Like the Middletons, the Drayton family travelled to the Carolina Low Country via the England-Barbados-Carolina route. Thomas Drayton I and his son Thomas Drayton II arrived in Charleston from the island in 1679. The family settled along the banks of the Ashley River, first establishing Magnolia Plantation and then Drayton Hall Plantation. They were one of a small group of planters related through marriage who were an exceedingly powerful force in colonial South Carolina politics: John (1713-1779) was Chief Justice of South Carolina and on the Royal Council; William Henry (1742-1779) was a Revolutionary War Patriot, Chief Justice in South Carolina, and a member of the Continental Congress; Dr. Charles Drayton (1743-1822) was Lt. Governor; and John Drayton (1767-1822) was Governor of the State of South Carolina and a federal judge.
The Middleton-Drayton connection was established in February 1774, when Dr. Charles Drayton married Hester Middleton, daughter of Henry and Mary Middleton. The couple had four children before Hester’s death in 1789 at age thirty-five. The marriage of their daughter Charlotta to Joseph Manigault in 1800 created further family connections within the powerful Low Country planter class.
The Rutledge family has been in the Charleston area since 1735, when Dr. John Rutledge arrived from Ireland. He and his English-born wife had seven children. Their oldest son John and youngest son Edward were involved extensively in South Carolina politics during the Revolutionary War era. John served in the First Continental Congress in 1774; “President of South Carolina,” 1776-1778; Governor of South Carolina, 1779-1782; and the second Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1795. Edward was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress and the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence (age 26). He was also the thirty-ninth Governor of South Carolina.
Edward Rutledge’s marriage to Henrietta Middleton, daughter of Henry and Mary Middleton in March 1774 created the Rutledge-Middleton connection. Two of the couple’s three children survived to adulthood – Henry Middleton Rutledge and Sarah Rutledge. In 1779, their son Henry married Septima Sexta Middleton, daughter of fellow Declaration of Independence signer Arthur Middleton, further strengthening the bond.
Family patriarch Thomas Pinckney arrived in Carolina in 1692 after spending a brief time as a privateer in the West Indies. He became a merchant in Charles Town and purchased lots in the city and land on the Ashepoo and Ashley Rivers that would be developed by his descendants. Thomas’s son Charles, like many Low Country planters was active in politics, serving as assemblyman for St. Philip’s Parish, Speaker of the Commons House, and a member of the South Carolina Royal Council. Charles may be equally well-known for his marriage to Eliza Lucas, who changed agriculture in colonial South Carolina by developing indigo as one of its most important cash crops. Its cultivation and processing as dye produced one-third the total value of the colony's exports before the Revolutionary War.
The ties between the Pinckney and Middleton families began in 1773 when Charles and Eliza’s son Charles Cotesworth Pinckney married Sarah Middleton, the seventeen-year-old daughter of Henry and Mary Middleton. Bonds were strengthened during the Revolutionary War when Eliza and her daughter Harriot provided refuge for many of the Middleton women, including Sarah, her sister Henrietta, and sister-in-law Mary (Arthur’s wife).The couple had four children before Sarah’s untimely death in 1784 at age twenty-eight.
Edward Middleton emigrated from England to Barbados and from there to South Carolina in 1678, eight years after the founding of Charleston. Receiving large grants of land on Goose Creek, not far from the colonial capital, he settled a plantation he named The Oaks, and served as Lords Proprietors deputy and assistant Justice. Dying in 1685; his estate then passed to his son, Arthur, who also was active in public life and became president of the convention that, in 1719, overthrew the Lords Proprietors.
This Arthur Middleton had three sons of whom his middle son, Henry, in 1741 married Mary, daughter and heiress of John Williams, a wealthy landowner, Justice of the Peace and member of the Assembly. Mary Williams' dowry included the house and lands that became known as Middleton Place, owned successively by four generations of Middletons from 1741 through the Civil War. Henry's son Arthur signed the Declaration of Independence; a grandson was Governor of South Carolina and Minister to Russia from 1820 to 1830; and a great grandson signed the Ordinance of Secession. Today the entire National Historic Landmark is owned by the Middleton Place Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit trust.