Heyward completed his legal training in England before returning to South Carolina where he practiced law. In 1778 he was appointed judge and presided over trials and convictions of individuals charged with treason during Charleston’s siege by enemy troops.
Heyward was elected a delegate to Congress, casting his vote in support of independence. Additionally, he served as captain of Charleston artillery company and was wounded at Port Royal Island during its defense.
Early Life and Education
Heyward was the eldest son of one of South Carolina’s most acclaimed rice planters and was born at Old House Plantation in St Luke’s Parish (now Jasper County). After being educated at home and in England’s Middle Temple for legal studies, Heyward traveled back home.
Heyward was elected to fill a vacancy in the Continental Congress, signing the Declaration of Independence aged 29 years. Heyward also strongly supported its creation; serving in a state convention that ratified it in 1788.
Following the Revolutionary War, Heyward resumed his duties as a circuit judge. Additionally, he helped found the Agricultural Society of South Carolina and served as its inaugural president before passing away at Old House Plantation where he is interred today.
Heyward despite his family’s wealth from rice plantations ventures decided to enter politics and became active in the independence movement. He served in both provincial and state constitutional conventions that chose delegates for Continental Congress membership, as well as serving as judge and prisoner-of-war altering the British national anthem ‘God Save the King’ into “God Save the Thirteen States”.
Heyward remained active in politics as an ardent supporter of the federal Constitution and served on the state convention that ratified it in 1788. Additionally, he served as both judge and militia captain before his death in 1809; he is interred at Old House in St Luke’s Parish (present day Jasper County). An accomplished scholar, Heyward valued scholarship and travel; however he valued American simplicity over what he perceived to be European haughtiness or dependence on luxury goods.
Achievement and Honors
Heyward was among the loudest opponents of British rule when the Stamp Act was passed and led a revolution in South Carolina in response. Elected to both provincial and Continental congresses, Heyward also served as judge and commander of militia battalions.
Following the Revolution, he continued serving as a judge until his death in 1798. Additionally, he advocated for and was part of the state convention that ratified the federal Constitution.
Heyward was an early proponent of South Carolina independence despite being raised by Loyalist parents, becoming one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and signing it himself. At Beaufort District Collection we are honored to display one framed copy in our Research Room as proof.
Thomas Heyward was born at Old House Plantation in 1746. As his uncle was also named Thomas, Thomas added “Jr.” as an additional middle name. His father was one of the wealthiest rice planters during this era.
During the American Revolution, he took an interest in supporting independence while not becoming actively involved. He served on both the First Provincial Congress and Council of Safety.
He later traveled to England to study law. On returning home he opened up a Charleston law practice and was elected into state legislative offices.
Heyward was captured by the British when Charleston fell and imprisoned at St. Augustine for several months, where he set an un-American rendition of God Save the King as part of his defiance against British authority. Following his release he resumed practicing medicine and also served as a judge.
Thomas Heyward was born to wealthy parents on a rice plantation in St. Luke’s Parish (now part of Jasper County) in 1746. He would go on to have four brothers and one sister who all reached adulthood; adding the name Thomas (Jr) because this was customary at that time.
Robert Hector received his early education at home before traveling to England for further legal studies. On his return, he served as a delegate at the Second Continental Congress where after much deliberation cast his vote in favor of independence. Later on he resumed judicial duties until retiring in 1798 – eventually passing away on March 6, 1809 and being laid to rest at Old House Plantation near Charleston, South Carolina.