South Carolina County Creation Dates and Parent Counties
From the beginnings of the Proprietors to present, the levels of government changed.
- 1 Proprietors Counties - 1682
- 2 Parish
- 3 District 1769 -1784
- 4 Act of 1785
- 5 Districts and Counties, 1786-1790
- 6 Districts, 1791-1799
- 7 Districts, 1800-1814
- 8 Districts, 1815-1867
- 9 Counties, 1868-1870
- 10 Counties, 1878-1907
- 11 Counties, 1908-1915
- 12 Counties, 1916-Present
- 13 Sources
- 14 References
Proprietors Counties - 1682
In 1682, after the first hard years of settlement, the Proprietors ordered three counties laid out. Berkeley County, centering around Charleston, extended from the Stono River on the south to Seewee Creek (present-day Awendaw Creek) where it emptied into Bulls Bay on the north. Craven County lay north of Berkeley, and below Berkeley, Colleton extended to the Combahee River. Later, a fourth county, Granville, was laid out between the Combahee and the Savannah rivers.
|Name of County||Date Formed||Parent County||Location|
|Berkeley||1682||colony||covers Charleston, between Stono River and Seewee (now Awendaw Creek|
|Colleton||1682||colony||between Stono River and Combahee River|
|Craven||1682||colony||between Seewee Creek and North Carolina's border|
|Granville||1682||colony||between Combabhee River and Savannah River|
Throughout the colonial period, the small population and its limited legal needs kept most government, records keeping, and judicial activity confined to the municipal limits of Charleston. Parishes of the established Anglican Church served as election districts, and courts with jurisdiction over the entire colony sat in Charleston.
|Name of Parish||Date Formed||Part of County|
|All Saints||1767|| |
|Christ Church||1706|| |
|Prince Frederick||1734|| |
|Prince George||1721|| |
|Prince William||1745|| |
|St. Andrew’s||1706|| |
|St. Bartholomew’s||1706|| |
|St. David’s||1768|| |
|St. George||1717|| |
|St. Helena’s||1712|| |
|St. James Goose Creek||1706|| |
|St. James Santee||1706|| |
|St. John’s Berkeley||1708|| |
|St. John’s Colleton||1730|| |
|St. Luke’s||1767|| |
|St. Mark’s||1757|| |
|St. Michael’s||1751|| |
|St. Paul’s||1706|| |
|St. Peter’s||1747|| |
|St. Philip’s||1706|| |
|St. Stephen’s||1754|| |
|St. Thomas and St. Denis||1706|| |
District 1769 -1784
Georgetown extended from the North Carolina line to the Santee. Charleston lay between the Santee and the Combahee. Beaufort sat between the Combahee and the Savannah. Northwest of Georgetown was the Cheraws District, bounded on the west by Lynches River; west of the Cheraws was the large district of Camden, bounded on the west by the river system of the Santee, Congaree, and Broad; south and west of Camden, two more large districts extended to the Savannah River--Orangeburg to the south, and Ninety-Six to the north.
|Name of District||Existence Date||Progeny County|
|Camden||1769-1800||Chester 1785, York 1785, Richland 1799, Williamsburg 1802, Fairfield 1798, Kershaw 1798, Lancaster 1798, Sumter 1798|
|Charleston||1769-1800||Charleston 1769, Colleton 1798, Orangeburg 1769|
|Cheraws||1769-1800||Chesterfield 1798, Darlington 1798, Marlboro 1798|
|Georgetown||1769-1800||Georgetown 1769, Williamsburg 1802|
|Ninety-Six||1769-1800||Greenville 1798, Spartanburg 1785, Union 1785, York 1785, Newberry 1785, Abbeville 1785, Edgefield 1785, Laurens 1785|
|Orangeburg||1769-?||Barnwell 1798, Lexington 1804, Newberry 1785, Charleston 1769, Richland 1799|
|Pendleton||1789-1795||renamed Anderson District 1795|
|Pinckney||1791-1800 from Camden & Ninety-Six||York 1785, Chester 1785, Spartanburg 1785, Union 1785|
Act of 1785
The 1785 act gave the Cheraws District the counties of Chesterfield, Marlboro, and Darlington; it divided Camden District into York, Chester, Fairfield, Lancaster, Richland, Claremont, and Clarendon counties. It gave Ninety-Six District the counties of Spartanburg, Union, Laurens, Newberry, Abbeville, and Edgefield. And it divided Orangeburg District into Orange, Lewisburg, Lexington, and Winton (an early version of Barnwell) counties.
|Name of District||Progeny County|
|Camden||Chester, Claremont, Clarendon, Fairfield, Lancaster, Richland, York|
|Cheraws||Chesterfield, Darlington, Marlboro|
|Ninety-Six||Abbeville, Edgefield, Laurens, Newberry, Spartanburg, Union|
|Orangeburg||Lewisburg, Lexington, Winton, Orange|
Districts and Counties, 1786-1790
In 1786, part of the unorganized Indian land, which had been taken from the Cherokee Indians during the American Revolution and lay northwest of Ninety-Six District, became Greenville County; in 1789, the remainder of the Indian land became Pendleton County. A few counties had been set out in the three Low Country districts of Georgetown, Charleston, and Beaufort, but there, where the old parish system was well established, the counties failed to take root.
In 1791, the four Orangeburg counties were abolished, and two new districts were created. Washington District was formed to encompass the counties of Greenville and Pendleton. Pinckney District took York and Chester counties from Camden District, and Spartanburg and Union counties from Ninety-Six District.
|Name of District||Progeny County|
|Pinckney||Chester, Spartanburg, Union, York|
In 1800, most of the counties were formed into districts. Washington, Pinckney Ninety-Six, Camden, and the Cheraws districts vanished, and the counties they had encompassed became districts. Claremont, Clarendon, and Salem counties became Sumter District. Marion District was formed from part of Georgetown, Colleton District from part of Charleston, and Barnwell District from part of Orangeburg. Georgetown yielded Horry District in 1801 and Williamsburg District in 1804. That same year, Lexington District was formed from Orangeburg with roughly the same territory as the old county of the same name.
In 1826, Pendleton was divided into the two districts of Pickens and Anderson. In 1855, Clarendon District was taken from Sumter with the same boundaries as the old Clarendon County of 1785.
The Constitution of 1868 stated that "the Judicial Districts shall hereafter be designated as Counties" and formed Oconee County from the western part of Pickens.
In 1871, Aiken County originated from parts of Orangeburg, Edgefield, Barnwell, and Lexington.
In 1878, Hampton County emerged from part of Beaufort; in 1882, part of Charleston became Berkeley County; and in 1888, parts of Marion, Darlington, Williamsburg, and Clarendon merged to become Florence County. In 1895, Saluda County was created from part of Edgefield. In 1897, Bamberg emerged from Barnwell; Cherokee from parts of Spartanburg, Union, and York; Dorchester from Berkeley and Colleton; and Greenwood from parts of Abbeville and Edgefield. In 1902, Lee emerged from parts of Darlington, Kershaw, and Sumter.
Calhoun emerged in 1908, from parts of Orangeburg and Lexington; Dillon, in 1910, from Marion; Jasper, in 1912, from Beaufort and Hampton.
McCormick emerged in 1916 from Edgefield, Abbeville, and Greenwood; and Allendale, South Carolina's last county, emerged in 1919, from Barnwell and Hampton.
- Maps Tracing the Formation of Counties in South Carolina - The South Carolina Archives and History Center