The New Hampshire Loyalist Experience

The New Hampshire Loyalist
Who Were the Loyalists?
Thomas Hutchinson, Royal Governor
of Massachusetts
• Never called themselves, “Tories,” the conservative
faction in British politics that generally championed
centralized authority of the Monarchy over Parliament.
• Over the course of the war, New Hampshire
Revolutionaries begin to generalize the term, “Tory” to
suggest any opposition to the Revolution or even
neutrality toward it.
• Loyalist social origins reflected that of colonial society
in general, i.e., while there were a few wealthy,
prominent Loyalists, most rank and file Loyalists came
from the middling and lower classes, including servants
and slaves.
Levi Warner:
• In his Loyalist Claim to the British
Government, stated: he “lost property in
Claremont, New Hampshire had a small house
and garden given by his father given many
years ago. Says he came off in the night, left
furniture, weaver’s tools, one bow, one Heifer,
three swine. Heard these things were taken
by the Committee of the town.”
Colonel Robert Rogers, Commander of
the Queen’s Rangers
Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford
of Concord
Rank and File Loyalist Soldier
The Outbreak of War
• Colonial Resistance Movement in New
• The Revolutionary Seizure of Power
• Rise of the Committees of Safety.
Colonial New Hampshire
Benning Wentworth, Royal Governor
of New Hampshire, 1741-1766
Debate over Legislative Sovereignty:
Not Amount of Taxes
• The King in Parliament was British imperial national
government. Britons and many American Loyalists
believed that Parliament was the supreme national
legislature with the right to tax anywhere in the Empire
• Colonial Resistance movement believed that they were
only directly represented at the colonial level and thus,
only colonial legislatures could tax provincial subjects.
• The resistance movement believed in a de-centralized,
colonial rights ideal of the British Empire, while
Loyalists and Britons saw a hierarchal, centralized
national government as trumping colonial authority.
George Meserve, New Hampshire’s
Stamp Tax Collector on Stamp Act
Crisis, 1765:
• “When the Stamp Act was passed, appointed
distributor of the Stamp papers for the
Province of New Hampshire. That he returned
to North America in the year 1765 to carry
into execution the trust committed to him.
That upon his arrival there, he found the
people so hostile to that act, and to himself
for accepting that trust, that though he had
been at great expense he was obliged to
relinquish it.”
John Wentworth, Royal Governor of
New Hampshire, 1767-1775
Charles Watson-Wentworth, the
Marquis of Rockingham
Pine Tree Riot, 1772
Pine Tree Riot:
• John Sherman, Deputy Surveyor of New
Hampshire woods discover six saw mills
harvesting white pines marked for the King in
Goffstown and Weare. On April 14, 1772, the
Hillsborough County Sheriff and Deputy sent
to arrest the mill owners were attacked by a
mob with blackened faces and were given a
lash for each tree that the owners were fined.
They cut off their horses’ ears and marched
them through a gauntlet out of town.
Destruction of the Tea in Boston
“Coercive Acts,” 1774
• Boston Port Act: Close the Port of Boston to all
external commerce until the Company’s loss
from the destruction of the tea is
• Administration of Justice Act: Any British government official
or member of the military charged with capital crime will be
tried either in Britain or Nova Scotia to insure a fair trial.
• Quartering Act: provides for quartering of regular troops on
private property if necessary at public (colonial) expense
Seizure of Fort William and Mary,
December 14, 1774
• Acting on false rumor that British General
Gage intended to seize all munitions, about
two hundred militia take the fort,
overwhelming one British officer and five men
in fighting, to take arms and munitions. Rebels
take down the British flag.
Fort William and Mary, Portsmouth
Harbor, 1774
Surrender of the Fort
General John Sullivan
Collapse of the Provincial Government
• In 1774, the First Continental Congress Organizes
Resistance to the Coercive Acts: calls for non
importation and non exportation boycotts of
• Congress also calls for Committees of Safety (or
Inspection) to be created to enforce boycotts.
Also calls for Committees of Correspondence to
be created to coordinate inter-colonial resistance.
• Governor Wentworth and many New Hampshire
residents view these actions as illegal and
• On 8 June 1774, unable to prevent a newly elected New Hampshire
Colonial Assembly from appointing a Committee of
Correspondence to coordinate interprovincial resistance, Governor
Wentworth dissolved it.
• Members of this Committee called legislators back into session
who, in turn, called on towns to elect members of a Provincial
Congress that sat at Exeter, not the colonial capital of Portsmouth.
• The Revolutionaries created an extralegal government that
coordinated New Hampshire’s response to the outbreak of war in
April 1775, while the Governor and the adjourned Assembly
remained at Portsmouth.
