The Barbados Connection

barbados-south-carolina

You’re probably asking yourself what the island of Barbados has to do with South Carolina. If you’ll continue to read, you will see that Barbados had a great deal to do with how South Carolina developed through the early years.

Barbados was settled by the English in 1627 and become an exceptionally wealthy, sugar controlled economy by the time of South Carolina’s settlement in 1670. Sir John Colleton, who probably led the effort to gain the Carolina charter for eight English noblemen. Anthony Ashley Cooper, later the first earl of Shaftesbury and the leading proprietor in the settling of South Carolina owned a plantation in Barbados was also a leader in helping gain a Carolina charter.

South Carolina’s beginnings are closely linked to the British West Indian colony of Barbados that it has been called a “Colony of a Colony.” South Carolina resemble the West Indies more than any other of the English mainland colonies.

Originally the Lords Proprietors wanted to inhabit their colony with settlers from Barbados and other colonies rather than from England. In 1663 a group of “Barbadian Explorers” attempted to establish a settlement at Cape Fear but four years the Barbadian settlement at Cape Fear was abandoned. In 1669 an expedition from England picked up some Barbadians and made its way to Carolina where they began to settle in the Charleston area. A great deal of the shipping from England during the early years came via Barbados, and a considerable number of Barbadians, both white and black, immigrated to the Carolina lowcountry.

Barbados has a total of 166 square miles of land, and by 1670 a majority of it was tied up in sugar “factories.” While the migration of freemen, indentured servants, and slaves from Barbados was huge only in South Carolina’s early years, the ties between the colonies remained strong. Provisions and barrel poles were among South Carolina’s earliest profitable enterprises and remained a substantial portion of exports even after large rice plantations enriched by slave labor came to dominate the colony after the 1690s

Proprietary South Carolina’s powerful Goose Creek political faction contained Barbadians. Their efforts to circumvent the proprietors’ prohibitions against selling Native Americans into slavery and dealing with pirates plagued the colony’s owners for years. Sir John Yeamans, who abandoned the earlier failed Barbadian settlement at Cape Fear and arranged the murder of his paramour’s husband so that he could marry her, while serving as South Carolina’s third governor from 1672 to 1674, he infuriated Lord Shaftesbury by making profits selling to Barbados provisions that were desperately needed in Carolina. Proprietary South Carolina had two other Barbadian governors: James Colleton, a brother of the man who then held the Colleton family share in the enterprise; and Robert Gibbes, who bribed his way into the governor’s office in 1710.

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