We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

The Signers

  • Only 1 died due to the Revolutionary war ( and that was in a dual).  17 served in the military.
  • 8 others died of  causes other than war.
  • Tension – 5 captured by the British, 1 lost a son in the war.
  • Of the 56, 25 were lawyers, 15 merchants, 10 involved farming/land speculation, 4 physicians, 1 scientist, 1 minister.
  • The average number of children they had was 6.
  • The average age of the signers was 45 and average age at death 66
  • 2 lasted until the 50th anniversary in 1826 (Jefferson and Adams). The oldest signer at death was 95 (Charles Carroll of Md).

NY Times, July 5, 1981

THE 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence form a fascinating cross section of late 18th-century America. Some were great men; some were not. A few were the best-known leaders in their states; others were in Philadelphia because the really powerful local leaders stayed home to form their state governments.

Several who debated the question of independence never signed the Declaration; a few who did write their names on our proclamation of freedom just happened to be there when the document was presented for signing.

Among the truly great leaders who signed the Declaration of Independence, one would have to include John and Samuel Adams and John Hancock of Massachusetts; Roger Sherman of Connecticut; Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris and James Wilson of Pennsylvania, and Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee and George Wythe of Virginia.

The young ages of the South Carolina signers – Arthur Middleton, 34 years old, Thomas Heyward Jr., 30, Thomas Lynch Jr., 27, and Edward Rutledge, 26 – show that they were younger sons sent to Philadelphia while their more prestigious elders undertook the construction of a government at home.

Six of the signers showed their lasting involvement in the new national Government by participating in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and signing that charter of our Government: Roger Sherman of Connecticut; Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, James Wilson and George Clymer of Pennsylvania, and George Read of Delaware.

Robert Livingston of New York, a member of the five-man committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, never signed it. On the other hand, Robert Morris and George Read both voted against independence, but then signed the document when the copy was presented on Aug. 2.

One of the signers, Lewis Morris, is a part of the heritage of what is now the Bronx, but was then Westchester County. Among the roles he played was that of county judge in 1777 and 1778. Of special note is Morris’s presence at the Fourth Provincial Congress at White Plains. On July 9, 1776, a week after the Continental Congress had voted independence, and five days after the Declaration of Independence had been approved, this Provincial Congress released the New York delegates in Philadelphia from their standing instructions to abstain from voting on the question of independence. Morris, it would appear, served independence better by his presence at White Plains than would have been possible at Philadelphia.

Many individual signers are of interest in their own right. We all know of the scientific interests of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was also a fine violinist, frequently taking part in string quartet performances.

Equally interesting, perhaps, is Dr. Benjamin Rush, whose heroism during the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia during 1793 endeared him even to his political enemies. Rush had also, during his years of medical study in Europe, grown interested in the plight of the mentally ill. It could hardly have occurred to him in his student days that one of his own sons would become demented after killing a fellow naval officer in a duel.