LYMAN HALL BIOGRAPHY

Lyman Hall, the fifth child and third son of John Hall, of Wallingford, Connecticut, and grandson of the Hon. John and Mary (Lyman) Hall, of the same town, was born in Wallingford, April 12, 1724. His mother was Mary, daughter of the Rev. Samuel Street (Harvard 1664), the first pastor of the church in that town.

He studied theology with his uncle, the Rev. Samuel Hall (Yale 1716), of the Parish of New Cheshire, in the western part of Wallingford, and in June, 1749, began to preach as a candidate in Stratfield Parish (in Fairfield), now Bridgeport, Connecticut. On the 6th of July he was called to settle as pastor, on the 15th of August he accepted the call, and on September 27 he was ordained by the Fairfield West Consociation, though a protest was offered by eleven members of the Church and five others of the congregation against proceeding ordination. With this element opposed to him in the beginning, his brief pastorate proved a stormy one; and on the 18th of June, 1751, he was dismissed by the Consociation, after hearing charges against his moral character, which appear to have been supported by proof and also by his own confession. At the same time the Consociation, in evidence of their confidence in his repentance, expressly voted his restoration to good standing in the ministry; and he continued for at least two years longer to fill vacant pulpits. Thus, in May, 1753, the records of the Fairfield West Association show that he had for some time been supplying the church on Greenfield Hill, in the disability of the Rev. John Goodsell (Yale 1724), and was approved for a continuance in that service.

Before this time, however, he had turned his attention to the profession of medicine, being party occupied also in school-teaching. He married in Fairfield, May 20, 1752, Abigail, second daughter of Thaddeus and Abigail (Sturges) Burr, of Fairfield, who died there on July 8, 1753 at the age of 24. Some four years later he removed to the neighborhood of Dorchester and Beach Hill, in South Carolina, on the left bank of the Ashley River, not many miles above Charleston, where a settlement of Massachusetts Puritans had been planted since 1697. These settlers, were, however, about migrating to what was known as the Midway District, now in Liberty County, Georgia, and thither Dr. Hall accompanied them. The town of Sunbury was founded in this district in 1758, on the coast, about thirty miles southwest of Savannah, and Dr. Hall became one of its leading citizens.

At the approach of the Revolution, St. John's Parish, in which Sunbury was situated, possessed nearly one-third of the wealth of the entire province of Georgia, and its citizens were second to none in patriotism and energy. The Province as a whole was not represented in the Continental Congress of 1774, and it was largely though the influence of Dr. Hall that St. John's Parish was brought to the point of sending a delegate to Philadelphia to represent them in the Congress. This resolve was taken on March 21, 1775, and Dr. Hall was elected delegate; and as such he was admitted to a seat in Congress on May 13. On the 7th of July the Provincial Congress of Georgia appointed a full delegation to the Continental Congress, of whom Dr. Hall was one; and he continued in this office until 1780. In the meantime he was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. In the meantime also the town of Sunbury was devastated by the British (January 1779), and Dr. Hall's family joined him at the North, where they remained until the evacuation of Savannah in 1782. He then returned to Georgia, making his home and practicing his profession in Savannah, and in January 1783, was elected the first Governor of the independent State, which position he held for a single year. On the expiration of his term he resumed the practice of his profession, and held no further public office save that of Judge of the inferior court of Chatham County. This position he resigned on his removal in prosperous circumstances early in 1790 to a plantation in Burke County, on the Carolina border, where he died on October 19 in the same year, in the 67th year of his age. Sixty-one years later a granite obelisk was erected in the neighboring city of Augusta, to commemorate the three Georgia Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and beneath it all that was recoverable of their dust was reverently buried. The tablet originally covering Dr. Hall's grave was presented a few years later to the State of Connecticut by whose order it was deposited in the public burying ground in his native town; it describes him, in just terms, as “uniformly a Patriot,” “a True Christian and an Honest Man.”

Before leaving Connecticut he had married, has his second wife, Mary, daughter of Samuel and Hannah (Couch) Osborn, of Fairfield, who survived him and died in Burke County in October or November,1793, in her 58th year. Their only son died childless, soon after his father.

Source:
Dexter, Franklin Bowditch, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College: With Annals of the College History, New York: H. Holt and Co., 1885-1912, Volume 2, pp. 116-119

Submitted by Bob Franks

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