State challenges Hobcaw Barony’s claim to North Inlet

Hobcaw Barony

Photo courtesy of The Post and Courier

This blog recently discussed an interesting lawsuit brewing in Georgetown County involving the property of Hobcaw Barony and adjacent North Inlet. The owner of Hobcaw, the Belle W. Baruch Foundation, is claiming title to 8,000 acres of marsh at North Inlet, a vast marshland that has always been used by the public for recreational purposes. The lawsuit claims title to the property by virtue of a Kings Grant.

Local gossip indicates the Foundation simply intends to clean up title issues and does not intend to preclude the public from enjoying the property. But the complaint reads like a normal quiet title action of marshland property and the locals are nervous. An easement has been suggested to resolve the conflict, but this suggestion has been rebuffed by the Foundation.

The State of South Carolina has now filed responsive pleadings asking for an order declaring that the property is dedicated to public use. The State’s response to the Foundation’s complaint alleges that the Foundation lacks the power to exclude the general public from the property because the public has a right to the use of navigable waters.

The State claims the public is entitled to the marshland through continued use of the property for fishing, shrimping, crabbing and similar activities for generations.

I’ll keep you posted as this issue is litigated.

2 thoughts on “State challenges Hobcaw Barony’s claim to North Inlet

  1. Danny Stone

    Thanks for keeping the public informed on this issue as it progresses Given the somewhat distant past (circa early 1970’s) issues the public had with the Baruch entities trying in various forms to deny access for traditional uses to the area, people have a right to be nervous about any attempt by the Foundation to exert private property rights over the tidal waters of the Inlet. The public should be aware however that most of North Inlet is included in the National Estuarine Research Reserve Program. The governing document of that program clearly states that all waters of the Inlet are open to fishing and waterfowl hunting.


  2. The Foundation’s intent is to protect the intertidal oyster banks that are vital to the health of the marsh. There would be no restrictions on fishing. However, harvesting those oyster banks at low tide does remove a significant number of both large and small oysters from the banks. Most harvesters indiscriminately remove clumps of oysters without culling the larger ones and leaving the smaller ones to continue growing. This is particularly evident when you order steam oysters at local restaurants or when eating them at oyster roasts.


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