Loyalists Identified on the Governor of South Carolina's Proclamation Lists of 1779

An extract from the article entitled "The Migration of Loyalists from South Carolina" by Robert W. Barnwell, Jr. that appeared in the Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association for 1937, at pages 37-41 is presented below.  These lists are significant because the names of two of the Loyalists sketched at this web site appear on the December 1779 list - Stephen Mayfield and William ("Bloody Bill") Cunningham. I have slightly modified the extract to delete most of the footnote references and correct errors re the number of names on the two proclamation lists, both of which originally were published in the South Carolina and Am. Gen. Gazette, a Whig newspaper of the time.

In the summer of 1775 the royal governor had succeeded in organizing a considerable back country following. It was soon crushed and disarmed but several of the leaders managed to get to Florida, and Thomas Brown and Joseph Robinson were never captured. Evan McLaurin and Richard Pearis were imprisoned for a time; they were released soon after the battle of Fort Moultrie and soon thereafter made their escape to Florida. The Indian country furnished a means by which the British at Pensacola could communicate with the back country, and through agents they were able to keep alive their party.

In 1777 the British raised two provincial military organizations in Florida partly from refugees. At Pensacola John Stuart, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, formed the West Florida Rangers. One company was commanded by Richard Pearis and the other by Alexander Cameron. The latter was a Scotchman and had been Stuart's deputy to the Cherokee Indians.  At St. Augustine Governor Tonyn raised the Florida Rangers with Thomas Browne as colonel.  It was composed of residents of Florida as well as of refugees and deserters from Georgia and the Carolinas.

It was not until 1778 that large numbers went to Florida.  There had been several unsuccessful attempts or plots to get a large body of men to escape from the South Carolina back country, but many of the Loyalists had been disarmed and they were held in check by the Whig militia. In March 1778, the prominent militia leaders were attending a very important meeting of the legislature. The Loyalists took advantage of their absence and several groups embodied and joined forces a little above Orangeburg. Two of the leaders were Benjamin Gregory and John Murphy. They crossed the Savanna River below Augusta by seizing some trading boats, Though pursued by the militia of South Carolina and Georgia they reached Florida in safety. Accounts of their numbers while on the march were put as high as six hundred but there were a little less than four hundred who arrived safely in Florida. Three hundred and twenty-eight of them were formed into a provincial regiment known as the South Carolina Royalists. Joseph Robinson and Evan McLaurin were made lieutenant-colonel and major respectively. The test oath is usually considered the reason for this migration and undoubtedly it was a cause since the dates of the law and the migration coincide so completely. These men, however, went expressly for the purpose of forming a regiment, for they had been recruited by agents of Governor Campbell.  Alexander Innis, a former British army officer and secretary of Governor Campbell, was given the title of colonel of the regiment.

Professor [Wilbur H.] Siebert [in his book Loyalists, Vol. I, pgs 53-54] distinguishes three large groups of Loyalists that went from South Carolina at this time, namely:

1)      The one that formed the South Carolina Royalists;

2)      An even larger group known as Scopholites from their leader “Col. Scophol of the South Carolina militia;”

3)      And a group of about four hundred men led by Colonel Murphy.

The writer [Robert W. Barnwell] believes that these were all one and the same group, for all of these bands are reported as passing through Georgia during the one month of April, and one of the captains of the South Carolina Royalists was John Murphy.  Furthermore “Scopholite” was the general contemptuous term used for Loyalists in the backcountry of South Carolina.  John F. Grinke who took part in the expedition against Florida in the summer of 1778 used the term continually in referring to Loyalists. He mentioned a group of “Scopholites” enlisted in the British service for the war who had been drilled by Prevost.  Surely, these were the South Carolina Royalists. The British headquarters papers mentioned only the one group nor do they say anything about a Colonel Scophol, who was a leader of the anti-regulator faction in South Carolina ten years before. Scophol or Scoville may have been a Loyalist in the Revolution, and may have gone to Florida, but there is no evidence that he lead a separate body of four hundred men.

Many other Loyalists in South Carolina wished to leave the state, and though most of them were prevented by the Whig militia, a number of small parties succeeded in escaping.  At this time a Royal North Carolina regiment was formed in Florida, composed partly of Scotch Highlanders from that state. In it were refugees from other Southern states, some of them doubtless from South Carolina.

In 1779 there was another attempt by a large group to join the British with a very different result, namely, the Battle of Kettle Creek. About seven hundred men from South Carolina and North Carolina tried to reach the British who were then in Georgia. They were defeated by Colonel Pickens just before they reached safety. Even then about two hundred and fifty escaped to Savannah and were formed into a second battalion of the South Carolina Royalists. Many prisoners were captured at Kettle Creek. Seventy-five were tried for treason in the civil court, twenty-five were condemned and five executed. These migrations were serious since they furnished the British with recruits. The executions were an example of terror to stop similar attempts, but were also the beginning of the hanging practiced by both sides which is such a regrettable feature of the Revolution.

An ordinance was passed in 1779 by which the governor was to issue proclamations calling on persons who had joined the British to return. If they did not do so their property was to be confiscated. Two such proclamations were issued. One [taken from the South Carolina and Am. Gen. Gazette newspaper, dated 19 November 1779] [proclamation is] dated November 8. 1779, contains fifty names as follows:


John Dalrymple

John Mahon

Abraham Gelge

James Harvey

Hugh Ferham

Edward Layne

David Reas

Abner Bishop

Geo. Dawkins

James Teniseley

Elijah Bishop

John Murphy

John Hunter

Goulding Bishop

Wm. Murphy

Henry Green

John Otway

Wm. Thompson

Samuel Proctor

John Fridig

James Fady

James Barton

Frederick Richoater

James Nealy

Isaac Gray

Nathan Kuzner

James Nealy, Jr.

Thomas Elison

Conrad Sleice

Charles McLellen

Arthur Brutcher

John Griggory

James Daugherty

John Boyd

Benjamin Griggory

James Daugherty, Jr.

Benjamin Barton

John Livingston

Alexander Dayly, Sr.

Richard Fowler

Martin Livingston

Alezander Dayly, Jr.

John Speirgen

James Wright

Miles Busbe

Tho. Niveld

Christopher Suber

Henry Hasten


Gotleb Suber

John Heipe

The other proclamation [taken from the South Carolina and Am. Gen. Gazette newspaper, dated 17 December 1779] dated December 16 [1779], contained 40 names as follows:

Randall Hemes

Bazil Lee

George More

William Benson

Benjamin Medool

David More

John Potts

Barnet Coller

Samuel Smith

Barnet Young

Christopher Colman

Philip Davis, Sr.

James Adington

Zachariah Beley

Joshua Foullous

Thomas Jackson

David Beley

Aaron Spanoson

William Lee, Jr.

William Deper

Josiah Langston

Nathaniel Hillon

Robert Colman

John Tubnure

Jacob Powell Timothy Poston William Cunningham

Edward Jirs., Sr.

John Mosley

Daniel McNilk

Wm. Holmes

John Emory

Credily Weedingham

William Wood

Elijah Wells

Robert Powell

Daniel Plumer Stephen Mayfield William Lee

John Hils



Many of these are men who left in 1778. Apparently no immediate steps were taken towards confiscation, but these proclamations were not forgotten. Over two years later when the confiscation act of 1782 was passed, these persons were included, although they were not again listed individually.  [Emphasis added by the webmaster]

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