Barbadians Upon the Cape Fear

Charles Town in the now defunct Clarendon County shown on a map of area. Image from the State Archives.On May 29, 1664, settlers from Barbados under John Vassall disembarked on the Cape Fear River. They established a settlement on its west bank and north of Town Creek, called Charles Town after King Charles II of England.

Vassall was a merchant from Barbados who had organized a colonizing company under the patronage of Sir John Colleton, one of the eight Lords Proprietors of the Carolina Charter of 1663. After explorations conducted by William Hilton, a division occurred within the company. Vassall’s faction backed a Cape Fear site, while another under John Yeamans favored Port Royal, in what is now South Carolina.

Vassall pushed ahead with his project, and by 1666 there were about 800 settlers in the colony.

Meanwhile Yeamans’ son William negotiated an agreement with the Proprietors securing governorship of the colony for his father. Now a knight, Sir John Yeamans sailed for Carolina but on arrival focused on developing a Port Royal colony.

Charles Town declined in neglect and isolation, while Colleton’s death in 1666 deprived the Cape Fear colonists of their advocate. By 1667, Charles Town was deserted. Yeamans and a band of Barbadians established a new Charles Town on the Ashley River in 1670, which today is Charleston, South Carolina.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.