John Bayard

    BAYARD (JOHN), a friend to his country, and an eminent Christian, was born Aug. 11, 1738, on Bohemia Manor in Cecil county, Maryland.  His father died without a will, and being the eldest son he became entitled by the laws of Maryland to the whole real estate.  Such however was his affection for his twin brother younger than himself, that no sooner had he reached the age of manhood, than he conveyed to him half the estate.  After receiving an academical education under the Reverend Dr. Finley, he was put into the compting house of Mr. John Rhea, a merchant in Philadelphia.  It was here, that the seeds of grace began first to take root, and to give promise of those fruits of righteousness which afterwards abounded.  He early became a communicant of the presbyterian church under the charge of Mr. Gilbert Tennent.   Some years after his marriage he was chosen a ruling elder, and he filled this place with zeal and reputation.  Mr. Whitefield, while on his visits to America, became [well] acquainted with Mr. Bayard, and was much attached to him.  They made several tours together.  On the 8th of January, 1770, Mr. Bayard lost his ... brother, Dr. James A. Bayard, a man of promising talents, of prudence and skill, of a most amiable disposition and growing reputation.  The violence of his sorrow at first produced an illness, which confined him to his bed for several days.  By degrees it subsided into a tender melancholy, which for years after would steal across his mind, and tinge his hours of domestic [life] and solitary devotion with pensive sadness.   When his brother's widow died he adopted the children, and educated them as his own.  One of them is Mr. Bayard, a senator of the United States from Delaware.

    At the commencement of the Revolutionary War he took a decided part in favor of his country.  At the head of the second battalion of the Philadelphia militia he marched to the assistance of Washington and was present at the battle of Trenton.  He was a member of the council of safety, and for many years speaker of the legislature.  In 1777, when there was a report that Colonel Bayard's house had been destroyed by the British army, and that his servants who had been entrusted with his personal property, had gone with it to the enemy, Mr. William Bell, who had served his apprenticeship with Colonel Bayard, and accumulated several thousand pounds, insisted that his patron should receive one half of his estate.  This generous offer was not accepted, as the report was without foundation.  [.....]  In 1785 ... he was appointed a member of the old congress, then sitting in New York, but in the following year he was left out of the delegation.  In 1788 he removed to New Brunswick, where he was mayor of the city, judge of the court of common pleas, and a ruling elder of the church.  Here he died Jan. 7, 1807, in the 69th year of his age.

    At his last hour he was not left in darkness.  That Redeemer, whom he had served with zeal, was with him to support him and give him the victory.  During his last illness he spoke much of his brother, and one night, awaking from sleep, exclaimed, "my dear brother, I shall soon be with you."   He addressed his two sons, "my dear children, you see me just at the close of life.  Death has no terrors for me.  What now is all the world to me?  I would not exchange my hope in Christ for ten thousand worlds.  I once entertained some doubts of his divinity; but, blessed be God, these doubts were soon removed by inquiry and reflection.  From that time my hope of acceptance with God has rested on his merits and atonement.  Out of Christ, God is a consuming fire."  As he approached nearer the grave, he said, "I shall soon be at rest; I shall soon be with my God.  Oh glorious hope!  Blessed rest!  How precious are the promises of the gospel!  It is the support of my soul in my last moments."  While sitting up, supported by his two daughters, holding one of his sons by the hand, and looking intently in his face, he said, "my Christian brother!"  Then turning to his daughters he continued, "you are my Christian sisters.  Soon will our present ties be dissolved, but more glorious bonds---"   He could say no more, but his looks and arms, directed towards heaven, expressed everything.  He frequently commended himself to the blessed Redeemer, confident of his love; and the last words, which escaped from his dying lips, were, "Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus."  --- Evang. intelligencer, i. 1-7, 49-57.

[EDITOR'S NOTE:  The above biography of John Bayard (slightly edited) is from: William Allen, An American Biographical and Historical Dictionary, Containing an Account of the Lives, Characters, and Writings of the Most Eminent Persons in North America from Its First Discovery to the Present Time, and a Summary of the History of the Several Colonies and of the United States (Cambridge: William Hilliard, 1809), pp. 50-51.]

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