Skip to main content

Drayton papers

Identifier: Mss 0152

Collection Overview

The vast majority of the collection concerns the Drayton family and South Carolina, for instance, the Proprietary and Royal Land Grants to Thomas and John Drayton (1701-1765). The collection includes medical journals (1777-1781) and diaries (1784-1820) of Charles Drayton I ("Carolus"), as well as correspondence (1721-1883) of John Drayton, Charles Drayton I, II and III, Mary Middleton Drayton, Thomas Henry Middleton Drayton, and Dr. John Drayton on plantation affairs, politics, bills, debts and family news. Included are plats (1755-1882) from surveys of Drayton Hall, Drayton's Cowpen, Bob Savannah, Jehossee, and Tuxpan, Mexico. The Notes sub-series (1755-1885) includes plantation matters (crop cultivation, slave inventories and "plantation rules,") horticulture, education, literature and medicine. Also included are plantation log books (1844 and 1850) for Drayton Hall. There are 21 watercolors by George Edwards (circa 1733) and sketches of Drayton Hall and Charleston Custom's House. Included are stereoviews (1870-1879) and photographs (1890-1874) of Drayton Hall and family members. Among the family deeds (1762-1969) is William Henry Drayton and Dorothy Golightly's marriage settlement (1764). The collection's newspapers (1791-1885) include Civil War and family news from the Charleston Evening News,Charleston Mercury, and Charleston Courier. There are genealogical records including two extensive Drayton family charts. The collection also includes the National Trust's administrative papers since it began ownership of Drayton Hall in 1975.


  • Creation: 1701-2004

Language of Material

Materials predominantly in English; receipts in Portuguese; book and newspaper clippings in Spanish; medical thesis in Latin.

Access Restrictions

This collection has access restrictions. Advanced permission required. Contact Special Collections at the College of Charleston Libraries for more information.

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 and Historical Note

The Draytons were one of South Carolina's foremost families during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The branch referred to herein established a plantation home named Drayton Hall, around 1738, fourteen miles from Charleston. The mansion is considered one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in the United States and has the rare distinction in South Carolina of surviving both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

John Drayton (1715-1779), the builder of Drayton Hall, married four times. His second marriage produced William Henry Drayton (1742-1779), an outspoken patriot and member of the Second Continental Congress (1778-1779). In 1784, another son, Charles Drayton I (1743-1820), acquired Drayton Hall. Charles I was succeeded by two further generations of "Charles Draytons": Charles II (1785-1844) and Charles III (1814-1852). By the Civil War (1861-1865), Dr. John Drayton (1831-1912) and his brother Thomas Drayton (1828-1867) were Drayton Hall's tenants-in-common. In 1883, Drayton Hall passed to their nephew, Charles H. Drayton (1847-1915). At Charles' death, the estate was divided between his wife and three heirs. Charles' daughter Charlotta Drayton (1884-1969) outlived her fellow inheritors and shortly after her own death, ownership of Drayton Hall devolved to her nephews Charles Drayton and Francis Drayton. In 1974, they transferred the property to The National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Drayton Hall was the centerpiece of the Drayton's vast network of estates stretching well beyond Charleston County to the Edisto and Wateree Rivers, and also into Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas. On these plantations, slaves cultivated rice, indigo, cotton and other crops. John Drayton's extensive holdings - in land and slaves - diminished gradually over subsequent generations and by the Civil War most of the plantations had been sold. Beginning in the 1870s, Drayton Hall was extensively strip mined for phosphates and by the early twentieth century Drayton Hall ceased to be a working plantation. Today, The National Trust for Historic Preservation owns, operates and preserves the site, and also interprets the grounds for visitors.


17.0 linear feet (2 cartons, 9 document boxes, 3 slim document boxes, 11 flat boxes, 6 oversize flat boxes, 1 oversize flat file, 1 rolled chart)


Diaries, ledgers, correspondence, inventories, plats, sketches, architectural drawings of John Drayton, Charles Drayton I-III, James Glen, Charlotta Drayton, Mary Middleton Drayton and others, relating mainly to affairs at Drayton Hall and other family plantations. Collection also includes artwork, reflections on eighteenth century literature, deeds, newspaper clippings and photographs.

Collection Arrangement

Arranged in three series by request of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Series 1 and Series 2 are distinguished by accession date (before or after 1970). Both relate to eighteenth to twentieth century affairs at Drayton Hall and have somewhat similar content, for example, land grants, plats, and correspondence. Series 3 includes only materials created or collected by the National Trust relating to Drayton Hall.

Series 1 encompasses family papers accessioned before 1970. This series forms the bulk of the collection and relates to matters on Drayton plantations and elsewhere from 1701. This series is ordered by sub-series: diaries; correspondence; notes; artwork; oversize.

Series 2 encompasses family papers accessioned after 1970. This series is ordered by sub-series: land and legal; correspondence; artwork; visual materials; genealogy; miscellaneous publications; miscellaneous.

Series 3 encompasses Drayton Hall's administrative papers, as well as media reports and research studies of the site. It is ordered by sub-series: National Trust lease records, lease correspondence, and media reports; minutes, reports, and memoranda; maps, plats, and design drawings; miscellaneous Drayton family research materials; promotional material and miscellaneous newspaper clippings; Drayton Hall property research.

  1. Drayton family papers, accessioned before 1970
  2. Drayton family papers, accessioned after 1970
  3. Drayton Hall administrative archives

Acquisitions Information

On permanent loan from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, May 20, 2009.

Alternate Form of Materials

Digital reproduction available online in the Lowcountry Digital Library.

Related Material

See also: Drayton family papers, 1837-1869, South Carolina Historical Society, Charleston, S.C.

Processing Information

Processed by John Harris, June 2011. Edited and encoded by Martha McTear, June 2011.

Inventory of the Drayton Papers, 1701-2004
Processed by: John Harris; 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)