Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jeremiah Brower's Loyalist Claim (Jeremiah Brower, Part II)

As mentioned in the previous post, Jeremiah Brower, of Highgate, Vermont (Part I), remained loyal to the British Crown during the course of the Revolutionary War. In August of 1777, while living at Newtown, New York (then in Albany County), he was caught up in the action that took place at the time when Gen. Burgoyne's attempt to advance south from Canada was halted during the "Battle of Bennington." The consequences for Jeremiah, of being on the wrong side of history, was that he lost most, if not all, of his property. A list of Confiscated Estates in New York, included in New York in the Revolution as Colony and State vol. 2 (Albany: 1904), pages 253-258, includes the name of, Jeremiah Brower. Since no details are given in this list, there is no way to know with certainty as to whether or not the name listed is that of Jeremiah Brower of Highgate, Vermont. But if it is not, I do not know what other Jeremiah Brower it might pertain to, as none of the others of that name, at that time, were known to be Loyalists.

On 1 May 1786 at Bennington, Vermont, Jeremiah Brower, then of Hoosick, New York, filed a claim for compensation for losses suffered as a result of remaining loyal to the British Government during the Revolutionary War. His original claim is on file in London at the Public Records Office, and is found in "Nova Scotia bundle 24." This group of records has been filmed by the Public Records Office and is available through the Family History Library on film #366717, of American Loyalist Claims, 1730-1835. Here are three digital images of the pages that comprise Jeremiah's file.

[Unfortunately the local FHL center is small and does not have the equipment that can print an image directly from the microfilm as some larger and better funded centers do. As a result, the only way to copy an image is to take a digital photo. Ideally this should be done carefully with a camera mounted on a tripod and with the face of the lens held exactly parallel with the surface of the film screen (which is slanted on the reader). The cramped quarters at the local center make this difficult as well and so these images were captured using a hand held camera. To augment them I also have an album of images of numerous sections of the three pages available online. Feel free to download the images.]

Images - Jeremiah Brower's Loyalist Claim, 1786

The first image above has the names of the witnesses, or references, provided by Jeremiah Brower. They are Nicholas Brower and Charles Aylsworth, both of Newtown. It is not certain just who this Nicholas Brouwer is, but as he was an adult at the time the events Jeremiah described took place, and since he was living at sparsely inhabited Newtown, I suspect he may well have been a brother of Jeremiah Brower. Charles "Aylsworth" may actually be a Charles Elsworth, who is known to have been in that area from other records. The other two witnesses are Peter Thomas and Stephen Buys, both of "Cataragua" in Canada. Jeremiah's wife (in 1786) was Hannah Thomas, and the couple's eldest son was named Peter, so the thought is that Peter Thomas is somehow related to Hannah. Perhaps a brother, or maybe her father (more on her in a follow-up post). Stephen Buys may be a son of an Abraham Buys (a descendant of Ariaen Buys) who was apparently an early settler at Newtown as well. "Cataragua" would be Cataraqui, which after the Revolution was a settlement in Upper Canada where many Loyalist refugees leaving the new United States were sent. It is the site of the present day Kingston, Ontario.

The second image contains the bulk of Jeremiah's claim. Jeremiah makes the obligatory statement that during the Revolution he opposed the Continental Congress and aided his majesty's troops in America. That in August 1777 he lived at "Newtown upon the Half Moon Patten in New York," and that he joined Gen. Burgoyne's troops. After two months with the army, which included having his family with him, because of a lack of provisions, he looked to return home. Jeremiah was briefly imprisoned by the Americans and had his effects and property taken and/or destroyed. He was allowed to return to his property, but when he would not sign an oath of allegiance to the American cause, he was again driven off. Apparently he found refuge for himself and his family in Hoosick, New York. Hoosick, also in Albany County in those days (now in Rensselaer County) is on the east side of the Hudson River, and boarders the state of Vermont. The family of Mathias (Matthew) Brouwer, a descendant of Adam Brouwer through Adam's son Peter Brouwer, lived at Hoosick during this time. Mathias and Jeremiah would have likely been second cousins, and Mathias did serve with the Americans. Whether or not Jeremiah received some assistance from his cousin, is not known. Jeremiah then includes a list of items that were lost, including a negro man, and produce and products that include tobacco and flax. It's apparent that Jeremiah was more than a subsistence farmer prior to the Revolution.

In the third image we see that Jeremiah had his farm sold out from under him at "half price." Jeremiah asks for compensation and restates that he was "faithfully attached to his Majesties Government and did not directly or in directly during the unhappy dissentions oppose but assist his Majesties operations." His claim is signed (and this gives us a very good example of Jeremiah's signature) and witnessed by an Isaac Tishman at Bennington, Vermont.

It was at this time that Jeremiah headed north, down Lake Champlain, to what he probably believed was British governed, Lower Canada.

(Part III, Jeremiah Brower of Highgate, Vermont)

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