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In Their Own Words

December 11, 1736

Mixed Report on Colonial Georgia

In London, the Earl of Egmont met with a Mr. McBane, a Scot Highlander from Darien who was in England to hire servants. McBane gave a positive account of Darien and Frederica, while less complimentary of Savannah, as recorded in Egmont’s diary:

“1. That the first place settled by the embarkations this year to the southward of Savannah is called Darien … ; that there are about 45 families settled there besides about 30 servants; that it stands on a fruitful bluff, about 10 miles distant from the island of St. Simonds, and has no fort, but some cannon; that the people are extraordinarily industrious and will have corn sufficient not only for their own subsistence but to sell; … that they first cultivated their lands and then built their houses, which it were to be wished the inhabitants of Savannah had done.

“2. That the next settlement made is Frederica in St. Simon’s Island, where there is a strong fort finished of four bastions ditched and reampiered, and strengthened with palisadoes double; that there are nine cannon there with suitable ammunition, and the storehouse in the midst of the fort has a platform on which a hundred men may stand and defend the place; that there are settled there about 60 or 80 families besides single men, and that many come from Carolina and other parts to fix; that there are two streets laid out, on each side of which about 15 or 16 houses are already erected; … that the people are industrious and there is great plenty of fish, fine cedar and other timber etc., and no rum drunk. This was the first settlement Mr. Oglethorp made at his arrival… .

“As to Savannah, he [McBane] hold me there are some who have cultivated and are diligent and thrive, but a great number are idlers and will never come to good. Many of these were intending to leave the Province since our orders came to strike them off the stores, but being in debt were not suffered, so that some have made themselves over for servants in order to pay their debts, and it is hoped more will do so; … that our public garden is now in good order since Percy has the care of it, and some have already planted mulberry trees taken out of it on their own lands, and that the silkworms thrive and multiply; that the Savannah people still get at rum, notwithstanding all our care, by means of Carolina boats, which in the night time land it in creeks unknown to the magistrates … .”

Source: U.K. Historical Manuscripts Commission, Diary of the First Earl of Egmont (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1923), Vol. II, pp. 316-317.