Col. William Rhett

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William Rhett

Birthplace: London, Middlesex, England
Death: Died in Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina
Place of Burial: Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina
Immediate Family:

Son of Walter Rhett
Husband of Sarah Cooke
Father of Catherine Rhett; William Rhett; Sarah Frankland and Mary Jane Rhett

Occupation: Ship's captain
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Col. William Rhett

Colonel William Rhett was born, it is said, September 4, 1666 in London, although although no physical documents remain for proof. He was the captain of a merchantman in early life, and made his home at Brentwood, County Essex. There he married, September 1,1692, Miss Sarah Cooke. William and Sarah had two sons and five daughters.

The family arrived in South Carolina in November 1694. He soon became successful and gained a high rank and social status as a colonial leader. In 1706 it was Rhett who commanded a flotilla that fought off a Franco-Spanish attack on Charles Town (as Charleston, South Carolina was then known). He is perhaps best known for his capture of the infamous Stede Bonnet, the so-called "gentleman pirate", but he missed out on capturing the more notorious Blackbeard. He soon acquired a sugar plantation and in 1716 had finished work on his new house, which still stands in its original location. It has been restored and is now privately owned.

During William's career, he served as

  • Captain of the merchant ship PROVIDENCE
  • Colonel of Provincial Militia;
  • Receiver General of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina;
  • Vice Admiral of the Colonial Navy;
  • Surveyor and Comptroller of His Majesty's Customs for Carolina and Bahamas
  • Lt. General and and Constructor of Fortifications.
  • Governor of Bahamas (appointed but did not live to assume his duties)

Colonel Rhett died January 12, 1722, in Charleston, South Carolina, while getting ready to sail to the Bahamas, where he was the newly appointed Governor. He was buried at St. Philip's Episcopal Church cemetery, Charleston. His gravestone reads - In hopes of a joyful Resurrection

  • Here rests the body of/ Col. William Rhett/ Late of this Parish,/ Principall Officer of his Majesties Customs/ in this Province:/ He was a Person that on all occasions promoted/ the Publick good of this Colony, and severall/ times generously and successfully ventured his/ Life in defense of the same./

He was a kind Husband,/ A tender Father,/ A faithful Friend,/ A charitable Neighbor,/ A Religious constant worshipper of God./ He was born in London/ 4th Sept 1666,/ Arrived and settled this Country/ 19th Novembr 1694,/ And dyed suddenly but not unprepared/ 12th Janry 1722/ In the fifty seventh year of his age./

Children of William Rhett and wife Sarah Cooke

  • William Rhett, married Miss Trott, daughter of Justice Trott
  • Catherine Rhett (1705-1745), married Roger Moore

Links to addtional material:

-------------------- From Wikipedia, January 2015:

Colonel William Rhett (4 Sep 1666 - 12 Jan 1722) was a British-born plantation owner in the Province of Carolina in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Arriving in America in 1698, accompanied by his wife Sarah, Rhett quickly became a prominent rice farmer and member of the South Carolina Assembly.[1]

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.[2]

In 1706 Rhett who commanded a flotilla that fought off a Franco-Spanish attack on Charles Town.[1] 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."[1]

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.

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Col. William Rhett's Timeline

September 4, 1666
London, Middlesex, England
September 1, 1692
Age 25
Brentwood, Essex, England
December 4, 1705
Age 39
Charleston, SC, USA
January 12, 1722
Age 55
Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina
January 1722
Age 55
Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina
Age 55