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Aaron Loocock (109)

Box tomb of Aaron Loocock
Born 1733
Died Feb. 10, 1794

English immigrant Aaron Loocock began his rise to local prominence by trading furs and slaves in Charles Town's "back country," as the Goose Creek area was often referred to in the 1750s. As time went on, he began acquiring a great deal of property in the area through land grants.

Loocock was a man of many interests and talents: a leader in local government, a Revolutionary War Patriot (though not documented with the DAR), an author, and a planter and owner of Medway Plantation, which lies along the Back River and borders the back side of this graveyard. Upon his marriage to Mary Broun, daughter of Dr. Robert and Elizabeth Broun and sister of Archibald Brounhe acquired Mary's family's 900-acre Brounfield Plantation (1). Loocock's box tomb can be found in the St. James Chapel graveyard next to his in-laws. Mary's final resting place is unknown.

In addition to rice, Charles Town planters made their early fortunes from the cultivation of indigo, a rich blue dye that was so highly valued in Europe that England placed a bounty on its import. Hoping to achieve similar success, Loocock experimented with growing madder, a plant used to make a red dye, though with less success than Eliza Lucas Pinckney had in growing indigo.  In 1775, Charleston printer Peter Timothy published the first of two editions of Loocock's book, Some Observations and Directions for the Culture of Madder (Library of Congress: SB287.M3 L66 1775), a description of the cultivation and processing of madder.  

By the mid-18th century, "back country" settlers had become disgruntled with the local militia's lack of protection in securing the lives and properties of those in the Goose Creek area. Outlaws looted the countryside with little interference from the Charleston-focused government. Thus the Goose Creek planters formed a group that came to be known as the Regulators, whose purpose was to provide law enforcement and justice. According to contemporary news reports, they were successful in restoring law and order. As elections for the Assembly approached in the summer of 1768, the Regulators demanded they be represented in the governing body. Thus Aaron Loocock, along with Moses Kirkland and Tacitus Gaillard, was elected to represent Goose Creek. (2) In 1779, Loocock was also elected one of seven "inquirers and collectors" representing Goose Creek under the state's new revenue laws. (3)

When Charles Town fell to British forces in 1780, many in the Lowcountry, including Loocock, took an oath that in order to avoid prison and forfeiture of their land, they would not take up arms again against the British. Unfortunately for many after the American victory, the Jacksonborough Assembly of 1782 devised "categories of loyalty" for those who had taken the British oath and began confiscating the lands of those they deemed to have been disloyal to the Patriot cause. As a result, Loocock, who was even detained briefly in the Provost Dungeon of the Old Exchange Building, was one of 12 Goose Creek landowners to lose his plantation. On June 17, 1783, Loocock wrote to Allen Swainston of Landall, York, that enslaved Africans, stock and other personal property had been taken from Wadboo Plantation by the British upon their departure (4).
Medway Plantation, Courtesy Library of Congress

Loocock fought back, however. According to author Dr. Michael J. Heitzler: "During the 1783 session of the House of Representatives, William Clarkson petitioned on behalf of Goose Creeker, Aaron Loocock. He asked for relief from the Confiscation Act, citing Loocock's aid to prisoners of war in England and asking that his property and citizenship be returned to him," which it was (5).

Things thereafter began to look up for Aaron Loocock. In 1785, he, along with his brother-in-law Archibald Broun and several others, acted as commissioners to receive a one-acre piece of property from George Chicken to be laid out in a square around the chapel that had been built here some 60 years before (6). By 1790, records indicate that Loocock had added Red Bank Plantation to his holdings. Heitzler notes that at point, Loocock was a "prominent landowner, buying, leasing and selling a number of plantations in Goose Creek. He and his wife, Mary, leased half of Red Bank Landing to Peter Gray in 1789 and three years later, sold 314 acres to Gray" (7).  In 1790, Loocock was elected to represent the Goose Creek area at the state convention to adopt a constitution for the new state of South Carolina (8). He was then elected Goose Creek's first representative in the state's House of Representatives; however he declined to serve on Jan. 25, 1791 (9). By this time, Loocock had become a mostly absentee landlord on his Goose Creek properties, as he was spending most of his time in Charleston caring for his profitable mercantile business (10).

Photograph of Loocock's box tomb by camposanto.
Photograph of Medway Plantation (above right), courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Two original documents survive Aaron Loocock:
-- Loocock, Aaron. Bond of Indemnity, 1792. Deposited with the South Carolina Historical Society. Charleston, SC.
-- Loocock, Aaron. Private papers including his will in 1793 are among the collections of the South Carolina Historical Society. Charleston, SC.

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2. Ibid, 7.

3. Ibid, 111.

5. Heitzler, Dr. Michael J. Goose Creek: A Definitive History, Vol. 1 (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2005), 116.

7. Heitzler, Dr. Michael J. Goose Creek: A Definitive History, Vol. 1 (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2005), Ibid, 223.

8. Heitzler, Dr. Michael J. Goose Creek: A Definitive History, Vol. 2 (Charleston, SC: The History Press 2006), 36.

9. Heitzler, Dr. Michael J. Goose Creek: A Definitive History, Vol. 1 (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2005), 244. Also in Cross, J. Russell. Historic Ramblings through Berkeley (Cross-Williams Family Limited Partnership, 1985), 222.

10.  Heitzler, Dr. Michael J. Goose Creek: A Definitive History, Vol. 2 (Charleston, SC: The History Press 2006), 26.