Published in Fall 2007 issue of the The Georgia Historical Quarterly
Plight of a Georgia Loyalist: William Lyford, Jr.
J. G. Braddock, Sr.
John Cutler Braddock served admirably in the American Revolution as a patriot commanding Georgia galleys in fiercely fought battles. His uncle, Capt. William Lyford, Jr., a Loyalist, served just as admirably piloting British warships along the southeastern coast and waterways. Yet historians, while including the exploits of Braddock in a number of postwar writings, rarely refer to Lyford. Only one historian mentioned his wartime service and confined it to a single paragraph extracted solely from his Loyalist claim. Some writers confuse him with his father; just one identified him as a Loyalist and only in indirect terms, saying he was "a devoted British subject banished after the Revolution."This inequity is surprising. Historical records of Lyford, being significantly more abundant than those of Braddock, picture him considerably more interesting than his nephew and indicate that his contributions to Georgia's overall history to have been at least as much, if not more.
Lyford and Braddock arrived at the onset of the Revolution through nearly identical courses; they both followed their fathers' career paths. In colonial times it was a common practice for a son to enter into his father's trade. If the father were a mariner, his son would be apprenticed to learn that vocation. Both men were fortunate enough to have served their apprenticeships under fathers who were highly skilled mariners; both fathers had gained considerable recognition for their abilities in seafaring and naval warfare.
John's father, Capt. David Cutler Braddock, served his apprenticeship on his father's decks in New England waters before becoming first mate of the Ancona, a merchant ship sailing for distant ports. A Spanish privateer captured the Ancona, which was full of rice that had been loaded at Charles Town, South Carolina, and was on its way to English markets, and took the vessel to St. Augustine, Florida. Taken captive, David Braddock soon escaped from his prison in the "Castle" and made his way up the coast to St. Simons Island, the headquarters of James Oglethorpe, Georgia's founder and military leader. Oglethorpe placed him in command of the provincial schooner Norfolk. After the Spanish failed in an attempted invasion of St. Simons in the summer of 1742, Braddock helped chase the enemy fleet back to St. Augustine. Impressed with his performance against the Spanish, the South Carolina government soon asked him to command one of its two new provincial half-galleys, the Beaufort. While in command of the Beaufort he married Mary, daughter of Lyford Sr., and John Cutler Braddock was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, October 3, 1743. The southern tip of Hilton Head Island and an adjacent cove, where the Beaufort was anchored, still bear his name. After cruising the southeast coast for three years guarding the lower colonies against Spanish invasion, Braddock relocated to the Savannah area. Settling on land along the Ogeechee River he operated in the Caribbean as a highly profitable privateer. In December 1756 he drew a well-known nautical chart of lower Florida and the Keys as he lay in wait for treasure-laden galleys funneling through the Florida Straits on their way to Spain. The village of Acton, on the outskirts of Savannah, elected him to the Georgia Commons House of Assembly in 1764.
William Lyford, Sr., was as much a master mariner, perhaps more so. One historian called him "South Carolina's most intrepid seaman." At the time William Jr. was born in Nassau, Bahamas, in 1719, well over a thousand pirates used the port as a base. While engaged in commercial shipping between Caribbean islands and the lower colonies in 1728, Spanish privateers took his ship and carried it into Havana, Cuba. He escaped in a dugout and made his way across open seas to Nassau. Lyford Sr. relocated to Beaufort, South Carolina, after his wife died, running out on a large debt his father-in-law subsequently paid. In short order he became harbor pilot at Beaufort, commander of South Carolina's southernmost fort, and captain of the colony's provincial half-galley, Charles Town. He was aboard the Charles Town in the small fleet that sailed from South Carolina to Georgia's aid in the 1742 Spanish invasion. Later, along with his son-in-law, David Braddock, in command of the Beaufort, he patrolled the southeast coast for Spanish intruders. Caught red-handed trading with the Spanish in St. Augustine while on a prisoner swapping mission, Lyford Sr. was arrested and charged with treason. A letter from Capt. Ashby Utting, commander of the formidable British man-of-war, H.M.S. Loo, to Gov. James Glen making it clear that no other man in the province was capable of piloting the Loo in and out of Port Royal harbor saved him from being transported to England for trial. Stripped of his command in the provincial navy, he became fulltime pilot of the Loo and was aboard when the vessel ran aground on the Florida Key now bearing the ship's name. Shortly afterward, he was observed trading with the Spanish at St. Augustine. Wisely, he returned to the Bahamas where he finished out his career in command of a successful privateer.
Other than John Cutler Braddock's marriage in 1769 in historical Jerusalem Church in Ebenezer outside Savannah and his acquisition and disposal of a piece of land in what is now Effingham County, Georgia, historical records say nothing of the younger Braddock until the Revolution. On the other hand, William Lyford, Jr., upon coming of age, proceeded to have his activities recorded in more than one hundred historical records of South Carolina, Georgia, and the Bahamas. He started out his adult life by moving from Beaufort, where he spent his adolescent years, to Charles Town, where he became a carpenter. Within months he returned to his true calling by becoming master of one of his father's trading schooners and on it accompanied the elder Lyford on his last attempt at trading with the Spanish at St. Augustine.
