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St. Philip's Church of Charleston: An Early History of the Oldest Parish in South Carolina

St. Philip's Church of Charleston: An Early History of the Oldest Parish in South Carolina

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St. Philip's Church of Charleston: An Early History of the Oldest Parish in South Carolina

355 pagine
6 ore
May 4, 2015


St. Philip's Church was commissioned shortly after the Carolina colony was founded in 1670. Because the Church of England was the established church, St. Philip's tried to meet the spiritual needs of the early settlers and also was responsible for oversight of elections, education and social services in everything from healthcare to disaster relief. St. Philip's churchwardens and vestry enforced morality laws and levied taxes. The colony's first state funeral--that of Governor Robert Johnson--took place in the church, as did that of the controversial, one-time vice president, Senator John C. Calhoun. Buried in the churchyard are Founding Fathers, pirate hunters, war heroes, statesmen and even the unfortunate victim of a sensational murder. This book recounts the early years of St. Philip's Church, the people who walked its aisles and some of the early religious conflicts that shook the community. Authors Dorothy Middleton Anderson and Margaret Middleton Rivers Eastman outline the fascinating history of the first church in the new colony.
May 4, 2015

Informazioni sull'autore

Dorothy Middleton Anderson is an eleventh-generation Charlestonian. She had a brief career as the society editor for the Charleston Evening Post before spending fifty years as a community volunteer. She, along with her sister, Margaret Middleton Rivers, updated and published their mother's book, "Jeremiah Theus: Colonial Artist of Charles Towne." Dorothy is a member of the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in South Carolina, and has participated in many volunteer organizations. A native Charlestonian, Margaret (Peg) M.R. Eastman was a professional guide at Winterthur Museum in Delaware. She coauthored "Hidden History of Old Charleston" and authored "Remembering Old Charleston." She is a freelance writer for the Charleston Mercury and has lectured on Charleston architecture.

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St. Philip's Church of Charleston - Dorothy Middleton Anderson

St. Philip’s Church. Art Work of Charleston (W.H. Parish Publishing Company, 1893). Courtesy of The Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina.

Published by The History Press

Charleston, SC 29403

Copyright © 2014 by Dorothy Middleton Anderson and Margaret Middleton Rivers Eastman

All rights reserved

Cover images: Front image of St. Philip’s Church courtesy of the Library of Congress; inside front flap, St. Philip’s Church (1723–1835), by William Hall, oil on wood, courtesy of St. Philip’s Church.

First published 2014

e-book edition 2014

ISBN 978.1.62585.407.0

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014953186

print edition ISBN 978.1.62619.870.8

Notice: The information in this book is true and complete to the best of our knowledge. It is offered without guarantee on the part of the authors or The History Press. The authors and The History Press disclaim all liability in connection with the use of this book.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form whatsoever without prior written permission from the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

This book is dedicated to

the Glory of God

and the loving memory of

Dr. Robert Maxwell Anderson,

Margaret Simons Middleton

and Margaret Middleton Rivers.


Foreword, by the Right Reverend C. FitzSimons Allison



Setting the Stage

Settlement of Charles Town

The Early Years

Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts

Edward Marston

Gideon Johnston

The Yemassee War


The New St. Philip’s Church

Alexander Garden

Establishing St. Michael Parish

Richard Clarke

Robert Smith

Thomas Frost

William Percy

Edward Jenkins

James Dewar Simons


Christopher Edwards Gadsden

John Barnwell Campbell


Biographical Sketches of Parishioners Who Made History

Sir Nathaniel Johnson’s Legacy

The Pirate Hunters

Chief Justice Nicholas Trott

The Wragg Family

Founding Mothers

Christopher Gadsden

Parish Founding Fathers

Appendix A. Commissioners of Second St. Philip’s Church

Appendix B. Clergy of St. Philip’s Church, 1680–1862

Appendix C. Monuments Destroyed in the Fire of 1835

Appendix D. Necrology of St. Philip’s Church

Appendix E. Commissioners of St. Michael’s Church

Appendix F. Summary of Act No. 1278 (1785) and Act No. 1533 (1791)

Appendix G. Message from the Rector



About the Authors


St. Philip’s Church is astonishingly unique. It is impossible for a modern person to understand the heroic story of the church in its early history without appreciating the civic as well as religious responsibilities of this parish.

