South Carolina County/District Resources

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This entry was originally written by Johni Cerny and Gareth L. Mark for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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History of South Carolina
South Carolina Vital Records
Census Records for South Carolina
Background Sources for South Carolina
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African Americans of South Carolina
South Carolina County/District Resources
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Districts/Counties, 1800-present. In 1800, the nine circuit court districts and thirty-seven counties were abolished and replaced by twenty-five districts. Some of the new districts were identical with counties in districts established between 1785 and 1799; other districts were new polities entirely. As the highest level of local government, all twenty-five districts had equal status and record-keeping functions. The original districts expanded and divided between 1800 and 1867 to become thirty districts. Under the new constitution adopted in 1868, districts were renamed counties.

The forty-six present-day counties in South Carolina trace their lineage to the formation of districts in 1800. Although many can trace their geographical lineage to 1785, and some can trace their records lineage to 1785, any listing of counties that provides a formation date pre-1800 misses the essential point that the pre-1800 counties were not the highest level of local government. Before 1800, all counties were counties in circuit court districts; residents could conduct their business in either the county or the circuit court district, and researchers must check the records of both. A complete listing of the counties of South Carolina and their records is found on the following chart, Districts and Counties, 1800–Present.

The listing of Districts/Counties includes all districts and counties in existence from 1800 to the present and refers to the county, or county and circuit court district from which the district was formed. Some counties functioned before 1800, and the date those counties began functioning is recorded. The beginning dates for land, probate, and court records are the first indicated for the type of record specified in each county’s courthouse and may include records of an earlier polity. Many records were destroyed, particularly near the end of the Civil War, and many other records are fragmentary; dates given for the first record do not imply that all records from that date are extant. Residents of the Up Country counties often recorded records when they acquired local government, so some of the records pre-date the formation of local governments.


