From the founding of the Carolina Colony in 1670, religion played an important political and social role in the lives of white Carolinians. The Lords Proprietors developed the colony’s founding principles and laws, while also envisioning a religiously tolerant colony. However, they also made it clear that the Church of England was the colony’s “only true and orthodox” religion. Despite this, the Carolina colony still attracted dissenters—non-Anglicans who were not members of the Church of England—including Presbyterians, Anabaptists, Quakers, Independents (Congregationalists) and, French Huguenots.
By 1700 tensions developed between the Church of England Anglicans and the non-Anglican dissenters. This resulted in the 1706 Church Act which firmly established the Church of England as the colony’s official religion and provided for a system of taxation for its support. This same act outlined the ten parishes of the colony and called for the building of a church and parsonage in each. St. Paul’s Parish was one of these ten original parishes. While St. Paul’s Parish established the Church of England as the official religion, the large populations of enslaved Africans and Indigenous people resulted in a diversity of religious practices in the parish. The parish was established along the colonial frontier at a time when these three populations—colonists, enslaved Africans, and Indigenous peoples—were in regular conflict, resulting in attacks, wars, and slave uprisings.