In the colonial period, the land around the coast was divided into parishes corresponding to the parishes of the Church of England. There were also several counties that had judicial and electoral functions. As people settled the backcountry, judicial districts and additional counties were formed. This structure continued and grew after the Revolutionary War. In 1800, all counties were renamed as districts. In 1868, the districts were converted back to counties. The South Carolina Department of Archives and History has maps that show the boundaries of counties, districts, and parishes starting in 1682.
Ninety-Six District was created on 29 July 1769 as the most western of the seven original districts. Its boundaries included the current counties of Abbeville, McCormick, Edgefield, Saluda, Greenwood, Laurens, Union, and Spartanburg counties; much of Cherokee and Newberry Counties; and small parts of Aiken and Greenville Counties. The lands further west were Cherokee Indian lands.
As a result of the 1785 Act, districts in South Carolina were further subdivided into counties. These counties were responsible for maintaining court houses, as part of the larger judicial districts from which they were formed. The Ninety-Six District were given the counties of Abbeville, Edgefield, Laurens, Newberry, Spartanburg, and Union.
On 19 February 1791, the Ninety-Six District lost the land in the current Union, Spartanburg counties and the portion of Cherokee county within the district in the formation of Pinckney District.
On 1 January 1800, Ninety-Six District was abolished and replaced by the Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenville, Laurens, and Newberry Districts.