Soon after his father's departure to the Bahamas, Lyford Jr. became master of the twenty-ton schooner Betsie, a merchant ship owned by Christopher Gadsden, who would become one of the South's leading proponents of revolution. Three years later, in September 1756, while commanding Gadsden's brigantine Darling, he evaded a French frigate of thirty-six guns after an all-day chase near Cape Florida by escaping into the shallows of the Bahama Bank. In spite of his superb seamanship, he failed to outmaneuver French privateers July 7, 1758; they took their prize to the island of Martinique. But by late August Lyford commanded another vessel, the brigantine Spy, sailing it from Charles Town to distant ports in the northern colonies, islands of the Caribbean, and England. French privateers struck again a year later, capturing the Spy and carrying the vessel to Port-au-Prince in Haiti. In late 1760 Lyford commanded the schooner Blakeny, sailing between Charles Town, Savannah, and the Bahamas.
On June 27, 1761, Lyford became master and part owner of the newly built 60-ton brigantine Neptune. Upon his return from the Neptune's maiden voyage to Jamaica, the South Carolina provincial government fined him £60 for failing to obtain a £1,000 provincial license for the new vessel. He made no more voyages on the Neptune; instead, he sailed from Charles Town in command of the privateer Harlequin on May 15, 1762. His temper brought a quick end to the venture. While on the high seas he became infuriated with a negligent crewman and struck him; the crewman later brought charges. The vice-admiralty court in Charles Town found Lyford guilty of assault and ordered him to pay the crewman £5 and half his costs. To add to his woes, Lyford returned from the privateering expedition to learn of the death of his wife of seventeen years.
The ink had hardly dried on the court's ruling when the Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War in 1763, making French and Spanish vessels no longer fair game, and dashing any aspirations Lyford may have had for returning to privateering in the Caribbean. Within weeks, he and several other men from Charles Town purchased the newly built coasting schooner Georgia-Packet. Boasting of a square-stern, the ship weighed twenty tons and carried a crew of three. With Lyford as master, the vessel ferried commercial cargo between Charles Town, Savannah, Pensacola, Mobile, and islands of the Caribbean for the next three years.
In the meantime, David Braddock's reputation earned him considerable regard on maritime matters with his colleagues in the Georgia Commons House of Assembly, so it is not surprising that Gov. James Wright commissioned his brother-in-law, William Lyford, Jr., as pilot of Georgia's several bars and inlets in June 1766. Lyford immediately bought a new pilot boat, a thirty-two foot schooner-rigged named the Favorite, and moved from Charles Town to Cockspur Island in the Savannah River near its entrance into the ocean. Two years later, under the cover of night, thieves stole the Favorite. After lengthy advertisements in Charles Town and Savannah newspapers and offers of a reward failed to recover the pilot boat, the Georgia Assembly voted him £100 for the building of a new one, with the condition he remain as pilot in Georgia for at least two years.
With several of his slaves well trained in all the skills of piloting helping operate two or more of his boats simultaneously, Lyford's business did well the first few years. But with the increase in size of his immediate family when his wife gave birth to two daughters, he found it necessary to build a house on an acre grant he had received on Cockspur Island. Births within his slave families further increased the number of people making demands on his profits. Several unexpected losses, including his nearly completed house in a severe storm, added to Lyford's mounting financial worries. On April 11, 1770, he appealed to the Georgia Commons House of Assembly for relief. He reminded the house that he had been very well settled in Charles Town four years earlier when he was invited to come to Savannah as pilot by "the principal part of the Inhabitants of Savannah, especially by the most part of the Merchants, who made frequent applications to the Memorialist, declaring that as the Province stood in great need of a Good Pilot, to Navigate with Safety Ships and Vessels into and out of the Port of Savannah, and such a person was difficult to be found, they did not doubt but that the Commons House of Assembly would grant Yearly a Sum equivalent to any extraordinary trouble and loss of time he would be at or sustain by the Distance he would be obliged to bring up Vessels from Cockspur to Savannah the difficulty of Navigation, and the extraordinary Number of skilfull hands he would of Course be obliged to keep employed in that Business." He then complained that the annual grant had not been equal to the trouble and expense of carrying on the business, and with the uncertainty of the number of vessels entering the port, Lyford considered continuing in the job not worth his while. The Georgia house quickly agreed to provide a sufficient annual grant. He made a similar appeal to the house three years later, with the same favorable results.
