Monday, August 16, 2010

William Jackson Papers; Samuel Benjamin Papers; Joseph Bellamy Papers; George Panton Papers Finding Aid

The Swain Report, Number 15

William Jackson Papers; Samuel Benjamin Papers;
Joseph Bellamy Papers; George Panton Papers

by David Swain

Introductory Information and Comparative Observations

This report includes information on four relatively small microfilmed manuscript collections recently acquired by the David Library from the Yale University Library. They are diverse entries into the big book of Revolutionary War era history, although they share a few interesting commonalities. Two served in the military, but the other two did not (although one of these did briefly—on the British side). Two were clergymen who spent much of their adult lives preaching the Gospel (although one was Congregational and passively chose the American side in the revolutionary conflict, while the other was Anglican and actively chose the British side).

-- The first collection (Jackson) tells of a patriot military staff officer and later civilian civil servant who was in the right place at the right time to meet and correspond with important people in high places—and to serve as secretary for the Constitutional Convention.

-- The second (Benjamin) tells of a military line soldier who served in the Continental Army from beginning to end of the Revolutionary War.

-- The third (Bellamy) tells of a Congregational minister active in the Great Awakening movement, who was a friend and colleague of Jonathan Edwards, and who was never actively involved in secular public affairs.

-- The fourth (Panton) tells of an Anglican priest who was organizationally active in the Anglican Church in America, vocally and actively a loyalist who lived out the war in New York, and in a small way involved in the British/loyalist military effort, only to move after the war to Nova Scotia and later “home” to Scotland.

William Jackson Papers

Biographical Summary

William Jackson (1759-1828) was born in Cumberland, England, orphaned as a young boy, and brought to—and brought up in—South Carolina. His guardian, Owen Roberts, was a prominent merchant and family friend, who also was active in South Carolina’s militia. Jackson followed his guardian into the militia, commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 1776, at the age of 17.

Later in 1776, Jackson’s First South Carolina Regiment was incorporated into the Continental Army and participated in the successful defense of Charleston. In 1778, the regiment was involved in an unsuccessful attempt to capture East Florida. Then in May 1780, Jackson was among the 5,000 American combatants made captive in the surrender of Charleston to British forces. He was fortunate to be paroled to Philadelphia and, in November, was exchanged.

This military experience was prologue to a distinguished and varied career as a military staff officer and later a civilian civil servant. During the losing Charleston campaign, Jackson (now 21 years old) served as an aide (with the rank of Major) to Major General Benjamin Lincoln, commander of the American land forces at Charleston (recommended by his South Carolina regimental commander, Charles C. Pinckney). After his exchange, Jackson became secretary to fellow South Carolinian Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens (son of Henry Laurens), an aide to General George Washington (recommended this time by Benjamin Lincoln, as well as by his own demonstrated skills as an exemplary staff officer).

Laurens and Jackson were sent to France in spring 1781 to procure arms for the American cause. After Laurens returned to America with weapons for the Yorktown campaign, Jackson remained in Europe until early 1782, working with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and the Dutch government on additional arms deals.

Back in America, Jackson became assistant secretary of war under first secretary of war Benjamin Lincoln, a position he held until the end of the Revolutionary War.

In 1783, Jackson sought a civilian career, first as a merchant, which he didn’t like, then as an attorney in Philadelphia (admitted to the bar in 1788). Meanwhile, his connections, including Alexander Hamilton, helped him beat out Benjamin Franklin’s grandson William Temple Franklin for the position of secretary of the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

After Washington became president, he asked Jackson to serve as his secretary, an assignment he performed until resigning in 1791 for financial reasons. He started a business and law career in Philadelphia but soon accepted appointment as surveyor of customs for the port of Philadelphia (a job he lost when Jefferson became president in 1801).

A staunch Federalist, Jackson edited Philadelphia’s pro-federalist newspaper, the Political and Commercial Register from 1801 to 1815. Much of his later life was devoted to the well-being of Revolutionary War veterans. As an attorney, he successfully represented a group of officer veterans who petitioned for pensions based on Congress’ “promise” of half-pay for life. From 1800 until his death in 1828 (in Philadelphia), he served as general secretary of the Society of the Cincinnati (private group of former officers). In this capacity, he gave a lengthy eulogy to George Washington on February 22, 1800, before the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati, about which he received several congratulatory letters.

