in the September 2012 issue of The Southern Genealogists Exchange
THE MAN WHO INVENTED GEORGIA
By J. G. Braddock Sr.
Invented may seem an odd word to use for describing the founding of a colony. Yet, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that Georgia had an inventor. Without dashing, exuberant, head-strong, sometimes stubborn, sometimes rash, sometimes vain, always larger-than-life, always hands-on James Edward Oglethorpe being what he was where he was when he was, there would be no Georgia. His compassion drew its blueprint on his brain and heart. His strong will forged it into reality. His equally strong determination to see it succeed compelled him to forsake the affluence and comfort of England to midwife its birth and nurture its growth. And his fierce devotion to its survival compelled him to protect it by being at the forefront of encounters against its mortal enemy, the Spanish at St. Augustine.
While serving in Parliament in England, to which he was elected in 1722 at the relatively young age of 26, he became deeply troubled by the practice in England of imprisoning debtors and by the oppressions suffered in Europe by religious dissenters. In 1732 he persuaded Parliament to allow these people to settle in an area below South Carolina where they would be given land on which they could make a fresh start at working out their destinies. At the same time the colony would act as a buffer between the ever threatening Spaniards to the south in Florida and the English colonies to the north.
Contrary to a popular misconception that the original settlers of Georgia came from debtors' prisons, the Trusteeship, which was set up to be the British governments as overseer of the affairs of the new colony, devised stringent rules of qualification for those who would become its colonists. The following paragraphs in An Account Shewing the Progress of the Colony of Georgia, published in 1742, disprove this unjust indictment.
When the Trustees had made these depositions, and were enabled by benefactions from several private persons. On the 3d of October 1732, it was resolved to send over one hundred and fourteen persons, men, women and children, being such as were in decayed in circumstances and thereby disabled from following any business in England, and who, if in debt, had leave from their creditors to go, and such as were recommended by the minister, church-wardens, and overseers of their respective parishes. And James Oglethorpe, Esq., one of the Trustees, went with them at his own expence to settle them.
On the 24th of the same month the people were all examined, whether any of them had an objections to the terms and conditions proposed to them; which they all declared they had not, but that they were fully satisfied with them . . .
The following one hundred fourteen settlers, along with Oglethorpe, sailed from the English port of Gravesend on Friday, November 17, 1732, aboard the ship Anne:
Paul Amatis, understands the nature and production of raw silk;
Timothy Bowling, aged 38, potash maker;
Wm Calvert, trader of goods, aged 44, Mary his wife, aged 42, Wm. Greenfield, aged 19, and Charles Greenfield, aged 16, his [Calvert's] nephews, Sarah Greenfield, aged 16, his niece, and Elizabeth Wallis, aged 19, his servant;
Richard Cannon, calendar [a person who listed documents] and carpenter, aged 36, Mary his wife, aged 33, his sons Marmaduke, aged 9, and James, aged 7 months, his daughter Clementine, aged 2½, and his servant Mary Hicks;
James Carwell, peruke [wig] maker, aged 35, and Margaret his wife, aged 32;
Thomas Causton, callico printer, aged 40;
Thomas Christie, merchant, aged 32, and Robert Johnson [Johnston] his servant, aged 17;
