Prince William's Parish

Prince William's Parish

May 25, 1745–1865

The whites of Prince William’s Parish overwhelmingly supported the nullification movement in 1832, and the region continued to be a center of secession sentiment throughout the antebellum period.

On May 25, 1745, the Commons House of Assembly passed an act creating Prince William’s Parish. The parish was named for William, duke of Cumberland, the son of King George II, and encompassed the mainland region between the Combahee and Coosawhatchie Rivers, located in modern Beaufort and Jasper Counties. Previously part of St. Helena’s Parish, the new parish was created because the increasingly prosperous rice planters in the region found traveling to the town of Beaufort, located on Port Royal Island, to be too difficult.

The parish church was completed near William Bull’s Sheldon Plantation in 1753. The original church was burned during the Revolutionary War, rebuilt, and burned again during the Civil War, with the ruins of the second church surviving into the twenty-first century. Aside from its suitability for cotton cultivation, Prince William’s Parish was also the principal rice-growing region in the Beaufort area and was home to several large slaveholders. At his death in 1851, Nathaniel Heyward owned 1,800 slaves and 35,000 acres of land, with 4,400 of those acres planted in rice principally in Prince William’s Parish. In 1850 Beaufort District, which included Prince William’s and the surrounding parishes, had a population of 38,805. Of that total, 32,279, or eighty-three percent, were slaves.

The whites of Prince William’s Parish overwhelmingly supported the nullification movement in 1832, and the region continued to be a center of secession sentiment throughout the antebellum period. The parish system was abolished with the adoption of the new state constitution in 1865, and Prince William’s Parish was incorporated into Beaufort District. See plate 15.

Linder, Suzanne Cameron. Anglican Churches in Colonial South Carolina: Their History and Architecture. Charleston, S.C.: Wyrick, 2000.

–––. Historical Atlas of the Rice Plantations of the ACE River Basin–1860. Columbia: South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1995. Rowland, Lawrence S., Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers. The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina. Vol. 1, 1514–1861. Columbia: Uni-

versity of South Carolina Press, 1996.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Prince William's Parish
  • Coverage May 25, 1745–1865
  • Author
  • Keywords parish church was completed near William Bull’s Sheldon Plantation, suitability for cotton cultivation, Prince William’s Parish was also the principal rice-growing region in the Beaufort area and was home to several large slaveholders
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date March 4, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 22, 2022
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