In late 1773 Lord Dartmouth, England's Secretary of State in London, wrote Governor Wright asking several questions about the colony of Georgia. In responding concerning the colony's principal harbors, Wright wrote of the Savannah River: "On the Bar of which [is] call'd Tybee there is Three Fathoms and a half Water at low Water or better. And up the River to the Town, there is in General about Thirteen Feet Water at high Water common Tydes, but there being Three Sand Banks in different Places therefore at present and until they are removed. Vessels at the Town do not load deeper than from Twelve to Thirteen feet and then are Obliged to fall down to Cockspur to take in the rest of their loading. But for a more Circumstantial Account of this Inlet & ca [etc.] I beg leave to refer to the Inclosed Sketch Mark'd A No. 1." The sketch was a detailed maritime chart he had Lyford make of the Savannah River entrance.
Although Lyford's career as a pilot seemed on track, tragedy struck the night of Saturday, September 10, 1774, when one of his slaves set fire to his home on Cockspur Island and burned it to the ground. Lyford's wife and children escaped with only the clothes on their back. The loss was estimated at £2,000. Local authorities turned the incident into a double tragedy when they sentenced the slave publicly burned at the stake. Still, Lyford did not seem to be hurt financially following this substantial loss.
For a man expert at portraying himself to be in dire financial straits to the Commons House of Assembly, Lyford, by any standard, had begun to prosper. By the beginning of 1776 he and twenty-two skilled slaves operated a number of pilot boats in the ports of Savannah and Sunbury in Georgia and Port Royal in South Carolina. In addition to receiving from the government an annual salary of £1,500 plus thirty-eight shillings for each vessel piloted in and out of port, he received a fee from each vessel. After the Trustees Gardens, plots of land allocated for agriculture along the river on the outskirts of Savannah, failed as a place for growing experimental crops, they were divided into residential lots. Lyford purchased number eleven for "forty-one pounds lawful money." Seventeen years later he valued it at twice the amount, eighty pounds, in his Loyalist claim. He also received grants of six-hundred acres along Little River in St. Paul's parish, now Richmond County, on January 3, 1775, and 1,350 acres on the Satilla River in St. Patrick's parish, now Glynn County, February 7, 1775. Prior to receiving the grants, he had purchased one hundred acres on "Great Tibie" Island and one hundred sixty acres at an unspecified location. Furthermore, he moved his family to a 2,250-acre rented plantation on St. Catherine's Island, below Savannah, and began farming it full scale.
Then came the revolution against Great Britain. Although Lyford and Braddock had followed in their fathers' steps along almost identical courses to adulthood, they chose to steer their lives in diametrically opposing directions at the start of the war. Braddock threw himself wholeheartedly into the cause of liberty as commander of the Lee, one of Georgia's four galleys. Although the precise date Lyford chose the direction in which his loyalty would take him is not known, a resolution of the January 8, 1776, meeting of the Council of Safety closely pinpoints when he made his choice: "Resolved, that the President do write to the Committee for the Parish of Saint John [Liberty County] requiring that they use the utmost Vigilance in watching the motions of the pilots for the harbour of Sunbury; and that, in particular they send for Captain William Lyford and question him as to his piloting into any port in this Province any ship or vessel of war of our enemies, and that they take such steps with him, if he appears inimical to the common interest, as will be sufficient security against his aiding our enemies." The committee found Lyford "inimical" when they called upon him; subsequently they placed his name on a list the Council of Safety compiled of forty-three Georgians "whose going at large is dangerous to the liberties of America."
A year and a half later, on October 2, 1777, the Council of Safety, meeting at Midway, gave Lyford forty days to depart the country, under threat of death, for refusing to take an oath of loyalty or give assurance of his fidelity. He left for St. Augustine within the prescribed time, taking with him his family and as many of his slaves and possessions his boats could hold. A party of soldiers burned his plantation house on St. Catherine's Island and made off with stock, provisions, equipment, and slaves that the family did not take with them.
In the early days of the fighting, a mass exodus of Loyalist families filled waterways, roads, and trails leading to East Florida. In a letter written in May 1783, East Florida's governor Patrick Tonyn advised British colonial secretary Thomas Townshend that twelve thousand had moved to the province. They came from Georgia, the Carolinas, and many of the northward colonies seeking the safety of British-controlled East Florida. Safety was about all they found. A large percentage arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs. An estimated five thousand pre-Revolution arrivals already occupied much of the relatively small area of land that had been rendered civilized and safe enough for human habitation.
