William Elliott was the son of the Rev. Stephen Elliott Sr. (1804-1866), rector of Sheldon Episcopal Church in Beaufort, SC, and his wife, Anne Hutson Habersham (1812-1843). William attended Beaufort College in Beaufort before entering Harvard College where he studied in his freshman and sophomore years. He then attended the University of Virginia in sessions 33-34 (1856-1858), studying law with Prof. John B. Minor. William Elliott was admitted to the Bar in Charleston, SC, in April 1861.
During the Civil War, Elliott took part in the attack on Fort Sumter on April 12-13, 1861, and later served as a 1st lieutenant in Company K of the 2nd (Palmetto) South Carolina Infantry. In 1862, he was transferred to Company K of the South Carolina Artillery (Brooks Light Artillery). In March 1865, Elliott was seriously wounded at the battle of Bentonville (NC). By the end of the war, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel, and was referred to as “Col.” for the rest of his life.
Elliott married twice, first to Isabella Elliott Barnwell (1841-1867), with whom he had one daughter, Anne Habersham Elliott, and second to Sarah Means Stuart (1846-1939), with whom he had Florence, William Jr., Stephen, and Ellen Stuart Elliott.
After the war, William Elliott resumed his practice of law in Beaufort, SC. He was a delegate to the National Democratic convention in 1876 and 1888, and was a Presidential elector in 1880. He was elected to represent South Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives several times, from 1887-1903. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him Commissioner to mark the graves of the Confederate dead in the North. Elliott died suddenly on 3 Dec. 1907, and is buried in St. Helena’s Episcopal Church Cemetery in Beaufort.
[N.b.: Several secondary sources state that Col. Elliott died on 7 Dec. 1907. However, the Keowee Courier gives the dateline of “Columbia, Dec. 5,” in an article stating that Col. William Elliott died “suddenly last night.” His tombstone also gives his death date as 3 Dec. 1907. — JLC)
- “Col. William Elliott Dead.” Keowee Courier (Pickens Court House, SC), Dec. 11, 1907, p. 9.
- “Col. William Elliott Dead.” The Watchman and Southron (Sumter, SC), Dec. 11, 1907, p. 1.
- “Edwards Family Tree.” <http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/25908033/person/12326304681?ssrc=> (accessed 9/18/2012).
- Tombstones of the Elliott family, St. Helena’s Episcopal Church, Beaufort, SC. Findagrave.com (accessed 9/18/2012).
- Trimpi, Helen. Crimson Confederates: Harvard men who fought for the South. Knoxville, TN, 2010, p. 70-72.