The settlement originated with a memoir that the Reverend Jean-Louis Gibert addressed to the board of trade in 1763 regarding a project to settle a group of Huguenots in North America.
Located on the upper Savannah River in present-day McCormick County, Hillsborough Township was named after Wills Hill, viscount of Hillsborough and president of the British Board of Trade. The settlement originated with a memoir that the Reverend Jean-Louis Gibert addressed to the board of trade in 1763 regarding a project to settle a group of Huguenots in North America. His plan coincided with the desire of the South Carolina government to strengthen the colony’s western frontier in the wake of the Cherokee War. In 1764 Gibert’s colonization scheme was approved and he received a 28,000-acre grant. About three hundred Huguenots, along with a few Swiss and Germans, settled Hillsborough Township in 1764–1765, 1768, and 1773. The last group, which was originally bound for Nova Scotia, arrived in Charleston under the leadership of Jean-Louis Dumesnil de St. Pierre, a Huguenot gentleman from Normandy. Plans were made for the building of a town that consisted of nearly two hundred lots of one-half acre each, along with a glebe, churchyard, fort, and mill. The town was named New Bordeaux in reference to the port through which most Hillsborough settlers left France. The colonists also planted a 175-acre vineyard, which was to be parceled out in four-acre lots. In addition to raising subsistence crops, the Huguenots attempted to produce silk and cultivate wine but met with little success. Although about twenty frame houses were built in New Bordeaux by the mid-1760s, the town site was largely abandoned before 1770 as the French dispersed throughout the area and mixed with German, English, and Irish settlers. Jean-Louis Gibert died of mushroom poisoning in 1773. Carolina Huguenot surnames from Hillsborough include Gibert, Moragne, Guillebeau, Boutiton, and Gervais.
Gibert, Anne C. Pierre Gibert, Esq., the Devoted Huguenot: A History of the French Settlement of New Bordeaux, South Carolina. N.p., 1976.
Hirsch, Arthur Henry. The Huguenots of Colonial South Carolina. 1928. Reprint, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.
Lewis, Kenneth E. The Guillebeau House: An Eighteenth Century Huguenot Structure in McCormick County, South Carolina. Columbia: Institute of Archeology and Anthropology, University of South Carolina, 1979.
Meriwether, Robert L. The Expansion of South Carolina, 1729–1765. Kingsport, Tenn.: Southern Publishers, 1940.