632 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
Elizabeth Martha, the only child of Crean Brush, was about nineteen years old at the time of her father's death. At the age of twenty-two, she married Thomas Norman of Drogheda, Ireland, by whom she had four children, Henry M., Eliza, John E., and Forbes. By the will of her father she was heir to one-third part of his estate. Having purchased of Mrs. Penniman and of Mrs. Wall their respective thirds, and taken from them quitclaim deeds duly executed and acknowledged, she became entitled to the whole property. In the year 1795 her husband, who resided with her in Ireland, constituted her his attorney, and with this power she soon after came to America, and immediately took measures to recover the property to which she had become entitled. At Westminster, where she had fixed her abode, she was afterwards joined by her husband, and at that place they lived until the time of their removal to Caldwell, at the south end of Lake George, where Mr. Norman died in the year 1814. Mrs. Norman was a lady of fine manners, dignified deportment, and was, in every respect, an ornament to her sex. She enjoyed in early life the advantages of a good education, and never failed to receive that regard and attention to which her merits entitled her.
To what extent she succeeded in obtaining possession of the estate left by her father, is not known. In addition to the lands which he had held in New York and Vermont, he had owned also farms in Walpole, Westmoreland, Hinsdale, and Winchester; but according to John Kelly, Mrs. Norman's lawyer, she was prevented by "the manœuvres of the Burt family of Walpole" from obtaining full possession of her landed property in these New Hampshire towns. By a letter from Mr. Kelly to Mrs. Norman, dated the 9th of June, 1795, it appears that all the lands which Mr. Brush had held in Vermont, under the New York title, were at that time deemed, as they afterwards proved to be, "irrecoverably lost." Mr. Kelly also stated that, in many instances, the citizens of Vermont had possessed themselves of Mr. Brush's lands during the war, and had since "held them by main force and strength;" that some of his farms in that state had been sold as confiscated; but that "the resolution of the Governor and Council of Vermont, under which they were so sold," did not pass until two years after Mr. Brush's death. Referring in another place to this resolution, he condemned it in the plainest terms, declaring "the attempt to confiscate a dead man's estate" as an act "superlatively wicked."
THOMAS CHANDLER. 633
It is believed that Mr. Brush's property, situated in the state of New York proper, was never confiscated. Even if this were so, it does not appear that Mrs. Norman ever realized her expectations in the estate of her father. When on the 23d of April, 1799, the sum of $30,000 which Vermont had paid to New York, was divided among the claimants who had held lands on the "Grants," under charters from the latter state, Mrs. Norman made application for her portion, but obtained $718.60 only, a sum which bore no proportion to the real value of the possessions of her father in Vermont. The portrait of Crean Brush, from which the engraving given at the beginning of this sketch is taken, has for many years been preserved in the family of Mr. Henry M. Norman, who resides at Caldwell, and of whom several of the facts relative to his grandfather, previously mentioned, have been obtained.*
AMONG those who bore an active part as pioneers in the early settlement of Vermont, but few endured as many hardships, and overcame as many of the difficulties of the wilderness, as Thomas Chandler. He was the son of John Chandler; was born at Woodstock, Connecticut, on the 23d of July, 1709; and was married to Elizabeth Eliot, on the 23d of November, 1732. At the close of the French war, when many of the inhabitants of Massachusetts and Connecticut were turning their attention to the rich lands lying between Lake Champlain and New Hampshire, Mr. Chandler did not remain unobservant. It is probable that he resided, during a portion of the time between the years 1761 and 1763, at Walpole, New Hampshire, for his name is found recorded at that period, as a selectman of that town. In the year 1763, he removed to New Flamstead, the name by which Chester was then known, being
* Letter from Hon. W. C. Bradley, dated February 27th, 1857. Letters from John Kelly to Mrs. Norman. Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 1024, 1025.