Microfilmed Documents

The microfilmed documents in the Yale University collection consist of 120 manuscript items. Most are letters received by Jackson between 1782 and 1828. Also included are several manuscripts of documents transcribed by Jackson plus a few miscellaneous and printed items.

Letters: The list of correspondents who wrote to Jackson reveals how well connected he was in high places. Most are personal rather than business letters, revealing warm personal relationships and much praise for Jackson’s capabilities in his staff capacities. Some of this praise may verge on flattery because another purpose of some of the letters was to seek favors.

The microfilm reel contains, at the beginning, a detailed, typed contents list by correspondent’s name, with dates, for all the letters. The letters are organized in folders, alphabetically by correspondent’s name, not chronologically. A small sampling of the more familiar correspondent names includes John Quincy Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, William Petty, first Marquis of Lansdowne, Henry Laurens, Jr., Benjamin Lincoln, Charles, Charles Cotesworth, and Thomas Pinckney, John Rutledge, Jr., Winfield Scott, and George Washington.

The letters provide useful snippets of what was happening in Jackson’s life. Taken together, they are too fragmented in content to provide any continuity of information about Jackson’s life and times. In particular, the lack of letters BY Jackson in this collection denies us a look into Jackson’s own mind and heart.

Hand-copied documents: The documents Jackson chose to copy out by hand and keep include:
-- Excerpts from the Journals of Congress outlining the resolutions of Congress relating to the half pay for officers of the Revolutionary Army (1818)
-- “To Major General La Fayette. The address of the citizens of Philadelphia in their collective capacity” (1824?)
-- Account, with corrections, of Col. Laurens’s account of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis (ND)
-- Memorial to Congress on Behalf of the surviving officers of the Revolutionary Army (ND)

Printed items: These include the following, plus several other miscellaneous items:
-- Society of the Cincinnati: Proceedings of the New Jersey Society relative to the half-pay of the surviving officers of the Revolutionary Army and adopting the resolutions of the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati (July 4, 1818)
-- In the Senate, speech of Robert Henry Goldsborough upon the bill to provide for the surviving officers and soldiers of the revolutionary army (broadside, 1818?)
-- William Jackson, Memorial to Congress on behalf of the surviving officers of the revolutionary army

Samuel Benjamin Papers

Biographical Summary

Samuel Benjamin (1753-1824) was born in Watertown, MA. By the early 1770s, he seems to have been living in Waltham, MA. When the Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, he was 22 years old and had already joined the Massachusetts militia, soon to be transferred into the Continental Army. Beginning with the Battle of Lexington, he was continuously and actively engaged in the American military effort until he left the service in August 1782. During his years of service, he was present at Bunker Hill, Ticonderoga, Valley Forge, Saratoga, Monmouth, West Point, Stony Point, Paulus’ Hook, and Yorktown. During these years, his rank rose from sergeant at Lexington to ensign in January 1777 and to Lieutenant in October 1777. He served most of the time under Colonel Michael Jackson in the Eighth Massachusetts Regiment of the line.

Although Benjamin served in an infantry division, the papers suggest that he was not a common combat infantryman (except probably at Lexington). He must have had responsibilities related to logistics and supply, given the large quantity, among the papers, of receipts and accounting records. By the time of Yorktown, he must have had some contact with the army’s headquarters, given the brigade-level orderly book and other military documentation written into his papers.

After he returned to civilian life, Benjamin wasted little time in marrying Tabitha Livermore of Waltham. They purchased land from Deacon Elijah Livermore in the town of Livermore, then Cumberland County, MA (now Livermore Falls in Androscoggin County, Maine, NW of Augusta), and moved there in March 1783, the fourth family to move into the new town. The Benjamins birthed 10 children in Livermore and lived there for the rest of their lives.

Microfilmed Documents

The David Library owns the one microfilm reel of Samuel Benjamin Papers (original manuscript collection in the Yale University Library). The approximately 100 items in the collection cover the period 1775 through 1845 but come mostly from the period 1775 through 1782.

