Mary Woodward Hutson (1717-1757) whose very proper portrait this is, hardly came from what some Charlestonians would call ‘proper’ stock. Her grandfather, and mine, many generations ago, was Henry Woodward, an Englishman who arrived near Edisto Island in 1666 with a group of wealthy men on expedition from Barbados. He was left on the Eden Isle to make friends with the natives and to rustle up some trade for the King. His is an heroic tale that involves being kidnapped by the Spanish, and rescued from St. Augustine, by the buccaneer Robert Searles (for more on this tale see the book Twenty Florida Pirates by Kevin M. McCarthy. Henry worked as ship’s surgeon, and subsequently charmed kings, pirates and priests, and no doubt, the ladies. His legacy is one of daring and mystery. He wrote letters back to John Locke, in England, about the culture and the religion of the Indians, which interested the great philosopher. I like the letter where he talks about the glitter of gold on the bottom of his Indian moccasin, mica no doubt, the stuff I played with, as a child, in the creeks of North Carolina and what we called ‘fool’s gold’. “The man that most students of South Carolina Indians would most like to interview would probably be Dr. Henry Woodward, an Englishman who … was left by the Robert Sandford Expedition (in 1666) in exchange for an Indian called “Shadoo” as a sort of early cultural exchange program. He was not left against his will, but remained voluntarily. He returned to England in 1682 and was something of a celebrity.” – from Chapman J. Milling, Red Carolinians, p 55.
Henry Woodward’s story is fascinating to me, just different from that of his grandaughter, the pious and devoted Christian that Mary’s diary reveals her to be, published in London after her death, by her husband, The Rev. William Hutson. The testament to their character is the survival, of not only her diary but his, here at the South Carolina Historical Society. Just steps down the street are their large, beautifully carved slate tombstones in the historic graveyard Circular Church on Meeting Street, stones that have miraculously survived wars and fires and earthquakes. Mary Woodward Hutson’s portrait, and that of the good pastor, William Hutson, were painted by Jeremiah Theus, the early colonial painter, who arrived in Charleston in 1740. Many of the portraits he painted hang across the street at the Gibbes Museum of Art. These paintings hang beside each other in history, secure in the tall pink hall of this grand and beautiful architectural wonder of a place. The Fireproof Building, at 100 Meeting Street, houses the collections of the South Carolina Historical Society. Inside is an oval stair hall, lit by a cupola, with stone stairs, cantilevered through three stories. The building, the architect, and more of the stories the society protects and preserves here, are deserving of another tale, on another day.