Charleston's Intendants and Mayors

During the colonial era, South Carolina, including Charlestown, was ruled from England by a succession of governors sent by the Lords Proprietors and then by the King. Local decision-making, more or less in accord with London's directives, rested with a Grand Council and Commons House of Assembly.

On August 13, 1783, the South Carolina General Assembly passed "An Act to Incorporate Charleston." The city was divided into thirteen wards, their boundaries spelled out in the Act. Citizens of each ward voted for their wardens. Once wardens were elected and had taken their oaths, one of them was elected intendant in a second city-wide election. "And if any person, on being elected intendant, shall refuse to act, he shall forfeit and pay to the treasurer of the city, for the use of the same, the sum of thirty pounds sterling. And if any person, on being elected warden, shall refuse to act, he shall also pay to the treasurer of the city the sum of twenty pounds sterling."

Annual wardens' election took place the first Monday in September, with the intendant's election a week later. A third election was then required to replace the warden who had been elected intendant.

Beginning in 1809, voters could elect as intendant any qualified citizen (white men who met certain residency and financial thresholds). Although the intendant was no longer elected from among the wardens, separate elections continued. Citizens chose their wardens in early September, and the intendant two weeks later. City Council reconfigured the wards from time to time. Before the 1810 election, the thirteen wards were redrawn into four, with a total of twelve wardens. After 1817, there was only one election day for wardens and intendant.

In December 1836, Charleston's corporate charter was amended. Henceforth, although wards remained election districts, city officials were known not as intendant and wardens, but as mayor and aldermen. Elections continued annually.

After the northward expansion of the city from Boundary [Calhoun] Street to Mount Pleasant Street, four new wards, each with an alderman's seat, were added in 1850. Beginning in 1853, the mayor and aldermen were elected for two-year terms. By an Act of Assembly in December 1878, the term of office was extended to four years. Mayor William A. Courtenay, elected in 1879, was the first to hold a four-year term.

In 1959, Mayor J. Palmer Gaillard began Charleston's first annexation drive, extending city limits into St. Andrews Parish, west of the Ashley River. Annexations during Mayor Joseph P. Riley's first term, in the late 1970s, extended the city up Charleston Neck, and onto James Island and Johns Island. Continuing annexations have brought Daniel Island and Cainhoy [both in Berkeley County] and large rural tracts in St. Andrews Parish into the City of Charleston.

Fraser, Walter J., Jr. Charleston! Charleston! The History of a Southern City. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989.
McCord, David J. The Statutes at Large of South Carolina. Vol. 7, Acts Relating to Charleston, Courts, Slaves and Rivers. Columbia, 1840.
Sparkman, Mary A. "List of Intendants and Mayors of the City of Charleston from Date of Incorporation in 1783 to the Present Day." Historical Commission of Charleston, 1947. (Copy in Civic Government Folder, South Carolina Room, Charleston County Public Library)
VerPlank, Christopher. "Historic Context Statement." Vision, Community, Heritage. A Preservation Plan for Charleston, South Carolina. San Francisco: Page & Turnbull, Inc., for the City of Charleston and Historic Charleston Foundation, 2008.



