|Birth: ||Mar. 4, 1756|
County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
|Death: ||Mar. 18, 1826|
West Virginia, USA
One of at least 6 sons born to John & Elizabeth Alexander Sommerville of Granshagh, near Londonderry, in the north of Ireland (at that time). It is not known how many children remained in Ireland, but 5 sons came to America over a period of years. Wm. and his brother Joseph arrived in Baltimore in 1773 on the ship Prince of Wales. He was 17. The brothers made their way to Chambersburg, Pa. where William lived with Joseph's family and near his brother George, who had been the first to arrive.
On the 8th of August of 1776 William enlisted in the 8th Penna. Rgmt. within 3 weeks of its' formation. Initially they were militia intended for defense of the frontier along the Ohio River. Almost immediately William fell ill, not an uncommon occurrence. He spent some months re-couperating in Kittaning, Pa. After returning to duty he was assigned to the quartermaster's dept. The 8th Pa had become part of the Continental Line by this time and had been ordered east to join the main army in New Jersey. This was very disconcerting for men expecting to defend their own families and farms on the frontier. Reluctantly they headed east over the mountains - a trip of 500 miles - through the snow. They arrived in January missing the Battle of Trenton. Armed only with their own hunting rifles, having no uniforms or supplies, and exhausted from the 500 mile trek, they were in no condition to fight once they arrived.
The 8th Pa. wintered at Valley Forge and participated in a number of well known battles in the east. Finally, they were reassigned to Fort Pitt and the Western Dept. William was stationed at Ft. Laurens and Ft. M'Intosh where he was given a field commission as lieutenant as per the daily orderly book.
In October of 1778 William was appointed Conductor of Artillery and Commissary of military stores for the Western Dept under Col. Chevalier de Cambry with a field commission as captain. He mustered out on the 20th of January, 1781 when the 8th was disbanded. After that William joined the Virginia militia assigned to General George Rogers Clark continuing to fight the British & Indians on the frontier.
He makes several references to an injury to the upper part of his left arm in 1784 which made physical labor close to impossible. At that point, he abandoned the military life and became a merchant.
One year after working as a clerk in Baltimore, William can be found living in White Post, Va., again near his brother George who Had lived near there since 1767.There is a mention of this in a history of The White Post on the Fairfax estate. In 1786 Wm settled his accounts with the Board of War in NY. In 1788 he received his "final settlement certificates" from Col. David Hunter in Richmond, Virginia. He sold these for 1/2 their value in Baltimore in June of 1791 to the Andrew Kennedy Co. for mercantile supplies.
In 1794 William was living in Martinsburg, Va. He bought out his brother Joseph who used the money for yet another a new start in Harrison Co. In April of 1802 William was appointed Postmaster during the administration of Thomas Jefferson. At the age of 52 (1808) Wm married Margaret Brown of Charles Town and became the father of 5 children. Wm kept a diary all of his life. The last known remnant covering the period of 1810 -12 can be found in the special collection at the University of West Va. It is an interesting snapshot of life in Martinsburg during those years. There are comments about the nation's birthday and what little regard there seemed to be for something that had come at such a high price, William's fear and excitement when the revolution had started, another fast approaching war with England, the divorce of Napoleon and many other observations of both local and world events.
William owned books, was well read and an avid reader of the newspapers that passed through the post office. He also cultivated and traded Irish daisies. He felt himself to be Irish but did not identify with the religious politics of Londonderry. He had his 1st child baptized by the Catholic priest because the Presbyterian minister would not come to his home to do it.
William maintained contact with army comrades. The 8th Penna. Rgmt had been mustered out in the Martinsburg area, many of it's members settled there. One of those was Col. John Morrow. But William also corresponded with a wide range of people who lived all over. He also corresponded with 2 Sommerville nephews, John and Robert M. Both of whom hold their own place in the new nation's history.
John Sommerville (1710 - 1785)
Elizabeth Alexander Sommerville
Margaret Brown Sommerville (1787 - 1840)
Nancy Gibbs Sommerville (1809 - 1828)*
Elizabeth Alexander Sommerville Edwards (1812 - 1886)*
Margaretta Brown Sommerville (1815 - 1826)*
Robert Alexander Sommerville (1817 - 1877)*
William Augustus Sommerville (1819 - 1846)*
George Sommerville (1746 - 1801)*
Joseph Sommerville (1748 - 1814)*
Thomas Sommerville (1750 - 1835)*
William Sommerville (1756 - 1826)
Alexander Sommerville (1763 - 1833)*
Note: old ground with no marker
Norbourne Parish Cemetery
West Virginia, USA
Plot: old ground
Created by: connie jansen
Record added: May 19, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 37275719