634 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
accompanied by his two sons John, and Thomas, Jr.* At a meeting of the proprietors of the town, held at Worcester, Massachusetts, on the 8th of March, in the year last mentioned, Mr. Chandler was chosen moderator. At "a meeting warned to be held at the dwelling house of William Warner," in New Flamstead, on the 12th of March, 1765, he was again chosen moderator. This was the last meeting held under the New Hampshire charter. For the better protection of the domains west of Connecticut river, which had lately been declared within the province of New York, the limits of Albany county were so extended as to include them; additional justices of the peace for this wide-spread bailiwick were appointed; and, on the 20th of January, 1766, Mr. Chandler received a dedimus potestatem commission, empowering him to administer oaths of office. It is probable that he was, at the same time, made a justice of the peace and of the quorum, for at a meeting held at Springfield on the 27th of February, 1766, he and others were present in that capacity, to appoint constables for a number of the then sparsely settled towns in that region. It appears that there was a military organization on the "Grants" at this period, for on the latter occasion, Simon Stevens received the commission of a captain in the "eighth company of foot in the regiment of militia for which Thomas Chandler Esquire is Colonel."
On the 16th of July, 1766, Mr. Chandler was appointed first judge of the Inferior court of Common Pleas of Cumberland county, a justice of the peace, and surrogate of the county. He also received a dedimus potestatem commission on the day following. For the purpose of securing the title of the lands in the town of his residence, he obtained a charter from New York for himself and thirty-six others, in which the name Chester was substituted for New Flamstead. The patent of the county was issued on the 3d of July, 1766. The charter of Chester was granted on the 14th of July, 1766. Mr. Chandler received his appointments a few days later. The first town meeting under the new charter was held on the first Monday in June, 1767. Though the officers were regularly chosen on this occasion, and on other similar occasions for a number of years following, yet their names were not recorded until the
* The Chandler family were settled in Chester previous to the 26th of December, 1763, for on that day Thomas Chester Chandler, a grand-son of Thomas Chandler, was born in that town. The birth of this child was the first that took place in Chester.
HIS OPINIONS. 635
19th of May, 1772, when, at a meeting held in the Court house, Colonel Chandler was chosen moderator, supervisor, and town clerk. The latter office he continued to hold until the 3d of March, 1777. When the county was re-organized by a direct act of the Crown, in 1768, he was again chosen on the 7th of April, in that year, to all the positions he had held under the old regime. Four years later, on the 14th of April, 1772, he was re-appointed to all the offices he had before filled, with the exception of the surrogateship, and the office created by the writ of dedimus potestatem, as before explained.
Of the actual opinions entertained by Colonel Chandler at the time of the "Westminster Massacre," it is difficult to form a correct estimate. He had acted as moderator at many of the town meetings which had been held in Chester, during the six months previous to this occurrence, and when the conduct of Great Britain in oppressing her colonies was under discussion, and when the people resolved to "joyn with their Fellow American Subjects in opposing in all Lawfull ways, every incroachment on their Natural Rights," had shown no opposition to the measure. He also declared publicly, a few days before the affray, that he believed "it would be for the good of the county not to have any court as things were," and evinced a conciliatory spirit towards those who favored violent and decisive measures. After he had consulted with his associate, Judge Sabin, a man who deemed it his duty to uphold the laws, let the cost be what it might, it is probable that his views were changed; for, when asked a few hours previous to the commencement of the fight, whether he and Sabin would consult with the Whigs as to the expediency of holding the session, he replied that the judges were willing to give redress in a legal manner, but could enter into no discussion as to "whether his Majesty's business should be done or not." Sabine, in "The American Loyalists," referring to Judge Chandler's behavior on this occasion, remarks: — "He appears to have conducted with prudence, and to have used his exertions to prevent the melancholy consequences which resulted from the unwise proceedings of other adherents of the Crown." Although he was afterwards imprisoned in the Court-house, yet his confinement did not last but two or three days, and it does not appear that he was ever tried, although he gave bonds at the time of his release to appear and, take his trial at such time as should be appointed.
636 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
Other views have, however, been entertained respecting Chandler's real intentions. It was the remark of an old man, who in, his boyhood had often seen him, that "he was not deemed a right honest man, and was supposed by many to have forwarded the scrape." In that highly entertaining and instructive novel, called "The Rangers; or the Tory's Daughter," the Hon. Daniel P. Thompson has also painted the sycophancy of Colonel Chandler, in colors which do not increase the brilliancy of his reputation. The most plausible account which can be given of his conduct, as derived from a thorough examination of the facts, appears to be this. He was a man who, although attached to the Crown from which he derived his authority, was unwilling that the people, whose welfare he desired especially to consult, should suffer. He wished, as a loyal officer, that the court should convene; was willing in his judicial capacity to. listen to the demands of the people; and announced himself ready to assist in removing the grievances of which they complained. Being withheld by Judge Sabin — whose fidelity to the King was greater than his love for the people — from the course of action to which views like these would have prompted him, he determined to remain with his associate, and bear the indignation of the populace. This he did, there is hardly room to doubt, with all the dignity becoming his, station. He suffered confinement with his friends, and after his release, when popular clamor had in a measure subsided, and an opportunity had been given him for reflection, decided in favor of those who had determined to cut loose from Great Britain, and ever after was a zealous supporter of the American cause. He was often exposed to the opprobrious remarks of those who remembered him as associated with the Court party during the struggle of the 13th of March, and his connection with that side was not unfrequently cited as a reason why he could not be a hearty upholder of democratic or republican principles. Yet, in the face of prejudice so bitter, and calumny so offensive, Colonel Chandler, firmly attached to the cause he had espoused, toiled, for a time at least, earnestly and faithfully in its behalf.