9/11/1783  Richard Hutson   elected intendant

9/13/1784  Richard Hutson   re-elected

9/12/1785  Arnoldus Vanderhorst   elected intendant

9/11/1786  John F. Grimké   elected intendant

9/10/1787  John F. Grimké   re-elected

9/10/1788  John F. Grimké   re-elected

9/29/1788  Rawlins Lowndes   elected intendant

9/7/1789  Thomas Jones   elected intendant

9/13/1790  Arnoldus Vanderhorst   elected intendant

9/12/1791  Arnoldus Vanderhorst   re-elected

9/10/1792  John Huger   elected intendant

9/9/1793  John Huger   re-elected

9/22/1794  John Bee Holmes   elected intendant

9/26/1795  John Edwards   elected intendant

9/12/1796  John Edwards   re-elected

9/11/1797  Henry W.  DeSaussure   elected intendant

9/10/1798  Henry W.  DeSaussure   re-elected

9/9/1799  Thomas Roper   elected intendant

9/8/1800  Thomas Roper   re-elected

9/14/1801  John Ward   elected intendant

9/13/1802  David Deas   elected intendant

9/12/1803  John Drayton   elected intendant

9/10/1804  Thomas Winstanley   elected intendant

9/9/1805  Charles B. Cochran   elected intendant

9/8/1806  John Dawson, Jr.   elected intendant

9/14/1807  John Dawson, Jr.   re-elected

7/22/1808  Benjamin Boyd   elected intendant

9/12/1808  William Rouse   elected intendant

9/21/1809  William Rouse   re-elected

9/21/1812  Thomas Bennett, Jr.   elected intendant

9/20/1813  Thomas Rhett Smith   elected intendant

9/19/1814  Thomas Rhett Smith   re-elected

3/30/1815  Elias Horry   elected intendant

9/18/1815  Elias Horry   elected intendant

9/18/1816  Elias Horry   re-elected

9/15/1817  John Geddes   elected intendant

9/7/1818  John Geddes   re-elected

1/11/1819  Daniel Stevens   elected intendant

9/6/1819  Daniel Stevens   elected intendant

9/4/1820  Elias Horry   elected intendant

9/3/1821  James Hamilton, Jr.   elected intendant

9/1/1822  James Hamilton, Jr.   re-elected

1/6/1823  John Geddes   elected intendant

9/1/1823  John Geddes   re-elected

9/6/1824  Samuel Prioleau   elected intendant

9/5/1825  Joseph Johnson   elected intendant

9/4/1826  Joseph Johnson   re-elected

9/3/1827  John Gadsden   elected intendant

9/1/1828  John Gadsden   re-elected

9/7/1829  Henry Laurens Pinckney   elected intendant

9/6/1830  James Reid Pringle   elected intendant

9/5/1831  Henry Laurens Pinckney   elected intendant

9/3/1832  Henry Laurens Pinckney   re-elected

9/2/1833  Edward W. North   elected intendant

9/1/1834  Edward W. North   re-elected

9/7/1835  Edward W. North   re-elected

9/5/1836  Robert Y. Hayne   elected intendant

9/4/1837  Henry Laurens Pinckney   elected mayor

9/3/1838  Henry Laurens Pinckney   re-elected

9/2/1839  Henry Laurens Pinckney   re-elected

9/7/1840  Jacob F. Mintzing   elected mayor

9/6/1841  Jacob F. Mintzing   re-elected

4/4/1842  John Schnierle   elected mayor

9/5/1843  John Schnierle   elected mayor

9/2/1844  John Schnierle   re-elected

9/1/1845  John Schnierle   re-elected

9/7/1846  T. Leger Hutchinson   elected mayor

9/6/1847  T. Leger Hutchinson   re-elected

9/4/1848  T. Leger Hutchinson   re-elected

9/3/1849  T. Leger Hutchinson   re-elected

9/2/1850  John Schnierle   elected mayor

9/3/1851  John Schnierle   re-elected

9/1/1852  T. Leger Hutchinson   elected mayor

11/2/1853  T. Leger Hutchinson   re-elected

11/7/1855  William P. Miles   elected mayor

11/4/1857  Charles Macbeth   elected mayor

11/2/1859  Charles Macbeth   re-elected

11/6/1861  Charles Macbeth   re-elected

11/4/1863  Charles Macbeth   re-elected

11/1/1865  Peter C. Gaillard   elected mayor

10/6/1867  William W. Burns   appointed mayor

3/7/1868  Milton Cogswell   appointed mayor

7/6/1868  George W. Clark   appointed mayor

11/10/1868  Gilbert Pillsbury   elected mayor

8/2/1871  John A. Wagener   elected mayor

10/1/1873  George I. Cunningham   elected mayor

10/6/1875  George I. Cunningham   re-elected

12/11/1877  William W. Sale   elected mayor

12/9/1879  William A. Courtenay   elected mayor

12/11/1883  William A. Courtenay   re-elected

12/13/1887  George D. Bryan   elected mayor

12/8/1891  John F. Ficken   elected mayor

12/10/1895  J. Adger Smyth   elected mayor

12/12/1899  J. Adger Smyth   re-elected

12/8/1903  R. Goodwyn Rhett   elected mayor

12/8/1907  R. Goodwyn Rhett   re-elected

12/12/1911  John P.  Grace   elected mayor

12/14/1915  Tristram T.  Hyde   elected mayor

12/19/1919  John P.  Grace   elected mayor

12/11/1923  Thomas P. Stoney   elected mayor

12/13/1927  Thomas P. Stoney   re-elected

12/8/1931  Burnet R. Maybank   elected mayor

12/10/1935  Burnet R. Maybank   re-elected

12/27/1938  Henry W. Lockwood   elected mayor

12/12/1939  Henry W. Lockwood   elected mayor

12/14/1943  Henry W. Lockwood   re-elected

6/13/1944  E. Edward Wehman, Jr.   elected mayor

12/9/1947  William McG. Morrison   elected mayor

12/11/1959  J. Palmer Gaillard   elected mayor

8/19/1975  Arthur B. Schirmer, Jr.   elected mayor

12/9/1975  Joseph P. Riley, Jr.   elected mayor