Friday, December 01, 2023 Nic Butler, Ph.D

Charleston’s venerable newspaper, the Post and Courier, is transforming its headquarters on upper King Street into an upscale mixed-use development called Courier Square. The present twentieth-century structures will soon disappear, exposing a piece of ground with a forgotten claim to fame. A few years before the American Revolution, a Scottish gardener named John Watson developed the site as South Carolina’s first commercial nursery, cultivating both native and exotic plants for sale. The war devastated Watson’s Garden, but the family persevered in the horticultural business until the turn of the nineteenth century.

To appreciate the cultural significance of Watson’s Garden, let’s pause to consider the state of Lowcountry gardens in the early years of South Carolina. Before the advent of mechanized transportation and artificial refrigeration in the second half of the nineteenth century, almost every household included a garden of some scale to produce vegetables and herbs used in the preparation of daily meals. Most of the items cultivated in these so-called “kitchen gardens,” including onions, lettuce, carrots, celery, mint, and parsley, for example, were not native to South Carolina. Prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, ships arriving from England supplied most the seeds used in domestic gardens across the Lowcountry. Newspaper advertisements published in Charleston around the middle of the eighteenth century indicate that English seeds were regularly available from a variety of general retail shops in the capital town. Residents who grew their own vegetables also saved and shared seed stock from year to year to perpetuate the growth of nutritious comestibles.

 

The availability of ornamental flowers, shrubs, and trees, on the other hand, was far less common in colonial Charleston. Affluent citizens with disposable income who sought to cultivate aesthetically-pleasing, non-edible plants—both native and exotic—had to make special arrangements to procure the necessary seeds, bulbs, and root stock from distant sources. Families who cultivated ornamental gardens within urban Charleston and on local plantations shared materials with their friends and neighbors, but supplies were always limited. There was no local nursery or garden depot that specialized in the production of horticultural materials for retail sale until the arrival of a professional gardener who put down permanent roots in the Palmetto City.

John Watson came to Charleston by December 1763, when he first advertised his horticultural services. Describing himself as a “gardener from London,” Watson offered to sell “a proper assortment of garden seeds, flower roots, &c.” from his lodgings on the west side of East Bay Street, where he shared space with a barber and peruke-maker named David Henderson. He also offered to perform work related to “gardening in all its various branches,” and was available for hire “by the day or year.”[1]

One of Watson’s early clients was a wealthy planter named Henry Laurens, whose wife, Eleanor, had a passion for gardening. Laurens had in 1762 purchased a house located in the center of a four-acre lot on the west side of East Bay Street, bounded by Anson Street on the west, by Laurens Street on the north, and Society Street on the south.[2] With the assistance of John Watson and the horticultural materials he imported, the family filled their Ansonborough garden with an impressive variety of flowering and ornamental plants.[3] Doctor David Ramsay, a friend and later son-in-law of Eleanor Laurens, later recalled she had tended the four-acre garden “with maternal care” and “with the assistance of John Watson,” whom Ramsay described as “a complete English gardener.”[4] Although Watson had come to South Carolina via London and had family living in the suburbs of the English capital, he might not have identified himself as an Englishman. In a later document, the gardener’s brother, William Watson, noted that their parents resided in the now-extinct County of Berwick, north of the River Tweed, in “North Britain”—that is, the southeastern borderlands of Scotland.[5]

John Watson’s connection to Henry Laurens no doubt helped the gardener attract customers and establish credit within the Carolina capital. By May of 1765, he moved farther up the Cooper River waterfront to the neighborhood then known as Trott’s Point (formerly Rhettsbury. The precise location of his new residence is unclear, but it was probably on the west side of East Bay Street, slightly north of Pinckney Street. Admiral Sir Thomas Frankland had acquired that site through his marriage to Sarah Rhett in 1743, and in 1764 employed merchant William Bampfield of Charleston, an associate of Henry Laurens, to sell or lease the property.[6]

