The St. Andrew’s Society is a social and benevolent organization that was founded in Charleston on November 30, 1729. Its founders were men, mostly of Scottish descent, who came together to celebrate St. Andrew’s Day. Its membership was never limited to Scotsmen, however, so it quickly grew to include some of South Carolina’s foremost merchants, politicians, lawyers, doctors, and planters. The society’s stated purpose was to provide for the relief of the indigent and poor. It generated substantial revenue for that purpose through admission fees, dues, gifts, and bequests. The society was incorporated in 1798, and on January 9, 1804, it opened a school for the education of the poor and the children of members who had fallen on hard times. Theschool operated until after passage of the State Free School Act of 1811. The society began construction of a hall in 1814 and completed it the following year. It was the scene of numerous social events during its forty-five-year existence. The hall also was the meeting place for the Secession Convention, which passed the Ordinance of Secession there on December 20, 1860. St. Andrew’s Hall burned on December 11, 1861, in a fire that consumed much of Charleston. Thereafter, the St. Andrew’s Society met in the South Carolina Society Hall at the invitation of that organization. In the early twenty-first century, the society’s membership was capped at 250. Meetings of the organization are held monthly except for July and August, with the annual celebration of St. Andrew’s Day being the highlight of its calendar. In keeping with its original purpose, the society annually contributed to twelve charities and four schools.
Easterby, J. H. History of the St. Andrew’s Society of Charleston, South Carolina, 1729–1929. Charleston, S.C.: The Society, 1929.