Map County County Address Date Formed Parent District Functioned From Birth Marriage Death Land Probate Court
C3 Abbeville P.O. Box 579, Abbeville 29620-0579 1800 Abbeville in Ninety-Six District1785191619111911179117721791
Record loss, 1873. Records of Ninety-Six Circuit Court District are housed in Abbeville County.
D5 Aiken 828 Richland Ave. W., Aiken 29801-3834 1871 Edgefield/Barnwell/Orangeburg/Lexington191519111915187217721871
E6 Allendale P.O. Box 190, Allendale 29810-0190 1919 Barnwell/Hampton191919191919191919191919
B2 Anderson P.O. Box 8002, Anderson 29620-8002 1826 Pendleton191519111915182618261826
Records of Pendleton County in Ninety-Six and Washington Districts and Pendleton District are housed in Anderson County.
F6 Bamberg P.O. Box 149, Bamberg 29003-0149 1897 Barnwell191519111915189718971897
Records of Orangeburgh Circuit Court District, Court of Common Pleas, are housed in Bamberg County.
E6 Barnwell 57 Wall St., Barnwell 29812-1584 1800 Winton County in Orangeburgh District1785 (Winton County)191519111915180018001800
Records of Winton County (1785—91) in Orangeburgh Circuit Court District are housed in Barnwell County.
G8 Beaufort P.O. Drawer 1228, Beaufort 29901-1228 1800 Beaufort District1772 (Beaufort District)191519111915186318651865
Record loss, 1865. Beaufort District absorbed the four counties in Beaufort Circuit Court District.
H6 Berkeley 223 N. Live Oak Dr., Moncks Corner 29461-3707 1882 Charleston191519111915188318831881
F4 Calhoun Courthouse Annex, Ste. 108, Saint Matthews 29135-1452 1908 Lexington/Orangeburg191519111915190819081908
H7 Charleston 2 Courthouse Sq., Charleston 29401-0000 1800 Marion/Washington Counties in Charleston District; 1680191519111915167116711700
Record loss, 1865. Records of Charleston Circuit Court and Equity Circuit Districts and the Province of South Carolina (1671—1785) are housed in Charleston County.
Charleston (City) 187118711821185817901774
Records are in Charleston County.
D1 Cherokee210 N. Limestone St., Gaffney 26340-3136 1897 Union/York/Spartanburg191519111915189718971897
E2 ChesterP.O. Drawer 580, Chester 29706-0580 1800 Chester County in Pinckney District1785 (in Camden District)191519111915178517871785
H2 Chesterfield200 W. Main St., Chesterfield 29709-0529 1800 Chesterfield County in Cheraws District1785191519111915186118651823
Record loss, 1865. Records fragmented.
G5 ClarendonP.O. Box 486, Manning 29102-0486 1855 Sumter1785–1800191519111915185618561856
Record loss, 1911. Records of old Clarendon County in Camden Circuit Court District lost, 1801.
G7 ColletonP.O. Box 157, Walterboro 29488-0002 1800 Colleton/Bartholomew/BerkeleyCounties in Charleston District191519111915180218651807
Record losses, 1805, 1865. Records fragmented.
H3 Darlington1 Public Sq., Rm 210, Darlington 20532-3213 1800 Darlington County in Cheraws District1785191519111915180317831801
Record loss, 1806.
J3 DillonP.O. Box 449, Dillon 29536-0449 1910 Marion191519111915191019101910
G6 Dorchester201 Johnson St., St. George 29477-2412 1897 Berkeley/Colleton191519111915189718971897
D4 Edgefield215 Jeter St., Edgefield 29824-1133 1800 Edgefield County in Ninety-Six District1785191519111915178617851785
F3 FairfieldP.O. Drawer 60, Winnsboro 29180-0060 1800 Fairfield County in Camden District1785191519111915178417871785
J3 Florence180 N. Irby St., Florence 29501-3456 1888 Marion/Darlington/Clarendon/Williamsburg191519111915188918891889
J5 GeorgetownP.O. Drawer 421270, Georgetown 29440-0000 1800 Kingston/Winyah/Williamburg Counties in Georgetown District1772 (Georgetown District)191519111915186218621863
Record loss, 1865. Records fragmented.
C1 Greenville301 University Ridge, Ste. 100, Greenville 29601-3674 1800 Greenville County in Ninety-Six District1786191519111915178417871786
