Nathaniel Lebby (1740-1802)
Elizabeth Howard ( -1801)

1740 April 1. Nathaniel Lebby was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a descendant of John Libby, who had immigrated from England. In Portsmouth he became a mast and spar hewer.

1763 At age twenty-three he moved to Charleston, South Carolina, probably to the existing community of settlers from New England (possibly including members of the Libby family) in Christ Church Parish near the Old Wappetaw Church. Lebby was a ship builder in the area called Libby’s Point in Linn’s shipyard on Hobcaw Creek.

1764 March 4. At age twenty-four Nathaniel Lebby he married Elizabeth Howard ( -1801), probably a sister of Colonel Robert Howard Sr. (1742-1793), whose ancestors may have gone directly from England to South Carolina or first to Virginia and then to South Carolina.

[Robert Howard Sr.’s wife was Ann Howard (1747-1814). The lists of their children given by Ellis (pp. 32-35) are confusing. On p. 33 Ellis reports that they did have a daughter Elizabeth, but she married William Blair. On p. 34 Ellis reports a daughter Elizabeth, sister to Robert Jr., but she married George Whitefield. In any case Nathaniel Lebby and Robert Howard were close contemporaries, so it is unlikely that Lebby would marry a daughter of Howard’s. Given the birth and death dates of the parties involved, it seems probable that Lebby’s wife was Howard’s sister. Ellis on p. 35 does note, Some quite natural discrepancies occur in the above in view of the paucity of records of that era and the lapse of time.]

1765-1790 The couple had seven children: Anson (1765-1765), Robert (1767-1810?), Mary (1767- ), Elizabeth (1768- ), Nathaniel (1779-1824), Ann Hawkins (1787-1830), and William (1790- ). (List and dates may vary.)

1766 After the repeal of the Stamp Act Lebby met with Christopher Gadsden and other of Gadsden’s friends (26 in all) in Mazyckborough Square under an oak tree later called the Liberty Tree. The group was called the Sons of Liberty. Another member of the group was Robert Howard Sr., Nathaniel Lebby’s brother-in-law.

1776 Lebby owned land on the Wateree River in Craven County, South Carolina, and possibly had a shipyard in Beaufort, South Carolina.

1776-1781 The American Revolution against Great Britain took place. Charleston became a focus of English efforts against the Patriots.

1780-1782 May. After a siege Charleston surrendered to the British under Sir Henry Clinton. General Gadsden as lieutenant governor signed the capitulation of Charleston. Gadsden was under parole, but on August 27, 1780, he and sixty-five other citizens became prisoners of war. This group included Nathaniel Lebby. In September 1780 they were shipped to St. Augustine. In July 1781 the prisoners were sent to Philadelphia. Lebby’s family (his wife and four living children) had also been banished to Philadelphia by the British. The British surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. In August 1782 Lebby and his family returned to Charleston.

1782 November. The provisional articles of peace were signed in Paris on December 14, 1782. The British troops evacuated Charleston.

1790-1802 Nathaniel Lebby was residing at 83 East Bay Street. By 1801, Lebby was registered in city directories as a block maker residing at 14 Amen Street, the current-day block of Cumberland Street between Church and East Bay Streets. In 1802, the company Nathaniel Lebby & Co., specializing in block making, was recorded at 90 East Bay Street. [Hagy, James W. People and Professions of Charleston, South Carolina, 1782-1802. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999]*

1801 Elizabeth Howard Lebby died in Charleston.

1802 April 2. At age sixty-two Nathaniel Lebby died and his will of April 2, 1800, was proved. The will mentions ‘the old dwelling house *** on my plantation at Hobcaw,’ which enters Wando River, which in turn enters Cooper River, and was but a few miles from Charleston and Mount Pleasant, S.C. The house was in Charleston on what is now Cumberland Street, and was likely between East Bay and Church Streets. [Ellis, p. 21]


Ellis, E. DeTreville, Nathaniel Lebby Patriot and Some of His Descendants (E. DeTreville Ellis, 1967), pp. 17-41.

Lavelle, Brittany [*]. Historic Preservation Research.  May 2014.

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