Thomas Causton — Scoundrel or Gentleman?

Jeannette Holland Austin
4 min readApr 1, 2022

Thomas Causton was among some of the first settlers to come to Georgia under the plan of the Trustees. He was appointed as the Chief Magistrate onboard a vessel before arriving in Savannah. Martha, his wife, never had children. They build a home called “Ockstead” west of town, on a bluff overlooking Augustine, a high-level creek suitable for transporting goods to and fro. *

William Stephens, secretary of the colony, described the home as “handsome, fit for any gentleman.”

Causton’s first assigned chore by the trustees was to plant a crop of 500 mulberry trees to be used as fodder for silkworms. In need of money, as soon as the mulberry trees yielded their first crop of leaves, Causton directed the Italian gardeners in Savannah to remove them to the filature for processing.

But life in the new colony was difficult. The drought, followed by wet seasons, spoiled the crops and caused hardships for the new arrivals. Shriveled corn fields were viewed disparagingly and hopelessly by settlers whose first houses were little huts constructed with palm leaves.

In a letter dated July 25, 1735, Savannah, from Thomas Causton, to the Trustees: “The Caper plants are safe arrived, and are delivered to Mr. Fitzwalter to be planted and managed according to the directions of which he has a copy. The madder roots are dead; but as your honors procure another parcel, I would take care of some myself, having property great deal cleared for that part…Mr. Johnson Dalmas being dead, I placed those servants under the care of Mr. Fitzwalter to be employed in the garden….T. Causton”.

By 1740, there was a distinct unwillingness to work, which prompted the formation of the malcontents known as the Scotch Club. These people were debauchers, criminals, and down-right lazy citizens. Although their paid passage by the trustees committed them to remain in the colony and plant the mulberry trees, within two or three years they had all run away to Charleston.

It was during this period, that Causton’s niece, Sophie, arrived in Savannah and established her home at Ockstead. But the girl was trouble. Enamored by the local minister, John Wesley, a man of poor circumstances, Sophie was determined to get his proposal of marriage. When he fell ill, she visited his house in Savannah under the pretense of caring for him. Afterward, embarrassed that he did not propose, she returned to her former home in Charleston. Two weeks later, Sophie was…

Jeannette Holland Austin

Author of 100+ genealogy books. Owner of 8 genealogy websites available by subscription.