Daniel and Rebecca Axtell

Posted by Mark Woodard

Sometime, when you have a few minutes, you need to take this trip.  From Summerville, go down Bacon’s Bridge Road.  On your right, you'll see a street named Lee Street.  If you're coming from Dorchester Road, Lee Street will be on your left.  Turn on this residential street taking it to the end where there is a stop sign.

This is King Charles Circle.  Turn right, go just a few feet and turn left on Whitehall Road.  Follow this street up the hill to Plantation Circle.  In front of you is a small park with Plantation Circle going around it.   You'll see a sign “Newington Plantation” a grant from King Charles, 1680.  Take a second look, 1680, that was a long time ago.  Well, here's your local history.

            In 1680, Daniel Axtell along with his wife and family came to Carolina.  In 1660 Daniel’s father, also Daniel Axtell, had been drawn, hanged and quartered, for his involvement in the death of King Charles I. Daniel had been a merchant in London and had made out his will on August 3, 1678. Now Daniel and his wife Rebecca were excited about this new opportunity.   

            King Charles II had given Daniel Axtell a grant of 3000 acres.  Daniel had been so excited he had talked up the new territory to his friends.  Some of his friends decided to move to Carolina.  Like Ralph Izard who arrived here October 3, 1682, and Robert Cuthbert.  Good things kept happening to Daniel.  He was appointed a landgrave on August 10, 1681. His appointment was from a motion made by John Archdale, then acting as one of the proprietors.  But good things didn't always happen to Landgrave Daniel Axtell.

            When the Axtell family left England, they had left behind their oldest son, named for his father, Daniel Axtell.  Lady Rebecca was excited about seeing her son.  She had gotten word saying her son was coming to Carolina.  But she got the bad news when the family went down to meet the ship.  The captain told her, that her son had died during the trip.  The captain had buried Daniel at sea.

            Daniel and Rebecca Axtell had seven children.  The first child to be born was a daughter, Sibilla.  The second child was a son Daniel who died at sea in 1681. The third child was another daughter, Mary.  Mary grew up to marry a gentleman with the last name of Cuthbert.  The fourth child was another son.  He was named for his mother's maiden name, Holland.  Holland became a Carolina landgrave upon the death of his father.  Holland died in 1692. The fifth child was Rebecca.  Rebecca ended up, marrying John Moore.   John and Rebecca moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he became Attorney General and the King’s collector of Pennsylvania, where they remained until their deaths. The sixth child was another daughter named Elizabeth.  She would grow up to marry Francis Turgis.  Elizabeth had children by Francis.  He passed away and in December of 1698 she married Governor Joseph Blake.  The seventh and last daughter to be born was Anne.  Anne grew up and married John Alexander and after his death she married Joseph Boone. 

            Well let's get back to the history of the property.  On December 13, 1680, Daniel Axtell received a grant for 3000 acres.  He named the land, Newington Plantation for his friend Stoke Newington, back in England.  Daniel himself ended up dying in 1684.  He had built a wooden frame but never completed the house.  The family got together, completed the house and moved in.  Lady Rebecca Axtell, in September 1705, was granted 1000 acres of land on the north side of the Ashley River.   Around 1711, Lady Rebecca Axtell gave the plantation to her daughter, Elizabeth Blake.   The first house was burned by Indians in 1715, during the Yamassee Indian War.   Sometime later the house was rebuilt, and Lady Axtell lived there with her daughter Elizabeth and her grandson, Colonel Joseph Blake.  A few years later Lady Rebecca Axtell died and was buried beside her husband, Daniel Axtell.  Today their graves are unmarked. 

Colonel Joseph Blake was one of the richest men in the low country.  It was at that time he reportedly removed the second house and built a magnificent structure.  It was a mansion with 100 windows in the front so he could look out and see his property.  It had a double row of live oak trees coming up the hill, a reflecting pond and beautiful gardens.  It was reported to be one of the largest mansions built in the South.  By the time of the Revolutionary war the house was considered a showplace.   The Blake family lived on the property until 1837 when it was sold to Henry A. Middleton.  Eight years later, in 1845, the mansion burned.  It remained in that state until 1876, when Middleton leased the property to the United States government as an experimental tea farm, under the direction of Dr. Charles Shepherd.

            When Daniel and Rebecca Axtell’s son Holland, died in 1692, he ended the Carolina Axtell name.  In his will made out December 17, 1691, and proved before Governor Ludwell, May 4, 1692, “Holland gave his mother, Rebecca Axtell, a negro man, named Guy, an Indian boy, named Nero, and all his cattle, horses, and ready money not otherwise bequeathed; gave brother-in-law, John Alexander, a diamond ring; gave brother-in-law, Francis Turgis, two cows, two calves, a mare and her colt, and a silver medal; gave sister, Anne Alexander, four silver salt cellers; gave sister, Mary Cuthbert 5  to buy a ring; gave Thomas Graves a cow and a calf, a pocket pistol and a hone.” Witnesses: B. Waring, Elizabeth Waring and John Stevens. [Records of the Court of Ordinary of South Carolina, book No.1, 1692-1700, p.17.]

            Most of the houses you see today in Newington Plantation Estate were built in the early 1970’s.  The reflecting pond is still there, but you'll find it in the back of some of the homes.  Summerville is a neat place to live.  There's a lot of history here, from the early colonial period and Daniel Axtell.


Text and pictures by

 Mark Woodard

Summerville Tours