|Birth: ||Sep. 6, 1728|
Charles City County
|Death: ||Jan. 1, 1777|
Charles City County
Colonel William Byrd, III of "Westover" was the son of Colonel William Byrd, II, and his second wife, Maria Taylor. He was born September 6, 1729. He served as a member of the House of Burgesses for Lunenburg County, Virginia. In 1754 he was appointed a member of the Council. In 1758 he was commissioned as a Colonel of the Second Virginia Regiment and served in active duty on the western frontier during the French & Indian War. Colonel William Byrd, III was an avid gambler. He owned some of the most celebrated race horses of his day. Due to his love of horse racing and other extravagances, he wasted much of the grand estate left to him by his father. He won and lost large amounts at cards. As a result of his financial straits, he sold by lottery his lots in Richmond and Manchester.
William Byrd, III, was age sixteen when his father died. He was formally educated in England under the care of his uncle, Francis Otway. Records indicated he attended Westminster School and entered the Middle Temple in 1747 where he remained for one year. There he probably acquired his notorious gambling habits. He returned to Virginia and there Colonel Byrd married firstly on April 14, 1748, Elizabeth Carter, the only daughter of John Carter of "Shirley" plantation; Elizabeth died July 5, 1760. He married secondly within six months of Elizabeth's death, Mary Willing, daughter of Charles Willing of Philadelphia. Colonel Byrd died January 1, 1777. His gambling habits followed such an extent that the vast estate built up by his father and grandfathers before him was nearly wasted away during his lifetime.
Like his grandfather and father, he was identified with the political life of Virginia and served a term in the House of Burgesses and in 1754 was appointed to the Council where he served for over 20 years. He surpassed his father and grandfather in military achievement. In about 1754 during the French & Indian War Colonel William Byrd III served as Justice of the Peace and county-lieutenant of Halifax, the commanding officer of the military force of the county. While his home, "Westover" in Charles City County, was more than one hundred and fifty miles away, he still owned a large part of the 105,000 acres granted to his father.
By his marriage to Elizabeth Carter he had five children: William, born 1749, Lieutenant in an English Regiment, died while traveling in France in 1771; John Carter, born 1751, married the widow of Wm. Randolph, died childless; Thomas Taylor, born 1752; Elizabeth Hill, born 1754, married first James Farley, second Rev. John Dunbar, and third Col. Henry Skipworth, and Francis Otway born 1756. Elizabeth Carter Byrd died in 1760.
In 1761 Col. Byrd married Mary Willing of Philadelphia and had 10 children by her: Maria, born 1761, married John Page; Ann Willing, born 1763; Charles Willing, born 1765, died 1766; Evelyn Taylor, born 1766, married Benjamin Harrison of the famous Harrison family; Abby, born 1767, md. Judge William Nelson; Dorothy, born and died 1769; Charles Willing II, born 1770, later US District Judge for Ohio; Jane, born 1773, md. Carter Harrison; Richard Willing, born 1774, member of VA House of Delegates 1804-1806, died 1815; and William IV, born soon after his father's death. When Col. Byrd died in 1777, his financial difficulties fell upon the shoulders of his wife, Mary Willing Byrd.
In William's Will: "Next I desire my Body may be privately buried by the tomb of my sister Evelyn in the old Church Yard"
The predecessor of the existing Westover Church was constructed between 1630 and 1637 on what later was the grounds of Westover plantation. About 1730 the construction of the present Westover Church was completed at its present site on Herring Creek about 1 1/2 mile north of Westover mansion.
In both wills of William Byrd III and his wife, Mary Shippen Byrd, their burials were instructed to be in the Old Parrish Cemetery on the grounds at Westover. William stated he was to be buried by his sister Evelyn. Mary Shippen stated she was to be buried by her husband. There is no known reason at this time that the burials were not carried out as requested. These must have been hard times for this Byrd family with the suicide of William, their loyalty to the British, and the great debt burden left by William. It would be understanding for a private burial by the family for both without headstones. During the Revolutionary War some family members were loyal to the British and some were not. Francis Otway Byrd in particular, fought on the colonies side against the will of his father. It has been posted in the caption of the picture posted here for the William Byrd house in Williamsburg, Va that he committed suicide there and was not interred here as he wished due to the times of not allowing church burials for suicides. As the post states historians do not know where he is due to no headstone.
We know there is no headstone of him or his wife. This property was deeded back to the Westover Plantation after the present day church was built before William Byrd II died so it has been a private cemetery since then.
It would be nice if we had absolute proof of where William and his wife are buried , but it seems we do not. Having gone through just about all that is written about them I can only still think that the only place that they could be is where their wills had stated. Maybe not right beside his sister, but somewhere nearby. Several writings in books had stated William ended his life at Westover. I have not found anything to say elsewhere and maybe someone might shed some more light on this for us. One thing for sure is, 35 years after his death, his widow made her will out to be "privately buried next to her dear husband". In my opinion she would not have made this request unless William was here in the old Parrish cemetery on the grounds of Westover Plantation. In her will she also made mention of the reservation of the church grounds when Westover was sold. It would be hard to think that a lady of her statue in these times did not have her wishes carried out and that it was where she had lived for the most part of her life. When she first saw Westover in 1762 she had said "This is the most delightful place in the world".
William Byrd (1674 - 1744)
Maria Taylor Byrd (1698 - 1771)
Elizabeth Hill Carter Byrd (1731 - 1760)*
Mary Shippen Willing Byrd (1740 - 1814)*
John Carter Bird/Byrd (1751 - 1830)*
Thomas Taylor Byrd (1752 - 1821)*
Elizabeth Hill Byrd Skipwith (1755 - 1819)*
Francis Otway Byrd (1756 - 1800)*
Maria Horsmanden Byrd Page (1761 - 1844)*
Ann Ursula Willing Byrd (1763 - 1813)*
Charles Willing Byrd (1765 - 1766)*
Evelyn Taylor Byrd Harrison (1766 - 1817)*
Dorothea Byrd (1769 - 1769)*
Charles Willing Byrd (1770 - 1828)*
Richard Willing Byrd (1774 - 1815)*
William Boyd Byrd (1777 - 1820)*
Evelyn Byrd (1707 - 1737)**
Parke Byrd (1709 - 1710)**
Philip William Byrd (1712 - 1712)**
Wilhelmina Byrd Chamberlayne (1715 - 1760)**
Anne Byrd Carter (1725 - 1775)*
Maria Horsmanden Byrd Carter (1727 - 1744)*
William Evelyn Byrd (1728 - 1777)
Jane Byrd Page (1729 - 1774)*
Charles City County
Created by: RF
Record added: Aug 20, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 40885971