fared better than most of his fellow expatriates. He had a sufficient
number of his boats to accommodate his wife and two children,
forty-eight slaves, and some household goods and necessities on which they
His need of a livelihood and an outlet for his fierce loyalty found
fulfillment in Britain's call for pilots who knew the intricacies of
waterways of the southeastern coast. The Royal Navy kept him and his boats
busy guiding men-of-war, troop transports, and supply ships along the
coast and across bars into inlets and harbors in East Florida's continuous
effort to keep in check Georgia's burning desire to pull off a successful
invasion of the province. In memorials later written to accompany
Lyford's Loyalist claim for losses, numerous officers wrote glowing
reports of services he rendered. George Keith Elphinstone, who earlier had
commanded men-of-war, including the Perseus,
along the southeast coast before becoming Admiral Viscount Keith, wrote
to Lyford that "I can with great truth certify that during the time
I commanded the King's ships on the coast of Florida, Georgia, and
Carolina, that you were very useful on many occasions, particularly in
piloting them on the coast and the distant harbours and inlets both for supplying the King's subjects with provisions
and for attacking the enemy and that you were always ready to give
assistance when the service required it, and I think you justly entitled
to be rewarded as far as circumstance will admit of it." The memorial
of James Moncrief, who had been commanding engineer of the southern
district prior to the end of the Revolution, echoed EIphinstone's
sentiment. Capt. M. Scallion, who had commanded His Majesty's armed galley
Arbuthnot when it made a devastating raid on Sunbury in April 1782,
certified that "William Lyford
behaved like a brave and active man and that upon many occasions he
rendered me very essential service in distressing the enemies by piloting
me through many intricate navigations, which obliged the Rebels to abandon
many of their boats on the frontier." He added that Lyford also had
piloted to safety many other of His Majesty's ships.
Navy vessels operating in southeastern waters also kept Lyford's slave
pilots busy. Lt. Cmdr. James Howe wrote: "These are to certify to the
Principal Officers and Commissioners of His Majesty's Navy, that a Negro
man named Trap the property of Capt. William Lyford was sent on board His
Majesty's armed galley Fire
my command by order of His Excellency Sir James Wright as pilot in the
month of July 1781 the
said galley then being detached up Savanah River under the direction of
Capt. Creyk of His Majesty's Sloop Otter,
and I do further certify that
the said Negro Trap, was born upon the books of His Majesty's said galley Fire
my command until August following when he died."
In one of the more significant events of the fighting in Georgia, the British captured Savannah in late December 1778 after a fleet from New York landed three thousand British and Hessian soldiers under the command of Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell. In a letter to commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury, Lyford claimed: "One of the petitioner's Negro Pilots was the person who conducted into Savannah River the fleet that carried Colonel Campbell there in 1778 when he reduced Georgia to the King's obedience."
A watercolor of Cockspur Island painted in 1764, about the time Lyford lived there, by an unknown artist. Courtesy Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries.
Savannah and much of south Georgia under British control, Lyford and his
entourage returned home in early 1779. He resumed his job as chief pilot
of Georgia at the Savannah harbor and remained in the position several
months after Cornwallis surrendered in October 1781. When the British
evacuated the city in July 1782, he returned to St. Augustine, but soon
found that a ready means of livelihood no longer awaited him there.
Apparently desperate for money and having outstanding debts owed him in
Savannah, he sailed northward again. He arrived at Thunderbolt, on the
outskirts of the city, March 13, 1783, and sent a letter, along with a
flag from the governor of East Florida to Georgia's governor, Lyman Hall,
requesting permission to enter Savannah to conduct some private business.
Holding out a faint hope that a spirit of clemency had come with victory,
he included a letter from John Haley, who served as justice of peace in
St. Augustine, imploring the governor to allow Lyford and his family to
return to Georgia to reside. The governor and his executive council, meeting that same day, curtly ordered that Lyford "do immediately
return to East Florida."
had another important reason for visiting Georgia. Although he and his
nephew, John Braddock, had for seven years poured their hearts and souls
and maritime skills in heroic proportions into the object of opposing
sides, blood proved thicker than water. Before leaving for Savannah,
Lyford had attended a meeting in St. Augustine led by a young Loyalist
from South Carolina, twenty-five-year-old Col. Andrew Deveaux. South
Carolina's Confiscation Act (passed March 20, 1782) declared
Deveaux to be an "obnoxious" person for leading a small band of
Tories in hit-and-run attacks against the property and persons of Whigs.
He had left with the British when they evacuated the province later that
year. Several other like-minded Loyalist refugees, primarily mariners,
were also at the meeting. In May 1782 the
Spanish had allied themselves with the Americans against their old enemy,
the British, and had seized Nassau. The young colonel had devised a plan
for driving the Spanish out of the Bahamas' capital. Deveaux and the men
met to make preparations for putting the plan into action. Lyford visited
his nephew to enlist another seasoned sea fighter for the Nassau venture,
and Braddock agreed to join the seventy men who sailed in six vessels from
St. Augustine in late March 1783. The
small flotilla arrived at Abaco, fifty miles north of New Providence, and
waited while Deveaux enlisted 170 more
men from nearby islands. A letter Deveaux wrote to a friend in St.
