Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review: Proprietary Records of South Carolina

Bates, Susan Baldwin and Leland, Harriott Cheves, eds. Proprietary Records of South Carolina. 3 vols. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2005-2007.

Did you have ancestors in South Carolina before the end of the 17th century? If so, History Press has a three-volume work that is absolutely essential for researching the earliest period of the province that eventually became the eighth state admitted to the United States. Susan Baldwin Bates and Harriott Cheves Leland have painstakingly abstracted some of earliest land and estate records of the state.

Volume one focuses on Abstracts of the Records of the Secretary of the Province, 1675-1695. The introduction provides important information about the record group as well as the editorial process. The largest portion of the book contains abstracts. The records contain land claims, estate administrations, bonds, releases, estate inventories, wills, marriages, and other assorted items of tremendous genealogical and historical value. There is a small section of color plates illustrating some of the records, including a couple of maps. The appendices include a list of provincial secretaries and a list of settlers taken from a map, There is a glossary, a list of titles used during the proprietary period, a bibliography, and an index of places and people.

Volume two contains Abstracts of the Records of the Register of the Province, 1675-1696.  The introduction provides information about the office of the register, the land grant process, and headrights in addition to the record group itself. The majority of the book contains the records themselves. There are land grants, deeds, business records, indentures, receipts, wills, quit rents, and other miscellaneous items among the records. There are a few color plates illustrating the records and showing some of the maps in the record group. The appendices contain a listing of those serving as provincial registers and lists of settlers from two maps.There is a bibliography and an index of places and people.

Volume three contains Abstracts of the Records of the Surveyor General of the Province, Charles Towne, 1678-1698.  The introduction provides important information about the founding of Charleston, about the office responsible for these records,and about the records themselves. The records themselves consist chiefly of land warrants. There is a section of color plates illustrating records, plats, and maps found in the record group.The appendices consist of a list of the surveyors, histories of specific lots in Charleston, and the surveyor's notebook.There is a bibliography and an index of places and people.

These three volumes are indispensable for those researching South Carolina's early history and for those researching the lives of early settlers of South Carolina. Researchers are fortunate that a publisher such as History Press is willing to publish volumes such as these which have a more limited audience to make them widely available for historians, genealogists, and other interested persons.

Note: The three volumes were provided by the publisher for review.

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