Friday, November 15, 2013

Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr. - Displaced Person

Charlestown burns at the beginning of Bunker Hill.
      On the afternoon of Friday, June 16, 1775, a sulky carrying one man, accompanied by a man on horseback, sped up the Boston Post Road bound for Watertown, Massachusetts where the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was in session. Two months earlier, on April 19, 1775, open rebellion had broken out when British Regulars and New England militia forces engaged in battle at Lexington and Concord. Since then, a tense stand-off had ensued with the British still occupying Boston and the militia forces encamped in the heights west of the city. The two travelers must have been becoming increasingly more anxious as they approached the outskirts of Cambridge, for, as they came up the Post Road, they heard the thunder of  artillery from a British fleet anchored in Boston Harbor and from British Army batteries entrenched on Boston's hills as they pummeled rebel American lines set up on Breed's and Bunker Hill near Cambridge. In fact, one of the men in that sulky had been involved in the decision* to dig breastworks on those hills as Chairman of the Committee of Safety for the Massachusetts Second Provincial Congress. Given the separation of powers concept that is the foundation of the modern U.S. Constitution, contemporary Americans tend to think of the Committee of Safety as a legislative committee with the power to only advise on legislation. In fact, it was a very powerful executive tool for the Provincial Congress. Prior to the outbreak of hostilities, executive authority in Massachusetts had lain with the Crown and its Royal Governor and his Council. That authority no longer existed and the rebellious people of Massachusetts had only the Provincial Congress to take executive action. They had no Governor, no Council, no administration, and no courts, and it worried the Provincial Congress greatly.

   In order to resolve this problem, the Massachusetts Second Provincial Congress had drafted a letter, dated May 16th, 1775  to the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, PA explaining their current predicament and asking for advice:

We are now compelled to raise an Army, which with the assistance of the other colonies, we hope under the smiles of heaven, will be able to defend us and all America from the further butcheries and devastations of our implacable enemies. --- But as the sword should in all free states be subservient to the civil powers and as it is the duty of the Magistrates to support it for the peoples necessary defense, we tremble at having an army (although consisting of our countrymen) established here without a civil power to provide for and control them...We are happy in having an opportunity of laying our distress state before the representative body of the continent, and humbly hope you will favour us with your most explicit advice respecting the taking up and exercising the powers of civil government.

   Doctor Benjamin Church, Jr. member of the committee of Safety and until a couple of days before the drafting of the letter, its Chairman, was ordered to proceed to Philadelphia to present the May 16th letter to the Continental Congress and present the Provincial Congress' views and anxiety about their current predicament. Dr. Church was the most logical delegate to send on this extremely important matter since Dr. Church had been one of the leading Bostonians in the Whig struggle against the British Crown and Parliament. One could say that with Samuel Adams in Philadelphia, William Molineaux dead, and Dr. Thomas Young having fled Boston, Church was the second ranking patriot to his colleague and rival, Dr. Joseph Warren, President of the Second Provincial Congress.

Boston Post Road.
Please note that there were three distinct branches
 of this road all converging in New Haven, CT.
   Dr. Church departed Watertown on May 20th, 1775 with his servant and we know from a May 21,1775 letter from Abigail Greenleaf to her brother Robert Treat Paine that:

Doctor Church is just arrived. As soon as meeting is done with set out for Pennsylvania both sisters being gone to meeting..

  It is believed that Church's father, mother, wife, 15 year old son and 14 and 11 daughters, and at least two of his sisters  were all in this area, having escaped from British occupied Boston. It can be confirmed that some of his family were staying with the William Augustus Crocker family in Taunton. In 1766, Dr. Church had purchased a farm in Bridgewater, MA, approximately 10 miles from Taunton and one wonders if, his wife and children, in fact, were staying there. In any event, Dr. Church presumably had not seen his family for a month and it would be normal for him to want to stop in the area. In addition he saw his brother as he passed through Braintree and also received some letters from Abigail Adams to be delivered to her husband in Philadelphia.

  Totally overlooked by historians is that the same order that dispatched Dr. Church to the Continental Congress to seek its advice also included the following:

...and the sd. Church is also directed to confer with the Congress, respecting such other matters as may be necessary to the defense of this colony and particularly the state of the army therein.

   We don't know precisely what discussions Dr. Church had along these lines but there is little doubt that he did have some for he was reportedly carrying some information "too secret to put in writing" that Samuel Adams gave him to pass on to James Warren, who succeeded Dr. Joseph Warren (no relation) as President of the Provincial Congress after Joseph Warren's death at Bunker Hill.

   Arriving in Philadelphia on June 1st, Dr. Church presented the Provincial Congress' letter to the Continental Congress, the next day and had discussions with Samuel and John Adams; and he took the time to treat the hypochondriac John Adams' eyes. Departing Philadelphia on June 10, 1775, Church and his servant made excellent time making the trip back to Watertown in four and a half days. The Boston to Philadelphia stage usually took four days. Of course, it was early June and the weather must have been favorable.

   After the battles of Lexington and Concord, the  Henry Vassall House ( see my Sep 11, 2010 post) in Cambridge was used as a hospital to treat the wounded. One mustn't confuse the term "hospital" in 1775 with any modern conception of a hospital. The first hospital in the United States was founded in 1751 in Philadelphia and it took another twenty years before another one was founded in New York. In the absence of hospitals, patients were commonly housed in the homes of their physicians. The first medical school in the United States had opened ten years prior. Hospitals were a fixture of London and Edinburgh medical care, and Dr. Church was one of about thirteen Boston physicians who had received medical training in Europe.

