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The Ladson legacy

By Peg Eastman

John Ladson was a merchant from Northhamptonshire, who emigrated to Barbados. On May 20, 1678, he purchased a ticket to Carolina, and arrived on the ship Plantation on August 13, 1679.

Between 1682 and 1695 he received land grants totaling 860 acres between the Ashley and Cooper rivers and a lot in Charles Town.

John Ladson served in the Commons House of Assembly for the first, second and third sessions and was also a commissioner of the poor. He was active in the Quaker community and served as a trustee for their meeting house funds. He married Mary Stanyarne, who had been born in Barbados around 1667 to parents from Brigstock. They had five children: John, William, Thomas, Phoebe (m. Caleb Toomer and 2nd John Chaplin) and Samuel.

John Ladson died in September 1698; administration of his estate was granted to his widow Mary on October1, 1698. From these modest beginnings, Ladson descendants would become some of the most influential people in South Carolina.

His grandson William Ladson married Anne Gibbes, daughter of Colonel John Gibbes (1696–1764) and the granddaughter of chief justice and colonial governor Robert Gibbes (a Barbadian who arrived in Carolina by August 1672) and a great-plus grandson of Henry Woodward, the first English colonist in Carolina. They were the parents of James Henry Ladson (1753–1812).

Following the death of his parents, James Henry Ladson was raised by his uncle John Gibbes (1733–1780), who owned the Grove Plantation (Lowndes Grove). In 1773, he traveled to England to pursue his education, returning to South Carolina the following year. He owned a plantation in St Andrew’s Parish, a plantation named Fawn Hill on the Santee River, and a house and other properties in Charleston. In 1778, he married Judith Smith (1762–1820), whose father Benjamin Smith (1717–1770) was a great-grandson of South Carolina governor and landgrave Thomas Smith.

James Henry Ladson served as an officer during the Revolutionary War and joined General Robert Howe on his disastrous Florida expedition. He was present at the Siege of Savannah and was aide de camp to General Benjamin Lincoln during the 1780 siege of Charleston. Thomas Pinckney related his memories of Ladson’s early life and his service in the Revolution in an 1824 letter to Ladson’s son James H. Ladson, Jr.

A member of the General Assembly from 1785 to 1790, James Henry Ladson voted to ratify the United States Constitution in 1788 and served as lieutenant governor of South Carolina from 1792 to 1794 and in the state Senate from 1800 to 1804.

His son, James H. Ladson, Jr. (1795–1868), was a planter and businessman who by 1850 owned more than 200 slaves who produced 600,000 pounds of rice each year on his La Grange and Fawn Hill plantations. Altruistic, ruthless, strategic or perhaps just a person of his time, Ladson built a chapel that could accommodate around 100 to 110 slaves at a time, writing in 1845: “I am satisfied that the influence of this instruction upon the discipline of my plantation, and on the spirit and subordination of the negroes has been most beneficial. Their spirits are cheerful, as I judge from their gaiety of heart, and the respect for the overseer, and drivers, is evidenced by, generally, a ready obedience to orders.” He was also the Danish consul in S.C. He married to Eliza Ann Fraser, a daughter of the merchant and plantation owner Charles Fraser (1782–1860).

Ladson Street and Ladson, S.C. are gentle reminders of the Ladson family.

My appreciation to Bob Stockton, Brice Ladson and John Ladson for contributing to this article.

Margaret (Peg) Middleton Rivers Eastman: A Charlestonian by birth, Peg 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 and The History Press. She has also published in Carologue, a publication of the South Carolina Historical Society. For many years, she was a professional guide at Winterthur Museum in Delaware and was a partner in an international consulting business that specialized in safety documentation in highly hazardous industries. In Charleston, she has lectured on various topics related to the Holy City’s architectural history.


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