C3 Greenwood528 Monument, Greenwood 29646-2643 1897 Abbeville/Edgefield191519111915189718971897
F7 Hampton201 Jackson St. W., Hampton 29924-0000 1878 Beaufort191519111915187818781878
K4 HorryP.O. Box 288, Conway 29526-0288 1801 Georgetown191519111915180317991803
Formed from the territory of Kingston County (non-functioning) in Georgetown Circuit Court District.
F8 Jasper103 Elm St., Ridgeland 29526-5116 1912 Beaufort/Hampton191519111915191219121912
G3 Kershaw515 Walnut St., Camden 29020-3623 1800 Kershaw County in Camden District1791191519111915178717821783
Records of Camden Circuit Court and Equity Circuit districts are housed in Kershaw County.
G2 LancasterP.O. Box 1809, Lancaster 29720-1809 1800 Lancaster County in Camden District1785191519111915176218201800
Record loss, 1865. Records fragmented. Some Camden Circuit Court District conveyance records are included.
D2 LaurensP.O. Box 445, Laurens 29360-0445 1800 Laurens County in Ninety-Six District1785191519111915177417661789
G3 LeeP.O. Box 387, Bishopville 29010-0387 1902Darlington/Kershaw/Sumter191519111915190219021902
E4 Lexington212 S. Lake Dr., Lexington 29072-3437 1804Orangeburg191519111915183918091800
Record losses, 1839, 1865. Records fragmented. Formed from territory of Lexington County (non-functioning) in Orangeburgh District.
J3 MarionP.O. Box 183, Marion 29571-0183 1800Liberty County in Georgetown District1800191518001915180017901800
Marriage records: 1800–59 (incomplete), 1911-present.
J2 MarlboroP.O. Box 419, Bennettsville 29512-0419 1800Marlboro County in Cheraws District1785191517881915178617871785
Marriage records: 1788–1819 (incomplete), 1911-present.
C4 McCormickRt. 2, Box 84-AAA, McCormick 29835-9612 1916Abbeville/Greenwood191619161916191619161916
E3 NewberryP.O. Box 156, Newberry 29108-0156 1800Newberry County in Ninety-Six District1785191519111915177617761776
A2 Oconee415 Pine St., Walhalla 29691-2145 1868Pickens191519111915186818681868
F5 OrangeburgP.O. Box 9000, Orangeburg 29116-9000 1800Lewisburg/Lexington/Orange Counties in Orangeburgh District1772 (Orangeburgh District)191519111915182418641824
Record loss, 1865. Records fragmented.
Pendleton 1800Pendleton County in Washington District1789 (in Ninety-Six District)——————179017901790
Abolished when divided into Anderson and Pickens Districts, 1826. Records transferred to Anderson District, Anderson County.
B1 Pickens222 McDaniel Ave., Pickens 29671-2759 1826Pendleton191519111915182818281823
F3 RichlandP.O. Box 192, Columbia 29201-0192 1800Richland County in Camden District1785191519111915186517871793
Record loss, 1865. Records fragmented. Records of Columbia Equity Circuit District are housed in Richland County.
D4 Saluda108 S. Rudolph SE, Saluda 29130-1744 1896Edgefield191519111915189618961896
D1 Spartanburg366 N. Church St., Spartanburg 29303-3637 1800Spartanburg County in Pinckney District1785 (in Ninety-Six District)191519111915178417871785
G4 Sumter13 E. Canal St., Sumter 29150-4925 1800Clarendon/Claremont/Salem Counties in Camden District1785 (Clarendon/Claremont Counties in Camden District)191519111915180117741795
Record loss, 1801, destroyed records of Clarendon and Old Claremont Counties. Records fragmented.
D2 UnionP.O. Box 703, Union 29379-0000 1800Union County in Pinckney District1785 (in Ninety-Six District)191519111915177817771785
Records of Western and Pinckney Equity Circuit Districts are housed in Union County.
J5 WilliamsburgP.O. Box 330, Kingstree 29556-0330 1804Georgetown191519111915180618021806
Formed from territory of Williamsburg County (non-functioning) in Georgetown Circuit Court District.
E1 YorkP.O. Box 66, York 29745-0066 1800York County in Pinckney District1785 (in Camden District)191519111915178617861786
Records of Pinckney Circuit Court District are housed in York County.