The colony of South Carolina decided to follow the Barbadian (Bajan as they refer to themselves) governmental system of ecclesiastical parishes as the political entities to rule the colony under the Proprietary and Royal governments. This decision placed St. Philip’s Parish at the center of the government life.

The early history of St. Philip’s is the history of the colony and vice versa. The wardens and vestry of St. Philip’s were responsible for the life of the colony, enforcing Sabbath laws, rendering legal judgments, caring for the poor and refugees from Indian uprisings, establishing hospitals and raising the military defenses against threats from Spain, France and pirates.

As to the established church in much of pre-Revolutionary times and in the absence of bishops, the church’s functions were partly exercised by commissaries appointed by the Bishop of London. The commissaries were responsible for the discipline of the clergy, but the long delays in travel and appointments led to most of the general responsibilities falling into the laps of wardens and vestry.

The General Assembly of the state had representatives from the churches while passing laws for the colony. These combined church/state responsibilities of Anglicans were deeply resented by non-Anglicans and were, of course, abolished at the Revolution.

However, the authority of the laity through the wardens and vestries in these times remained within the church and its canons after it was no longer the established church. This factor together with the vivid experience of the future church’s lay leaders of the authority and tyranny of the church in England led them to strong skepticism of bishops. This experience led the South Carolina delegation to the General Convention after the Revolution to be instructed to have no bishops at all. This view was shared by other delegations, including those from Maryland and Virginia.

The convention was finally persuaded to obtain bishops on the basis of their having no temporal but only spiritual authority. This revolutionary qualification remains in the historic canons of the Episcopal Church as requiring the bishop to act on important matters with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee. This gives the laity a check on Episcopal power. (This check has been recently removed by action of the General Convention in 2006.)

Many of the early leaders (Henry Laurens, Charles Cotesworth and Thomas Pinckney, Arthur Middleton, and John and Edward Rutledge) spent much of their early life in England attending schools as youths, graduating from Oxford or Cambridge University and studying law at the Middle Temple. Yet they were among the most ardent leaders for separating from England.

These leaders and others led the colony through amazing vicissitudes. St. Philip’s Parish was the center of the response to the great tragedies and challenges of the times. The witness of this parish, through its history of the destruction of its building by fire, earthquake, hurricanes and wars, was astonishingly faithful and durable. From 1698 to 1752 there were six recorded hurricanes of massive destruction. From 1740 to 1861 there were six major fires that ravaged Charleston.

St. Philip’s was actively engaged in collecting taxes for the poor and in providing social welfare for immigrants, as well as victims of epidemics of yellow fever, smallpox and whooping cough. The clergy endured remarkable difficulties, and their stories are an edifying experience, as the authors of this book have so well shown. Both lay and clergy are described with complete candor, even the ancestors of those living today, while giving us the inspiration of knowing faithful and durable women and men.

Dot Anderson and Peg Eastman together have brought to life a remarkably important and little-known appreciation of the absolutely unique history of St. Philip’s Parish.


Twelfth Episcopal Bishop of South Carolina


This book could never have even been written without the help of many people. My admiration and appreciation for my niece Margaret (Peg) Middleton Rivers Eastman is boundless. Arriving late in the process, she untangled the web of computer documents I had created. She spent hours rewriting my work and adding her own research to produce a finished product.

My mother, Margaret Simons Middleton, author of several books on colonial Charleston, gave me her invaluable library, which greatly facilitated my research. Her book on Henrietta Johnston inspired me to research the other commissaries and St. Philip’s history.

My daughter, Lois Anderson (Gualandi) Ganner, teacher and librarian, taught me computer basics and has added many helpful suggestions to this volume.

Many thanks to my large and wonderful family who have helped along the way, particularly Dr. Carley Anderson and my niece Marion Rivers Ravenel Cato. My cousin Beth Parker Dixon’s family papers concerning Thomas Frost have greatly enriched the contents of this book.

Also, the Reverend Robert Oliveros provided special research and encouragement, and Arthur Manigault Wilcox and his wife, Katherine, contributed to many of the church’s historical projects, especially information about Gabriel Manigault.

