Project Canterbury

History of the American Episcopal Church 1600-1915

By the Reverend S. D. McConnell, D.D., D.C.L., LL. D.

Milwaukee: Morehouse Publishing Co., 1934.
London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., 1934.

Part First. The English Church in the Colonies

Chapter VII. The Carolinas

Indians and Welsh; the "noble" Colony; religious condition; Church establishment.

The first church in South Carolina was built the same year that Penn's colony landed on the Delaware. The life of that colony had been feeble and turbulent. The Gentleman's Magazine for 1740 gives a curious but apocryphal account of the planting of the Church among the palmettos. The story is, that on Good Friday, 1660, two ships laden with English adventurers landed at Port Royal. The company piled their goods on the beach, and the ships which had brought them sailed away home. The adventurers, ignorant alike of woodcraft and husbandry, when a few months had passed, found themselves starving. They were fortunate in having a brave chaplain, Morgan Jones, a Welshman. In their extremity he offered, with a few others, to make the perilous journey in search of Raleigh's colony on the Roanoke,--of whose destruction they were ignorant,--to gain succor for the rest. After many days' journey the little band were taken prisoners by the Tuscaroras. They were bound to the stake, and the savages stood about impatient to begin the torture. In his dire extremity Jones returned unconsciously to his mother tongue, and muttered his prayers in Welsh. To his amazement, he found that "the salvages did right well understand his speech." The captives' bonds were cut and they were respited from immediate torture, but detained as captives. Jones continued to teach the Indians in Welsh, and so gained their goodwill that he and his companions were set free, and by some means found their way north. In 1680 this same Morgan Jones was officiating at Newtown, L. I. [This curious belief in the identity of the Welsh and Indian tongues crops up repeatedly in the accounts of the early settlements, and at points most remote from each other.]

The real settlement of the Carolinas was not until 1670. A company had been formed which included the Lord Chancellor, Shaftesbury, Albemarle, Berkeley, Ashley, and Carteret. The colony which they sent out settled at "Charles's town." This was a "Crown Colony," and had no religious motive. It was purely commercial. Of course, as being an integral part of the kingdom, the Church was, in a certain vague way, established. But in the fierce struggle with nature, which is the first task of a colony, religious differences are not much emphasized, unless the company settling should have been moved by religious motives in their migration. The character of the founders of this colony was not such as to lead them to take much interest in such questions. A few men of noble birth, though questionable manners, were among them, but the majority were adventurers and broken men. By the time the colony had reached a population of five thousand, the Bishop of London sent his Commissary to organize the Church. He reports: "I never repented of anything, my sins excepted, as my coming to this place. The people here are the vilest race of men upon the earth. They have neither honor, honesty, nor religion,--being a perfect hotch-potch made up of bankrupt pirates, decayed libertines, sectaries, and enthusiasts of all sorts, who have transported themselves here from Bermudas, Jamaica, Barbadoes, New England, and Pennsylvania, and are the most factious and seditious people in the whole world. Many of those who pretend to be Churchmen are strangely crippled in their goings between the Church and Presbytery, and, as they are of large and loose principles, so they live and act accordingly, sometimes going openly with the Dissenters, as they do now against the Church, and giving incredible trouble to the government and clergy."

In the inevitable quarrel between the people and the proprietaries, the Church of England in South Carolina sided against the people, and the Presbyterians with them. This will account for "their crippled goings between the Church and Presbytery." The Church gained ground slowly, if at all. At the outbreak of the Revolution, nearly a century later, there was only the one parish which had been organized in 1682. It was not until well along in the nineteenth century that substantial growth began. [Graham: Colonial History of U.S., vol. i. p. 339.] At the opening of the eighteenth century there was in Charleston "a large and stately church of cypress logs, on a brick foundation, surrounded by white palisades," and named St. Philip's. An act of the Colonial Assembly of 1698 named Samuel Marshall its incumbent; appropriated to him and his successors forever a salary of one hundred and fifty pounds per annum, to be raised by assessment; and ordered that "a negro man and woman and four cows and calves be purchased at the public charge, for his use."

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