Owing to causes which cannot now be ascertained, he became impoverished in his old age, and continued so until his death. At the session of the Legislature, held in October, 1784, he presented a petition to the General Assembly, in which he expressed his willingness to deliver up the whole of his estate to
DEATH IN PRISON. 637
his creditors, in good faith, in order to satisfy the executions which had been issued against him, and prayed, in view of his "advanced age and infirmities," for the passage of an act by which his creditors might be enabled to divide his property among them, and he be relieved "from the fears of going into a lonesome prison." In answer to this request, he was ordered to cite his creditors, and require them to show cause why the petition should not be granted. His pecuniary embarrassments, "brought about" as Mr. Thompson declares, "by a long course of secret fraud in selling wild lands to which he had no titles," placed him finally entirely at the mercy of his creditors, who threw him into jail at Westminster. By a statute law, of the state, a creditor was at this period bound to provide for the support of an insolvent debtor, whom he had imprisoned for debt, in case the debtor should make oath to his utter inability to discharge such debt. Maintained by his creditors, Chandler continued in prison during a portion of the spring and summer of 1785. In the month of June, of that year, the General Assembly re-considered the petition which he had presented at the last session, and passed an act "to enable Thomas Chandler of Chester, in the county of Windsor, Esqr., who now stands committed a prisoner in the common gaol at Westminster, in the county of Windham, to deliver up all his estate, real and personal, to his creditors, bona fide, and to discharge the said Thomas from his imprisonment."
The terms on which his release was to be effected were peculiarly stringent, but Providence had determined to relieve him, not only from the miseries of a jail but from the vexations of his fleshly prison. The act was passed on the 16th of June, 1785. On the 20th of the same month he died in the jail at Westminster. Owing to a foolish and unnatural belief which then prevailed concerning the inhumation of the body of an imprisoned debtor, the remains of Judge Chandler were buried privately, and without the ceremony of a funeral. In one corner of the "old Westminster churchyard," next to the highway, was to be seen until within a few years, the stump of a tree which marked the locality of his strangely constructed grave. Whatever his faults may have been, he deserves to be remembered as one of the earliest and most influential of the settlers of Eastern Vermont.*
* Commissions. Deming's Catalogue, passim. MS. Letters. Thompson's Vt., Part III. p. 53. The Rangers; or the Tory's Daughter, i. 99. Journals Gen. Ass.
638 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
JOHN, the first son of Thomas Chandler, was born at Woodstock, Connecticut, on the 4th of March, 1736/7, O.S. (March 15th, 1737, N.S.), and was married to Elizabeth Painter on the 4th of May, 1758. He removed with his father to Chester in the year 1763, and aided in the early establishment of that town. Under a commission from New York, he was authorized to administer the necessary oaths to all persons who should receive office in Cumberland county. This post he held from July 17th, 1766, to April 14th, 1772. During the same period he served as an assistant justice of the Inferior court of Common Pleas and as a justice of the peace. He also held the office of county clerk from July 16th, 1766, to February 25th, 1772, when he was removed for misconduct. Of his future career very little is known.*
THOMAS CHANDLER JR.
THE second son of Thomas Chandler, and who bore the name of his father, was born on the 23d of September, 1740, O.S., and was married to Sarah Lord on the 21st of July, 1763. At an adjourned meeting of the proprietors of New Flamstead, afterwards Chester, held at Worcester, Massachusetts, on the 22d of March, 1763, Thomas Chandler Jr. was chosen town-clerk. On the 8th of March, 1764, he was re-elected, and when on the 12th of March, 1765,
Vt., Oct., 1784, p. 15; June, 1785, pp. 17, 40, 43. Slade's Vt. State Papers, p. 497.
