September 17, 1776. Ephemera. A Revolutionary War period writ issued in Charleston, South Carolina, signed by William Henry Drayton. A large sum of money is demanded of William Bath, pilot of Charleston by James Smyth. Bath is not present in Charleston and somehow the writ is transfered to Sarah Johnson, who it is inferred is in possession of Bath's property, including a negro girl named Lucey. The sheriff, Thomas Gimbell, executes the writ on Sarah Johnson.
The writ is executed at a transition time for the American colonies, from the Colonial to the Revolutionary War period. The form was issued on September 17, 1776, just 2 months after the Declaration of Independence. As such, all the pre-printed areas that refer to the "Province" South Carolina are crossed out, and "State" is inserted. "Year of our Reign is also crossed through. The money demanded is in pounds. Included in the writ is reference to a "negro named Lucey with one Sarah Jones in Union Street", with a long statement by Thomas Gimball (?), Sheriff of Charles Town, signed. The writ was served Oct. 17, 1776, and filed Jan 10th, 1777. The witness is the Hble. William Henry Drayton, Chief Justice at Charleston.
It is not completely clear which William Drayton has signed the writ. It is most likely that of William Henry Drayton, (Sept. 1742-September 3, 1779). He was the son of John Drayton and Charlotta Bull, daughter of the colony's Governor William Bull. He was educated in England at Westminster School and Oxford before returning home in 1764. He served as a delegate for South Carolina to the Continental Congress in 1778 and 1779. He died of typhus in Philadelphia while in office. His signature "Wm Hy Drayton" is on the left side of the writ, partially obscured by the duty stamp.
However, his cousin was William Drayton Sr. (1732-1790). Also born in Ashley River, South Carolina, he was the son of Thomas Drayton III & Elizabeth. Drayton was educated in the Middle Temple, in London, England in 1754. He read law to enter the South Carolina Bar in 1756, and was thereafter a Justice of the peace for Berkeley County, South Carolina until 1763. From 1763 to 1780, he was Chief justice for the Province of East Florida. In 1789, he was a judge of the South Carolina Admiralty Court, and an associate judge of the South Carolina Supreme Court, appointed by George Washington.
William Bath is included on the Grand Jury List for the "District of George Town", Parish of Prince George in 1778 & 1780. There is a marriage record for a William Bath to Elizabeth Baker (widow) on 2 Nov 1771. (South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research, Vol 10, #3.) Sarah Jones is possibly the widow of Thomas Jones Sr, whose will was probated in 1773. In the 1790 census she is listed as the head of the household with 2 boys under 16 and 2 women, and no slaves. In 1800, just the mother and daughter comprise the household. In 1806 & 1809, she is listed as a seamstress in two different Charleston directories, Negrin's directory and Almanac for the year 1806 and Directory for the District of Charleston, 1809 by Richard Hrabowski. There are a series of James Smith's (spelled Smyth in the writ). James Smyth is listed in Charleston in 1758; in 1780, he is on the Petit Jury List for the "District of Charles Town, Johns Island, Colleton County"; in the 1790 Federal Census, he is in the parish of St. Phillips and St. Michaels in Charleston, with no slaves.
Alas, there is no further reference to "Lucey".
The heading is trimmed off the top, and it appears that this area referred to the King, and was hence trimmed off. Written carefully below is "The State of South Carolina, to all Singular the Sheriffs of the State aforesaid Greeting... Laid paper, 13 x 6 3/4" printed on one side with manuscript additions, docketed manuscript notations on the verso. Uniformly tanned. Very good condition. Item #10588