Raymond Demere Jr.
By Patrick M. Demere
|Raymond Demere Jr. (1752-1829) was the only son of Captain
Raymond Demeré (1702-1766) and was born and died on St. Simons Island.
His father, Raymond Demeré (1702-1766), was a French Huguenot born on 17 July 1702 in Nérac, France. Sometime just before 1720, Raymond (1702-1766) and his brother Paul Demeré (d. 1760) emigrated to England where they purchased their commissions in the English army. Raymond Demeré (1702-1766) began service in the British Army, most likely from 1725-1735, as an aide to William Stanhope (1690-1756), the first Lord Harrington, when Stanhope was Envoy to Spain in Madrid.
After returning to England, Raymond Demeré (1702-1766) purchased his commission as a Lieutenant in Major William Cook’s Company of General James Oglethorpe’s 42nd Regiment of Foot. Raymond Demeré he left England to arrive in Georgia on 8 May 1738. He was sent in 1739 as an envoy to the Spanish in St. Augustine, participated in the 1740 siege of St. Augustine, and in 1741 was named Captain Lieutenant to Colonel Oglethorpe’s own Company. In July 1742, he was in command of three platoons that fled from the Spanish at the Battle of the Bloody Marsh. He remained on St. Simons Island after the disbanding of the 42nd Regiment and served as Captain in the South Carolina Independent Company of Foot. He owned Harrington Hall and Harrington Plantation, and was granted thousands of acres by the King, ranging from Charleston to the Florida border. In 1754, at 52 years of age, Raymond Demeré oversaw the reconstruction of Fort Prince George at Keowee, and in 1756 oversaw the construction of Fort Loudoun (now in Tennessee), the westernmost outpost of the British Empire at that date. He retired from the Army in 1761. He lived his last days on St. Simons Island and on Jekyll Island, where he had been granted the house of Major Horton, one of the most significant tabby ruins remaining on the Georgia coast. He died on St. Simons in 1766, and is probably buried at the burying ground at Frederica.
Raymond Demere Jr. (1752-1829), son of Captain Raymond Demeré, “... was born and bred on St. Simons Island and knew no other home.” It is, however, possible that he could have been reared partially in Charleston, since his father spent at least the first four years of Raymond Jr.'s life between Charleston, the frontier, and St. Simons. He married Ann of South Carolina (1744-1808). His only child was Raymond Demere III (1773-1832).
Raymond Demere Jr. was born a British subject and remained a Loyalist through the Revolution, while his first cousin, Paul Demeré’s son Raymond Demeré II of Savannah, became a Patriot and Revolutionary War hero.
On 9 September 1774, Raymond Jr. took an oath of allegiance to King George III when he was made an Ensign in Captain Arthur Carney’s Company of the Militia and Justice of the Peace for the four Southern Parishes. He was head of one of only fifteen families on St. Simons at the time of the Revolution.
During the course of the war, Raymond Demere Jr. apparently suffered from both the British and American forces. In early July 1781, “… an American boat commanded by one Frisby …” raided the Demere plantation on the Little Satilla [Harriot Bluff Plantation in Camden County?] and carried off eight slaves. Raymond Demere Jr. and his family possibly later fled to East Florida, which was temporarily under the British
Raymond Jr. and his family returned to St. Simons after the War to financial ruin; throughout the War the occupying Redcoats made no distinction between the properties of Loyalists and Patriots and destroyed everything.
After the Revolution, the family of Raymond Demere Jr. (1752-1829) returned to St. Simons Island from their exile in Florida. During the War, the original Harrington Hall was evidently destroyed when the British landed on the island on 10 August 1777.
Raymond Demere Jr. apparently moved the family seat to the south island acreage called The Grove or Mulberry Grove with the manor named Mulberry Hall. It was the only St. Simons plantation to survive and flourish from the eighteenth century to well into the nineteenth: through four generations of Demere planters.