An account of the peculiar circumstances under, and the manner in which the burial of Judge Chandler took place, is given ante, pp. 583, 584.
* Council Minutes in office Sec. state N. Y., 1765-1783, xxvi. 228.
THOMAS CHANDLER JR. 639
the proprietors assembled for business, at the dwelling-house of William Warner in New Flamstead, he was continued in the same office for another year. He was again elected town-clerk at the March meeting in 1777, and served in that capacity during the two years succeeding. From July 16th, 1766, until March 13th, 1775, the date of the "Westminster Massacre," he was an assistant justice of the Inferior court of Common Pleas for Cumberland county and a justice of the peace. Both before and after the event alluded to, he endeavored to allay the discontent of the people of the county, both by argument and persuasion, but failed to accomplish that end.
At the first session of the General Assembly of Vermont, in March, 1778, he was chosen secretary of state, and held that office until the following October. At the same time he received the appointment of clerk of the House. In October, 1778, he was made speaker, and served in that capacity until the middle of the session of 1780. During the years 1779 and 1780, he was a member of the Council; from 1778 to 1781, and in 1787, represented the town of Chester in the General Assembly; and in the year 1779 was a judge of the Superior court. When the estates of the Tories who had left Vermont were declared confiscated, he was chosen a commissioner of sequestration. Although disliked by many on account of a prejudice founded upon his former connection with the colonial government of New York, and charged with conduct which subjected him to the loss of his place as speaker of the House in 1780, yet his efforts in the town of Chester were always exerted in behalf of the American cause, and his patriotism was undoubted.
Having been reduced to poverty "by a long series of sickness in his family," he presented a petition to the Legislature of Vermont, dated October 15th, 1792, asking for an act of insolvency in his behalf. While the New Hampshire Grants were subject to the jurisdiction of New York, his position in the local government was high, and his influence, although circumscribed, was acknowledged. But under the régime inaugurated by the establishment of Vermont as an independent state, he gradually sunk into obscurity, and died it is supposed, although not as miserably, yet as much embarrassed as his father.*
* See Biographical Notice of AZARIAH WRIGHT.
640 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
WAS a resident of Westminster, and in that town and throughout the county of Windham, was known and respected as a physician. Before Vermont was declared a separate and independent state, and while the people on the "Grants" acted in concert with the government of New York in the cause of American freedom, he was appointed by the Provincial Congress of New York a captain in the detachment of Rangers which was commanded by Maj. Joab Hoisington. Having accepted the commission, he endeavored to enlist his complement of men, but amid the duties and labors of his profession he was unable to devote the time necessary to accomplish this object. Convinced that he could effect more good as a physician than as a soldier, and finding that his patients were "totally unwilling" that he should discontinue his practice among them, he resigned his commission on the 23d of October, 1776. He afterwards held the office of high-sheriff of Windham county for several years. He appears to have been first elected to that station in 1781, and held it until the year 1787.*
AMONG the early inhabitants of Townshend, no person occupied a higher position, or enjoyed a larger share of public confidence than Samuel Fletcher. He was born at Grafton, Massachusetts, in the year 1745, and at the age of seventeen enlisted as a soldier in the contest which was then being waged between the British and French colonies. In this service he continued a year. On his return he
* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., ii. 214.
SAMUEL FLETCHER. 641
learned the trade of a blacksmith, which he followed about four years, when he married a daughter of Col. John Hazeltine. Becoming the recipient of an ample fortune by this connection, he laid aside the sledge, and removed to Townshend, there to wield the axe among the trees of the forest. At the commencement of the Revolution he joined the American army, and in the capacity of orderly-sergeant, was present at the battle of Bunker Hill. By the New York Provincial Congress he was appointed a lieutenant in a new company, which was formed in the month of July, 1775. Elisha Benedict of Albany, the captain of the new company, was soon after sent to Cumberland county for the purpose of delivering to Mr. Fletcher his commission. He there learned that the "orderly" was "in the army at Cambridge," Massachusetts. Mr. Fletcher's commission was soon after recalled, and the lieutenancy intended for him was conferred on another. In the month of January, 1776, he returned to Townshend, and was immediately made captain of the militia in that town. On the 1st of February in the same year, the town committees of safety assembled and elected field-officers for the lower regiment in Cumberland county, agreeable to the wishes of the New York Provincial Congress. On this occasion Mr. Fletcher was chosen quarter-master, and his nomination was confirmed before the end of the month.
