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“R” is for Royal Council

South Carolina from A to Z logo

  “R” is for Royal Council. The Royal Council, the linear heir of the council under the Lords Proprietors, was a twelve-man governing board created in 1720 to serve as adviser to the governor, a court of appeals, and an upper house of the legislature. Most councilmen were wealthy and well-connected planters, merchants, and lawyers/placemen. They were nominated by the governor and approved by the London-based Board of Trade. By the mid-1750s South Carolina’s upper house carried considerable power and prestige, a highly unusual circumstance at a time when most colonial councils were becoming political nonentities. That changed in 1756 when Governor Lyttleton arbitrarily removed councilor William Wragg. The “Wragg Affair” led to numerous resignations and the refusal of South Carolinians to serve on the Royal Council—now described as a weak and “dependent body.”

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.