Saturday, January 9, 2016

My 64 ~ Researching My 4th Great Grandparents : Taking Sides During the American Revolution

     When you grow up in New England, the American Revolution is all around you. Historic sites appear at left and right, field trips from school include museums and exhibits glorifying the struggles and battles of the war, and school assignments invariably include literature and histories depicting famous soldiers and generals.

     It never entered my consciousness, before I began my genealogical research, that my ancestors included individuals and families who sided with England and its King. My 4th great grandfathers, however, include both Patriots and Loyalists, It was, in fact, a deep and complex dilemma for many, often resulting in the uprooting of families, and their resettlement in distant lands. My 4th great grandfather Thomas Bustin migrated from North Carolina, fought with Burgoyne in New York, and was among those evacuated onto one of many ships bound for Saint John, in Canada. My 4th great grandfather Hugh Cowperthwaite, a Quaker, grew up in New Jersey, and also found himself compelled to move to Canada, in support of the Crown.

     Three of my 4th great grandfathers fought for independence in the Revolutionary War, Allison Libby II (15th Massachusetts Regiment), Benjamin Griswold (Massachusetts Continental Line), and William Prior (Connecticut Continental Line). Two more of my 4th great grandfathers supported the Patriot cause, however, without engaging in actual combat.

     Deacon Thomas Cross, living in Gorham, Maine, was a member of Gorham's Committee to Hire Soldiers.

     Moses Seavey, of Rye, New Hampshire, was a signatory of that colony's Association Test. His father-in-law, my 4th great grandmother Huldah Locke's father, Elijah Locke, signed as well. The Association Test, also known as the Patriot Test, was written by the New Hampshire Committee of Safety. In Rye, it began:

WE, the Subscribers, do hereby solemnly engage, and promise, that we will to the utmost of our Power, at Risque of our Lives and Fortunes, with ARMS, oppose the Hostile Proceedings of the British Fleets, and Armies, against the United American COLONIES.

     The Test referred to a resolution passed by the Continental Congress on March 14, 1776, which called for two actions: the signatures of every adult male who was willing to take arms against the British, and the names of all who refused to sign. Their signature indicated their obligation to oppose the "hostile proceedings" of the British fleets and armies. The returns of such documents (there were others, like Maryland's List of Associators and New York's Signers of the Association) gave the signers of the Declaration of Independence assurance that their acts would be sanctioned and sustained by the citizens of the country. Town officers in New Hampshire were requested to obtain these signatures, who in turn sometimes selected a local "Committee of Safety," to carry out this order. Only white males above 21 years of age ("lunatics, idiots, and negroes excepted") were asked to sign this document. Not everyone qualified to sign agreed to do so, and not all of those who refused to sign were considered "Tories."

     There are numerous signers of Rye's Association Test with the surnames Seavey, Locke, Foss, and Philbrick, which I am sure figure in my family tree somewhere, so this document may lead me forward in my continuing genealogical research.

     Four of my 4th great grandfathers appear in the Daughters of the American Revolution's Genealogical Research System:

4th Great Grandfather     Ancestor Number

Moses Seavey                  A101196
Allison Libby II                  A070199
Thomas Cross                  A028166
Benjamin Griswold           A048653

A fifth 4th great grandfather, William Prior, is not in the DAR's GRS, but his complete Revolutionary War service record and pension file are available at


Allen, Francis Olcott, History of Enfield Connecticut, Vol. 2 of 3. (Lancaster, Penn.: Lankersham Printing Co., 1900)

Daughters of the American Revolution. "GRC National Index." Database. DAR Library. (

Genealogy & History of New Hampshire (

New Hampshire Revolutionary War Association Test, Town of Rye. (

Parsons, Langdon B. History of the Town of Rye, New Hampshire, from its discovery and settlement to December 31, 1903. (Concord, New Hampshire: Rumford Printing Co., 1905)

Revolutionary Soldiers. A List of the Names of the Men Who Fought for Independence, and Who Are Buried in Vermont. St Albans Daily Messenger (Saint Albans, Vermont), Saturday, August 19, 1905, p.2, (via    


No comments:

Post a Comment