Friday, September 25, 2020 Nic Butler, Ph.D.

Nicholas Trott was the most prolific author and premiere legal scholar in colonial South Carolina, but his house and the memory of its location disappeared more than two centuries ago. A trail of small clues led to the rediscovery of its location, however, at a familiar site already popular with locals and tourists. The story of Judge Trott’s forgotten residence was further enhanced by the recent discovery of a trash pit in his former back yard, the contents of which provide a new window into the narrative of early Charleston.

Last week we talked about the history of a house on Cumberland Street in downtown Charleston that acquired a reputation at the turn of the twentieth century as the home of Chief Justice Nicholas Trott in the early 1700s. That story is based on a long train of misdirection and misunderstandings, however, and we now know that petit structure to be a mid-eighteenth-century kitchen house associated with a larger and grander residence that disappeared more than a century ago. But the question remains: where did Nic Trott, one of the most influential and curious characters of early Charleston, live during his forty-one years in South Carolina’s colonial capital? The answer to this mystery is entangled within Trott’s alliance with another powerful figure in the early history of Carolina. In order to see the relevant clues in their proper context, therefore, we need to expand the brief biography of Nicholas Trott that I started last week.


Judge Trott was not popular during his early years in Charleston, but he did not want for company. His wife, Jane Willis, accompanied him to South Carolina in the late 1690s and bore at least one child, Mary. The power-hungry judge also had at least one ally in William Rhett “the elder” (1666–1723), an affluent merchant and courageous mariner best remembered as the man who sailed against an invading Spanish and French fleet in 1706 (See Episode No. 1) and captured the pirate Stede Bonnet in 1718 (see Episode No. 91). Like Trott, William Rhett was a power-hungry man whose duplicitous scheming earned him great wealth but few friends. It was no surprise, therefore, when their children—William Rhett “the younger” (1695–1729) and Miss Mary Trott —intermarried in the autumn of 1717.[1] The two families that dominated South Carolina politics and law in the early eighteenth century were united by marriage and also jointly stripped of power by the political coup known as the Revolution of 1719 (see Episode No. 140). Out of office and out of favor in 1720, the lives of the Rhett and Trott families changed dramatically in subsequent years. Colonel William Rhett “the elder” died in February 1722/3 (on the Julian Calendar), and Mrs. Jane Trott died four years later.[2] In what might have seemed like a strategic and logical union, Nicholas Trott married the old colonel’s widow, Sarah Rhett (1665–1745) in 1728, and took up residence in her stately mansion.[3] From that moment to the end of his life, Trott enjoyed a life of luxury supported by the ample remnants of the Rhett family fortune.

All of the facts I’ve just mentioned are part of the well-established narrative of the history of early South Carolina. Less familiar, however, is the contrast between Nicholas Trott’s life before and after his marriage to Sarah Rhett in 1728. Using their business acumen and some shady legal maneuvers, the Rhett family acquired a vast amount of real estate in Charleston and across the South Carolina Lowcountry during the first two decades of the eighteenth century. Enslaved people working at their estates in town and in the country generated a constant stream of income that the Rhetts invested in material luxuries. During that same period, however, Nicholas Trott apparently lived in a more modest fashion. Despite all the power, influence, and wealth he acquired between 1699 and 1719, Trott did not invest heavily in South Carolina. In contrast to nearly all of his white male contemporaries in the early years of the colony, there is no extant documentation of Trott applying for land grants, acquiring speculative properties, or investing in agricultural endeavors run by other men. It appears, therefore, that Nicholas Trott was an obsessively cerebral man who kept to his office in urban Charleston and immersed himself in the study of English law and the Hebrew Bible. A constant scribbler, Trott wrote legal summaries, judicial opinions, and published several books between 1719 and 1736. In recognition of this lifetime of intellectual pursuits, he received honorary doctorate degrees from two different universities.[4] In his later years, from 1720 onward, he was often called “Doctor Trott.”

