St. Thomas and St. Denis Parish

November 30, 1706–1865

Located on the peninsula formed by the Cooper and Wando Rivers in modern Berkeley County, St. Thomas and St. Denis were two of the ten original parishes created by the Church Act of 1706 and constituted colonial South Carolina’s only parish within a parish. Huguenots settled on the neck in the 1680s and constructed a small wooden church in what became known as the French, or Orange, Quarter. English settlers soon followed, took up the surrounding lands, and built their own house of worship. Pompion Hill Chapel on the Cooper River, the oldest Anglican edifice in the colony outside of Charleston, was erected in 1703. Despite speaking different languages and attending different churches, the two “nations” followed the same formula for success. Both parishes became home to slaveholding planters, and by the early eighteenth century both were “much improved in their fortunes.”

In 1706 the entire peninsula with its English-speaking majority was organized as St. Thomas Parish, but in order to accommodate the French of Orange Quarter, the parish of St. Denis was established “in ye middle of it.” By the mid–eighteenth century intermingling and intermarriage had made the English and French “one and the same people,” and St. Thomas and St. Denis officially became one parish in 1784. St. Thomas Episcopal Church, constructed in 1708 near modern Cainhoy, was made the parish church. With the abolition of the parish system in 1865, St. Thomas and St. Denis Parish became part of Berkeley County.

Clute, Robert F., ed. The Annals and Parish Register of St. Thomas and St. Denis Parish, in South Carolina, from 1680 to 1884. 1884. Reprint, Bal- timore: Genealogical Publishing, 1974.

Hirsch, Arthur Henry. The Huguenots of Colonial South Carolina. 1928. Reprint, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.

Linder, Suzanne Cameron. Anglican Churches in Colonial South Carolina: Their History and Architecture. Charleston, S.C.: Wyrick, 2000.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title St. Thomas and St. Denis Parish
  • Coverage November 30, 1706–1865
  • Author
  • Keywords two of the ten original parishes created by the Church Act of 1706 and constituted colonial South Carolina’s only parish within a parish, Pompion Hill Chapel, became part of Berkeley County.
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date May 18, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update September 16, 2016
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