The Richbourg Family of South Carolina

William of Orange was deeply impressed by the character and valor of the Huguenots who served in his army, and for this reason developed a profound concern for the plight of the Huguenots sojourning in England. As a consequence, he encouraged a substantial colony of them to migrate from England to Virginia about 1690 and establish a Huguenot settlement at Manakin Town on the James River about twenty miles above Richmond. (4)

These colonists were joined in 1699 and 1700 by additional groups of Huguenots numbering more than 700 under the leadership of marquis de la Muce. These groups sailed for Virginia from Gravesend, England, and were accompanied by their pastor CLAUDE PHILIPPE DE RICHEBOURG, who served as minister of the Huguenot settlement at Manakin Town from the time of his arrival in 1699 or 1700 until his departure for North Carolina. (5)

Unhappy differences of opinion arose among the Huguenots at Manakin Town, and in 1708 Richebourg accompanied “the great body of them” to North Carolina, where they settled on the Trent River. (6)

The Huguenots were derived from their settlement on the Trent River by the Tuscarora and Coree Indians, who unexpectedly took to the warpath on September 11, 1711, and on that day brutally massacred 111 of their white neighbors in eastern North Carolina. (7)

As a result of this tragedy, RICHEBOURG and some of his compatriots made their way to the Province of South Carolina, where many Huguenots had proceeded them. Shortly after his arrival there in 1712, RICHEBOURG established his home near the French or Huguenot Church, which stood in the center of the French village of Jamestown on a high bluff abutting and overlooking the Santee River in Berkeley County, South Carolina. Here RICHEBOURG spent the remainder of his days. (8)

The Huguenot or French Church at Jamestown on the Santee, which consisted of wood on a foundation of brick, had been constructed at an unrecorded time by Huguenots, who had settled in the area shortly before 1690 to cultivate the grape, the olive, and the silk worm and to produce naval stores, and who numbered about eighty families by that year (9) Dr. Arthur Henry Hirsch states in his history of THE HUGUENOTS OF COLONIAL SOUTH CAROLINA that this was the largest settlement of Huguenots in the province outside Charleston during the early life of the colony, and that the French or Huguenot Church at Jamestown on the Santee was probably next to that at Charleston in membership. (10)

By the Church Act of 1706 and an amendment of 1708, the South Carolina Provincial legislature established for Anglean Church purposes the Parish of St. James Santee, whose boundaries embraced the French village of Jamestown and all other parts of Berkeley County lying between the Parish of St. John’s Berkeley on the south and the Santee River on the north. (11) In 1754, the Parish of St. Stephen was formed out of the northwestern portion of the Parish of St. James Santee. (12)

At the time of RICHEBOURG’s arrival at Jamestown, the French or Huguenot Church on the Santee was still enjoying the labors of its venerable pastor, Pierre Robert. (13)

Dr. Howe describes the character and final years of CLAUDE PHILIPPE DE RICHEBOURG as follows: (14)