On the 11th of June following, a committee of safety for Cumberland county was formed at Westminster. Mr. Fletcher was present as a delegate from Townshend, and took an active part in the proceedings. Companies of minute men were soon after raised, whose superiority resulted from the excellence of their drill, and their readiness to march at the beat of drum, wherever their services were needed. A company of this character was commanded by Captain Fletcher, and when, in 1777, Ticonderoga was besieged, all his men volunteered to march for its relief. On this expedition, with a party of thirteen, he attacked a British detachment of forty men, killed one of them, and took seven prisoners, without sustaining any loss himself. In August of the same year he was engaged in the battle of Bennington, and often in later years would speak of his participation in that struggle. He soon after received a major's commission, and continued to serve his country until after the defeat of Burgoyne. He was made a brigadier-general in the militia of Vermont on the 20th of June, 1781, and,
642 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
having reached the grade of major-general, retained that position for six years.
He represented Townshend in the General Assembly of Vermont at their first session, in March, 1778, and enjoyed the same honor at the session in October of the same year, and at that in February, 1779. During the session of the latter year, he was chosen councillor, and held the office by annual election until 1790. He was also councillor in 1808. He was appointed a judge of the Supreme court on the 13th of February, 1782, but refused to serve. From 1788 until 1806, he held the office of high sheriff of Windham county, and during the years 1778, 1783, 1784, and 1786, was a judge of the county court. He died on the 15th of September, 1814, aged nearly seventy years. On the occasion of his funeral, in connection with some remarks eulogistic of his character, made by the late Hon. Charles Phelps, of Townshend, a sketch of his life was given by the same gentleman, but the observations were extemporaneous, and were not preserved. His daughter, who afterwards became the wife of Mr. Ransom, and the mother of the Hon. Epaphroditus Ransom, late Governor of Michigan, was the first person born in Townshend. She died a few years ago at Kalamazoo, at a very advanced age. His eldest daughter, who was formerly the wife of the Hon. Samuel Porter, of Dummerston, was living a few years ago in Springfield, Vermont, at the age of ninety. His only son, Squire H. Fletcher, was also living in 1853 near Buffalo, New York, wanting but a few more years to place him in the octogenarian rank.
Being a man of enterprise, industry, and skill, General Fletcher not only filled the various stations to which he was appointed with great credit, but found time to engage in projects to increase the wealth and population of the state. By resolution of the General Assembly of Vermont, passed on the 6th of November, 1780, the township of Jamaica was granted to him and fifty-three others, on the payment, for each right, of £9 lawful money, in silver, or other current funds. The charter was issued on the day following. It is much to be regretted that the MSS. of this excellent man were not preserved. He was a fine writer, and during a portion of his life, kept a full, accurate, and daily record of events of public importance, or of interest to himself on account of his participation in them. These, and other writings, it is supposed, were consigned to the care of his son-in-law, Mr. Ransom, who was the executor of
SAMUEL GALE. 643
his will, and were probably destroyed in the burning of that gentleman's house. Among the books lost on that occasion, was "a large and elegant old English folio edition of the Bible," which Col. John Hazeltine gave to his daughter at the time of her marriage, and which General Fletcher bequeathed to his daughter, Mrs. Ransom, in his will. Two memorials of the old soldier are still preserved. The one is a sword cane which he carried through all his campaigns in the Revolutionary War; the other a watch which he wore during the last twenty years of his life.
In stature, General Fletcher measured about five feet ten inches. In person he was straight and finely proportioned, but inclined to corpulency. His eyes, which were blue, corresponded well with a light complexion, and his manly beauty was generally acknowledged. He was elegant in manners, and in deportment, bland and refined. Kindness characterized his intercourse with all, and generousness and hospitality were the faults, if he had any, of his character. He was very particular in his dress, which, although always in the fashion, was never contrary to the canons of good taste. Possessing the qualifications which make the man, he was also so fortunate as to combine with these most necessary requisites those other and finer excellences, which rendered him the beau ideal of a perfect gentleman.*
OF the loyalists who bore a conspicuous part in the events connected with the "Westminster Massacre," none are more entitled to respect and consideration than Samuel Gale. He was born in Hampshire, England, on the 14th of October, 1747, and during his boyhood received the benefits of a good education. Having been appointed a paymaster in the British army, he was ordered
* Thompson's Vt., Art. TOWNSHEND. Deming's Appendix, p. 216. Letter of Hon. E. Ransom, Feb. 6th, 1853. Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 84, 95; ii. 53, 54, 68. Am. Archives, Fourth Series, vol. ii col. 1796.