Robert Clark [Clarke], taylor [tailor], aged 37, Judith his wife, aged 29, and his sons Charles, aged 11, John, aged 4, Peter, aged 3, and James, aged 9 months;
Henry Close, cloth worker, aged 42, Hannah his wife, aged 32, and Ann his daughter, aged under 23;
Joseph Coles, miller and baker, aged 28, Anna his wife, aged 32, Anna his daughter, aged 13, and Elias Ann Wellen his servant, aged 18;
Joseph Cooper, writer, aged 37;
Wm. Cox, surgeon, aged 41, Frances his wife, aged 35, Wm. his son, aged above 12, Eunice his daughter, aged 2¼, and Henry Lloyd [Loyd] his servant, aged 21;
Joseph Fitzwalter, gardener, aged 31;
Walter Fox, turner [a person who worked with a lathe], aged 35;
John Gready, understands farming, aged 22;
James Goddard, carpenter and joyner, aged 38, Elizabeth his wife, aged 42, John his son, aged under 9, and Elizabeth his daughter, aged 5;
Peter Gordon, upholsterer, aged 34, and Katherine his wife aged, 28;
Richard Hodges, basket maker, aged 50, Mary his wife, aged 42, and his daughters Mary, aged 18, Elizabeth, aged 16, ad Sarah, aged 5;
Joseph Hughes, in the cider trade and understands writing and accompts [accounting], aged 28, and Elizabeth his wife, aged 22;
Noble Jones, carpenter, aged 32, Sarah his wife, aged 32, Noble his son, aged 10 months, Mary his daughter, aged 3, and his servants Thomas Ellis, aged 17, and Mary Cormock, aged 11;
Wm Littell [Littel], understands flax and hemp, aged 31, Elizabeth his wife, aged 31, his son Wm., aged under 2, and Mary his daughter, aged 5;
Thomas Millidge, carpenter and joyner, aged 42, Elizabeth, his wife, aged 40, his sons John, aged 11, Richard, aged 8, and James, aged 1½, and his daughters Sarah, aged under 9, and Frances aged 5;
Francis Mugridge, sawyer, aged 39;
James Muir, peruke [wig] maker, aged 38, Ellen his wife, aged 38, John his son, aged 18 months, and Elizabeth Satchfield his servant, aged 25;
Joshua Overend, aged 40;
Samuel Parker, a heel maker and understands carpenter's work, aged 33, Jane his wife, aged 36, and his sons Samuel, aged 16, and Thomas, aged under 9;
John Penrose, husbandman, aged 35, and Elizabeth his wife, aged 46;
Thomas Pratt, occupation unknown, aged 21;
John Sammes [Samms], cordwainer [shoemaker], aged 42;
Francis Scott, a reduced military officer, aged 40, and his servant John [Richard] Cameron, aged 35;
Joseph Stanly [Stanley], stocking maker and can draw and reel silk, aged 45, Elizabeth his wife, aged 35, and John Mackoy [Mackay,] his servant, aged 25;
George Symes, apothecary, aged 55, Sarah his wife, aged 52, and Ann [Anne] his daughter, aged 21;
Daniel Thibaut, understands vines, aged 50, Mary his wife, aged 40, James his son, aged under 12, and Diana his daughter, aged under 7;
John Warrin, flax and hemp dresser, aged 34, Elizabeth his wife, aged 27, his sons Wm., aged 6, Richard, aged 4, John, aged 1½, and one to be baptized, aged 3 weeks, and his daughter Elizabeth, aged 3;
Wm. Waterland, late a mercer [one who worked with fine cloths], aged 44;
John West, smith [blacksmith], aged 33, Elizabeth his wife, aged 33, and Richard his son, aged 5;
James Wilson, sawyer, aged 21;
John Wright, vintner, aged 33, Penelope his wife, aged 33, John his son, aged 13, and Elizabeth his daughter, aged 11;
Thomas Young, wheelwright, aged 45.
As his first act upon going ashore after the Anne arrived safely in Charlestown harbor January 13, 1733, Oglethorpe assembled the passengers and gave thanks to Almighty God. He then wrote a letter to send back on the Anne advising the Trustees of their safe arrival. He wrote another letter a few weeks later updating the Trustees [An Account Shewing the Progress of the Colony of Georgia]:
From the camp near Savannah, the 10th February, 1733.
