Col. William Evelyn Byrd, III

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William Evelyn Byrd, III

Nicknames: "Col William Evelyn Byrd III", "Commodore Byrd"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Westover Manor, Charles City, Virginia
Death: Died in Charles City, Virginia
Cause of death: Suicide
Place of Burial: Westover , Charles City , Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of William Evelyn Byrd, II, "The Black Swan" of Westover and Maria Byrd
Husband of Elizabeth Hill Byrd and Mary Shippen Byrd
Father of Michael Byrd; William Powell Otway Byrd; William Evelyn Byrd, IV; John Carter Byrd/Bird; Thomas Taylor Byrd and 10 others
Brother of Anne Carter; Maria Taylor Carter (Byrd); Jane Page and Unknown son Byrd
Half brother of Agnes Prewitt (Pruitt Pruett); Evelyn Byrd; Parke Byrd; Philips William Byrd and Wilhelmina Chamberlayne

Occupation: Virginia Hourse of Burgesses, Cololnel in French Indian War
Managed by: William Edgar Bird
Last Updated:

About William Evelyn Byrd, III

Birth: Sep. 6, 1728 Westover (Charles City County) Charles City County Virginia, USA Death: Jan. 1, 1777 Westover (Charles City County) Charles City County Virginia, USA

Colonel William Byrd, III of "Westover" was the son of Colonel William Byrd, II, and his second wife, Maria Taylor. He was born September 6, 1729. He served as a member of the House of Burgesses for Lunenburg County, Virginia. In 1754 he was appointed a member of the Council. In 1758 he was commissioned as a Colonel of the Second Virginia Regiment and served in active duty on the western frontier during the French & Indian War. Colonel William Byrd, III was an avid gambler. He owned some of the most celebrated race horses of his day. Due to his love of horse racing and other extravagances, he wasted much of the grand estate left to him by his father. He won and lost large amounts at cards. As a result of his financial straits, he sold by lottery his lots in Richmond and Manchester.

William, III, was age sixteen when his father died. He was formally educated in England under the care of his uncle, Francis Otway. Records indicated he attended Westminster School and entered the Middle Temple in 1747 where he remained for one year. There he probably acquired his notorious gambling habits. He returned to Virginia and there Colonel Byrd married firstly on April 14, 1748, Elizabeth Carter, the only daughter of John Carter of "Shirley" plantation; Elizabeth died July 5, 1760. He married secondly within six months of Elizabeth's death, Mary Willing, daughter of Charles Willing of Philadelphia. Colonel Byrd died January 1, 1777. His gambling habits followed such an extent that the vast estate built up by his father and grandfathers before him was nearly wasted away during his lifetime.

William, II was succeeded by his elder son, William Byrd III (1728-77) who became a soldier - an appropriate profession for those troubled times. Like his grandfather and father, he was identified with the political life of Virginia and served a term in the House of Burgesses and in 1754 was appointed to the Council where he served for over 20 years. He surpassed his father and grandfather in military achievement.In about 1754 during the French & Indian War Colonel William Byrd III served as Justice of the Peace and county-lieutenant of Halifax, the commanding officer of the military force of the county. While his home, "Westover" in Charles City County, was more than one hundred and fifty miles away, he still owned a large part of the 105,000 acres granted to his father.

By his marriage to Elizabeth Carter he had five children: William, born 1749, Lieutenant in an English Regiment, died while traveling in France in 1771; John Carter, born 1751, married the widow of Wm. Randolph, died childless; Thomas Taylor, born 1752; Elizabeth Hill, born 1754, married first James Farley, second Rev. John Dunbar, and third Col. Henry Skipworth, and Francis Otway born 1756. Elizabeth (Carter) Byrd died in 1760, killed at their Westover Plantation home when a heavy cabinet fell on top of her, crushing her to death.

In 1761 Col. Byrd married Mary Willing of Philadelphia and had 10 children by her: Maria, born 1761, married John Page; Ann Willing, born 1763; Charles Willing, born 1765, died 1766; Evelyn Taylor, born 1766, married Benjamin Harrison of the famous Harrison family; Abby, born 1767, md. Judge William Nelson; Dorothy, born and died 1769; Charles Williang II, born 1770, later US District Judge for Ohio; Jane, born 1773, md. Carter Harrison; Richard Willing, born 1774, member of VA House of Delegates 1804-1806, died 1815; and William IV, born soon after his father's death. When Col. Byrd died in 1777, his financial difficulties fell upon the shoulders of his wife, Mary Willing Byrd. In William's Will: "Next I desire my Body may be privately buried by the tomb of my sister Evelyn in the old Church Yard"

The predecessor of the existing Westover Church was constructed between 1630 and 1637 on what later was the grounds of Westover plantation. About 1730 the construction of the present Westover Church was completed at its present site on Herring Creek about 1 1/2 mile north of Westover mansion.

