Georgia was founded in 1733 to give new lives to deserving non-Roman Catholics in the New World. Despite involvements of Georgia's founder, James Oglethorpe, with debtors prisons, no debtors and no criminals were allowed to be sent to Georgia. The myth that Georgia was a debtors' colony or a type of Botany Bay seems impossible to lay to rest with the truth.
Trustees of the colony sent about 5,000 persons from Great Britain to Georgia, and information about those colonists is published in E. Merton Coulter and Albert B. Saye, A List of the Early Settlers of Georgia (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1949). Each colonist received fifty acres of land, while those who paid their own passage might have received up to 500 acres.
The Salzburgers, central European Protestants, became the first non-British group to settle in Georgia beginning in 1734. They established themselves at Ebenezer in what is now Effingham County. After Georgia became a royal province in 1753, settlers began to move in from Virginia and the Carolinas in large numbers. Other immigrants included Piedmontese from Italy, Scots-Highlanders, Swiss, and Portuguese Jews.
When the Revolutionary War began, Georgia consisted of twelve parishes (these did not function as governments, however) and a large area of ceded lands which the Cherokee and Creek Indians had turned over to the colony in 1773. Georgia's first constitution, dated 1777, provided for the creation of Wilkes, Richmond, Burke, Effingham, Chatham, Liberty, Glynn, and Camden counties. In 1784 Washington and Franklin counties were organized. By 1820 Georgia established fifty counties, mostly from the area that comprised the original ten counties.
Taken from Georgia, Ancestry's Redbook: American State, County & Town Sources by John Cerny and Robert S. Davis, Jr.; edited by Alice Eichholz (Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Incorporated, 1992).