The collection contains an assortment of manuscript correspondence, diaries, poems, orders, receipts, and accounts. Most (except for receipts and accounts pertaining to Benjamin’s post-war personal and business affairs in Livermore, the poetry, and one piece of private correspondence) relate directly to Benjamin’s Revolutionary War military service.

More specifically, the collection contains the following interesting items (an incomplete inventory—a more complete guide to the collection is available from Yale University Library at

-- A description dated December 25, 1776 of an assault on Benjamin by men of another American military unit at Ticonderoga.

-- A printed bounty resolution from the Massachusetts General Court dated February 4, 1779.

-- Two carefully drawn sketches of the “Order of Battle or American Camp in the Campaing-1780” showing Marquis De Lafayette, head of light infantry, at the top, and two divisions, with various brigadier generals and brigades below (see attached copy—awaiting copyright permission).

-- Detailed specifications (1781) for the uniform of the Massachusetts line.

-- An undated (but probably between 1776 and 1780) piece of private correspondence, which Yale has identified as a reply to a challenge to duel.

-- A few pages (probably written between 1776 and 1780) containing romantic poetry in numbered stanzas.

-- A short diary kept by Benjamin from January 20 to December 17, 1781. Its contents include mostly daily activities while stationed at West Point, NY, followed by his journey with the army down to Yorktown, his activities during the siege, Cornwallis’ capitulation, and the aftermath, and his journey back north to his home in Waltham for a furlough.

Note that additional fragments of diary not documented in the Yale guide are mixed in with other items and written perpendicular to the direction of the other writing. The fragments include an entry for August 12, 1776, a roll of Captain Daniel Whiting’s company in 1776, including Sergeant Samuel Benjamin and 62 other names, and additional diary entries from January 14, 1778 through September 21, 1780, when Benjamin was at West Point.

The last entry in the diary fragments, dated September 21, 1780, although described without comment, is of unusual interest among the other more prosaic entries: “Major John andrews adgt genl of the british army Came on shore from the Vultur Sloop of war near Kings ferrey to have a privat conversation with genl Arnold then Shifted his Cloaths & crossed Kings ferrey in order to go to New york but was taken at Tarry town with Direction for Genl Clynton in Newyork” At this time, Arnold was the American commander at West Point but was actively working for the British. Not long after this date, Arnold’s treachery was discovered, and he escaped down the Hudson to New York on the very same British sloop-of-war HMS Vulture.

-- Handwritten copies of brigade-level orderly book entries dating from October 4 through November 3, 1781, at Yorktown.

-- Handwritten copies of resolutions by Congress dated April 13 and July 11, 1782, concerning the ranks and pay of officers.

-- A detailed, lengthy description of the game of “Rickett,” similar to cricket.

-- Receipts and accounting records pertaining to Benjamin’s personal and business life at Livermore from 1783 through early 1789.

-- The last item in the microfilm collection is an undated, printed document with the title Brief Notice of Lieutenant Samuel Benjamin…, which contains Benjamin’s declaration made for the purpose of obtaining a pension (including his service record), along with a biographical sketch (proving that the document was printed after 1837 when Tabitha died), and extracts from Benjamin’s 1781 diary.

The microfilm reel itself is confusing for research purposes. According to Yale’s guide to the papers, the manuscript collection consists of 10 folders of manuscript papers organized chronologically plus four bound booklets. Although the guide lists the contents with some degree of detail, and the microfilm reel includes images of the 10 folders, in numbered order, prior to their contents, the beginning, end, and order of the four booklets are not identified (they are not microfilmed in the same order in which they are described in the guide).

Since the contents of each booklet are themselves diverse and jumbled, this lack of identifiers makes researching the contents confusing. A few typos in the guide compound the confusion, especially a reference, when Benjamin was ill, to General Health (actually General Heath). Furthermore, some of the documents, especially the orderly-book entries, have been microfilmed backwards (from back to front of the reel). This may reflect how the pages were written in the booklet, but it does make reading them on microfilm more difficult. The writing on a few other, scattered booklet pages is perpendicular to that on most of the pages (e.g. the diary fragments described above).

