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QFF 2023-03-17
Posted on Mar 17th, 2023

     Quick Fact Friday
Florence O'Sullivan
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Ever wonder where Sullivan’s Island got its name? The island is named after Florence O’Sullivan, an Irish military man. O’Sullivan was likely born in County Cork, Ireland between 1630 and 1640. Records show that Captain O’Sullivan fought in the West Indies and Guadalupe. Due to his experience with surveying during his military career, O’Sullivan became the Surveyor General of the Province of Carolina in 1669.

Very little is known about the early life of O’Sullivan but much of what is known comes from the “The Shaftesbury Papers”. In “The Shaftesbury Papers”, O’Sullivan is not painted in a good light. One theory to explain this negativity is that he was Irish, not British. O’Sullivan’s name was likely Fionn, Finín, or Flaithrí. The name “Florence” was often an English substitute for these Irish names. The name “O’Sullivan” came from the Irish surname “Ó Súilleabháin”. He likely changed his name to better survive during a time when England, under Oliver Cromwell, conquered Ireland taking many Irish Catholic men and women as servants to work in Barbados.

In 1670, O’Sullivan sailed to the Carolinas on a ship called the Carolina. After ten years, O’Sullivan was granted 2,340 acres of land. This land was in the Old Village/Old Mount Pleasant area, not on Sullivan’s Island, so it is not clear why the island took his name. Some believe it is due to his noteworthy public service during that time. By the end of his life, he had sold much of his land owning 330 acres around Shem Creek. The exact date of his death is unknown but was likely between 1689 and 1692.

There are many ways to celebrate the holiday in Mount Pleasant. Be sure to check out the Experience Mount Pleasant website for more information. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

For more information: Charleston Time Machine, Episode 252, Historical Markers in Mount Pleasant; and mountpleasanthistorical.org
Image Credit: Charleston Time Machine, Episode 252 (1701 Map)
The Town of Mount Pleasant Historical Commission releases Quick Fact Fridays about the history of Mount Pleasant and about the Commission, its programs and activities. Historical facts are drawn largely from the Our History section of the Town's website and the Commission's own Mount Pleasant Historical website and app. Follow their links by clicking on the images below to discover what makes Mount Pleasant such a distinctive historical place! To receive Quick Fact Friday messages click here to subscribe. Email us at kmiller@tompsc.com if you're interested in learning more about a particular Mount Pleasant history topic!
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