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Hugh McManus, Jacob McNeal, Abel Whalen, Nicholas Power,
Peter Martin ; ensigns, John Mahoney and John Clark, a number
entirely and creditably beyond their proportion according to their
number in the community.

"The Irish names among the enlisted men of the city and
county of Albany are ample to prove that the Albany Irishman had
not lost his hatred of his English oppressor in the new found love
of his adopted country, and that he was ready to shed his blood
in her defense as his ancestors had been for Ireland on many a
hard-fought battlefield.

"We can not lay too much stress on the value of the above-
mentioned work in arriving at a proper appreciation of the valor
and sacrifices of the Irish in New York for the cause during our
struggle for independence, and if other States did as well the
debt is incalculable. We earnestly recommend its careful study
to all our members as containing much by deduction concerning



44 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

Irish activity and service in the cause of Hberty during the days
which tried men's souls. Their names appear not only singly, but
as companies, battalions and regiments, and bear witness that they
were willing to sacrifice their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred
honors in defense of their new fatherland.

"Hugh Mitchel was also one of the Commissioners of Con-
spiracies formed in Albany during the Revolution ; its duties were
to arrest Tories and suspected persons, and it had general charge
of the frustration of conspiracies against the new government.
He was generally quite active in the patriotic cause.

"David McCarty, mentioned as very active in Albany's Com-
mittee of Safety, was a valiant soldier during tlie Revolution, and
at the time of his death was a general of militia. He married, on
May 6, 1771, Charlotta, the grand-daughter of Pieter Coeymans,
the founder of an old influential and wealthy Dutch family, and
became possessed thereby of much land in the Coeyman's Patent.
He was a man of ability and of influence, and was respected by
the entire community. None of his descendants in the male line
are now extant in Albany. Ilis widow died at Coxsackie on April
22, 1828, in the eighty-eighth year of her age. Among the bronze
historical tablets erected by the citizens of Albany during the
celebration in 1886 of the bicentenary of Albany, as a chartered
city, there is one on the northwest corner of Beaver and Green
streets, where Plugh Denniston kept Albany's only first-class
hotel and tavern for many years. It was the first stone house
erected in Albany.

"A true Irishman, Denniston was an ardent patriot during
the war, and his hotel was a meeting place for the loyal citizens
of Albany, where treason was hatched against England. On both
of his visits to Albany in 1782 and in 1783, Washington was a
guest at the hotel, where he was presented with the freedom of
the city. Denniston owned much property in Albany, and was a
citizen well liked by all. Descendants in the male line are not
known in Albany.

"In 1780 John Cassidy, the progenitor of the existing Cas-
sidy family in the city, settled in Albany. In 1788 Robert and
John Barber, Longford County Irishmen, were engaged in pub-
lishing the Albany Gazette. In 1802 John was State Printer. In
1796 the first Catholic Church in the city was incorporated, and
Thomas Barry, Daniel McEwan, Terrance O'Donnell, Jeremiah
Driskill, Michael Begley, William Donovan, and Philip Farley
were among the trustees. The church records prior to 1822 are
not extant; they would furnish much valuable and interesting
information, if in existence, about the Irish people in Albany dur-



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 45

ing the latter part of the eighteenth and beginning of the nine-
teenth centuries.

"Irish emigration to New York State began in large volume
with the arrival in 1731 of the County Longford families, who
settled along the Hudson River, in what is now Ulster County,
but very little impress thereby was made on the city of Albany
until after the Revolution and during the first years of the nine-
teenth century, when Albany as the frontier city was the gate-
way through which New England and Europe opened up the
then West, and its resultant expansion and activities, including
the opening of the Erie Canal, caused a wondrously large increase
in its Irish population. In 1807 a special act of the legislature
was passed incorporating Daniel Campbell and his associates as
the St. Patrick's Society of the city of Albany, its purpose being
'to afford relief to indigent and distressed emigrants from the
kingdom of Ireland.' It held its annual election on March 17 in
each year.

