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Medway Plantation

      
Berkeley County, SC
Charleston County, SC
Dorchester County, SC

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          Sometime near the year 1687, the Signeur D'Arssens arrived in South Carolina. He was likely related to Franciscus von Aarsens or Aarssens born at The Hague,, who negotiated the marriage of The Prince Of Orange and Mary, daughter of Charles I of ENgland. This van Aarsens died in 1641. His relative arrived in Carolina to settle on a 21,000 acre tract in Goose Creek. The Lords Proprietors issued the following instructions to Governor Colleton:

Mr. John D'Arsens seigneur of Wernhaut being a Person of Quality and the First of his Nation that hath undertaken to Plant in our Province of Carolina...Have thought fitt And doe hereby Require you to order the Surveyor Generall to admeasure out such Quality of Land for the said Mr. D'Arsens as he shall desire not exceeding Twelve Thousand Acres...And alsoe We will That (when he shall desire it) The Lands he erected into a Manor with all the Priviledges of a Barony.

Upon this land Signeur D'Arssens built a house which is still standing today and is one of the oldest houses in South Carolina. The estate was known as Medway. Upon his death, his widow, Sabina De Vignou, appealed to Governor Colleton for administration of the vast estate. In 1687, Mr. William Dunlopp was, "Lycensed to joine together in the holy Estate of matrimony...Thomas Smith Esq. and Sabina de Vigmou Dowager Van Wernhaut provided there be no lawfull Lett shewn to you to the centrary. Sabina was quite a profitable marriage for Thomas Smith. The marriage made hom one of the wealthiest men in Carolina.

Sabina Smith died in 1689 and was buried near the Medway house in the presence of a number of Goose Creek gentlemen who evidenced the fact. Thomas Smith was the sole owner of the 12,000 acre tract with a stately house and outbuildings. He was appointed governor, granted an additional 48,000 acres and was made a landgrave. During his term as governor he was faced with controversies in reguard to tenure of lands. Payment of quit rents, naturalization of the French Huguenots and other issues with the Proprietors.

          At the age of 46, Landgrave Thomas Smith died. He was at that time the Governor of the Province. His children buried him beside his wife, Sabina. A slab was laid over his grave, the inscription of which can still be read today. Sabina had no stone, as all grave stones had to be imported at great expense, and she had no children to do this for her. Governor Archdale described Thomas Smith as "a wise sober and moderate wellliving man." The Proprietors, writing to Governor Archdale on January 10, 1695, stated:

We forward copies of letters written by Colonel Smith not long before his death, that you may enjoy with us his satisfactory account of the growing condition of the province and of the peace and union to which he had brought it. He appears to us to have been a man not only of great parts, integrity and honesty but of a generous temper and a nobleness of spirit as to the public good as is scarcely to be met withal in this age.

          The plantation house and lands have been altered somewhat during the past 300 years. The original structure was built with handmade bricks and styled by Jean de' Arrsens as a typical one-story stuccoed Dutch house. After the death of Landgrave Smith, the house and plantation had many owners. Thomas Drayton once owned the estate and sold it to John Bee Holmes. It was purchased from him in 1797 by Theodore Samuel Marion, son of Job Marion and the nephew of General Francis Marion. Theodore Marion died in 1827 leaving his estate to his grandson, Theodore Samuel Dubose, who married Jane Porcher. She is responsible for planting the large oaks and ornamental trees in a pattern around the house. A second story was added, retaining the stepped gable style. Peter Gaillard Stoney, whose wife was Anna Maria Porcher, bought Medway in 1833. He added an unsymmetrical wing in 1855 but blended the new with the old Dutch style.

          Mud along the Cooper River banks made brick-making profitable. Brick was made on Medway from an early date but Peter Gaillard Stoney is credited with improving the quality. Fort Sumter was built with the "Carolina Grey" brick produced at Medway. Peter Stoney was a very successful planter, whose plantation was most suitable for rice production. He aslo raised thoroughbred horses there and an old race track can still be traced on the grounds. Medway was the largest of several Back River plantations. Pine Grove, Parnassus Brick Hope and Liberty Hall neighbor on Medway. When deer were in season, they were hunted twice a week for one of these plantations after these lands were fenced in as hunting parks.

          Peter Gaillard Stoney and his six sons all fought for the Confederacy. Captain William Edmund Stoney was severly wounded and Isaac Dwight Stoney was promoted from a private to a lieutenant for bravery. The second son, Thomas Procher came back from San Francisco to volunteer. Another son, Thomas Procher Stoney, was born at Medway and served two terms as mayor of Charleston. Two other grandsons of P.G. Stoney, Arthur Jervey Stoney and Pierre Gaillard Stoney, fought in the Charleston Light Dragoons, the headquarters troop of the 30th Division, when it successfully penetrated the Hindenburg Line in World War I.

          In 1906 Medway plantation was sold to Samuel Gaillard Stoney. After 1905 his wife Louisa Cheves Stoney restored the old gardens and planted additional ones. The fifth generation of the Stoneys gave way in 1930 when Medway was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Legendre of New Orleans. The Legendres added extensiely to the outbuildings and improved the interior of the old home. Following World War II, the celebrated "Medway Plan" (named after the Goose Creek plantation) was adopted for the rehabilitation of Europe. American cities adopted French cities and sponsored rehabilitation.

          Today much of the old splendor of Medway remains. Rice is no longer planted, but one of the old tracts is still referred to as Smithfield, named after the landgrave. Thoroughbreds are no longer raised there, but the old racetrack can still be traced and the deer drives, beautiful gardens and the timeless pride of the old grey brick house are memorials to the Goose Creek plantation society. Mr. Legendre is now buried on the grounds just a few dozen yards from Landgrave Thomas Smith and his wife, Sabina. Medway is still the winter home of Mrs. Sidney J. Legendre.

          The grave markers can be found near the ancient dwelling. Within a brick wall may be found a stone slab with the inscription:

Here Lieth Ye Body of the Right Honble Thomas Smith Esq.
one of Ye Landgraves of Carolina who Departed This Life
Ye 16th of November, 1694.
Governor of the Province of Carolina in Ye 46 year of his age.

Enclosed by a metal railing nearby is another marker:

Sidney Hennings Legendre
November 1, 1903 March 8, 1948
The Lord is my Shepard
I shall not want.

The graves are very close to the old house, which is now shaded by giant oaks and climbing ivy. Many ghosts are said to walk inside the low-ceiling rooms with the large fireplaces and narrow windows. At one of the windows, it is said, one can see the shadowy image of a lady who sits and waits for the return of her husband. Some have claimed to see an old gentleman seated in front of the fireplace smoking his pipe in another room.

Other names found in the text:
Notes
Reverend Elias Prioleau Marker at Medway. Native of Poms & Saintonge, France, Huguenot emigrant. His family was Doges of Venice.
Samuel Prioleau Member of His Majesty's Council, 1732 an officer in His Majesty's Horse Guards.



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