In both wills of William Byrd III and his wife, Mary Shippen Byrd, their burials were instructed to be in the Old Parrish Cemetery on the grounds at Westover. William stated he was to be buried by his sister Evelyn. Mary Shippen stated she was to be buried by her husband. There is no known reason at this time that the burials were not carried out as requested. These must have been hard times for this Byrd family with the suicide of William, their loyalty to the British, and the great debt burden left by William. It would be understanding for a private burial by the family for both without headstones. During the Revolutionary War some family members were loyal to the British and some were not. Francis Otway Byrd in particular, fought on the colonies side against the will of his father.


Family links:

Parents:
 William Byrd (1674 - 1744)
 Marion (Maria) Taylor Byrd (1698 - 1771)

Spouses:
 Elizabeth Hill Carter Byrd (1731 - 1760)*
 Mary Shippen Willing Byrd (1740 - 1814)*

Children:
 John Carter Byrd (1751 - 1814)*
 Thomas Taylor Byrd (1752 - 1821)*
 Elizabeth Hill Byrd Skipwith (1755 - 1819)*
 Francis Otway Byrd (1756 - 1800)*
 Maria Horsmanden Byrd Page (1761 - 1844)*
 Ann Ursula Willing Byrd (1763 - 1813)*
 Charles Willing Byrd (1765 - 1766)*
 Evelyn Taylor Byrd Harrison (1766 - 1817)*
 Abigail Byrd Nelson (1767 - ____)*
 Dorothea Byrd (1769 - 1769)*
 Charles Willing Byrd (1770 - 1828)*
 Richard Willing Byrd (1774 - 1815)*
 William Powell Otway Byrd (1777 - 1820)*

Find A Grave Memorial# 40885971 http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=40885971

William Byrd, the third of the name, the heir to this vast estate, was born at Westover, Sept. 6, 1728, and was only fifteen when his father died. He inherited much of his father's ability and bonhommie, and followed naturally in his footsteps, but had not the advantages of a foreign education that his father enjoyed, and did not attain to his intellectual distinction. Nevertheless, he was one of the most accomplished men in the province, and took an active interest in public affairs. He and Peter Randolph were appointed by the governor to visit and conciliate the Cherokees and other Indian tribes in Southern Virginia. They returned in May of the following year with a satisfactory treaty. In 1758 he was colonel of one of the two regiments of Virginia militia, Washington commanding the other, which accompanied General Forbes in his expedition against Fort Duquesne, and enjoyed the esteem and friendship of his great compatriot. Like his father, he was a member of the House of Burgesses and president of the council until Lord Dunmore, the worst of the royal governors, failing in all his attempts to save Virginia to the Crown, fled on board the British war-vessels at Norfolk, and the Old Dominion became one of the "thirteen free and independent States " of America, and the governor's council adjourned sine die. Col. Byrd must have died soon after the commencement of the Revolutionary War, as his name does not appear among the participants in that eventful struggle. Inheriting as he did many of the characteristics of his distinguished father, he was not blessed with that of being " a splendid ceconomist and prudent father." His convivial qualities and love of the card-table made sad inroads upon his splendid inheritance, and at his death his affairs were found to be in great confusion. He was twice married—in 1748 to Elizabeth, daughter of John Carter of Shirley, who died in 1760, and again on January 29, 1761, to Mary, daughter of Charles and Anne (Shippen) Willing of Philadelphia (b. 1740, d. 1814).

Hitherto, although the proprietors had been military men, Westover had known nothing of the realities of war ; but now she was to become associated with the memory of two great wars, although never experiencing the storm and fury of actual warfare.

The house formerly known as the "Griffin House," now known as the "William Byrd III House," is located on Block 5 on the south side of Francis Street between the College of William & Mary and South Henry Street. The house has been in this same location since its construction by William Allen in 1770 (Virginia Gazette, March 26, 1770). It was bought by William Byrd III in 1770/71 after Allen advertised the house for sale in the following March 26, 1770 ad in the Virginia Gazette:

To be SOLD at seven years credit, or longer if required, A Square of 8 lots in the city of Williamsburg, with the following improvements, a new brick dwelling-house, with four rooms below and three above, a good kitchen, grainery, and stables, with every other house necessary for a family, also a well of good water. The lots are all inclosed, and the garden well paled in; the situation is near the College, and very pleasant. The premises may be seen by applying to Dr. James Carter, and may be entered upon the 1st of May next. The price will be made known by WILLIAM ALLEN Byrd's occupancy was the focus of the late 1998 archaeological investigations. Although William Byrd III possessed the Francis Street townhouse for only six years, he was one of the most influential and colorful of its owners. Not only was Byrd the grandson of one of the wealthiest planters in early Virginia history, William Byrd II, but he himself was a colonel and commander of the Second Virginia Regiment, a member of the Virginia Council and House of Burgesses, a prominent landholder, a gambler, a spendthrift, and a Tory.

The estate William inherited at age fifteen from his father was massive, but "top-heavy with land" (Hatch 1969: 180). This meant that Byrd had immense borrowing power against his land, but little actual capital with which to support his elaborate lifestyle. In addition, Byrd's land had been largely depleted through repeated tobacco planting, leaving him with less potential future income than previous Byrds at Westover Plantation.

