About Charles Willing Byrd
Charles Willing Byrd (July 26, 1770 – August 25, 1828) was an early Ohio political leader and jurist. He served as Secretary of Northwest Territory and as acting Territorial Governor.
Charles Willing Byrd was born on July 26, 1770, in Westover, Charles City County, Virginia to the wealthy and powerful Byrd family of Virginia, founded by William Byrd I, Charles William Byrd's great-grandfather. William Byrd I received a 1,200-acre (4.9 km2) grant on October 27, 1673 on an area of the James River that would later become the site of Richmond, Virginia. Charles' mother made sure that her son received a good education after his father, William Byrd III, committed suicide in January 1777, when Charles was only seven years old.
Charles was sent to live in Philadelphia with his uncle, Thomas Powell, who was a member of the Society of Friends and a professor at The College of William & Mary. He read law under Gouverneur Morris while living in Philadelphia. He was accepted into the bar in 1794 after completing his schooling in Philadelphia.
Legal and political career
After being accepted to the bar, Byrd became land agent for Philadelphia financier Robert Morris in Lexington, Kentucky. Morris is most famous for financing the revolution. Byrd served as land agent for Morris from 1794 to 1797, and was responsible for maintaining, selling, and acquiring real estate for Morris.
While in Kentucky, Byrd married Sarah Waters Meade, the daughter of his father's friend Colonel David Meade, on April 6, 1797. Byrd returned to Philadelphia to open a law practice in 1797. In 1799, Charles moved to the Northwest Territory and quickly became involved in government affairs.
Secretary of Northwest Territory
Byrd was appointed Secretary of Northwest Territory by President John Adams on October 3, 1799, after Captain William Henry Harrison resigned to serve as a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives. Byrd took his oath of office before Governor St. Clair on February 26, 1800. While serving as Secretary of the Northwest Territory, Byrd also served as a Hamilton county delegate to the 1802 Ohio Constitutional Convention.
When President Thomas Jefferson removed Governor Arthur St. Clair from the office of Territorial Governor, Byrd became acting Governor as well as Secretary of the Territory on November 22, 1802.
Byrd served as Secretary of the Northwest Territory until Ohio became a state on March 1, 1803. Byrd served as Territorial Governor until Edward Tiffin was duly elected governor of the state of Ohio on March 3, 1803.
In 1803, Byrd served as a delegate to Ohio's constitutional convention. On March 1, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson nominated Byrd to be the first Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Ohio, a new seat created by 2 Stat. 201. Byrd was confirmed by the United States Senate, and received his commission on March 3, 1803. The first Court sat in the statehouse at Chillicothe, Ohio on June 6, 1803.
In its first session, the court participated in the the trial of Aaron Burr. The indictment charged Burr and Harman Blennerhassett, with commencing an expedition to wage war against Spain via Mexico, but the charges were eventually dropped in 1819. Another notable case for the curt was Osborn v. Bank of the United States, which arose out of the attempt of the Ohio Legislature to tax out of existence the bank's branches in Cincinnati and Chillicothe by imposing an annual $50,000 tax on each branch. The case reached the United States Supreme Court and the tax was held invalid following the case of McCulloch v. Maryland.
Byrd remained on the court until his death on August 25, 1828.
Byrd was the son of Colonel William Byrd III and Mary Willing Byrd. He was also the grandson of William Byrd II, who is considered the founder of Richmond, Virginia.
On June 8, 1807, Byrd and his wife purchased a tract of 600 acres (2.4 km2) in Monroe Township, Adams County, Ohio, known as Buckeye Station and Hurricane Hill, from their brother-in-law, General Nathaniel Massie. The Byrds' home sat on a ridge overlooking Kentucky and the Ohio River. After his wife's death on February 21, 1815, Byrd moved to Chillicothe where he lived and worked for a year before moving to West Union, Ohio.
While residing in West Union, Byrd met and married Hannah Miles (died August 14, 1839) on March 8, 1818. From his diary, Byrd showed an extreme consciousness on matters of physical health and religion. Byrd purchased an area called "Sinking Spring" in Highland County because he believed the waters there possessed medicinal properties conducive to health and longevity. He guarded the diets of his family and himself. By his place at the dining table, Byrd kept a small silver scale, upon which he weighed every article of food allowing a certain quantity of fat, sugar and phosphates with each portion given to himself and his family. Byrd, along with at least one of his sons, had a deep interest in the Shakers movement and made significant donations to the movement.
The children from Byrd's first marriage were Mary Powell Byrd, Kidder Meade Byrd, William Silonwee Byrd, and Evalyn Harrison Byrd. The children from his second marriage were Jane Byrd and Samuel Otway Byrd.
Judge Byrd died on August 25, 1828 at the age of fifty-eight and was interred at the old rural cemetery, Sinking Spring, Highland County, Ohio.
Lawyer, Secretary of the territory northwest of the Ohio River, acting Governor as well as secretary of the Ohio Territory until it was admitted as a state on March 1, 1803, Thomas Jefferson appointed him the first United States District Judge for the District of Ohio.
Parents: William Evelyn Byrd III 1728–1777 Mary Shippen Willing 1740–1814
Half Siblings: William Byrd IV 1749–1771 John Carter Byrd 1751–1814 Cap Thomas Taylor Byrd 1752–1821 Elizabeth Hill Byrd 1754–1819 Francis Otway Byrd 1756–1800
Siblings: Maria Horsmanden Byrd 1761–1814 Anne Ursula Willing Byrd 1763–1813 Charles Willing Byrd 1765–1766 Evelyn Taylor Byrd 1766–1814 Abigail Byrd 1767–1830 Dorothea Byrd 1769–1769 Jane Byrd 1773–1813 Richard Willing Byrd 1774–1815 William Powell Otway Byrd 1777–1820
Married 6 Apr 1797 to Sarah Waters Meade in Kentucky. Children: Mary Powell Byrd 1799– Kidder Meade Byrd 1801– William Silonwee Byrd 1806-1829 Evelyn Harrison Byrd 1807–
Married 8 Oct 1818 to Hannah Miles in Adams County, Ohio. Children: Jane W Byrd 1820– Samuel Otway Byrd 1823–1869
Dec 1813, inheritance in the Will of Mary Willing Byrd: Gave to my son Charles Willing BYRD his man Ned to him & his heirs forever... my clock, a set of knives & forks with silver hafts, a set of castors, the ladle & one doz. large table spoons... also my said son 10 portraits to-wit: Mr. WALTHO one of Titian, one of friendz, viz: Lord Orrery, Sir Wilfried LAWSON, L. OXFORD, the marquis of Hallifax, the Duke of Argyle, & Sir Robert SOUTHALL. It is my will & desire that if my son shall find it inconvenient to carry these portraits to his house that they shall be equally divided between his 2 brothers Richard & William BYRD and that a handsome silver coffee pot that will hold at least 2 pints and a half with a tea pot be purchased & presented to him by them in lieu thereof.