The South Carolina Commons House of Assembly passed an act creating St. Luke’s Parish from St. Helena’s Parish on May 23, 1767. The new parish, located in modern Beaufort and Jasper Counties, included the mainland region between the New and Broad Rivers, known as Euhaws, and Hilton Head Island. The British Board of Trade disallowed the act creating St. Luke’s in 1772. After the Revolutionary War the parish was reestablished, and the Church of the Holy Trinity at Grahamville was completed about 1786.
During the colonial period, indigo was the major crop on Hilton Head Island and the lower mainland portion of the parish, while rice plantations became increasingly profitable in the upper section along the New and Coosawhatchie Rivers. In the 1790s Sea Island cotton replaced indigo as the major staple grown in the lower part of St. Luke’s, while rice cultivation continued to expand in the upper part. African American slaves dominated the parish demographically for most of the colonial and all of the antebellum period. In 1850 slaves made up over eighty-three percent of the parish population.
Antebellum planters in St. Luke’s Parish were in the vanguard of political radicalism in the state. The 1844 Bluffton Movement was initiated in the parish town of the same name, and the region was a hotbed of secession sentiment in the 1850s and 1860. After the parish system was abolished by the new state constitution adopted in 1865, St. Luke’s Parish was incorporated into Beaufort District.
Linder, Suzanne Cameron. Anglican Churches in Colonial South Carolina: Their History and Architecture. Charleston, S.C.: Wyrick, 2000.
Rowland, Lawrence S., Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers. The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina. Vol. 1, 1514–1861. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.