The Life and Times of Edward Weyman

Past Senior Grand Warden

The Grand Lodge of Ancient York Masons of South Carolina

By: Brother Eric Mease, 32º K.C.C.H.

Edward Weyman was born into comfortable surroundings, August 11, 1730, in Oxford, Chester County, and Pa. He was raised in Philadelphia and eventually apprenticed as an upholsterer and glazier. He became aware of the Masonic Fraternity at an early age from his older brother who was active in “Tun Tavern Lodge No. 3’” which had been chartered, June 28th, 1749, by the short lived Proventional Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (modern) and which met in Philadelphia at the “Tun Tavern.” On the corner of Water Street and Tun Alley. The surviving Lodge record of a called meeting held there on March 22, 1750, confirms the older sibling’s membership and attendance. 

Requirements for membership in “Modern” Pennsylvania Freemasonry in the 1750’s were not too different from our present day rules as it requires the candidate to be of a “mature and discrete age in order to understand the special teachings that was about to be conferred upon him.” Pennsylvanian Masons at that time routinely interpreted this requirement to mean the age of 25 years, although younger men of superior capacities were occasionally admitted by special dispensation. 

Edward was elected November 7, 1750, initiated on the 14th, passed 14th March 1751 and raised to the sublime degree on June 5th, 1751. He was admitted a member of the Lodge that same day. The above record tells us a good deal about the new, 20 year old Mason. He was obviously successful and considered by his contemporaries, to be of “superior capacity.” These qualities frequently surface throughout the story of his life. One year later at the meeting of June 24th, 1752, held on St. John the Baptist Day, the Lodge members elected him Junior Warden. This rapid preferment was perhaps not too unusual for his time.  Edward was elected Senior Warden of Lodge No. 3 for several such terms between December 27th, 1754 and the last being June 1755. Surviving records at the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania show that Tun Lodge No. 3, surrendered its charter on July 2nd, 1755 just one week after the close of the elected term. At this time Edward and his family of two children left the city of Brotherly Love and took up headed for Charles Town, South Carolina, then known as the second most prosperous city in the colonies. 

Edward and his family arrived in Charles Town shortly after the Provincial Grand Lodge of South Carolina was re-established when the Masonic revival was taking place. At the time of Edward’s arrival there were five active Lodges in Charles Town at this time which consisted of Prince George Winyah at George Town, Port Royal, St. George’s, Dorchester, Solomon’s, and Union Lodge No. 4. 

Masonry was an important part of Edward’s life and remained and remained so until the end of his days. No records remain in Pennsylvania of what happened to the disbanded of Tun Lodge but as Edward had become a permanent resident of South Carolina and unaffiliated, he could not have long remained a sojourning mason. It is reasonable to assume that he affiliated with one of the two city Lodges and indications strongly point to Union Lodge No. 4. 

Edward’s business continued to flourish and he became a respected member of the community. Three influential groups controlled business in the Province of South Carolina. The planters were the principal land owners with exporting interests in the indigo, rice, and cotton produced on their plantations, the merchants who depended largely upon European imports for their source of merchandise and the artisans or mechanics who were either manufacturing shopkeepers such as the saddlers, cabinetmakers, and shoemakers selling their goods on the premises or who were “Masters” and through their employees provided skilled trade services to the community. In Charles Town the mechanics were always an important and numerous class. As the Colony grew and prospered their influence became significant and many of them became leading figures of the Revolution. Between 1760-1774 one of the most valuable and vigorous mechanic industries in Charleston was shipbuilding and related “Marine: work, which had a reputation for excellence throughout the colonies and in Europe. This is the origin of the word as an artisan lodge name. 

In 1762 Edward and Fellow Masons, Daniel Cannon the carpenter and George Flagg, of Solomon’s Lodge No. 1, the artist and painter, were largely responsible for the founding of the Fellowship Society. Upon the creation of this Society they also became the first officers of this benevolent organization, composed of mechanics and dedicated to charitable works and the building of a hospital for distressed and indigent persons. During the 1770’s the Society admitted members of the other two classes, the planters and the mechanics. It maintained for many years both male and female schools and elected teachers annually until 1858, after which date an arrangement was entered into with the public school system. Edward served as the first President of the Society. Sometime in 1762 Edward was appointed Commissioner for Indian Affairs. The core of artisans responsible for founding the fellowship Society was also actively involved in the Charles Town Fire Company and was regarded as the more vocal of the group defending American rights. According to one wag at the time, they started more political fires than they extinguished real ones. In 1765 the group formed and directed the strongly politically motivated, John Wilkes Club, until it passed out of existence with Independence. During this year Edward became a Clerk for St. Philip’s Church. 

