In 1562 a white sailed ship filled with French Huguenot colonists and commanded by Jean Ribaut, nosed between St. Helena’s Island and the bold headland which more than a century later would first be called Hilton Head, into the capacious mouth of Broad River and promptly christened it Port Royale “because of the largeness and fairness thereof." The name has endured. Many books have been written to recount its history; many more will be. Hilton Head itself was known officially as “Port Royal, South Carolina” during the federal occupation, 1861-1872.
Peeples, An Index to Hilton Head Island Names (Before the Contemporary Development), p.34.