Captain William Hilton was a true explorer and adventurer!
Born in 1605, he became one of the first settlers to explore the area around today’s Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. Hilton was born on June 22, 1617, in Northwich, Cheshire, England. His father came to the New England colonies in 1621, with infant, William Jr. and his mother following two years later.
His explorations of the coast earned him a reputation as an intrepid seafarer who often sailed into uncharted waters. He also made regular trips to Jamaica, which allowed him to bring back exotic goods and stories from his travels. His expeditions took him all over the east coast of America and to the Caribbean.
In August 1662, Hilton sailed from Massachusetts Bay Colony on the ship, Adventurer.
During the 1600s, Barbados was a small British island colony focused on growing sugar cane. However, the island’s growers faced the challenge of limited land for cultivation. To address this problem, a group of merchant planters sent Captain Hilton to explore new territories for cultivating crops. King Charles II of England granted the exploration to these planters, known as the eight Lords Proprietor.
On September 28, 1663, while aboard the Adventurer, Hilton spotted the “head” of an island near the entrance to Port Royal Sound. He named the Island after himself, which still today, carries his name.
Captain Hilton’s written account is filled with anecdotes of the exchange of gifts between the Indians and the Spanish.
The Indians brought him baskets of acorns while the Spanish gifted a quarter of venison and pork. In return, Hilton sent the Spanish a jug of brandy.
Apart from this, his description of the climate and wildlife on the lands he visited was highly informative and proved to be a great help for those who wished to settle in the Carolinas. In fact, his descriptions were echoed in the pamphlets of the period.
His exploration of the coast was widely published in London, England in 1664, which attracted early settlers to Hilton Head Island. Today, we can still see how Captain Hilton’s discovery has shaped the island’s history and development.
Captain Hilton’s legacy continues today with the naming of Hilton Head Island in his honor.
Whether you’re an avid sailor or just looking for a great beach vacation, we can thank Captain William Hilton for making it all possible.
Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hilton_Jr, https://heritagelib.org/.