Old Charleston maps, plats put online

One of the oldest plats on the former Charleston County Register of Mesne Conveyance website is this plan of a lot and wharf off East Bay Street based on a 1707 survey by Joseph Purcell. The RMC office is now called the Charleston County Register of Deeds. 

What's in a name? For the Charleston County Register of Mesne Conveyance, it's nearly 300 years of history that's coming to an end.

As of Jan. 1, the 299-year-old office responsible for overseeing land titles and property deals will now be known as the Charleston County Register of Deeds. 

The contemporary name change comes 20 years after the state Legislature passed a law mandating the switch

But there was a delay.

After the law passed, RMC office-holders could keep their aged and more formal title during their tenure. But once their term ended, so, too, would the name that has roots dating to colonial times. 

For Charleston County, the name reigned as long as Republican Charlie Lybrand stayed in office. Last year, Lybrand, 71, left the post he had held since 1994. 

Not everyone was in favor of the switch, including the woman who succeeded him and now holds the new title of Charleston County Register of Deeds.

"I went kicking and screaming about it," said Elaine Bozman, who was appointed to the role by Gov. Henry McMaster after Lybrand's retirement.

"Register of Deeds is so modern. Seeing how these records go back so far and that this office has always been called the Register of Mesne Conveyance, you now lose that bit of history," she said.

The name goes back to the birth of Charleston itself, when it was founded as an English colony 1670.

During his time in office, Lybrand liked to reflect on the historic nature of the job.

"South Carolina was first established by the Province of Carolina by the King of England," Lybrand penned in 2015 about the history of the office. "Even today, we still live by laws that were established by the king, and that's why when we're asked (about the RMC name), we say it's 'Old English Law.' "

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His history of the office is still posted on the county website.

Since Bozman is serving out the remainder of Lybrand's four-year term, she did not expect to see a title change until after the 2018 election. Then she got a call from the state Office of Court Administration.

"Apparently, I was supposed to do it when I took over, but everything happened so fast," Bozman said. "This stuff just got past us."

With the title change came a litany of paperwork, Bozman said. She estimates updating the name on letterheads, business cards and recording pages will cost upwards of $1,000. 

Filing for the elected office will open in March. Any primaries would be settled in June, and the winners will be on the November ballot.

Charleston is one of only six counties in the state where the position is elected. 

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.