Gov. Edward Rutledge, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

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Edward Rutledge, (Signer )

Also Known As: "Ned"
Birthplace: Christ Church Parish, South Carolina
Death: Died in Charleston, South Carolina
Place of Burial: Charleston, SC
Immediate Family:

Son of Dr. John Rutledge and Sarah Boone Rutledge
Husband of Mary Rutledge; Mary Eveliegh-Rutledge and Henrietta Rutledge
Father of Maj. Henry Middleton Rutledge; Jackson Middleton Rutledge; Edward Rutledge, Jr. and Sarah Rutledge
Brother of John Rutledge, Governor, Signer of the US Constitution, 2nd Chief Justice of the United States; Andrew Rutledge; Thomas Rutledge; Sarah Mathews; Mary Smith and 2 others
Half brother of Edward G. Rutledge

Occupation: Governor of South Carolina, lawyer / 39th governor of south carolina
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Gov. Edward Rutledge, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

Edward Rutledge (November 23, 1749 – January 23, 1800) was an American politician and youngest signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. He later served as the 39th Governor of South Carolina.

Parents: Dr. John Rutledge (ca. 1710-1750) and Sarah Hext (1724-1792)

Married, on 1 March 1774, Henrietta Middleton (17 November 1750-22 April 1792), daughter of Henry Middleton. The couple had three children;

   * Maj. Henry Middleton Rutledge (5 April 1775-20 January 1844)
   * Edward Rutledge (20 March 1778-1780)
   * Sarah Rutledge (1782-1855)

His wife, Henrietta, died in 1792, and later that year he married Mary Shubrick Everleigh.


Prisoners of war in St. Augustine during the American Revolution

From the onset of the American Revolution in 1775, the British Crown Colony in East Florida was a Loyalist bastion. In its capital, St. Augustine, the British lodged as prisoners many American Patriots and their French allies. Most of these prisoners were given the liberty of town, but some were held in Castillo de San Marcos. A few captives rented quarters, but most of the men were housed in the unfinished State House which stood near this spot. By the end of 1780, these prisoners included three signers of Declaration of Independence--Thomas Heyward, Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge. On July 4, 1781 the patriot captives celebrated Independence Day.

EDWARD RUTLEDGE was born in Charleston, South Carolina on November 23, 1749. He was the youngest of the seven children of Dr. John Rutledge who came to South Carolina from the north of Ireland about 1735. After acquiring a classical education, young Ned as he was called, read law with his older brother John, ten years his senior who guided him in his career as a lawyer. He was entered as a student at the Temple, a prestigious school in London England in 1769. He attended the courts of law and the houses of parliament for four years, and on being called to the bar, returned to Charleston and entered into practice.

Rutledge married the wealthy daughter of Henry Middleton, Henrietta, and subsequently built a home across the street from the house of his brothers John and Hugh. Ned was nearly bald despite his age and "inclining toward corpulency", entered into public life in 1774, when he was elected to the First Continental Congress, with the help of his brother John and his father-in-law, who were both respected politicians. Members of the plantation aristocracy entered prominently into public life at an amazingly early age, and young Rutledge was a member of congress before he was twenty-five. However, he did not make too favorable an impression at this first meeting. He excited the scorn of John Adams, never an admirer of the South Carolinians, who wrote in his diary "Young Ned Rutledge is a perfect Bob-o-Lincoln—a swallow, a sparrow, a peacock; excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady; jejeune, inane, and puerile."

By June 1776 at the Second Congress, Rutledge, although opposed to independence, gained strength and recognition as one of the more influential members of congress and was selected to sit on the important War and Ordinance Committee. His motions against independence were endless. While he did his best to delay the vote for independence, he is generally held responsible for the postponement of the vote on the resolution of independence, he is also given the major credit for the decision of the South Carolina delegation to go along with the others on July 2 for the sake on unanimity. Edward Rutledge holds the distinction of being the youngest signer of the Declaration.