   As Dr. Church arrived in Cambridge, it is presumed that he immediately went to the Henry Vassall House where he and Dr. Isaac Foster were in residence and in charge of the hospital. Dr. Issac Foster was a prominent Charlestown physician who had also studied in Europe. A Harvard Graduate (1758), a delegate to the First Provincial Congress, Foster devoted most of his time in the next two months to treat the wounded and the increasing number of ill men from the unsanitary camps around Cambridge. Presumably, he and Dr. Church shared the Vassall House with the wounded. ( The situation is somewhat confusing and this is my best take on the matter.) Both, however, operated as private individuals as there was no formal medical department or establishment and neither had any formal authority over the hospital or the patients, some of whom continued to be treated by their own physicians. In addition, there was a very acute shortage of medical supplies.
Ruggles-Fayerweather House
   The Battle of Bunker Hill plunged this hospital into chaos. There was no organized ambulance or medical companies for the various New England militia units that fought this battle. The wounded were being transported from the battlefield carried on the backs of soldiers or, if the patient was an officer, on a litter made from rails and a blanket. Over 300 wounded overwhelmed the hospital and physicians. To make matters worse, a rumor started that the British were about to overrun Cambridge. Many of the wounded were carted out to Watertown only to be carted back again. Houses and farm houses in and near Cambridge were confiscated for the wounded. At one time it is believed that the wounded from the Vassall House were transported to the Fayerweather House in Cambridge and back again. Sufficient physicians could not be located so Dr. Foster enlisted a group of Harvard undergraduates (Harvard classes had been dismissed) to serve as "surgeons assistants."

   Thus Dr. Church returned to a Cambridge undergoing the chaos of battle and panic and trying to minister to the wounded with a lack of physicians, medicines and supplies. Somehow, through the efforts of Drs Church and Foster, order was restored and treatment administered. When reading the accounts of this time, one gets the impression that Dr. Church, given his subsequent history, was never going to be given sufficient credit for his efforts that day.

    To be continued
   * In one of the more curious entries in the Journal of the Second Provincial Congress is a report , dated May 12, 1775 by a special committee, signed  by Dr. Church as Chairman of the Sub-Committee proposing, among other things, that engineers be directed to construct 'a strong redoubt [to be] raised on Bunker's Hill with cannon planted there." Right below this entry is one signed by Dr. Church as Chairman of the Committee of Safety stating that the committee, although it agrees with the recommendations, doesn't believe that the matter belongs to them officially and further recommends that the matter be brought before the council of war.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Edward Church -IV

Anna Church Strobel (Mrs. Daniel Strobel, Jr.),
with son George, ca 1799
by John Vanderlyn, American, 1775-1852,
crayon on white paper, 8 3/16 by 6 1/4", Collections,
Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Anna Church Strobel (Mrs. Daniel Strobel, Jr.,
ca 1830, watercolor on ivory, 2 3/4 by 2",
by her daughter, Louis Catherine Strobel,
1803-1883, Collections,
Metropolitan Museum of Art.

   Edward Church remained as US Consul at Lisbon, Portugal until 1796 or 1797 since his successor was appointed on July 10,1797. He then moved to Paris and over the next eighteen years or so, divided his time between Paris, London and Liverpool. He continued in business as a merchant and sometime at the end of the eighteenth or, more likely, the beginning of the nineteenth century, he entered into partnership with Daniel Strobel, Jr, as the firm of Strobel and Church, in Liverpool, England.

Daniel Strobel, Jr. ca 1799, by John Vanderlyn,
Collections, Metropolitan Museum of Art
   Daniel Strobel, Jr. was the son of Daniel Strobel, who was born in 1735 in Prussia and emigrated to Charleston, S.C. in 1752 where he became a merchant and owned a tannery. Prospering as a prominent member of the German-American community in Charleston, he had twelve children, of which Daniel, Jr. was the oldest, born in 1758 in Charleston. Precisely when Daniel, Jr. met Edward Church or where or what the precise nature of their business relationship was, is unknown. We do know that Daniel, Jr. married Edward's daughter Anna (Ann) in Charleston. About 1800, Daniel, Jr., and Anna moved to France, in order to link up with  Edward Church and his family. Presumably, the firm of Strobel and Church prospered, at first, but the outbreak of  the Napoleonic Wars created hardships for trade and the firm had financial difficulties. Since Daniel Strobel, Jr., later became partners in the firm of Strobel and Martini in Bordeaux, France, one must assume that the firm of Strobel and Church was either completely taken over by Edward Church or dissolved. Strobel late became U.S. Consul at Bordeaux and died in New Haven, CT at the age of 72. Edward Church remained in the mercantile trade and, seems to have done rather well for himself.
    Little is known about Edward Church after 1800, until his son, Edward Church, Jr. wrote to Secretary of State James Monroe requesting appointment as US Consul to Ostend. Edward Church, Jr. was in the United States purchasing land in Kentucky and had traveled northward through Washington, D.C., where he met Secretary Monroe on his way to Philadelphia.
   Philadelphia, 30th August 1815
          ...I have lately received an additional excitement; my Father has had an attack of apoplexy and subsequently a paralytic stroke, which has deprived him of the use of one side, he is in London and expresses in a few words, which he wrote with the utmost difficulty, his extreme anxiety to see me before he goes hence....
   In a subsequent letter to Monroe, dated 29 July 1816, and written from Jessamine County, Kentucky, Edward Church Jr., informed him:

           ...By a letter received from Mr. Strobel, I am informed of the melancholy event of  my Father's death in London...I am now preparing to move thither with my Family.
   But Edward Church's story does not end with his death; for, on April 18, 1816, his will, dated February 3, 1815 was filed for probate in London. There is no record of the family's reaction to it, but one can only speculate, for Edward Church named one Mrs. Sarah May of Adam Street, London, his mistress, with whom he is presumed to have been living, as the executrix and a primary beneficiary of his estate. Adam Street is located in the Adelphi area of London and in 1815 was a prosperous area.
In the name of God Amen. I Edward Church of Adam Street, in the Adelphi London...I give and bequeath to my worthy friend Mrs. Sarah May of Adam Street, above mentioned, the sum of Five Hundred Pounds sterling, in consideration of the many obligations which I am under to her, and as a token of my esteem and regard I likewise give to the said Mrs. May, such articles of furniture and wearing apparel as are now with me, or maybe at the time of my decease. I further give and bequeath all my Property in the Funds to the said Mrs. Sarah May, in trust to pay my debts, and funeral expenses, and after that, she should divide, and apportion Four Thousand Pounds three per cent annuities being part of the same or what it may produce when sold in equal shares among my four daughters and Son. ...It is my further will that if any Property should remain after the above dispositions, it should be equally divided between my Wife and my friend Mr. Taylor...and having the utmost confidence in my good friend Mrs. May it is my desire that she shall not be molested or impeded in the execution of the above trusts; Under my hand the Third Day of February, in the year of Our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fifteen...Edw Church
          Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of us, who at his request, have witnessed the 
           same. Thos. Adcock Grindall ...James Miller Church...

