Thomas Hayward, Signer of the Declaration of Independence

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Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Birthplace: Old House Plantation, St Lukes Parish, South Carolina, USA
Death: March 06, 1809 (62)
Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States of America
Place of Burial: Old House, Jasper County, South Carolina, United States of America
Immediate Family:

Son of Col. Daniel Heyward and Mary Hannah Anne Heyward
Husband of Elizabeth Heyward and Elizabeth Susannah Heyward
Father of Daniel Heyward; John Heyward; Thomas Heyward; James Hamilton Heyward; Elizabeth Savage Parker and 1 other
Brother of William Heyward; Nathaniel Heyward; Daniel Heyward and Hester Heyward
Half brother of William Heyward; Nathaniel Heyward; Maria Brailsford; James Heyward; Benjamin Simon Heyward and 1 other

Managed by: Private User
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About Thomas Hayward, Signer of the Declaration of Independence


Thomas Heyward Jr. (July 28, 1746 – March 6, 1809) was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence and of the Articles of Confederation as a delegate of South Carolina.

He was born in St. Luke's Parish (now known as Jasper County), South Carolina and educated at home, then traveled to England to study law where he was a member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1775 and the following year signed the Declaration of Independence.

Heyward returned to South Carolina in 1778 to serve as a judge. In command of a militia force, he was taken prisoner by the British during the siege of Charleston. He continued to serve as a judge after the war, retiring from the bench in 1798.

He is buried at Old House Plantation near Ridgeland, Jasper County, South Carolina. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.


Thomas Heyward, Jr. added the Jr. to his name to distinguish himself from his father's other son named Thomas.

Thomas Heyward was born in St. Luke's parish, in the province of South Carolina, in the year 1746. His father, Colonel Daniel Heyward, was a planter of great wealth, which he had chiefly acquired by his industry.

Unlike many gentlemen of fortune, Mr. Heyward did not appear to idolize his possessions; at least, convinced of the importance of intellectual cultivation, he determined to bestow upon his son all the advantages which a thorough education might impart. Accordingly, the best school in the province was selected for young Heyward, who, by his diligence, became well acquainted with the Latin language, and with such other branches as were at that time taught in the most respectable provincial seminaries.

Having finished his scholastic studies, be entered the law office of a Mr. Parsons, a gentleman who at that time was distinguished for his professional learning and practical skill. On accomplishing the usual term of study, young Mr. Heyward, according to the fashion adopted by families of fortune, was sent to England to complete his legal preparation. He was entered as a student in one of the Inns of Court. Although he had in expectancy a large fortune, he devoted himself with great ardor to the study of law, emulating the diligence of those who expected to derive their subsistence from the practice of the profession.

On completing his studies in England, he commenced the tour of Europe, which occupied him several years. This was an advantage which be enjoyed beyond most of the youth of the colonies ; nor did he neglect to improve the superior means which were thus allowed him of gaining a knowledge of the different countries of Europe. He enjoyed a rare opportunity of contrasting the industry and simplicity of his countrymen, with the indolence, and luxury, and licentiousness, the pride and haughtiness, so prevalent on the old continent.

At length, satisfied with the observations which be had made of men and manners abroad, he returned, with pleasure, to his native country; and impressed with the obligations of application to some honest calling, be devoted himself, with great zeal for a man of fortune, to the labors of the law.

In 1775, Mr. Heyward was elected to supply a vacancy in congress, occasioned by the recall of the distinguished John Rutledge, whose presence was required at home to assist in defending the state against a threatened invasion. This honor, owing to his peculiar modesty, he at first declined. He was, however, at length induced to enter upon the duties of his appointment, and arrived in Philadelphia in season to attend upon the discussion of the great question of American independence.