St. Philip’s received a National Archives re-grant from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History aimed at the preservation of the church’s records. Sharon Bennett, then archivist at the Charleston Museum, oversaw the project. Her work, along with that of many enthusiastic parishioners, resulted in a second re-grant to organize records, church registers, vestry minutes and sermons, especially those of the first bishop of South Carolina, Robert Smith. Those who helped include Jody Anderson, Nancy Attaway, Rhett Barrett, Kay Bartlett, Mary Bayless, Barbara Belknap, Essie Boykin, Cam Bridges, Louise Brooks, Bess and Jake Burrows, Elizabeth Cantey, Charlton and Mary deSaussure, Leila Drury, Margaret Garrett, Dot Holton, Langhorne Howard, Henry Hutson, Dottie Kerrison, Suzanne McCord, Carol McLauren, Bess Oliveros, Mary Perry, Juliana Pinckney, Ann Rhett, Margaret Robertson, Elizabeth Shuffler, Jane and Jack Steele, Pat Wardlaw and Seabrook Wilkinson.

The Right Reverend FitzSimons Allison, friend, historian and author, has been helpful in editing and restructuring the original book.

Special thanks to Miles Barkley, book project manager, for successfully steering this volume through the inevitable detours to publication; W. Foster Gaillard, for his analysis of the early corporate history of St. Philip’s Church; and William McIntosh, author and co-chair of St. Philip’s Archives, for his research on the Indian wars.

I express a special appreciation and affection for the staff of St. Philip’s Church over the years, particularly the Reverend Marshall Travers, the Reverend Samuel T. Cobb, Bishop Robert Emmett Gribben, the Reverend Renny Scott and the late Rhett Barrett, former secretary. Also, thank you to our current rector and staff: the Reverend Haden McCormick, the Reverend Henry Avent, the Reverend Marc Boutan, the Reverend Brian McGreevy, the Reverend Matthew McCormick, Dean Jay Boccabello, Florance Anderson (my daughter-in-law), Thomas Anderson (my son and the historical groundskeeper), Kay Bartlett, Carol Burke, Angela Clark, Capers Cross, Juli Garland, David Gilbert, Jolene Hethcox, Chisholm Leonard, Felicia Lescow, Jane McGreevy, Lee Moore and Donna Stouffer.

I owe much to my friends Shay McNeal-Poulin and her husband, Claude Poulin, whose support got me back to writing. Lastly, and by no means least, my Monday Morning Bible Class (dead or alive): Martha Anderson, Nancy Collins, Grace Creel, Louise Daugherty, Sharon Densmore, Martha Derrick, Josie May, Judy Middleton, Robin Middleton, Elaine Pendarvis, Punky Porcher, Ann Rhett, Marwee Rivers, Laura Simons, Ellen Starmer, Mary Storen, Aimee Wilbuer, Betty Wilson and Mary Lou Wise.

I also thank sextons Charles Lewis, Isaac McPherson, Ben Singleton and Richard Washington.

Peg Eastman joins me in extending our appreciation to the Reverend Doctor William Paterson Rhett, associate pastor at St. Philip’s Church, for information on the Rhett family, research on the post-Revolution formation of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and other subjects.

Also helpful were distinguished authors Nic Butler, Charleston County Public Library historian; Michael D. Coker, operations assistant, Old Exchange Building and the Old Slave Mart Museum; Richard Côté, for insights both published and not published; Robert P. Stockton, adjunct professor at the College of Charleston; Alicia (Lish) Anderson Thompson, assistant manager of the South Carolina Room at the Charleston County Public Library; Lyon Tyler, LLD, former professor at The Citadel; and George W. Williams, Professor Emeritus at Duke University.

Lucy Glenn, a descendant of Nicholas Wrightman, provided the story of the footpad murder, and Alfred Pinckney, a descendant of Dr. William Hall III, provided background on his distinguished ancestor. Park Daugherty offered insights into the French Huguenots. The Reverend Daniel Flessas at Trinity Methodist Church provided literature on the Cumberland Church. Nancy Perry helped edit the manuscript.

Thanks to Dottie Stone at Middleton Place Foundation and Rick Rhodes of Rick Rhodes Photography and Imaging LLC, who helped obtain the very best image of Bishop Robert Smith available.

A special thanks to others who helped along the way: Nancy Blakeney, Anna Taylor Blythe, Wayne Braverman, the Very Reverend R. Peet Dickinson, Mary Jo Fairchild at the South Historical Society, Nancy Perry and Maurice (Molly) Thompson.


Archivist, St. Philip’s Church

In addition those individuals already mentioned, I would like to thank my aunt Dorothy Middleton Anderson for the years she has spent as St. Philip’s archivist and historian. She spearheaded preserving the church’s priceless archives, and through her personal research and social contacts, she acquired information about St. Philip’s never before collected into one comprehensive volume. It has been a privilege to be part of this project.

