Records in the British Public Record Office Relating to South Carolina: 1663-1782

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LPR .G7C6R4
Category: Great Britain
Creator: Great Britain. Colonial Office.
Description: 11 microfilm textual records (31) ; 35 mm
            Records precede the development of the Colonial Office, created in 1854, and contain records in the offices of the Board of Trade and the Secretaries of State which held responsibility for British colonial matters at different times until 1782; thereafter, responsibility was held by the Home Office until the War and Colonial Department was created in 1801.  

The documents transcribed and rearranged chronologically herein by W. Noel Sainsbury for the state of South Carolina were originally found mainly in these series:  Colonial Entry Books, America and West Indies, and Board of Trade Papers.  (The Lords Commissioners of Trade and Foreign Plantations' role was primarily advisory to the Crown on matters pertaining to the protecting and furthering of trade and commerce.) 

Carolina was ruled by 8 Lords Proprietors as a proprietary colony from 1663 to 1719; thereafter became a crown colony until 1776 when the last colonial governor left under pressure from the Americans.  North and South Carolina split in 1719 and the 18th century saw a society based on plantation agriculture dependent on black slave labour, and Charleston becoming a major trading centre.  Many wars occurred during the colonial period with the Spanish and natives, and eventually with Britain.  At this point, it broke away and adopted its own constitution in March 1776, and ratified the United States Constitution in May 1788.
            Some or all of the documents are available electronically; see Finding Aid section.

This collection of selected and transcribed records (1663-1782) pertaining to British administration in South Carolina, and its period as part of the Propriety of Carolina (which included North Carolina) contains entry books and correspondence of the Board of Trade and secretaries of state in Britain with the governors of Carolina; as well as associated writing between public offices which relates to the colony, as well as communications to governors from inhabitants of every rank and stature.  Also includes to a much lesser extent correspondence of the secretary of state with North Carolina and Virginia as it relates to Carolina. As it concerns oversight of the colony, the subject matter is broad and varied and includes major themes, such as, colonisation and settlement, trade and commerce, agriculture, wars and society, military, local history, government and politics, finance and economics, diplomacy and relations, natives or indigenous peoples, black history and slavery, and maritime matters such as shipping.

The transcriptions of originals were re-organised by Sainsbury chronologically and organised into 36 volumes in total, but the original reference is located on each document, including the volume and page number.  

Detailed Contents:

Volume 36 (July 1775-Feb. 1782):  Covers the time frame during the years of the American Revolution in the area of South Carolina, and to a lesser extent, Georgia, with the bulk covering 1775-76 and 1781, and provides the perspective of the colonial governors in their correspondence with the secretaries of state in Britain.  Correspondents in the first couple of years also include the governor’s letters with military commanders and officers, such as Vice-Admiral Samuel Graves, General Thomas Gage, General William Howe and Captain Edward Thornborough; and with the former colonial governor of North Carolina, Josiah Martin.  From 1777 to 1779, documents contain memorials to the secretaries of state from the former governors of South Carolina (William Campbell and William Bull), and Georgia (James Wright and John Graham).  William Bull’s correspondence from the end of 1780 to the summer of 1781 is almost entirely with the secretary of state; also contains a couple of letters between Egerton Leigh (former attorney general and member of council in South Carolina) and the secretary of state. 
Accumulated together, this volume sheds light on two periods in South Carolina:  one in which the British were exiled out of government at the beginnings of the conflict, and the other in which they regained control of Charles Town for a short period near the end of the conflict; the former saw the banished governor’s efforts, from the harbour, to gain British attention to assist his colony, and the latter saw the British trying to maintain control without a formal government while surrounded by rebels, both unsuccessfully.  Subject matter relates to the situation in and around Charleston and the backcountry, including Georgia, on the following:  vessel movements and dangers such as privateering, particularly disruptive to communications, and an expedition (1776); rebel fortifications and activities, and British military policy; need for a civil government; detrimental effects of war on black people, loyalists to the British cause, agriculture, money and jobs; and personal sentiments reflecting a strong sense of duty and optimism, and the personal toll the controversy wreaked.  (See Electronic Finding Aid section for a list of documents for this volume.)

The transcriptions includes selections pertaining to South Carolina from the following original records, denoting the current reference and indicating current style of arrangement for The National Archives' originals:

CO 5/13, 14, 16-20Original Correspondence. Despatches; with colonial governors, chiefly military.1744-54; 1755-1761
CO 5/ 21-29Original Correspondence. Orders in Council sent to the Board of Trade.Nov. 23, 1728- Dec. 28, 1774
CO 5/116, 117Original Correspondence. Petitions; chiefly addressed to Lord George Germain, Lord North, and the Commissioners of the Treasury.1775-1779; 1778-1781
CO 5/211-214Secretary's Despatches. Secretary of State's entry books of letters written to governors, military officers, admirals in America, and to departments; plus instructions, warrants, orders, and lists of papers sent to such generals as Braddock and Shirley are given.1753-1763
CO 5/286-292Carolina (Propriety). Entry Books of Letters, Commissions, Instructions, warrants, etc.; also includes the Bahamas. 292-Sessional Papers, Minutes of Council (Lords Proprietors) 1708-17271663-1727
CO 5/297Carolina, North. Original Correspondence. Board of Trade; from governors.1750-1757
CO 5/358-380Carolina, South. Original Correspondence. Board of Trade; from governors.1720-1775
CO 5/383-386Carolina, South. Original Correspondence. Secretary of State.1715-1776
CO 5/387-389Carolina, South. Original Correspondence. Secretary of State; from governors.1715-1751
CO 5/390-396Carolina, South. Original Correspondence. Secretary of State; from governors.1762-1777
CO 5/400-405Carolina, South. Entry Books of Letters, commissions, Warrants, Instructions, etc.1720-1775
CO 5/407Carolina, South. Entry Books. Secretary Shelburne's entry book of in-letters and out-letters.1766-1767
CO 5/408Carolina, South. Entry Book. Secretary of State's entry book of in-letters.1768-1782
CO 5/410Carolina, South. Entry Book. Secretary of State's entry book of in-letters.1772-1781
CO 5/1258, 1260-1265Proprieties. Original Correspondence. Board of Trade relating to: Bahamas, Connecticut, Carolina, Maryland, East and West New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.1699-1720
CO 5/1287-1293Proprieties. Entry Books. Entry books of the Board of Trade.1696-1727
CO 5/1318Virginia. Original Correspondence. Board of Trade; from the governors.1717-1720
CO 323/33Original Correspondance. Board of Trade. Abstracts of letters.1758-1759
CO 324/ 4 and 10Entry Books. Commissions, instructions, Board of Trade correspondence, etc.1765-1787; 1712-1722
CO 324/49 and 50Entry Books of letters patent, warrants, affidavits, land grants, licenses, etc.. Volume 50 is from Secretary Newcastle's office and not from the Board of Trade.1714-1781; 1728-1751
CO 391/1-3, 6, 9-15, 17, 18, 22, 25-28, 29-34, 36-82Board of Trade (Commercial). Journal of the Lords of Trade and of the Board of Trade. These contain the journal or minutes of the committee of the Privy Council, commonly known as the Lords of Trade.1675-1682, 1686-90, 1696-1703, 1704-6, 1710-11, 1715-25, 1727-1775
Originals: The transcriptions from which this material was filmed is held at the South Carolina Archives. The originals from which the transcriptions were made are held at the Public Record Office, now known as The National Archives in Kew, England.
Archival Ref. No.:

South Carolina Archives Microcopy Number 1 or SC-Ar M/1

TNA (formerly PRO) CO 5/ 13-14, 16-29, 116-117, 211-214, 286-292, 297, 358-380, 383-396, 400-405, 407-408, 410, 1258, 1260-1265, 1287-1293, 1318; CO 323/33; CO 324/4, 10, 49-50; CO 391/1-3, 6, 9-15, 17-18, 22, 25-34, 36-82

Finding Aids:
            Microfilm Shelf List giving the reel numbers, corresponding volume numbers and dates is available, see Electronic Finding section.  An accompanying pamphlet is available in print and as PDF, linked below.

Three hand-written indices are available: persons, places, and topics found on reel 12. 

Online:  CO 324 has been electronically produced from Library and Archives Canada's microfilm reel no. C 10868, and is found via on the Heritage website.  This product is browsable but not searchable.   

Online: The Board of Trade Journals (CO 391) have been electronically produced and are accessible online via British History Online.  These cover volumes 1-14 (1704-1782) and are searchable and browsable.  (This will give access to original papers not yet calendared as every letter received by the Commissioners was read at a meeting and noted in the Journal with all its enclosures and its place of deposit being indicated by a marginal note.)

Online:  Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies  covers the dates 1573-1739, mainly from Colonial Office series CO 5 and CO 1, and includes transcriptions and summaries of the originals documents in the Colonial Office detailing British administration in its colonies in North America and the West Indies.  The series is arranged chronologically and is available and searchable online from British History Online.

To correlate the old references found written on the pages of these documents with the current, use the key at the back of Andrews' Guide to Materials in American History to 1783 in the Public Record Office. 

CO 5/13-20, the character of the letters and despatches can be learned from the published Correspondence of William Pitt, when Secretary of State, with Colonial Governors and Military and Naval Commissioners in America (HIL-STACKS E199 .P68 1969 v.1 and 2). 

For a listing of departmental officials, see the series:  Office-holders in Modern Britain located in the Loyalist Collection.              
Electronic Finding Aid Record: Microfilm Shelf List- SC.pdf
Piracy and Privateering, Selections .pdf
Document Listing vol 36.pdf

There are some notes in the margins referring to other pages in the papers on the same subject matter.

The transcriptions made by Sainsbury omitted much statistical matter; acts and journals of the provincial council and assembly; and duplicates and drafts of British state papers. Many enclosures, such as, copies of acts, extracts from minutes, or statistical reports, were not included; but the fact that the document has been omitted is almost always noted.

Part Of:
Other With: Reel 1, vols. 1-5, 1663-1710 is on reel 6 of Colonial Records of South Carolina located in the Loyalist Collection under the call number, FC LPR .A4P8C6S6