Byrd returned to Westover in 1748 at age twenty, after finishing his schooling in England at Middle Temple. Almost immediately he married the wealthy Elizabeth Hill Carter of neighboring Shirley Plantation. He became a member of the House of Burgesses in 1753-54 and a member of the Virginia Council in 1755-57. The height of his career, however, was his appointment as commander of the Second Virginia Regiment during the Seven Years War. His appointment lasted from 1757 to 1762, during which time he saw great success. He was one of the crafters of the Peace of Paris, which brought an end to the Seven Years War (Hatch 1969; Stephenson 1960).

2 Despite his distinguished political and military career, Byrd was a terrible businessman and a devout gambler (Breen 1985). Throughout his adulthood Byrd's debts grew steadily, yet he continued to indulge both himself and his family, including buying commissions for two of his sons in regiments of the British Army (Hatch 1969). Despite his worsening state of financial affairs, he also continued to frequent the gambling tables in taverns along Duke of Gloucester Street, losing large amounts of money at frequent intervals. In an attempt to relieve his staggering debt, Byrd held the Great Richmond Lottery in November 1768, in which he raffled chances to win various of his holdings in an attempt to make money toward his debts. Like most of Byrd's financial concerns, the lottery was a terrible failure (Breen 1985; Hatch 1969). Byrd's finances would continue to worsen throughout his life.

One of Byrd's more interesting characteristics was his rigid support of the English Crown prior to and during the American Revolution. The radical political changes taking place in mid-eighteenth-century Virginia were aggravated for Byrd by his isolation from the rest of genteel society. Most of the planter elite followed the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and Peyton Randolph in their support of American independence. Byrd, a loyalist whose character had by this time been sullied by his reputation as a gambler and a spendthrift, instead sunk into a lonely depression, an outsider amongst his peers (Hatch 1969).

Throughout his ownership, William Byrd III stayed at his townhouse during his extended trips from Westover to Williamsburg. This remained the case until June 1775. He, a supporter of the governor, occupied the house while the newly-formed Williamsburg Calvary drilled in the capital under the distrustful eye of Lord Dunmore. May and June proved difficult for Byrd. Governor Dunmore fled the Governor's Palace and attempted to rule Virginia from offshore, patriots broke into the armory, and the militia marched off to fight. Discouraged, Byrd exiled himself to Westover in mid-June 1775.

As his finances continued to unravel and the Colonial army proved itself capable of defeating the British, Byrd was unable to cope. On January 1, 1777, he shot himself with a dueling pistol (Breen 1985). Byrd left Westover and the remainder of his estate, including the townhouse on Francis Street (which had yet to be paid off), to his second wife Mary Willing Byrd, the goddaughter of Benjamin Franklin (Hatch 1969).

In May 1778, Mary Willing Byrd sold the Williamsburg townhouse, advertising again in the Virginia Gazette, to Samuel Griffin. Griffin, wounded during the Revolutionary War, was a member of the Virginia Board of War from 1779 to 1781 and the Sheriff of James City County until he resigned in 1789 to accept a seat in Congress (Brown 1985a; Stephenson 1960).

Between 1784 and 1788 Griffin had repairs done on the property by local carpenter Humphrey Harwood (Stephenson 1960). According to Harwood's records, there were seven structures and a well on the property at this time: a house, kitchen, shed room, granary, smokehouse, stable, and laundry (Brown 1985a). Harwood did extensive cleaning, whitewashing, underpinning of the house and stable, and chimney and hearth repair during this time (Stephenson 1960).

3 Griffin insured the property in 1796, providing for the first time the number, location, and size of the structures on the property (Brown 1985a). The policy lists a 53? x 34? house, a 32? x 20? laundry, a 23? x 16? kitchen, and a 38? x 22? stable. By 1806 the property had fallen into disrepair and was being rented by Griffin to an unknown tenant (Stephenson 1960).

Griffin occupied the house again in 1808, but by 1809 he had moved to New York State and his daughter, Elizabeth Gatlief, a widow, was living in the house. In 1809 a second insurance policy was taken on the house and described the house, laundry, kitchen, and stable, along with an outhouse, necessary, and two smaller outhouses (Brown 1985a).

Griffin died in 1810 and his daughter began to take in boarders at the house. She married one of these boarders, Ferdinand Stuart Cambell, in 1812. By 1815 Cambell had been named owner of the Griffin property (Brown 1985a). Cambell took out insurance policies in 1815 and 1823, in which he again described the house, laundry, kitchen, and stable. He insured the property again in 1830, describing the aforementioned buildings along with an office (Brown 1985a; Stephenson 1960).

In 1839 Cambell, now known as Ferdinand Stuart Cambell Stewart, was living in Philadelphia and the Byrd House was occupied by his son, Ferdinand, Jr. In 1839 the property was again re-insured. The policy describes a one-and-a-half story 59? x 34? brick dwelling, wood office, 16? x 24? laundry, 20? x 36? kitchen, and a wood smokehouse. By 1846 Ferdinand, Jr. was living in New York City and leasing the property to William Yerby. In 1856 the house was sold to Misses Gabriella and Sallie Galt. Gabriella (Gibbie) Galt became sole owner in 1859. During her occupancy, Gibbie Galt ran a private school for children up to fourteen years of age (Stephenson 1960).

