The loyalists of Medford.
[Read before the Medford
Historical Society, April 17, 1905.]
HE loyalists represented the conservative and aristocratic element in colonial politics.
Many of them bore names that had been connected with the royal government for several generations.
They had a firm conviction that ‘the powers that be’ were in the right and that the existing order of things could not be overthrown by a parcel of rebels, as they considered their opponents.
The result of the siege of Boston
and its evacuation by the British
was a great blow to them.
Through the hard winter of 1775-76 upward of a thousand of them had been shut up in Boston
, whither they had fled for protection, exposed to hunger, cold and the loathsome disease small pox. The versatile Burgoyne
, leaving for a while his complaints against his brother chiefs, sought to enliven that dreary winter by organizing plays which were performed in Faneuil Hall, ‘the cradle of liberty.’
One farce ‘The Blockade of Boston
,’ in which Washington
was caricatured, was said to be his own production.
remarked that it might turn out a tragedy.
His words were justified when the British
awoke one morning in March to find Dorchester Heights
occupied by the enemy and their own position no longer tenable.
On the seventeenth of March, 1776, the obnoxious British soldiers left Boston
to the triumphant Americans
, and with them went more than a thousand loyalists, including men, women, and children.
Sabine says, ‘Of members of the Council, commissioners, officers of the [p. 50]
customs and other officials, there were one hundred and two; of clergymen, eighteen; of merchants and other persons who resided in Boston
, two hundred and thirteen; of farmers, mechanics and traders, three hundred and eighty-two.’
Most of these found new homes in Halifax
; some few went to England
or to colonies belonging to Great Britain
, but all had to commence life anew, exiled from their native land, and many of them stripped of the greater part of their property.
now found time to formulate laws against the loyalists.
says ‘In Massachusetts
a very perfect piece of machinery was at once invented for weeding out the Tories.
The selectmen of each town were to “warn a meeting” of the inhabitants.
Some person firmly attached to the American
cause was to be chosen by ballot.
The person thus elected was charged with the duty of laying before the courts evidence to prove the inimical character of any inhabitant whom the freeholders charged with favoring the British
The Selectmen were to make a list of men who had shown Tory sympathies since the Battle of Lexington
Any one present at the meeting might suggest a name to the moderator or chairman.
This name was added to the list if a majority of those present so voted.
The completed list was given to two or more justices of the peace who issued warrants for the arrest of the proscribed persons.’
The first test law of Massachusetts
, dated May I, 1776, was among the earliest passed by any of the colonies; it was general in its application, affecting all males over sixteen.
It obliged people to swear that the war was just and necessary on the part of the colonies, that they would not aid the British
in any way, but would use their best power and ability to defend the American
The refusal to subscribe to this oath made the offender subject to trial by jury as an enemy to his country and if found guilty he could neither hold office nor vote.
If he were a minister, schoolmaster, or a governor of Harvard college he was to lose his salary.
The second test law, January (?), 1778, affected persons suspected of being inimical (except mandamus councillors who had accepted office and all who since April 19, 1775, had joined the enemy or enlisted men for his service—these were not even allowed to take the oath.) Anyone under this law found guilty of refusing to subscribe the test oath was to be committed to jail (he to pay the costs) and sent to British territory within forty days. If he returned, he incurred the penalty of death.
The other laws passed in 1778 affected specific classes, members of the General Assembly, civic and military officers, attorneys at law
, so that virtually a loyalist lawyer was debarred from the practice of his profession.
passed one law restricting freedom of speech, February 4, 1777, under the title ‘A law for the punishment of crimes below the degree of treason and misprison of treason,’ which was directed especially against those who censured the Declaration of July 4, 1776.
The penalty attached to such a crime was a fine not to exceed £ 50 nor to be less than 20s or confinement in jail.
April 9, 1777, there was passed ‘An Act to prevent the waste of the estates of loyalists leaving estate of £ 20 or more within the state.’
Under this Act the Judges
of Probate were authorized to appoint agents for such estates, preference being given to the principal creditor provided he were not a relative.
The agent was to take possession of the goods and estate of the absentee as if he were administrator of a deceased person's estate, to file an inventory and render accounts of his doings from time to time as ordered by the Judge
The wife of the absentee, if she remained, was entitled to have the use of one-third of the real estate
An Act to prevent the return to the state of certain persons therein named was passed in 1778 and included the names of Isaac Royall
and his son-in-law, Sir William Pepperell
Any one named in this Act having the temerity to return might be arrested and put into jail, [p. 52]
transported to some province of Great Britain
at his own expense if possible, otherwise at the expense of the state.
