary of the Historical Commission of South Carolina, writes that Mr. Rivers "did not mean (for that would not have been true) that these Irishmen settled in a body on the Yamassee lands or expected to do so. They would have taken their grants anywhere in the province, just as hundreds of other settlers from England, Scotland, and Ireland had been doing. It is even doubtful if these Irishmen came in a body, or dis persed in a body." Many of them, if many there were, died of fever or privation, and the others were forced to look elsewhere for homes. At this time civilization in South Carolina did not extend beyond the Port Royal neighborhood at the south, and to the north it was limited to the territory between the Santee and the Edisto rivers. Some probably wandered into Charleston, where they remained until a strong Scotch Irish colony took possession of the township of Williamsburg.
This colony arrived in 1732 or the year following, the Council having granted the petition of James Pringle and other Irish Protestants that their pas sage be paid. A township twenty miles square, along the Black River, was laid out for them, and was given the name Williamsburg. To this colony came John Witherspoon, James McClelland, William Sym, David Allan, William Wilson, Robert Wilson, James Bradley, William Frierson, John James, William Hamilton, Archibald Hamilton, Roger Gordon, John Porter, John Lemon, David Pressley, William Pressley, Archibald McRae, James Armstrong, the Erwins, Plowdens, Dickeys, Blakelys, Dobbinses, Stuarts and McDonalds.
In August, 1736, a church was organized and the Rev. Robert Heron of Ireland became the first min ister. From the church at Williamsburg sprang that at Indian Town, with Major John James and William, Robert and David Wilson among its found ers; also that at Salem, founded by Samuel and James Bradley. At Mount Zion Church were Roger and James Wilson, with Captain William Erwin; at Jeffries Creek were John and Gavin Wither spoon; and John and Hugh Erwin joined the Hopewell Church which others directly from Ireland had founded. The Plowden, Nelson and Gamble fam ilies were identified with the earliest days of the Church at Brewington.
The Scotch Irish at Williamsburg, or perhaps later companies of immigrants, did not all fare pros perously, and in 1738 Charleston was forced to provide for poor Protestants from Ireland who swarmed the streets, begging from door to door.
John Witherspoon came from County Down in 1734, with his children David, John, Robert and Sarah. Robert has left us an account of his early experiences, typical of the pioneer hardships of those who settled in South Carolina. After lying becalmed in Belfast Lough for two weeks the ship with Robert's grandmother very ill on board, got un der way on the 28th of September, 1734. It soon encountered rough weather and the aged lady died. Her interment in a roaring storm made a deep im pression upon the boy. About the first of December the ship reached Charleston with a crew exhausted by almost incessant toil at the pumps. There the child Sarah died and was buried in the new Scotch graveyard. The settlers were kindly received by families that had come over in earlier years, but were soon sent up the river in an open boat to "Potatoe Ferry, " where the women and children were put ashore to find what protection they could in a barn-like hovel. Meanwhile the men with their tools and baggage pushed up stream, and then went for ward through flooded woods and meadows to find a suitable spot for their houses. They had no timbers, and they soon discovered that boughs of trees cov ered with sods were but a poor protection against the fierce winter storms. Soon however a fire blazed upon the rude hearth, the smoke dried the branches overhead, and with one of Queen Anne s great muskets loaded with swan-shot close at hand, even the night in an endless waste of forest and marsh lost some of its terror. Although they had to wait long for their spring planting they were given time to become acclimated before the warm and sultry weather set in. They thus escaped the sickness which carried off great numbers of the early settlers in South Carolina.
The great tide of migration, however, did not all come through the port of Charleston. Many of the Scotch Irish of the Carolinas came from Ireland to Pennsylvania, and then went through Virginia and North Carolina to the Waxhaws in South Caro lina.2 Of this stock was John C. Calhoun, andsomewhat later Andrew Jackson. Mr. McCrady, the historian of South Carolina, in a note on this migration, says that from the Waxhaws the Scotch Irish crossed the Catawba and spread over the coun ties of Lancaster, York, Chester and Fairfield. Prominent among them were the Adairs, Allisons, Brattons, Adrians, Blacks, Boggs, Broones, Buchanans, Boyces, Bryces, Crawfords, Crocketts, Carrols, Carsons, Chamberses, Dunlops, Douglasses, Erwins, Flemings, Irwins, Hancocks, Kirklands, Laceys, Lathams, Loves, Lyles, Masseys, McCaws, McDaniels, McCans, Millses, McKenzies, Mclllhennys, McMullans, McLures, McMorrises, Martins, Neelys, Wylies, Witherspoons, Bosses, and Youngs. In Union County, as it now is, were the Brandons, Bogans, Jollys, Kennedys, McQunkins [McQuakins?], Youngs, Cunninghams, Savages, Hughs, Vances, and Wilsons.
The McCrerys (or McCrearys), Greens, Hannahs, Abernathys, Millers, Beards, Wellses, Coffees, Gishams, Bartons, Youngs, McClures, Adamses, and the McDaids settled in Newberry between the Broad and the Saluda.2 After them came the Caldwells, Thompsons, Youngs, Fairs, Carmichaels, Hunters, McClellans, Greggs, Wilsons, Conners, Neals, Camerons, Flemings, McCallas, Montgomerys, Sloans, Spencers, Wrights, Glenns, Chalmerses, McCrackenses, and Glasgows.
At Nazareth Church in Spartanburg were the Andersons, Millers, Barrys, Moores, Collinses, Thompsons, Vernons, Pearsons, Jamisons, Dodds, Rays, Pennys, McMahons, Nicols, Nesbitts, and Patons. In the bounds of Abbeville and Edgefield were the Meriwethers, Wardlaws, Moors, Browns, McAlasters, Logans and Calhouns.
These many surnames survive everywhere along the rivers and in the mountain settlements.
By the middle of the eighteenth century the Scotch Irish, through industry and intelligence even more than by force of numbers, had come to have a controlling voice in the management of much of the southern country. And this voice was heard a gen eration later when a rider brought into the Carolinas a paper which had told the people of New York, of Philadelphia and of farms along the shores of Chesapeake Bay that New England farmers had dared to fire upon British troops at Lexington.