William Williams

William Williams (1731 - 1811)

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Colonel William Williams
Born in Lebanon, New London,Connecticut Colony, New Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Lebanon, New London, Connecticut Colony, New Englandmap
[children unknown]
Died in Lebanon, New London, Connecticut, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 30 Sep 2012
This page has been accessed 2,875 times.

Categories: American Founding Fathers | Signers of the United States Declaration of Independence | American Revolution.

Colonel William Williams served during the American Revolution
Service started:
Unit(s):
Service ended:


In the interest of accuracy and because of the different birth listings for William Williams, (see the bio below), 1731 is closest to accurate.

Contents

Biography

"Died, at Lebanon, on the 2d inst. Hon. William Williams, Esq. aged 80. Col. Williams was a native of Lebanon, and a son of the former minister of that town. He received an early liberal education. At the age of 25, was elected a member of the legislature, and continued constantly a member of one or the other branches of that body for forty-eight years, except while a member of the Congress of the United States. He was one of the patriots of ’76, and the only surviving member of Congress from this state, who signed the Declaration of Independence. He sustained the offices of judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and judge of Probate, for upwards of thirty years. The public ever placed the highest confidence in his inflexible integrity : and his virture and distinguished piety, left to his friends the pleasing hope, that he exchanged this world for a state of perfect happiness."[1]

Birth

William Williams, son of Rev. Solomon Williams and Mary Porter, was born April 8, 1731, according to the inscription on his tombstone. The "3" in 1731, is not legible in the photos of his gravestone[2], and in the 1930's when the stone was read, it was misread or mistyped as 1781, which of course is wrong, since he died at 80 in 1811.[3] He was born in Lebanon, New London, Connecticut Colony,[1] where the town records listed his birth but no date.[4] Listed in some sources, Wikipedia for instance, is the date April 23, 1731. The Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence has his birth as April 18, 1731.[5] The Biog. Dir. of the United States has yet another date: March 29, 1731[6]

He was baptized at the First Lebanon Congregational Church, March 21, 1731,[7] which does not appear to be correct if the birth date on his stone is correct. This date may be March 21, 1731/2, but that would make him eleven months old when baptized. His siblings were generally baptized within a few days of their births.

Career

William Williams attended and graduated, 1751, from Harvard. It was his intention, at the time, to become a minister like his father, Rev. Solomon Williams.[8][6] Although he never became a minister, he was a deacon of the church, from an early age.[8]

He joined the Continental Army during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He was on the staff of his uncle, Colonel Ephraim Williams. "On September 8, 1755, at Rocky Brook, four miles from Lake George, British Major General William Johnson, leading 1,200 provincial troops, engaged Monsieur le Baron de Dieskau in a fierce battle."[5] William's uncle Ephraim, was shot through the head during the first volley.[5]

William returned to Lebanon and took up mercantile pursuits.[6] and soon began his political life.

  • 1753-1796: Town clerk of Lebanon.[6]
  • 1757-1762, 1763-1776, and 1780-1784: member of the State house of representatives. He served as speaker in 1775 and 1781-1783.[6]
  • 1776 and 1777: Member of the Continental Congress.[6]
  • 1776: Signer of the Declaration of Independence[6]
  • Selectman of Lebanon[8]
  • Member of the council of safety during the Revolution.[6]
  • 1776-1804: Judge of the county court of Windham.[6]
  • 1776-1808: Judge of probate for the Windham district.[6]
  • 1780: Became an assistant councilor, served as assistant and as councilor for twenty-four years.[6]
  • 1787: Member of the Connecticut ratification convention.[6]

Marriage

William Williams Esq., son of Rev. Solomon Williams married Mary Trumbull, Feb 14, 1771, in Lebanon. [9][4] The ceremony was performed by his father.[4][10] Mary was the daughter of Governor Jonathan Trumbull.