Gibbie Galt continued her ownership until 1874 when she was forced to declare bankruptcy. At this point she sold the property to W.W. Vest, a wealthy Williamsburg landholder and tavernkeeper. It was then passed on to G. Teiser (1889-1891), David Litchenstein (1891), Maria Wise (1891-1895), and Marie Marshall (1895-1922). When Marie Marshall died the property became part of the Marshall Foundation, which sold it to Williamsburg Restoration in 1928 (Brown 1985a).

By the mid-nineteenth century, Block 5 no longer comprised a single property. Though the Griffin house and its outbuildings still dominated the block, there were at least nine other structures standing on Block 5 between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries-the Griffin Greenhouse (Bldg. 3), the Frank Clark House (Bldg. 4), the Anne Chapman House (Bldg. 7), the Ida Davis House (Bldg. 8), the R.L. Griffin House (Bldg. 9), the Jeanette Cowles House (Bldg. 10), the Travis House (Bldg. 11), the Thelma Brown House (Bldg. 12), and an unnumbered single-story frame structure torn down in 1890. The Clark and Chapman Houses were most likely constructed early in the twentieth century, and the Brown house between 1921 and 1932. The Davis, R.L. Griffin, Cowles, and Travis Houses were moved from their original locations onto Block 5 in the 1920s.

4 All of the above buildings were removed from the property between 1957 and 1975 in order to make room for a parking lot (Brown 1985a).

Previous Archaeology Block 5 has never been fully excavated. Unlike the majority of the properties in the Historic Area, the block was not cross-trenched by Colonial Williamsburg. A January 1973 monthly archaeology report by Ivor Nöel Hume makes mention of modern cistern features on Block 5, but says they warrant no further investigation (memorandum from Bill Adams to Marley Brown, 1983).

On June 9, 1983 construction workers expanding the parking lot east of the Byrd Stable uncovered a 4?0??(east-west) x 4?2? (north-south) brick foundation. Archaeologist Patricia Samford mapped and photographed the foundation prior to its being covered with concrete. Samford believed the foundation, which was joined with sand mortar, to be a manhole or brick septic tank. No further archaeological investigations of the foundation were made (Samford 1983).

On September 9, 1985 a gas line utility trench was cut north-south from the Byrd House to the Byrd Stable. Archaeologists from Colonial Williamsburg mapped the trench profile and noted possible eighteenth-century features. They determined that there was an intact eighteenth-century layer running between the house and stable. Four features were also uncovered: two postmold/posthole combinations, one posthole, and an unidentified pit feature. One of the postmold/postholes was sealed by a nineteenth-century layer, indicating that it was an eighteenth- or nineteenth-century feature. The other features had no artifacts or other means by which to establish a date. The archaeologists recommended archaeological excavations prior to any further work on Block 5, due to the fact that there was intact stratigraphy and possible eighteenth-century features (Brown 1985b).

In January 1986, archaeological testing of Block 5 was done in advance of the proposed Francis Street turn-off into Block 5, adjacent to the Byrd House. Two 2-foot-square test units were placed off the northeast corner of the Byrd House. No intact stratigraphy or features were noted in either of the test units. A third unit, a 2? x 10? trench, was placed at the proposed entryway. Again, this trench revealed nothing of archaeological significance, and the entryway was approved with no further archaeological testing.

The above constitutes all archaeological activity at the William Byrd III House prior to the 1998 excavations in anticipation of the winter 1999 waterproofing. Results of previous testing were mixed, revealing both intact eighteenth- and nineteenth-century layers and completely disturbed stratigraphy. Recent activities on Block 5 have obviously destroyed much of the early stratigraphy, yet large portions of the area seem to remain relatively undisturbed.

On July 6, 1774 Colonel William Byrd, III, made his Last Will & Testament at Charles City County, Proved - February 5, 1777.