From his rented residence at Trott’s Point, opposite the bustling maritime center known as “The Hard,” Watson advertised several times over the next two years to sell “a great variety of kitchen garden seeds, flower seeds, and roots” or flower bulbs, “English grape vines,” as well as “the choicest sorts of fruit trees in England” and “a great collection of fruit trees, of all kinds, which have been grafted and budded from the best sorts in this province.” He also imported gardening implements from England, including “spades, rakes, reels, lines, watering pots, scythes, furniture and rub-stones, garden and Dutch hoes, watering engines, budding and pruning knives.” Retail sales and labors at the Laurens garden did not monopolize Watson’s time, however. He also continued to advertise his availability for hire in the mid-1760s, offering to perform “gardening in all its various branches,” both “in town or country, by the day or the year.”[7]

In the summer of 1767, John Watson informed local readers that he had expanded his operation slightly farther up the waterfront to a site then known as “the Brew House,” owned by the South Carolina Society, which included the property formerly known as Petit Versailles at the southwest corner of East Bay and Society Streets. Coincidentally, this new location was directly across Society Street from the Laurens family’s showcase garden. Here in Ansonborough, said Watson in June 1767, he “continues gardening, selling of seeds, tools, fruit trees, American plants, &c. as formerly.”[8] It appears, however, that he might have maintained two rental properties during the late 1760s, using the old “Brew House” site as a propagating nursery while residing down the street at Trott’s Point. In February 1768, for example, Watson advertised receipt of a new shipment containing an “assortment of garden, flower and grass seeds, garden tools, &c.,” as well as “a great collection of fruit trees, propogated [sic] from the best kinds England and Carolina can afford, which he will sell on reasonable terms at his house on Trott’s Point, where gentlemen may be supplied with collections of seeds, or plants of flowering trees and shrubs, the produce of this province.”[9]

In January 1769, Watson reminded the public that it was now “a proper season to remove trees,” and offered to sell “a great variety of grafted and inoculated fruit trees of the best kinds, viz. apples, pears, plumbs [sic], cherries, nectarines, apricots, English walnuts, mulberries, &c. &c.: also garden seeds, tools and flower roots, just imported.” He was, by this time, the undisputed gardening authority in South Carolina, and promoted his work with evident pride: “The curious may be supplied with collections of seeds and plants, of the best and most valuable kinds of flowering trees, shrubs, &c. the produce of this and adjacent provinces.—Whoever pleases to favour him with their orders, may depend on having fresh seeds, and good plants, the latter being raised from seeds in his nursery, and will be put up in a proper manner for exportation.”[10] Describing himself as a “nursery-man and seedsman” in January 1770, Watson published a similar list of seeds and trees available from his residence at Trott’s Point, where he also sold imported flower stock, including (in the original spelling) “a great variety of tulips, hyacinths, ranunculuses, anemonies, &c.”[11]

At some point in the autumn of 1769, while he was still conducting business on East Bay Street, John Watson negotiated with local developers to purchase a six-acre tract in the north-central suburbs of Charleston. The rectangular site measured 270 feet along the east side of the “Broad Path” leading into Charleston (now King Street) and extended 954 feet to the east. The northern boundary line of the tract was vacant property held by the Blake family, which in 1823 became the site of Line Street. The vacant land to the south and east of Watson’s property formed part of a new suburban village called Hampstead. Although Henry Laurens was the principal force behind the creation of Hampstead, Watson likely acquired this parcel through Laurens’s real-estate partner, William Bampfield. An extant plat of the original layout of Hampstead Village, dated 6 December 1769, identifies Watson as the proprietor of the six-acre tract in question, though no record of his purchase survives.[12]

John Watson did not immediately transfer his business to the suburban Village of Hampstead. Rather, it appears that he spent a year and a half cultivating the six-acre tract and planting stock for future sale while continuing to conduct business on East Bay Street. In June 1771, however, Watson invited customers to visit the new site he initially called “Watson’s Nursery, Up-the-Path.” He advertised to sell seeds and gardening tools at the new site as usual, and signified his desire to expand his labor force by informing the public that “a Negro boy will be taken as an apprentice to the gardening business.”[13] Watson by this time had a wife, Catharine, and at least one son, but it’s unclear whether he brought them from England or started a family after his arrival in Charleston. For his growing family, the enterprising gardener built a residence and outbuildings on the east side of King Street and labored to expand his horticultural business.