As the French and Indian War (1754-1763) drew to a close, England found herself deeply in debt and sought in part to alleviate the situation by taxing the colonial trade. Various penalties were imposed on raw materials and finished goods, which selectively enraged all three-business groups. The most resented of the taxes was the “Stamp Act” of 1765, which met with strong resistance throughout the Colonies, which produced such Patriots as Samuel Adams from Massachusetts, Patrick Henry in Virginia, Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina, and The Sons of Liberty. The Sons of Liberty was a Patriotic Society which opposed the economic bondage imposed by the British government and which came into being from the ranks of the now well organized society of mechanics. The “Stamp Paper” arrived in Charles Town on October 20th, 1765 where upon it was immediately placed under strong guard at Fort Johnson which was located on James Island by the Royal Lieutenant Governor William Bull who was at that time a member of Solomon’s Lodge Number 1. After 8 days of civil unrest Lieutenant Governor William Bull announced that the Stamp Act would not be enforced and peace was restored to the city. 

The riots clearly demonstrated to the politically inclined, that organized resistance could topple established authority and on the down size, that anarchy was an immediate threat if such resistance became an on going practice. The more responsible members of the Sons of Liberty including Gadsen and Weyman, “worried for the future of peace and order.”  In 1766 these two leaders together with 23 other members of the Sons of Liberty formed the Liberty Association, sometimes referred to as the Liberty Tree Party and who at a later period became the Wigs of the Revolution. This group first meets at the popular site for public and social meeting, under the Liberty Tree. The Liberty Tree was a large Oak, which was located in a field owned by Isaac Mazyck’s. Here the Liberty Association formed a chain of Brotherhood around the tree by clasping their hands together and dedicating themselves to the pursuit of Liberty.  

The Liberty Association was among the first organized citizens in the Colonies to deliberately move in the direction of Revolution towards British rule. This was 10 years before; “the shot was heard around the world.” 

Generally speaking however, the vast majority of South Carolinians including the business community had been largely loyal and peaceful until they were driven to despair by the continuing high handed actions of the English parliament. For example, following the repeal of the Stamp Act on March 18th, 1766, the Colonial Assembly at Charles Town sent written thanks to London and voted to erect a marble statue of William Pitt who had fought so persistently for the welfare of the Colonists.  This was hardly the action of a rebellious population at this time. The statue stood for many years in Washington Park, which was, located behind City Hall. The statue is now preserved in the Charleston Museum located in downtown Charleston. 

For several years after the repeal, the Masons of Charles Town were strongly represented in the Liberty Association, which was increasing in numbers along with civic influence. On March 18th the Liberty Association celebrated their efforts in bringing about its successful conclusion. Their meeting site continued to be the Live Oak Tree in Mazyck’s field which was located in the area now bounded to the North by Charlotte Street, East by Washington Street, South by Boundary Street, and to the West by Alexander Street. The tree soon became known throughout out Charles Town as the Liberty Tree. The same can be stated for the Liberty Tree located in Boston, Mass. 

In December 1773, Bostonians dressed as Indians and dumped English Tea into the Harbour. In New York and Philadelphia mobs turned back tea laden ships. The English Parliament outraged by these acts closed the port of Boston. Gadsen and his close associates including Weyman saw in its retaliation a grave threat to their control of Charles Town, which lead to a three-day meeting. At this meeting they considered such steps as are necessary to retain control. The results of this meeting were the formation of a General Committee, which included 15 merchants, 15 mechanics, including Edward and 69 planters representing the rest of the Province. The Committee called for and became part of an elected assembly, which transformed itself into the First Provincial Congress. At this meeting Edward Weyman was elected to represent the St. Michael’s and St. Philip’s Parish of Charles Town.  

On April 14th, 1775, word reached Charles Town that more troops had been dispatched to enforce English policies. This news prompted the Secret Committee of Five, created by the Provincial Congress in early 1774, to order Edward to take charge of an operation for the seizure of arms and powder from the local Hobcaw, Neck Magazines, and the State House. On April 21st, 1775 this task was done which resulted in the amount of 800 guns, 200 cutlasses, and 1600 pounds of powder. The supplies were hidden in the homes of sympathizers throughout the city of Charles Town. Two infantry regiments each of 750 men and a squadron of 450 rangers was also ordered raised. It was from this group of armed citizens that names such as Moultrie, Marion, Sumter Sr., and Pickens surfaced. The “Committee of Five” was comprised of W.H. Drayton, Edward Weyman (the respected artisan), C.C. Pinckney, Arthur Middleton, and William Gibbs. The first three were definitely members of the craft and the last two are suspected of being members.     