           A Codicil to be added to and be part of the within Will and Testament of Mr. Edward Church, as made yesterday. hereby revoke so much of the within Will as gives the residue of my Estate, after payment of the Legatees mentioned in my Will between my Wife and Mrs. Sarah May equally share and share alike; and I do further appoint the said Sarah May sole Executrix of my said Will...(this 4th day of February 1815) Edw Church.
           Witnessed by Thos Adcock Grindall, James Miller Church and Jno. Worthlin. 

     Wow! You have the same questions that I have. Unfortunately, I have no answers. There is nothing in the various family histories that shed any light as to what prompted the apparently very bitter break between Edward and his wife Hannah; nor do I have any information as to what other financial resources Hannah may have had access to. Her son was in America but her daughter and son-in-law may have been in England. Edward could have appointed his son or son-in -law as executor but he was sending a very strong message in appointing Mrs. May.

   Thomas Adcock Grindall was a London distiller who merited an Esquire after his name and died, childless, in his eighties in 1828, living an estate valued over L100,000 that was subsequently fought over in the courts. One of the contesting heirs was a nephew who was on half pay as an officer in the London Militia.

The Adam Brothers' Adelphi (1768-72) was London's first neo-classical building. Eleven large houses fronted a vaulted terrace, with wharves beneath.

A Prospect of London seen from the Earl of Cassili's privy garden with Waterloo Bridge beyond. Alexander Nasmyth, 1826. The Adelphi can be seen to the left of Waterloo Bridge.

  The other witness to Edward's will was his nephew, James Miller Church, son of his brother Dr. Benjamin, Church, Jr. In 1815, James Miller Church was serving as a surgeon in the West Middlesex Regiment, a London militia regiment, and thus could have been acquainted with Mr. Grindall and his nephew. And his uncle Edward could have named him Executor of his estate.
   The Church family -  interesting and fascinating.
   One last thing before I end this post. Louisa Catherine Strobel, Edward Church's granddaughter, was a rather talented, amateur miniaturist whose work is in several museums in the United States. Below is a miniature, water color on ivory, 2 3/8 by 1 3/4'' she did of her father circa 1830. It is now in the Gibbe Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Edward Church -III

   It is not easy to trace Edward Church's movements after he rowed his brother Benjamin out to Boston Harbor to board the sloop Welcome and exile in 1778. There are records of him selling off his property in Massachusetts, presumably to raise capital. In November 1778, he sold his land on Newbury Street in Boston for L2500 and in September, 1778, he sold his approximately 80 acre farm in Braintree for L1000. An entry in the Suffolk County Deeds Records show an entry dated March 2, 1785:
Whereas Leonard Jarvis and Joseph Russell of Boston, Merchants, hold a judgment against Edward Church, of Boston, Merchant, in the sum of L606, 7 1/4 shillings which has not been paid, his goods are to be sold and himself committed to gaol until he pay the debt.
   Appraisers were appointed and on March 19, 1785, listed his property on Green Street as having a value of L225. The creditors accepted this and the property was transferred to them. Chances of actually going to prison for debt in Boston in 1785 were rather slim and even those few who did were released after a day.

Portion of William Price's 1743 map of Boston showing the location of the Boston jail on Queen Street.

  In 1787, Edward Church was in Austrian Flanders trying to raise capital and where he was involved in a project to "propagate the culture of cotton upon a large scale." He sailed from Ostend with several potential investors and arrived in Savannah, Georgia sometime late in the year. But, in Georgia, the potential investors "thought proper, upon experiment, to decline the undertaking."  Edward's plan to raise cotton in Georgia proved to be a little premature since Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, revolutionizing the cotton industry in the United States  and leading to a growth in a slavery that his peers believed was dying out.

  Although the family believes that Edward then moved to New York, he most probably was back in Boston. The recently ratified US Constitution provided for the election of the First President of the United States who would assume office on April 30, 1789; but the election was held between December 15, 1788 and January 10, 1779. Washington's election as the First President was a forgone conclusion, so the real race was for the office of Vice-President, for which there were nine candidates, John Adams being one of them. But since the Constitution forbade the electors from distinguishing their votes for President or Vice-President, all votes were cast for President. After Washington's election, Edward Church traveled to New York where the first government under the Constitution was located and he petitioned President Washington for a job in a letter dated May 11, 1789.

I was an wholesale merchant in Boston before the late war, and since the peace have made various attempts in several foreign countries to repair a ruined fortune, but I find it too late for me to begin the world anew with any probable prospect of success.*... Since the meeting of the present Congress, I have been induced from exigence to come forward to offer myself a candidate for the office of Collector of Imposts for the Port of Savannah. I have a wife and five children, and at present without means for their support. I have sustained some very heavy losses in that State...If, notwithstanding there should be found one more eligible I would then most humbly entreat your Excellency to nominate me to the appointment of Consul in Holland. I am not alone in the opinion that the appointment of a person competent to the office might be very beneficial to the commerce of America, as also that defenceless class of men, the American Seamen, whom I have known frequently to suffer great injuries and impositions in foreign countries...If therefore, it should be my lot to be rejected, I will never cease to venerate your name and to revere your justice. But if the consideration of my former eligible situation in life, my character, the sacrifices which I have made, my experience in business foreign and domestic, a most sincere wish to serve my country, the importance of my request, not to myself alone, but a most amiable wife and five children., and to two venerable and aged relations whom the fortunes of war have reduced from affluence to a state of needy would restore happiness to a family threatened with speedy distress.

   Samuel Adams, who had just been elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts  (John Hancock was elected Governor), hearing of this application, sent in an unsolicited letter of recommendation to Washington, writing:

I take him to have been a steady friend to the liberties of our country, and a man of sense and integrity; if  it will not weary you with application, I will beg your notice of him; and after your own inquiries, afford him your influence, if you shall think it proper in promoting him to a suitable employment under Congress in the State of Georgia. This I mention without his solicitation or knowledge.

