Published in SGES Quarterly March 2011 Volume 52, No. 217


J. G. Braddock Sr.

If I were writing my own biography, having lived a fairly unadventurous life, I would be strongly tempted do some embroidering on it to make me sound as if I were a man of at least some accomplishments. Not so with my 4th great-grandfather John Cutler Braddock and his ancestors. John’s descendants have an ancestry rife with men of accomplishments.

Born October 3, 1743 in Beaufort, South Carolina, John spent his growing up years at Wild Heron plantation on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia and later on the Ogeechee River in what is now Effingham County. He married neighbor Lucia Cook July 16, 1769, in nearby Ebenezer Church, the oldest standing public building in Georgia. She was the daughter of James Cook and his wife Sarah Webb. Little is known of the Cooks other than at least two of their sons served in the Revolution.

Other than mentioning John later receiving a land grant and then selling it, historical records say nothing of him until the Revolution. They then speak volumes. While commanding the Lee, one of Georgia’s four armed galleys, he ferried troops to Florida in an attempted invasion of the British held province, ferried supplies up the Altamaha River to Fort Howe, along with two other Georgia galleys captured three British men-of-war at St. Simons, transported prisoners-of-war, and in command of another galley attacked British ships entering and leaving the Savannah River.  Had there been imbedded newsmen back then as there are in wars of today to report every military movement, you can bet the list of John’s exploits would be considerably longer.

For John’s efforts against them, the British named him on two lists of Georgia men they declared him a traitor with a price on his head. For these same efforts, the state of Georgia awarded him four grants of land, one in Camden County and three in Glynn County. After the Revolution, his old enemy, the British, awarded him two grants of land in the Bahamas for commanding a vessel in a raid in 1783 that drove the Spanish from Nassau.

Relocating to Glynn County, John served in several elected and appointed public offices: justice of the peace, county commissioner, town commissioner, assistant justice, two terms as state representative, port commissioner, and several officer ranks in the Glynn County militia.

After John’s death in April 1794, his widow, Lucia, moved to Spanish East Florida along with their four younger children, John David, William, Ann, and Hester. Their oldest, Mary, and her husband John Edwards, had preceded them to Florida. The four younger children married into the Christopher and Berrie families. Lucy married William Alexander Fitzgerald.

John’s father, David Cutler Braddock, was born in Southold, Long Island, New York in 1717. Condensing over a hundred book pages of his exploits and accomplishments into a few paragraphs is a formidable task. After serving an apprenticeship on his father’s commercial vessels operating out of Southold, he served as mate on the merchant ship Ancona. While sailing from Charleston in late November 1740 with a hold full of rice bound for England, the Ancona was captured by a Spanish privateer and taken into St. Augustine. He escaped and made his way to St. Simons where General Oglethorpe placed him in command of the schooner Norfolk. The Norfolk was one of the vessels that pursued the Spanish fleet after their failed invasion of St. Simons in the summer of 1742 and helped bombard St. Augustine.

David married Mary, daughter of William Lyford Sr. After Lyford became commander of South Carolina’s provincial navy, he placed his new son-in-law in command of the newly built galley Beaufort.  The southern tip of Hilton Head Island and the nearby cove in which the Beaufort was stationed are named for David. After cruising the Southeast coast aboard the Beaufort for four years keeping an eye on Spanish activity, he moved to the Savannah area where he received a grant for what became Wild Heron plantation. Becoming a successful privateer, he captured several Spanish prizes, including the Nuestra Senora de Bagona, the Bardera, and the La Fama Vante with a total appraisal value of £13,550. On one of his many privateering expeditions, he drew a well known chart of the Florida Keys that is in the Library of Congress. (click on picture for more information about chart). After thirteen years of successful privateering, he became commander of the Georgia scout boat. He received high commendations for saving the British man-of-war Epreuve, deeply mired on Savannah River shoals after extensive efforts by others had failed. He was elected to two terms in the Georgia Commons House of Assembly.

David and Mary had another son, Peter, before her death in 1755. David then married Elizabeth Miller and had daughter Sarah by her. He died February 1769.