Rutledge left Congress six months later, in the autumn of 1776 and returned to the low country. He distinguished himself as an officer in the militia and as a representative in the state legislature. Although he was re-elected to Congress, he did not get back to Philadelphia. Along with his brother-in-law Arthur Middleton, Rutledge was captured when Charleston fell and was imprisoned in St. Augustine.

After the war Rutledge was active in the legislature and in state conventions. In his home country he had always been thought a genial and charming gentleman, and no doubt he mellowed with the years. In 1798 he became governor of his state, but he died on January 23, 1800 before completing his term. He was only a few months past fifty. His first wife, Henrietta, bore him three children, but his second marriage, to Mrs. Mary Shubrick Eveleigh, was childless.


Edward Rutledge (November 23, 1749 – January 23, 1800) was an American politician and youngest signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. He later served as the 39th Governor of South Carolina.

Like his eldest brother John Rutledge, Edward was born in Charleston. He was the youngest of seven children born to Dr. John Rutledge (1713-25 December 1750) and Sarah Hext (born 18 September 1724). He studied law at Oxford University, was admitted to the English bar (Middle Temple), and returned to Charleston to practice. He married, on 1 March 1774, Henrietta Middleton (17 November 1750-22 April 1792), daughter of Henry Middleton.

The couple had three children;

Maj. Henry Middleton Rutledge (5 April 1775-20 January 1844)

Edward Rutledge (20 March 1778-1780)

Sarah Rutledge (1782-1855)

Rutledge had a successful law practice with his partner, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. He became a leading citizen of Charleston, and owned more than 50 slaves.

Along with his brother John, Rutledge represented South Carolina in the Continental Congress. Although a firm supporter of colonial rights, he was initially reluctant to support independence from Great Britain, hoping instead for reconciliation with the mother country. Like other Southern planters, Rutledge did not want the American Revolution to change the basic social structure of the South. He worked to have African Americans expelled from the Continental Army, and led the successful effort to have wording removed from the Declaration of Independence that condemned slavery and the slave trade. Nevertheless, he signed the Declaration for the sake of unanimity, and at age 26 was the youngest to sign.

He returned home in November 1776 to take a seat in the South Carolina Assembly. He served as a captain of artillery in the South Carolina militia, and fought at the Battle of Beaufort in 1779. The next year he was captured by the British in the fall of Charleston, and held prisoner until July 1781.

After his release he returned to the state assembly, where he served until 1796. He was known as an active member and an advocate for the confiscation of Loyalist property. He served in the state senate for two years, then was elected governor in 1798. He had to go to an important meeting in Columbia. While there he had to be sent home because of his gout. He died in Charleston before the end of his term. Some said at the time that he died from apoplexy resulting from hearing the news of George Washington's death.

Rutledge was a main character in the musical play 1776, in which he sings the song "Molasses to Rum" about slavery and the Triangle Trade. He is depicted as the secondary antagonist in the play, (the principal antagonist being John Dickinson of Pennsylvania), in obstructing the play's heroes -John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Rutledge was portrayed by Clifford David in the original Broadway production, and John Cullum in the 1972 film. In the 2008 miniseries John Adams, Rutledge was portrayed by Clancy O'Connor. -------------------- Signer of the Declaration of Independence for South Carolina.

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Gov. Edward Rutledge, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence"'s Timeline

November 23, 1749
Christ Church Parish, South Carolina
March 1, 1774
Age 24
Charleston, SC, USA
April 5, 1775
Age 25
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
July 4, 1776
- 1776
Age 26
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States

