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About 80 percent of the settlers of colonial South Carolina were of English origin. Many of them came by way of Barbados and other colonies rather than directly from England. A group of Dutch settlers from New York came to South Carolina in 1671. Another smaller group was of French origin, mostly descendants of Huguenots, who came to the area beginning in 1680. More numerous were the Scottish dissenters, who were brought in beginning in 1682, and the Germans, who arrived during the eighteenth century. Blacks constituted a majority of the population from early colonial times until 1930. Indian wars drove most of the native Americans from the state, but there are still a few Catawba Indians in York County.
In 1664, a "group of Barbadians joined in an agreement to settle in Carolina." In the twentieth century, this document was kept in the South Carolina Historical Society Collection (reference V/29).
Several histories chronicle these Atlantic World links:
- Alleyne, Warren and Henry Fraser. The Barbados-Carolina Connection. London: Macmillan Publishers Limited, 1988. FHL Collection 972.981 H2a
- Kent, David L. Barbados and America. Arlington, Va.: C.M. Kent, 1980. FHL Collection 972.981 X2b
The earliest settlements were on the coastal plain low country of South Carolina. Pushed by a desire to escape the Revolutionary War and pulled by a desire for land, settlers eventually poured into the Piedmont up country. Townships in eighteenth-century South Carolina were established as residences for foreign protestants of various nationalities. Many immigrants were of Ulster Scots, German, and Welsh descent. In 1770 the population of South Carolina was less than 50,000; by 1790 it had reached 140,000.Augusta and Cherokee Trail · Augusta-Savannah Trail · Augusta-St. Augustine Trail · Camden-Charleston Path · Catawba and Northern Trail · Catawba Trail · Charleston-Ft. Charlotte Trail · Charleston-Savannah Trail · Fall Line Road (or Southern Road) · Fort Charlotte and Cherokee Old Path · Fort Moore-Charleston Trail · Great Valley Road · King's Highway · Lower Cherokee Traders' Path · Middle Creek Trading Path · Occaneechi Path · Old Cherokee Path · Old South Carolina State Road · Savannah-Jacksonville Trail · Secondary Coast Road · Unicoi Trail · Upper Road · Ports: Beaufort · Charleston · Georgetown
Early settlement was blocked by thick forests. The best way through the trees was by river, or over Indian trails that were slowly improved into wagon and stagecoach roads. Use the above list of early migration trails to get a better understanding of where early South Carolina settlers came from and where they may have moved.
Almost immediately after statehood, South Carolina began to lose population to the westward movement. In the early 1800s, slaveholders moved to new, more fertile plantations in Alabama and Mississippi. In the 1820s, antislavery Quakers moved to the Old Northwest, especially Indiana.
South Carolina did not attract many overseas immigrants during the nineteenth century. State-sponsored recruiting efforts brought in a few hundred Germans between 1866 and 1868 and about 2,500 northern Europeans in the early 1900s.
Brent H. Holcomb, CG, sums up the problem of finding South Carolina passenger lists:
- "One of the questions mosts frequently asked about South Carolina records is 'Where are the shiplists?'. Your editor has seen many disappointed faces when he has explained that in the Colonial period they do not exist outside of the few actual lists in the South Carolina Council Journals and what might be gleaned from the texts of individual petitioners for lands."
Some early immigrant lists survive:
- Revill, Janie. A Compilation of the Original Lists Protestant Immigrants to South Carolina, 1763-1773. Columbia, S.C.: State Co., 1939. FHL 975.7 W2r; 1968 reprint: FHL 975.7 W2r 1968; digital version of 1996 reprint at World Vital Records ($).