Authors of a prestigious history of Beaufort County in South Carolina cited William Lyford Sr., Mary’s father, as having been one of colonial South Carolina's most intrepid seamen. It is no less a formidable task to condense his exploits and accomplishments into a few paragraphs than those of his son-in-law. Of English origin, William was born in Jamaica in the late 1600s. By the time he reached manhood, he owned and commanded a commercial trading vessel operating out of Nassau, Bahamas. After Spanish privateers seized his ship on one voyage and took it into Havana, he escaped in a small dugout and made his way through 375 miles of open seas to Nassau. 

He married Elizabeth Spatches, daughter of William and Elizabeth (last name unknown) Spatches. Besides Mary, they had a son, William Lyford Jr., a well known Loyalist whose exploits are almost as numerous and exciting as his father’s and for whom exclusive Lyford Cay in the Bahamas is named.

After the death of his wife in 1728, William Sr. and his two children relocated to Port Royal, South Carolina. He married local resident Ann Watt and had son James by her. In addition to continuing to operate his commercial shipping business, he was appointed harbor pilot for Port Royal Harbor, then commander of Fort Frederick, then commander of the new provincial galley Charles Town, then commander of South Carolina’s provincial navy consisting of the two galleys, Charles Town and Beaufort, and two scout boats. The galleys alternated cruising the coast as far as St. Augustine to keep an eye on Spanish activities. He and the Charles Town were in the fleet sent to the aid of Georgia after the summer of 1742 Spanish invasion of St. Simons and were later part of the naval force covering Oglethorpe’s second failed attempt at overthrowing the Spanish at St. Augustine.

When King George II sent his largest man-of-war, HMS Loo, armed with 40 guns, to serve on the Carolina station in late 1743, the South Carolina Governor’s Council, in planning a grand welcoming of the Loo, declared, “And we humbly beg leave to recommend to your Honor that Captain William Lyford , who is esteemed the best pilot for the harbor of Port Royal , and who is employed by the public, may be ordered to attend that service, with the galleys and scout boats.” 

Surprisingly, the recommendation came while Lyford awaited a hearing for trading with the Spanish at St. Augustine while on a prisoner swapping mission. After one of the Charles Town’s crewmen testified that upon arriving back in Beaufort, he and another crewman had carried to Lyford’s house a chest so full of Spanish silver that they could hardly carry it, a warrant was issued for Lyford’s arrest to be sent to England to be tried for treason.  The ink had hardly dried on the warrant when Ashby Utting, commander of the Loo, informed the government that no other man in the province but Lyford was capable of piloting the Loo in and out of Port Royal. Without him, the Loo would have to leave. The charges were dropped pronto, but he lost his command of the provincial navy. Utting took him on as pilot of the Loo.

On the night of February 5th, 1744, while on a cruise against Spanish shipping in the Florida Straits, the Loo and a ship she had captured ran aground and were lost on a partially submerged Florida key now known as Looe Key. Miraculously, the entire crews of both ships, 274 men, made it safely back to civilization in four small boats. An affidavit Lyford wrote saying the course steered when the Loo met her doom had been the best course played an important role in the British Admiralty Court unanimously voting to acquit Captain Utting of neglect of duty charges.

He bought a new vessel August 24, 1744 and returned to commercial shipping. Six months later, the Spanish took him prisoner while trying to trade with them again at St. Augustine. Finally being freed a year and two months later, he returned home to find his wife Ann had died a month earlier. At the invitation of the governor of the Bahamas, he took command of a large privateer. Within three months he made the largest capture, in value, of any Bahamas privateers. Not long after his arrival in the Bahamas, he married widow Elizabeth Evans Rowland. He died in 1753.

A full account of the exploits of William Lyford Sr., his son William Lyford Jr., his son-in-law David Cutler Braddock, and his grand-son John Cutler Braddock can be found in the 300 page book Wooden Ships – Iron Men: 

William Spatches, father of Elizabeth Spatches Lyford, came to the Bahamas from Bermuda. His ancestors had come to Bermuda from England bearing the surname Spatchurst. By the time William relocated to the Bahamas, pronunciation of the last name of some of the descendants of earlier Bermudian Spatchursts had morphed into Spatchers and Spatches, probably because the British clipped way of speaking. Other than his having been a well-to-do ship owner and one-time president of the Bahamas, little is known of him

John Braddick, father of David Cutler Braddock, came to America from London, England. He and all of his children except David spelled their surname “Braddick.”  It is not known why. All but a few of the many records found of John spell it “Braddick.” None of the multitude found of David spell it “Braddick.”

