Irish Signatories of the Declaration of Independence
Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Forty-eight were born in the American ‘Colonies’. Three were Irish-born and one was an Ulster Scot from the north of Ireland. These men have been neglected in our history books.
James Smith (1719 – 1806): Irish
Smith was born in Northern Ireland in 1719 and went to the American colonies as a boy. A member of the Continental
Congress 1776-1778, he served in the war of independence as a Colonel of Pennsylvania Militia 1775- 1776. Smith was also a lawyer and legislator. Obviously, Smith is the name of many English settler families in Ireland, but is also a synonym of the Irish surname ‘MacGowan’.
George Taylor (1716 – 1781): Irish
George Taylor was born in Ireland in 1716. He went to America in 1736. Taylor operated a furnace and was an iron manufacturer in Pennsylvania, in Bucks County. He was a member of the Committee of Correspondence, 1774-1776, and of the Continental Congress, 1776-1777. Taylor, of course, is an English occupational name, numerous in Ulster and Dublin since the fourteenth century.
Matthew Thornton (1714 – 1803): Irish
Born in Ireland in 1714 Thornton went out to America as a child. He practiced medicine in Londonderry, New Hampshire from 1740. Thornton was active in pre- revolutionary agitation and became a member of the Continental Congress in 1776 and in the following November signed the Declaration of Independence, although he had not been one of the framers.
Edward Rutledge (1749 – 1800): Ulster Scot
The youngest Signer, was a son of Dr. John Rutledge who emigrated from Ulster to South Carolina in 1735. The Rutledges were a small Border clan in Roxburghshire.