"We learn from the valuable book of Hon. John D. Crim-
mins, our president, 'Early Celebration of St. Patrick's Day,' that
this society duly celebrated St. Patrick's Day in 1810 and again
in 181 1, when the day and banquets were honored by the presence
of the Governor of the State, the Mayor of the City of New York.
Judge Taylor, and the celebrated Irish patriot, orator and lawyer,
Thomas Addis Emmet, whose attendance was a distinguished
mark of consideration and evidence of the Irish in Albany, and
their high standing and character as citizens. The account of the
celebration in one of the city newspapers of the day contains,
according to the custom of the times, the formal and formidable
list of eighteen set toasts, full of patriotic sentiment and Irish love
for their adopted country."

The Longford families which Judge Danaher mentions as
settling along the Hudson River in 1731 were those who came
out Vv'ith Charles Clinton about that time, ninety-four of whose
passages he is recorded to have paid, all of whom came from
Longford.

Hugh Denniston, too, who kept the first-class hotel in Albany
and who entertained Washington as a guest, must have been a
relative of Mrs. Clinton, whose maiden name was Mary Dennis-
ton.

Altogether, Judge Danaher throws much light on the early
Irish settlers of the upper Hudson, and supplies many facts which
would have otherwise remained unknown. Well may he arrive
at the conclusion that the valor and sacrifices of the Irish in New
York during the struggle for independence make up a debt that



46 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

is well nigh incalculable. As he says, their names appear not
singly, but as whole regiments, and that is true not only of New
York, but of all other colonies.

Even the English army officers bear testimony to this. Gen-
eral Robertson, who served twenty-four years in this country,
testified before the House of Commons that he was told by Gen-
eral Lee that half the rebel army were from Ireland.

The territory now occupied by the State of New Jersey was
originally included in the Colony of New York. James, Duke of
York, afterward King James the second, of odious memory, sold
the lands west of the Hudson and east of the Delaware to Lord
Berkeley and Sir George Carteret, and the new province thus
formed was divided into East and \\'est Jersey. Eventually it fell
into the hands of Quakers, who purchased it from the heirs of
the original purchasers, and the whole territory became an asylum
for the oppressed. It proved a bad speculation for the Quakers,
however, and in 1702 they surrendered it back to the crown. For
a while New Jersey remained under the jurisdiction of the Gov-
ernor of New York, with a distinct legislature of its own. In
1738 it was again separated from New York, and remained a dis-
tinct province until it assumed the position of a sovereign State

^" ^776.

As early as 1682 many Irish families had settled in New Jer-
sey; among them was Joseph English, who settled in Monmouth
County, and called his home Englishtown. He was the ancestor
of the late Thomas Dunn English, the poet, journalist and states-
man. The family always remained intensely Irish, and the twc»
hundred and twenty years which elapsed from the foundation of
the family to the death of Thomas Dunn English, on April i, 1902,
did not dim in any way their patriotic ardor. During his long
life of eighty-three years Thomas Dunn English, the last distin-
guished representative of the family, was a most ardent Irish
patriot. His voice and pen were ever ready at Ireland's call, and
all the national characteristics were as strong in him as if he had
been born and brought up in Ireland. Two weeks before his
death he attended an Irish meeting in Newark, and his last hours
were spent in the composition of a drama in which the Insh race
was pictured with dignity and truth.

Another distinguished Irish family in New Jersey was that
of the Harts, from which sprang John Hart, the signer of the
Declaration of Independence from New Jersey. His father,
Edward Hart, was also a prominent man in the early days, and
was commander of the New Jersey Blues, the leading military
body of the colony.

John Hart, the signer, was born at Hopewell, N. J., in 1708,



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOI,UTlON. 47

and was a man of peace until the passage of the stamp act in 1765,
when he was the first to recognize the tyrannical character of that
measure. He was known in the community as "Honest John
Hart," and was held in the highest esteem. In person he was tall
and well proportioned, with very black hair and blue eyes, and
his disposition was most affectionate and just.

He served in the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776 and
was afterward Chairman of the New Jersey Council of Safety.
When the English and Hessian soldiers were let loose in their
pursuit of Washington across New Jersey they laid the country
waste with fire and sword and committed the most frightful deeds
of rapine, outrage and murder. John Hart's home was burned to
the ground and his stock and farm destroyed. His family was
compelled to fly for safety and every effort was made to capture
the aged patriot. With his family he hid in the forest, but they
suffered so much from privation and distress, that his wife died
under the hardships. He was not allowed to return to his home
until after the battles of Trenton and Princeton in December, 1776,
when the greater part of New Jersey was cleared of the inhuman
invaders. Ke never recovered from the sufferings he had under-
gone, and died at his home in Hopewell in 1780.

