South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
BEGINNINGS OF THE CHURCHES AND THE COMING OF THE HUGUENOTS, 1682-1697

ALTHOUGH BOTH the King and the Proprietors planned that the Anglican should be the established church in the province without denying full freedom in the exercise of all other forms of Protestantism, no church was built for some years. The common interests of the settlers and remoteness from English religious antagonisms suspended sectarianism among the struggling wilderness dwellers. Governor Sayle, a Dissenter, requested the sending of an Episcopal clergyman whose ministrations in Bermuda had been medicine to his soul. The Dissenter wife of the Dissenter Governor Blake contributed liberally almost twenty years later to the Episcopal Church in Charles Town; and during the first thirty years of the colony the governors for eighteen years were Dissenters. None of these circumstances would have been possible without a far friendlier feeling between Churchmen and Dissenters than existed in England. The renewed attack on the Dissenters in England about 1700 roused sleeping religious animosities in the South Carolinians. The peace established in England by the Toleration Act of 1689 was threatened by the deliberate campaign in which Lord Granville was a leader to destroy Dissent in one generation; and Lord Granville was Palatine of Carolina. The heat of the renewed conflict was soon reflected in the colony. The able and aggressive leaders of the Episcopal party, backed by powerful influence in England, put an end to the early golden age of Dissent in South Carolina through a combination of good works and evil.

The fact that Thomas Ash, who came out in 1690"and returned this present year, 1682," says that "they have reserved places for building a church," fixes its erection at least as late as 1682. St. Philip's Church was in all probability the oldest organized church in the province and the first to erect a building. It stood on the site now occupied by St. Michael's and was built of black cypress on a brick foundation. A law of March 1, 1711, directed the building of a brick church on the site of the present St. Philip's. Not until 1751 was the city divided into two parishes, St. Philip's lying north and St. Michael's south of Broad Street. An early Episcopal house of worship outside of Charles Town was

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