644 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
to the American colonies, probably about the year 1770. From manuscript plottings prepared by him, which are still extant, it is evident that his knowledge and practice as a surveyor were accurate and extensive. But of these facts more definite evidence exists. On the 12th of March, 1772, he issued at Philadelphia the printed prospectus of a work which he was then preparing, to be entitled "The Complete Surveyor." To this paper were affixed recommendatory notices from the Right Honorable, the Earl of Stirling, Lieutenant-Governor Cadwallader Colden, Mr. Rittenhouse, and Mr. Lukens. From a letter which he wrote while a prisoner at Fairfield, Connecticut, to John McKesson, secretary of the New York Provincial Congress, dated February 29th, 1776, it appears that the work was still unpublished. Having, in this communication, requested to be released on parole, if no other better relief could be afforded, he added: — "You may mention what you choose in the parole, but I would choose, by all means, if possible, to be at New York or Philadelphia, where I may finish my intended publication on surveying, which you well know is allowed by all parties to be a matter of great actual service to America." Of the volume — published or unpublished — nothing further is known.*
On the 25th of June, 1773, he married Rebecca, the eldest daughter of Col. Samuel Wells, of Brattleborough, and soon after left the service. Becoming a resident of Cumberland county, he was appointed, on the 7th of March, 1774, clerk of the court, that office having become vacant by the resignation
* That he was at one period employed as a surveyor on the New Hampshire Grants, is evident from the following extract, taken from "The Natural and Political History of the State of Vermont," a work by Ira Allen, which was published at London in the year 1798.
"In the summer of 1773, Mr. Ira Allen, with three men, went from the block fort on Onion river, in pursuit of a Mr. S. Gale, who, with a number of men, was surveying in the district of the New Hampshire Grants, for the land jobbers of New York. Allen and his party traversed the district from east to west, through, the townships of Waterbury, Middlesex, and Kingsland, to Moretown, alias Bradford, and Haverhill; and, at length, obtaining information of the surveyor's destination, they procured provisions and some spirits, and went again in quest of him. They discovered his line, and, by that, followed him to near the north-east corner of the present town of Montpelier. Here it ended, and he could not be traced further, because, being apprised of his danger, he made a corner on dry land, and thus precipitately escaped, and Allen came to the corner an hour after he fled. On the sixteenth day they reached the block fort, whence they sat out." — pp. 45, 46.
CONDUCT AT THE "WESTMINSTER MASSACRE." 645
of Crean Brush. In a description of the General Assembly of New York, given in the Connecticut Courant, under the date of April 10th, 1775, it is said of Brush that he "sold the clerkship of the county to Judge Wells's son-in-law." Of the truth of this statement, there are now no means of judging, but it is safe to conclude that it is greatly exaggerated, if not wholly false. On the 5th of May, 1774, Mr. Gale was honored with another mark of favor, in receiving a commission, authorizing him to administer the prescribed oaths to all persons appointed to office in the county.
Notice has already been taken of his conduct on the memorable evening of the 13th of March, 1775. Warmly attached to the royal cause, and deeming those who should rebel against constituted authority as worthy of the direst punishment, his indignation knew no bounds when he saw the yeomanry whom he had been accustomed to regard only in the light of obedient subjects, demanding redress for wrongs, which, doubtless, appeared to him more imaginary than real, and enforcing the demand with manifestations whose import could not be mistaken. Actions performed in a moment of excitement, cannot, however, be regarded as criteria of character. The few lines which are devoted to Mr. Gale in the account of the "Westminster Massacre" prepared. by Reuben Jones, are, so far as they are intended to represent the actual disposition of the individual, entirely at variance with truth, and unworthy of the page of history. "Jones's sketch," a gentleman* of high respectability has observed, "conveys as false an impression of Mr. Gale as the daguerreotype would convey of the elephant which should represent that noble animal while his mouth is wide open to receive fruits." On the day following the outbreak, Mr. Gale was imprisoned in the jail at Westminster, and there remained until the 19th of March, when he was taken to Northampton, Massachusetts, where he was kept in confinement from March 23d to April 6th, when he obtained his release, and repaired to New York.
