Little is known of James Moore’s origins.
James Moore first appears in the records of the Province of Carolina in 1675 representing Lady Margaret Berringer Yeamans, widow of Sir John Yeamans, before the colonial council. At about the same time James married her daughter by her first husband Margaret Berringer.
In 1683, James Moore was granted 2,400 acres by the Lords Proprietors. He called his estate “Boochowee”. Part of this land is known today as Liberty Hall Plantation.
James also played a leading role in a 1690 expedition into the Carolina backcountry, crossing the Appalachian Mountains to investigate the possibilities of trade with local Indian populations.
In 1691, James Moore became a leader of one of colonial South Carolina’s political factions, called the “Goose Creek Men”, after Goose Creek, an outlying area of Charleston.
In 1698, James was elected to the colonial assembly, and was described as the right-hand man of proprietor Sir John Colleton. The next year he was named chief justice of the colony, a post he held until he was named governor in 1700, replacing the deceased Joseph Blake.
Between 1700 and 1703 James Moore was the British governor of Carolina, which was then in the process of dividing into the provinces of North and South Carolina.
Queen Anne’s War
In 1701, following the death of King Charles II, war broke out over who should succeed him to the Spanish throne. Although the war was at first restricted to a few powers in Europe, in May of 1702 it widened when England declared war on Spain and France.
The hostilities in North America were further encouraged by existing frictions along the frontier areas separating the colonies of these powers. This disharmony was most pronounced along the northern and southwestern frontiers of the English colonies, which then stretched from the Province of Carolina in the south to the Province of Massachusetts Bay in the north, with additional colonial settlements or trading outposts on Newfoundland and at Hudson Bay.
The total population of the English colonies at the time has been estimated at 250,000.
Spanish missionaries in La Florida had established a network of missions to convert the indigenous inhabitants to Roman Catholicism. The Spanish population was relatively small (about 1,500), and the Indian population they ministered to has been estimated to number 20,000.
The arrival of the French in the South threatened existing trade links that Carolina colonists had established into the interior, and Spanish territorial claims, creating tension among all three powers. France and Spain, allies in this conflict, had been on opposite sides of the recently ended Nine Years’ War.
Conflicting territorial claims between Carolina and Florida south of the Savannah River were overlaid by animosity over religious divisions between the Roman Catholic Spanish and the Protestant English along the coast.
Even before news of the war declarations opening the War of the Spanish Succession arrived in the colonies, Governor James Moore proposed an expedition against Spanish Florida’s capital, St. Augustine.
News of the war’s formal opening arrived in 1702, and James Moore convinced the provincial assembly in September 1702 to fund an expedition against St. Augustine.
Governor James Moore led a militia of 500 English colonists, 300 Yamasee native Indians, and 14 small ships in an attack on the Spanish coastal town of St. Augustine.
Some of this force, primarily the Indians, went overland to Port Royal under the command of Deputy Governor Robert Daniell, while James Moore embarked the rest of the force on 14 boats. These forces joined at Port Royal, and Daniell’s force was landed on what is now known as Amelia Island (it was called Isla Santa Maria by the Spanish, and was part of Florida’s Guale Province), while James Moore sailed on to Matanzas Bay.
Siege of St. Augustine
After destroying coastal Spanish communities north of St. Augustine, Moore’s forces arrived at St. Augustine on November 10, 1702 and immediately began siege operations.
The Spanish governor, Joseph de Zúñiga y Zérda, had advance warning of their arrival, and withdrew civilians and food supplies into the fortress Castillo de San Marcos, and also sent messengers to nearby Spanish and French communities for relief.
They destroyed the Spanish missionary and devastated the lands around St. Augustine.
While the town of St. Augustine was razed, its central fortress, Castillo de San Marcos, where the Spanish and numerous allied Indians had taken refuge, resisted Moore’s siege.
James Moore’s guns did little damage to the fortress walls, prompting Governor Moore to send an appeal to Jamaica for larger guns.
The Spanish calls for relief were more successful; a fleet sent from Havana, Cuba landed troops nearby on December 29th.
James Moore lifted his siege the next day, and was forced to burn many of his boats before retreating to Charles Town in disgrace.
His 1702 campaign was viewed as a disaster due to their failure to take the fortress, and James Moore resigned his post.
In 1704, James Moore led an expedition of 50 Englishmen and 1,000 Creek, Yamasee, and other allied Indians, into western Florida, leading to the Apalachee Massacre.
The Apalachee defeat resulted in many Apalachee being enslaved and exported from Charleston to the West Indies.
Another result of James Moore’s defeat of the Apalachee was the collapse of the final defense of the Indians of Florida. In the following years, Carolinian and Indian slave raiders virtually wiped out the Indian population of Florida all the way down to the Florida Keys.
Moore’s defeat of the Apalachee in Spanish Florida was hailed as a major victory for Carolina, which had been fighting with the Spanish for control of the region for decades. It also served to strengthen ties between various southeastern Indians and Carolina.
The Creek people and the Cherokees became much more closely allied with Carolina. With these two Indian nations as strong allies, the English rose to a position of dominance over the French and Spanish in the American southeast.
James Moore died in 1706 of a tropical disease, possibly yellow fever. He was significantly in debt. His son by the same name was elected to the same office in 1719 following the overthrow of the proprietary governor.
The Moore family imported over 4,000 slaves into the Carolinas, mostly for its own extensive plantations and farms in and about Cape Fear area of what later became North Carolina.
James Moore also had a Charleston house and a house in the Goose Creek area nearby to Charleston.
Now WE know em