Informed by all of these facts, let’s reframe our original question: where in Charleston did Judge Nicholas Trott live prior to his marriage to Sarah Rhett in 1728? The answer is found among the vast but incomplete collection of property records that survive from the early decades of the colony, now held at the South Carolina Department of Archives and History in Columbia and locally at the Charleston County Register of Deeds. Having combed through thousands of pages of archival records in search of other topics, I stumbled into a few fragments of information about Nicholas Trott that pointed me towards the following conclusion: For most of his life in the colony, Trott rented a house and was attended by enslaved servants whom he might have rented as well. Renting was not uncommon among the genteel families of early Charleston, especially those who had plenty of money and little patience for the rigors of home ownership. Prior to his 1728 marriage to Sarah Rhett at the age of sixty-five, Nicholas Trott purchased just one piece of residential property in Charleston. His house, which disappeared many generations ago, stood on the west side of Church Street on a small lot now incorporated into a larger structure known as the Dock Street Theatre.

To understand the geographic context of Nicholas Trott’s house in Church Street, we have to turn back to the earliest days of Charleston, before the town even had a name. In or shortly after the summer of 1672, a team of surveyors laid out a grid of eleven streets and approximately 300 half-acre lots on the peninsula then known as Oyster Point. Their plan or plat of these streets and numbered lots, drawn on parchment and a reduced scale, became known as the “Grand Model” of Charles Town when the seat of provincial government officially moved to this site in 1680. Among these half-acre lots was a nearly-rectangular parcel called Lot No. 113 at the southwest corner of two principal streets. Its precise measurements waxed and waned over the generations, but it measured roughly 175 feet on the west side of what became known as Church Street, and approximately 120 feet on the south side of the street officially named Queen Street in April 1734. To grasp a sense of its physical context, note that the present-day footprint of the city-owned property known as the Dock Street Theatre encompasses the entirety of Lot No. 113 as it was laid out in the 1670s.

A series of governors who represented the Lords Proprietors of Carolina in the early days of the colony granted these half-acre town lots to settlers and investors who promised to build on them within a specified period of time. The surviving records of these government grants reveal that a shipwright named Nicholas Barlicorn (also spelled Barlicorne or Barlycorn) received a grant for Lot No. 113 in the autumn of 1693. Mr. Barlicorn died almost precisely three years later, however, and it appears that he might not have complied with the terms of the grant. Another document from that distant era shows that Joseph Blake, later governor of Carolina, received a grant for Lot No. 113 around the time of Mr. Barlicorn’s death in 1696.[5] From that time forward, the property apparently changed hands several times, but records of these transactions are now lost. Fragments of the chain-of-title re-emerge in the early 1720s, however, and allow us to pick up the thread of the story. To quote a phrase from a later conveyance related to Lot No. 113, the property passed from the estate of Nicholas Barlicorn to other owners, and “by several mesne [i.e., intermediate] conveyances became lawfully vested in Colonel William Rhett.”[6]

The paucity of surviving real estate records from the earliest years of the eighteenth century prevent us from learning precisely when and how William Rhett “the elder” acquired Lot No. 113 of the Grand Model. From later records, however, we learn that Rhett divided the lot into three nearly-equal rectangles, the narrow ends of which faced Church Street. On these parcels, each measuring nearly sixty feet wide, he built three dwelling houses or rental tenements. It’s possible that Colonel Rhett might have resided in the one of these houses before the construction of his brick mansion, circa 1712, at what is now 54 Hasell Street (see Episode No. 53), but that’s a matter for a separate conversation. Rhett owned more than a dozen lots in urban Charleston, and we might never know the location of his principal early residence.