   When no immediate action was taken on this petition and a similar application to Secretary of War Henry Knox, Church wrote a long satirical poem attacking John Adams. It was published in a sixteen page pamphlet, printed in Boston, and distributed in Boston and New York. A copy of this pamphlet is in the Rare Books and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress and,after looking at, it must say that it was not cheaply published and must have been of considerable expense to a man of very little means. The pamphlet is titled:

                 Dangerous Vice --------- A Fragment,
                 Addressed to all whom it may concern.
                 By a Gentleman, formerly of Boston.

   Having read through the entire sixteen page poem, I will not subject you to much of it since,even by the standards of late eighteenth century poetry, it is bad poetry. There is very fulsome and lavish praise of Washington and there is no mistaking the viciousness of the attack on John Adams. By addressing the poem to "Dangerous Vice", Church was not being subtle as to whom he was attacking.

            All are not like old Cincinnatus now,
            To take up their old trades, or dirty plough
John Adams, 1783, John Singleton Copley
            John! __ bid the coachman drive up to the door,
            Let's hand the Ladies in __ and say no more.
            These are the blessings of our halcyon days,
            Let ev'ry happy favorite toast their praise,
            Be grateful, then - be prudent, modest wife,
            Nor with your tow'ring crests assail the skies;
            Lest the offended Deity show'd frown;
            And on your native dunghills set you down...
            Resist the Vice ___ and that contagious pride
            To that o'erweening vice ___ so near ally'd.
            Within your sacred walls let virtue reign'
            With unlick'd lordlings fully not your fame,
            Nor daub our Patriot with a lacker'd name...

   The poem concludes:
             Freedom! which these firm Patriots deify'd
             Who in Rome's Senate stab'd the Patricide.
             Freedom! For fair Columbia bravely won
             By the long toils of virtuous Washington,
             Ne'er basely barter for a paltry crown.
             "But piously transmit the blessing down."


   John Adams said that he was bewildered that "Ned Church" would libel him in such a manner and speculated that it was because he had done nothing to assist Edward in his efforts to aid his brother Benjamin. Although, I can find no documentation indicating precisely what dealings Edward Church had with John Adams over his brother Benjamin, I find Adams' surprise at Edward's reactions as somewhat disingenuous. Adams cannot be wholly trusted in matters like these and it's my deep impression that there were a number of instances, undocumented, in which Edward, and his father, tried to solicit Adams' support in efforts to release their brother and son from a very harsh prison regime but received no help from Adams. Adams, of course, was rather disingenuous when commenting on Benjamin's arrest and tried to give an impression of very little acquaintance with Church, which, of course, is false.
    A more plausible explanation for Edward's publication of this poem was that he, most likely,  blamed John Adams' influence as being instrumental in Washington's refusal to appoint him to a position that he desperately needed to support his wife and five children. Combine that with Edward's conviction that Adams had failed to support him in 1776 and the fact that while Edward, an ardent Patriot and Whig, had been ruined by the War, John Adams prospered and, I think, you have Edward's motivation.
   Henry Knox assured John Adams that the poem "was universally despised by all parties and descriptions of men." and that Edward Church's character was "well known." In spite of Henry Knox's assertions as to Edward Church's character, President Washington, in June, 1790, appointed Church consul at Bilbao, Spain, at that time a very prosperous Spanish port which was located in the Basque region of Spain. Edward did not like this post so he remained at home and campaigned for a better job. In May 1792, President Washington appointed him consul at Lisbon, Portugal. In December 1793, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote to Edward to warn him that he would lose the post at Lisbon if he did not get there soon. But, in fact, Edward Church was already in Lisbon for in August, 1793, an American visiting Lisbon had found a "A board well furnished with viands and liquors," and "new incitement to indulgence, from the unceremonious hospitality of both Mr. and Mrs. Church."
   To be continued
   * Edward was 49 years old at the time.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Edward Church, Jr. and Family

Edward Church Family 1787-1843. by Jacques Antoine Vallin. Signed "Vallin/Pinxit. L.L.". Oil on canvas, 82x 61 1/2 inches, ca. 1805.

   I have managed to obtain a better copy of the portrait of Edward Church, Jr. and his family. It is published in Early Georgia Portraits 1715-1870, published by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Georgia, The University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1975. Following is the written description accompanying the portrait:
Edward Church was born in England in 1787. After he came to America, he was appointed consul to L'Orient France, by President Madison in 1817 and served in that position until 1832. He numbered among his friends such illustrious men as Louis Bonaparte, Robert Fulton, Henry Clay, and General Bodley. He died in Lexington, Kentucky in 1843. He married Elizabeth Bentley in Darby, England, in 1806. She was born in England and died in Louisville, Kentucky. Their son, Dr. Edward Bentley Church, was born in Paris, France and died in Greenville, Mississippi, in 1847. Their daughter, Hannah Elizabeth Church, died in 1889 or 1890 in San Francisco, California.
 A medium blue sky, dark green trees, with orange and rose flowers form  a background for this group. Edward Church had brown hair and eyes. A white shirt with a red scarf  shows under his dark brown coat, and his breeches are a medium brown. He has a black hat under his arm. His wife is seated on a gray green bench with a red drapery. She has blonde hair, hazel eyes, and is wearing a white dress with a gold hat over her arm. She is holding Hannah, the daughter. The son Edward, standing, has blonde hair and is holding red flowers. Collection: Mr. J.C. Hagler III

Sunday, October 27, 2013


   I have revised my two posts on Edward Church, dated March 19, 2013 and May 11, 2013 to include information on Edward's two wives and children and to reflect some land dealings he had when he resided in Braintree just after the fighting broke out at Lexington and Concord.
  The next chapter on Edward is forthcoming shortly.

   In an item probably of interest only to me. -I was reading a biography of Ebenezer MacIntosh, the shoemaker and leader of the Boston gangs in the mid-1760s, in the proceedings of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and came across the fact that he was descended from a group of Scottish prisoners who had been seized at the battles of  Dunbar in 1650 and Worcester in 1651 by Oliver Cromwell, pardoned, and sent to Boston as bond servants for terms of 6-8 years. A large number of these prisoners were sent to the Iron Works at Saugus to serve out their period of servitude. I discuss the Saugus Iron Works in my January 19, 2013 post on Col Church's swords.

