On November 30, 1706, St. Andrew’s Day, the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly passed an act establishing the Church of England in South Carolina. St. Andrew’s Parish was one of the ten parishes created by that act. The parish included the mainland region south and west of Charleston along the Ashley River and James Island. The parish church was completed around 1706 and still accommodated Episcopal worshipers at the turn of the twenty-first century, making it the oldest Episcopal Church building in South Carolina. Due to the growing profitability of rice cultivation and subsequent population growth, the parish was divided in 1717, with the territory surrounding the upper Ashley River becoming St. George’s Dorchester Parish.
The rice plantations along the Ashley River in St. Andrew’s Parish prospered during the colonial era. White planters displayed their wealth by building elaborate plantation homes such as Magnolia, Drayton Hall, and Middleton Place and increasing the number of African slaves to work the fields. In 1728 it was estimated that there were about eight hundred whites and eighteen hundred slaves in the parish.
During the late colonial period, tidal lands better suited for rice production drew many planters away from the Ashley River and St. Andrew’s Parish. Nevertheless rice production continued to dominate the parish economy throughout the antebellum era. After the parish system was abolished by the constitution of 1865, St. Andrew’s Parish was incorporated into Charleston District.
Linder, Suzanne Cameron. Anglican Churches in Colonial South Carolina: Their History and Architecture. Charleston, S.C.: Wyrick, 2000.