Benjamin James and Sarah Whitney, Loyalists from Connecticut

January 4, 2019 at 9:48 pm | Posted in BARBARA BOWKER, Bishop, James, Stickney, Whitney | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , ,

This profile is for my 5 times great-grandparents, Benjamin James and Sarah Whitney.

Surnames mentioned: Appleby, Beekman, Bishop, Bruce, Butler, Cable, Callaghan, Clark, Daskim / Dascomb, Finch, Fought, Hancock, James, Jarvis, Lockwood, McCready, Nash, Scofield, Stickney, Whitney.  Places mentioned: Brownhelm, OH; Carleton, NB, Canada; Darien / Middlesex, Fairfield Co, CT; Greenwich, CT; Stamford, Fairfield Co, CT; St. John, New Brunswick, Canada; Williamsburgh, Long Island, NY.

Benjamin James was born about 1738, probably in Greenwich, CT to Nathaniel and Elizabeth James. He had at least four brothers. I don’t know if he had sisters. He was trained as a cooper. In 1756, Benjamin’s father died and the siblings chose different people as their guardians. Benjamin’s first guardian was Nathaniel Husted of Greenwich, who died in 1758. In 1760, Peter James became Benjamin’s guardian. I don’t know if Peter was an uncle, brother, cousin, or what. All attempts to find out more about him have failed so far.

Sarah Whitney: according to the multi-volume work “The Whitney Family of Connecticut and all its affiliations” by S. Whitney Phoenix (1878) – our Sarah Whitney was born Feb 25, 1752 at Stamford, CT to Eliasaph Whitney (1717-1817), a tanner and shoemaker, and Mary Bishop (1722-1814). This Sarah was baptised on Mar 29, 1752 at the Congregrational Church of Middlesex, now Darien, CT. Unfortunately, there is another Sarah Whitney attributed to these events and parents per the Whitney Research Group wiki site (WRG). The confusion starts with a footnote on our Sarah’s record that perhaps she is the same Sarah who married to Abijah Nash in 1771. This is not likely, as Benjamin James and our Sarah Whitney were having children together from mid-1760’s through the entire 1770’s. Per WRG, Mrs Nash married 2nd to Hezekiah Jarvis. I submit that this was actually a different Sarah Whitney or Sarah Nash. I’m going to assert a claim to Eliasaph and Mary Whitney as our Sarah’s parents because of the record for our Sarah’s granddaughter, Lydia Lockwood Stickney, in Phoenix’s work there is the comment on p. 817 how “In 1808, when she was 14 years old, she visited her great-grandparents, Eliasaph and Mary (Bishop) Whitney, then living with their son, Josiah Whitney, at Middlesex, now Darien, Conn.” The Whitney-Nash-Jarvis issue is very confusing, but I’m standing by Lydia’s statement, published when she was still living, that Eliasaph and Mary Whitney were her great-grandparents via Sarah Whitney James.

Benjamin James and Sarah Whitney married about 1763. According to Phoenix, they had 9 children together:

1. Stephen James (1767-1841) was born at Stamford, moved with the family in 1783 to St John, New Brunswick, Canada, then back to CT in 1786. He married first to Hannah Scofield (abt 1768-1811) at Stamford in 1794. They had 5 children. After her death, he and the children moved to Ohio, where they were a founding family of a religious community there. He married 2nd to Rhoda Butler at Brownhelm, OH in 1828. They are buried in Ohio.

2. Lydia James (abt 1768-1843) was born in CT and “did not move to Canada with the family.” She married first to Samuel Lockwood (abt 1757-1801). Actually, Samuel Lockwood’s death is recorded in New Brunswick, where he had a business. My 3rd great-grandmother Lydia Lockwood Stickney and her brother, Samuel Lockwood Stickney, were named for this couple. Lydia James Lockwood married 2nd to Beekman (or possibly Bakeman) and 3rd to David Bruce. She died in Williamsburgh, Long Island, NY. Three marriages and she had no children.

3. Robert James (abt 1869-1842) was born in CT and moved with the family to St John. He married Isabella Callaghan (abt 1776-1822) in 1794. In 1822, he wrote a poor document, requesting relief for his wife and 10 children, 6 of whom rely on him for support. He married 2nd Margaret Fought in 1823 at St John. He was a cordwainer (shoemaker).

4. Hannah James (1771-1830) was born in CT and moved with the family to St. John. In 1797 she married Elnathan Appleby (abt 1750-1826), a house joiner from England, who was a Sergeant in the Queen’s Rangers serving out of Westchester Co, NY. They had 6 children, and died in Kingston, Kings Co, NB.

5. Esther James (1772-1848) married Henry Finch (1761-1814), a master mariner from England. They lived in St John, NB and had six children.

6. Elizabeth James (abt 1775-1847) married Samuel Stickney (1769-1814) at St. John in 1793. They had ten children. Please see my profile of them [HERE]. Elizabeth married 2nd in 1816 to a widower with children, William Clark (abt 1769-1856). They had one child together.

7. Phoebe James (abt 1777-1842) married 1st Daniel Cable (d. 1818) and 2nd in 1821 Caleb McCready (abt 1776-1830) a widower from Kings County. They lived in St. John.