Relations between England and the Colonies rapidly deteriorated and most of these S.C. Provincial Congress believed that the shots fired by the British at Lexington on April 19th, 1775 constituted a declaration of war against America. 

Edward was elected to serve in the Second Provincial Congress on November 1st, 1775 through March 24th, 1776 as a representative for Charles Town. On February 10th, 1776, Gadsen and Drayton stunned the Provincial Congress by calling for total Indepence from the mother country. The first Independent Government of South Carolina was elected on March 24th, 1776 following which the oath was administered under the Liberty Tree located on Mazyk’s property. This body immediately voted to free itself from British domination and became the first free state in America this time.  

In June of 1777 Edward along with the Fellowship Society and the Sons of Liberty formed the Palmetto Society to care for the relief of the widows and orphans of the revolution.  As the war evolved he was appointed to a succession of government posts which included Marshall of the Admiralty from 1778-1779. He was first appointed as a Lieutenant, then as Captain with the Charleston Ancient Battalion of Artillery for a period of 506 days. During this period he supervised and took part in the digging of 271 graves attended the funerals of the fallen and personally provided 50 caskets at his own expense. 

The British government recognized that Charles Town was the center of resistance to their policies in the Carolinas, occupied the City on May 12th, 1780 and remained until their position became untenable. On December 14th, 1782 the British evacuated the City of Charles Town. The citizens who had been in Charles Town at the time of the surrender were made prisoners of war and placed on parole. Under oath the prisoners gave their word that they would live peaceable and not resist the occupying British forces. The British under General Clinton however soon began to apply pressure to have the men take up arms against the patriots still left in the fields. In the summer of 1780 addresses were drawn up to congratulate General Clinton and the men of the City were required to sign. Refusal to sign identified them as patriots, which resulted in their immediate arrest and sent to a detention center at St. Augustine, Florida.  

The first group of Charlestonians dissidents was put aboard the vessel “Sandwich” on August 27th, 1780 and included such patriots as Gadsen, Flagg, William Johnson, (who later served the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Charles Town) prior to his election to the office of Deputy Grand Master in 1808. Flagg was also the longest surviving member of the group, finally passing at the then old age of 83 in 1824.     

The second group left Charles Town on November 15th, 1780 with a group of 22 men (Edward Weyman was in this group). The exile ended with an exchange of prisoners on July 5th, 1781, when the freed men made their way home aboard the schooner “East Florida” to Philadelphia and then as the fortunes of war allowed, over land to Charles Town where Edward was assigned (1782) in the grade of Captain of artillery, attached to Horry’s regiment, Marion’s brigade. 

The occupation forces also recognized the Liberty Tree had become a Patriot symbol of Independence and resistance. It was therefore cut down in the late summer of 1780 and burned, on orders from Sir Henry Clinton, in the same way that the British General Gage destroyed its counterpart in Boston, Mass. in 1776. After being cut down, the branches were piled over the stump and burned, to make the destruction as complete as possible. The blackened tree stump was given at his request, after the war, to Judge William Johnson of the Federal Court, who turned it into cane-heads for his patriot friends. One was presented to President Jefferson. Part of the cleaned wood was sawn into thin boards and made into a hand carried ballot box, which he presented to the 76 Association, a patriotic organization with Masonic ties. The box was used for its intended purposes until 1838, when the great fire that swept Charles Town in April, destroyed Samuel Seyle’s establishment located in the block between 220 King and Meeting Streets, which had been remodeled in 1822 to better serve as the meeting hall for the Association, the Grand Lodge and most of the City Masonic Lodges, the Grand and subordinate Chapters, several societies and the Military Corps. The lot fronting Meeting Street was used for public gatherings and also served as the parade ground for the Corps. The ballot box, the minutes and furniture of the tenant bodies were all lost in the tragedy. It is worth noting at this point that the present day descendants of Worshipful Brother Samuel Seyle, who served the Grand Lodge of AFM of SC, first as Senior Grand Deacon in 1821 and then as Grand Tiler from 1842-1856, are the blood and fraternal brothers, Irving and George Seyle of Charleston, both are Past Masters and of the 33 degree.

In addition to his busy public life Edward remained active in Masonic and related charitable causes. Unfortunately the minutes of Union Lodge Number 4 for the years between 1755-1853 have been destroyed by a fire that swept the city. 