Near the end of his life, but before writing his will, the elder Rhett began distributing his various rental properties to his children as a sort of early inheritance. Later records demonstrate that son William Rhett Jr. received from his father the northern two-thirds of Lot No. 113, while the colonel’s wife, Mrs. Sarah Rhett, retained ownership of the southern-most third of the same lot. The younger Rhett sold his share of Lot No. 113 in September 1722 to one of his business partners, Huguenot merchant Jacob Satur. According to the text of the surviving conveyance, the property included “part of a lott [sic] or garden” and “two wooden houses, messuages or tenements” erected thereon, formerly rented to George Franklyn but now Benjamin Dennis. To the south of these wooden tenements, on the southern-most third part of Lot No. 113, stood another house described in September 1722 as “the dwelling house of Nicholas Trott Esqr.”[7]

This 1722 document—the earliest known reference to Trott’s residence in Charleston— doesn’t tell us anything about the size of the lot on which his house stood, or whether the house was built of brick or wood, or if it was fancy or plain. The former judge was simply mentioned as the resident of a neighboring property. By extrapolating information from later documents related to this site, however, we can draw a few conclusions about the property in question. Trott’s residence stood on a lot measuring approximately sixty feet along the west side of Church Street, at the site now identified as No. 133 Church Street. The lot extended westward slightly more than one hundred feet, and was not quite rectangular in shape. Regardless of whether it was built of brick or wood, it was apparently a sufficiently commodious and elegant house for the Chief Justice of South Carolina and, later, men of similar status. Similarly, the 1722 text of the conveyance from William Rhett Jr. to Jacob Satur does not specify whether Trott then owned the “dwelling house” in which he lived next door, or whether he was renting it from the Rhett family. Fortunately for us, the answer to that question survives in another document created just a few years later.

After distributing various properties to his surviving children, the elder William Rhett made his will in July 1722. Rather than elaborating a long list of remaining properties, he simply instructed his wife, Sarah, to dispose of their miscellaneous urban holdings as she saw fit.[8] Accordingly, two years after Colonel Rhett’s death, Sarah made a bargain with her son’s father-in-law. In early March 1725 (probably 1725/6), she sold to Nicholas Trott the lot and house in which he then resided, and which he had apparently rented from the Rhett family for some unknown period of time. The paperwork related to that conveyance was never properly recorded, unfortunately, so we don’t know any further details of the transaction or the property in question. Only a brief summary of this Rhett-Trott conveyance appears in the text of a later sale of the same property.[9]

Shortly after purchasing the former Rhett property on the west side of Church Street, Nicholas Trott lost his wife, Jane, in February 1726/7, after more than thirty years of marriage. Twelve months later, the former judge married the widow Sarah Rhett at St. Philip’s Church on March 4th, 1727/8.[10] Immediately after the wedding, Trott moved to her suburban mansion at what is now called No. 54 Hasell Street. We know that Trott changed his residence right away because of an argument he had in early April 1728 with Captain George Anson. The captain, who lived just north of Mrs. Rhett, was in the habit of trespassing across her plantation, then known as Rhettsbury, while walking to and from urban Charleston. The old judge took offence at such liberties, and words were exchanged.[11] That’s a tale for another day, however, so let’s return to the main story.

Nicholas Trott moved out of his house in Church Street in the spring of 1728, but he retained ownership of it for the rest of his life. During that period, he apparently rented it to other members of the legal profession. In the autumn of 1735, for example, an advertisement for the property immediately north of Trott’s former residence described it as “a piece of high ground in Church-street, adjoyning [sic] to Doct. Trott’s house where Mr. Abercromby now lives.”[12] At that moment, Mr. James Abercromby (1705–1775) was the Attorney General of South Carolina. When the property next door to Mr. Abercromby changed hands in December 1735 and again in July 1737, the texts of those legal conveyances also described the neighboring property as “the house & lands of Nicholas Trott Esqr.”[13]

Nicholas Trott made his will in 1739 and instructed his wife, Sarah, to dispose of their joint property as she saw fit. He died in January 1740 and was buried at St. Philip’s Church.[14] Three years later, in June 1743, Sarah Rhett Trott conveyed Judge Trott’s former residence on Church Street as a gift to her grandchildren, the daughters of William Rhett Jr. and Mary Trott Rhett. The granddaughters in question were Mary Jane Rhett (1729–1795) and Sarah Rhett Frankland (1722–1808), wife of Captain Thomas Frankland of the HMS Rose, then stationed in Charleston. At the time of this 1743 gift, however, the house was rented to an unidentified tenant (probably James Abercromby), and the elderly widow reserved the right to keep the rental income from the property for the rest of her life.[15] When James Abercromby departed South Carolina in the spring of 1744, the governor appointed James Wright (1716–1785) to serve as Attorney General in his place.[16] I suspect that Wright also rented the Trott house in Church Street, like his predecessor in office, but I haven’t yet found any documentation to confirm this theory. Nevertheless, I think the hypothesis has merit, as you’ll see in just a moment.