I gave you an account in my last of our arrival at Charles-Town. The Governor and Assembly have given us all possible encouragement. Our people arrived at Beaufort on the 20th of January, where I lodged them in some new barracks built for the soldiers whilst I went myself to view the Savannah River. I fixed upon a healthy situation about ten miles from the sea; the river here forms a half moon, along the south side of which the banks are about forty feet high, and on the top a flat, which they call a bluff. The plain high ground extends into the country about five or six miles and along the river side about a mile. Ships that draw twelve feet water can ride within ten yards of the bank Upon the river side in the centre of this plain, I have laid out the town, opposite to which is an island [Hutchinson] of very rich pasturage, which I think should be kept for the Trustees cattle. The river is pretty wide, the water fresh, and from the key of the town you see its whole course to the sea, with the island of Tybee, which forms the mouth of the river, for about six miles up into the country. The landskip [landscape] is very agreeable, the stream being wide and bordered with high woods on both sides. The whole people arrived here on the 1st of February; at night their tents were got up. Till the 10th we were taken up in unloading and making a crane, which I then could not get finished, so took off' the hands and set some to the fortification and began to fell the woods. I have marked out the town and common. Half of the former is already cleared, and the first house was begun yesterday in the afternoon. A little Indian nation, the only one within fifty miles, is not only in amity but desirous to be subjects to his Majesty King George, to have lands given them among us, and to breed their children at our schools. Their chiefs and his beloved man, who is the second man in the nation, desire to be instructed in the Christian religion.
I am, Gentlemen, &c.
Soon after his arrival, Oglethorpe began cultivating goodwill with the local tribe of Indians, the Yamacraws and their chief, Tomochichi. He sought and received from the chief the tribe’s permission to settle on the bluff. The treaty of friendship and commerce the two made helped ease considerable precariousness in establishing the colony. A worthy story in himself, Tomochichi intervened for Oglethorpe with chiefs of other Georgia tribes. At one meeting Tomochichi arranged with several Cherokee chiefs, he stood up, bowed low toward Oglethorpe, and said:
I was a banished man; I came here poor and helpless to look for good land near the tombs of my ancestors, and the Trustees sent people here; I feared you would drive us away, for we were weak and wanted corn; but you confirmed our land to us, gave us food, and instructed our children. We have already thanked you in the strongest words we could find, but words are no return for such favors for good words may be spoke by the deceitful as well as by the upright heart. The chief men of all our nation are here to thank you for us; and before them I declare your goodness and that here I design to die, for we all love your people so well that with them we will live and die. We do not know good from evil but desire to be instructed and guided by you that we may do well with and be numbered amongst the children of the Trustees. (from Political State of Great Britain, vol. 46, published in London in 1733)
On May 16, 1733, the James, the first ocean going ship to sail up the Savannah River, landed the following settlers from England at the bluff:
Henry Hows, sawyer, and his wife Anne;
Robert Hows, sawyer, wife Anne, and daughters Anne and Mary;
Edward Johnson, carpenter and sawyer;
William Savery, blacksmith;
Jacob Watts, sawyer and turner;
Robert Gilbert, tailor, wife Margaret, and daughter Elizabeth;
Peter Tondee Sr. and his two sons Charles and Peter;
Thomas Tebbut, sawyer, and wife Anne;
The following etching by an unknown colonial artist is of the ship James unloading at Savannah:
The ship William and Sara arrived July 10, 1733, from London with the following Jewish passengers who had paid their own way:
Heyman Aberdaun, wife Abigail, and son Solomon;
Simon Aberdaun and wife Grace;
Rafael Bernal and his wife Rachel;
David Delmont Cohen, wife Rachel, daughters Abigail and Grace, and son Isaac;
Abraham Delyon and his wife Hester;
Judith Fernando, sister to Abraham Molina;
Moses Ledesma, wife Hester, and son Samuel;
Jacob Lopes deCrasto and wife Sipura;
David Lopes de Pax;
Hugh Marks, wife Anne, and servant Jo Morent;
Abraham Minas, wife Abigail, daughters Hester and Leah, son Simon, and servant Shem Noah;
Abraham Molina, wife Sarah, and daughter Hester;
Isaac Molina and wife Rachel;
Bernal Rafael Montsonte;
Henry Nunez and wife Abigail;
Samuel Nunez, M.D., wife Rachel, sons Daniel and Moses, daughter Sypera, and servant Samuel Noe Costa;
Jacob Olivera, wife Judith, sons David and Isaac, and daughter Leah;
Benjamin Sheftel [Sheftall] and his wife Elizabeth;
With some minor editing, the preceding lists of settlers were taken from the book A List of the Early Settlers of Georgia, which was compiled and edited from a manuscript of the Earl of Egmont, one of Colonial Georgia’s Trustees, by E. Merton Coulter and Albert B. Saye and published in 1949.
