Published in the Jun 2007 issue of the SGES Quarterly

J. G. Braddock Sr.

Anyone who has ever seriously researched their genealogy knows one’s lineage from a given ancestor can be the result of any of a number of factors.  Although it is still the primary factor affecting genealogies, location is not the factor it once was before the advent of the automobile. In those days, marrying the girl next door was the norm. If it wasn’t the girl next door, it was one in walking distance down the road. That is why there were so many instances of several children of one family marrying children of another family. Seeing so many instances of this in the Braddock genealogy inspired me to paraphrase a Sir Walter Scott quotation: Oh what a tangled genealogy they did weave when Braddocks, Haddocks, and Higginbothams first practiced to conceive. Although a lesser factor than it once was, location was a great factor for me: I found Valerie living around the corner.

War has probably left its effect, good and bad, on every genealogy of substance. Several men in my senior citizens group are from other sections of the country who met their wives during the World War II and the Korean War while stationed at a local naval base. Other nationalities are introduced into families as a result of military personnel marrying natives of foreign countries in which they were stationed. Many family members never married because they were war casualties, and stepfathers are often the result of the mother’s first husband being killed in battle.

Similar financial circumstance is a strong factor in picking a spouse. Seldom does a rich person marry a poor person and vice versa. 

With considerably more women working in recent years, the work place has risen to prominence as a genealogy affecting factor. It has become a common occurrence for the place of employment given in marriage announcements in the newspaper to be the same for bride and groom. My brother met his wife at work. 

And school—high school and college—continues being fertile boy meets girl grounds. My oldest son married his high school sweetheart.

There are far too many factors that affect ones genealogy to even scratch the surface. However, there is one more worthy of mention, intercession, because it smacks of the Golden Rule. It is my favorite genealogical factor because acts of it played major roles in shaping my immediate genealogy and also that of the large number of my fellow-descendants of William Lyford Sr. and his son-in-law, David Cutler Braddock, my 6th and 5th great-grandfathers.

After the death of my grandfather at a relatively young age, his son, my father, bummed his way from Greenville , Florida to Jacksonville during the Great Depression looking for work. He soon met a man who became his friend. The friend told his supervisor at the Ford Assembly Plant that once stood at Commodore Point about my father. On the recommendation of the friend, the supervisor hired my father. Now making a little money, my father, like most young men of his age in those days, started thinking about getting married. Only problem was, he didn’t have a girlfriend. Furthermore, a stranger in town, he didn’t know any girls. A fellow mechanic on the Model T assembly line began telling his fiancée’s sister about the nice young man with whom he worked. Wearying of hearing about the “nice young man,” the sister consented to meet him. She found my father to be such a “nice young man” she married him.  Because of the friend’s interceding to get him the job, my father could afford to get married, and because of the fellow worker’s interceding, he met the woman who would become his wife and my mother. I probably wouldn’t be in anyone’s genealogy had it not been for these two intercessory acts.

The above described intercessions would not have occurred had it not been for two other intercessory acts performed almost two hundred years earlier. Except for these acts, both by the same man, neither my father nor any of the other of the large number of descendants of William Lyford Sr. and his son-in-law, David Cutler Braddock, would exist, at least not in America. One only has to look at the Internet genealogy web sites of Jean Mizell and Verna Mae Braddock to realize what a vast multitude would have never come into being.  

The intercessions were set in motion October 17, 1743 by the arrival in South Carolina of the 40 gun frigate H.M.S. Loo, England ’s largest man-of-war in American waters. Commanded by Captain Ashby Utting, the Loo was stationed at Port Royal, near Beaufort, SC. South Carolina’s provincial government appointed Captain William Lyford, who they “esteemed to be the best pilot for the harbor of Port Royal” to be the Loo’s pilot during her tour of duty. At that time, Lyford had overall command of South Carolina ’s provincial navy consisting of two half galleys and two scout boats. Additionally, he actively commanded one of the half galleys, the Charles Town.

When the Loo arrived, Lyford had a serious charge hanging over his head. He had been charged with trading with the enemy, the Spanish, while on a prisoner swapping mission to St. Augustine three months before. Lengthy hearings into the matter were held. Based on the damning testimony of some of his crewmen that “…on their return trip to Charles Town the said Galley touched again at Port Royal and that the deponent together with Edward Hilton carried on shore to Captain Lyford 's house in Beaufort Town a chest in which he had seen a great quantity of silver and that the said chest was as heavy as they could manage...,” Lyford was stripped of his command and ordered sent to England to be tried for high treason. Considering the gravity of the charges against Lyford, it is surprising that the government would recommend him to act as the Loo’s pilot.

Impressed with Lyford’s ability in piloting the Loo during the next two months and, satisfied that he was a man of good character in spite of his indiscretion at St. Augustine , Captain Utting wrote a letter to the South Carolina ’s governor interceding for him. The letter was read in the December 13, 1743 Governor and Council meeting:

Sir                                                               Loo Port Royal Harbour

                                                                                          Dec 10, 1743

Being informed by Mr. Lyford Pilot of his Majesty's Ship Loo, under my command, your Honour has granted a warrant for apprehending him, for trading with the Spaniards, I think it a duty incumbent on me, as it is for his Majesty's Service, to acquaint your Honour and His Majesty's Council, that he is actually Pilot of His Majesty's Ship Loo, and that there is no man in the Country that knows anything of the Bar or Harbour of Port Royal , and His Majesty's Ship Loo under my command is fit for Sea, and am well assured that there will be a 40 or 50 Gun ship from England for that place very soon, that cannot properly get in without some able Pilot, to carry her, & also to carry the Loo out, and to be continued at that Port, for want of which His Majesty's Service, and also the Service of this Province must greatly suffer, there being no other person in the Province capable of taking charge of any of His Majesty's Ships of that rate for that Port for which reason I, in duty to His Majesty's Service must beg your Honour & His Majesty's Council will be pleased to take it into consideration, and if his Crime is not so bad but if on his proper conceptions and his going bail for his future Conduct, your Honour & his Majesty's honourable Council will be pleased to release him, it being intirely for his Majesty's Service in this Province.    