   Apparently, Oliver Wendell Holmes was descended from one of these "redemptioners."


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Portrait of Edward Church, Jr. and Family

 Edward Church' Jr., Elizabeth Bentley Church holding their daughter Elizabeth Hannah, and son Edward.
Elizabeth Hannah was born in April, 1809 so the date of the painting has to be 1809 or 1810. Painted by Jacques-Antoine Vallin. Oil on canvas. Size "rather large."

    This is the only reproduction of the third portrait of members of the Church family painted by Vallin that I have been able to find. Hopefully I can find one in color.

   Given the age of Hannah in this picture and the fact that apparently all three portraits were painted around the same time, one must conclude that Edward Church was 69 years old when his portrait was painted.

   My first thought when seeing this portrait of Edward, Jr. was John Meins' description of his uncle Benjamin as the "lean apothecary."

   I have revised my post on the "Women Church" portrait to add some information from the Church family history indicating a difference in opinion amongst family members as to the identity of the two younger women.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Edward Church Dubois Family

Edward Church Dubois' French Grammar Book
   I was contacted today by a member of the family of the descendants of Edward Church, Jr. by his French wife Marie Phillipe Dubois. This branch of the Edward Church family traces its roots to the marriage between Edward Church, Jr. and Marie Phillipe Dubois in Paris in the early 1800s. That marriage produced five children to include a son named Edward Church. The Church Dubois Family identifies Marie as an actress. If true, that certainly influences the reaction that marriage would have brought in very early nineteenth century France.*
   Edward Church, Jr. while still presumably married to Marie Phillipe, then, for some unknown reason, married Elizabeth Bentley in England, without divorcing Marie Phillipe. This Church family's lore has it that Elizabeth Bentley Church's father, learning of the bigamous marriage to Marie Dubois, financed a move for the Elizabeth Bentley Church family (to include the son Edward Bentley Church), to Kentucky, far from English society. The Church Dubois family is at a loss to explain Edward Jr.'s behavior and is as perplexed as the rest of us have become. Some speculate that it was Elizabeth Bentley's father who commissioned the portrait of the Church family by Vallin to somehow bizarrely document Edward's transgressions. But then, the Church women would have had to have been very desperate to go along with it. And would Edward, Jr. countenance it?
   Edward Church, the son of  the union between Edward Church, Jr. and Marie Dubois was born in St. Germaine, France on December 9th, 1806, migrated to Northampton Massachusetts circa 1844 and, in 1844, copyrighted a grammar book titled "Church's French Spoken." Edward then moved to London and married  Emma Davison there in 1845. He returned with his wife to the United States; their first child, Edward Church, was born in Cambridge, Mass in 1846. He arranged to have his grammar book printed in Philadelphia and then moved to that city. Unfortunately, his son, Edward, died there in July 1847. Overcome with grief, Edward and Emma moved back to London where their second son, also named Edward Church, was born in 1848. They returned to the United States in 1853.  In 1857, in New York City, Edward Church published his second French grammar book. Believing that the name "Church" had been a detriment to the sale of the first book, Edward decided to adopt his mother's maiden name, Dubois, and published and copyrighted the French grammar as "E.C. Dubois's System of Teaching French."
   The Church family then decided to continue with Edward's family name change and to this day refer to themselves as the "Church Dubois" Family.
   The Church Dubois family now has its roots in Rhode Island, returning to the state where the patriarch of the Church family, Col Benjamin Church, spent most of his life. Edward Church Dubois, the French Grammar author's son, was educated in Rhode Island, practiced law in Boston, but then moved to Rhode Island. where he served as Attorney General from 1894 to 1897 and as Associate and then Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court from 1899 to 1914.
Edward Church Dubois

  I wonder what the Colonel and the Deacon would have made of this.
                      There are family histories and there are family histories! 
* The following is from an essay by Lenard R. Berlanstien, Professor of History at the University of Virginia, on the perception of French actresses in France in the nineteenth century and a specialist on the subject:
In France women were banned from the stage until the early seventeenth century, and for the next two hundred years, respectable people held them at arm's length. Compared with developments in other countries, French acceptance of women on stage as normal and desirable required a particularly protracted and contentious struggle between advocates of enlightenment and those of morality...Starting in the eighteenth century, French opinion makers began to say that men could appear on stage honorably but women could not.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Portrait of the Women Church

Hannah Skinner Church, Elizabeth Maria Church, and Elizabeth Bentley Church, by Jacques-Antoine Vallin, oil on  canvas,  (83 1/4 by 62 in.) 1809 (?)

      This large painting by Jacques-Antoine Vallin depicts three women in the family of Edward Church. Seated to the left is Hannah Skinner Church (Edward's second wife); her daughter Elizabeth Maria Church (known as Maria, life dates unknown) stands in the middle and Elizabeth Bentley Church (1787-1850), wife of Edward Church's son, Edward Jr. is seated on the right. Elizabeth Bentley Church is holding a letter which she is reading to her in-laws. Looking up, she pauses as if waiting for a reaction to the contents of the letter. The women's glances and gestures, and even the colors of the dresses, carry the viewer's attention from the white dress on the right to the gray dress at center to the darker dress on the left, worn by the most discouraged -looking of the three women.

   And what is in the letter? Church family lore identifies it as evidence that Elizabeth Bentley Church's husband, Edward Church Jr., was a bigamist and had married a woman named Marie Dubois in 1799. Although Edward Jr. had children by Marie Dubois it is not certain that he ever married her. That the Church women knew of his relationship with Marie Dubois and that he had children by her, there is little doubt. Edward Jr. had married Elizabeth Bentley, an Englishwoman, in Derby, England and they had two children, - Edward Bentley Church (1807-1847) and Elizabeth Hannah Church (1809-1889/90).

   A Church family history reflects a disagreement as to the identity of the two younger women in the portrait. Two Church women identified them as the daughters of Hannah, the seated one Maria and the standing one Elizabeth; another that the young woman standing is Fanny and the one seated is Maria.. Another family member avers the two are Hannah's daughter Elizabeth and Elizabeth (Bentley) Church. I think the best evidence is that the seated young woman is Elizabeth Bentley Church and the standing one, one of Hannah's daughters.