On a visit to England in November 1733, Peter Gordon, who was in the first load of settlers, gave the following report to the Trustees on the state of affairs of the fledgling colony, which is recorded in The Journal of the Earl of Egmont:
Mr. Gordon, one of our bailiffs or chief magistrates of Georgia, lately come over to be cut for a fistula, attended us, and gave us a general account of the Colony which he left November last, at which time there were about 500 souls, and of them 100 fighting men. He told us a great deal of Mr. Oglethorp's [sic] indefatigable zeal in carrying on our affairs, conducting the building of the town, keeping peace, laying out of lands, supplying the stores with provision, encouraging the fainthearted, etc. He also produced a sketch of the town and adjacent country as it was when he came away in November last, which we ordered to be engraved for the satisfaction of the subscribers to the undertaking. He said that 40 houses were then already built of timber and clapboard with shingle roofs, but Mr. Oglethorp still lay in the tent set up before the houses were built; that the town is intended to consist of six wards, each ward containing four tithings, and each tithing 10 houses, so that the whole number of houses will be 240. That we have a battery of twelve guns on the river, over which is the guard room, and there are besides two blockhouses at the two angles of the town with four guns each. That there is a town house erected in which Divine service is said by Mr. Quincy, whom he very much commends for his care and good example.
Gordon added to his report to the Trustees that the people were orderly and healthy.
Following is the etching made of Gordon’s drawing:
The rosy condition of the report of the health of the colony Gordon made to the Trustees was short lived, primarily because of an outbreak of yellow fever. Of the first boatload of 114 colonists, 29 died within the first year. 47 of the 114 died within the first ten years. 20 others left the colony for England or to go to South Carolina. Yet, the colony continued to grow and prosper. According to A List of the Early Settlers of Georgia, 1,847 persons were sent to Georgia at the Trustees expense in the colony’s first ten years. Eight hundred thirty-nine of them were persecuted Protestants from Europe. Two Hundred twenty-two of these were Salzburgers, for whom Oglethorpe established the town of Ebenezer in 1734. In 1735 he established the town of Augusta. In 1736 he established the town of Frederica and its fort on St. Simons Island. Also in 1736 a band of trained Highland warriors Oglethorpe had recruited in Scotland and their wives and children, 177 people in all, settled the town of Darien. Oglethorpe established Frederica and Darien as outpost to protect the colony from Spanish intrusions from the south.
It would be an under statement to say Oglethorpe’s invention proved to be a success. Georgia continued to grow and prosper. By 2009 it ranked 9th of all the states in population with 9,829,211 persons and 10th in gross domestic products with 398 billion dollars worth.
Of all the brave, selfless men who contributed to the shaping of our nation, Oglethorpe is my favorite. Considering that thirty-six of my identifiable direct ancestors, including both my parents, were Georgians, and several others who were non-natives prospered there, my choice should be understandable. Had Oglethorpe not invented Georgia, it is likely they would not have come into being. Consequently, neither would have I. Additionally, had the Oglethorpe-led May 1740 raid against the Spanish stronghold in St. Augustine not stirred them up, one of their privateers would not have captured the ship of my fifth great-grandfather, New York born David Cutler Braddock, and carried it into St. Augustine. And had Oglethorpe not put him in command of one of Georgia’s men-of-war after he escaped from St. Augustine and made his way to the General’s headquarters at St. Simons, he would not have become progenitor of a multitude of descendants in the South.