"In the name of God, Amen. I, William Byrd, of Westover, in the County of Charles City, being of sound mind & health of body, make this my last will & testament bearing date this sixth day of July, one thousand seven hundred & seventy-four. In the first place, unworthy as I am, I resign my soul into the hands of its unerring Creator in all humbel hopes of its eternal happiness thro' the Infinite Goodness of my most Merciful God & thro' the Merit & Interpostion of my Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ our Lord. Next I desire my Body may be privately buried by the tomb of my sister Evelyn in the old Church Yard. As to the remaining part of the Estate it has pleased God to bless me with, which thro'my own folly & inattention to accounts, thro' carelessness of some interested with the management thereof & the villany of others, is still greatly incumbered with debts, which imbitters every moment of my life. My will & Desisre is that a Hundred negroes & such part of the plate & household furniture as my dearest wife can conveniently spare, together with my Library and part of my Stocks of Horses, Cattle & Sheep, be immediately sold to pay my Just Debts, & likewise that all the Debts, due me from my Trustees, managers & adventures in the Lottery, many of whom are still greatly in arrears & Debts due to me in the Forge account, of which there are many to a great amount, be immediately sued & collected & applied to the above purpose. I likewise desire that the money due me from Colonel Chiswell may be disputed in my account with the late Mr. John Robinson, which I think in justice he ought to pay, the Attorney General has the papers. I desire Mr. Jerman Baker be employed to settle all the accounts & that he apply to all those who stand on the Forge Books & to all those who had Tickets in the Lottery either for themselves or dispose of to other people, to render him their accounts & produce receipts, as many have done great Injustice therein. My will is also that my house in town be sold & a thousand pounds of the money be applied to pay Mr. William Allen for it, & the overplus to the payment of my Debts. I give to my dearest & best of wives for her life, besides the deed she already has, the plantation of Westover & Buckland with all the remaining negroes & stocks of all sorts, & I likewise give to her so much of my Plate & the household furniture as she may choose to keep, together with my carriage & coach horses. I pray to almight God to bless her & continue her in health for many years & I am convinced from the Goodness of Heart I have experienced in her she will take the tenderest care of all my children. It is my will & desire that at the death of my dearest wife all my Estates, whatsoever, consisting of Land, Negroes, Stocks of all sorts, plate, Books & furniture be sold as soon as convenient & the money arising from the sales thereof be equally divided among all my children that are alive at the time of my dear wife's death, deducting from the share of those I had by my first wife such sums as they may claim under the wills of my Deluded & superannuated Mother & my ungrateful son William, except the Ferry at the Falls left to my son John by his Brother William, which gift I ahve confirmed. My will is that 400 pounds sterling be deducted from the share of my son Tom as I have already paid that sum for his commission, & whatsoever sums I may hereafter pay to promote him in the army are to be deducted out of his Dividends. My will also is that 500 pounds sterling be deducted from the share of my daughter Elizabeth having paid her husband Mr. Farley that sum under the unjust will of my insane Mother. My will likewise is that if my son Otway should quit the Navy before the death of my dearest wife that he shall not be entitled to any part of the above said money arising from the above said sales & in that case I give him one shilling sterling. My will also is that if my son Thomas Taylor should marry Susannah Randolph, the daughter of the present Attorney General, before the death of my dear wife that he shall not be entitled to any part of the aforesaid money arising from the aforesaid sales & in that case I give him one shilling sterling. My will is that the child Mrs. Byrd is now goes with shall share equally with the rest of my children. Should any of my children be dead before my wife & leave lawful Issue, the share of my deceased child shall go to them & be equally divided among them. If my dearest wife should die before any of the children I have by her are married or come of age my will is that their share of the amoney aforesaid be put in the hands of Mr. Thomas Willing of Philadelphia, if he be living, otherwise in the hands of Mr. Richard Willing, to be put to Interest for their use & maintenance, & I most earnestly recommend them to their care & protection. I pray God to bless & preserve them to their care & protection. I pray God to bless & preserve them all & am unhappy I can do no more, which has shorted my days by many years. I give to my son John over & above that he may share of the money aforesaid all my right to the mines in Fincastle known by the name of Chiswell mines & 2000 acres I claim under his Majesties Proclamation of 1763. I likewise give him his choice of 10 Negroes after my wife has chosen such as she pleases. I give to my son Tom 1000 acres of land I claim under the same Proclamation & his share of the money aforesaid, but upon the conditions aforesaid. I give to my son Otway over & above the money aforesaid, 1000 acres of the land I claim under this same Proclamaation, but upon the condition aforesaid. I give to my son Charles, who never offended me, 1000 acres of the land in the County of Fincastle known by the name of the Salt Springs & which was surveyed for me by Mr. Arthur Campbell being part of the land I claim under his Majesties Proclomation of 1763. I likewise give him his man Tom & little Jack White & his choice of 2 negro girls, over & above his share of the money aforesaid. I give to my daughter Molly, Eleanor & Cate's Sarah, over & above her share of the money aforesaid. I give to my daughter Anne, Thomas' Hannah & Nancy's Nanncy, over & above her share of the money aforesaid. I give to my daughter, Evely, Jack's Sally & Garrett's Patty, over & above her share of the money aforesaid. I give to my daughter Abby, Statia's Aggy & Tom's sister Judity, over & above her share of the money. I give to my daughter Jenny & the child my wife now goes with 2 negro gierls apeice over & above their share of th e the money aforesaid. I give to Mary Willing Robertson, daughter of Anne Campbell, of Winchester, 200 pounds, if so remains, from the sales, Debts &c after paying my just Debts. Tis my earnest desire that my faithful servant Jack White, be set free on the death of my beloved wife, for he has not only been the best of servants to me but has on different occasions saved me from the grave. I entrust this matter may be recommended to the Governor & Council. My desire is that the meadows may be carefully kept up, because they are invaluable & will make Westover sell for as much again. I do herby appoint my dearest wife, her Brothers, my worthy Friends, Thomas Willing, Esq., Richard Willing, Esq., & James Willing, Esq. & Charles Willing Esq. guardians to all my children under age at the time of my death. If my beloved wife should choose to take the trouble of the Executrix of thi smy last will I then appoint her my Sole Executrix but fear it will be too troublesome an office for her. If she declines it I do hereby appoint my son John Carter Byrd & good friend Mr. Patrick Coutes, Executors of this my last Will & Testament. IN witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this sixth day of July 1774 as dated above & on the other sheet to which this is tacked. "The above was signed, sealed & published, delivered & declared, & pronounced by the said William Byrd as his last Will & Testament in the presence of us --- William Glen, James Littlepage, John Johnson."