The jumbled nature of the booklets includes both a mixture of different kinds of entries from page to page (accounts, poetry, diary, etc.) and a mixture of dates from page to page, not necessarily in chronological order. Some of these juxtapositions are of whimsical interest, for example:

-- In the midst of accounting records appear two recipes. The first reads as follows (with no heading): “Take Turkey figgs & split them open & fill with mustard sead & pack Close in an erthan vessel & moisen with wine Take & Eate as you Please”

Finally, the collection contains a few anomalous items, without explanation. For instance:

-- The very first item microfilmed in Folder 1 is the summary of someone’s life during the Revolutionary War, signed by Elijah Fiske (Fisher?). This unnamed man was not Samuel Benjamin. He sailed on a privateer near the end of the war and was briefly incarcerated in the British prison ship Jersey.

-- Another example is a town plat for a place called Butterfield with several lots identified with the name Merrill (the others are all blank).

Joseph Bellamy Papers

Biographical Summary

Reverend Joseph Bellamy (1719-1790) was born in Cheshire, CT and graduated from Yale in 1735. He also studied with Jonathan Edwards in Northampton, MA. Bellamy went on to a long career as a theologian and minister, from 1738 until his death, of the Congregational parish he founded in Bethlehem, CT. Bethlehem is still a tiny town in western CT, south of Litchfield. Bellamy apparently named the town and was an initial leader in its founding. Theologically, he was an active believer in the Great Awakening and a prominent advocate of its New Light theology. He maintained a long friendship with his former teacher Jonathan Edwards.

Microfilmed Documents

The Joseph Bellamy Papers in the Yale University Library, which the David Library owns on microfilm (1 reel) contain 16 letters from and to Bellamy, three sermons (one might be a historical treatise—see below) and perhaps a fragment of a fourth, and a diploma, plus a few unidentifiable pages. The microfilm contains a typed list of contents at the beginning of the reel, and Yale University Library’s website contains a guide to the collection, which can be accessed at The documents are microfilmed in approximately chronological order, with dates ranging from 1752 to 1785. Yale notes in its guide that “…the major part of Bellamy’s papers is at the Case Memorial Library, Hartford Seminary Foundation, in Hartford, Connecticut.”

Letters: The letters provide only bits of fragmented information about the life and work of Joseph Bellamy:

-- Two are Jonathan Edwards letters (Bellamy to Edwards 2/23/1752 and Edwards to Bellamy 6/4/1770). Unfortunately, neither of these is fully readable due to extensive smudging. The first, by Edwards, may describe aspects of his missionary work to the Indians at Stockbridge, MA (see below). The second, by Bellamy, seems to have to do with printing. Both Edwards and Bellamy wrote theological books and published sermons. This communication might be about sharing publishing information.

-- Six of the letters, all dated in 1754, pertain to an effort by a Presbyterian church in New York City to “call” Rev. Bellamy to serve as minister there. The primary correspondent from the New York church was a William Smith. The letters appear to wind up a lengthy period of mutual consideration of whether Bellamy should heed the call. The content of the letters suggest that 1) Bellamy was considered a gifted minister by both his Bethlehem congregation and that in New York, 2) the Bethlehem congregation strenuously urged Bellamy not to leave because they valued his ministry highly, 3) the New York congregation urged equally strenuously that he should accept their call because they also valued his ministry highly—for them, and 4) in the end, Bellamy determined to remain in Bethlehem. A few quotes tell bits of the story:

-- February 12, 1754 from William Smith: “Heartily wishing that you may see it clearly to be—your Duty to accept the Call of this People, and that you may speedily take in hand your work here.”

-- June 5, 1754, New York Presbytery statement, probably written by William Smith, on Bellamy’s numerous qualifications: “Mr. Bellamy has already been the means under God of doing considerable good here, & which Mr Bellamy is sensible of & if called upon I make no doubt will thankfully declare; To my knowledge he has been the means of convincing Sundry Deists, as their letters to him can prove; He has also been the means of awakening sundry secure [?] sinners, as well as refreshing the people of God, both in this Congregation & others in this City, which if need be I call upon him to attest.”

