Historic Markers Across South Carolina

Exploration and Settlement

Marker ID:  
Location: Bay St. & Charles St., Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, Beaufort, SC
County: Beaufort
Coordinates: N 32° 25.835    W 080° 40.384
  32.43058333    -80.67306666
Style: Mounted **


1520 - 1711

In 1520, the Spaniard Francisco Gordillo, sailing from Hispaniola, stopped near Port Royal Sound long enough to call the place Santa Elena. Forty-two years later, in 1562, Jean Ribaut and his French Huguenots named the region Port Royal and attempted a colony on Parris Island. It survived a year.

Alarmed by the French intrusion, the Spanish, in 1566, built Fort San Phillip which was destroyed following an Indian massacre and replaced by the larger San Marcos in 1577.

In 1586 St. Augustine was burned by the English privateer, Sir Francis Drake, forcing the withdrawal of the Spanish from Port Royal. The Spanish maintained their claim, however, and a hundred years later destroyed the fledgling Scottish colony of Lord Cardross at Spanish Point.

The English explored Port Royal Sound in 1663 under Captain William Hilton followed by Robert Sanford in 1666. Sanford left Dr. Henry Woodward at Port Royal to establish trade with the Indians. By 1700 English planters and traders had established a foothold in the area, but the Spanish threat discouraged a permanent settlement. In 1711 Beaufort was founded and named for Henry Somerset Duke of Beaufort.

Easter Sunday, 1715, the Yemassee and Creek Indians attacked and burned Beaufort, massacring many settlers. Others escaped to a ship anchored in the river. The militia was rallied and assisted Governor Craven in driving the Yemassee into Florida, from where they raided the Sea Islands until 1729.

City of Beaufort, Beaufort County and the Beaufort Historical Society