Counties in Districts. In 1785, the seven circuit court districts were subdivided into thirty-three counties. Inferior courts were established in some of the counties, and record-keeping began at the local level. However, the circuit court districts continued to function, and many local actions were conducted at the district seat instead of the county seat. Three districts—Beaufort, Charleston, and Georgetown—were allowed to postpone the formation of county governments, and their counties never functioned. The residents of Orangeburgh District also preferred district government to county government, and three of the four counties in that district were not used from 1791 through 1799.

While many present-day counties were established geographically between 1785 and 1799, the counties created during that period did not keep records or function as local governments equally. The county did not become the highest level of local government throughout South Carolina until 1800. For a complete listing of counties established and abolished between 1785 and 1799, see the following chart, Counties in Districts, 1785–1800. The listing of counties in circuit court districts includes every county formed between 1785 and 1800. Counties abolished in 1800 are identified, and the location of their extant records is detailed.

County (1785-1800) Circuit Court Districts Date Formed Parent County(ies)
Abbeville Ninety-Six 1785 original
Functioned from 1785.
Bartholomew Charleston 1785 original
Non-functioning county. Area absorbed by Colleton District, 1800.
Berkeley Charleston 1785 original
Non-functioning county. Area absorbed by Colleton District, 1800.
Chester Camden 1785 original
Functioned 1785—91. Area absorbed by Pinckney District, 1791.
Chester Pinckney 1791 removed from Camden District
Functioned from 1791.
Chesterfield Cheraws 1785 original
Functioned from 1785.
Claremont Camden 1785 original
Functioned 1785—1800. Area absorbed by Sumter District, 1801.
Clarendon Camden 1785 original
Functioned from 1785. Area absorbed by Sumter District, 1801.
Colleton Charleston 1785 original
Non-functioning county. Area absorbed by Colleton District, 1800.
Darlington Cheraws 1785 original
Functioned from 1785.
Edgefield Ninety-Six 1785 original
Functioned from 1785.
Fairfield Camden 1785 original
Functioned from 1785.
Granville Beaufort 1785 original
Non-functioning county.
Greenville Ninety-Six 1786 Indian lands
Functioned 1786—95. Area absorbed by Washington District, 1795.
Greenville Washington 1795 removed from Ninety-Six District
Functioned from 1795.
Hilton Beaufort 1785 original
Non-functioning. Area absorbed by Beaufort District, 1800.
Kershaw Camden 1791 Fairfield/Lancaster/Richland Counties in Camden District
Functioned from 1791.
Kingston Georgetown 1785 original
Non-functioning county.
Kingston Georgetown 1785 original
Non-functioning county. Area absorbed by Georgetown District, 1800, and reformed as Horry District, 1801.
Lancaster Camden 1785 original
Functioned from 1785.
Laurens Ninety-Six 1785 original
Functioned from 1785.
Lewisburg Orangeburgh 1785 original
Functioned from 1785. Area absorbed by Orangeburg District, 1800.
Lexington Orangeburgh 1785 original
Functioned from 1785. Area absorbed by Orangeburg District, 1800, and reformed as Lexington District, 1804.
Liberty Georgetown 1785 original
Non-functioning county. Renamed Marion District, 1800.
Lincoln Beaufort 1785 original
Non-functioning county. Area absorbed by Beaufort District, 1800.
Marion Charleston 1785 original
Non-functioning county. Area absorbed by Charleston District, 1800.
Marlboro Cheraws 1785 original
Functioned from 1785.
Newberry Ninety-Six 1785 original
Functioned from 1785.
Orange Orangeburgh 1785 original
Non-functioning county. Area absorbed by Orangeburg District, 1800.
Pendleton Ninety-Six 1789 original
Functioned 1789—95. Area absorbed by Washington District, 1795.
Pendleton Washington 1795 removed from NinetySix District
Functioned from 1795.
Richland Camden 1785 original
Functioned from 1785.
Salem Camden 1792 Clarendon/Claremont
Functioned 1792—1800. Area absorbed by Sumter District, 1800.
Shrewsbury Beaufort 1785 original
Non-functioning county. Area absorbed by Beaufort District, 1800.
Spartanburg Ninety-Six 1785 original
Functioned 1785—91. Area absorbed by Pinckney District, 1791.
Spartanburg Pinckney 1791 removed from Ninety-Six District
Functioned from 1791.
Union Ninety-Six 1785 original
Functioned 1785—91. Area absorbed by Pinckney District, 1791.
Union Pinckney 1791 removed from Ninety-Six District
Functioned from 1791.
Washington Charleston 1785original
Functioned 1785—91. Area absorbed by Charleston District, 1800.
Williamsburg Georgetown 1785original
Functioned 1785—91. Non-functioning county. Area absorbed by Georgetown District, 1800, and reformed as Williamsburg District, 1804.
Winton Orangeburgh 1785original
Functioned 1785—1800. Remaining records, 1785—91, in Barnwell County. Renamed Barnwell District, 1800.
Winyah Georgetown 1785original
Non-functioning county. Area absorbed by Georgetown District, 1800.
York Camden 1785original
Functioned 1785—91. Area absorbed by Pinckney District, 1791.
York Pinckney 1791removed from Camden District
Functioned from 1791.


Circuit Court Districts, 1769–1800. Circuit court districts were established in 1769 and began holding court by about 1772. Originally there were seven districts: Beaufort, Camden, Charleston, Cheraws, Georgetown, Ninety-Six, and Orangeburgh. Pinckney and Washington circuit court districts were added in 1791. The chart of circuit court districts that follows details the extant records of the nine circuit court districts created in 1769 and 1791 and where the extant records are located. The counties formed in each district are identified.