-- September 9, 1754 from Bellamy: “…—But there is NOW no hopes of your obtaining me, in any way at all.” Having made this categorical declaration, he proceeds to suggest an alternative: “…God in his infinite Mercy, has just now opened an unexpected door to save you from ruin…for Stokebridge has been, & is like to be so molested with the Indians, that I doubt not that Mr. Edwards, one of the most knowing & Godly men in the world, & who is by God judged Esteemed if not so florid in fame, yet upon the whole the best preacher in the Country, might be obtained.” Stockbridge, MA was on the western MA frontier, as Bethlehem, not far straight south, was on the CT frontier. Edwards had gone there in 1750, after losing his ministry in Northampton. His missionary work here focused on the local Indian population. If ever offered it, he too turned down a call from the New York Presbyterian church. However, he did leave Stockbridge in 1758 to become president of the college at Princeton, NJ. Whether Indian unrest (connected with the French and Indian War) contributed to his leaving the frontier is unclear.

-- Other letters appear to pertain mostly to church business.

Sermons: Two of the sermons were written by Bellamy, one with the title “The Law our School-Master” dated June 8, 1756 (84 numbered manuscript pages), the other, without title and with no date, (38 manuscript pages). The former seems to have been written—and revised with deletions, corrections, and additions, for publication. Both are written out word for word, in Bellamy’s small, cramped handwriting, with some words capitalized for emphasis and some words or phrases underlined. The text is closely reasoned, with numbered arguments and replies—a sophisticated intellectual and spiritual exercise. It is also full of biblical citations, the theological foundations for the sermons. The handwriting in Bellamy’s undated sermon and the undated fragment is scratchier and quite difficult to decipher. Perhaps this was written late in life.

The third complete “sermon,” may seem one in this context but may in fact be a historical treatise (38 manuscript pages). It has a date of February 7, 1771 and was written by Benjamin Trumbull, who “mailed” it to Bellamy from New Haven with a cover letter dated March 15, 1776 [?]. In the cover letter, Trumbull states that he has no copy of this document and requests that Bellamy return it to him. Why Trumbull entrusted his document to “the mail” to send it to Bellamy is not explained. Since this manuscript resides today in Bellamy’s, not Trumbull’s, papers indicates that Bellamy never returned it.

Benjamin Trumbull (1735-1820) was an historian at Yale. He also studied theology, and his historical interests revolved around theological issues. In 1790, he published Twelve Discourses on the Divine Origin of the Holy Scriptures. Perhaps the contents of the manuscript he sent to Bellamy became part of this later book, even if Trumbull never got back the manuscript. (Interesting note: Trumbell’s son Lyman grew up to be, among other things, an attorney in Illinois, Republican Senator from Illinois during the Civil War, coauthor of the Thirteenth Amendment, and a strong supporter of the creation of Yellowstone National Park.)

Diploma: In 1768, Marischal College of Aberdeen University in Scotland awarded Bellamy an honorary doctoral degree in sacred theology. This diploma, written in Latin, is included in the microfilmed documents. By the mid 18th Century, Aberdeen University was already a venerable center of learning, having been established in 1495. What specific connection, if any, Bellamy had with the university is not revealed in the papers.

George Panton Papers

Biographical Summary

George Panton (?-1810) was born and brought up in Scotland, received BA and MA degrees from Marischal College of the University of Aberdeen, was ordained an Anglican priest, and emigrated to New York City (the MA, ordination, and emigration all occurring in 1771). He came to America appointed to tutor the son of a wealthy gentleman. However, by 1773 he had accepted a post from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) as rector of St. Michael’s Church in Trenton, NJ. He also did missionary duty at Allentown, PA and Maidenhead (now Lawrenceville), NJ.

A strong loyalist by conviction (as were many of America’s Anglican clergy and their parishioners), his life was uprooted by the Revolution. In 1776, he “fled” back to New York, where he felt safe enough to remain until the end of the Revolutionary War. He expressed his loyalism openly, joining with other prominent Anglican loyalists in publishing essays and making speeches. His actions also went beyond words. Apparently he joined the British Army for a short time in 1776 at White Plains, NY, providing military intelligence. In 1778, he became chaplain of the loyalist Prince of Wales American Regiment (mostly New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut men), which fought alongside British regulars in a number of battles ranging geographically from Danbury, CT to Cowpens, SC (although Panton apparently did not leave New York).