In subsequent notices published during the early 1770s, Watson continued to advertise the availability of imported seeds, bulbs, and trees “to be sold at my house in Hampstead.”[14] A tasty notice from August 1774, for example, specified that the available seeds included (in the original spelling) “a great variety of pease, beans, cabbages, savoys, colliflowers, brocoli, radish, lettuce, turnips, onions, leeks, carrots, parsnips, spinage, mustard, cresses, endive,” as well as herbs for both seasoning a pot and making a “physical” (i.e., a medicinal preparation).[15]

The outbreak of armed rebellion in South Carolina and twelve other American colonies in the spring of 1775 dampened John Watson’s nursery enterprise, but the business persevered during the early years of the war. His age at this time is unknown, though the absence of any military service records during the American Revolution suggests that he might have been too old or too infirm for active duty. In spite of economic and political chaos in South Carolina in November 1776, Watson reminded the public that “the season is now approaching for [the] transplanting of fruit trees.” He had “for sale at his nursery” at that moment (in the original spelling) “a great variety of apples, pears, plumbs, cherries, nectarines, apricots and peach trees, all grafted or inoculated from the best sorts England and America afford; also sweet almonds, English walnuts, filberts, haselnuts, English quinces, olives, China oranges, double flowering peaches, almonds and pomgranates, and a great variety of English and American flowering trees, shrubs, evergreens,” and more. In a similar list of available seeds and trees advertised in January 1778, Watson also noted that his nursery stock included “myrtle, flowering trees, shrubs and evergreen, magnolia or laurels fit for avenues, &c. any height from three feet to twenty.”[16]

As the war dragged on, Watson’s garden enterprise declined like every other form of trade in the new United States of America. Ships from England bearing fresh seeds and bulbs no longer called at the Port of Charleston, and the Royal Navy routinely interrupted maritime traffic between the former colonies. In July 1778, Watson notified the public that he had for sale only “a few garden seeds warranted good, and some fine double hyacinth roots,” while he sought to purchase “a few bushels of swamp or August plumbs, two or three bushels of peach stones, and six or eight quarts of apple seeds, the fruits to be ripe before they are pulled.” Like the men and women who created Victory Gardens in the twentieth century, Watson was trying to populate his nursery with locally-available plants that produced much-needed provisions for both civilians and soldiers.[17]

In the spring of 1779, an army of British soldiers under the command of General Augustine Prevost marched northward from Savannah, Georgia, through several Lowcountry parishes, and prepared to cross the Ashley River to Charleston Neck. The defensive works on the north side of Charleston were unfinished at that time, however, causing civic and military leaders to panic about the defense of the Carolina capital. On 9 May 1779, Governor John Rutledge ordered the inhabitants of Hampstead Village to evacuate their homes immediately. Hours later, American soldiers set fire to the ten-year-old neighborhood and pulled down the houses that blocked their view of approaching enemies. Watson’s Garden and the suburban home he had cultivated for a decade disappeared in the ensuing blaze while the family carted their worldly possessions into town to seek shelter.[18]

Doctor David Ramsay, an eyewitness to the burning of Hampstead in 1779, later recalled that British soldiers crossed the Ashley River on May 11th and advanced down Charleston Neck “to Watson’s [Garden,] about a mile from the [American defensive] lines.” Soldiers in red and blue skirmished briefly to the north of Watson’s land on May 12th before both sides retreated to safety. Governor Rutledge and American military leaders within Charleston expected the British forces under General Prevost to dig in for a siege, but Carolina patriots rejoiced when they awoke on May 13th to find that the enemy had withdrawn across the Ashley during the previous night.[19]

John Watson, now homeless, might have been less enthusiastic about the false alarm of May 1779. If he and his three young sons tried to rebuild their six-acre homestead in subsequent months, they must have experienced similar heartache when a larger British army under the command of General Henry Clinton appeared on the outskirts of Charleston in the spring of 1780. Around the first of April, the redcoats erected a gun battery just above Watson’s property, part of the first of three siege trenches dug by British and Hessian soldiers inching closer to the American defensive lines. Advancing enemy troops soon overran the charred ashes of Watson’s Garden on their way into Charleston.[20]