If he persisted in returning after such banishment, death without benefit of clergy would be the punishment of his crime.
Two Acts to confiscate were passed April 30, 1779; one entitled ‘An Act to confiscate the estates of certain persons commonly called absentees;’ the other, ‘An Act to confiscate the estates of certain notorious conspirators against the government.’
All debts due before April 19, 1775, were to be paid; the wife or widow was to have the use of one-third of the personal estate and her dower in the real estate
An Act passed in 1781 empowered commissioners for the different counties to make sale of the estates of absentees named in the two foregoing Acts.
The commissioners for the County of Middlesex
were James Prescott
, Joseph Hosmer
and Samuel Thacher
, and by them were sold the estate of Joseph Thompson
and certain estate in Medford
, the property of one Charles Ward Apthorp
The absentees of Medford
were few in number; in fact, two only, Isaac Royall
and Joseph Thompson
, resided here.
Both were descended from the early settlers; Isaac Royall
from William Ryall
who first settled at Salem
, having a large grant of land called Ryall Side (a name still applied to a part of Beverly
), and who early removed to Maine
; Joseph Thompson
, from James Thompson who came to Charlestown
(1630) and who subsequently became one of the founders of Woburn
, the ‘martyr hero’ of Woburn
who fell at the Battle of Lexington
, and Benjamin Thompson
, better known as Count Rumford
, descended from the same stock.
was born on the island of Antigua
, 1719, and was the son of Isaac and Elizabeth Royall
It may be inferred from various items in the account of Jacob Royall
, the executor of his father's will, that young Isaac, [p. 53]
together with a brother William and his sister Penelope, were sent to New England
to be educated.
Jacob seems to have acted as his brother's agent until he came to Charlestown
, even making the purchase of the Usher estate, of which the present Royall house and grounds is only a very small part.
The intention of Isaac Royall, senior
, seems to have been to found an estate that should descend in regular succession after the English
fashion, and perpetuate the name of Royall
for several generations; for after dividing his Antiguan property equally between his two remaining children, Isaac and Penelope
, and bequeathing his estate in Maine
and in Worcester County
to Isaac, he wills his estate in Medford
, and also that in Bristol County
to his brother, Jacob Royall
, in trust for ‘my son Isaac’ for life, and afterwards to the sons of his son Isaac, in regular succession, and to their heirs, preference being given to the eldest.
In default of male heirs of son Isaac at the time of the death of the testator the estate was to descend in tail to the daughters of Isaac.
Failing heirs in the male line, the entailed estate was to be held in trust for Penelope
on the same terms as for Isaac, with this proviso, that her husband ‘should change his Sirname and call himself by the name of Royall
Further provision was made for the succession of his brother Samuel's children and their heirs male.
There is another clause in the will of Isaac Royall, senior
, which has given rise to ingenious surmising as to the identity of his wife.
He leaves certain property to ‘my daughter-in-law, Ann Oliver
, the wife of Robert Oliver
(History of Medford
) and Harris
(New England Royalls
) state that Isaac Royal married Elizabeth, daughter of Asaph Elliot
, which is undoubtedly correct.
further states that this Elizabeth had been previously married to one Oliver
by whom she had a male child (presumably Robert Oliver
). But the Elizabeth Royall
who came to Charlestown
with her husband was the widow of James Brown
, [p. 54]
and was married to Isaac Royall
, June 3, 1707.
Her daughter by her former husband, Ann Brown
, married (also in Antigua
), February 3, 1721, Robert Oliver
This seems more reasonable than to suppose that a widow Oliver
should have been married a second time under her maiden name of Elliot
, for so the record stands.
speaks of the suspicion that naturally fell upon our Isaac Royall
on account of his affiliation with the Vassalls of Cambridge
's husband was Henry Vassall
, who died about 1769.
His brother John, who built the Longfellow house
, left several children, one of whom (John) married Elizabeth, the daughter of Ann and Robert Oliver
; his sister, Elizabeth Vassall
, married Ann Oliver
's son Thomas
, who was the last royal lieutenant-governor, and who suffered at the hands of a Cambridge mob because of his appointment as one of the mandamus councillors.
was married in Kings Chapel, March 27, 1738, to Elizabeth Mackintosh
, and lived on the estate left by his father in Charlestown
(afterward a part of Medford
). Here his children were born and brought up and here he delighted to entertain his friends after a right royal fashion.
He was a good citizen, interested in all that concerned the town and colony, loved and respected by his fellow townsmen, and very liberal.
In the parish records of the First Church
maybe found the following: ‘1755, August 3.
Received a Folio Bible of the Honble I. Royall
& voted Thanks.’
Another gift was a large handled cup inscribed ‘The gift of the Hon. Isaac Royall
, to the Church of Christ in Medford
This is the cup referred to in the Church
records under date of October 9, 1781. ‘At a meeting of ye Brethren this Day information was given yt Isaac Royall
late of this Town, Esq.
, an absentee had in a letter to his attorney dated Nov. 9, 1778, ordered yt a Silver Cup left among his Effects shd be presented to this Chh: but inasmuch as ye Effects of the sd Absentee had been sequestered by ye Commonwealth [p. 55]
& ye sd Cup was now in ye Care of ye Agent for his Estate, ye Chh could not obtain it without leave from the Genl Court
October 26, 1781, on petition of David Osgood, pastor of the Church of Christ in Medford
, it was resolved by the General Court that the agent of the estate of Isaac Royall
be directed to deliver a certain silver cup to the Church of Medford
Absence did not lessen his interest in the town where he had lived so long, for in his will he bequeathes to the Church of Medford
a piece of plate to the value of £ 10. This is noted in a list of plate belonging to the church November 1, 1793, as ‘a dish for the bread inscribed “The legacy of the Hon. Isaac Royal
, to the Church of Christ in Medford
The children of Isaac Royal were Elizabeth, mentioned in her grandmother's will as one of her god-daughters, and who died young; Mary Mackintosh
, the wife of George Erving
(an absentee); a second Elizabeth
, who became the wife of Sir William Pepperell
, and who died on the voyage to England
, who married Thomas Savel
and some of whose descendants still live in Medford
It seems singular that no mention is made of this last named daughter either in the will of Isaac Royall
or in that of his wife Elizabeth, who died in 1770.
April 16, 1775, as he states in his will, leaving his estate in the care of his friend, Dr. Simon Tufts
It was his intention to retire for a time to his estate in Antigua
, but finding it impossible to obtain a passage thither, he went to Halifax
and finally to England
, where the remaining years of his life were spent; he regretted the necessity for his exile and was always looking forward to the time when he might return to his old home.
On the 23d of April, 1778, on petition of Simon Tufts
, agent of Isaac Royall
, it was resolved by the General Court that he be directed to deliver into the hands of the Committee of Correspondence of the Town of Medford
all the estate of Isaac Royall
, and the said Committee [p. 56]
were directed to receive the same and to improve it in the most ‘prudent manner they can.’
Later however, in June, 1778, after the filing a certificate signed by the major part of the Selectmen
(Stephen Hall tertius, Ebenezer Hall & Benjamin Hall), Simon Tufts
was formally appointed agent of the estate by the Judge
of Probate, he giving a bond for £ 1,000 for the faithful performance of his trust.
In this bond it is stated that Isaac Royall
has fled to our enemies for protection.
The real estate
, including the farm at Foxborough
, was valued at £ 47,098, and the personal estate at £ 3,603-7-4; the rents of the real estate
at the time of the inventory were valued at £ 434-4-8.
The estate was rented or leased to different persons, and after the payment of necessary expenses, the balance of the receipts was turned over to the State Treasurer
One account allowed September 5, 1781, states that £ 35,082-5 was received by the sale of furniture, the chariot, etc., of which £ 28,351-17-4 was turned over to Treasurer Gardner
In a list of absentees on file in the Probate Office
with the amounts handed over to the Treasurer
from the rents of their estates while in the hands of agents, Isaac Royall
's agent is credited with paying into the State Treasury
£ 758-3-7 1/2, in hard money, or rather the heading reads ‘paid or ordered to be paid to the State Treasurer
A commission in insolvency was issued April 5, 1781, to Thomas Brooks, Aaron Hall and Moses Billings
Their report was filed, but ‘the creditors refuse to have their claims liquidated on account of fluctuations in the currency.’
died of small pox in London
, in 1781, and his will written on parchment was probated there so far as relates to the estate in Antigua
, Sir William Pepperell
being appointed executor.
He had expressed a wish that his will should also be recorded in Suffolk County, Massachusetts
, so it may be found in the records of the Probate Office
After leaving small legacies to different relatives, handsome [p. 57]
enamelled mourning rings to friends (among others to Ebenezer Tirell
(?) and David Osgood), he gives to the Town of Medford
for the support of schools 100 acres of land in Granby
formerly known by the name of South Hadley
All the remaining land in Granby
(809 acres) and his right of land in the county of Worcester
(928 acres) which he bought December 28, 1752, in company with the Hon. James Otis
, John Chandler
and Caleb Daney
, he gives to the Overseers and Corporation of Harvard College to endow a professorship of laws or physics and anatomy, and they shall have full power to sell said lands and to put the money out at interest, the income whereof shall be for the aforesaid purpose.
The simple professorship of laws led the way to the establishment of the Harvard Law School, so that our Cambridge University has much to thank Isaac Royall
A special bequest gives to Harriot Pepperell
, a granddaughter, four pieces of land in Medford
; namely: 3 acres forming part of the land leased to Gershom Williams
, a wood lot 14 1/2 acres commonly called Turkey Swamp
; two more wood lots under one inclosure 29 acres 26 rods on the hill commonly called Pine Hill
These lots were purchased by him after the death of his father.
The rest of the real estate
, the house and land in Walpole
, he leaves in trust to Dr. Simon Tufts
, Jacob Royall
and Thomas Palmer
as an entailed estate to be held in trust for Mary McIntosh Royall
during her life, then to go to her first son and his issue, then to her other sons in succession and, failing sons, to her daughters.
Failing heirs in this line, then to his grandson William Pepperell
for life, and then to his heirs.
Further provision is made that the estate shall descend in the following order; to Elizabeth Royall Pepperell
and her heirs; Penelope Vassall
, and, after her, to her daughter Elizabeth; then to William Royall
, Jacob Royall
, and Elia Royall
The estate was not to descend to the heirs of the last three named.
This entailed estate was to be [p. 58]
called Royall Ville.
Failing heirs, one half the income was to be expended to found a hospital in Medford
; the other half for the support of a professor of laws at Harvard College.
The estate was never sold by the government, so that after the passage of a law for the barring of entails, the heirs were enabled to sell the entailed estate.
A deed on record in the Middlesex South District Registry
of Deeds shows that James Sullivan
and Christopher Gore
as representing the heirs sold to one Robert Fletcher
the entailed estate of Isaac Royall
for the purchase money according to a Decree of the Court of Chancery (England
). This included the Royall Farm
and a lot of land north of the Great Brickyard (520 acres), and a pew in the Parish Church, all in Medford
, also the estate in Foxborough
known as the Royall Foxborough Farm
(500 acres.) Later it was disposed of to different individuals, a part being sold for the old Middlesex Canal
was the son of Joseph and Sarah Thompson
, who were located in Medford
at least as early as 1722, coming here from Woburn
, and who were admitted to full communion with the church of Medford
They lie buried side by side in the little burial ground on Salem street. Joseph, the subject of this sketch, was born May 16, 1734, and his baptism is recorded May 19, 1734.
He was married in Boston
, June 26, 1759, to Rebecea Gallup
, whom Isaac Royal refers to in his will as a kinswoman of his wife, leaving her £ 3 to buy a mourning ring or to expend in some other way if more agreeable to her. As the eldest son a double portion was assigned to him out of his father's estate after the widow's dower was set off (1758). He added to this by the purchase from time to time of small estates, the records of his real estate
transactions in the Registry of Deeds at East Cambridge extending from 1759 to 1774, and his occupation is given therein as merchant.
He had several sisters who married and settled in Medford
: Sarah, the wife of Jonathan Tufts
; Mary, of Samuel [p. 59] Kidder
; Frances, of Joseph Calef
, of Benjamin Floyd
; Susannah, of Ebenezer Brooks; and one brother, William, who died unmarried.
At the settlement of the dower estate, Joseph and two sisters, Ruth Floyd
and Susannah Brooks
, were the only surviving children, and that part of the estate, after setting aside two shares for the heirs of Joseph, now an absentee, was assigned to Samuel Kidder
, a grandson.
Sabine states that in June, 1775, news reached the Provincial Congress that the Irvings of Boston
had fitted out under color of chartering to Thompson
, a schooner of their own, to make a voyage to New Providence to procure provision for the British
troops shut up in Boston
One Captain Samuel Webb
was sent to Salem
to secure Thompson
and prevent the vessel from making the voyage.
