Evolution of a Federalist: William Loughton Smith of Charleston (1758-1812)

By George C. Rogers | Go to book overview
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III
BENJAMIN SMITH, SELF-MADE ARISTOCRAT

I N COLONIAL SOCIETY, aristocracy was quite frankly based on wealth, and the quickest way to the top was through commerce. Once at the top, however, the colonial began to think in terms of English society, and his dearest wish was to found a family. Thus marriage was the institution by which social position could be consolidated. Benjamin Smith and Thomas Smith, his brother, each had twelve children, more than half of whom were to marry and establish families of their own. In the expansion of these two family circles one can see the Carolina aristocracy forming and consolidating, a process which was well underway by the 1760's. Indeed, as one moves from the generation of Benjamin Smith to that of his children, one moves from self-made aristocrats to born aristocrats.

IN 1740, BENJAMIN SMITH married Anne Loughton, the daughter and stepdaughter of lesser colonial officials, William Loughton and Robert Brewton.1 Edward Loughton, her grandfather, the first of that name in Carolina, was in Charles Town by 1684, possibly one of the English Dissenters.2 He was granted a town lot in 1692.3 In 1700 he tried to secure a warrant with Richard Tranter to search for and to develop silver mines "beyond the Appalesean Mountains."4 In this effort he was certainly connected with James Moore, a leading Dissenter and principal Indian trader.5 In 1706 and 1707 he was elected to the Commons House of Assembly.6 Edward Loughton's wife, Sarah, died in Barbados in 1700. There is a family tradition that William Loughton, the son of Sarah and Edward

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1
A. S. Salley Jr., "William Smith and Some of His Descendants," SCHGM, IV ( 1903), 244.
2
Edward Loughton and his brother-in-law David Maybank were "house carpenters." Edward Randolph to "your lordship," March 22, 1699, Records in the British Public Record Office Relating to South Carolina, 1698-1700, ed. A. S. Salley, Columbia, 1946, p. 78.
3
Henry A. M. Smith, "Charleston -- The Original Plan and the Earliest Settlers," SCHGM, IX ( 1908), 25.
4
Memorial of Edward Loughton and Richard Tranter, Records in the British Public Record Office Relating to South Carolina, 1698-1700, ed. A. S. Salley , Columbia, 1946, pp. 194-196.
5
Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina under the Proprietary Government, 1670-1719, New York, 1897, pp. 347-348.
6
A. S. Salley Jr., "Members of the Commons House of Assembly, 1702- 1711," SCHGM, XXVII ( 1926), 171.

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