American and French forces surrendered the capital of South Carolina on 12 May 1780, after which British forces occupied Charleston for more than two and a half years. Anglo-American civilians within the town were allowed to conduct business and exercise their trades during the occupation, but only if they pledged loyalty to the British Crown. John Watson must have done so, because he advertised on several occasions during this period to sell fresh garden seeds imported from England.[21] He likely worked diligently to provide for his wife and six children during this difficult period, but their collective fortunes and health were in decline. John and Catharine Watson buried a son named William at St. Philip’s Church on 6 May 1782, after which John returned to the churchyard four weeks later to bury his wife on June 8th.[22]

Immediately after the evacuation of British forces from Charleston in December 1782 and the ensuing general peace, John Watson began rebuilding his home and business on upper King Street. In June 1783, he resumed the practice of advertising periodically the sale of fresh garden seeds from England.[23] In February 1784, he joined dozens of Hampstead neighbors in a series of petitions submitted to South Carolina General Assembly, seeking compensation for the destruction of their property in May 1779.[24] While that civil exercise continued for many years with limited success, the state legislature ratified a law in March 1785 to extend Meeting Street northward from Boundary (now Calhoun) Street to intersect with King Street Road. By the beginning of 1786, the extension of Meeting Street, seventy feet wide, cut through the eastern portion of Watson’s Garden.[25] The roadway consumed nearly half an acre of Watson’s property and stranded nearly an acre of the nursery on the east side of the new thoroughfare (now occupied by a Family Dollar store and a parking lot).

John Watson did not immediately apply to the state government for compensation, his children explained years later, because “he was in bad health and continued so until his death.”[26] Watsons’ post-war energies definitely flagged behind that of a newcomer, Robert Squibb, who developed his own nursery garden and published a seasonal planting calendar adapted to the local climate. The two men competed for gardening business, but in May 1788 they jointly represented their trade in a massive parade of all the city’s White artisans to celebrate South Carolina’s ratification of the United States Constitution.[27] Later that year, John advertised that his suburban nursery stocked English seeds as well as imported flower bulbs and “a great variety of choice fruit trees, grafted or budded, from the best kinds.” He invited customers to visit Watson’s Garden, “where the curious may be supplied with seeds and plants of flowering trees, shrubs, evergreens, &c. &c. the natural growth of South Carolina, packed up in proper order for exportation.”[28]

John Watson “of Charleston Neck,” “gardner,” made his will on 21 March 1789 and died shortly thereafter. His eldest son, James Mark Watson, served as executor of the estate and guardian of his minor siblings, Catharine, Jane, Mary, and John Jr.[29] An inventory of their property made shortly after Watson’s death reads like a tour of the family’s two-story residence, which included a dedicated “seed room” within and piazzas shading the “front” and “back” sides of the house to the north and south. In the yard nearby stood a kitchen house, a small chair or carriage house, and a stable with three horses and one cow. Distributed among these buildings, sleeping in cramped quarters above the Watson family and their animals, lived seventeen enslaved people. They included three women—Sophy, Hannah, and Charlotte—with their six unidentified children and eight men—Adam, Dick, Montrose, Jupiter, Cudjoe, Jack, Walley, and Juno—who must have done the bulk of the labor in the family’s garden business. The inventory of John Watson’s estate also includes a tabulation of outstanding debts due to him—no doubt accounting for both services rendered and materials delivered—covering a twenty-five-year period from 1764 through the spring of 1789. While the total value of John Watson’s personal property, including furniture, stock, and slaves amounted to just over £500 sterling at the time of his death, the total value of outstanding debts due to his estate amounted to more than £17,000 sterling.[30]

James Mark Watson continued to advertise the sale of seeds, roots stock, shrubs, and trees “as his nursery at Hampstead” for several years after his father’s death.[31] He married Miss Rachel Ross of Charleston in February 1792, but then died seven months later, on September 11th, at his Hampstead home.[32] By that time, Catharine Watson, eldest daughter of the gardener, had married Edward Oats, an older physician in the city.[33] Doctor Oats and his much-younger bride resided at the family homestead but evidently leased the garden to a member of the local theatrical troupe. Alexander Turnbull opened Watson’s Garden in April 1793 as a pleasure garden after the European style, “where genteel company will be accommodated with the best liquors, attendance, coffee, tea, relishes, and sundry amusements.”[34] Visitors were invited to perambulate among the colorful arbors of trees, shrubs, and flowers while sipping beverages and playing games like shuffleboard or nine pins. How long this commercial venture lasted is now unclear, but Edward Oats continued to sell horticultural stock from Watson’s Garden during the remainder of his tenure there.