My grandmother Margaret Simons Middleton’s books deserve honorable mention, for I must confess I had never read them until this volume was being written. It was a great joy to belatedly discover how truly accomplished my grandmother was.

My son Robert Eastman has provided legal assistance and moral support in my writing endeavors. And I would be remiss in not mentioning my fine son Dr. Edward Eastman and my two wonderful grandsons, Max and Wade Eastman.

Charles Waring, editor of the Charleston Mercury, deserves special thanks for giving me a voice in Charleston. Without that opportunity, I probably would not have continued to write about the Lowcountry’s rich history.

Harlan Greene, Marie Ferrara, Sam Stewart, Claire Fund, Anne Bennett, Deborah Larsen and John White at the College of Charleston Addlestone Library, have assisted in too many ways to count.

Richard Donohoe, architect and photographer, was invaluable reviewing architectural chapters and processing images, and Jane Hirsch provided assistance in obtaining an image of the sculpture by her gifted father, Willard Newman Hirsch.

Joyce N. Baker and Angela D. Mack at the Gibbes Museum of Art; Jennifer Scheetz, former archivist; and Jennifer McCormick, current archives/collections manager at the Charleston Museum, have been amazing with their help in obtaining illustrations for all of my books.

And lastly, I would like to thank the staff at The History Press. This is my sixth volume, and I have found them to be ideal publishers. My appreciation to the entire staff, past and present: Gracie Aghapour, Laura All, Jamie Barreto, Jessica Berzon, Victoria Boneberg, Savannah Brennan, Anna Burrous, Hannah Cassilly, Will Collicott, Sarah Falter, Elizabeth Farry, Adam Ferrell, Ryan Finn, Julie Foster, Ben Gibson, Jenny Kaemmerlen, Emily Kirby, Whitney Landis, Becky LeJeune, Darcy Mahan, Will McKay, Jaime Muehl, Emily Navarro, Katie Orlando, Hilary Parrish, Katie Parry, Andrew Patterson, Brittain Phillips, Chad Rhoad, Meredith Riddick, Sophia Russell, Jeff Saraceno, Tyler Sari, Kirsten Schofield, Julie Scofield, Banks Smither, Shaun Stacy, Katie Stitely, Magan Thomas, Christen Thompson, Julia Turner, Natasha Walsh, Daniel Watson and John Wilkinson.


October 2014

Part I


The Reverend Frederick Dalcho, MD. Engraving by A.B. Durand.


This volume covers the first 180 years of St. Philip’s Church. As the state church, St. Philip’s not only attempted to meet the spiritual needs of the early settlers, but it was also responsible for civic leadership, including oversight of elections, education and social services covering everything from healthcare to disaster relief. The magnitude of its sphere of influence cannot be overstated.

In 1820, the Reverend Frederick Dalcho, MD, published An Historical Account of the Protestant Episcopal Church in South Carolina from the First Settlement of the Province, to the War of the Revolution; with Notices of the Present State of the Church in Each Parish; and Some Account of the Early Civil History of Carolina, Never Before Published. To Which Are Added; The Laws Relating to Religious Worship; the Journals and Rules of the Convention of South-Carolina; the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the Course of Ecclesiastical Studies: with an Index, and List of Subscribers. This was the first diocesan history recorded in the United States. It is considered the definitive history of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and has been cited by numerous historians since its publication.¹

This volume has been patterned on Dalcho’s account of the first permanent settlement of the province and extends the history of St. Philip’s Church to 1860. (Please note that this work follows the custom of calling Charleston Charles Town in the period before the American Revolution.)

Although Dalcho served only temporarily at St. Philip’s, his life merits a brief examination. He was born in London in 1770, son of an officer who served under Frederick the Great. His father died while he was still a child; his mother operated an inn in London after his father’s death. Young Dalcho was sent to live with his uncle, Dr. Charles Frederick Wiesenthal, a Baltimore physician who provided him with a classical education.

Dalcho received a degree in medicine in 1790. Two years later, he became a surgeon’s mate in the United States Army in Savannah. He was briefly married to Eliza Vanderlocht, who died in April 1795. He resigned his army commission in the fall of that same year and began working as a ship’s surgeon. He later rejoined the army and, in 1799, completed his service duty at Fort Johnson on James Island, South Carolina. He settled in Charleston and went into practice with Dr. Isaac Auld. Within two years, he had been elected the sixty-sixth member of the South Carolina Medical Society. On Christmas Day 1805, he married Mary Elizabeth Threadcraft in St. Philip’s Church.