Augustine described their landing of April 16 in Nassau and the trickery
he used to capture the Spanish forces.
a letter written May 15, 1783, by
Governor Tonyn to the British home secretary Townshend, it is easy to
surmise that Deveaux and his officers knew about the treaty that would
soon return Florida and Minorca to Spain. Apparently they devised the
expedition, one in which they faced enormous odds, in a bid to gain
favor that would result in their receiving consideration from the British for
lands in the Bahamas. Tonyn wrote: "I have the honour of acquainting
you, of the reduction of the Island of New Providence, by the intrepid and
spirited conduct of Major Deveaux, of the South Carolina Militia. A young
Gentleman who had resided here for some time as a Refugee, having lost the
greatest part of his fortune in South Carolina, with the remains, he
fitted out and collected a small fleet of Privateers, and about two
hundred Loyalists; with these, and by an allowable artifice he reduced the
Spanish Garrison. As I was doubtful of his success, I claim not the credit
for countenancing the Expedition. I am confident that his spirit and
success will, Sir, recommend him to your favor and protection."
the treaty in which Great Britain returned Florida and Minorca to Spain
was not formerly ratified until September 1783, ceding
of them had been preliminarily agreed upon in January of that year. As
meager as their sanctuary in East Florida had been, word of the province's
impending loss came as cataclysmic news to Loyalists in Florida. After
spending as much as seven years struggling to rebuild their shattered
lives into some semblance of what they had been before the revolution,
they were going to have to start all over again somewhere else. Most had
no idea where that somewhere else would be. The first two paragraphs of a
letter signed "A PLANTER," written May 20, 1783, to
the East Florida Gazette and
reprinted in the June 28 issue
of the South Carolina Weekly Gazette described
the bleak plight of Florida Loyalists:
distresses to which the unfortunate Loyalists in America are now reduced
are too poignant not to command the pity and commiseration of every
friend of human nature. The man that is steeled against such forcible
impressions is a monster that should be drove from the circle of
cultivated society. In most situations when calamities and misfortunes
prey upon the mind, hope buoys us up and keeps us from sinking into the
ocean of despondency and despair:-But the unhappy Loyalists have no hope
to cheer up their spirits; even this last refuge of the afflicted is
denied them. During a seven year war, they have been induced to brave
every danger and difficulty in support of the government under which they
were born in hopes that they and their children would have the fruits of
their labours in peace and security. Instead of their reasonable
expectations, they find themselves at the conclusion of a peace
sacrificed to the ambition of their enemies, expelled from their native
country, and thrown on the whole world friendless and unsupported. It
would be needless to recapitulate the many promises of 'support and
protection held out to the public by the King and those acting under their
authority. These promises have been violated in every instance; and that
national faith, which we had been accustomed to look upon as sacred,
basely bartered for an inglorious peace. Even this province to which the
other colonies have fled for shelter is now given away to a foreign
nation, and no resting place is left for the reception of the wretched:-
Where such a place can be found is beyond human sagacity to discover.
certainly needed a place to go. Any hopes he may have had of Georgia's
governor relenting on his bid to return home were dashed when the Georgia
Assembly passed the Bill of Attainder, Banishment, and Confiscation,
which included his name, along with 260 other Georgians, on May 4, 1783.
The British Bahamas, place of his birth, certainly would be his first
choice now that Georgia was closed to him.
Deveaux and his officers, through the Nassau raid, hoped to make a play
for land in the Bahamas, it paid off handsomely. The government awarded
generous grants to the expedition's participants. Even the men Deveaux
had recruited from the islands were compensated, receiving grants totaling
six thousand acres on Eleuthera Island. Lyford received two grants, one
for 448 acres on the western tip of New Providence Island, the other for
592 acres on Cat Island, near Port Howe. John Braddock received two generous
grants on Long Island, one of them numbered consecutive to a grant given
eventually made his home on the Cat Island grant and farmed the land on
New Providence, planting eighty acres with cotton and thirty with
plantains. After visiting Cat Island during the time he resided there, and
long before "experts" decided in 1926 that Watling Island, not
Cat Island, was Columbus's San Salvador, Daniel McKinnen wrote in A
Tour Through the British West Indies-1804 of where it was thought the illustrious navigator's foot had
first touched the New World: "A small Indian village, consisting of
6 houses, then stood near the landing place, surrounded by trees,
exhibiting the appearance of gardens. A country house belonging to Mr.
Lyford, and called Columbia in Honour of the great navigator, is now
situated near this supposed spot."
March 16, 1784, while still in St. Augustine, Lyford submitted to Britain's Royal Claims
Commission an application for the amount of £9,345 to
cover material losses he sustained as a Loyalist. By 1787, having
received no settlement from the petition, he had fallen deep in debt
sustaining his family and slaves, and trying to develop the land on New
Providence into a profitable plantation. Most men nearing the age of
seventy would have given up in despair. He could have sold his slaves, of
which he had thirty-eight valued at £1,940, and
his land for enough money to sustain him through his remaining years.