In November 1793 and November 1795, during the proper season for transplanting trees, Dr. Oats advertised the sale of “a great variety of choice fruit” and “ornamental trees” from the nursery still known as Watson’s Garden, including apple, apricot, cherry, orange, peach, pear, plum, Pride of India, sycamore, tallow, willow, with a variety of flowering shrubs and flower roots. Oats also offered to “hire out by the day or week” two unidentified enslaved men, described as “compleat gardener fellows,” who undoubtedly performed the majority of the horticultural labor during the last decade of the eighteenth century.[35]

Edward Oats died at his garden home in June 1796, and his young widow, Catharine, managed his modest estate. By September of that year, she engaged the services of a local merchant to superintend the garden and rent the nursery, which included the labors of “a few Negro gardeners.”[36] The property attracted new managers in February 1797, when Catharine Watson Oats married one Thomas Davis, and her younger sister, Jane Watson, married Mathew Hayden, Deputy Collector of Customs for the Port of Charleston.[37] Under the proprietorship of Messrs. Davis and Hayden, the family again invited the public to visit Watson’s Garden in June 1797, when they described the site as a “long noted and agreeable retreat,” which was “now open for the reception of company” who sought to perambulate among the foliage sipping “liquors of the best kind, and at the most reasonable terms.”[38]

The heirs of John Watson, now disconnected from the gardening business, advertised to sell the entirety of their father’s eponymous nursery in the summer of 1800. Advertisements described the property as “that valuable piece of land, situated in the village of Hampstead, known by the name of Watson’s Garden, extending from King to Meeting-Street road, bounding northwardly on Blake-street [Line Street did not yet exist]. On the premises there is a dwelling house and other buildings, which at a small expence could be fitted up for the residence of a family.” Because part of the original garden had been separated by the extension of Meeting Street in 1785, they also offered to sell that detached remnant, described in 1800 as “a lot of land, to the east of Meeting-Street-road, containing 140 feet from east to west, by 270 [feet] from north to south.” Sold separately or with the real estate, the family also offered to sell “a valuable Negro Fellow, named Adam, who is a complete gardener; and a Negro woman, who is a good house servant, washer and ironer, with her son, a smart boy.”[39]

When the property did not find an immediate buyer, the family hired a broker to sell the entire package by auction in June 1800.[40] Advertisements for the upcoming vendue attracted the attention of the unrelated heirs of the late Dr. Edward Oats, who boldly claimed a share of the Watsons’ modest garden and protested its sale. In an unrecorded compromise, the parties apparently agreed to subdivide the remaining land into seven lots, some of which the resident family retained, and some of which were sold.[41]

In the autumn of 1804, the remaining heirs of John Watson (Thomas Davis, Catharine Davis, Matthew Hayden, Jane Hayden, and John Watson) petitioned the South Carolina General Assembly for compensation for the loss of property in the extension of Meeting Street through Watson’s Garden in 1785. When legislators asked why the family had waited so long to demand compensation, they replied that John Watson and James Watson had been ill during the last years of their lives, and the subsequent executors of the property did not consider themselves responsible for pursuing the matter.[42] While the state dragged its feet about paying for the truncation of Watson’s Garden, the heirs advertised to sell the seven-room family residence standing near the present southeast corner of King and Line Streets, along with the kitchen, stable, and other outbuildings standing on a small fraction of the old garden.[43] By 1806, the family leased John Watson’s post-war home to a succession of proprietors who transformed it into a coffee house and tavern for customers passing up and down the busy thoroughfare.[44]

 

David Ramsay, who had known the Watson family since their earliest days in Charleston, recalled John’s contributions to local horticulture in his History of South Carolina, published in 1809. After helping Eleanor and Henry Laurens cultivate their suburban garden, wrote Ramsay,

“Watson soon after formed a spacious garden for himself on the ground now occupied by Nathaniel Heyward [at the southwest corner of East Bay and Society Streets], and afterwards on a large lot of land stretching from King street to and over Meeting street. In the latter he erected the first nursery garden in Carolina. There every new and curious plant that grew or had been naturalized in the country might be purchased. The botanic publications of the day quote him as the introducer of several productions of Carolina to the public gardens in England. By exchange of such articles, he rendered service to both countries and enriched each with many of the curiosities of the other. These promising attempts at gardening were all laid waste in the revolutionary war. Watson’s Garden was revived and continued by himself and descendants after the peace of 1783, but has since gone to ruin.”[45]

