Background Information on William Sime (Simes, Sims)
In the census of 1784, taken during the opening months of the second
Spanish occupation of Florida, the following entry appears:
William Sims, native of Scotland, his intention is
to return to the British Dominions. He has a wife
and son, He is a silversmith. He has four negroes.
He lives in a borrowed house in the block of the
No other references to this individual have been found in the documentation
relating to either the British or the Second Spanish Periods.
It is highly probable, although not irrefutably proven, that the
"Guillermo Sims" of the 1784 census was William Sime, or Simes, of Georgia.
The photostatic copy of the original, handwritten census at the St. Augustine
Historical Society reveals that the census taker had originally written Sime
but had later superimposed an 's' over the 'e'. The fact that Sime and 'Sims'
were silversmiths is further evidence that they were, in fact, the same person.
Sime, a native of Scotland, had worked in London before immigrating
to America. Just when he came, or where he first settled, is not known.
His first documented appearance was in Savannah in April, 1768, for in that
month he and a business partner named Jacob Moses advertised in the Georgia
Gazette, describing themselves as "Goldsmiths and Jewelers." Sime's part-
nership with Moses was evidently short-lived, because in March, 1769, he
advertised alone. According to his announcement, he practiced all aspects
of the goldsmith and jewelry business: "He makes mourning rings, mounts
and repairs swords, jewelry made and mended superior to any imported. "
(Here it should be noted that goldsmithing and silversmithing were in fact
the same craft. Since gold was considered more prestigious than silver,
many craftsmen who worked principally in the latter advertised themselves
Sometime between 1769 and 1774 Sime took another partner, a man
named Wright, but he was working independently again by April, 1774. His
last announcement in the Georgia Gazette appeared in January, 1775 the
latest date on which one can definitely place him in Savannah.
Sime was an avowed loyalist, and he was not afraid to stand up for his
principles. On September 7, 1774, he signed a resolution of loyalty to the
crown, a stand which ultimately cost him his home and property. In March,
1778, the rebel legislature of Georgia passed an Act of Attainder accusing
over 100 persons of high treason, confiscating their property, and threatening
them with death should they be apprehended. Among those so accused was
William Simes. By that time he almost certainly had taken refuge in Florida.
Sime was in East Florida, therefore, at least six years, if not longer.
It is unknown whether he was married at the time he fled Georgia or whether
he took a wife in St. Augustine. When East Florida was returned to Spain,
Sime elected to leave. Unfortunately, no source has yet come to light to
indicate where he ultimately settled.
Overton G. Ganong,