Instead, he sailed for England aboard the brigantine Providence
Packet. His mission was to
obtain memorials from fellow Loyalist friends who were now in England and
who could testify to his loyalty and service before and during the war
(his first submission probably had not been acted on because it lacked
these) and personally resubmit his application before the Claims
arrived in London in early June, and on the fourteenth wrote a letter to
"The Right Honorable the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's
Treasury" advising them of his reason for being in London. He ended
the letter with the plea: "The petitioner, therefore, most humbly
prays your Lordships to recommend him to the Commissioners for American
Claims in order to his receiving a temporary allowance for his present
support." Treasury sent the request to claims on July 20, and
soon afterward he received twenty-five pounds to provide for his immediate
Lyford then began the demanding task of seeking out those now residing in London who knew him in Georgia and East Florida, and· who were willing to provide memorials attesting to his character, loyalty, and his valuable service as a pilot. In addition to the memorials cited earlier from naval officers, he procured generous testimonies from several men who served in high positions. Anthony Stokes, former chief justice of Georgia, wrote that he was well acquainted with Captain Lyford and certified that he was not only uniformly loyal, but was also active in the cause of government and deserved "every mark of Attention that can be shewed to him." Former Georgia lieutenant governor, John Graham, wrote of Lyford's many years as the King's pilot in Georgia and that he had taken a very active and decided part in support of his majesty's government during the war. Furthermore, on all occasions Lyford manifested his loyalty and zeal for the King's service. Former East Florida governor Tonyn wrote that Lyford demeaned himself as a good and faithful subject while residing in that province. James Hume, who had served as chief justice of East Florida, wrote: "At the request of Captain William Lyford I do hereby certify that from the commencement of the disturbances in Georgia he conducted himself as a staunch and zealous Loyalist." It took Lyford until November 13, five months after his arrival in London, to track down Samuel Hunt Jenkins, former member of the Georgia Assembly, who wrote a memorial similar to that of Humes.
quest for at least some reimbursement for the losses his intense loyalty
cost him had been a long journey-in distance, in expense, and in
discouragements-from the time and place of those losses. Ten years had
passed since the Revolutionary government confiscated his extensive
property in Georgia. In addition to the untold miles he had piloted
British warships up and down the southeast coast, he had traveled from
Savannah to St. Augustine when banished as a Loyalist, from St. Augustine
to Savannah after Savannah's reduction, from Savannah to St. Augustine at
the war's end, from St. Augustine to Thunderbolt vainly seeking permission
to return to Georgia, from Thunderbolt back to St. Augustine after being
refused reentry, from St. Augustine to the Bahamas after the cession
of Florida to Spain, and from the Bahamas to London seeking a fair
settlement of his claim. Not counting the confiscated property valued in
his claim at more than nine thousand pounds, he lost ten years of a
substantial and steady income operating pilot boats in Savannah and
Sunbury, incurred the considerable expense of developing his grants in the
Bahamas into inhabitable and farmable lands, and now had to bear the
costs of roundtrip passage to London and subsistence and lawyer fees
during his lengthy stay. Not only did he endure the expected
discouragements of all displaced Loyalists, Lyford also suffered the
discouragements of the failure of his original claim submitted three years
earlier and of having to leave his home and family, in his advanced
years, to make a long, arduous voyage to England and pound the streets of
London day after day seeking memorials and pressing for the settlement of
his petition. In early autumn 1787, he
received news that added tremendously to his weight of woes when he
learned a storm had done extensive damage to his property. He told the
claims commission that "by the last vessel from New Providence [he]
hath received advices that in the hurricane which happened there on the
twenty-seventh day of August last past he had the misfortune to have all
his buildings blown down, crop destroyed and in general such wreck and
devastation in the property he possessed there that he is in danger of
having it entirely ruined unless by his presence he shall be capable in
some degree to retrieve the losses he hath thereby sustained and that
upon these accounts his presence in that country is become absolutely
Sometime after he made the long voyage back to his home on Cat Island in
the Bahamas, the commission considered only £7,157 of his £9,345 claim and granted
him a mere £1,000 in settlement.
for the official approval of the grant he had received on New Providence
earlier, public records have nothing to say of him after his visit to
England for almost seven years until the March 14, 1794, issue
of the Royal Gazette in Nassau announced his death at the age of seventy five. The Georgia
Gazette repeated the announcement in its March 27 issue.
The exact date of his death is
not known. In 1996 the internationally famous novelist and resident of
Lyford Cay, Arthur Hailey, with the help of Cat Island resident and
educator Eric Moncur, located the ruins of Lyford's house but could not
find his gravesite. Ironically, John Cutler Braddock died two months
before his uncle and is buried somewhere in Glynn County, Georgia, also
in an unmarked grave.
Lyford's remains still lie in an unmarked grave, his name lives on and is
spoken daily by the residents of Lyford Cay, the residential resort at the
west end of New Providence Island. In fact, the last book of Arthur Hailey
wrote before his death was The Lyford
Legacy, a History of Lyford Cay from 1788.
The book chronicles how the 448-acre land grant became the residential
resort of Lyford Cay and how William Lyford's life became part of the
region's colorful history.
