COLONEL CHARLES PINCKNEY

March 7, 1731 (?) - Sept. 22, 1782

Talking about the Pinckney family is hard: Since 1730, pretty much each son is named either Charles or Thomas, each of whom in turn names their sons Charles and Thomas, down through the generations. It is quite common, I've found in researching various sources, for geneologists and historians 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. While that might not be unheard of, one has to carefully scrutinize the dates of the Pinckney about which one is speaking to make sure that the actions attributed to that Pinckney are indeed plausible. And while Charleston is guilty of many things, incest is not one of her foiables.

So, 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.

Thus our subject of this entry is Col. Charles Pinckney, whom I will hereafter refer to as Col. Pinckney. He was born sometime around 1731 - sources variously list his birth year as 1731, 1732 or 1733. He married his wealthy first cousin, Frances Brewton, 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."

Col. Charles bought nearby Snee Farm plantation (715 acres at the time of purchase) in 1754 and soon afterward built a house. Snee Farm was one of several plantations he owned, including property along the Ashley River on the other side of town. Today about 90 percent of the Colonel's Snee Farm plantation has been developed for residential use. The historic house complex is now operated by the National Parks Service as a national historic site, though no buildings or vegetation remain from the Colonel's ownership. However, archaeology 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 Col. Pinckney 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 family properties from being confiscated. Unfortunately for him, when the Americans won, they did not look kindly upon this defection and charged him a 12 percent penalty to continue to hold the land. He left Snee Farm to his son Charles (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 say he was initally buried at St. Andrew's Church in West Ashley, but his will indicated he wished to be buried at St. Philips Church downtown, and indeed there is a tombstone for him there that says (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...."

And yet, here we find a third tombstone to Col. Charles here in Christ Church. This stone was originally erected at Snee Farm. The plantation passed out of the family's ownership in the mid-19th century, the stone was moved to Christ Church.

Col. Pinckney's memorial stone in the Christ Church churchyard reads:
Father of Charles Pinckney Born Oct. 26, 1757
and died Oct. 29, 1824, Governor of South Carolina and Signer of the Constitution. He was the husband of Frances Brewton born June 11, 1733.
He was the son of SC Commissary General William Pinckney {1703-Dec 3, 1766} and Ruth Brewton {6 Jan 1703-d.Sept 15, 1770} {daugther of Miles Brewton}. William Pinckney was the son of Thomas Pinckney {5 May 1666-d.April 1705} and Mary Cotesworth.
It's not hard to find Col. Pinckney's memorial stone at Christ Church. It is just to the front right of the entrance, the box tomb seen in this photo.
Col. Pinckney built the principal section of this house on his Snee Farm Plantation in 1754. Today, the plantation is a major subdivision and golf course in Mt. Pleasant.