Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America
The Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America, or simply the Georgia Trustees, was organized by James Edward Oglethorpe and associates following Parliamentary investigations into prison conditions in Britain. The organization petitioned for a royal charter in July, 1731, which was signed by George II in April, 1732. After passing through government ministries, the charter reached the Trustees in June, 1732. Oglethorpe personally led the first group of colonist to the New World colony, departing England on November, 1732 and arriving at the site of present-day Savannah, Georgia on February 12, 1733 O.S. The founding of Georgia is celebrated on February 1, 1733 N.S., the date corresponding to the modern Gregorian calendar adopted after the establishment of the colony.
Parliament established a committee to investigate prison conditions in February, 1729 and Oglethorpe was appointed chair. The work of the committee resulted in the release of prisoners onto the streets of London and other cities without prospect of employment. Oglethorpe conceived the idea of a colony as a means of productively employing such people. The plan for the colony quickly broadened in scope to encompass several philanthropic and strategic purposes.
Dr. Thomas Bray, a supporter of prison reform, invited Oglethorpe to use an organization he created some years earlier, known as the Associates of Dr. Bray, as the entity through which he might apply for a royal charter for the new colony. Oglethorpe expanded the group to include members of the prison committee and other social reformers. Dr. Bray died in February 1730, and Oglethorpe became the driving force behind the organization, which would soon give birth to the Georgia Trustees.
Oglethorpe and other Georgia Trustees developed an elaborate plan for settlement of the Georgia Colony. Now known as the Oglethorpe Plan, it specified how towns and regions would be laid out, how property would be equitably and sustainably allocated, and how society would be organized to defend itself on a perilous frontier.
Though Oglethorpe and others wanted debtors' prisoners to inhabit the new colony of Georgia, the Crown determined otherwise. The Colony would become a military buffer for South Carolina against the Spanish and some Creek factions. Each of the new "Georgians" was chosen for their work skills, which would best contribute to the colony. The men were trained and made members of the militia for the defense of Georgia and South Carolina. Most of the 114 included wives, children and servants. Dr William Cox, appointed medical Doctor for the colony brought his wife Elizabeth, son, William, a young daughter and a male servant. In an early letter to the Trustees, Dr Cox said: "the greatest health hazard in Savannah is alligators in the streets". Unfortunately, Dr Cox was the first to die (after 59 days) from the real health hazard, that of consumption (i.e. tuberculosis), for which he had treated many colonists immediately after arrival. Dr Cox was buried with "the highest military honors" by Oglethorpe. His family returned to England, but his son William, only 11 years old, stayed and apprenticed to help build Bethesda, America's oldest orphanage.
Trustees named in the Royal Charter, effective June, 1732
- Adam Anderson
- William Belitha (resigned)
- Rev. Arthur Bedford (died 1745)
- Rev. Richard Bundy (died before 1740)
- Rev. John Burton
- Rev. Samuel Smith
- Rev. Stephen Hales
- George, Lord Carpenter (died 1749)
- Thomas Coram (died 1751)
- Hon. Edward Digby
- Francis Eyles MP
- George Heathcote MP
- Rogers Holland MP
- Robert Hucks (brewer and MP) (died 1745)
- John LaRoche MP (died 1752)
- Robert More MP
- James Oglethorpe MP
- John, Viscount Percival (later Earl of Egmont) (died 1748)
- William Sloper MP (died 1743)
- Thomas Tower MP
- Hon. James Vernon
Trustees appointed at the first Annual Meeting in March, 1733
- Richard Chandler
- Anthony Ashley Cooper, 4th Earl of Shaftesbury
- James Darcy, 2nd Baron Darcy of Navan (died 1733)
- James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby (died 1736)
- Sir Thomas Frederick, 3rd Baronet
- Sir John Gonson
- William Hanbury
- William Heathcote (died 1751)
- Robert Kendall (Sheriff of London)
- Henry L'Apostre
- James, Viscount Limerick
- John Page MP (died 1779)
- Sir Erasmus Philipps, 5th Baronet (died 1743)
- Christopher Tower MP
- John, Viscount Tyrconnel MP
- George Tyrer (Mayor of Liverpool, 1736) (died 1740)
- John White MP
Trustees appointed at later Annual Meetings
1734: Rev. Dr. Thomas Rundle (Bishop of Derry, died 1743), Hon. William Talbot, Richard Coope, William Wollaston MP, Hon. Robert Eyre, Thomas Archer MP, Robert Tracy (MP), Hon. Henry Archer (MP), Francis Wollaston (d.1774)
1737: Sir Jacob Bouverie, 3rd Baronet, (later Viscount Folkestone)
1739: Lord Sidney Beauclerk (died 1744)
1741: Hon. Henry Bathurst, Hon. Philip Perceval (brother of the Earl of Egmont), Sir John Frederick, 1st Baronet (brother of Thomas Frederick, deceased Trustee)
1745: Rev. Dr. Thomas Wilson
1747: Francis Cokayne (Lord Mayor of London), Samuel Lloyd (silk merchant)
1752: Richard Cavendish
Employees and Officials of the Trustees
Savannah: William Stephens, Secretary, later President of Savannah County and President of the Georgia colony. Numerous others served in various positions for shorter periods.
The Trustees governed the Georgia colony from its founding in 1733 until June 28, 1752 O.S., a period known as Trustee Georgia.
Revival of the Georgia Trustees
The concept of the Georgia Trustees was reconstituted in 2008 by the Georgia Historical Society under the suggestion of the Executive Vice-President Laura Garcia-Culler. Each year during the Georgia Historical Society Gala, two new members of the Georgia Trustees are admitted as members by the Georgia Historical Society in conjunction with the Governor's Office. These new members are chosen for their dedication, commitment, and contributions to the State of Georgia.
2009: Margeurite Neel Williams (Entrepreneur), Bernard Marcus (Home Depot Founder)
2013: Truett Cathy (founder of the Chick-fil-A), Herman Russell (founder of H.J. Russell & Company)
2015: Alana Shepherd (co-founder of the Shepherd Center), Paula Wallace (President and co-founder of the Savannah College of Art and Design)
2016: James Blanchard (Retired Chairman of the Board and CEO, Synovus), Muhtar Kent (Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company)
- Coleman, Kenneth. ’’Colonial Georgia: A History’’. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1976. Pages 13-24.
- Baine, Rodney M., ed. Creating Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995. Pages xiv-xvii.
- http://www.georgiasfirstday.com Thomas D. Cox Historian
- ‘’The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia’’, Volume 1. Allen D. Candler, et al., eds. Pages 27-30. ‘’Manuscripts of the Earl of Egmont: Diary of Viscount Percival. Afterwards First Earl of Egmont’’. Volumes I-III. London: Historical Manuscripts Commission, 1920-23.
- Stevens, William. A History of Georgia: From Its First Discovery by Europeans to the ..., Volume 1. p. Appendix.
- "Georgia Historical Society | New Georgia Encyclopedia". Georgiaencyclopedia.org. 2019-06-28. Retrieved 2019-07-08.