Title to the land that comprised Brookgreen plantation is traced to a patent for 48,000 acres granted to Robert Daniell in 1711. The property passed to the Allston family when William Allston bought it circa 1740. William Allston Jr. acquired it in 1764 and developed it as his home plantation. By 1799 title had passed to Joshua Ward, whose son, Joshua John Ward, was born here in 1800.
Joshua John Ward was active in the Winyah and All Saints Agricultural Society and was noted for his development of long-grain rice. He would become among the wealthiest planters in the nation. In 1850 Ward's plantations, including Brookgreen, yielded 3,900,000 pounds of rice on land cultivated by 1,092 enslaved laborers. Ward and his descendants lived here until 1938.