Gen. Joseph Reed was one of the most devoted men in the
Revolution. He ever retained the confidence and highest esteem
of Washington and the other patriotic leaders. He was born
in Trenton, N. J., on August 2y, 1741, his father having emigrated
from Ireland earlier in the eighteenth century. He was an Irish-
American of the best type, and graduated from Princeton in 1757.
He studied law with Richard Stockton, and at the Temple, in
London, where he had Charles Carroll of Carrollton for a fellow-
student.

On his return from England he settled in Philadelphia, and
took up the practice of law. He was President of the first pop-
ular convention in Pennsylvania, and accompanied Washington as
his aid and Secretary when he went to Cambridge as Commander-
in-Chief of the Army in 1775, and remained with him during that
campaign. In 1776 he was appointed Adjutant-General of the
American Army, and proved a brave and active officer. In the
spring of 1777 he was appointed to the chief command of the cav-
alry, but declined the honor, as he did also the Chief Justiceship
of Pennsylvania, preferring to remain with Washington as a mem-
ber of his staff without rank or station. He distinguished himself
at Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth. He was a member
of Congress in 1778, when commissioners arrived from England,
charged with the settlement of the war. One of these, Commis-
sioner Johnstone, through the agency of a lady named Mrs. Fer-



48 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

guson, approached General Reed with honeyed words and prom-
ises of wealth and rank if he would favor the views of the English
Government. Johnstone desired Airs. Ferguson to say to General
Reed that, provided he could exert his influence to settle the dis-
pute along English lines, he might command ten thousand guineas
and the best post in the gift of the Government.

Mrs. Ferguson sought and obtained an interview with General
Reed in Philadelphia three days after the British had evacuated
that city. She repeated to him her conversation with Johnstone,
when Reed, filled with indignation, replied, "I am not worth pur-
chasing, but such as I am, the King of Great Britain is not rich
enough to do it !"

This noble answer was passed from mouth to mouth and
added new laurels to the already brilliant record of General Reed.
He did not live long, however, to enjoy them, having died in his
forty-second year, on March 4, 1785, deeply and universally
lamented by all his countrymen.

A few days after his death, Philip Freneau, the poet of the
Revolution, wrote the following tribute to his memory:

"No single art engaged his manly mind,
In every scene his active genius shined.
Nature in him, in honor to our age,
At once composed the soldier and the sage.

"Firm to his purposie, vigilant and bold.
Detesting traitors and despising gold.
He scorned all bribes from Britain's hostile throne.
For all his country's wrongs were thrice bis own."

Mrs. Reed nobly seconded her husband in his sacrifices for the
cause of American Independence and was the leader of the ladies
of Philadelphia in their efforts to raise money for the suffering
soldiers in Valley Forge. Their son Joseph became a leading man
in Pennsylvania. He was Attorney-General of the State, and
Recorder of the City of Philadelphia for many years. Their
youngest son, George W. Reed, was commander of the ship Vixen
m the War of 1812, and died while an English prisoner in Jamaica
from the harsh treatment he received.

Even to this day, the descendants of this worthy couple of the
Revolution occupy high positions in the service of their country,
reflecting honor on themselves and the noble Irish family from
which they sprang.

We can not here recount all the names of Irishmen and
Irish-Americans of New Jersey who were prominent in that State
both before and during the Revolution. Amongst them were
James Sterling, a member of the New Jersey Provincial Congress,



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 49

and an active participant in the cause of Independence, and Alex-
ander Chambers and his son, both of whom were born in Ireland,
who fought through the war in the New Jersey Line.

