William Bayard, Sr. was a wealthy businessman from New York City. He participated in the Stamp Act Congress in 1765.
- Bayard was born in New York on June 1, 1729.
- The first Bayards in North America arrived with Governor-General Peter Stuyvesant and settled in New Amsterdam.
- The Bayards were also related to other prominent Dutch families, including the Van Cortlandts and Schuylers.
- He married Catherin McEvers.
- His son John Bayard joined the British army and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
- His son Samuell Vetch Bayard joined the British army and rose to the rank of Major.
- His son, William Bayard, Jr., was a founder of Bayard, Leroy, & McEvers, a successful shipping company in New York City.
- Bayard was a successful merchant in New York City.
- In 1765, he represented New York at the Stamp Act Congress.
Delegate to the Stamp Act Congress
On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which required a stamp to be placed on all legal documents and many printed materials in the colonies.
In May, news of the new law reached the colonies. There was immediate opposition, including riots in Boston, Massachusetts, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Savannah, Georgia.
On June 8, 1765, the Massachusetts Assembly sent a circular letter to the legislatures of the other colonies, inviting them to send delegates to a congress in New York to discuss a unified response to the Stamp Act. The precedent for such a meeting had been set by the Albany Congress in 1754.
Nine of the 13 colonies, including New York, chose to send delegates to the meeting, which was held in New York City. Bayard was elected as a delegate from New York, along with Phillip Livingston, John Cruger, Jr., Robert “The Judge” Livingston, and Leonard Lispenard.
The Stamp Act Congress convened on October 7, 1765. On October 19, the Stamp Act Congress issued a Declaration of Rights and Grievances. Congress sent petitions to the King and both houses of Parliament and asked for the Stamp Act to be repealed.
Bayard voted in favor of the Declaration of Rights and Grievances, however, the delegates from New York were not authorized to sign their names to the official documents for the Stamp Act Congress.
On November 1, 1765, the Stamp Act took effect, but there were no stamp masters available to distribute the stamps. They had resigned or refused to perform their job due to violence and intimidation against them.
On March 18, 1766, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act, primarily due to protest from British merchants who believed it would damage their prospects of doing business in the colonies. However, on that same day, Parliament passed the Declaratory Act, which declared it had the “full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.”
- Bayard was a member of the New York Sons of Liberty, but he did not support independence from Britain and eventually sided with the Loyalists.
- He moved his family to Britain, near Southampton.
- After he left, most of his estate in New York was confiscated but returned to the Bayard family through marriage.
- Bayard died in Southampton, England in 1804.
William Bayard, Sr. is important because he was a delegate from New York to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765.