Captain Thomas Frankland and his wife, Sarah, departed Charleston in June 1745 and did not return for many years. In the meantime, Sarah Rhett Trott died at the age of eighty in November 1745, and her sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Mary Jane Rhett, married William Dry of North Carolina in January 1746.[17] From that moment, Mr. and Mrs. William Dry shared ownership of the old Trott house and received the rental income it generated. An unidentified tenant, perhaps Attorney General James Wright, resided there throughout the 1740s, and the old house was still standing in June 1750 when it was mentioned in the sale of a neighboring property.[18] Shortly thereafter, in December 1751, William and Mary Jane Dry sold Judge Trott’s former house and lot to James Wright. The text of their conveyance confirms the dimensions of the lot in accordance with previous deeds, but it says nothing about the house itself.[19]

James Wright’s 1751 purchase also represents the end of the paper trail for the now-forgotten Trott house on the west side of Church Street. In a series of transactions executed during the early 1750s, Wright acquired the various subdivided parcels that once formed Grand Model Lot No. 113 and reunited them into a single, half-acre lot. During this process, he apparently inhabited a larger, newer brick house in the middle portion of the lot—a site now marked by the main entrance to the present Dock Street Theatre. The old house once owned by William Rhett and then sold to Nicholas Trott disappeared at some unknown point around the middle of the eighteenth century as the landscape of Lot No. 113 was reconfigured. Under James Wright’s control, or perhaps that of his immediate successors, the once-fragmented lot was transformed into a genteel urban estate with a single dwelling house flanked by an ornamental garden, kitchen, stables, and carriage house.

James Wright still held the title of Attorney General when he departed Charleston for London in August 1757, but he never again resided at the corner of Church and Queen Streets.[20] Over the next half-century, that half-acre property remained intact as it passed through the hands of several owners in succession. On the first day of January 1809, Major John Ward of Charleston sold all of Lot No. 113 to a Scots immigrant named Alexander Calder (1771–1849). Calder was in the hospitality business, and, with the help of his wife, Pricilla, he transformed the half-acre lot at the corner of Church and Queen Streets into a private boarding house called the Planters’ Hotel. The text of the legal conveyance in 1809 still mentioned the old Chief Justice, however, noting that the site of the new hotel included the “lot hitherto of Nicholas Trott.”[21]

Under the Calder family’s management, the Planters’ Hotel expanded from a single dwelling house into a complex of buildings offering luxury accommodations for genteel travelers. It continued in operation, under a series of proprietors, until the late 1860s. After the Civil War, the Planters’ Hotel soon transitioned from an elegant guest house to a modest rental tenement filled with long-term residents. The property became increasingly decrepit over the decades, and became vacant in the early 1930s. A collaboration between the City of Charleston and the Federal Emergency Relief Agency then transformed the remaining nineteenth-century fabric of the Planters’ Hotel into a highly-romanticized notion of an eighteenth-century playhouse, called the Dock Street Theatre. Seventy years after its grand opening in 1937, the Dock Street Theatre closed in 2007 for an extensive renovation. The process of peeling back the layers of historic fabric soon revealed a curious remnant of the distant past that merited professional intervention.