According to a memo written by
Georgia governor James Wright while in exile in London, Braddock
commanded one of the three galleys that ran aground in Amelia Narrows
while carrying Continentals to rendezvous with Col. John Baker's
militia in East Florida. Allen D. Candler et aI., eds., The
Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, 39
vols. (Atlanta and Athens, Ga., 1904-), vol. 38, pt. 2:124-26.
Unpublished volumes in the collection of the Georgia Historical
Society, Savannah (hereinafter cited as CRG); "Capt.
Braddock" is named as commander of the Lee galley in Col. Samuel
Elbert's much-cited letter to Gen. Robert Howe describing the capture
of three British warships by three Georgia galleys at St. Simons
Island on April 19, 1778. An article in the Royal Georgia
Gazette told of a galley
commanded by 'John Braddock" and another galley engaging the
British brigantine Dunmore in
a running battle. Royal Georgia Gazette [Savannah],
September 27, 1781. See also, South Carolina and American
General Gazette [Charles Town],
April 23, 1778. He has brief mentions receiving orders as commander of
the Lee in Colonel
Elbert's Order Book and
in the minutes of Georgia's Executive Council. See William Harden,
ed., "Order Book of Samuel Elbert, Colonel and Brigadier
General in the Continental Army" Collections of the
Georgia Historical Society, 22
vols. to date (Savannah, 1840), vol. 5, pt. 2, 123, 186 (hereinafter
cited as CGHS); Allen
D. Candler, ed. The Revolutionary Records of Georgia, 3
vols. (Atlanta, 1908), 2:92 (hereinafter cited as RRG). Braddock
was listed as a traitor in colonial Georgia's Treason Act of 1780,
Disqualifying Act of 1780, and a list compiled by Loyalist Thomas
Flyming of Georgians who "were all of them very active in
rebellion against His Majesty in this Province ," RRG,
1 :352; Colonial Book DDD,
microfilm, Georgia Archives, Morrow. In addition to his service in the
Revolution, he served as an officer in the militia and held several
public offices in Glynn County after the war, including two terms in
the Georgia Assembly. See Margaret Davis Cate, Our Todays
and Yesterdays: A Story of Brunswick and the Coastal lslands (Brunswick,
Ga., 1930), 163, 169,231,234,236.
 Peter Wilson Coldham, American Loyalist Claims (Washington, D.C., 1980),298-99.
The confusion between father and son is understandable. The two are
differentiated in only five of the 158 historical records mentioning
them by the inclusion of "Junar," "son of,"
"younger Lyford," "Junr.," and "my son."
Gordon Burns Smith, History of the Georgia Militia, 1783-1861,
4 vols. (Milledgeville, Ga., 2000), 3:36.
"Letters from General Oglethorpe to the Trustees,
1735-1744," CGHS, vol. 5, pt. 1,67; South Carolina
Gazette [Charles Town], July 30, 1741, August 30, 1742, January 27
and May 12, 1757, November 20 and December 23,1 758, February 11,
1759; James H. Easterby et al., eds., The Journal of the Commons
House of Assembly, 14 vols. (Columbia, S.C., 1951-1989), 4:259;
Candler et aI., eds., CRG, 6: 172; Georgia Gazette [Savannah],
October 24, 1764. The chart is found in The coast of Florida from
the Dry Tortugas to the old Cape by David Cutler Braddock, 1756,
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Lawrence S. Rowland, Alexander Moore, and George C. Rogers, Jr., The
History of Beaufort County, South Carolina Vol. I: 1514-1861
(Columbia, S.C., 1996), 148.
Colonial Papers, C.O. 23/2:85, British Public Records Office,
London; Easterby et al., eds., Journal of the Commons House of
Assembly, 1:370-371; South Carolina Governor and Council
Journals, sessions of July 13, 15-16,23-24, August 3, September 9,
October 8, 11-13, 15, 1742, November 21, December 13, 1743, microfilm,
South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia
(hereinafter cited as SCDAH); Mendel L. Peterson., The Last Cruise
of HMS. Loo (Baltimore, Md., 1955),36-39; South Carolina
Gazette, June 23, 1746.
C. A. Linn, ed., Ebenezer Record Book, translated by A. G.
Voigt (Savannah, Ga., 1929), 78; Candler et al., eds., CRG, 11:201,303;
Colonial BookX2, 727, microfilm, Georgia Archives.
Miscellaneous Records-Charleston County, South Carolina, 114
vols., typescript, 69 A 25, Charleston County Public Library,
Charleston; Easterby et aI., eds., Journal of the Commons House of
 Nicholas Olsberg, "Ships Registers in the South Carolina Archives, 1734-1780," South Carolina Historical Magazine 74 (January 1973): 204 (hereinafter cited as SCHM); South Carolina Gazette, October 2, 1756, July 7, 1758, July 30, 1760, January 5, February 27, 1761.