Circuit Court District (1769-1800) Records in Repository (Counties in District) Date Formed Parent District Land Probate 1790 Census District(s)
Beaufort (Granville, Hilton, Lincoln, Shrewsbury) 1769 original—————— District
CamdenKershaw/Lancaster (Chester, Clarendon, Claremont,Fairfield, Lancaster, Richland, York) 1769 original178417811782 by county
CharlestonCharleston (Bartholomew, Berkeley, Colleton, Marion, Washington) 1769 original167116711671 Parishes
Cheraws(Chesterfield, Darlington, Marlboro) 1769 original—————— Counties
GeorgetownGeorgetown(Kingston, Liberty, Williamsburg, Winyah) 1769 original————1783 Parishes
Ninety-SixAbbeville(Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenville, Laurens, Newberry, Pendleton, Spartanburg, Union) 1769 original178417821777 Counties
Orangeburgh(Lewisburg, Lexington, Orange, Winton) 1769 original————1787 North and South
PinckneyYork(Chester, Spartanburg, Union, York) 1791 Ninety-Six——————
Counties enumerated in Camden and Ninety-Six Districts in 1790.
Washington(Greenville, Pendleton) 1791 Ninety-Six functioned from 1795——————
Counties enumerated in Ninety-Six District in 1790.


Townships. One of the early and genealogically important actions of the provincial (royal) government was the Township Act of 1731; additional townships were authorized in 1761. The act authorized eleven townships containing 20,000 acres each, and agents were sent to Europe to recruit families as settlers. The families were offered inducements such as free transportation to South Carolina, free provisions for one year, and free land. The townships neither created nor kept records; their functions were solely geographical. Townships, like parishes, were used for some tax districts and appeared as locators in grants and conveyances. The townships are included in the listing of Townships and Parishes.

Parishes. In 1706, the province of South Carolina established the Church of England as the official state-supported church. The twenty-five parishes established from 1706 through 1778 recorded vital records and became districts for the proportioning and election of representatives in 1716; parishes were also used as tax districts. They functioned as geographic locators in grants and conveyances, but did not necessarily replace the proprietary counties in that function; some grants and conveyances mention the parish, some the proprietary county, and some give both. The parishes are included in the listing of Townships and Parishes.


Parish/Township Established Location Proprietary County/District
All Saints Parish1778near GeorgetownGeorgetown District
Amelia Township1731Congaree and Santee RiversOrangeburgh District
Belfast Township1761Stevens and Long Cane CreeksEdgefield and Abbeville Districts
Boonesborough Township1761Long Cane Creek, Saluda and Little riversAbbeville District
Christ Church Parish1706Wando RiverBerkeley
Fredericksburgh Township1731Wateree RiverSumter and Kershaw Districts
Hillsborough Township1761Long Cane CreekAbbeville District
Kingston (King’s Town) Township1731Waccamaw RiverHorry District
Londonborough Township1761Stevens Creek of Savannah RiverEdgefield District
New Windsor Township1731Savannah RiverBarnwell and Edgefield Districts
Orange Parish1778St. Matthew’sOrangeburgh District
Orangeburgh Township1731South Edisto or Pon Pon RiverOrangeburgh District
Prince Frederick’s Parish1734upper Prince George’sCraven
Prince George’s Parish1721between Santee and Pee Dee RiversCraven
Prince William’s Parish1745upper St. Helena’sGranville
Purrysburgh1731Savannah RiverBeaufort District
Queensborough Township1731Pee Dee River and Lynch’s CreekGeorgetown and Marion Districts
Saxegotha (Saxe-Gotha) Township1731Congaree RiverLexington District
St. Andrew’s Parish1706Ashley RiverBerkeley
St. Bartholomew’s Parish1706near St. HelenaColleton
St. David’s Parish1768St. Mark’s and Prince Frederick’sCraven
St. Denis’ (French) Parish1706adjoining St. Thomas’Berkeley
St. George’s Dorchester Parish1717upper St. Andrew’sBerkeley
St. Helena’s Parish1712St. Helena/Port RoyalGranville
St. James Goose Creek Parish1706Goose CreekBerkeley
St. James Santee (French) Parish1706James TownCraven
St. John’s Colleton Parish1734Edisto and adjacent islandsColleton
St. John’s Parish1706Cooper RiverBerkeley
St. Luke’s Parish1767EuhawsGranville
St. Mark’s Parish1757Prince Frederick’sCraven
St. Matthew’s Parish1768Orangeburgh TownshipBerkeley
St. Michael’s Parish1751St. Philip’s Charles TownBerkeley
St. Paul’s Parish1706Stono and Edisto riversColleton
St. Peter’s Parish1746PurrysburghGranville
St. Philip’s Parish1706Charles TownBerkeley
St. Stephen’s Parish1754upper St. James’ SanteeCraven
St. Thomas’ (French) Parish1706Wando RiverBerkeley
Welch Tract (Welch Neck)1731Pee Dee River and Jeffry’s CreekMarion District
Williamsburgh Township1731Black RiverWilliamsburgh


