In 1700, Edward Hyrne contracted to buy a plantation the location of which is described in a legal document recording Edward Hyrne’s petition in pursuance of Elizabeth’s inheritance.
The Petitioner Edward Hyrne proposes in pursuance of the order made on leaving of this cause that £1000 part of the £1500 due to his wife be laid out in the Purchase of an Estate or Plantation which he hath contracted to purchase of Thomas Smith Esq. [Landgrave Thomas Smith] lying in South Carolina in America containing about 2500 acres of land abbutting on the East upon a River called the Back River running into Cooper River West on the fever lands not runne out and other parts on the Lands of one William Moore South on the lands of Capt. George Smith with all edifices Buildings Blacks Slaves and all other matters and things to the Estate or Plantation belonging or in anywise apertaining upon which Plantation or Estate the petitioner Elizabeth is now resident… (LAO 2MM B/7/66)
It was described ‘as consisting of 2550 acres of land whereof 200 cleared and most fenced in tho wants repairing. 150 head of cattle, 4 horses, an Indian slave, almost a man, a few hogs, some house hold stuff and the best brick house on all the county; built about 9 years ago and cost £700, 80 foot long, 26 broad, cellared throughout’.
Hyrne Family Letters, Edited by Albert J Schmidt, The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 63 No.3, July 1962
Elizabeth eventually left for South Carolina late in 1700 to join her husband on the plantation he had contracted to buy. Within the year she gave birth to their first surviving child, a son, named Burrell after Elizabeth’s brother.
In 1703 Elizabeth wrote:
‘on the 20 of … [June] we lost a negro man by the bite of a rattlesnake which was a great lose to us being at the height of weeding … rice. On the 25th of August I lost our dear little son which went very near to me [Elizabeth’s second son, Henry, had been born the previous June]. In September we lost our cattle hunter. But the greatest of all our losses (except my dear Harry) was on the 12 day of January last on which we was burn [letter damaged] out of all our house taking fire I know not how in the night and burning so fiercly that we had much to do to save the life of poor Burry and two beds just to lye on which was chief of what we saved we also had all our rice and corn and all sorts of provehans burnt. Cloes and everything nothing escaped the fire so that had it not bin for some good people we must have perished. My dear child was forced to be taken naked out of bed being left without close enough to keep him from cold. And now I am big with child expecting to lye inn the beginning of next June so that you may casely imagine our miserable condission. But blessed be God we have mett with some kind friends in this place or elce we had not bin for you ever to have heard more of us. (Source for this letter: South Carolina Historical Magazine, July 1962, p150.)
Although the plantation is not named in the surviving letters, it is now known to be the Medway Plantation, located on Back River (a branch of the Cooper River) in Goose Creek, St James Goose Creek Parish, Berkeley County, South Carolina. The house, with its crow-stepped gables, reflects the building traditions of eastern England and Holland of the time.
It was finally and positively identified as the house rebuilt by Edward Hyrne when, ‘in the summer of 1984, a main support wall in the centre of the present house collapsed, confirming the identity of the owner … the workmen noticed something peculiar about several bricks around the doorway.’ Each had been stamped with with a crest, later identified as the Hyrne family coat of arms. (Medway, by V C Beach).
My thanks to Jerry and Gail O’Bryant for the photographs on this page.