Hilton Head Island is the second largest barrier island on the east coast. It is roughly 12 by 5 miles (or 29,000 acres). Due to its location near Port Royal Sound, Charleston, and Savannah, the Island played an important role in early Indian settlement, plantation agriculture, the American Revolutionary War, and the War Between the States (Civil War).
In 1663, Captain William Hilton sailed on the Adventure from Barbados to explore lands granted by King Charles II of England to the eight Lords Proprietors. In his travels, he identified a headland near the entrance to Port Royal Sound and named it "Hilton's Head". He stayed for several days, making note of the trees, crops, "sweet water" and "clear sweet air".>/p>
In 1698, the Island was granted as part of a barony to John Bayley of Ballingclough, County of Tipperary, Kingdom of Ireland. Another John Bayley, son of the first, appointed Alexander Trench as the Island's first retail agent and for a time, the Island was known as Trench's Island. In 1729, Trench sold land to John Gascoine which Gascoine named "John's Island", which later came to be known as Jenkin's Island after another owner.
In 1862, the Island's name was changed to Port Royal and lastly in 1872, the Island's official name was changed to Hilton Head Island.