Here he continued to reside, his family having joined him, until February, 1776, when he was seized at night in his own house, and conveyed to a guard-house at the upper barracks in the city, where the troops from Connecticut were quartered. Thence he was soon after removed to Fairfield jail, in Connecti‑
* Rev. Canon Micajah Townsend, of Clarenceville, Lower Canada.
646 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
cut, where he was placed in close confinement. Hoping to obtain his release, he wrote to John McKesson, secretary of the Provincial Congress of New York, requesting him to interfere in his behalf. His letter, dated the 29th of February, evinced by its style and expressions the honorable character of the writer. "You well know," he remarked, "that my sentiments have been uniform and steady, even if erroneous and, therefore, I conceive myself entitled, at the least, to the privileges and protection which, by the laws of all Christian nations, are granted to prisoners of war. I call it prisoner of war, not as being an enemy in heart to any man breathing, but as being by birth and education one of that country between which and this country a war subsists. Let me request that I may either be allowed the privilege granted by all Christians to a prisoner of war; or else the birthright of a British subject — the writ of habeas corpus." He declared his belief that a design against his person had been formed by some of the inhabitants of Cumberland county, and referred to a document which had been drawn up in vindication of his own conduct, and that of the sheriff and posse, during the affray at Westminster. He described his place of confinement as "a common jail, where the cold wind through the bars (for the windows are not glazed) far exceeds the warmth of all the fire that is obtained," and asked to be accommodated with "a genteeler apartment."
This letter was considered by the New York Provincial Congress on the 5th of March, and the seizure of Mr. Gale was declared to be "a wanton act of military power, inconsistent with that liberty for which the colonists are contending." On the following day, Congress wrote to Maj.-Gen. Charles Lee, notifying to him the facts as they had been presented, and requesting from him a statement of the nature of the charge brought against Mr. Gale, in order that proper steps might be taken either for his discharge or punishment. In his reply, written the same day, Lee acknowledged that the arrest of Mr. Gale should have been made by the Provincial Congress, but gave as a reason for his conduct the assurances he had received from many respectable men, that Mr. Gale was "a most dangerous man, and ought not to be suffered to remain on Long Island," where, as Lee observed, "an enemy is more dangerous than in any other spot of America."
Information of the views of Congress in the matter, was sent to Mr. Gale by Secretary McKesson. In his answer, dated the
LETTER TO SECRETARY MC KESSON. 647
12th of March, Mr. Gale referred to a letter which he had written to Col. Benjamin Bellows (in which he had claimed a right tot the records pertaining to his office as clerk of Cumberland county), as being the probable cause of his arrest. His remarks on this point were in these words: "Whoever construes the disliked expressions in my letter to Colonel Bellows to relate to others than those of the county of Cumberland, gives it a construction which was not thought of by me when I wrote it. I am not of opinion that you or many of your body hold their proceedings in a much better light than myself; nor can I suppose that any one can think me blameable in forbidding a delivery of the records to any but myself or deputy." He then stated at length what his conduct had been; that he had scrupulously abstained from disobeying the orders of those opposed to Great Britain; that he had never been engaged in any "Tory plots;" that the treatment he had received was far from being reconcilable with the principles of liberty; and closed with this impassioned peroration: " Whether I return to New York or not, may the Almighty's will be done! I flatter myself that, that nobleness of heart which characterizes the free-born Briton, that spirit in which malice or revenge hath never reigned, added to a conscience serene and clear, will enable me to pass through the various mazes and labyrinths of persecution, torture, or death, with all the patience and resignation of a martyr; and should the apprehensions which I have mentioned grow into realities, I shall say with Balaam, 'Let me die the death of the righteous; let my last end be like his!' "
Meantime, the committee of the Provincial Congress to whom the subject had been referred, reported on the 8th of March, that "the sole occasion for apprehending Samuel Gale, and sending him into confinement" had arisen from certain letters in the possession of Col. William Williams, a member of the said Congress, and that they knew of no other evidence against him. This report was taken up on the 16th of March, and, in view of its statements, a resolution was passed, declaring the opinion of Congress, that Mr. Gale ought to be forthwith released, inasmuch as he had been carried away and imprisoned "without any hearing, trial, or adjudication whatever." Notice of this decision was communicated to the chairman of the committee of Fairfield county, accompanied by a request for the immediate discharge of the prisoner. Mr. Gale was informed privately, of the resolve, but the committee concluding that
648 HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.
they had no jurisdiction in the case, refused to comply with the request. In a third letter to Secretary McKesson, dated at Fairfield, on the 12th of April, Mr. Gale repeated his application for a release, and detailed the reasons why it should be granted; described the misery of his situation; and expressed his views upon the merits of the struggle between the colonies and the mother country, in terms which bore evidence to the sincerity, ability, and honesty of the man.