As far as can be determined from historical records, John spent his entire adult life as a commercial mariner operating out of Southold, Long Island, New York, except for two instances during Queen Anne’s War. In one of these instances, according to the earliest record found of him, the New York government declared him a freeman—one who has full rights as a citizen—on June 9, 1702, for his service as a mariner during Queen Anne’s War. In the other instance, he received pay February 17, 1704 for operating his vessel in the Revenue service.

John married Mary Dyer sometime before then and had three children: John Henry, Mary, and Alice. After Mary Dyer’s death, he married Mary Cutler, daughter of Dr. John Cutler and his wife Mary Cowell of Boston, April 24, 1715 in Boston. By her he had Elizabeth, David Cutler, Peter, and Abigail. The house he and his family lived in still stands in Southold.

John owned several vessels during the years of his maritime shipping enterprise and in them ranged from ports in New England, the Caribbean, and as far away as Europe. On a voyage in New England waters in April 1721, he made the mistake of purchasing slaves and goods from a pirate ship and was charged with complicity with pirates, for which he spent some time in jail and paid a heavy fine.

 On December 24, 1733, while returning from the island of Madera near Portugal on his brigantine Recovery, several crewmen mutinied and brutally murdered John and his son Peter.

Soon after Mary Cutler’s father, Dr. John Cutler, arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts from his native Holland in 1674, he married Mary Cowell. They had John, Peter, Mary, Hannah, Abigail, David, Ruth, Elizabeth, and Abigail again, the first having died in infancy. Early in his marriage he anglicized his name from Johannes Demesmaker to its English equivalent, and he quite often signed his name “John Cutler, the Dutchman.” While in Hingham, the Cutlers attended church at the Congregationalist Meeting House, built in 1635,

Dr. Cutler served as Surgeon General of Massachusetts forces in King Philip’s War, 1675 – 1676, the war of Indian uprisings in New England.

 After relocating to Boston in 1699, the Cutlers attended church at historic King’s Chapel.  

If the degree of a man’s success is measured by the material wealth he accumulates, Dr. Cutler was successful. He built a three story mansion on Marlboro St., now Washington St., valued at £1000, a large sum, whose rooms contained leather tapestry. Additionally, he had a place on Summer St. valued at £300 and half interest in another house and lot on Newbury St. valued at £800.

If the degree of his success is measured by his achievements, Dr. Cutler was highly successful. He became one of Boston’s most noted physicians of that time and had a large practice. He was mentor of several successful Boston physicians. One who learned under him was Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, who introduced inoculation against smallpox in America.

If the degree of his success is measured by the achievements of his descendants, Dr. Cutler was extremely successful. Son John was an eminent physician in Boston and was called upon to help devise appropriate steps for citizens to take to minimize their chances of contracting diphtheria when an epidemic of the disease broke out in 1736. Grandson John Cutler, a gifted musician who played the organ at Boston ’s Trinity Church for many years, was largely responsible for the merger of the two independent Masonry lodges in Massachusetts into one in 1792 and became its first Grand Master. On December 12, 1794 he installed Paul Revere, of the renowned midnight ride, as Grand Master. And in 1799, he officiated in George Washington’s funeral. John Cutler Lodge, A. F. & A. M., in Abington, Massachusetts is named for him. Great-grandson Peter Faneuil built the famous Boston landmark, Faneuil Hall and gave it to the town in 1742. Third great-granddaughter Julia Ward Howe wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Fourth great-grandson George von Lengerke Meyer was state legislator; ambassador to Italy; ambassador to Russia; arranged a peace conference that brought an end to the Russo-Japanese War; served as Post Master General, in which capacity he helped institute Parcel Post; and was Secretary of the Navy. This does not include mention of the achievements of his grandson David Cutler Braddock and great-grandson John Cutler Braddock, whose achievements were briefly touched on earlier. Nor does it include those of countless descendants of John Cutler Braddock.

Edward Cowell, father of Mary Cowell, was in Boston as early as 1645. He was a cord wainer (shoemaker). A prominent man in the community, he served as captain of a Boston militia unit in King Philip’s War and was elected to serve as surveyor of highways, hogreeve (in charge of town’s hogs), clerk of market, constable, chimney inspector, and overseer of chimneys.