At a court held for Charles City at the Court House on Wednesday the 5th day of February 1777 the last Will & Testament of William Byrd, Esq, deceased was proved by the oaths of the above witnesses. Colonel Byrd committed suicide by self-inflicted gunshot on 1 January 1777.

Colonel William Byrd, III had ten children by his first wife and five by his second wife. Eleven children were living in 1777.

Page 469, 7 July 1773, dated 9 Dec 1772, Charles City County: HON WILLIAM BYRD of Westover Esq to PEYTON RANDOLPH & BENJAMIN HARRISON, ESQUIRES: BYRD is seized of considerable estate on Roanok, and another estate of lands & houses in Chesterfield & Henrico Co, at the Falls of James River, & houses in and adjacent to the City of Westminster, conjty of Middlesex, in Kingdom of Great Britain, wherein MARY, wife of said BYRD is entitled to her dower. BYRD intends to sell land without loss to said Mary. She is to have possession of Westover & Buckland and 909 slaves belonging thereto for life if she survives him. Byrd confers these things to said Harrison & Randolph in Trust for said Mary.; Witnesses Joshua Kendall, James Littlepage, J, Wayles; Signed W. Byrd. Schedule of slaves: JACK WHITE, BECK his wife & HANNAH, SALLY, JOHNEY, & CHARLES their children; WATT & ELI his daughter; BOB MINNIE & NUTTY his wife & ROBIN, POLLY, & HARRY his children; JOHNEY, the houseboy; TOM & his sister, JULY; MICHAEL & AGGY his wife; BILOLY BUCK & POSTILLIOIN JAMEY; MOSES the butcher: COOPER GODFREY & his daughter EVY; CARPENTER CHARLES & his daughter PATT; BLACK CHARLES the carpenter and his wife NANNY; LITTLE NED, DAVY, ISHEY & PETER (last 6 are ploughboysP; Carpenter Jack & Kate his wife & Sarah & Nancy the seamstress & Billy & Fanny, her children: Great Will; Guy; Great Batt; youn Ned, Carter; Billy; Sligo; Jack; Page; Jerry; Stoakes & Effy his wife; Pope; Abraham; Johney; Sarah, Parson Tom & Nelly his wife: Mary; Betty; Great Aggy & her child Nancy; Jamey & his wife Amey; Nick; Michael the ditcher; Suckey his with & Betty & Jamey his children; Edom l& Maria; Alice, Cook Nanny; Cook Charles & his 2 sons Charles & Frank; Aaron the smith; Tom Gardener's Betty, Westham Charles's Betty; Carter Daniel.

Find a Grave

Birth: Sep. 6, 1728 Westover (Charles City County) Charles City County Virginia, USA

Death: Jan. 1, 1777 Westover (Charles City County) Charles City County Virginia, USA

Colonel William Byrd, III of "Westover" was the son of Colonel William Byrd, II, and his second wife, Maria Taylor. He was born September 6, 1729. He served as a member of the House of Burgesses for Lunenburg County, Virginia. In 1754 he was appointed a member of the Council. In 1758 he was commissioned as a Colonel of the Second Virginia Regiment and served in active duty on the western frontier during the French & Indian War. Colonel William Byrd, III was an avid gambler. He owned some of the most celebrated race horses of his day. Due to his love of horse racing and other extravagances, he wasted much of the grand estate left to him by his father. He won and lost large amounts at cards. As a result of his financial straits, he sold by lottery his lots in Richmond and Manchester. William Byrd, III, was age sixteen when his father died. He was formally educated in England under the care of his uncle, Francis Otway. Records indicated he attended Westminster School and entered the Middle Temple in 1747 where he remained for one year. There he probably acquired his notorious gambling habits. He returned to Virginia and there Colonel Byrd married firstly on April 14, 1748, Elizabeth Carter, the only daughter of John Carter of "Shirley" plantation; Elizabeth died July 5, 1760. He married secondly within six months of Elizabeth's death, Mary Willing, daughter of Charles Willing of Philadelphia. Colonel Byrd died January 1, 1777. His gambling habits followed such an extent that the vast estate built up by his father and grandfathers before him was nearly wasted away during his lifetime. Like his grandfather and father, he was identified with the political life of Virginia and served a term in the House of Burgesses and in 1754 was appointed to the Council where he served for over 20 years. He surpassed his father and grandfather in military achievement.In about 1754 during the French & Indian War Colonel William Byrd III served as Justice of the Peace and county-lieutenant of Halifax, the commanding officer of the military force of the county. While his home, "Westover" in Charles City County, was more than one hundred and fifty miles away, he still owned a large part of the 105,000 acres granted to his father. By his marriage to Elizabeth Carter he had five children: William, born 1749, Lieutenant in an English Regiment, died while traveling in France in 1771; John Carter, born 1751, married the widow of Wm. Randolph, died childless; Thomas Taylor, born 1752; Elizabeth Hill, born 1754, married first James Farley, second Rev. John Dunbar, and third Col. Henry Skipworth, and Francis Otway born 1756. Elizabeth Carter Byrd died in 1760. In 1761 Col. Byrd married Mary Willing of Philadelphia and had 10 children by her: Maria, born 1761, married John Page; Ann Willing, born 1763; Charles Willing, born 1765, died 1766; Evelyn Taylor, born 1766, married Benjamin Harrison of the famous Harrison family; Abby, born 1767, md. Judge William Nelson; Dorothy, born and died 1769; Charles Williang II, born 1770, later US District Judge for Ohio; Jane, born 1773, md. Carter Harrison; Richard Willing, born 1774, member of VA House of Delegates 1804-1806, died 1815; and William IV, born soon after his father's death. When Col. Byrd died in 1777, his financial difficulties fell upon the shoulders of his wife, Mary Willing Byrd. In William's Will: "Next I desire my Body may be privately buried by the tomb of my sister Evelyn in the old Church Yard" The predecessor of the existing Westover Church was constructed between 1630 and 1637 on what later was the grounds of Westover plantation. About 1730 the construction of the present Westover Church was completed at its present site on Herring Creek about 1 1/2 mile north of Westover mansion.