In March 2008, workers began preparing for the construction of a new elevator shaft in the northwest corner of the theater’s outdoor courtyard, which lies immediately to the south of the theatre’s rear wall. To install the elevator shaft, they had to cut into a concrete slab that had been poured several decades earlier. After removing a ten-foot square of concrete and excavating three feet of earth beneath it, workers encountered a rectangular brick foundation measuring approximately six feet by eight feet. The construction supervisor recognized this foundation as a potentially historic structure, so he called in local archaeologists to get their opinion. The brickwork was likely the remnants of an old privy, or outdoor toilet structure, said the experts, but its age was unclear. Because most early Charlestonians routinely deposited household trash in such outhouses, however, an examination of the coal-black earth within the brick privy might reveal information about its chronology and the character of the people who once inhabited this site.

Over a period of two days in late April 2008, archaeologists from the Charleston Museum and Brockington and Associates carefully excavated the earth within the rectangular privy and documented every step of their work. Here they found broken glassware and ceramics that dated the privy to the first half of the eighteenth century. Curiously, they also found an unusually large quantity of bird bones. More specifically, they found bones from the wingtips of several species of birds, but predominantly chickens. A bird’s wing tip doesn’t contain much flesh, so it seems unlikely that someone was harvesting them for consumption. Wing tips serve as the point of attachment for large flight feathers or quills, however, and humans once commonly used these feathery quills for a variety of purposes. Based on this knowledge, the archaeologists conjectured that someone associated with this property in the first half of the eighteenth century was gathering a large number of flight feathers or quills for unknown purposes.

Shortly after the excavation of the Dock Street Theatre privy in April 2008, I got an email from Martha Zierden, archaeologist at the Charleston Museum. Martha told me about their curious discoveries and asked if the actors or musicians who performed at the original theater in Dock Street in the early 1700s might have needed a large supply of feathery quills. I explained that the harpsichords typically employed by theater bands of that era required a large number of quills. Cuttings from the shafts of large flight feathers were used to fashion flexible plectrums that plucked the instrument’s metal strings as the harpsichordist depressed its wooden keys. When the dozens of individual plectra became brittle, they had to be replaced with fresh quills. This explanation, which was augmented by input from several other experts, led Martha to conclude that the large deposit of bird bones found in the privy behind the modern Dock Street Theatre was likely associated with cultural activity at the original theatre in the second quarter of the eighteenth century.[22]

There was just one small anomaly that complicated this conclusion, however. The privy in question was located a short distance to the south of the known location of the colonial-era theater on Dock or Queen Street. It’s certainly possible that musicians working at the early playhouse walked some seventy-odd feet to the south to drop chicken bones down a privy hole, but that inconvenient distance created doubt in my mind. At that time in 2008, we had an incomplete knowledge of the use of the land between the privy and the colonial theatre during the era in question. Later, once I realized that Nicholas Trott had once been associated with this property, I revisited Martha Zierden’s 2009 archaeological report. Fortified by an improved understanding of the early history of Grand Model Lot No. 113, I’ve now adopted an entirely different conclusion. The brick privy re-discovered and excavated in 2008 was once located in the northwest corner of the southern-most division of Lot No. 113, on which Nicholas Trott resided during the most productive era of his professional life. Furthermore, the absence of artifacts dating from the second half of the eighteenth century within the privy coincides with the reorganization of the property after James Wright’s purchase in 1751. At the same time that Judge Trott’s old house was removed, the brick foundation of his privy was covered over and transformed into a time capsule.

During the last two decades of his life, Nicholas Trott published several books that cemented his reputation as a legal scholar and man of letters. Two short books by Trott were published in England in 1719—one a Latin commentary on the Hebrew psalms, and the other an English transcription of the trials of the pirate Stede Bonnet and his crew. A third publication, a compilation of laws relating to the Church of England in all of the British colonies in America, appeared in 1721. In 1736, after many years of intellectual labor, he published a two-volume collection of the statute law of South Carolina, from the founding of the colony to the year 1719. At the end of his life in 1740, Trott had not completed a long manuscript that occupied much of his life in Charleston—a Latin explication of the Hebrew Bible.[23] The first three of Trott’s books, published between 1719 and 1721, might have been written while he was renting the Rhett house on the west side of Church Street. Because his compilation of the laws of South Carolina and his unfinished work on the Hebrew Bible occupied several decades of his professional life, it’s also likely that he worked on those books during his years at the same residence that he finally purchased in the mid-1720s.

