William Rhett

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Colonel William Rhett

Colonel William Rhett (4 September 1666 – 12 January 1722) was a British-born plantation owner in the Province of Carolina in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He arrived in America in 1694, accompanied by his wife Sarah.[1] Rhett quickly became a prominent rice farmer and member of the South Carolina Assembly.[2]

Rhett was colonel of the Provincial militia, receiver-general of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina, surveyor, and comptroller of customs for Carolina and the Bahama Islands.[3] He was also an active merchant captain, sailing the vessel Providence between the Carolinas and the Bahamas. In April 1699 the Providence was attacked by Dutch pirate Hendrick van Hoven (alias Captain Hyne or Hind):

"...about the latter end of April last, one Capt. Hind, a notorious pirate and sea-rover, having lately got into a brigantine with a mixt company of Dutch, French and other people, came up with an English-built ship mounted with two and twenty guns called the Providence galley, under the command of Capt. William Rhett of Carolina, who made a very generous defence, but was outdone and taken by the said Pirate."[4]

In 1706, Rhett commanded a flotilla which fought off a Franco-Spanish attack on Charles Town.[2] In 1716 he provided two vessels to be fitted out as pirate hunters - the Henry and the Sea Nymph, each with eight guns and a crew of between 60 and 70 men. Rhett assumed the position of captain of this small flotilla and led it to victory in the 1718 Battle of Cape Fear River, capturing the infamous Stede Bonnet, the so-called "gentleman pirate." Bonnet escaped from jail with the help of local merchant and fellow pirate Richard Tookerman; he made it as far as Sullivan's Island before Rhett again captured him.[2]

Rhett's house in Charleston, completed in 1716, still stands in its original location at 54 Hasell St., Charleston, South Carolina. It has been restored and is now privately owned.

A descendant was Robert Rhett.

The Col. William Rhett House, 54 Hasell St., Charleston, South Carolina

Popular culture

References

  1. ^ "Col William Rhett (1666 - 1722) - Historical Marker". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 23 October 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c Konstam, Angus (2006). Blackbeard. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 192–193. ISBN 9780471758853. 
  3. ^ Bolton, Charles K (1919). Portraits of Persons Born Abroad who Came to the Colonies in North America Before the Year 1701, with an Introduction, Biographical Outlines and Comments on the Portraits, Volume 1. 
  4. ^ Headlam, Cecil (1908). America and West Indies: September 1699, 16-30 | British History Online (Vol 17 ed.). London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. pp. 439–452. Retrieved 23 October 2017. 


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