Hilton Head’s untold history: Bailey’s Barony

Story by Richard Thomas

Bailey’s Barony

Lord John Bailey was granted 18,000 acres on Hilton Head Island in 1698 as a gift for supporting the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.

The Lords Proprietors of Carolina sought to stimulate settlement of the province outside of Charleston beginning around 1690 as the Yemassee began a mass migration to the north and west away from the coast. They awarded large grants of land to men who had helped them in commercial endeavors. Lord John Bailey of Tipperary County, Ireland, was one such man. Lord Colleton and Lord Somerset, the latter known as the Duke of Beaufort, decided in 1698 to honor Bailey’s support by granting him close to 40,000 acres, later known as Bailey’s Barony. Approximately half the land was on the banks of the Santee River, while another 18,000 acres were on Hilton Head Island, comprising the entire island other than land along Skull Creek and Port Royal Sound, known as the North Shore, which the Lords Proprietors reserved for themselves and later grants.

Bailey had the lands surveyed at the time of the grant and selected certain locations for his personal use. On Hilton Head, he wrongly identified acreage near Dolphin Head for himself and named it Ballinaclough at Dolphin Head after his ancestral home in Ireland, but neither he nor his sons, as heirs, ever set foot on or lived on the Island. Reclaiming the Dolphin Head land in 1717, the Lords Proprietors then granted 1,000 acres, inclusive of the Dolphin Head parcel, to Colonel John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell for his service in the Indian wars. Shortly after Bailey’s death in 1722, Lord John’s eldest son hired Alexander Trench as an agent to sell Bailey’s Barony lands.

Yemassee raids continued until 1728 and sales were few, but Trench managed to lease much of the land to livestock ranchers to graze dairy and beef cattle. Several sales were made in the late 1720s, including one to the famed surveyor, Captain John Gascoigne, who had made the best-known map of the area around 1725. The rest of the land remained as Bailey holdings until the years prior to the Revolutionary War, when several sales were made to area residents, including Beaufort merchant John Mark Verdier, who later sold the land to John Stoney.


Read more Hilton Head Island history here

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