In the Affairs of the World: Women, Patriarchy, and Power in Colonial South Carolina

By Cara Anzilotti | Go to book overview

Introduction

Affra Harleston left her family’s home near Dublin in 1670 and embarked alone aboard the ship Carolina bound for America. While at sea or shortly after arriving in the colony, she married the first mate, a young man named John Coming, and together they established themselves as planters in the Carolina low country. Coming became a ship’s captain and continued seafaring, while Affra managed their affairs on land, eventually controlling a sizable plantation in Berkeley County. Their union proved childless, thwarting John Coming’s plan of establishing a colonial dynasty. Not to be defeated, he wrote a will that outlined this plan: He would divide his property between his family and Affra’s, and he offered to transport his nephew, William Ball, and Affra’s nephew, John Harleston, to Carolina, where they would live in his house and share half the profits from his plantation; the other half would go to his wife, who would then return to England. And so the Comings waited, but neither nephew came. Discouraged by the indifference of his heirs, Captain Coming wrote a second will, this time leaving everything to Affra. He died in 1695.

Without husband or nephews to share her estate, Comingtee, Affra Harleston Coming could easily have given up, sold the property, and

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