Census data indicates that the William and Mary spent their lives in Lebanon in a William Williams house that still exists. Household size indicates that they had non-immediate family living with them. Some of them were non-white free persons. [11] [12] [13]

Death

The Hon. William Williams Esq. died Aug. 2, 1811 at the age of 80, [4] [2][3][1] and was buried at the Old Cemetery in Lebanon, Connecticut.[2][3]

A shorter obituary reads: "----At Lebanon, Conn. the hon. William Williams; a gentleman eminently virtuous and useful in society, aged 80 years. He was one of the patriots of ’76, and the only surviving Member of Congress from the state of Connecticut, who signed the declaration of independence."[14]

Epitaph

A man eminent for his Virtues and Piety.
For more than fifty years he was constantly employed in publick life and served in many of the most important offices in the gift of his fellow citizens.
During the whole period of the revolutionary war he was a firm, steady, and ardent friend of his Country and in the darkest times he risked his life and wealth in her Defense.
In the years 1776, '77, he was a member of the American Congress and as such signed the Declaration of Independence. His public and private virtues, his piety and benevolence will long endear his memory to his surviving friends.
Above all he was a sincere Christian and in his last moments placed his hope with humble confidence in his Redeemer, he had the inexpressible (?) satisfaction to look back upon a long honorable and well spent life.

Children

  1. Solomon Williams b. the night following Jan 5, 1772;[4] bpt. 12 Jan 1772.[7]
  2. Faith Williams b. Sept 28, 1774;[4] bpt Oct 2, 1774[7]
  3. William Trumbull Williams b. Mar 2, 1777[4]

Other Biographies

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Death Notice: William Williams. Windham Herald (Windham, Connecticut) Volume: XXI Issue: 1066 Page: 3. Friday, August 9, 1811.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Photos of gravestone at Find a Grave #2815 at the Old Cemetery in Lebanon, Connecticut. Fairly clear photo of gravestone
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Hale Collection of Connecticut Cemetery Inscriptions. This transcription was checked against the original typescripts.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 White, Lorraine Cook, ed. The Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records. Vol. 1-55. "Lebanon" p. 231/2Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1994-2002.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence William Williams.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=W000546 Biographical Directory of the United States Congress] "Williams, William (1731-1811)" Citing: Stark, Bruce P. Connecticut Signer: William Williams. Chester, Conn.: Pequot Press, 1975.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Connecticut Church Records Index. Lebanon First Congregational Church 1700-1883. Connecticut State Library, Hartford, Connecticut. 1942. p. 225
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Goodrich, Charles A. (Charles Augustus), 1790-1862. Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of independence. Hartford: R.G.H. Huntington, 1841.p. 174
  9. Connecticut Church Records Index. Lebanon First Congregational Church 1700-1883. Connecticut State Library, Hartford, Connecticut. 1942. p. 225
  10. Link to Barbour Collection at Ancestry (pay site)
  11. First Census of the United States, 1790 (NARA microfilm publication M637, 12 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Census Place: Lebanon, Windham, Connecticut; Roll: ; Image: Link at Ancestry. Data: Honr Wiiliam Williams. Free White Persons - Males - Under 16: 2. Free White Persons - Males - 16 and over: 2. Free White Persons - Females: 7. Number of All Other Free Persons: 2. Number of Household Members: 13
  12. Second Census of the United States, 1800. NARA microfilm publication M32 (52 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Census Place: Lebanon, Windham, Connecticut; Roll: ; Page: ; Image: . Link at Ancestry Data: Wm Williams Esquire. Lebanon, Windham, Connecticut Free White Persons - Males -10 thru 15: 1, 16 thru 25: 1, 26 thru 44: 1, 45 and over: 1, - Females -10 thru 15: 1, 26 thru 44: 1,45 and over: 1, Number of All Other Free Persons: 1, Number of Household Members Under 16: 2, Number of Household Members Over 25: 4, Number of Household Members: 8
  13. Third Census of the United States, 1810. (NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls). Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. Census Place: Lebanon, Windham, Connecticut; Roll: 3; Page: 587; Image: 00319; Family History Library Film: 0281231. Note there are two William Williams households in 1810. It is probably this smaller household. Data: Wm. Williams Lebanon, Windham, Connecticut  : Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 15: 1, - 45 and over: 1, - Females - 16 thru 25: 1, 45 and over : 2. Total 5
  14. Trenton Federalist (Trenton, New Jersey) Volume: XIII Issue: 656 Page: 3 Monday, September 23, 1811




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Images: 3
Signing the Declaration of Independence
Signing the Declaration of Independence

Hon. William Williams
Hon. William Williams

William Williams House
William Williams House

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