In both wills of William Byrd III and his wife, Mary Shippen Byrd, their burials were instructed to be in the Old Parrish Cemetery on the grounds at Westover. William stated he was to be buried by his sister Evelyn. Mary Shippen stated she was to be buried by her husband. There is no known reason at this time that the burials were not carried out as requested. These must have been hard times for this Byrd family with the suicide of William, their loyalty to the British, and the great debt burden left by William. It would be understanding for a private burial by the family for both without headstones. During the Revolutionary War some family members were loyal to the British and some were not. Francis Otway Byrd in particular, fought on the colonies side against the will of his father.

It would be nice if we had absolute proof of where William and his wife are buried , but it seems we do not. Having gone through just about all that is written about them I can only still think that the only place that they could be is where their wills had stated. Maybe not right beside his sister, but somewhere nearby. Several writings in books had stated William ended his life at Westover. I have not found anything to say elsewhere and maybe someone might shed some more light on this for us. One thing for sure is, 35 years after his death, his widow made her will out to be "privately buried next to her dear husband". In my opinion she would not have made this request unless William was here in the old Parrish cemetery. In her will she also made mention of the reservation of the church grounds when Westover was sold. It would be hard to think that a lady of her statue in these times did not have her wishes carried out and that it was where she had lived for the most part of her life. When she first saw Westover in 1762 she had said "This is the most delightful place in the world".


Family links:

Parents:
  • William Byrd (1674 - 1744)
  • Marion (Maria) Taylor Byrd (1698 - 1771)
Spouses:
  • Elizabeth Hill Carter Byrd (1731 - 1760)*
  • Mary Shippen Willing Byrd (1740 - 1814)*
Children:
  • Thomas Taylor Byrd (1752 - 1821)*
  • Elizabeth Hill Byrd Skipwith (1755 - 1819)*
  • Francis Otway Byrd (1756 - 1800)*
  • Maria Horsmanden Byrd Page (1761 - 1844)*
  • Ann Ursula Willing Byrd (1763 - 1813)*
  • Charles Willing Byrd (1765 - 1766)*
  • Evelyn Taylor Byrd Harrison (1766 - 1817)*
  • Abigail Byrd Nelson (1767 - ____)*
  • Dorothea Byrd (1769 - 1769)*
  • Charles Willing Byrd (1770 - 1828)*
  • Richard Willing Byrd (1774 - 1815)*
  • William Powell Otway Byrd (1777 - 1820)*

-------------------- Birth: Sep. 6, 1728 Westover (Charles City County) Charles City County Virginia, USA Death: Jan. 1, 1777 Westover (Charles City County) Charles City County Virginia, USA