Proprietary Counties. The first division of South Carolina into local polities occurred in 1682 when Berkeley, Colleton, and Craven proprietary counties were established; Carteret was added in 1685 and renamed Granville in 1708. These counties neither created nor kept records; their function was geographical. The proprietary counties served as districts for the assignment and election of representatives until 1716, militia duty, and general reference in land grants and conveyances (deeds). The proprietary counties were superseded by circuit court districts in 1769, but continued to be used as geographical references until the formation of counties within the circuit court districts in 1785. The forty-six current counties in South Carolina are listed with their proprietary counties in the Proprietary Counties chart that follows.

Successful research in South Carolina requires an understanding of the unique and complex development of its local government and jurisdictions. Unlike the other twelve British colonies, South Carolina did not form counties or towns during the colonial period. The South Carolina Department of Archives and History publishes a free pamphlet, “The Formation of Counties in South Carolina,” which traces the evolution of political subdivisions in the state. The department also publishes a set of ten guide maps illustrating the development of parishes, districts, and counties. Information in the following tables is quoted from South Carolina Department of Archives and History, A Guide to Local Government Records in the South Carolina Archives and the guides by Schweitzer (1985) and Holcomb (1964), all listed under Background Sources, and Thorndale and Dollarhide, Map Guide (see page 3).

For up-to-date information and changes to the county record holdings of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, see the online version of A Guide to Local Government Records in the South Carolina Archives at www.state.sc.us/scdah/guide/guide.htm.


Map Current County Proprietary County/ies (1682-1785)
C3AbbevilleCarteret (Granville)/Colleton
D5AikenBerkeley/Colleton
E6AllendaleCarteret (Granville)
B2AndersonCarteret (Granville)/Colleton
F6BamburgCarteret (Granville)/Colleton
E6BarnwellBerkeley/Carteret (Granville)
G8BeaufortCarteret (Granville)
H6BerkeleyBerkeley/Colleton
F4CalhounBerkeley/Colleton
H7CharlestonColleton
D1CherokeeCraven
E2ChesterCraven
H2ChesterfieldCraven
G5ClarendonBerkeley/Craven
G7ColletonCarteret (Granville)/Colleton
H3DarlingtonCraven
J3DillonCraven
G6DorchesterBerkeley/Colleton
D4EdgefieldCarteret (Granville)/Colleton
F3FairfieldBerkeley/Craven
J3FlorenceCraven
J5GeorgetownCraven
C1GreenvilleBerkeley/Colleton
C3GreenwoodColleton
F7HamptonCarteret (Granville)
K4HorryCraven
F8JasperCarteret (Granville)
G3KershawBerkeley/Craven
G2LancasterCraven
D2LaurensBerkeley/Colleton
G3LeeCraven
E4LexingtonBerkeley/Colleton
J3MarionCraven
J2MarlboroCraven
C4McCormickCarteret (Granville)/Colleton
E3NewberryBerkeley/Colleton
A2OconeeCarteret (Granville)/Colleton
F5OrangeburgBerkeley/Colleton
B1PickensColleton
F3RichlandBerkeley
D4SaludaColleton
D1SpartanburgBerkeley/Craven
G4SumterBerkeley/Craven
D2UnionBerkeley
J5WilliamsburgCraven
E1YorkCraven
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