• The Provincial Congress and each town created extralegal
Committes of Safety through elections to enforce their authority.
Powers of the New Hampshire
Committee of Safety, 1775:
• “That the Committee of Safety be empowered
and directed in the recess of the [NH
Provincial] Congress, to take under their
consideration all matters in which the welfare
of the Province, in the security of their rights.”
• On 24 August 1775, Wentworth fled the province
on a British warship.
• The Provincial Congress declared itself the House
of Representatives and charged a committee with
drafting a constitution.
• The New Hampshire Revolutionary government
adopted its constitution in January 1776, thus
creating its own formal power. New Hampshire
was the first state to write a Revolutionary
1776, Extra-Legal Provincial Congress Writes and
Approves State Constitution, effectively
seceding from the British Empire before the
Declaration of Independence
• No Governor acting as executive, but provision
of State Committee of Safety Acting as
executive, President of Committee, Meshech
Weare was most powerful single person
• Committee of Safety empowered with civil,
legal, and military powers.
The Repression of Dissenting Speech
Test Oaths
Powers of the Committees of Safety
Experiences of Presumed Loyalists
Confiscation and Treason Laws
New Hampshire Association Test Oath
Act , April 1776
• “In order to carry the unwritten RESOLVE of the
honorable Continental Congress into execution, you
are requested to desire all males above twenty-one
years of age (lunatics, idiots, and Negroes excepted) to
sign to the DECLARATION on this paper; and when so
done, to make return thereof, together with the name
or names of all who shall refuse to sign the same, to
the GENERAL ASSEMBLY or Committee of Safety of this
• Orders towns to record names of all who refuse to take
the oath.
New Hampshire Oath
June 1777 New Hampshire Law Giving
Sweeping Power to Committees of
• the Committee of Safety to imprison anyone
whom they “shall deem the safety of the
commonwealth requires should be restrained of
his personal liberty.” Such prisoners were to be
held “without bail” until released by state
authority. This temporary act gave the Committee
of Safety sweeping powers (usually upon the
advice of local committees) to arrest, examine,
and detain suspicious persons indefinitely based
on hearsay evidence.
Petition of Oliver Parker of Stoddard,
• “he was lately summoned to appear before
certain committees to answer a complaint
against him as an enemy to America, and
without letting him know what the complaint
was or to what he was to answer to, they
proceeded to confine him to that lot of land
his house stands upon, and to order that no
persons deal with him on pain of being
deemed enemies to their country”
Repression of Dissenting Speech: Mass
Trial of Reported Loyalists in Keene,
• John Butrick testified against Captain Samuel
Smith that “he never heard him speak in
favour of the Americans but in favour of the
King. I said to him if you cannot think as other
people do you had better not speak.”
Evidence Against Breed Batcheller of
Nelson (Packersfield) at 1777 Keene
• “Question: Did he condemn the [Packersfield
Committee of Safety’s] authority?
• Answer: He did the Committee and
Selectmen. Threatened to kick his ass to the
Devil. He said he would have their estate
meaning the Committee.”
Witness Against Isaac Rindge of
• Rindge “in the presence and hearing of your
informant held up both hands and said pray
God he might be sent where he could speak
his mind freely.”
Jeremiah Clough writes to his father
from Jail, 1777:
• “Considering the long confinement I have had, which I
see no relief, unless God in his providence should
release me, for people in general seem to have no
humanity for their fellow creature and in hoping for
better times I am afraid to see worse, I am conscious of
myself that I never did any thing against my country
deserving such treatment. I can’t find as there is any
evidence against me unless some unguarded words
that I should have spoke some time last spring, and
upon them words [sic] I am held here close confined
without trial or bail which I can’t live so no longer.”
Committee and Mob Threats Against
• Loyalist deposition in support of Stephen Holland
of Londonderry:
• Holland “was frequently harassed, taken up and
carried a prisoner to the General Court where he
was tried for high treason and at that time
acquitted. That the deponent has frequently
heard the Whig Party declare that if the General
Court did not confine the said Stephen Holland in
Gaol, they would burn his house.”
Mob Attack on Simon Baxter of
• “One Harvey struck him into the breast with a
sword, he was then beat dreadfully by the
mob, took away his pass and parole, he was
then thrown into Keene Gaol.”
New Hampshire Confiscation Act
• In November of 1778, the New Hampshire
government passes an act to confiscate all the
real estate and personal property of
proscribed Loyalists who joined the British.
• Many Loyalists left their families behind who
are rendered homeless.
Loyalist Refugees
Revised New Hampshire Treason Law,
• Any person who “shall seduce or persuade any
inhabitant or inhabitants of this state, to
renounce his or their allegiance to this state
and government thereof . . . shall be adjudged
guilty of high treason against this state and be
put to death.”