Thomas Hamilton Murray, Secretary of the American-Irish
Historical Society, in his article on "Some Patricks in the Revo-
lution," to which we have before alluded, has this to say about
the New Jersey Patricks :

"Many Patricks appear in the New Jersey records of the
Revolution. Patrick Anally was a soldier of the line. Patrick
Brady served in a Fourth battalion of tlie second establishment.
Patrick Davis was another New Jersey soldier. Patrick McHol-
land served in Spencer's regiment of the Continental Army. The
New Jersey Continental soldiers included, too, Patrick Kelly,
Patrick McConnally, Patrick McKinney, Patrick McLane, Pat-
rick Tool (or Toole), Patrick Dunlevy, Patrick Hart, Patrick
Hackett, and Patrick Henderson, Patrick Hughes is mentioned
in a return of the invalid corps, having been wounded or con-
tracted illness in the service. Patrick Connor served in Captain
Newkirk's company in the Second battalion of Salem County, N. J.
Patrick Lamb was a member of Captain Tucker's company of
the First Regiment, Hunterdon County, N. J. Patrick Moore, of
the Second battalion, Salem County, N. J., was wounded at
Hancock's Bridge, March 21, 1778. Other New Jersey soldiers
included Patrick Leader, Patrick McGill, Patrick Riley, Patrick
Dreamell, Patrick Rogers, and Patrick Thompson."

It will thus be seen that the Irishmen and Irish-Americans
of New Jersey came valiantly to the front in the cause of Amer-
ican Independence. They not only acted their own parts well in
that trying ordeal, but they left a noble heritage to the State in
their children and their children's children, who are now occupy-
ing many honorable and responsible positions, and who, whenever
occasion arises, will be found not only ready, but eager to follow
in the patriotic footsteps of their Irish sires.



CHAPTER V.

THE EARLY DAYS IN NEW ENGLAND.

In the early days of New England it cofitained only four
provinces, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and
Connecticut. The territory of the present X'ermont was then
known as the New Hampshire Grants. It was claimed both by
New York and New Hampshire, but refused to acknowledge the
authority of either. It established its independence in 1777 and
was the first State admitted into the Union, in 1791. Before the
Revolution Maine was known as the District of Maine, and was
under the government of Massachusetts. During the Revolution,
in 1779, that portion of Maine known as the Castine Peninsula
was seized and occupied by the British. They endeavored to erect
a new province there under the name of New Ireland, hoping that
the name would insure the loyalty of the many Irishmen then resi-
dent in that section. The scheme failed, and the new province was
banished with the old ones.

New Hampshire was occasionally united to Massachusetts,
but generally it was an independent colony.

The colony of Rhode Island was originally founded by Roger
Williams as a protest against the bigotry of Massachusetts. He
advocated complete separation of church and state and toleration
for all creeds. He founded Providence in 1636. Connecticut also
had its origin in the same cause as Rhode Island. Many people,
dissatisfied with the intolerance of Massachusetts, left that prov-
ince under the leadership of Thomas Hooker and settled in the
Connecticut Valley. In 1639 they adopted a Constitution provid-
ing for the annual election of all officers by the people, with no
religious qualifications and completely ignoring all connection
with England and its King. This liberality was vitiated to a
great extent by a company of Englishmen who founded New
Haven and who adopted the Bible as their Constitution, refusing
trial by jury and establishing all the Cromwellian methods of
religious persecution. To this latter class may be traced all the
intolerance from which Irishmen and Catholics suffered in later
years.

In glancing over the many records and articles treating of
this section we fail to find any excuse for the ignorance professed
by President Eliot, of Harvard College, in his letter to Mr. J. D.
O'Connell before alluded to. Our trouble in presenting the his-
tory of the Irish in New England is the vast volume of facts

50



THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 51

which confronts us and makes it an ahnost impossible task to do
justice to the subject. It would take a large book in itself to
properly record the doings of our countrymen in New England,
both before and during the Revolution.

For the past twenty years our esteemed fellow-citizen,
Col. John C. Linehan, late Insurance Commissioner of New Hamp-
shire, was busily engaged in writing up the historic deeds of
Irishmen, not only in his own section, but all over the Eastern and
middle portions of the country. He contributed numerous able
articles to the Boston Pilot, and other journals and magazines on
this subject and he can now be referred to as one of the most
reliable authorities on the matter. All his facts are drawn from
town, county and State histories, civil and military reports and
other official sources. His work represents years of patient and
painstaking study and entitles him to the gratitude of his race.

Following his example, a namesake of his. Miss Mary L.
Linehan, teacher in the South School, of Hartford, Conn., has now
entered on the same study and bids fair to emulate him in his
labor of love. Colonel Linehan has supplied her with all the facts
in his possession and in every way encourages her in the work.