After the war ended, Panton decided to join a large number of New York loyalists who, in 1783, with the British promise of land, removed to Nova Scotia, where they established a settlement on the SE coast that they named Shelburne. Unfortunately, two Anglican priests simultaneously joined the settlement, each claiming to be the one, legitimate rector of the church yet to be built. Panton’s rival was William Walker, formerly the rector of Trinity Church, Boston. The dispute was lengthy and rancorous, eventually souring Panton on Shelburne (soon after, the settlement failed because of a severe climate and rocky soil).

Panton left Shelburne in 1785. The SPG sent him to take charge of a church in Yarmouth, on Nova Scotia’s SW coast, but if he ever went there, he didn’t stay long. By February 1786, he had sailed to England, never to return to America. Although the SPG wanted him to return to help establish more churches in Nova Scotia, he decided to withdraw from public and ecclesiastical life to his family home town of Kelso, Scotland (not far from Edinburgh), where he died in 1810.

Note: Biographical information on George Panton is fragmentary and inconsistent. A useful summary is contained in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, available on the Internet. The story of the Panton-Walker feud over the rectorship at Shelburne is fascinating and convoluted. It has recently been told in detail in Steven Kimber, Loyalists and Layabouts: The Rapid Rise and Faster Fall of Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 1783-1792, Random House of Canada, 2008.

Microfilmed Documents

The George Panton Papers, microfilmed on one reel, owned by the David Library, are contained within a very large manuscript collection the Yale University Library calls the Bernhard Knollenberg Collection. This is an eclectic collection with manuscript documents dating from 1560 through 1943 accumulated by Bernhard Knollenberg for his own research. He donated them to Yale University Library when he was the university’s librarian in 1939. Yale’s guide to the entire collection can be found at This aid contains a detailed listing of documents, in chronological order. The small collection of Panton papers, within the Knollenberg collection, are dated between October 20, 1769 and February 5, 1783.

With only a few exceptions, all the papers are correspondence from other people to Panton. Since Panton’s own correspondence is not included, researchers are largely limited, in this collection, to understanding Panton’s life from letters written to him by others.

Unfortunately, the documents on the microfilm reel are not organized chronologically. Nor are they organized in any other recognizable fashion. Very generally, letters from Chandler are found before those from Batwell, and those from MacKnight are found at the end. However, even these general organizing rules are not observed, so the reel is a hodgepodge of letters from different people with nonsequential dates.

Most of the correspondence comes from two distinct time periods and places in Panton’s life:

Correspondence etc. while Panton was in Scotland (October 1769 through March 1771) before Panton emigrated to America: Seven of these 12 documents are letters from Dr. J. MacKnight, apparently one of Panton’s teachers and a personal friend from Panton’s home area near Edinburgh. The letters deal with personal matters and preparation, including a recommendation, for Panton’s trip to New York. In addition, a petition by Panton to McKnight requests that a school in Jedburgh, Scotland (just south of Kelso) be made into a boarding school. The full nature of Panton’s relationship with MacKnight does not become clear from these few letters. Three other letters come from Anglican officials, whose signatures appear on Panton’s ordination paper cover also among the 12 documents. Finally, the documents include a receipt for Panton’s MA diploma dated March 12, 1771.

Correspondence etc. while Panton was in Trenton, NJ and New York City (December 23, 1773 through February 5, 1783): Of the 42 documents from this time period, almost all are letters, 21 from Thomas Bradbury Chandler, 18 from Daniel Batwell, and two (apparently) from Myles Cooper. Most of these letters were sent to Panton from London in packets aboard British ships sailing to New York. Many of the packets were sent to Charles Inglis in New York, who then delivered Panton’s letters. Chandler and Batwell in London, as well as Charles Inglis and others mentioned in New York, such as Daniel Coxe, were prominent loyalists connected directly with the Anglican Church:

-- T. B. Chandler had graduated from Yale in 1745 and was rector of the church at Elizabethtown (Elizabeth), NJ. In 1767, he had published An Appeal to the Public in Behalf of the Church of England, in which he argued for creation of an American bishopric. In 1775, his strong and publicly known opinions forced him to choose between the hostilities of revolutionary America and his desire to continue to support Anglicanism in America. He chose to return to England, where he apparently felt his work could be more effective, and expecting to return to a re-loyalized and Anglicanized America after the war was over.