, however, made good his escape.
March 1, 1779, his estate was put into the hands of Richard Hall of Medford
No inventory was filed, but on April 6, 1780, an account was allowed, the balance of which, £ 446-2, was assigned to his wife, Rebecca Thompson
, for her support.
On June 3, 1780, on the petition of Rebecca Thompson
asking that she be granted leave to rejoin her husband in England
on the first convenient opportunity, and also to return again to this state, the General Court decreed that the said petition be so far granted as to allow her to go, but she might not return without leave being first obtained of the General Court, and the Committee
of Inspection for Medford
was directed to see that she carried no letters nor papers that might be detrimental to this or any of the United States of America
's real estate
was sold in 1782 and 1783 by the committee appointed to dispose of the estates of absentees.
The deeds all begin with the following preamble, ‘Commonwealth of Massachusetts
To all People to whom these Presents shall come: Greeting-Whereas in and by an Act of the great and general [p. 60]
Court passed and enacted on the thirtieth day of April in the Year of our Lord One Thousand seven hundred & seventy nine the Estate of the Persons therein mentioned for the Reasons in the same Act set forth are declared to be forfeited & ordered to be confiscated to the use of the Government
, And Whereas by another Act of the same Court passed in the same Year the Estates of all Persons guilty of the Crimes therein mentioned & described are made confiscable in manner as by the same Act is provided.
And by another Act passed in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & eighty one empowering us James Prescott Joseph Hosmer
and Samuel Thatcher Esqrs
to make sale of certain Estates situate in the County of Middlesex
aforesaid confiscated as aforesaid to the Use of the Government
And there being a due & legal Confiscation of the Estate of Joseph Thompson Merchant situate in Medford
in the County
aforesaid;’ then follows the description of the land as in an ordinary deed.
In this way 6 acres of salt marsh bordering on Medford river were sold at public vendue to Ebenezer Hall, Jr., for £ 70; a dwelling house and yard bounded south on the great road to Thomas Patten
for £ 295; 1 1/2 rods of land (part of the dower estate of his mother) with 3-16 of the dwelling house 1/4 of an acre of mowing land, 20 rods of plow land to Samuel Kidder
for £ 24-15; a pew in the meeting-house to Susanna Brooks
, widow, for £ 10; 8 acres of land bounded south on the great road and west on Proprietor's Way, and situated near the Hay Market
to Jonathan Foster
for £ 252-10; and about 10 poles of land with a joiner's shop thereon bounded north on the road to Malden
to Ebenezer Hall for £ 40-5; making a total of £ 692-5.
The Committee of Correspondence of Medford
rendered two accounts into the Probate Office
of their care of the estates in their charge.
In the account filed May 3, 1779, Thompson's house, shop, 8 acres of upland and his pew in the church; Clewly's pasture and mowing [p. 61]
land; Pepperell's house and his pew in the church are mentioned.
Their account allowed April 6, 1780, accounts for the rent of Sir William Pepperell
's house and pew, and about 14 acres of pasture and 14 acres of mowing land belonging to the estate of Isaac Clewly
states that the Committee of Correspondence had under its care the estate of one Clewly who was a resident of Halifax
and whose agent was Ichabod Jones
In that case the estate referred to in the accounts of the committee was that of John Clewly
, a carpenter, who held a mortgage on the estate of Francis Whitmore
, a resident of Medford
at the time the deed was given.
His estate in Middlesex County
was not sold by the state, but it was settled in 795 by his administrator, John C. Jones
; his real estate
, which consisted of about 22 acres in Medford
and 6 1/4 acres in Weston
, was sold by his administrator, and after the payment of debts, the balance was ordered to be paid to his surviving brother and sister, Isaac Clewly
and Bathsheba Wetherbee
, and to the children of his deceased sister, Anna Jones
Sir William Pepperell
was the grandson of the first Sir William Pepperell
of Kittery, Me.
, and the son of Elizabeth (Pepperell
) and Nathaniel Sparhawk
, and was named William Pepperell Sparhawk
In accordance with the terms of his grandfather's will, on his coming of age he procured an act of legislature to drop the name of Sparhawk
and call himself William Pepperell
, and later he was allowed to take his grandfather's title also.
He was proscribed and banished and his estate confiscated.
He went to England
in 1775, and his wife, Elizabeth
, a daughter of Isaac Royall
, died on the passage.
He died in England
, 1816, and with him the baronetcy became extinct.