In February, 1903, Miss Linehan read a paper before the
Connecticut Historical Society, entitled "The Colonial Irish in
New England," which contains an exhaustive and interesting
account of the earliest immigration of that nationaUty to this
country, the result of ten years of research of the records of every
State in New England. We present a few extracts from her paper
which will prove deeply interesting:

"The early Irish came to this country in three distinct periods,
the first, dating from 1621 to 1653, the second from 1653 to 1718,
and the third from the latter period to the Revolution.

"Two Irishmen, William Mullins and Christopher Martin,
came over on the Mayflower and hundreds of like distinctive Irish
names followed.

"In 1 71 8 a petition was sent to Governor Shute, of Massa-
chusetts, by three hundred and twenty leading Irishmen, among
whom were ministers, asking permission to settle in the State.
The same year one hundred and twenty Irish families arrived in
Boston and brought with them the manufacturing industry of
linen and also introducing the use of the p-3tato. There was not
a town incorporated from that time but what contained the
descendants of some of those men or of those who followed them
directly.

"From 1718 to the Revolution great numbers of people from
the North of Ireland came to Nevv' England. In 1730 the First
Presbyterian Irish Church was founded in Boston."



52 THE IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

Miss Linehan gives highest praise to the Pilgrims and Puri-
tans during the period from 162 1 to 1774 for their kindness and
charity to the early Irish pioneers, and speaks of the assistance
given the wandering priests in Connecticut Valley, who came to
look after their people. She tells how the Rev. Gabriel Druilletts,
a Jesuit, and founder of the Abenkai Mission in Maine in 1646,
had been entertained by Governor Bradford, of Plymouth, and
how the executive courtesy supplied the reverend gentleman with
fish on a Friday, and allusion is made to the Reverend John Pier-
ron, a Jesuit priest, who made a tour of the colonies in 1676.

Coming down to the Revolutionary War, Miss Linehan gives
facts regarding many Irish patriots who took part in the war from
all over New England and served from the siege of Boston to the
surrender of Yorktown. She refers to the Jersey prison ship
where Irish-American soldiers were confined, and tells of the cru-
elties they endured, and of the offers of freedom if they would
join the ranks of King George's army, which they rejected with
scorn — not one of them going over to the enemy out of the eleven
thousand who died in seven years.

Miss Linehan claims John Hancock, President of the First
Continental Congress, as of Irish ancestry, together with Col.
Hugh Maxwell, Gen. John Stark, William Whipple and Matthew
Thornton. The facts above quoted can be sustained by historic
documents.

Maxwell and Thornton were born in Ireland, both being
brought to this country by their parents, the former in his first,
and the latter in his third year.

As early as 1632 we find mention of the Irish in Boston. In
an old legal document of that year an Irishman named Coogan is
described as the first merchant of Boston. By means of this old
deed Mr. C. E. Leider, in his articles on "Ancient Boston," de-
scribes the original site of the city as follows :

"A town corn bin on Cornhill, a prison, established in 1632 ;
the school, the first meeting house, occupying the commanding
position on Dock Square and Cornhill, and a tavern where the
Ames building now is. Opposite on Washington street were
placed the parsonage, the shop of Coogan, first merchant, the first
market place, where the old State House now stands. Near by
were the dock, the powder magazine, a town clock, the great
Indian cemetery, only a few steps away from the earliest burial
place of the whites."

The history of the Boston Irish Charitable Society is in itself
sufficient evidence that our countrymen wielded great influence in
New England previous to the Revolution. Through the kindness
of Mr. William Peard, of Boston, the warm personal friend of



THS IRISH IN THE AMERICAN REVOIvUTlON. 53

the lamented John Boyle O'Reilly, we have been enabled to peruse
the official records of that time-honored organization, and have
gleaned from them many important facts. The society was organ-
ized on St. Patrick's Day, 1737, a fact which in itself proves that
its originators were genuine, not "Scotch Irishmen." The names
of the twenty-six original members were as follows :

Robert Duncan, Andrew Knox, Nathaniel Walsh, Joseph St.
Lawrence, Daniel McFall, Edward Allen, William Drummond,
William Freeland, Daniel Gibbs, John Noble, Adam Boyd, William



Online LibraryJames HaltiganThe Irish in the American revolution, and their early influence in the colonies → online text (page 5 of 67)