-- D. Batwell was clearly an Anglican in London with strong ties to American Anglicism during the Revolutionary War. Beyond that, his life is not clearly documented. Another Daniel Batwell, perhaps this man’s son (?) was a loyalist priest in York, PA. Early during the Revolutionary war, he got in trouble with the town’s patriot population, was (perhaps) dunked into a creek and was (for sure) incarcerated on a trumped up charge of stealing horses when the Continental Congress moved to York in September 1777. By 1778, this Daniel Batwell was serving as a chaplain in the New Jersey Volunteers, part of the loyalist Prince of Wales American Regiment. He may thus have known Panton. He remained in the loyalist service until the war ended, after which he left America for England.

-- M. Cooper was Oxford-educated in England, ordained an Anglican priest, and in 1762 went to America, appointed to work under the president of Kings College, New York (later Columbia University, at this time an Anglican college). He served as president of Kings College from 1763 to 1775, when his strong loyalist views led to his ostracism. He escaped to England and settled in Edinburgh for the rest of his life.

-- D. Coxe was the grandson of the benefactor who had established St. Michael’s Church in Trenton in 1742, the church in which Panton was later rector. Another committed loyalist, he spent the Revolutionary War period in New York.

-- C. Inglis was a New York Anglican and staunch loyalist. Years after the war ended, his son, by then an Anglican bishop, consecrated the finally completed Christ Church in Shelburne, Nova Scotia in 1790, only two years before the settlement failed.

Each of these men, plus Panton and others, played their different roles in a concerted, somewhat organized effort, throughout the Revolutionary War period, to maintain and support the Anglican establishment in America until, as they expected until near the end, British authority was returned to America, and they could re-establish the church and begin again to expand and strengthen it through the SPG.

As revealed by the Chandler and Batwell letters to Panton, supporting the Anglican cause in America included providing financial assistance in lieu of clergy salaries, providing a stream of news about British politics regarding the war and American policy, England’s European international relations and military engagements, and London news of the engagements and progress of the American war. Apparently Panton reciprocated by sending his own New York based news of the war and the British situation in America to his colleagues in London. Chandler played an additional role for Panton, managing his investments for him in the English financial market. Several of the Chandler letters describe investments made and the status of the market.

The two Cooper letters are difficult to read and not with certainty from Myles Cooper. However, they fit in with the others, circumstantially. One is dated in 1778 and the other in 1788 (?), both from Edinburgh. It seems likely that Cooper and Panton knew each other at least briefly in New York, and, of course, Edinburgh was in Panton’s own home territory, to which he retired in the late 1780s.

A few of the letters are worthy of individual comment and quotation:

-- On November 30, 1773, Chandler, in New York, wrote a letter recommending Panton for the Trenton church position, stating that he “appears to us to be an excellent scholar, sound in his principles, circumspect in his Behavior, of a benevolent Disposition, and of unexceptional Morals”, going on to state that Panton had been working as a “preceptor” for a gentleman’s son. One could perhaps not wish for a more succinct, more positive recommendation.

-- On December 5, 1780, Chandler wrote optimistically to Panton that the “Administration stands upon firmer ground than they have felt under them for many years; that the American War is to be prosecuted with vigour, till the Object be obtained…”

-- On November 3, 1781, Chandler wrote that “It is generally thought that the ensuing winter will produce a negotiation and that the negotiation will produce a peace.” He anticipated, of course, that the Americans would sue for peace and revert to being British colonials.

-- On December 6, 1781, Chandler, still optimistic, wrote that “the plan which is now in agitation will retrieve everything but the lives of our martyrs.” (underlining in the original)

-- On March 6, 1782, Batwell wrote to Panton giving his considered London-based opinion that “…if the present Measures are carried into execution, Congress will be Uncongressed by Christmas.”

By then, we now understand, Britain had already pretty much lost the war. It appears, however, that Chandler and Batwell were trying hard to present the most positive spin possible for the benefit of their beleaguered loyalist American colleagues. Or perhaps public opinion in London remained this positive this late in the conflict. They, of course, did not have the benefit of hindsight.

Have something you want to share, such as a question, research find, or a personal story about the Library? Email Will Tatum at

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