 

The truncated and subdivided garden was certainly in a low state by December 1810, when the heirs of John Watson again petitioned the state government for compensation.[46] Legislative neglect prompted another petition in December 1812 with a small addition that garnered the state’s attention. The family’s final request for financial assistance included a brief hand-written note from none other than David Ramsay in support of their claim:

“Mr. Watson erected the first nursery garden in South Carolina on a lot of land in the vicinity of Charleston stretching from King Street & over Meeting Street. There every new and curious plant that grew or could be naturalized in the country might be purchased. He exchanged with gardeners in England the curious productions of both countries. His labors were laid waste in the revolutionary war, but he renewed his garden[,] which was an honor to Carolina[,] after the Peace of 1783. This was soon after cut in two unequal parts by the continuation of Meeting Street through it. By this separation two new fronts were gained but the whole area of the road was lost to the proprietor & the eastern part separated from the western part was rendered of little value as a garden & on the whole considerable damage was done to Mr. Watson’s estate.”[47]

 

The State of South eventually offered the family a small compensation for the abridgement of Watson’s Garden in 1785, but the bloom of that horticultural enterprise had long since faded. By the second quarter of the nineteenth century, few remembered the novel nursery as capitalists extended railroad tracks through the old garden, midway between King and Meeting Streets. Local attorney and artist Charles Fraser fondly recalled Watson’s Garden in the 1854 publication of his Reminiscences of Charleston: “Those who preferred riding [over walking for recreation], went to Watson’s garden, a beautifully cultivated piece of ground, between Meeting and King-streets, about a mile from the city, adorned with shrubbery and hedges, and fine umbrageous trees, some of which either now or lately, served to indicate its situation.”[48]

The land comprising Watson’s Garden has been churned and repurposed by a succession of owners over the past two centuries, leaving no visible trace of the site’s deep history. Several of the present buildings, including the Post and Courier newspaper headquarters and a defunct Pizza Hut, will soon give way to high-rise buildings for tenants and shops serving the inhabitants of twenty-first century Charleston. Planning for phase two of “Courier Square” is still on the drawing board at the close of 2023, but concrete and steel will soon rise above the surrounding streetscape. As a resident of the adjacent neighborhood and an explorer of the city’s past, I sincerely hope that the site’s future landscaping will include a nod to the horticultural legacy of the Watson family and the enslaved men and women who tended South Carolina’s first nursery garden. In the words of David Ramsay, their collective labors were “an honor to Carolina.”

 

 

 

[1] South Carolina Gazette (hereafter SCG), 3–10 December 1763, page 1. Watson served as executor of the last will and testament of David Henderson in 1771; see South Carolina Department of Archives and History (hereafter SCDAH), Will Book 1771–1774, page 40; WPA transcript volume 14: 80.

[2] Rev. Philip Morison and his wife, Helen, to Henry Laurens, lease and release and plat, 6–7 September 1762 Charleston County Register of Deeds (hereafter CCRD), volume ZZ: 151–62. Historians who have placed Laurens’s home at the southeast corner of East Bay and Laurens Streets, like Harriott Horry Rutledge Ravenel, Charleston, The Place and the People (New York: Macmillan, 1906), 158, 172–73, mistakenly confused Laurens’ residence with a separate rental tenement he built in the mid-1760s.

[3] For references to Laurens’ garden, see George C. Rogers Jr., et al., eds., The Papers of Henry Laurens, Volume 5 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1976), 55, 227, 702.

[4] David Ramsay, The History of South Carolina, from its First Settlement in 1670 to the Year 1808, volume 2 (Charleston, S.C.: David Longworth, 1809), 228.

[5] The will of William Watson of Baton Rouge, West Florida, planter, dated 3 July 1781, mentions he parents “living in the town of Dunne [or Dume; probably Duns] in the County of Berwicke [sic] upon Tweed North Britain.” In a codicil dated 7 May 1782, William mentioned his brother Adam Watson “of Dunne in the County of Berwicke” and a cousin, “William Watson of Islington.” A copy of this will is found at the British the National Archives, Kew, PROB 11/1094/24; another copy is recorded in SCDAH, Will Book 1780–1783, pages 261–68; WPA transcript volume 19: 399–405. Note that the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed is in the County of Northumberland in the north of England, while the extinct County of Berwick was in the adjacent borderlands of southern Scotland.

[6] In SCG, 8–15 October 1764, page 2, William Bampfield advertised as Frankland’s local attorney to sell or lease the admiral’s “three lots” at Trott’s Point. The location of Frankland’s property is depicted in Rigby Naylor’s 1773 plat of subdivision, which is described in Charleston Time Machine, Episode No. 53, “Remembering Rhettsbury.” Note also that Watson also apparently negotiated with Bampfield in 1769 to purchase a six-acre tract in Hampstead (see note 12 below).

[7] SCG, 4–11 May 1765, page 3; SCG, 14–21 September 1765, page 2; South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (hereafter SCGCJ), 2 February 1766, page 3; SCG, 16–24 February 1767, page 6.

[8] SCG, 15–22 June 1767, page 2.

[9] SCGCJ, 16 February 1768, page 3. Note that Ramsay, History of South Carolina, 2: 228, recalled that Watson had, following his employment with Henry Laurens, “formed a spacious garden for himself on the ground now occupied by Nathaniel Heyward” (i.e., the site of Petit Versailles, at the southwest corner of East Bay and Society Streets).

[10] SCG, 12 January 1769, page 2; South Carolina and American General Gazette (hereafter SCAGG), 13–20 March 1769, page 4.

[11] SCAGG, 24–31 January 1770, page 4.

[12] The overall dimensions of Watson’s garden appear in a plat annexed to a petition submitted by the heirs of John Watson to the South Carolina General Assembly in 1812 (see below). For a discussion of the creation of Hampstead, see George C. Rogers Jr., et al., eds., The Papers of Henry Laurens, volume 7 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press for the South Carolina Historical Society, 1979), 589–95. The editors of the Laurens papers assumed that Watson acquired his six-acre tract from Henry Laurens, who had purchased a small parcel of land from Joseph Wood in an unrecorded transaction made on 11 October 1769 to augment the much larger tract purchased earlier the same year from George Austin. The Wood property purchased by Laurens consisted of nine acres directly south of Watson’s land, however; see Mary Wood, wife of Joseph Wood, to Henry Laurens, renunciation of dower, SCDAH, Renunciation of Dower Books (Court of Common Pleas), volume beginning in 1767, pages 60–61. Earlier in 1769, however, Joseph Wood had mortgaged 7.5 acres—including the land later known as Watson’s Garden—to William Bampfield; see Joseph Wood to William Bampfield, mortgage by lease and release, 26–27 May 1769, Charleston County Register of Deeds, volume N3: 209–19. Because that mortgage was never satisfied, it seems likely that Watson acquired the six-acre tract in question from Bampfield, who was the principal investor in Hampstead with Laurens. Note also, that Watson’s old friend, David Henderson, purchased Hampstead Lot No. 140, immediately south of Watson’s property; see Henry Laurens to David Henderson, “barber,” deed of feoffment, 28 March 1770, CCRD C4: 35–38.

[13] SCGCJ, 11 June 1771, page 2.

[14] SCAGG, 16–23 March 1772, page 1; SCG, 24 May 1773.

[15] SCAGG, 29 July–5 August 1774, page 8.

[16] SCAGG, 21–28 November 1776, page 5; SCAGG, 29 January 1778, page 4.

[17] SCAGG, 30 July 1778, page 2.

[18] The burning of Hampstead is described in dozens of petitions submitted to the South Carolina General Assembly in the years after the war, which are now held by SCDAH; see, for example, Petitions to the General Assembly (series , S165015), 1784, No. 51; 1785, No. 98; 1796, No. 62.

[19] Ramsay, History of South Carolina, 1: 307–9.

[20] See the letter from John Wells Jr. to Henry Laurens, 9 April 1780, in David R. Chesnutt, et al., eds., The Papers of Henry Laurens, volume 15 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000), 272–75. For a detailed discussion of the siege of 1780, see Carl Borick, A Gallant Defense: The Siege of Charleston, 1780 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003).

[21] Watson identified his address as 27 Tradd Street in SCAGG, 26 July 1780, page 2; and SCAGG, 1 November 1780 (Wednesday), page 1; but at 191 King Street in [South Carolina] Royal Gazette, 9 January 1782, page 4; note, however, that the city’s street address numbers have changed radically since that time.

[22] D. E. Huger Smith and A. S. Salley Jr., eds., Register of St. Philip’s Parish, Charles Town, or Charleston, S.C. 1754–1810 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1971), 352.

[23] South Carolina General Gazette and Advertiser (hereafter SCGGA), 21 June 1783, page 1; South Carolina Weekly Gazette (hereafter SCWG), 26 July 1783, page 2; SCWG, 16 January 1784, page 3; SCGGA, 29 January 1785, page 2; SCGGA, 29 January 1785, page 2; SCWG, 4 January 1786, page 2.

[24] SCDAH, Petitions to the General Assembly, 1784, No. 51; Theodora J. Thompson and Rosa Lumpkin, eds., Journals of the House of Representatives, 1783–1784 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1977), 399 (2 February 1784); SCDAH, Petitions to the General Assembly, 1785, No. 98, No. 106.

[25] For more information about the extension of Meeting Street, see Charleston Time Machine Episode No. 81, “Grasping the Neck: The Origins of Charleston’s Northern Neighbor.”

[26] See the family’s 1812 petition to the General Assembly below.

[27] [Charleston, S.C.] City Gazette and Daily Advertiser, 28 May 1788, page 2.

[28] City Gazette, 30 September 1788, page 2.

[29] Will of John Watson, dated 21 March 1789; proved on 1 May 1789; recorded in SCDAH, Will Book B (1786–1793), 308; WPA transcript volume 23: 457–59.

[30] SCDAH, Inventory and Appraisement Books, volume B (1787–1793), pages 208–9, undated “Inventory of Sundries late the Property of John Watson of Hampstead deceased.”

[31] City Gazette, 18 March 1790, page 1; City Gazette, 10 December 1790, page 3; City Gazette, 23 December 1791, page 3; SGSC, 29 December 1791, page 2.

[32] City Gazette, 11 February 1792, page 3; City Gazette, 12 September 1792, page 3.

[33] City Gazette, 17 July 1792, page 3.

[34] City Gazette, 25 April 1793, page 3.

[35] City Gazette, 18 November 1793, page 3; City Gazette, 17 November 1795, page 3; City Gazette, 18 November 1795, page 3.

[36] City Gazette, 3 June 1796, page 3; City Gazette, 29 August 1796, page 3; City Gazette, 13 September 1796, page 2.

[37] City Gazette, 8 February 1797, page 3.

[38] City Gazette, 16 June 1797, page 3.

[39] City Gazette, 4 June 1800, page 3.

[40] City Gazette, 11 June 1800, page 3.

[41] City Gazette, 13 June 1800, page 3; City Gazette, 25 June 1800, page 3; City Gazette, 28 June 1800, page 3; City Gazette, 10 July 1800, page 4. For a plat of the seven lots, see the family’s 1812 petition to the General Assembly (below).

[42] SCDAH, Petitions to the General Assembly, 1804, No. 48. In an identical petition filed in 1812 (described below), an unidentified family explained why they had not petitioned for compensation years earlier. The same 1812 writer also mentioned that they had submitted a similar petition in 1796, but that document appears not to survive.

[43] City Gazette, 16 January 1804, page 3.

[44] See, for example, the advertisements of Christian Booner in Charleston Courier, 18 April 1806, page 3; of B. Sweeny in City Gazette, 31 December 1808, page 3; and of Christian Henry Faber in City Gazette, 12 September 1810, page 3.

[45] Ramsay, History of South Carolina, 2: 227–29.

[46] SCDAH, Petitions to the General Assembly, 1810, No. 109. Note that the text of the family’s petitions of 1804, 1810, and 1812 contain identical language.

[47] SCDAH, Petitions to the General Assembly, 1812, No. 67; SCDAH, Committee Reports, 1812, No. 65.

[48] Charles Fraser, Reminiscences of Charleston (Charleston, S.C.: J. Russell, 1854), 64.

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