Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island, SC
In September of 1663, on a voyage of exploration, Captain William Hilton entered Port Royal Sound and spotted a headland-a high point of land used as a reference point by mariners- on a nearby island. Later, this headland would be called Hilton’s Headland, or Hilton’s Head. 320 years later, Hilton Head Island became the Town of Hilton Head Island.
Today, a group of volunteers are organizing a 350/30 anniversary blowout to commemorate both events. The Heritage Library Foundation, the Town of Hilton Head Island, USCB Hospitality and Event Management Department, Coastal Discovery Museum, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, and many other island organizations are working together to plan a week-long celebration of the island.
The celebration will kick off with an open house at Town Hall on Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 and culminate in a huge beach party on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, with events in between including tours of historic sites and lectures on the area.
All locals and organizations are invited to participate. To be part of history, call Linda Piekut at 843-686-6560 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or 350/30 Chair, Leslie Richardson at email@example.com.
Who Was William Hilton?
Captain William Hilton, who wrote the first detailed English account of the Carolina coast and gave his name to an island, was born in Northwich, Cheshire, England in June 1617. In 1621 his father immigrated to the New Plymouth colony followed two years later by William, his mother and his sister Mary. In 1624 William’s father took the family and went with his brother Edward to settle in Piscataqua (Dover, New Hampshire). They were the first English settlers in the area.
As an adult William lived in Newbury and Charlestown in the Massachusetts Bay colony. In 1640 he married Sarah Greenleaf of Newbury by whom he had several children. William became one of Newbury’s prominent citizens and held various town offices. Records show that he was also a navigator and cartographer and was engaged in voyages to London and the West Indies. Sarah died around 1655 and in 1659 William married Mehitable Nowell of Charlestown, the daughter of Increase Nowell, a former secretary of the Massachusetts Bay colony.
In 1662 at the request of a group of merchants in Boston, Captain William Hilton set sail from Charlestown aboard the ship Adventure to explore the Carolina coast. After investigating the area around Cape Fear, Hilton returned to Massachusetts with enough information to have a detailed map made of the area.
The next year a group of businessmen from New England, London and Barbados commissioned William for a second voyage to explore the Carolina coast. Hilton, once again commanding Adventure, set sail, from Barbados on August 10, 1663. During this voyage he explored the entrance to Port Royal Sound and noted, just inside the entrance to the sound, the existence of a headland —a high point of land used as a reference point by mariners. Later this headland would be called Hilton’s Head and soon the island on which it was located would be called Hilton Head Island.
In 1664 William published a book about his explorations entitled: A Relation of a Discovery Lately Made on the Coast of Florida. He died in Charlestown, Massachusetts on September 7, 1675 at the age of 58.