Colonel William Byrd, III of "Westover" was the son of Colonel William Byrd, II, and his second wife, Maria Taylor. He was born September 6, 1729. He served as a member of the House of Burgesses for Lunenburg County, Virginia. In 1754 he was appointed a member of the Council. In 1758 he was commissioned as a Colonel of the Second Virginia Regiment and served in active duty on the western frontier during the French & Indian War. Colonel William Byrd, III was an avid gambler. He owned some of the most celebrated race horses of his day. Due to his love of horse racing and other extravagances, he wasted much of the grand estate left to him by his father. He won and lost large amounts at cards. As a result of his financial straits, he sold by lottery his lots in Richmond and Manchester. William Byrd, III, was age sixteen when his father died. He was formally educated in England under the care of his uncle, Francis Otway. Records indicated he attended Westminster School and entered the Middle Temple in 1747 where he remained for one year. There he probably acquired his notorious gambling habits. He returned to Virginia and there Colonel Byrd married firstly on April 14, 1748, Elizabeth Carter, the only daughter of John Carter of "Shirley" plantation; Elizabeth died July 5, 1760. He married secondly within six months of Elizabeth's death, Mary Willing, daughter of Charles Willing of Philadelphia. Colonel Byrd died January 1, 1777. His gambling habits followed such an extent that the vast estate built up by his father and grandfathers before him was nearly wasted away during his lifetime. Like his grandfather and father, he was identified with the political life of Virginia and served a term in the House of Burgesses and in 1754 was appointed to the Council where he served for over 20 years. He surpassed his father and grandfather in military achievement. In about 1754 during the French & Indian War Colonel William Byrd III served as Justice of the Peace and county-lieutenant of Halifax, the commanding officer of the military force of the county. While his home, "Westover" in Charles City County, was more than one hundred and fifty miles away, he still owned a large part of the 105,000 acres granted to his father. By his marriage to Elizabeth Carter he had five children: William, born 1749, Lieutenant in an English Regiment, died while traveling in France in 1771; John Carter, born 1751, married the widow of Wm. Randolph, died childless; Thomas Taylor, born 1752; Elizabeth Hill, born 1754, married first James Farley, second Rev. John Dunbar, and third Col. Henry Skipworth, and Francis Otway born 1756. Elizabeth Carter Byrd died in 1760. In 1761 Col. Byrd married Mary Willing of Philadelphia and had 10 children by her: Maria, born 1761, married John Page; Ann Willing, born 1763; Charles Willing, born 1765, died 1766; Evelyn Taylor, born 1766, married Benjamin Harrison of the famous Harrison family; Abby, born 1767, md. Judge William Nelson; Dorothy, born and died 1769; Charles Williang II, born 1770, later US District Judge for Ohio; Jane, born 1773, md. Carter Harrison; Richard Willing, born 1774, member of VA House of Delegates 1804-1806, died 1815; and William IV, born soon after his father's death. When Col. Byrd died in 1777, his financial difficulties fell upon the shoulders of his wife, Mary Willing Byrd. In William's Will: "Next I desire my Body may be privately buried by the tomb of my sister Evelyn in the old Church Yard" The predecessor of the existing Westover Church was constructed between 1630 and 1637 on what later was the grounds of Westover plantation. About 1730 the construction of the present Westover Church was completed at its present site on Herring Creek about 1 1/2 mile north of Westover mansion.

In both wills of William Byrd III and his wife, Mary Shippen Byrd, their burials were instructed to be in the Old Parrish Cemetery on the grounds at Westover. William stated he was to be buried by his sister Evelyn. Mary Shippen stated she was to be buried by her husband. There is no known reason at this time that the burials were not carried out as requested. These must have been hard times for this Byrd family with the suicide of William, their loyalty to the British, and the great debt burden left by William. It would be understanding for a private burial by the family for both without headstones. During the Revolutionary War some family members were loyal to the British and some were not. Francis Otway Byrd in particular, fought on the colonies side against the will of his father. It has been posted in the caption of the picture posted here for the William Byrd house in Williamsburg, Va that he committed suicide there and was not interred here as he wished due to the times of not allowing church burials for suicides. As the post states historians do not know where he is due to no headstone. We know there is no headstone of him or his wife. This property was deeded back to the Westover Plantation after the present day church was built before William Byrd II died so it has been a private cemetery since then.

It would be nice if we had absolute proof of where William and his wife are buried , but it seems we do not. Having gone through just about all that is written about them I can only still think that the only place that they could be is where their wills had stated. Maybe not right beside his sister, but somewhere nearby. Several writings in books had stated William ended his life at Westover. I have not found anything to say elsewhere and maybe someone might shed some more light on this for us. One thing for sure is, 35 years after his death, his widow made her will out to be "privately buried next to her dear husband". In my opinion she would not have made this request unless William was here in the old Parrish cemetery on the grounds of Westover Plantation. In her will she also made mention of the reservation of the church grounds when Westover was sold. It would be hard to think that a lady of her statue in these times did not have her wishes carried out and that it was where she had lived for the most part of her life. When she first saw Westover in 1762 she had said "This is the most delightful place in the world".

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Col. William Evelyn Byrd, III's Timeline

1728
September 6, 1728
Charles City, Virginia
1747
1747
- present
Age 18
Middle Temple
1748
April 14, 1748
Age 19
VA
1749
August 2, 1749
Age 20
Charles City, Henrico, Virginia, American Colonies
1751
January 27, 1751
Age 22
Henrico County, Virginia, United States
1752
January 17, 1752
Age 23
Charles City, Charles, Virginia
1755
November 29, 1755
Age 27
Charles City, VA
1756
May 8, 1756
Age 27
Henrico County, Province of Virginia
1760
1760
Age 31
1761
November 27, 1761
Age 33
Wayside, Charles City Co, Virginia