Bull, Stephen

?–1800

Bull participated with General William Moultrie in the American victory at Port Royal Island on February 3, 1779. Two months later the lowcountry was overrun by British General Augustine Prevost’s invasion from Georgia, and defeat and desertions decimated Bull’s regiment. After the fall of Charleston in May 1780, Bull went into self-imposed exile in Virginia and Maryland and offered no more service to the patriot cause.

Soldier, legislator. Bull was born in South Carolina, the only surviving son of Stephen Bull and Martha Godin. He was descended from one of the first families of colonial South Carolina and was the nephew of Lieutenant Governor William Bull, Jr. Bull inherited Sheldon Plantation in Prince William’s Parish. His family’s prominence thrust him into political leadership. He represented Prince William’s in the Commons House of Assembly from 1757 to 1760 and served as a justice of the peace from 1756 to 1769.

On the eve of the Revolutionary War, Bull was the colonel commanding the Beaufort District militia regiment. Unlike most members of his family, Bull supported the American cause and took up arms against the king. He led his regiment in the occupation of Savannah in 1776, a decisive event in bolstering Georgia patriots and driving Loyalists from Savannah. In 1778 Bull was promoted to brigadier general and led his regiment in the ill-fated American campaign against British East Florida. Command of the American forces was divided between General Robert Howe of the Continental army and Governor John Houston of Georgia. The American army never got past the Loyalist fort at St. Mary’s, Georgia.

Bull participated with General William Moultrie in the American victory at Port Royal Island on February 3, 1779. Two months later the lowcountry was overrun by British General Augustine Prevost’s invasion from Georgia, and defeat and desertions decimated Bull’s regiment. After the fall of Charleston in May 1780, Bull went into self-imposed exile in Virginia and Maryland and offered no more service to the patriot cause.

Politically, Bull was elected from Prince William’s Parish to the First and Second Provincial Congresses in 1775 and 1776 and the First and Second General Assemblies of South Carolina from 1776 to 1778. After the war Bull was a member of the S.C. House of Representatives from 1783 to 1790. He was twice elected to the S.C. Senate but declined to serve.

Bull was married first to Elizabeth Woodward, on December 18, 1755, and then to Ann Barnwell, on May 24, 1772. By his second wife he had three daughters: Charlotte, Mary, and Sarah. Bull died in 1800 and was buried at the ancestral seat at Ashley Hall, but he was later interred in Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston.

Bailey, N. Louise, Mary L. Morgan, and Carolyn R. Taylor, eds. Biographical Directory of the South Carolina Senate. 3 vols. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1986.

“Bull Family of South Carolina.” South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine 1 (January 1900): 76–90.

Rowland, Lawrence S., Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers. The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina. Vol. 1, 1514–1861. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Bull, Stephen
  • Coverage ?–1800
  • Author
  • Keywords Soldier, legislator, first families of colonial South Carolina, General William Moultrie,
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date May 18, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update July 25, 2016
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