The backcountry parish of St. David’s was established on April 12, 1768, and included the area of modern Marlboro, Darlington, and Chesterfield Counties, plus a small portion of northwestern Florence County. Among the earliest settlers in the upper Pee Dee region were Welsh Baptists from Pennsylvania drawn to South Carolina in the 1730s by the colonial government’s promise of free land in Queensboro Township. Indigo planters from the coast began arriving in the 1750s, and by 1760 the “Welsh Tract” contained approximately 3,500 people, 300 of whom were slaves. In the late 1760s the area became a target for “Out Laws and Fugitives from the Colonies of Virginia and North Carolina” and subsequently a hotbed of Regulator activity. In 1767 the visiting Reverend Charles Woodmason drew up “a Petition to the Legislature for this Part of the Province to be rais’d into a Parish,” which the residents “cheerfully sign’d.” Local support for parish organization came more from a desire to establish law and order than from a desire for a church, however.
The assembly authorized St. David’s the following year. Since British imperial policy had forbidden the enlargement of colonial legislatures, it was given one of the two representatives from neighboring St. Mark’s. A parish church at Cheraw was opened in 1773, and in 1778 the St. David’s Society was incorporated to support schooling in the area. When counties became the basis for backcountry representation in 1785, St. David’s Parish was divided into Marlboro, Darlington, and Chesterfield Counties.
Gregg, Alexander. History of the Old Cheraws. 1867. Reprint, Greenville, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1991.
Holcomb, Brent H. St. David’s Parish, South Carolina: Minutes of the Vestry, 1768–1832, Parish Register, 1819–1924. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1979.
Johnson, George Lloyd, Jr. The Frontier in the Colonial South: South Carolina Backcountry, 1736–1800. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1997.
Linder, Suzanne Cameron. Anglican Churches in Colonial South Carolina: Their History and Architecture. Charleston, S.C.: Wyrick, 2000.
Woodmason, Charles. The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the American Revolution: The Journal and Other Writings of Charles Woodmason, Angli- can Itinerant. Edited by Richard J. Hooker. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1953.