Olsberg, "Ships Registers in the South Carolina Archives,
1734-1780," 251; Judgment Rolls, microfilm, SCDAH; South
Carolina Gazette, May 1, 15, June 15, 1762; Pre-Federal
Admiralty Court Records Province and State of South Carolina, microfilm,
Charleston County Public Library; Mabel L. Webber, ed., "Register
of St. Andrews Parish, Berkeley County, South Carolina" SCHM 15
(January 1914): 39.
 Olsberg, "Ships Registers in the South Caroline Archives, 1734-1780," 228.
 Georgia Commission Book B1-1754-1778, microfilm, Drawer 40, Box 39, Georgia Archives; South Carolina Gazette, February 8, 1768; Georgia Gazette, February 10, 1768; Candler et al., eds., CRG, 14:535-36,562.
 Candler et aI., eds., CRG, 10: 669-70, 15: 176-77,498-500; South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal [Charles Town], June 19, 1770. A memorialist is one who presents a petition to a legislative body
Candler et aI., eds., CRG., 38:113-14; Colonial Office Papers,
5/663: MPG357, British Public Records Office.
 Georgia Gazette, September 14,20, 1774
American Loyalists Claims, Series II, 1780-1835, AO. 13/36:
500, 516, British Public Records Office; Georgia Colonial Records, Book
A-B, 324-27, and Grant Book M, 901, 1014-15, Georgia
 William Bell Clark, ed., Naval Documents of the American Revolution, 9 vols. to date (Washington, D.C., 1968),3:688; "Proceedings of the Georgia Council of Safety, 1775-1777," CGHS,5:67.
American Loyalists Claims, Series II, 1780-1835, AO. 13/36:516.
Thelma Peters, "The Loyalist Migration from East Florida to the
Bahamas," Florida Historical Quarterly 40 (October 1961):
127 (hereinafter cited as FHQ); Sherry Johnson, "The
Spanish St. Augustine Community, 1784-1795, a Reevaluation," ibid.
68 (July 1989): 33.
Robert Gary Mitchell, "Loyalist Georgia" (Ph.D. diss.,
Tulane University, 1964), 320.
American Loyalists Claims, Series IL 1780-1835,
 Ibid., A.O. 13/36:493.
Ibid., A.O. 13/102:1063. The city of Savannah was an
important southern objective for the British, and the army sent more
than three thousand men to take it. The capture of three British
men-of-war in April 1778 by three Georgia galleys, one commanded by
John Braddock, followed shortly by another attempted invasion of East
Florida, prompted the decision (probably at the urging of the governor
of East Florida) to send the troops.
Telemon Cuyler Collection, Box 39, Folder 4, Hargrett Rare Book and
Manuscript Library, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens; Pre-l 800
File II, Microfilm, Drawer 202, Box
51, Georgia Archives; Candler, ed. RRG, 2:474-75.
Colonial Office Papers, 23/26:223, British
Public Records Office; Royal Gazette [Charlestown, South Carolina], March 20, 1782; Thelma
Peters, "The Loyalist Migration," 124; South
Carolina Weekly Gazette [Charles
Town], May 24, 1783.
 Peters, "The Loyalist Migration," 127
 South Carolina Weekly Gazette, June 28,1783.
 Georgia Gazette, November 17, 1783. .
Mary Moseley, The Bahamas
Handbook (Nassau, 1926), 72;
Register General Department of Land Grants-Book AI, 11, Book C1,
185, Book B1, 67, 86-87, Bahamas Department of Archives, Nassau.
Book N, "Schedule of the
property of William Lyford, now in Bahamas-March 23," 178, 144,
Bahamas Department of Archives; Daniel McKinnen, A Tour
through the British West Indies, in the Years 1802 and 1803, Giving
a Particular Account of the Bahama Islands (London,
 American Loyalists Claims, Series II, 1780-1835, A. O. 13/36:516; Book N, "List of debts due by Captain Lyford;" Book N, "Schedule of the property of William Lyford, now in Bahamas-March 23," 178, 144, Bahamas Department of Archives; American Loyalists Claims, Series II, 1780-1835, A.O. 13/102:1063
American Loyalists Claims, Series
II, 1780-1835, A.O. 13/102:1063; American Loyalists Claims, Series I,
1776-1831, A.O. 12/102:83, 88, Bahamas Department of Archives.
American Loyalists Claims, Series
II, 1780-1835, A.O.
13/102:504, 514, 1055,
1057, 1059, 1061.
 Mitchell, “Loyalist Georgia," 344.
Gazette [Nassau, Bahamas], March 14, 1794; Georgia
Gazette, March 27, 1794.
 Arthur Hailey (1920-2004), The Lyford Legacy, a History of Lyford Cay From 1788 (privately published, c.2003) to raise money for the Lyford Cay Foundation to fund scholarships for Bahamians. Hailey died at Lyford Cay on November 24. This writer furnished Hailey with all the information about Lyford used in the book.