Prior to the advent of mass-produced flexible steel pen nibs in the second quarter of the nineteenth century, Charlestonians regularly used sharpened quills as writing instruments. Everyone from school children to merchants to lawyers needed a steady supply of the fragile pens harvested from local birds. Chief Justice Nicholas Trott, in the course of writing courtroom briefs, legal historiography, and Latin commentary on Hebrew grammar, must have consumed a prolific quantity of writing quills during the years he resided on the west side of Church Street. He might have purchased some of those quills from local stationers, but he could have easily harvested them from domesticated fowl butchered in his own back yard. In light of the available facts, therefore, I believe that at least some of the trash excavated from the Dock Street Theatre privy in 2008 likely belonged to Nicholas Trott, and at least a portion of the bird bones found within were probably related to his well-documented literary activity. Furthermore, the residence of two later Attorneys General, James Abercromby and James Wright, at this same site in the 1730s and 1740s probably contributed to the contents of the privy excavated in 2008.

The multi-million-dollar renovations to the Dock Street Theatre that uncovered Judge Trott’s privy in 2008 concluded in the spring of 2010. A significant feature of that work was the refurbishment of the outdoor courtyard directly south of the theater’s rear wall. That beautifully landscaped space, which is open to the public, is now called the Alicia Spaulding Paolozzi Courtyard in honor of a woman who played an important role in the creation of Charleston’s Spoleto Festival in the 1970s. To access the courtyard, one enters a gateway leading through the nineteenth-century building at No. 133 Church Street, which stands on the site of the house that the Rhett family rented and sold to Nicholas Trott. The red-brick passageway leads to a handsome courtyard that was once Dr. Trott’s backyard, where his chickens roamed and the old judge might have sharpened his quills with a pen knife. His privy in the northwest corner of the lot is now covered by a conspicuous brick tower that envelops the elevator installed in 2009.

The next time you’re strolling down Church Street, I encourage you to look for the ornamental iron gate to the left of the Box Office of the Dock Street Theatre. Step through the shaded passage and enter Judge Trott’s yard, now called the Paolozzi Courtyard. Straight ahead, in the distant corner of this tranquil space, you’ll see the elevator tower that marks the site of the colonial-era privy in the northwest corner of Trott’s back garden. Close your eyes, and listen for the distant echo of chickens clucking.



[1] The marriage date of William Rhett Jr. and Mary Trott is usually given as October 1720, but they settled a pre-nuptial agreement 1717, shortly before their marriage. See William Rhett Jr. to Nicholas Trott and William Rhett Sr, lease and release in trust, 4–5 October 1717, in Charleston County Register of Deeds (hereafter RoD), book Y: 495. The will of William Rhett Jr., dated 31 March 1719, also mentions his wife, Mary; see South Carolina Department of Archives and History (hereafter SCDAH), Will Book 1727–1729, page 266; WPA transcript vol. 2 (1727–1729), pp. 70–71.

[2] A. S. Salley Jr., ed., Register of St. Philip’s Parish, Charles Town, South Carolina, 1720–1758 (Charleston, S.C.: Walker, Evans & Cogswell, 1904), 226, 231.

[3] Walter Edgar and N. Louise Bailey, eds., Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, volume 2 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1977), 681–84; John E. Douglass, “Impeaching the Impeachment: The Case of Chief Justice Nicholas Trott of South Carolina,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 94 (April 1993): 102–16.

[4] L. Lynn Hogue, “Nicholas Trott: Man of Law and Letters,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 76 (January 1975): 30–31.

[5] Susan Baldwin Bates and Harriott Cheves Leland, eds., Proprietary Records of South Carolina, Volume Three: Abstracts of the Records of the Surveyor General of the Province, Charles Towne 1678–1698 (Charleston, S.C.: History Press, 2007), 66, 156; Caroline T. Moore, ed., Records of the Secretary of the Province of South Carolina, 1692–1721 (n.p., 1978), 33, 117–18.