Women, Loyalism, and Fidelity to
• Women in Eighteenth-Century America were
assumed to be incapable of making
independent political decisions.
• However, over the course of the war, treason
laws were revised to apply to all people,
recognizing some level of female agency.
English Law of “Coverture”
• Femme Sole: A woman alone, unmarried and of
adult age.
• Femme Covert: A covered woman; a woman who
was married. Once a woman married she could
not act independently of her husband, earn
wages of her own, make wills, nor buy or sell
• Case of husband killing his wife: murder
• Case of wife killing her husband: baronicide, petit
William Blackstone in Commentaries
on English Law, 1769
• “By marriage, the husband and wife are one
person in the law: that is, the very being or
legal existence of the woman is suspended
during the marriage, or at least is incorporated
and consolidated into that of the husband:
under whose wing, protection, and cover, she
performs every thing.”
Legal Challenges to Coverture
• Some wives of Loyalists send petitions to Revolutionary state
legislatures and even file suits in state courts to retain part of
confiscated estate, typically the traditional third reserved for
• Women make argument that while their husbands may have
betrayed the state, they did not. They clearly state their
independent political consciousness.
• Some states award property to women in particular cases.
Most refuse as they value coverture more than women’s
• Coverture remains in U.S. law into the mid 1800s when a few
laws protecting married women’s property rights are passed
in states. Elements of coverture remain legal until 1960s
Petition of Ruth Batcheller, Wife of
New Hampshire Loyalist, Breed
That your petitioner has since the absence of her husband been put
to great difficulties to support herself and family and if it had not
been for the assistance of friends they must have suffered. And
that your petitioner is still dependent on the charity of her friends
for the support of herself and family. Your petitioner therefore
humbly prays your honors to take her distressed circumstances into
your serious consideration and if consistent with your duty order
that some part of the said Breed’s estate both real and personal be
assigned her sufficient for the support of herself and children and
your petitioner further prays that some part of the corn seized by
the Selectmen of Marlborough may be allowed her as she is
destitute of any or [other] means to procure it and . . .innocent for
the crimes of him who ought to have been their support. Your
petitioner submits her case to your honors not doubting but your
humanity and goodness will see justice done her as in duty bound
shall ever pray.
Fidelity, Loyalty, Marriage and the
• Rebecca Davis of New Hampshire demonstrated
how the domestic and public world interacted
when she successfully petitioned for divorce from
her husband, Elezar, in 1780.
• She informed the New Hampshire General Court
that he “hath cohabited with several other
women by whom he hath had children....And to
add to his guilt towards her, he hath voluntarily
joined himself to the enemies of America and
been in arms against his country.”
Loyalist Claim of Isabella Nevin of
• “was obliged to leave America, her husband’s
immediate connections with government, the
known attachment and inviolable fidelity of
her family and relations to the King, and the
mother country, left her no prospect of living
with any comfort in a country which had
thrown off all ties of allegiance.”
• Condemns resistance to Parliament as “spirit
of anarchy.”
• Loyalist Diaspora
• Loyalist Memory of the Revolution
Reception of the American Loyalists by
Benjamin West
Loyalist Diaspora
• Historians estimate that approximately
500,000 Americans were Loyalists
• Documents reveal approximately 80,000
departed the U.S. after Treaty of Paris (20,000
African American, 60,000 European American)
• 33,000 to Nova Scotia/New Brunswick; 7000
to Quebec; 6500 to Florida; 13,000 to Great
Britain (including 5000 free blacks), Rest to
British West Indies.
Robert Trail of Portsmouth
Remembers the Revolution from
• “That he is and always has been a true and
faithful subject of his majesty and firmly
attached to the British government and
endeavored to the utmost of his ability to
support the same: In consequence of which
he has been obliged to leave that province, is
forever banished therefore, and has lost rights
and properties to a large amount.”
Statement by Governor John
Wentworth in Support of New
Hampshire Loyalist:
• Still persisting to reject any flattering attempt to
seduce him into the service of disloyalty, he was
thence deprived of his property and means of
subsistence. Fidelity to his Majesty’s service
therefore, requires me most humbly to
recommend the said Thomas Macdonagh, Esq. as
a faithful subject and meritorious subject of the
crown, suffering very considerably for adhering to
his duty.
Sir John Wentworth, Governor of Nova
Some Online Resources:
• Grant Hammond, Tories of New Hampshire:
• Online Supplement to Thomas Allen’s, Tories:
• Full Text of Wilbur Seibert’s, Loyalist Refugees of New
• Online Institute of Advanced Loyalist Studies (features
searchable primary source transcriptions including Loyalist

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