When Dalcho resigned from the medical society in 1809, it refused to accept his resignation and instead gave him an honorary membership. Dalcho became coeditor of the Charleston Courier, a Federalist daily newspaper, and also became a lay reader at St. Paul’s Stono.

He began to study theology in 1811. He attended the Diocesan Convention in 1815 and continued to serve at St. Paul’s Stono until he became the assistant minister of St. Paul’s Radcliffeborough in 1817. When Bishop Dehon died, Dalcho was asked to serve at St. Michael’s until the Reverend Nathaniel Bowen became rector in February 1818.

Dalcho was ordained a priest by Bishop White of Pennsylvania in June 1818. When Bishop Bowen’s duties became increasingly demanding, St. Michael’s elected Dalcho its assistant minister in 1819, a position he held until 1835.

Dalcho’s other passion was the Masons. He and John Mitchell opened the first Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite in America at Shepheard’s Tavern, located at the northeast corner of Broad and Church Streets. Dalcho delivered orations on the Masons at St. Michael’s Church in 1799, 1801 and 1803. The last, when published, included a history of Freemasonry in South Carolina. As a testimonial to his contributions to the Masons, the Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of South Carolina passed a resolution to have his likeness put into future copies of Ahiman Rezon, his seminal book about the Masons.

In November 1836, Frederick Dalcho died at his Meeting Street home. He was buried in St. Michael’s Churchyard. The vestry erected a memorial tablet in his honor, but because of anti-Masonic feelings, it was placed outside the church. Years later, it was relocated to the west wall of St. Michael’s sanctuary.

The inscription on the tablet was written by Bishop Nathaniel Bowen. The latter portion reads, Fidelity, industry, and Prudence, were the characteristics of his ministry. He loved the Church, delighted, to the last, in its service, and found in death, the solace & support of the Faith, which with exemplary constancy he had preached. Steadfast & uniform in his own peculiar convictions & action, as a member & minister of the P.E. Church, he lived & died in perfect Charity with all men.²

A friend wrote, Dr. Dalcho was about 5½ feet in height, muscular and well proportioned. Having been accidentally wounded in the lungs, he became occasionally asthmatic, and his voice, naturally pleasant, was thus sometimes oppressed. His features were well marked, denoting a vigorous and well cultivated intellect, as well as a thoughtful and earnest spirit. His kind, amiable and genial disposition, his fine social qualities, his extensive information and liberal principles, made him a great and general favorite in the community.³

Reproduction of the Carolina Colony Seal of the Lords Proprietor. The front depicts a shield on which two cornucopias, filled with produce, are crossed. Supporting the shield are an Indian chief holding an arrow and an Indian woman with a child by her side and another in her arms. On top of the shield is a helmet, surrounded by a wreath with a mantle on which a stag stands. The Latin inscription below the crest reads Domitus cultoribus orbis, or Tamed by the husbandmen (cultivators) of the world. Circling the entire seal is written in Latin Magnum sigillum carolinæ dominorum, meaning To dominate and conquer the world. The reverse side depicts the eight heraldic shields of the Proprietors surrounding a Cross of St. George. This seal was used on all official papers of the Lords Proprietor. Only two documents survive with the seal intact; one is at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History in Columbia, South Carolina.


To understand the settlement of the Carolina province, one must be aware of the upheavals that occurred in seventeenth-century England. Queen Elizabeth I was the last of the Tudor line. She died without issue in 1603, and the throne passed to her distant cousin James Stuart (King James VI of Scotland). James I was descended from the Tudors through his great-grandmother Margaret Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VII. During James I’s reign, England enjoyed uninterrupted peace and comparatively low taxation. The country witnessed English colonization of North America, literature flourished and the king sponsored a translation of the Bible that bears the name King James Version.

Unfortunately, James I inculcated in his son Charles the idea of the divine right of kings and a disdain for Parliament, a lethal combination that culminated in Charles I’s death and the abolition of the monarchy. Charles I was beheaded for high treason in 1649, and his son, another Charles, fled to the continent.

After years of civil war, England became a republic ruled by the despotic Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. After Cromwell’s death in 1658, he was

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