                         I am &c  Ashby Utting    

Utting’s letter placed the Governor’s council in the dilemmatic position of choosing between adherence to the law and protection of the province:                                                      

His Honour the Lt. Govr . having asked the advice and opinion of the Board though it was the opinion of his Majesty's Council that a legal warrant having gone out, in due manner against the said Lyford for high Treason, the Law should take its course, But lest his Majesty's Service suffer, as represented by Capt. Utting , and as this was the first accusation of any being committed by the said Lyford , and as the general tension of his Life and Conversation in this Province hath been a good and faithful Subject to his Majesty, ought to be, and in particular in giving information, in the beginning of the year 1738, of a Spanish Squadron off St. Augustine , intended as it was supposed against this Province, or the colony of Georgia, it was the advice of his Majesty's Council to his Honour the Lt. Govr. to represent the case of the said Lyford to his Majesty's Secretary of State together with the said letter of Capt. Utting in order to obtain his Majesty's directions thereupon.

Apparently, protection won out, for nothing further was said on the matter in colonial records of South Carolina. Lyford became a permanent pilot of the Loo and was aboard her in the wee hours of the morning of April 5, 1744 when she ran aground on the Florida Key that now bears her name, but with the spelling “Looe.” Because of wreckage of the Loo strewn about its depths, Looe Key is one of the top ten dive spots in the world. Lyford was able to repay Utting for his intercession by writing an affidavit to the British Admiralty that helped clear him, as commander of the Loo, of neglect in the loss.


Had Captain Utting not interceded for Lyford and he had gone to England for trial, there is no telling what effect it would have had on the order of things that eventually led to our genealogy as we know it today. Would his son-in-law, David Cutler Braddock, have made the same decisions and pursued the same courses that would result in the same family history we know today? The only sure answer to this question is “maybe.”

There is no “maybe” to Captain Utting’s second intercession affecting our genealogy. David Cutler Braddock commanded South Carolina’s other provincial half-galley, the Beaufort—pronounced bue-fort—when the Loo arrived on the Carolina station. In May 1745, after hearing accusations that Braddock had made attempts to trade with the Spanish, South Carolina’s governor wrote the following letter to Captain Utting, who was now in command of H.M.S. Aldborough:

As Capt Braddock  Commander of the Beaufort Galley  has been accused of very irregular Activities I am very desirous that he should be brought to Charles Town  to answer for the same that if he be found guilty he may be dismissed from the service of this Province, and other ways be proceeded against, as the nature of his offence requires, and as I am apprehensive that he may abscond or possibly run off with the Galley, if he had any Intimation of this.  I hope that if you meet him at Sea, you will put some fit person on board to take the command of the said Vessel, and to bring him to this Port with the said Braddock, who is hereby ordered to deliver up the command to the Person whom you may appoint and all the sailors on the said Galley, are ordered by me to obey such person as their Commander till they arrive in this Port or receive other orders from me, if you cannot spare a proper person out of your own Ship, I hope you will give direction to Capt. Ward  to that purpose.  This very much concerns his Majesty's Service.

I am &c                                                                                    signed James Glen

Governor Glen then wrote the following to Braddock:

You are immediately upon Receipt of this to proceed by land to Charles Town , leaving your next Officer to command the Beaufort Galley  during your absence, who is hereby ordered not to proceed to Sea, till he shall receive further directions from me.

In a lengthy hearing before the Governor and his council on July 30, 1745, Braddock testified in his own behalf and his crewmen presented an affidavit highly favorable to him. However, as recorded in the journal of that meeting, it took another intercession by Captain Utting to rescue another of our ancestors from being sent to England for trial:

His Excellency  also mentioned to the Board That he had received a Letter from Capt. Utting  Commander of the Aldbro' , giving His Excellency to understand that what had been reported about Capt. Braddock 's treasonable Correspondence was but a mere suspicion without any Foundation, and that he had a Letter from Mr. Mulryne  of Port Royal  confirming the same, whereupon His Excellency had directed Capt. Braddock to return to his command of the Beaufort Galley  till further Orders.

There is little doubt that our genealogy would have been totally wiped out had it not been for Captain Utting’s intercession.

One other notable intercession for one of ancestors occurred fifty years later.

Because of debts she could not pay, John Cutler Braddock’s widow Lucia and the four of her children who were not married came to Spanish East Florida in January 1795 seeking a land grant and a new start, arriving with little more than the clothing on their backs. An index record of the East Florida Papers, official records of the Spanish government during their second possession of Florida, reads.

Arrival of widow Lucia Braddock, family, slaves and possessions and wishes to become Florida resident; sending older son David to St. Augustine, pending Governor decision.  Howard is letting family stay with Mrs. O'Neill; left U.S. because of debts.

This “I was a stranger and you took me in” act of intercession was performed by a widow with nine children, Margaret O’Neill, whose husband Henry had been murdered seven years earlier. Living with Widow O’Neill put Lucia and her family in close proximity of Spicer Christopher and his family. Two of Spicer’s daughters became spouses of Lucia’s two sons and co-progenitors of all the descendants bearing the Braddock name and allied families in our genealogy. Had it not been for Widow O’Neill’s intercession, Lucia’s sons may have met and married others, completely changing our genealogy.

Long live intercession!