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Barnwell family papers

Identifier: Mss 0110

Collection Overview

The collection consists mostly of the correspondence, with some related printed and other materials, of the Barnwell family of Beaufort and Lowcountry South Carolina, especially that of William H. W. Barnwell, his brother Senator Robert Woodward Barnwell, his wife, Catherine Osborn Barnwell Barnwell and their children, Robert Woodward Barnwell, Edward Barnwell, Stephen Elliott Barnwell, Catherine Osborn Barnwell, Elizabeth Barnwell, Esther Hutson Barnwell, William Finley Barnwell, Ann Barnwell Mazyck, Joseph Walker Barnwell and Allard Belin Barnwell, from youth into adulthood. The topics covered by various family members include the solace of religion; ministering in various Episcopal Churches in South Carolina (1830s-1860s); temperance; conflict and disagreement (1830s-1860s) with the Roman Catholic Church and Father John Fielding's conversion to the Episcopal church; the sermons and opinions of Presbyterian minister James Henley Thornwell; St. Peter's Church, Charleston, S.C.; religious missions to China (1830s-1840s) and Cuba (1845-1846), mentioning the smuggling of bibles there; student life at South Carolina College (1840s-1860s) and the University of Virginia (1850s); teaching at South Carolina College (1850s), with mentions of Dr. Francis Lieber and other faculty (1840s-1860s); travel along the East Coast, including a visit to Monticello (1845), Weyers Cave, Salt Sulphur, Red Sulphur and other Virginia Springs; social life of women and men in Beaufort, Charleston, Columbia, Edisto Island, S.C. and elsewhere; studying and travelling abroad, especially Germany (1850s, 1869), with contrasts of life of women there and in South Carolina; and other topics. There are brief mentions of various South Carolina historians including Joseph Johnson, William James Rivers, David Ramsay and William Gilmore Simms, with a letter from historian Alexander Garden (1823) and one from Francis D. Hawks (1857); care of Civil War wounded in Virginia hospitals; a Columbia, S.C. celebration for returning soldiers from the Mexican War; escaping from the Union forces that captured Jefferson Davis; cuisine in France; and other miscellaneous topics. Collection also includes return (1850) of cotton mill labor, Graniteville Manufacturing Company detailing labor of men, women and children; Florida emancipation papers (1837) from a free person of color, George P. Clark, to slave George Sivelly; and letters from Will Barnwell, a slave in the Barnwell family. The collection contains one letter (1846) from John C. Calhoun; a few (1847) from Christopher G. Memminger; and one (1865) from Eliza Fludd.


  • Creation: 1823-1960s
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1823-1882


Language of Material

Materials predominantly in English; one letter in French; one letter in German

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

The Barnwell family members present in the papers include St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Charleston, S.C. minister William H. W. Barnwell (1806-1863), his brother Senator Robert Woodward Barnwell (1801-1882), his wife Catherine Osborn Barnwell(1809-1886), her father Edward Barnwell (1785-1860), her step grandmother Mary Hutson Wigg Barnwell (1774-1854), her sister-in-law, Elizabeth Barnwell Fuller (1797-1872), her brother Edward Barnwell (1813-1885), and her sister-in-law Anne Barnwell (1799-1846). Also included are letters of William H. W. and Catherine Osborn Barnwell's children, including Minister Robert Woodward Barnwell (1831-1863), Edward Barnwell (1832-1908), Stephen Elliott Barnwell (1842-1923), Catherine Osborn Barnwell (1835-1920), Elizabeth Barnwell (1837-1916), Esther Hutson Barnwell (1838-1925), William Finley Barnwell(1840-1861), Ann Barnwell Mazyck (1843-1915), Joseph Walker Barnwell (1846-1930), and Allard Belin Barnwell (1848-1899).


1.6 linear feet (4 document boxes)


This collection consists of correspondence of Reverend William H. W. Barnwell, his wife Catherine Osborn Barnwell, their children and other Barnwell family relations. Topics include social life in Beaufort and Charleston, South Carolina, varying religions and their differences, historiography of South Carolina, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Charleston, religious instruction of slaves, missionary work in China, South Carolina College (1840- 1860), Rev. James Henley Thornwell, the capture of Jefferson Davis (1865), emancipation of a slave (1837), travel in Europe and the South and many other topics of the day.

Collection Arrangement

Arranged in six series, with letters grouped by correspondent and in chronological order.

  1. William H. W. Barnwell (1806-1863) correspondence
  2. Catherine Osborn Barnwell (1809-1886) correspondence
  3. Robert Woodward Barnwell (1831-1863) correspondence
  4. Edward Barnwell (1832-1908) correspondence
  5. Other children of William H. W. and Catherine O. Barnwell correspondence, 1840s-1882
  6. Miscellaneous correspondence and materials, 1825-1960s

Acquisitions Information

Gift of Vida Robertson, 2010.

Alternate Form of Materials

Digital reproductions available online in the Lowcountry Digital Library.

Related Material

There are several related Barnwell family papers at the South Carolina Historical Society including the Joseph W. Barnwell papers.

A guide to various members of the Barnwell family can be found in Stephen B. Barnwell's The Story of An American Family (Marquette, 1969). A copy is located in College of Charleston Special Collections.

Processing Information

Processed by Harlan Greene, October 2010.

Inventory of the Barnwell Family Papers, 1823-1960s
Processed by: Harlan Greene; machine-readable finding aid created by: Martha McTear
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Special Collections
College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424
(843) 953-8016
(843) 953-6319 (Fax)