Trustee Georgia

The original Georgia Trustees was a governing body chartered and appointed by His Majesty King George II of England in 1732 to establish a new colony in North America. The Trustees governed the colony of Georgia for twenty years. Browse the page below to learn about Trustee Georgia (1732-1752).

Benjamin Martyn’s Impartial Enquiry

In 1740, Benjamin Martyn (1699-1763) authored “An Impartial Enquiry into the State and Utility of the Province of Georgia.” Martyn discussed the viability of the colony, describing both its strengths and weaknesses, while acting as Secretary to the Trustees. Many critiqued of the usefulness and viability of the Georgia colony. In this document, Martyn lists these criticisms and explains, one by one, why they are invalid. Promotional literature about European colonies was not uncommon at the time – whether the information contained in that literature was true or not is another matter. Europeans interested in improving their lives and fortunes by emigrating from Europe to a colony in the New World were understandably apprehensive about the possibilities of untamed land, unfamiliar climates, and unfriendly natives. In the case of the Georgia colony, questions of the quality of the soil and the ability of colonists to prosper without a dependence on slavery, which was banned in the colony until 1749, were foremost on many people’s minds.

“An Impartial Enquiry into the state and Utility of the Province of Georgia” by Benjamin Martyn London, Printed for W. Meadows, 1741. From the Georgia Historical Society Rare Collection.

Bethesda Home for Boys

Reverend George Whitefield (1714-1770), printed in London for John Royall, n.d. 1361PH Georgia Historical Society Photograph Collection, Box 25, Folder 17, Item 4930

Reverend George Whitefield (1714-1770), printed in London for John Royall. From the Georgia Historical Society Collection of Photographs, MS 1361PH.

Reverend George Whitefield (1714-1770), a minister of the Church of England and one of the leaders of the Methodist movement, founded the Bethesda Orphan’s Home in 1740 with the help of James Habersham. Now known as Bethesda Academy, it is the nation’s oldest working orphanage.

Whitefield’s efforts and success at Bethesda led to national recognition and attention during the 1740s. Due to his extensive travels in the American colonies, he was one of the most widely recognized public figures before George Washington. Benjamin Franklin was a supporter of the orphanage for a time, until he became persuaded that Savannah was not the best location for such a charitable institution. However, Franklin was unsuccessful in convincing his friend Whitefield that the orphanage would be better off if it were located in Pennsylvania.


Bethesda Home for Boys, 1740. From the Georgia Historical Society Photograph Collection, 1361 PH.

In 1748, Savannah minister Samuel Fayrweather wrote to Reverends Thomas Prince and Thomas Foxcraft providing a detailed account of the orphanage at Bethesda.

Fayrweather includes important historical information about Bethesda and describes the positioning and architecture of the home, the surrounding grounds and orchards, and the service, work, prayer and education of the students.

Samuel Fayrweather’s Account of Bethesda, 1748. From Samuel Fayrweather letter and notes, MS 249.

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Early Maps of Georgia

Maps serve an important purpose in historical studies. Maps can be used for many different reasons. They represent what was known and unknown about a particular area. Countries used maps to explore unknown places and establish their claim in the new territories. The above 1757 map of the southeastern coast of the British colonies in North America reveals many place names that are familiar to residents of these areas today. It provides geographic details, including rivers, mountains, and islands, as well as latitude and longitude markers. The below map, drawn by Samuel Urlsperger ten years earlier, shows settlements, forts, and trade paths in the colonies of Georgia and South Carolina.

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