Union Kilwinning #4 was established in 1759 as a compliment to the Grand Lodge of Scotland. In the year 1760 Union Lodge # 4 did not do any work and probably did not meet from 1772-1782 as stated by Mackey.

The Master’s Lodge, named for its artisan, “Master” members was charted on March 22nd, 1756 in Charles Town as Lodge #5, which worked until 1825 when it was absorbed by Orange Lodge #14.   

A second Charles Town, Union Lodge on the rolls as #6, also continued to work until 1825, when it was incorporated into St. Andrew’s Lodge #10. St. Andrew’s was one of the original Ancient York Lodges, chartered as Lodge #40 by Pennsylvania on July 12th, 1783 and which joined the newly created Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of South Carolina in 1787. The Lodge was renumbered several times but became dormant in 1880 and extinct in March 1882, when its charter and paraphernalia were placed in the custody of the Grand Lodge, AFM. 

Lodge #7 was almost certainly sponsored by artisan members of Union #4. It was constituted December 22nd, 1766, in Charles Town and was known by Marine Lodge #7, with Edward Weyman being one of the early members. The Lodge was renamed and renumbered, Union Lodge #2, in February 1768. Edward remained a member until December 12th, 1782, which was the same year, he served as Master. 

During the summer of Edward Weyman journeyed to Philadelphia for personal family reasons and during his stay attempted to visit one of the City Lodges. He was refused entry and this experience triggered a significant change in his Masonic career. He had, as a member of a “Modern” subordinate Lodge of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of South Carolina, evidently approached a Lodge of Ancient York Masons, whose policy was one of non fraternization.  

Edward went to Philadelphia in the summer of 1782 as stated above where he obtained a dispensation from DGM Alexander Rutherford of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania. This he presented to Lodge #2 AYM in Philadelphia and requested that he be entered passed and raised in the “Ancient” way. In July 1782, an emergent meeting of Lodge #2 was opened in due form, on the first degree of Masonry with 7 members and 5 visitors present, when Edward was balloted for and accepted. The Lodge reconvened on July 25th, 1782 at 5PM, when in compliance with the dispensation, all three degrees were conferred in succession the same evening.  

Upon his return to Charles Town, Edward immediately began to sell the idea of AYM to the brethren in his former “Modern” lodge. At the Grand Communication of the Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of AYM of Pennsylvania a petition signed by Edward, a Brother David Hamilton and seven recently made AYM brethren was read and granted on December 23, 1782, approving the formation of Marine Lodge #38 which was to meet in the City of Charles Town, South Carolina, at the Lodge room in Lodge Alley. Edward and Brother Hamilton then demitted from Lodge #2 of Pennsylvania. Master Richard Wistar, dated December 26, 1782 signed a demitted and an endorsement of the same from the Grand Lodge dated January 25, 1783. The appearance of Worshipful Brother Wistar’s name in the South Carolina record of August 1783 indicates that he took up residence in this state shortly thereafter. 

The seven petitioners mentioned above were “made” by courtesy of the only existing AYM Lodge then in South Carolina, #190, operating under the Grand Athol Lodge of England. 

Edward held the office of Senior Grand Warden for a second term in 1788, after which time his failing health forced him to curtail his activities.  

At the formation of the new South Carolina Grand Body, the member lodges were renumbered 1 through 5 with the former Marine # 38, as the second oldest lodge, being designated Marine # 2. This coincidental numbering of Edward’s former modern lodge, Union # 2 and his AYM Lodge Marine # 2 has also been a point of confusion in the past. Union # 2, perhaps from the large number of its members who left to affiliate with Marine # 38 as described above, soon became extinct.  

In 1790 Edward became President of the South Carolina Chapter of the St. Tammany Society, which had originated in New York City in 1786 as a social, ceremonial, and patriotic society. Which purpose was the intent to further reforms for the common man. He was active in the ceremonies attending President Washington’s Tour of the South, when the President was addressed in Charles Town on May 2nd, 1791, by General Mordecai Gist, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient York Masons of South Carolina. 

Edward was the first surveyor of customs for the Port of Charles Town, a position he was forced to temporarily relinquish due to reoccurring illness in late 1790. Upon his recovery he was promoted to the rank of Major with the Artillery Battalion and reappointed to the surveyor post, which he held until his death on January 6, 1793, at the age of 63. After his father’s death Edward Jr. received the appointment. 

Edward Weyman, Mason, Revolutionary Patriot, was a remarkable example of personal American courage and success, was laid to rest in the West Churchyard of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Charles Town. A marker was raised over the gravesite and dedicated to his memory by the Fellowship Society in September 1947.

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