Thomas Heyward, Jr.

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Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Heyward Jr.jpg
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Born (1746-07-28)July 28, 1746
St. Luke's Parish, Province of South Carolina
Died March 6, 1809(1809-03-06) (aged 62)
Old House, South Carolina
Resting place Heyward Family Cemetery, Old House
Known for signer of the United States Declaration of Independence
Thomas Heyward signature.png

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 representative of South Carolina.

He was born in St. Luke's Parish (now known as Jasper County),[1][2] 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 signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

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.[3] It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.[4]

Marriage and family[edit]

The Thomas Heyward House at 18 Meeting St., Charleston, South Carolina a fine example of Adamesque design.

Judge Heyward was married twice, at age 26 and at age 40, and each wife was named Elizabeth. The first Elizabeth, daughter of Col. John and Sarah Gibbes Matthews, born 1753, and whose brother, John, was Governor of South Carolina, died in childbirth in 1782 in Philadelphia, where she had gone to be with him upon his release as a prisoner of war. She is buried there in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church yard. They had six children, but only one son, Daniel, survived childhood. The second Elizabeth, 1769-1833, daughter of Col. Thomas and Mary Elliott Savage of Charleston, S.C., had three children to live to adulthood, Thomas, William and Elizabeth. There are a number of descendants today in the 21st century surviving his four children. Notable descendants include Duncan Clinch Heyward, twice elected Governor of South Carolina (1903–07) and 1937 published author of “Seed of Madagascar”, which relates the story of his rice-planting family; and DuBose Heyward, whose 1920’s novel and later stage play “Porgy”, portrayed blacks without condescension, and was transformed by George Gershwin into the popular opera “Porgy and Bess”, an American musical masterpiece.

The Taking of Thomas Heyward, Jr.[edit]

On August 27, 1780, Thomas Heyward Jr. was taken from his Charles Town home by British troops and detained in the Old Exchange Building. Just hours after being arrested, he and twenty-eight other "Ringleaders of the Rebellion" were relocated to a guard ship in the harbour. On September 4, they were transported to St. Augustine, Florida, remaining there for about eleven months until freed in a prisoner exchange.[5]


  1. ^ Champlin, Kelly. "Ghosts of Thomas Heyward's past". Jasper County Sun. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  2. ^ National Park Services. "Biographical Sketches: Thomas Heyward, Jr.". Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Old House Plantation, Jasper County (Address Restricted)". National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved June 2014. 
  4. ^ Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  5. ^

External links[edit]