St. Paul’s Parish was one of the original ten parishes created in South Carolina by the Church Act of 1706. The parish included a mainland region between the South Edisto and Stono Rivers as well as the adjacent Sea Islands. However as the population of the parish grew, the Sea Islands were separated from St. Paul’s in 1734 and became St. John’s Colleton Parish. The parish church was completed in November 1707 near the south branch of the Stono River but was relocated further inland in 1737.
Rice and indigo production dominated St. Paul’s during the colonial period, bringing large numbers of African slaves to work parish plantations. By 1720 the parish contained 1,634 slaves, over sixty percent of the population. The Stono Rebellion, the most successful slave uprising in the state’s history, began in St. Paul’s Parish on September 9, 1739, and was suppressed only after about twenty white and black colonists had been killed.
After the Revolutionary War, Sea Island cotton replaced indigo as a staple crop in the parish, and rice cultivation continued to flourish. In Colleton District, which included St. Paul’s and the surrounding parishes, slaves made up over eighty percent of the population by 1820. The planters of St. Paul’s Parish were vocal supporters of states’ rights during the antebellum period and overwhelmingly backed secession in 1860. The parish system was abolished by the state constitution of 1865, and St. Paul’s Parish was incorporated into Colleton District.
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.
Wood, Peter H. Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. New York: Knopf, 1974.