In the year 1778, Mr. Heyward was appointed a judge of the criminal courts of the new government. A sense of duty alone prompted him to accept of this arduous and responsible station. Soon after his elevation to the bench, he was called to the painful duty of presiding at the trial and condemnation of several persons charged with a treasonable correspondence with the British army, which, at that time, was in the vicinity of Charleston. The condemnation of these persons was followed by their execution, which took place within view of the enemy, and which served to render the judge most obnoxious to the British.

In the spring of 1780, the city of Charleston was besieged by General Clinton, and was taken possession of by him, on the 12th of May. Judge Heyward, at this time, had command of a battalion. On the reduction of the place, be became a prisoner of war. As he had been one of the leaders of the revolution, he, with several others who had acted a similarly distinguished part, were transported to St. Augustine, while the other prisoners were confined on board some prison ships in the harbour of Charleston. During his absence, he suffered greatly in respect to his property; his plantation being much injured by a party of marauders, and all his slaves seized and carried away. Some of his slaves were afterwards reclaimed; but one hundred and thirty were finally lost, being transported, as was supposed, for the benefit of the sugar planters on the island of Jamaica.

Judge Heyward, and his fellow prisoners at St. Augustine, at length had leave to return to Philadelphia. On his passage thither, be narrowly escaped a watery grave. By some accident he fell overboard; but, fortunately, kept himself from sinking by holding to the rudder of the ship, until assistance could be rendered to him.

On returning to Carolina, he resumed his judicial duties in the exercise of which he continued till 1798. During this interval, he acted as a member of a convention for forming the state constitution, in 1790. In the following year, he retired from all public labors and cares, except those which were attached to his commission as judge.

Mr. Heyward was twice married; in 1773, to a Miss Matthews, a lady of affectionate disposition, and great personal charms. Sometime after her death, he was again connected in marriage with a Miss Savage. By both of these wives he had children, the history of whom, however, we have not ascertained. Judge Heyward died in March, 1809, in the sixtyfourth year of his age.

Although we have been able to collect but few incidents in the life of Thomas Heyward, our readers may be assured that he was among the most estimable of the men who lived in his time, and one of the most firm, honest, intelligent, and fearless, who embarked in the revolution. He was characterized for sound judgment, and an ardent disposition. Possessing such a character, he naturally acquired, and was justly entitled to, the confidence and esteem of his fellow-citizens.

It was happy for America, happy for the cause of freedom, that the God of heaven raised up such a generation of men at a time when the civil and religious liberties of the country demanded their wisdom, fortitude, and patriotism ; and at a time, too, when, without their existence, and without their exalted virtues, the world had never seen so brilliant an exhibition of political liberty, order, and peace, as is presented in the government of republican America.

Source: Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 440-443. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

Heyward-Washington House. Located in the downtown Historic District of Charleston, SC within the area of the original walled city, this brick double house was built in 1772 by rice planter Daniel Heyward as a town-house for his son, Thomas Heyward, Jr. (Submitted on December 12, 2011, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South

Source: - pictures of his home in Charleston can be found here.


Biographical Sketches

South Carolina Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Heyward, Jr. An aristocratic planter, lawyer, and jurist, Thomas Heyward, Jr., sat in the State legislature and the Continental Congress and commanded a militia battalion. He was one of three South Carolina signers captured and imprisoned by the British.

The eldest son of one of the wealthiest planters in South Carolina, Heyward was born in 1746 at Old House Plantation, in St. Helena's Parish (later St. Luke's Parish and present Jasper County) near the Georgia border about 25 miles northeast of Savannah. In 1771, following 5 years of study in London, he began practicing law. The next year, his parish sent him to the colonial legislature (1772-75), which was feuding with the Royal Governor over parliamentary taxation. During that period, in 1773, he married and settled down at White Hall Plantation, only a couple of miles from the residence of his father.

While a legislator, Heyward apparently joined the Revolutionaries, for in the summer of 1774 he attended a provincial convention that chose Delegates to the Continental Congress. During 1775-76 he was active in the first and second provincial congresses and on the council of safety and the committee that drafted a State constitution. In the Continental Congress (1776-78), he signed the Articles of Confederation as well as the Declaration. At the end of his tour, he journeyed to Charleston and took up residence in the townhouse he had inherited from his father the year before. He became a circuit court judge; represented Charleston in the State legislature, which convened in the city; and held a militia captaincy.