- "Some Emigrants to South Carolina 1727," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Summer 1986):133. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 14
In the eighteenth century, many immigrants petitioned for headright lands in the Colony of South Carolina, see:
- Holcomb, Brent H. Petitions for Land from the South Carolina Council Journals. (1734-1774) 7 vols. Columbia, S.C.: SCMAR, 1996-1999. FHL 975.7 R2h v. 1-7
Abstracts of select Irish immigrants found in Council Journals were published in:
- "Some Irish Protestant Immigrants to South Carolina 1753 and 1754," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Winter 1989):25-29. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 17
- Holcomb, Brent H. "Passengers Arriving at the Port of Charleston 1820-1829," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Fall 1989):183-189; Vol. 18, No. 1 (Winter 1990):13-21; Vol. 18, No. 2 (Spring 1990):75-83; Vol. 18, No. 3 (Summer 1990):133-145; Vol. 18, No. 4 (Fall 1990):195-201; Vol. 19, No. 1 (Winter 1991):13-23; Vol. 19, No. 2 (Spring 1991):79-91; Vol. 19, No. 3 (Summer 1991):127-137; Vol. 19, No. 4 (Fall 1991):189-198; Vol. 20, No. 1 (Winter 1992):11-21; Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring 1992):83-93; Vol. 20, No. 3 (Summer 1992):143-153; Vol. 21, No. 1 (Winter 1993):21-27; Vol. 21, No. 2 (Spring 1993):81-87; Vol. 21, No. 3 (Summer 1993):151-159; Vol. 21, No. 4 (Fall 1993):205-213; Vol. 22, No. 1 (Winter 1994):29-37; Vol. 22, No. 2 (Spring 1994):99-105. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 17-22.
- Holcomb, Brent H. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Charleston, 1820-1829. 1994. Digital versions at Ancestry ($) and World Vital Records ($).
Customs records for the ports of Charleston, Georgetown, and Beaufort are at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Several published records of pre-1900 immigrants are indexed in P. William Filby, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1981, 1985, 1986; FHL 973 W32p. Supplements are issued annually. There are cumulative indexes.
Three major immigration databases are:
In lieu of colonial passenger lists regarding early settlers of South Carolina, genealogists must rely on evidence gleaned from a variety of sources to successfully trace immigrant origins.
The Prerogative Court of Canterbury in London proved the wills of many residents of South Carolina. For access, see South Carolina Probate Records. Heraldic visitations list some members of prominent English families who crossed the Atlantic. Expert Links: English Family History and Genealogy includes a concise list of visitations available online. Online archive catalogs, such as Access to Archives, can be keyword searched for place names, such as "South Carolina" and "Charleston," to retrieve manuscripts stored in hundreds of English archives relating to persons and landholdings in this former English colony. These types of records establish links between South Carolina residents and England, which can lead researchers back to their specific ancestral English towns, villages, and hamlets.
The multi-volume Calendar of Colonial State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies (1574-1739), which is available for free online (see discussion in South Carolina Public Records), highlights many connections between England and South Carolina.
Remnants of passenger lists and other substitute sources are discussed below.
More detailed information on immigration sources is in the United States Emigration and Immigration. Records of other major ethnic groups, including French Huguenots, Ulster Scots, Jews, Quakers, and Catawba Indians exist.
- Motes, Margaret Peckham. Migration to South Carolina, Movement from the New England and Mid-Atlantic States, 1850 Census. Baltimore, Md.: Clearfield, 2004. FHL 975.7 X2mm 1850; digital version at World Vital Records ($).
- Scott, Kenneth. British Aliens in the United States During the War of 1812. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979. FHL 973 W4s; digital version at Ancestry ($). [Identifies many British immigrants living in Charleston during the War of 1812.]
A standard work on early South Carolina immigrants, which includes some passenger lists, is now also widely available on the Internet:
- Hotten, John Camden. The Original Lists of Persons of Quality: Emigrants; Religious Exiles; Political Rebels; Serving Men Sold for a Term of Years; Apprentices; Children Stolen; Maidens Pressed; and Others Who Went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700, with Their Ages, the Localities Where They Formerly Lived in the Mother Country, the Names of the Ships in which They Embarked, and Other Interesting Particulars; from MSS. Preserved in the State Paper Department of Her Majesty's Public Record Office, England. London: the author, 1874. Digital versions at Ancestry ($); Google Books and Internet Archive; 1983 reprint: FHL Collection 973 W2hot 1983
Brandow published an addendum to Hotten's work:
- Brandow, James C. Omitted Chapters from Hotten's Original Lists of Persons of Quality ... and Others Who Went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
Peter Wilson Coldham has published several volumes of English records that identify, among other American immigrants, those destined for South Carolina. Many English indentured servants completed labor terms in South Carolina. Coldham's works are indexed in Filby's Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s (digital version at Ancestry ($)).
- Coldham, Peter Wilson. British Emigrants in Bondage, 1614-1788. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Pub. Co., 2004. FHL Collection CD-ROM no. 2150.
- Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Bristol Registers of Servants Sent to Foreign Plantations, 1654-1686. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1988. FHL Collection 942.41/B2 W2c; digital versions at Ancestry ($); Chronicle Barbados (Barbados entries only); Virtual Jamestown.
- Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Complete Book of Emigrants: 1607-1776. n.p.: Brøderbund, 1996. FHL Collection CD-ROM no. 9 pt. 350; digital version of select portions at Virtual Jamestown.
- "Convicts to South Carolina 1728," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Spring 1992):82. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 20
Runaway advertisements for colonial indentured servants often yield immigration data. The Early South Carolina Newspaper Database indexes these records.
The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database Internet site contains references to 35,000 slave voyages, including over 67,000 Africans aboard slave ships, using name, age, gender, origin, and place of embarkation. The database documents the slave trade between Africa, Europe, Brazil, the Caribbean, and the United States.
Records of blacks are listed in the Family History Library Catalog Place Search under the heading SOUTH CAROLINA - SLAVERY AND BONDAGE and under the heading SOUTH CAROLINA - MINORITIES.
Scottish and Irish Immigrants
David Dobson has dedicated many years to establishing links between Scots and their dispersed Scottish cousins who settled throughout the world. For South Carolina connections, see:
- Dobson, David. Directory of Scots in the Carolinas, 1680-1830, Volume 1. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. FHL 975 F2d; digital version at World Vital Records ($).
- Dobson, David. Directory of Scots in the Carolinas, 1680-1830, Volume 2. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2004. Digital version at World Vital Records ($).
Additional studies include:
- Motes, Margaret Peckham. Irish Found in South Carolina 1850 Census. Baltimore, Md.: Clearfield, 2003. FHL 975.7 F2mm; digital version at World Vital Records ($).
- Stephenson, Jean. Scotch-Irish Migration to South Carolina, 1772: Rev. William Martin and His Five Shiploads of Settlers. Strasburg, Va.: Shenandoah Publishing House, 1971. FHL 975.7 W2s; digital version at World Vital Records ($).
The following internet site has potentially useful information: German Roots (Port of Charleston).
Many settlers from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina migrated down into South Carolina during the colonial period. The Great Valley Road, which passed through the Shenandoah Valley was a popular route.
Bell published a series of articles about Southside Virginians who migrated to eighteenth-century South Carolina. Her strategy demonstrates how to find migration records:
- Bell, Mary McCampbell. "Some Migrations from Virginia to South Carolina," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Summer 1981):143-144; Vol. 9, No. 4 (Fall 1981):183-190; Vol. 10, No. 1 (Winter 1982):37-42; Vol. 10, No. 2 (Spring 1982):70-77; Vol. 10, No. 3 (Summer 1982):136-143; Vol. 11, No. 2 (Spring 1983):97-102; Vol. 12, No. 1 (Winter 1984):19-21; Vol. 12, No. 2 (Spring 1984):94-99; Vol. 13, No. 3 (Summer 1985):127-129. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 9-13
North Carolina Immigrants
- Linn, Mrs. Stahle. "Some Migrations from Rowan County, North Carolina to South Carolina," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 11, No. 3 (Summer 1983):124-127. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 11
- Webster, Irene B. "Some Migrations from Rockingham County, North Carolina to South Carolina," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 9, No. 1 (Winter 1998):28-30. FHL Book 975.7 B2sc v. 9
Free native-born South Carolinians, alive in 1850, who had left the state, resettled as follows:
|State||Persons Born in South Carolina|
Robertson compiled a list of South Carolinians living in Kansas in 1860:
- Robertson, Clara Hamlett. Kansas Territorial Settlers of 1860 Who were Born in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina: A Compilation with Historical Annotations and Editorial Comment. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1976. FHL 978.1 H2ro; digital version at World Vital Records ($).
- ↑ Moriarty, Appendix, Barbados Genealogies, p. 670.
- ↑ South Carolina Townships Created During the Royal Period (1729 to 1776), Carolana.com.
- ↑ Brent H. Holcomb, "Passengers Arriving at the Port of Charleston 1820-1829," The South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol. 17, No. 4 (Fall 1989):183.
- ↑ These statistics do not account for the large number of South Carolinians who had migrated and died before the year 1850. See: William O. Lynch, "The Westward Flow of Southern Colonists before 1861," The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 9, No. 3 (Aug. 1943):303-327. Digital version at JSTOR ($).