"In this intolerable place," he wrote, referring to the prison, "the wind, when cold, fairly chills every vein in my. body. The smoke, when there is fire, not only blinds but nearly suffocates me; and the continual smell of the room has, I fear, tended to rot my very vitals. In the morning, I have, perpetually a sickness at the stomach; about noon comes on a fever, which in about three hours is succeeded by an ague, sometimes more and sometimes less violent. Every one of these intolerable tortures were so inexpressibly increased by the excessive weather of Saturday the 30th ult., that they introduced thoughts and extorted expressions too wild to mention in cooler moments." Turning then to a consideration of the death whose "slow approaches, inch by inch," he could not fail to perceive, he remarked: "Though I conceive it a duty incumbent on every man, to use his endeavors for the preservation of his life, yet I never viewed death through so horrible a medium as some men do. I have lately learned to consider it as a matter of relief, rather than as a punishment To leave the wife of my bosom a disconsolate widow, and the babes of my loins without a helper, is doubtless an unhappy reflection. But I am of opinion that a single stroke, however violent, would in the end be less grief to those I leave behind me, than a continuation of that suspense and anxiety of mind with which they are now totally overwhelmed." Do "some of my persecutors," he exclaimed, want to dip their hands in the blood of a martyr? If so, it would in my opinion be far less criminal, both in the sight. of God and man, for them to let it flow in decent streams than thus, with dastardly meanness, to drag it from me drop by drop."
A few days after this letter was written, Thaddeus Burr, the sheriff of Fairfield county, received the resolve of the Provincial Congress and released his prisoner on parole of honor. In a letter to General Washington, dated the 19th of April, Burr notified the course he had pursued, and asked for directions. Of Mr. Gale, he remarked: "He is an Englishman, a gentle‑
ATTACHMENT TO BRITISH RULE. 649
man of good education, and possessed of high notions in favor of his native country is frank and open in declaring his sentiments, but says he never has been, or will be active against the colonies." From an entry in the Journal of the New York Provincial Convention, under date of September 16th, 1776, it seems that Mr. Gale was then in the city of New York, and that he had been brought thither, by order of the New York Committee of Safety. In behalf of the Convention, James Duane and Robert Yates were appointed to examine him. To this committee Robert Harper was added on the 17th of September, and Col. William Allison on the following day. On the 21st, a committee was constituted for the express purpose of detecting and defeating conspiracies, and to them the examination of Mr. Gale, was finally referred. The immediate result of their investigations is not known. Ultimately, Mr. Gale was released from his parole of honor, and restored to liberty.
His sufferings, while in confinement, had not tended to lessen his hatred of the "rebel" cause, but on the contrary had strengthened his attachment to the government in whose behalf he had endured so many privations. Experience had also taught him, that he was ill-prepared to engage in civil commotions. Desirous of avoiding a repetition of scenes which, to him, had been fraught with sorrow and distress, he prudently removed with his family to Quebec, where he received the appointment of Provincial Secretary, under the administration of Governor Prescott. He subsequently accompanied his Excellency to England, to defend him with his powerful pen, in the difficulties which had arisen in connection with the Council in Canada. He had written and published an elaborate work entitled, "An Essay on Public Credit," involving many abstruse and extensive mathematical calculations on finance, having for its object the gradual extinguishment of the national debt of England. This work he presented for adoption to Pitt, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, by whom its correctness was admitted and its principles highly approved but who found it easier to put off the learned author with a pension for life, than to meet the public creditors with this book of financial reform in his hand, which might have cost him his place. In 1803 or 1804, Mr. Gale rejoined his family in Canada, where he lived in retirement, and died at his country residence in Farnham, on the 27th of June, 1826. He left a daughter, since deceased, and a son who has been an eminent lawyer and a judge of