We visit the memorial box tomb memorial of Col. Charles Pinckney on our French Santee Tour.
Sharing the history of the Pinckney family can be hard, as pretty much every Pinckney son is named either Charles or Thomas, each of whom in turn named their sons Charles and Thomas, though occasionally with a William thrown in, down through the generations. The family continues to do so today. It is quite common, I've found in researching various sources, for geneologists and writers to confuse details of the lives of the various fathers and sons, even occasionally having one married to a woman from the next or previous generation. You've got to carefully scrutinize the dates of the Pinckney about which you are speaking to make sure that the actions attributed to that Pinckney are indeed plausible within their lifespan.
I've tried my best to keep them all separated and in their historical places, and have even given them nicknames that help keep fathers and sons (and mothers and daughters for that matter) straight. No disrepect is intended, and it does help distinguish one from another of the same name. And truly, if you see where I've perpetuated any confusion by attaching a spouse or action to someone that is inaccurate, I appreciate your letting me know.
The subject of this entry is Col. Charles Pinckney. He was born sometime around 1731 - sources variously list his birth year as 1731, 1732 or 1733 to S.C. Commissary General William Pinckney and Ruth Brewton Pinckney, daughter of wealthy merchant Miles Brewton.
Col. Charles married his wealthy first cousin, Frances Brewton, (Col. Charles' mother [Ruth] and Frances' father [Robert] were siblings) and was very active in public life. His obituary states that he was a "Counsellor [sic] at Law; a gentleman equally admired through life not more for professional knowldge and integrity than unbounded philanthroy which marked his character and influenced his behavior toward all ranks of men."
The owner of several plantations already including some along the Ashley River, Col. Charles bought Snee Farm plantation (715 acres at the time of purchase) in 1754 and soon afterward built a house there. Today about 90 percent of the Colonel's Snee Farm plantation has been developed for suburban residential use.
The historic house complex is operated by the National Parks Service as a national historic site, though no buildings or vegetation remain from the Colonel's ownership. Archaeology, however, has revealed the structural foundations of his house, as well as that of the plantation's slave village.
Pinckney was a colonel in the Patriot Army during the American Revolution. Though he escaped before the city fell to the British in 1780, he returned to Charleston and swore an oath of loyalty to the British in order to protect his properties from being confiscated. Unfortunately, when the Americans prevailed, they did not look kindly upon his defection and fined him a 12 percent penalty to keep his lands. He left Snee Farm to his son Charles (in my interpretation aka "Constitution Charlie") who went on to become a key framer of the U.S. Constitution.
So where is Col. Charles buried? Contemporary news reports said he was buried at St. Andrew's Church in West Ashley near where he died. His will, however, indicated that he was to be reinterred at St. Philips Church downtown. There his tombstone reads (spelling and punctuation as is): "Sacred to the Memory of The Honorable Charles Pinckney For Many years an eminent Counsellor at Law in thie City. The unbounded philanthropy made him respected And beloved and his benevolence and affability rendered Him a valuable friend and agreeable acquaintance. He died at Ashley River Universaly lamented on Sunday the 22nd of September 1782. Etat 50. In grateful rememberance of The virtues of a beloved parent, his affectionate son has caused this monument to be erected...." Most people accept that he was interred (or at least reinterred) at St. Phillip's.
Yet here we find an additional memorial stone to Col. Charles in Christ Church. This memorial stone was originally erected at Snee Farm and some note was perhaps placed there rather than at his burial site because it lists his birth year incorrectly. When Snee Farm passed out of the family's ownership in the mid-19th century, the stone was moved to Christ Church.