Meeting Street Memories
Daniel E. Huger House: 34 Meeting St., Part I
By Peg Eastman
George Eveleigh was the son of Samuel Eveleigh, a Bristol merchant who immigrated to Carolina around 1698. Because of his connections in England, his father was able to establish himself as the leading exporter of deerskins in the early 1700s. He was also politically active in the nascent colony and soon acquired town lots in Beaufort and Charleston in addition to 2,000 acres on the Combahee River and Cuckolds Creek. In his 1738 obituary, he was called “ever a hearty Friend to the Province, and a remarkable Promoter of Trade…” Young George Eveleigh inherited one half of his father’s trading company and was partners with his cousin in the firm Samuel & George Eveleigh.
In 1743, George Eveleigh purchased part of Town Lot No. 298, extending from Meeting St. to Church St., just south of Vanderhorst Creek, and built his house at 39 Church St. In 1759, George Eveleigh sold the home to Captain John Bull (1693-1767), the youngest son of Stephen Bull the immigrant. Thanks to his father’s connections, the younger Bull prospered and owned two schooners, a plantation on Bull’s (Coosaw) Island and thousands of acres in Prince William and St. Bartholomew parishes. He served on various commissions and was elected to the Commons House of Assembly several times, though he never served. He was a captain in the militia and commanded the eastern side of the Pon Pon. Socially, he married well — Mary Branford, the daughter of William Branford of St. Andrew. (The Branford-Horry house at 59 Meeting Street will be covered in another article.) Bull died in 1767 and was buried in the Sheldon Churchyard.
The Eveleigh/Bull lot was not subdivided until 1795 and it is still uncertain who built the elegant double house facing Meeting Street. It may have been built by Captain Bull before his death in 1767, by his widow Mary Bull before her death in 1771 or by their granddaughter Mrs. Elizabeth Blake after 1771. Elizabeth Izard Blake (1741-1792), the granddaughter who inherited 34 Meeting, was a daughter of Anne Bull (1720-1754) and Joseph Izard (1715-1745). She married Daniel Blake (1731-1780). Her sister was Mary Izard (1739-1775), who married Miles Brewton (1731-1775). Their first cousin, Sarah Izard (ca. 1745-1784), a daughter of Ralph Izard (1717-1761) and Rebecca Blake, married Lord William Campbell (1730-1778).
The mansion was one of the largest and finest homes built in pre-Revolutionary Charles Town. Comprising four rooms per floor, it sat on a high foundation and boasted a paneled central stair hall and three stories. The first floor had a breakfast parlour, a dining parlour, library and steward’s room. A Palladian window provides light on the stair landing. The second floor had a drawing room embellished with an ornamental ceiling similar to the one in the Miles Brewton house on King Street. Behind the front rooms were bed chambers while the third floor was for the secretary, housekeeper, servants and a nursery with a loft above. Behind the house were a kitchen with loft, a coach house and stables.
The house was far grander than the single houses sited on most of the early properties in the town. So, with these close family connections, it is not surprising that this elegant mansion became in 1775 the official residence of South Carolina’s last royal governor, Lord William Campbell.
The governor was a younger son of John Campbell, the fourth Duke of Argyll. He bought a commission in the Navy in 1745 and served in India and captained the HMS Nightingale when he sailed into Charles Town harbor. While in town, he met Sarah Izard, a wealthy heiress who was about to marry another. Apparently, the dashing young nobleman changed her mind; the Gazette noted on April 23, 1763: “On Saturday last the Right Hon. Lord William Campbell, fourth son to his present Grace the duke of Argyle, and commander of his majesty’s ship the Nightingale was married to Miss Sarah Izard, daughter of the late Ralph Izard, Esq., a young lady esteemed one of most considerable fortunes in the province.”
Upon his return home in late 1763, Lord Campbell was chosen to represent his family’s seat in Parliament. Influenced by his Carolina connections, he voted for the repeal of the Stamp Act and vacated his seat after being appointed governor of Nova Scotia following the death of the previous governor. He served as governor for seven years, only five of which were spent in Nova Scotia. Although he wanted to reduce the colony’s Seven Years War debt and improve its infrastructure, local corruption hampered his ability to govern effectively. (His tenure is covered in a University of Toronto article.)
Thwarted in Nova Scotia and relying on his wife’s connections, Campbell twice petitioned for the vacant governorship in S.C. In 1773, through the influence of his brother, the Duke of Argyll, Campbell was transferred to the governorship of S.C. He spent more than a year in England, before “his Excellency Lord William Campbell” arrived in Carolina on June 18, 1775, only to discover that the Provincial Congress and its committees had virtually displaced royal government. Needless to say, his reception was half-hearted.
When Lord and Lady Campbell arrived, 34 Meeting St. was not ready for occupancy, so they accepted Miles Brewton’s invitation to stay at his residence at 27 King St. (Brewton was married to Mary Izard, first cousin of Lady Campbell.)
Although personally popular, the new governor was unable to placate the revolutionary leaders, many of whom were his wife’s connections, and he soon found the situation beyond his control. Rumors that he was bringing arms for British-instigated Indian attacks and slave insurrections abounded. However, it was the governor’s clandestine correspondence with Loyalists in the backcountry that led to his downfall.
When the Committee on Safety had proof of Campbell’s negotiations for a rising of backcountry loyalists, they considered taking the governor into custody and took possession of Fort Johnson on James Island.
Realizing that his power was entirely gone, the governor issued a proclamation on September 15, 1775, that dissolved the Commons House of Assembly and fled the town in the dark of night by way of the creek behind his house. Taking with him the great seal of the province, Lord Campbell found sanctuary of HMS Tamar. Some days later, a delegation asked him to return, and he indignantly replied that he would never return until he could support the king’s authority. Sadly, this act cost him his life.
Meanwhile, the captain of HMS Scorpion confiscated some money from an inbound ship and allegedly gave it to Lord William. In reprisal, the owners took a party of light infantry to the governor’s residence and confiscated his horses and chariot. The council repudiated their actions and ordered the property returned to Lady Campbell, who refused to receive them. However, the owners were later given permission to sell the chariot and horses to reimburse their losses.
On the 15th of December, Lady Campbell joined her husband on HMS Cherokee, which was anchored in the harbor and the two sailed away on January 10, 1776.
True to his word, Campbell later joined Sir Peter Parker’s fleet aboard his flagship HMS Bristol during the humiliating defeat on June 28, 1776, by Revolutionary forces during the attack on Sullivan’s Island. In the action Campbell received a “contusion in his side” from a flying splinter. In August 1776, he joined Howe’s forces on Staten Island and left for England. In March 1778, he was appointed to command a new ship, the HMS Lion, but died at Southampton in September of “a painful and lingering consumption which the physicians thought proceeded from the wounds he received at Sullivan’s Island.”
Lady Sarah Izard Campbell died September 4, 1784, in either London or Argyllshire, the home county of the dukes of Argyll in Scotland.
To be continued next month …
My appreciation to Bob Stockton and Lish Thompson for contributing to this article.
A Charlestonian by birth, Margaret (Peg) Middleton Rivers Eastman is actively involved in the preservation of Charleston’s rich cultural heritage. In addition to being a regular columnist for the Charleston Mercury she has published through McGraw Hill, The History Press, Evening Post Books, as well as in Carologue, a publication of the South Carolina Historical Society.