Charles Town
Continent North America
Location Province of Carolina
Notable inhabitants Peter Ashe
William Rhett
Population British
Affiliation British Empire

Charles Town is the capital of the British Province of Carolina.


Founded as Charles Town in 1670, the town's name began to be generally written Charlestown, from 1719. It adopted its present spelling, Charleston, with its incorporation as a city in 1783 at the close of the Revolutionary War. Thus, for the period with which the Black Sails series is concerned, the town should be referred to as Charles Town.

Colony Capital

In Black Sails, Charles Town is the capital of the colony simply referred to as "Carolina", or "Carolina Colony" despite the fact that its division into two separate North and South colonies was complete by 1712.

Governance and Ownership

Following the 1712 partition, the colonies remained under the control of the same Lords Proprietor until a rebellion against their rule broke out in 1719; this led to the appointment of a Royal Governor for South Carolina in 1720.

Given that Lord Peter Ashe was created governor prior to Crown control, which was established in 1720, he would not have been a royal governor, as Woodes Rogers is in the Bahamas.

In history, the Bahamas had originally been granted to the Lords Proprietor of the Province of Carolina, and were only created a crown colony after the Crown saw fit to oust the pirates from Nassau in 1717. This serves to confirm the status of Lord Alfred Hamilton as one of the Lords Proprietor, given his capacity to appoint Ashe as governor of Carolina.

In Black Sails, the narrative seems to consolidate two distinct, and opposing, ownership structures: it implies that Carolina and the Bahamas are held by the Hamiltons (one might reasonably infer as one family amongst seven others), whilst it simultaneously implies, by references to the requirement of Parliamentary consent for action to be taken, that both are crown colonies. The reason for this consolidation is most likely due to the fact that it is generally much easier to assume colonies are uniformly controlled by the Crown. It was, however, apparently deemed necessary to deviate from this simplicity in order to establish a credible link between Thomas Hamilton and Nassau: that he was the heir to one of the eight Lords Proprietor.

There is a certain clumsiness to the narrative which arises as a result of the limited capacity of an audience to understand the difference between an English colony and an English Crown colony.

1705 Red Ensign

James McGraw, standing before a ship flying a Red Ensign, 1705.

It should also be noted that in the flashbacks of Season Two, the audience is taken back to the year 1705, which was two years prior to the first Act of Union; therefore, at that point, the colonies would have been English, not British, as they would become, post-1707. Attentive viewers of Episode IX will notice that, despite the fact the date is given as 1705, the merchant ensign in the background of the episode's final flashback scene features the Union Jack in its canton, rather than the historically correct Cross of St. George.

Further problems arise from the fact that the division of the Province of Carolina happened during the period of the narrative. The division of Carolina should not have been such an issue for the producers to solve, as it is barely mentioned in the flashback scenes. However, it is possible that the decision was taken by the producers to bear with the anachronism either because they thought it sufficiently difficult to convey such information that is not critical to the storyline, or they saw fit to exploit it to highlight the difference between colonial and post-revolution governance.

Economy, in context

By the mid-eighteenth century, Charles Town was the hub of the Atlantic trade of Britain's southern colonies. Its customs processed around 40% of the African slaves brought to North America between 1700 and 1775. The plantations and the economy based on them made it the wealthiest city in the Thirteen Colonies, and the largest south of Philadelphia.


External Links

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