Francis Corbin of Charleston, SC

Exactly who was this Francis Corbin has not yet been determined.

A strong possibility is the Francis Corbin who married Margaret Turner at St Dunstan, Stepney, Middlesex, on 2 February 1709. This is the church where future Granville agent Francis Corbin was baptised on 24 September 1710 and his father, also Francis Corbin, was buried on 11 March 1710/11. If so, Margaret must have died, as the Francis Corbin in Charleston was married to Sarah Stone (born in Charleston, SC, on 24 February 1719/20). The parish registers of St Dunstan do not show any children born to Francis & Margaret Corbin; they have not yet been searched to see if Margaret was buried there.

Edmund Corbin, son of Francis & Sarah Corbin, was described to Joseph Hewes (future signatory of the Declaration of Independence) by Granville agent Francis Corbin as "the nearest relation he had in the world". They also had a daughter, Martha Corbin. Martha was likely the elder of the two children, as she is listed before Edmond [sic] among the beneficiaries in the will of Mary Smith (dated 12 December 1755, probated 29 January 1756).

No evidence has yet been found of when Francis Corbin arrived in South Carolina, or where exactly he lived. The earliest record found of him is his witnessing a Deed of Sale on 2 November 1737. The seller, William Smith, is the same seller as in an earlier Deed of Sale witnessed by Rebecca Corbin on 12 January 1721 - which suggests a family connection. The Mary Smith who left bequests to Francis Corbin's two children in her 1756 will is likely the widow of William Smith.

On 20 November 1738 he became a member of the South Carolina Society, which had been started two years previously. He became Clerk of the Society and, as such, placed an advertisement in the South Carolina Gazette of September 21, 1748, for a meeting to be held on October 4th.

An advertisement in the South Carolina Gazette of April 21, 1746, references a horse that had been lost from a pasture in Dorchester, that had "formerly belonged to Mr. Francis Corbin at Dorchester." This suggests that he must have lived at Dorchester before moving into Charleston, where his wife's father was a blockmaker.

In 1743 & 1744 he was junior partner with Alexander Wood in a mercantile business. Alexander Wood had earlier been the most prominent trader out of Charleston with the Creek Indians.

Records from four court cases against debtors of this partnership show ....

The largest sum, £194.14.6, was owed to them by John Norman, a planter in the Dorchester area, who subsequently married Francis Corbin's widow Sarah (in 1752) and became stepfather to the two children, who were not yet of age.

Future Granville agent Francis Corbin sailed on a Royal Navy ship to Charleston in late 1744, carrying official government papers to James Glen, Governor of South Carolina - so would doubtless have met with his relative there.

The December 12, 1712 School Act established a free school in Charleston, which took 12 free scholars with others paying 4 a year. The master had to be of the Church of England and able to understand Greek and Latin. By the mid-1740's the school was in disorganization, and Francis Corbin stepped into the breach.

The South Carolina Gazette of 16 December 1745 included an advertisement placed by Francis Corbin:
THIS IS TO GIVE NOTICE, that the Subscriber will open a School on the first day of January next, at the house commonly known by the Name of the Panyad, where Children may be carefully taught Reading, Writing and Arithmetick and all those that will be so good as to favour me with the Care of their Children, may depend on having them educated to their Satisfaction, and will greatly oblige           Their humble Servant           Francis Corbin
N.B. He will also take Children to board.

The Free School was reorganized by Hugh Anderson in 1749, which suggests that Francis Corbin may have died by then.

No will of Francis Corbin has been found in the South Carolina archives, nor has any appointment or activity of an administrator (which would be expected if he died intestate).

Francis Corbin's widow Sarah remarried, to John Norman of Colleton County, SC. There is a marriage agreement dated 18 August 1752, which is mainly concerned with her obtaining his support for her two children. He already had three children by his first wife, Elizabeth Bedon (Sarah, John, and Richard), and would have one more (Rebecca) with Sarah.

John Norman in his will, dated 8 June 1756 and proved 11 November 1757, bequeathed one slave each and other assets to Sarah, children John, Richard, Sarah, Rebeckah Norman, and stepchildren Martha and Edmund Corbin. Edmund also received "on[e] watch that was his fathers".

St Dunstan Parish Registers.
Deed Book T, p. 211.
South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
George C. Rogers, Jr. Charleston in the Age of the Pinckneys. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia; 1980.
Caroline T. Moore, ed. Abstracts of the Wills of the State of South Carolina, 1740-1760. R.L. Bryan Company, Columbia SC, 1964.