Edward Middleton: Part VII of the Barbadian Adventurers series
By Peg Eastman
1903: Two little girls look through the gate at Old Goose Creek Plantation, where Edward Middleton left an avenue of stately live oaks. His plantation house burned in 1840. Image from Library of Congress.
Part VI of the Barbadian Adventurers series was about Governor Robert Gibbes, who arrived in the colony in 1672. Edward Middleton emigrated from Barbados in 1678, followed by his brother Arthur in 1679. They came to the island too late to be part of the Barbadian Adventurers consortium.
The Middletons are of Scottish origin and Malcolm de Middleton, progenitor of the family, took his name from the city of Middleton in the county of Kincardine during the 12th-century reign of King David of Scotland. By the mid-15th century, one Richard Middleton, third son of John Middleton of Northumberland, managed to run afoul of the law when in 1447 he and four others were convicted by jury trial for poisoning Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester.
The fourth and youngest son of Henry IV, the duke was well educated and today is considered Britain’s first humanist and patron of the arts. He fought twice in France during the Hundred Years’ War, most notably at Agincourt, returning to England to serve as regent for his underaged nephew, Henry V. His quarrelsome, unscrupulous, self-serving nature caused him to lose favor politically, and ultimately, he was accused of treason and arrested. His death four days later caused rumors of foul play.
Thirty-seven of Gloucester’s retinue were arrested, and Richard Middleton was one of the unfortunates sentenced to death at the gallows of Tyburn. It was a cruel punishment. His bowels were cut out “him living,” his head cut off and his body quartered. His head was put upon the gate of Tyburn Bridge, and his quartered body was divided between “the gate of London called Newgate, … the gate of the Cite of York, … the gate of Nottynham and … the gate of Newe Castle upon Tyne.” It didn’t help Middleton that he was posthumously pardoned six months later.
However, it is Middleton County of Denbigh that is considered the ancestral home of most of the Middleton lines that immigrated to the American colonies. The immediate ancestor of the Carolina family was Henry Middleton (c. 1612-c. 1680) whose family originated with the Middletons of Stockeld, Yorkshire. Henry Middleton was a government official who served both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell in Twickenham, Middlesex.
His son, Edward Middleton (c. 1642-1685), is considered the founder of the Carolina family. Edward was born and educated in England, and had mercantile interests when he moved to Barbados. As no records of land ownership exist, it is thought that he was not long in Barbados before he continued on to Carolina in 1678 as a Lords Proprietors’ deputy and member of the Grand Council. He received 4,000 acres of land including The Oaks at Goose Creek. Edward had married in England and had a son who became a London merchant. He was a widower by the time he arrived in Carolina and in 1680 married Sarah Fowell, the widow of a Barbados merchant.
His younger sibling, Arthur, was born in 1648 and like his brother was educated in England and was a merchant in London before emigrating to Barbados. Little is known about Arthur Middleton in Barbados. There is no record of land ownership prior to immigrating to Carolina. However, he was involved in legal action in 1676 against Edwyn Stede, the local agent of the Royal Africa Company who had seized a boat belonging to him. (One of the other business associates in the suit was Bernard Schenkingh, who later came to Carolina and become one of the wealthiest men in the colony.) Arthur followed his brother on the barque Plantation on August 14, 1679.
Arthur received large grants of land and was appointed a proprietor’s deputy and held a seat on the Grand Council. In 1683, he received an 800-acre grant from the Lords Proprietors as a reward for his experiments with oil and cotton. He died in 1685, leaving his estate to his widow.
It is interesting to note that Edward Middleton is not mentioned in the Shaftesbury Papers and that he is mentioned only once in Edward McCrady’s exhaustive history of proprietary Carolina.
Although the Middleton brothers were not part of the original Adventurers, they profited from their time in Barbados by learning how to establish profitable plantations in a raw wilderness and joined the Barbadians in pioneering the vast lands of Carolina. As is noted in a memorial tablet in St. James Church, Goose Creek, Edward Middleton and his progeny quickly walked into the pages of history.
To perpetuate the Memory of
Edward Middleton, Esq.
Who arrived in the Province of South Carolina in the year 1678
Settled at the Oaks near this Church
Was of the Grand Council of Carolina. Died in 1685
And of his Son
The Honorable Arthur Middleton
For many years President of His Majesty’s Council in
and Commander in Chief of, the Province of South Carolina
Born in South Carolina in 1681
Died 7th September, 1737
And of the latter’s Son
The Honorable Henry Middleton
A member of his Majesty’s Council, & thereafter a President
of the first Continental Congress in 1774
A member of the Council of Safety and President of the
Provincial Congress in South Carolina in 1775-1776
Born in 1717-Died 13th June, 1784
And of his Son
Thomas Middleton Esq.
A member of the Commons House of Assembly of the Province, and
thereafter of the Provincial Congress
Born 26th July, 1753-Died 19th August, 1797
The last three of whom were residents of this Parish, and each
for many years of the Vestry of this Church: and rest as to
their earthly part without the Eastern wall of this
Church Adjacent to the Chancel.
Memoris nostra durabit si vita meruimus.
More about the Barbadian Adventurers will be in the next issue of the Mercury.
My appreciation to Bob Stockton for contributing to this story, which is a prequel to Evening Post Press’s upcoming book, Broad Street, Charleston’s Historic Nexus of Power. Anyone with a good Broad Street story is invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: The correct date of Robert Gibbes’ appointment as sheriff of Berkeley County is July 18, 1692, not 1683 as previously mentioned in the February Mercury article.
For a complete list of sources, see the online version of this article.
Alleyne, Warren & Henry Fraser. The Barbados-Carolina Connection. Wordsmith International Inc., Singapore, 2016.
Cheves, Langdon, Esq. “Middleton of South Carolina.” The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine 1, no. 3 (1900): 228–62. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27574919.
Engle, Beth Bland. The Middleton Family (Including Myddelton and Myddleton). Jesup Sentinel Press, 1971. (Private Publication)
McCrady, Edward. History of South Carolina Under the Proprietary Government 1670-1719. New York, The McMillan Company, 1897.
The Shaftesbury Papers and Other Records Relating to Carolina and the First Settlement on the Ashley River Prior to the Year 1676. South Carolina Historical Society. Prepared for Publication by Langdon Cheves. Charleston, South Carolina, 1897.