by Susan Taylor Block
(Moore Family Collection)
About 1724, a migration began in which an extended family group moved northward from Goose Creek, in Berkeley County, South Carolina, to what became the Cape Fear corner of North Carolina. Brothers Maurice, Nathaniel and “King” Roger Moore, all sons of Governor James Moore of South Carolina, led the way – nailing down choice properties like Orton, Kendal, and York plantations. Their grandfather, Nathaniel Moore, fought in the English Civil War and the brothers named their plantations after battles which were significant in family memory. http://susantaylorblock.com/2012/12/21/the-naming-of-kendal-york-and-orton-plantations/g
The Moores were Royalists during the war, and Royalists their descendants remained for two and three generations. In South Carolina, the Moores were members of St. James Parish, located in Goose Creek which was named for the creek’s goose-like appearance on maps. The church would have been the site of many memorable family occasions.
St. James Parish, Goose Creek
Today, St. James Parish church is one of the oldest churches in South Carolina, having been built in 1714. It features Royalist touches, and has a small bit of exterior similarity to the original St. James church building in Wilmington, North Carolina – and a marked interior similarity. Part of the Wilmington church, at least one house, and numerous graves sat on and under Market Street (left of the building). The small house existed at least until 1848, when it was advertised for rent in The Daily Journal. Along with the 1839 building that replaced the original church, the little house may appear in Wilmington’s first known photograph. http://susantaylorblock.com/2010/07/26/wilmingtons-first-photograph/
Sketch of St. James by stained glass artist E. V. Richards. (Randall Library, Special Collections. UNCW)
(The Daily Journal, 1848. New Hanover County Public Library)
Though the Wilmington parish was created in 1729, the church building was not begun until 1751, and not completed until 1770. The original vestry of St. James Parish, which covered Brunswick and New Hanover counties, consisted of twelve men, of which nine were either Moores by blood or by intermarriages. The rest were political or business friends. Governor Burrington wrote, in 1731 “About twenty men are settled on the Cape Fear from South Carolina, among them are three members of a noted family whose name is Moore.”
In addition to the three Moore brothers, Cornelius Harnett I, John Porter, John Grange, John Baptista Ashe, John Swann, Richard Nixon, Joseph Waters, Edward Hyrne, and Samuel Swann were charter vestrymen. It is possible the Moores named the parish, or lobbied to have it named after the one in their beloved Goose Creek, of which Governor James Moore was a vestryman.
In turn, the Moores could have named St. James in South Carolina for St. James Parish Church in Folkstone, Barbados, where the Moores’ Barnwell relatives worshipped in the late 1600s when they were planters on the island. The Barbadians called the land on which their St. James church was built, “God’s Acre” – a name that the earliest members of St. James in Wilmington termed the churchyard. In Royalist fashion, St. James in Barbados was not named for either of the Jameses in the New Testament, but for King James I of England. Under his reign, the magnificent King James translation of the Bible was completed.
In 1765, the vestry contracted with carpenter Ebenezer Bunting to complete the building. The vestrymen knew Bunting well, for they traveled by water routinely, and Bunting was a master ship carpenter. According to the late historian W. B. McKoy, Joshua Grainger, Jr., who operated a shipyard near the foot of Church Street, brought Ebenezer from Philadelphia to Wilmington, in 1743. Bunting had much to do on Market Street for those five years, including building the entire roof with the help of two slaves. Sadly, the slaves’ names were not recorded.
Budgetary problems were routine during the building process. Being an Anglican parish, they were largely dependent on money from the Crown. It came slowly, and sometimes not at all. Bequests and provincial funds helped. Part of the final construction phase was financed by the sale of pews. Craftsman Bunting and his assistants built those, too. He favored live oak, so, most likely interior woodwork was made from the grand oaks that once populated old Wilmington. The North Carolina St. James Parish pew graphs below date from about 1777. A Bunting family pew is included.
(Randall Library, Special Collections. UNCW)