In 1779 Heyward was wounded during Brig. Gen. William Moultrie's repulse of a British attack on Port Royal Island, along the South Carolina coast near Heyward's home. The following year, the British plundered White Hall and carried off all the slaves. When they took Charleston, they captured Heyward, who was helping defend the city. He was imprisoned at St. Augustine, Fla., until July 1781. Shortly before his release, he celebrated Independence Day by setting patriotic verses to the British national anthem. "God save the King" became "God save the thirteen States," a rendition that soon echoed from New Hampshire to Georgia.

From 1782 until 1789 Heyward resumed his position of circuit court judge, concurrently serving two terms in the State legislature (1782-84). In 1785 he helped found and became the first president of the Agricultural Society of South Carolina. The following year, his wife passed away and he remarried; apparently only one child from his two marriages reached maturity. He devoted most of his remaining days, except for attendance in 1790 at the State constitutional convention, to managing his plantation; he sold his Charleston townhouse in 1794. The last to survive among the South Carolina signers, he died in 1809 at the age of 62 and was interred in the family cemetery at Old House Plantation.

Drawing: Oil, before 1851, by Charles Fraser, after Jeremiah Theus, Independence National Historical Park. Birth: Jul. 28, 1746 Death: Mar. 6, 1809

Signer of the Declaration of Independence from South Carolina. Born near Beaufort in Saint Luke’s Parish, South Carolina. His father, Daniel Heyward, had already named another son, Thomas, so the future signer added a Junior to his name to distinguish himself from his brother. Coming from a wealthy family, he was able to study law in England, where he discovered that the English looked down on Americans. Returning to South Carolina, he established a successful law practice, built a plantation called White Hall, and in 1772, was elected to the South Carolina legislature. In 1773, he married Elizabeth Mathews, sister of South Carolina Governor John Mathews; together they would have five children. In February 1776, he was elected to the Second Continental Congress. While angry with England, Heyward was uncertain if America was ready for independence. At the first trial vote on July 1, South Carolina voted to reject independence, but the next day, at the actual vote, they switched sides and voted for independence, so as not to divide the country. After signing the Declaration of Independence, Heyward returned to South Carolina to fight the British, joining the militia. In 1779, he was wounded during the successful battle of Port Royal Island, near Beaufort, South Carolina. He recovered, and a year later, helped to defend Charleston. When the British were finally successful in capturing the city in May 1780, he was among those captured. While Heyward was imprisoned in Saint Augustine, Florida, the British raided his plantation, burning White Hall and taking his 130 slaves for sale to the sugar plantations in Jamaica. When he was eventually freed, he became a judge and a state lawmaker in South Carolina. His wife, Elizabeth Mathews Heyward, would die in 1782, and four years later, he married Elizabeth Savage, with whom he would have three more children. Hayward died in 1809, at the age of 62. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)

Family links:

 Daniel Heyward (1720 - 1777)
 Maria Miles Heyward (1727 - 1761)


 Elizabeth Mathewes Heyward (1748 - 1782)*


 Thomas Heyward (1746 - 1809)
 Nathaniel Heyward (1766 - 1851)**

*Calculated relationship

  • *Half-sibling

Burial: Heyward Family Cemetery Old House Jasper County South Carolina, USA

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Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Apr 28, 1998 Find A Grave Memorial# 2807

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Thomas Hayward, Signer of the Declaration of Independence's Timeline

July 28, 1746
Old House Plantation, St Lukes Parish, South Carolina, USA
South Carolina, United States
July 14, 1789
White Hall, Colleton, South Carolina, United States
September 17, 1792
Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States
November 2, 1794
Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States
March 6, 1809
Age 62
Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States of America