W. W. BOYCE in Fairfield County
South Carolina History by Ederington

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Page 25

News & Herald, Friday May 10, 1901


John Boyce, grandfather of W. W. Boyce, came from Ireland. In 1765 he settled in Newberry County, South Carolina. He had one brother, Alexander Boyce, who commanded a company of artillery in the Revolutionary War, dying gallantly in the service of his country during the siege of Savannah. He was a merchant of Charleston. The Boyces went to England at the time of the conquest; they afterward settled in the north of Ireland and were staunch Presbyterians.

William Waters Boyce was born in Charleston, South Carolina, October 24, 1818. His parents were Robert Boyce and Lydia Waters, both natives of Newberry. The Boyces are of Norman descent and came to America from Ireland. The first Waters who came over, came in the "Mayflower." Both Boyces and Waters fought bravely in the Revolutionary War. The mother of Mrs. Lydia Waters Boyce was Ruth Llwellyn, who claimed descent from Griffith of Llwewllyn, the last of the Welsh kings.

William W. Boyce studied both at the South Carolina College and Virginia University, at both of which he ranked with the talented young men. In October 1838, he married Mary E. Pearson, daughter of Dr. George B. and Mrs. Elizabeth Pearson. He began the practice of law in Winnsboro, South Carolina in 1841. He served in the South Carolina Legislature one term, 1846 and 1847. In 1850 he was prominent as a co-operationist in the famous secession contest of that year. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1853. ....December 1860 (part of paper missing) - - - always listened to with marked attention by both sides. He was the most conservative Southern man in Congress. His report on Free Trade, he being chairman of the special committee to which it was referred, created a worldwide sensation.

Richard Cobden, the great English Free Trader, thus wrote of it: "I can conscientiously say that I have never before enjoyed the pleasure of reading so condensed and yet so complete an argument in favor of Free Trade and Direct Taxation."

Mr. Boyce always regretted secession, but went heartily with his State. He was never sanguine of the success of the Southern cause, though as a member of the Confederate Congress he always urged active measures. He grieved over the sad spectacle of his sorrowing country, the precious lives lost and general financial ruin. In the autumn of 1864, he wrote and published his letter to President Davis on the subject of peace. A storm followed but he was sustained by an inner consciousness of duty performed and the sympathy of men from all sections of the Southland. Within the past year a very decided letter from General Lee on the same subject was made public for the first time. This letter was written in June, and that of Mr. Boyce in September, 1864.

Mr. Boyce possessed more moral courage than any public man in the South during that troublous time. He had convictions, and courage enough to express and maintain them. Had he lived in a wiser age, he would have been more appreciated.

The ending of the war left Mr. Boyce impoverished, most of his best years were devoted to the public, and his own affairs neglected, consequently, he was forced to begin life anew.

In December, 1866, he left South Carolina, accompanied by Mrs. Boyce, and settled in Washington, D. C., for the purpose of practicing the law, but owing to the "test oath", it was several years before he was allowed to appear in the courts, during which time he assisted in editing the National Intelligence, corresponded with several other papers and assisted General Caleb Cushing in his practice.

There was something quite pathetic in his struggles at this time, but throughout he was cheerful and industrious. At last a brighter day dawned, and restrictions were removed, and Mr. Boyce began his practice before the commissions and United States Courts, and although he has not amassed wealth, he has a competence and is forced to work no longer. He leads a quiet uneventful life at his country home in Fairfax County, Virginia. His household consists of Mrs. Boyce; her sister Mrs. Herbert; his son-in-law, Richard W. Gaillard, and only daughter Frances B. Gaillard.

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