Since he was a Loyalist, Raymond Demere Jr. was barred from residence and citizenship in Georgia, and his property was confiscated. Nevertheless, since he was apparently a noncombatant, on 21 February 1785 the name of Raymond Demere Jr. was taken from the Act of Confiscation [of Loyalist property] and placed under the Amendment Act. His rights of citizenship were restored but he was not to be permitted to vote or hold office for fourteen years. This punishment was mitigated for Demeré and he was soon holding office.
Raymond Demere Jr. returned to St. Simons Island to his 600 acres and rebuilt the Mulberry Grove and Harrington plantations. By 1794, he had increased his holdings to 1,165 acres in Glynn County alone, and became a pioneer in growing silkworms (hence the mulberry trees), rice, and Sea Island cotton- a species of cotton native to tropical America and widely cultivated for its fine, long-staple fibers- the demand for which exploded with the invention of the cotton gin in Savannah in 1793.
In addition to Harrington and Mulberry Grove, Raymond Demere Jr. owned a plantation of 1,150 acres in McIntosh County, Georgia called Martin’s Hill and lots 55, 57, and 58 in Frederica.
He was elected to the House of Representatives for Glynn County, Georgia in 1789. and Executive Commissioner of Glynn County (which he declined). He was commissioned Captain in the 3rd, or Sea Island, Company of the Glynn County Militia on 10 December 1790 and elected Justice of the Peace the same year.
He served as the Commandant of Glynn Academy from 1791-1792 and again in 1812. Raymond Demere Jr. was Justice of the Inferior Court in 1791. The 1794 Tax Return for Glynn County show him as owner of 1,165 acres of land in that county and thirteen slaves.
Raymond Demere Jr. was a member of the very first a Vestry of Christ Church, Frederica when it was established on 22 December 1808.
In a remarkable replay of the ravaging of St. Simons Island during the American Revolution by the British, the War of 1812 again brought destruction to the low country.
A British Navy contingent, under Admiral Sir George Cockburn captured St. Simons Island in early 1815 and held for three weeks before it was abandoned. The Raymond Demere Jr. family was probably away from St. Simons during the 1815 occupation, evidently joining their Demere cousins in Savannah.
In his will, Raymond Demere Jr. noted that, during the British occupation of St. Simons, his slave named Joy “…saved and protected a great part of my property … [and] buried and saved a large sum of Specie with which they might have absconded and obtained their freedom.”
As repayment for Joy’s loyalty, Raymond Demere Jr., not only emancipated Joy, his wife Rose, and her two children Jim and John but also gave them a cash annuity along with livestock and land. He directed that her son, John, be taught reading, arithmetic, and some mechanical profession and, upon reaching 21 years of age, be given $1,000. This required an act of the Georgia Legislature, and in 1830 it passed the necessary legislation freeing the slaves.
Raymond Demere Jr. was present at a dinner on 7 December 1821 of the St. Clair Club, a social club formed by the planters of St. Simons, where, as described by Charles Wylly:
Dr. [William] Fraser has been telling old Raymond Demere of the Mogul Empire, where diamonds, rubies, and pearls are the loot of the common soldier, and the eyes of the miserly man sparkle with covetousness.
Raymond Demere Jr. died 2 January 1829 at age 76 at St. Simons Island. He was buried at the Demere burying ground, and his tombstone was moved to Christ Church, Frederica, the second oldest Episcopal Church in Georgia.
His will named his only son Raymond Demere III (1773-1832), who outlived his father by only three years; his grand children Mary, Martha, and Caroline; and his grandsons Joseph, Lewis, John, and Paul.
His is one of eight stones in the Demere plot that was moved in the 1940’s by Raymond M. Deméré Sr. of Savannah because of the airport expansion. The stones are large slabs, roughly three feet by six feet, lying flat on the ground and are within a one foot high (previously four foot high) tabby wall with two foot tall corners.
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