8. Mary James ( ) married Dascomb. I think perhaps this is the same person as Hulda James m. William Daskam.  William Daskam (abt 1760-1834) married Huldah (abt 1766-1830) in 1786 and had 9 children. William was a Captain under Lafayette during the Revolution. The family remained in Connecticut and did not go to New Brunswick.

9. Nancy James ( ) married William Hancock. I haven’t found any other info about this couple except the mention in Phoenix’s book.

Comments about Connecticut history:
From various sites on the subject, we discover that throughout the early settlement of land by Europeans along the northern coastline of Long Island sound, there was turmoil and confusion as to who could legally deed or grant titles of land to the colonists. England suffered a civil war, followed by the rule of Cromwell and the restoration of the Monarchy. In addition, there were disputes as to which native Sachems could “sell” land. As a result, each settlement or township was independent in it’s government, moreso than occurred in other colonies. By the end of the French and Indian War, there were 72 “little dominions” across Connecticut, that were well used to self-rule. People who were loyal to the King, for the most part, were members of the Anglican church, whose head was the King. This was their religion, and for some outspoken folks, ranked ahead of the civil authority of elected selectmen. Fairfield county had the largest proportion of Anglican citizens, according to a census of 1774. Being far away from the Puritans in Massachusetts, and close to New York, the remaining population was more secular than religious. Their church leaders were encouraged to pray for the Continental Congress and the Patriot cause. As rebel (liberal) sentiments grew, the towns created Committees of Inspection, to investigate those who were suspected of being Tories. Non-supporters of the Rebellion were classed into three groups:
1. Those who knowingly and willingly aided the enemy in anyway whatsoever;
2. Those who by writing or speaking or any overt act, defames the resolves of Congress or the acts or proceedings of the Assembly, respecting their rights and privileges;
3. Those reported to the local authorities as “inimical.”

In searching for information on Benjamin James, I came across a book called “Jared Ingersoll: a study of American loyalism in relation to British colonial government” (1920) by Lawrence Henry Gipson. Jared Ingersoll was tasked with enforcing the unpopular Stamp Act, as well as other duties for the Crown. In this book is a note about the time where Ingersoll, as King’s attorney, prosecuted a case against a Benjamin James in New Haven, for theft against Ralph Isaacs, who was a friend of Ingersoll. This Benjamin James was fined, whipped, and placed into servitude to Isaacs for a period of 10 years starting in 1768.

I think that if this were our Benjamin James, he would not have been a Loyalist. This illustrates, however, part of why the rebels held such strong contempt for the King’s rule.

.From “Connecticutt Magazine, Vol 4, 1898, The Tories of Connecticut, by James Shepard“: In January 1777 Ebenezer Holby, Elliot Green, Jonathan Husted, Josiah Seely, Benjamin James, Isaac Hubbard, Jacob Scofield of Stamford; Nathan Fitch, Frank Smith, Gold Hoit, Stephen Keller, and John Betts of Norwalk convict Tories were permitted to return home upon giving bond of 1,000 pounds each for their good behavior and not to give any intelligence nor do or say anything against the interests of the United States.

As Tories of the Second class above, our James family were watched closely by their neighbors, and harassed at every opportunity. At the end of the war, they went to Canada, leaving behind much of their personal property.

Life in Canada

Benjamin James and family moved to St. John, New Brunswick in 1783. In 1786, he was granted 1.19 acre lot #285 in Carleton, NB as listed in the documents for the formation of the Town. Also in 1786, is a court record in Halifax, Nova Scotia for a Benj James or Jarvis of Norwalk, Fairfield Co, CT, requesting financial relief due to property left behind when they fled to Canada.

Benjamin and family are listed on the United Empire Loyalists site, and the “First Families of New Brunswick, Canada”, a series of pdf’s published in 2006 by the New Brunswick Genealogical Society.  Those organizations may hold more data about them, but would probably require a paid membership to find out, which I cannot afford at the moment.

I haven’t found any definitive dates of death for Benjamin or Sarah – just a couple of listings in online trees. One has Benjamin’s death as 1800. Another has Sarah’s death at 1848 – which is possible, especially given that her parents lived into advanced age. I haven’t seen that date repeated anywhere else, though, so I’m noting it with a big question mark. Also, if she did live that long, she might have remarried – but I have no evidence of that, either.

As an American, it’s difficult to not feel conflicted about having Loyalists in the family tree. Although, given the current divisive political climate, I totally get how one can feel pressured to chose sides and then dig in.

More on topic: A lesson I have learned recently, is that whenever I run across a specific item in my research, not only should I create a bookmark link, but also create an image capture of the page(s) for later viewing. Between the recent outage at Rootsweb, and other sites going defunct, it’s been difficult to go back to sources and verify what I have in my notes. True, the Wayback system at Internet Archives is helpful, but difficult to search. Thankfully, most of the New Brunswick GenWeb pages are back up, but some of the links still don’t work properly, or pages have moved. I’m grateful for the PANB site, with all it’s wonderful information and pretty good search engine.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read this post.
Here’s wishing every one of you a healthy and prosperous 2019.

Next Page »

Blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: