James Glen: From Scottish Provost to Royal Governor of South Carolina

James Glen: From Scottish Provost to Royal Governor of South Carolina

James Glen: From Scottish Provost to Royal Governor of South Carolina

James Glen: From Scottish Provost to Royal Governor of South Carolina

Synopsis

This pioneering biography breaks new ground about Colonial America and about James Glen, correcting major misconceptions. Glen was appointed royal governor of Colonial South Carolina in 1738 and came to the colony in 1743 to serve until 1756, the longest tenure of any governor during its Colonial period. Two major themes are stressed: first, Glen had to protect the royal prerogative and follow the dictates of his commission in the face of persistent challenge from the assembly; and second, his role in Indian affairs was critical and dominated much of his time and energy, because Glen had a keen interest in and an aptitude for Indian negotiations.

Excerpt

This is a study of James Glen, who was appointed royal governor of Colonial South Carolina in 1738 and came to the colony in 1743 to serve until 1756, the longest tenure of any governor during its colonial period. Educated in law at the University of Leiden (Leyden) in the Netherlands, he followed the tradition of his family in becoming the provost of his native Linlithgow, a Scottish burgh on the road between Edinburgh and Sterling. He was the recipient of several other royal appointments in addition to the governorship: keeper of the royal palace of the Stuarts (Stewarts) in Linlithgow where Mary, Queen of Scots, was born and where James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) resided part of the time; keeper of the castle of Blackness; watchman of the salt duty at the port of Bo'ness (Borrowstounness); and inspector for Scotland of seizures of prohibited and uncustomed goods.

Little has been published on the life of Glen, and no previous discussion of his career has placed his early Scottish experience in perspective or his significant familial relationships with John Drayton and his kin. My study of the southern colonial frontier and an earlier research paper on the role of Governor Glen in frontier policies as they related to Colonial Virginia and Governor Robert Dinwiddie revealed the importance of his experience. I have now completed extensive research in Scotland, England, South Carolina, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and other depositories in the United States to conclude this project.

A study of Governor Glen is long overdue. This point was emphasized by M. Eugene Sirmans in the preface to his volume Colonial South Carolina: A Political History, 1663-1763 (1966). He stated, "In particular, we need a comprehensive analysis of the membership and power structure of the assembly and biographical studies of the leading politicians, notably Governor James Glen" (p. xii). In addition to the need for a discussion of his role as governor, there are several glaring errors that should be corrected, such as the identification of Glen as a Scottish High Sheriff, the description of him as never married, the denial of his status as the eldest son and major heir of his father, and a statement that he died in office in the mid-1750s. This study also corrects . . .

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