There were only a small number of families carrying the Duke or Dukes name in the South Carolina lowcountry in the 1700Õs. Aside from the Orangeburgh District family founded by Joseph Dukes, there were a few individuals in the Charleston area in the mid-1730Õs. In the late 1740Õs we find the families of Thomas Goodman Duke and William Duke, mariners, north of Charleston in Christ Church and St. Thomas and St. Denis parishes. The family of Benjamin Duke appeared in 1745 in what is now Williamsburg County; they are probably ancestral to the later Williamsburg Duke family. Joseph Duke, sometimes confused with the founder of the Orangeburg family but a generation younger, founded the Clarendon County family.
There are numerous other Duke families in South Carolina in the midlands and upcountry. DNA testing has established that they are not related to the Orangeburgh County family, and they are probably not related to the other early lowcountry Duke and Dukes families. Instead, those other families appear to trace their origin to colonies to the north, primarily Virginia. Tony Cox has provided excellent documentation on several of these families.
The lowcountry families during the colonial period, other than Orangeburg, include the following:
Members of Duke or Dukes families are encouraged to participate in the Duke Surname Study at http://www.familytreedna.com. Only males in a direct patrilineal line of descent from Duke or Dukes (or other variants) ancestors can be tested, because yDNA is passed only from father to son. At present no one from the Williamsburg or Clarendon County, SC, families has been tested, but six unrelated Duke or Dukes families that have been present at some time in South Carolina have been identified. For results so far, see https://www.familytreedna.com/public/Duke?iframe=ycolorized
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