[6] See the reference to the 1743 conveyance from Sarah Rhett Trott to Thomas Frankland below.

[7] William Rhett “the Younger” to Jacob Satur, lease and release, 17–18 September 1722, in RoD, book C: 185–95.

[8] Will of William Rhett Sr., dated 6 July 1722, appears in SCDAH, Will Book 1722–1724, and in WPA transcript vol. 1, page 13, at CCPL.

[9] Sarah Rhett’s conveyance to Nicholas Trott on 1–2 March 1725 (probably 1725/6) was not recorded, but it was described in a 1743 deed (see below).

[10] Salley, Register of St. Philip’s Parish, 158, 231.

[11] See “Commissioners of the Highways, Award & Order for a foot path for George Anson Esqr.,” 2 May 1728, in WPA typescript transcription volume 76A (1727–1729): 192–93, at CCPL. The original document is among the Miscellaneous Records of the Secretary of State at SCDAH.

[12] South Carolina Gazette, 25 October–1 November 1735.

[13] Benjamin Whitaker to Thomas Monck, lease and release, 5–6 December 1735, RoD O: 333–39; Thomas Monck to John Carruthers, mortgage by lease and release, 13–14 July 1737, RoD R: 256–60.

[14] The will of Nicholas Trott, dated 14 August 1739, is found in SCDAH, Will Book 1736–1740, page 657, and WPA transcript volume 4 (1738–1740), 326–27, at CCPL; Salley, Register of St. Philip’s Parish, 262.

[15] Sarah Rhett Trott to Thomas Frankland, his wife Sarah, and Mary Jane Rhett, deed of gift by lease and release, 10–11 June 1743, RoD Y: 506–17.

[16] For more information about the career of James Abercromby, see Walter Edgar, Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives, 2: 23–24; for James Wright’s commission as Attorney General, dated 6 July 1744, see SCDAH, Miscellaneous Records (Main Series), FF: 91.

[17] See the local news reports in South Carolina Gazette, 1 June 1745 and 24 February 1746; Salley, Register of St. Philip’s Parish, 182, 201.

[18] Mary Cripps to James Wright, release of inheritance, 19 June 1750, SCDAH, Court of Common Pleas, Renunciation of Dower Books, volume 1740–1753, pages 385–87.

[19] The documents conveying the property in question from Dry and Frankland were never recorded, but indirect evidence of the transaction survives among the records of Renunciation of Dower at SCDAH, volume 1754–57, pages 24–26. On 29 March 1753, Mary Jane Dry renounced to James Wright her dower rights to the lot in question and gave her consent to a sale executed by lease and release on 10–11 December 1751 from her husband, William Dry, to James Wright. A similar renunciation of dower from Sarah Rhett Frankland to James Wright has not been found, but Wright’s subsequent ownership of the lot in question implies that Mr. and Mrs. Frankland must have joined in or consented to the 1751 transaction in some legal manner. It is possible, too that the Franklands conveyed their interest in the property to William and Mary Jane Dry in some unrecorded transaction made prior to the sale of the property to Wright in December 1751.

[20] See the local news report in South Carolina Gazette, 18 August 1757, page 2.

[21] John Ward to Alexander Calder, conveyance, 1 January 1809, RoD B8: 89–91.

[22] Martha Zierden, et al., The Dock Street Theatre: Archaeological Discovery and Exploration (Charleston, S.C.: Charleston Museum, 2009), 84–87. This report is available in the South Carolina History Room at CCPL.

[23] Hogue, “Nicholas Trott: Man of Law and Letters,” 25–34. Trott’s obituary, printed in the South Carolina Gazette, 26 January–2 February 1739/40, mentioned that after 1720 “he lived private and retir’d from all publick Business, and applied himself wholly to perfect his designed Explication of the Original Hebrew Text of the new Testament; and finish’d one large Vol. in Folio fit for the Press some short Time before his Death.”


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