Descent Only 15 of the 56 signers have male descendants today. These Signers have no descendants: William Whipple, John Hancock, Samuel Huntington, James Smith, James Wilson, Caesar Rodney, George Wythe, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Lynch, Jr. Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton. These Signers have no same surname (male) descendants: Josiah Bartlett, Matthew Thornton, Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, William Williams, William Floyd, Francis Lewis, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, George Clymer, George Taylor, George Ross, Thomas McKean, Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone, Thomas Jefferson, William Hooper and John Penn. These Signers have very doubtful same surname (male) descendants: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Oliver Wolcott, John Witherspoon, Abraham Clark, John Morton, Carter Braxton, Edward Rutledge. The remainder of the Signers is known to have same surname (male) descendants. (Talk about being blown away when you find out almost all of the signers are part of your family's history. You sit back shake your head and wonder am I dreaming. Then you double check in disbelief wondering how that could be. What does that mean for you and your.) =================================================================== Did Your Ancestor Sign the Declaration of Independence? By James Pylant And can you prove it? Kathy M. Cornwell's "Disspelling a Myth and Finding An Ancestor," in Seventeen Seventy-Six, Vol. 2, No. 2 (pp. 69-73), tells of a family tradition that her husband's ancestor, Jane Wilson Cornwell, was the daughter of James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. "Admittedly, there was plausibility for the claim, for descendants of all of Jane's children whom we could locate had heard the story, and firmly believed it. One relative knew it was true because his grandmother told him, and she was Jane's daughter." Her research did reveal her husband's ancestor was the daughter of James Wilson — only that he and the signer were not one and the same. Signer James Wilson, according to one source Cornwell found, had no living descendants. "Our search to prove or disprove it spanned several years," wrote Cornwell, "but at the end of the genealogical journey we found the real ancestor, another James Wilson, who turned out to be just as colorful and fascinating as the celebrated Wilson." Yet, some legends prove to be true. “I too had a family story that the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon was an ancestor," says librarian Beatrice M. Beck. "It took three years to document this story. But it was one hundred percent correct.”* The Rev. Frederick W. Pyne’s Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, a nine-volume series, was published by Picton Press. The author’s work incorporates data from the application files of the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, the Frank W. Leach manuscript, and many other published references. In 1987, the LDS Reference Unit at the Family History Library, in Salt Lake City, compiled the "Founding Fathers Project." The project encompasses genealogical data on signers of the Declaration of Independence, signers of the Articles of Confederation (1778), and members of the American Constitutional Convention (1787). The Reference Unit's objective was to identify names of wives, children, and parents. This reference is available on microfilm loan at the various Family History Centers. The film number is 1592751, item 3. However, for more complete data on descendants (up to 1900 in some cases), refer to the following microfilms: 001751: John Adams, Samuel Adams, Josiah Bartlett, William Ellery, Elbridge Gerry,John Hancock, Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Huntington, Robert Treat Paine, Roger Sherman, Matthew Thornton, William Whipple, William Williams, and Oliver Wolcott. 001752: Abraham Clark, William Floyd, John Hart, Francis Lewis, Phillip Livingston, and Lewis Morris. 001753: George Clymer, Benjamin Francis Hopkinson, Robert Morris, John Morton, and John Witherspoon. 001754: Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase, Thomas McKean, William Paca, George Read, Caesar Rodney, George Ross, Benjamin Rush, Thomas Stone, George Taylor, and James Wilson. 001755: Carter Braxton, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Nelson Jr., and George Wythe. 001756: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Heyward Jr., William Hooper, Thomas Lynch Jr., Arthur Middleton, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, and George Walton * Beatrice M. Beck to James Pylant, 4 June 2001.





William Woodruff's Facsimile

An upsurge in public interest in the Declaration of Independence occurred in the early nineteenth century. Among the various editions printed was one by Philadelphian William Woodruff, a journeyman engraver. Allegorical symbols of the new nation surround the text and signatures. The cursive signatures on the printing at the right indicate that it was one produced after Woodruff's initial 1819 printing.

July 4th, 2012 at the National Archives: Dramatic Reading of the Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence
John and Abigail (Adams)
Correspondence between John and Abigail Adams
Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 31 March - 5 April 1776

March 22, 1777
Age 27
Charleston, SC, USA
March 20, 1778
Age 28
Charleston, SC, USA
Age 32
Charleston, SC, USA
October 28, 1792
Age 42
South Carolina
January 23, 1800
Age 50
Charleston, South Carolina
January 1800
Age 50
Charleston, SC