   Edward Church, Jr. was born in Boston in 1779, educated in England and France, and served as an officer in Napoleon's army.  He left Paris for London with Elizabeth Bentley Church and their two children in November 1809 and returned to the United States in 1811, purchasing a farm in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1817, James Madison appointed him consul to L'Orient, France so Church lived in Europe again until 1832 when returned to Kentucky.

   To enrich matters further, Jacques-Antoine Vallin painted a third picture of the Church family. This one is of the same dimensions of the painting of the Church women but it depicts Edward Church, Jr. with his wife Elizabeth Bentley and their two children.

   Upon his return to Kentucky in 1832, Edward Jr. brought all three portraits back with him. He proposed their future display in an ideal small villa which was never built. He imagined placement of the paintings in a grand second floor salon.

   Now, this is a family history!


Monday, October 21, 2013

Portrait of Edward Church

Edward Church by Jacques-Antoine Vallin (c. 1760-1835?), oil on canvas, 1809 (?). Vallin was a French painter of mythological and historical subjects as well as landscapes. He studied at the Academie Royale de Peinture in Paris and exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1791 to 1827. His paintings, neoclassical in style and subject matter, repeated well known themes of the day. His other portraits include a group portrait of Edward's wife, daughter, and daughter-in-law,  and the French oculist Joseph Nicholas Blaise Forlenze, (1807; National Gallery of Art, London )exhibited at the Salon in 1808.
This portrait is now owned  by William Church Hagler, Edward Church's great x6 grandson. 

    I was recently astonished and delighted to be contacted by a direct descendant of Edward Church, who advised me that he has a full length portrait of Edward Church (along with some other family portraits) in his possession. The family dates this portrait as being painted in 1809 when Edward would have been sixty-nine years old. If so, he is a rather youthful looking sixty-nine. Edward was living in Paris as early as 1797 or 1798 so the portrait could have been painted some years earlier. Edward served as US consul in Lisbon from 1792 to 1796.
   In any event, this portrait is as close as we are ever likely to come to ascertaining just what Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr. and his father the Deacon looked like, assuming that they shared the same physical characteristics as Edward -  likely, but not certain.
   I will leave it to the reader to make his/her own assessment, for now. My own view will follow.
   I was also informed of a self-published, hitherto unknown to me, family genealogy/history of the Edward Church branch of the family. There is no copy in the Library of Congress and the book is out of print but there are single copies scattered in libraries across the country. I have decided to delay my next post on Edward Church until such time as I have had the opportunity to review this book and do any research that may be required as a result of that review.
   In the interim I have been able to confirm that Edward's son Benjamin died at the age of two, further cementing my belief that Benjamin Jr. never had a son named Benjamin.
   Oh, by the way, in keeping in step with his brother Benjamin, the Church family indicates that Edward died in London, and left the bulk of his estate to his mistress.
   For now, I just remain delighted to be able, after all of these years, to look at an authentic likeness of a male member of the Church family.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Edward Church - II

    The Boston Tea Party took place in December 1773 and the British parliament responded with the "Intolerable Acts"  - a series of statutes that closed the port of Boston, abrogated the Massachusetts Charter, curtailed most town meetings, created a new system of courts in the colonies, and authorized the sending of colonists to Britain for trial..

  In a letter to John Wendell (Harvard 1750)  dated May 27, 1774,  Edward Church wrote:
I join with you that Blood shedding is to be avoided - but Firmness and Perseverance in a good cause will never fail of success...I wait to know if this be a land of Freemen or Slaves, and if the Latter I shou'd be sorry to be the proprietor of an inch.
  The sentiments Church expressed in this letter were reflective of the thoughts of most Whigs at this time and puts Edward Church in the mainstream of Patriot sentiment. (John Wendell was a merchant and land speculator in Portsmouth, NH;  and member of a prominent Boston merchant family that had emigrated to Boston from New York. After the Revolution he lost his fortune.)

   The Church Family genealogy claims that Edward Church was a member of the First Provincial Congress, but he certainly was not.

   After the battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, Edward Church took refuge in Braintree where, by one account, he rented a house and took in boarders. He did, at some point acquire a farm in Braintree, for in 1780, he sold a homestead and farmland consisting of 76 1/2 acres with farm buildings, 5 acres of salt marsh and 2/1/2 acres of salt meadow for L1000. It is not known if his wife or any children were with him, but they probably were. Braintree, located just south of Boston, of course, was where John Adams was born and where his wife Abigail and their four children lived. Just what type of intercourse, if any, Edward had with Abigail Adams is unknown; but I doubt that there was much. Abigail Adams has, I believe, been transformed into something she was not by a coterie of modern historians who are using her to push an agenda. Reading her correspondence from this period, Abigail strikes me as well read, highly religious, but essentially a provincial housewife of little political sophistication and often very poor judgment.
Watercolor drawing by Eliza Susan Quincy, 1822 Of the John Adams and John Quincy Adams birthplace homes.
In 1775, Abigail and her four children were living in the "John Quincy Adams house "on the left. 
From the Eliza S. Quincy Memoir in the Quincy family papers, MHS.

.  Benjamin most probably visited Edward in Braintree sometime in late May of 1775 on his way to the Continental Congress as a special delegate of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. Benjamin did stop at Taunton, Mass (30 miles south of Braintree) to see his family where they had taken refuge and Braintree certainly would have been on the way. John Adams mentions in a letter to Abigail, dated June 2, 1775 Philadelphia, where he was a delegate to the Continental Congress, that he had received two letters from her from Dr. Church the day before. After Dr. Church's arrest, John Adams indicated to his wife that he hardly knew Dr. Church but that is just not true. As far back as 1765, Church treated Adams for smallpox and had given him medical treatment sporadically throughout the ensuing years; Adams was, after all, a bit of a hypochondriac. Adams certainly did not have the stature that Dr. Church had amongst the Whigs and my impression would be that Church probably looked at Adams with an infuriatingly condescending smile. And certainly, Adams would never acknowledge to Abigail that he knew of any of Dr. Church's dalliances with women other than his wife. In a response to a letter from Abigail asking:

 What are your thoughts with regard to Dr. Church? Had you much knowledg of him? I think you had no intimate acquaintance with him.
  John Adams responded:

         My dear:
The Fall of Dr. Ch -- h, has given me many disagreable Reflections, as it places human Nature itself in a Point of bad Light, but the Virtue, the sincerity, the Honour, of Boston and Massachusetts Patriots in a worse. -- What shall We say of a Country which produces such Characters as Hutchinson and Church? -- However to turn my Attention from this detestible Subject to another more agreable. Congress has appointed instead of Church, Dr. Morgan of this City whose Character I will pourtray for your Satisfaction.
When weighed in the balance I fear he will be found wanting. A patriot without religion in my estimation is as great a paradox as an honest Man without the fear of God. Is it possible that he whom no moral obligations bind can have any real Good Will towards Man, can he be a patriot who by an openly vicious conduct is undermining the very bonds of Society, corrupting the Morals of Youth and by his bad example injuring that very Country he professes to patronize more than he can possibly compensate by his intrepidity, Generosity, and honour? 
      Whether Edward Church was one of the residents of Braintree who heard the artillery fire from the battle of Bunker Hill or climbed Penn's Hill to see the fires of Charlestown burning is unknown. It was on that Saturday, June 17, 1775 that his older brother Benjamin returned from his trip to Philadelphia while the Bunker Hill battle was raging.


Diagram of British artillery fire at Bunker Hill from Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution

   Edward Church is believed to have resided in Braintree for the next two years.. The British occupation of Boston after April 1775 brought financial ruin to both Edward and his father and their respective businesses. Both were looking for any means to generate income. In December 1777, Edward sold his property on Marlborough Street, bounded by land owned by Benjamin Church (probably the Deacon), John Meins, and the heirs of William Evans to Samuel Gardiner Jarvis (a prominent Boston merchant) for L600. In November, 1778, he sold his Newbury Street property for L2500 to Cornelius Fellows, another prominent Boston merchant.   But , after older brother Benjamin's arrest in September 1775 and until Benjamin's exile in February 1778,  Edward spent the vast majority of his time attempting to clear his brother's name and attempting to lessen the harsh conditions under which he was imprisoned.

  Benjamin's arrest, however, did not damage Edward's reputation amongst the Patriots. Boston Town Records reflect that in May, 1776, Edward was one of 25 Bostonians elected to a new Committee of Correspondence, Safety, & Inspection. The top two vote getters were Samuel Adams and John Hancock.

   In November 1775, the Massachusetts House decided that although there was no provision in law that would allow them to court-martial Dr. Church, freeing him would be "attended with dangerous consequences to the Cause of America," so it asked the Council to take suitable measures. After consultation with George Washington, it was decided that Church should be sent to Norwich, CT where he would be placed under the custody of his father's old Harvard classmate, Governor Jonathon Trumbull, Sr. and :
be closely confined in some secure goal in Connecticutt without pen, paper, or ink, and that no person should be allowed to converse with him, except in the presence and hearing of a magistrate or a sheriff of the county where he should be confined, and in the English language, until further notice.

Jonathon Trumbull, Sr.

   Jonathon Trumbull, the sixty-six year old former Royal Governor of Connecticut, was one of only two Royal Governors to remain in office after Lexington and Concord. He was an ardent Patriot and responded to General Gage's request for assistance after Lexington and Concord by replying that Gage's troops would "disgrace even barbarians." He grew to be a close friend and advisor to Washington.

   If anyone thought that consigning the responsibility for Dr. Church's confinement to his father's old friend would have resulted in a soft prison regime, they were sadly mistaken. Governor Trumbull assigned Dr Church to the care of Prosper Wetmore, Sheriff of New London County who detained Dr. Church in seclusion during a cold winter. Sheriff Wetmore directed a Mr. Edgerton, the jailer, to build a high picket fence around the prison and even within this enclosure, Dr Church was not permitted to "walk but once a week with the Sheriff at his side".  Church was confined in a "close, narrow, dark, and noisome cell" which had been ventilated by a small grate which was boarded up prior to Church's incarceration. In Church's own words:
He had not been immured in this receptacle of misery but a few hours, when, from the weak state of his lungs, and the corrupt and stagnant air of his cell, he began to labour for breath. In his insupportable distress, which was so great as repeatedly to force blood from his mouth and nostrils, he earnestly entreated his jailer to open the grate, which he declined doing...The most violent asthma, with all the unspeakable agonies of instant strangulation, then took place.

   Given that Benjamin Church was a master of propaganda, this account does ring true and there is little doubt that Church's health deteriorated dramatically during his confinement at Norwich. His health was never to be the same. It must have been especially torturous for Dr. Church, the foremost poet of his day, and a man of considerable literary talent to be denied the use of pen, ink, and paper.

(The Massachusetts House and Governor Trumbull would have loved Guantanamo.)

  Using the last of his money, Dr. Church petitioned the Congress to release him to the custody of his family at Taunton, pleading the state of his health. On January 1, 1776, Congress ordered that he be moved to a more comfortable prison. Edward Church and his father, the Deacon, persevered in their attempts to aid their respective brother and son and appeared at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. From John Adams' Autobiography:

Monday May 13. 1776. Sundry Petitions were presented to Congress and read, viz. one from Dr. Benjamin Church, and one from Benjamin, Samuel and Edward Church, with a Certificate from three Physicians respecting the health of Dr. B. Church. Here I am compelled, much against my Inclination to record a Fact, which if it were not necessary to explain some things I should rather have concealed. When this Petition was before Congress, Mr. Samuel Adams said something, which I thought I confess too favourable to Dr. Church. I cannot recollect that I said any Thing against him. As it lies upon my Mind I was silent. Mr. Hancock was President, and Mr. Harrison Chairman of the Committee of the whole and a constant confidential Correspondent of General Washington. Neither of them friendly to me.* I cannot suspect Mr. Samuel Adams of writing or insinuating any Thing against me to the Friends of Dr. Church, at that time. But Mr. Samuel Adams told me that Dr. Church and Dr. Warren, had composed Mr. Hancocks oration on the fifth of March, which was so celebrated, more than two thirds of it at least. Mr. Hancock was most certainly not friendly to me at that time, and he might think himself in the Power of Dr. Church. When Mr. Edward Church printed his poetical Libel against me at New York in 1789 or 1790, I was told by an Acquaintance of his that he was full of Prejudices against me on Account of Dr. Church his Brother. I leave others to conjecture how he came by them. I know of no other Way to account for his Virulence, and his Cousin Dr. Jarvis's Virulence against me, having never injured or offended any of them. Misrepresentation at that day was a Pestilence that walked in darkness. In more modern times it has stalked abroad with more impudence at Noon day.
   One should take note of John Adams' position in the matter. Whereas Samuel Adams was not adverse to support his old Whig ally despite the fact that Samuel saw him as a man of questionable moral character, John Adams looked at it strictly as to how it might affect him and perhaps his relationship with Abigail.
   Edward Church developed a life long antipathy towards John Adams and it started with John Adams' refusal to assist his brother. Edward was totally convinced of his brother's innocence and was appalled at the way he was treated. For some reason, which I have nor been able to pinpoint precisely, he blamed Adams for what had happened to his brother. In a future chapter we will get into the" libelous" poem that Edward published some years later but suffice it to say that Edward really hated John Adams. I take John Adams' statement that he had no idea why Edward developed this hatred with a grain of salt. One must be very careful in taking everything John Adams writes at face value. He was very conscious of his own place in history and what history might think of him. He is not above being very economical with the truth.

   The efforts of the Churches in securing Church's transfer from Connecticut were successful and the Congress, deciding that Church no longer had it in his power to do mischief, ordered him bailed for L1000 and handed over to the Massachusetts Council. Benjamin Jr. certainly did not have a L1000 at this time and one must assume that it was raised by Edward and the Deacon. When a mob attacked the house in Waltham to which Church was sent and tried to lynch him, Dr. Church was transferred to confinement in the Boston jail. After some aborted attempts to effect a prisoner exchange, Church remained in the Boston jail, "confined for a great time in a dungeon and denied intercourse with his friends and refused provisions." Both Edward and the Deacon, impoverished though they were, made every attempt to ameliorate the conditions and provide food. Finally, Dr. Church was allowed to sell his Bedford Street Land, presumably to save the State the cost of feeding him.

   After the excitement over Church had died down somewhat, the General Court voted on January 9th, 1778 that Church should be "permitted to take Passage on the Sloop Welcome. Capt James Smitherick Master bound for the island of Martinico," with the caveat that he should not be permitted to return without permission. Martinico is the modern day Martinique.

  Family tradition has it that Edward rowed his brother Benjamin out to Boston Harbor and watched as he boarded the Welcome on January 12, 1778. Sometime later, perhaps as late as mid-February 1778, the Welcome set sail.

   In sending Dr. Church to exile in Martinico, Massachusetts was doing Dr. Church no favors. Martinico was a small island in the Carribean, predominantly French. The British had seized it several times to include by an assault in 1759. It is not clear precisely who controlled the island at this time, but I was able to determine that American privateers were active out of the Martinico port of St Pierre in January 1778, so one must conclude that it was controlled by the French.

   As we know, the sloop Welcome was lost at sea and Dr Benjamin Church, Jr. was never heard from again. Church family tradition has it that he was pushed overboard while at sea.

* This sentence was edited out by Charles Francis Adams.
To be continued

Friday, April 12, 2013

Boston Latin School

   While working on the next chapter in Edward Church's life I realized that I omitted, in the first post, the fact that he, like his older brother, had attended Boston Latin School before admission to Harvard. Boston Latin was seen in those days as a sort of "prep school" for Harvard and many sons of prominent Boston families attended it. The use of the word "Latin" in its title was highly appropriate since students who attended it did not take Latin at Harvard.

   But that reminds of a point I wish to make about records from this time period and the uncertainty of what most people take for granted. There was no attempt to publish a catalogue of the students who attended Boston Latin, founded in 1635, until 1847 and the list of students from 1734 to 1774 was prepared from a handwritten manuscript of James Lovell who served as a master and then headmaster at the school from 1734 to 1774. He had compiled a list of the boys who were under his instruction during that period. In many instances, only surnames were given. His list was further embellished by an extensive committee effort in 1886 on the 250th anniversary of the school's founding. Further confusion is added by the fact that there was no set age for a boy to enter Boston Latin and children as young as nine are listed in their respective classes. And class year was determined by the year of entrance, not year of departure.

   That brings us to the attendance at the school by the Church brothers. Benjamin Church, Jr. is listed as a member of the class of 1745 along with his classmate John Hancock (2 and 1/2 years younger). Edward (Harvard 1758)  is listed as a member of the class of 1750 along with John Hancock's younger brother, Ebenezer (Harvard Class of 1760). But listed under the class of 1747 is the name "Church." The editors of the 1886 edition of the catalogue indicated that either Benjamin or Edward might be this Church. Yet, why would they be listed by their full names under their respective classes? There was no other prominent Church family residing in Boston at this time. The listing of a "Church" under 1747 could be an honest error.

   Or, could it be the elusive third son of Deacon Church by his second wife, Giles Church?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Did Dr Benjamin Church Jr Have a Son named Benjamin?

   There is no question that Dr. Benjamin Church Jr. had a son named James Miller Church and two daughters, named Sarah and Hannah; but the assertion that he also had a son named Benjamin (Benjamin III) deserves examination. There is no record of birth for a Benjamin Church III in Boston or the Newport, R.I. area and there is no evidence contemporary with Dr. Church that indicates Benjamin III ever existed. The probative evidence for his existence is based on two documents. First, The Church family genealogy, Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass, published in 1913 reports:
"Benjamin b about 1758 m a lady of London and became a surgeon in the British Army. A descendant of the same name and profession is said to be in the same service today."

    The 1852 edition of James Spear Loring's, The Hundred Boston Orators, contains a short biography of Dr. Church and states:

"He married Miss Hannah Hill of Ross in Herefordshire, a sister of his early friend, a young student in London. He returned to Boston, and had Benjamin, who married a lady of London, and became a surgeon in the British Army."
   Loring states that he received this information from a descendant of one of Dr. Church's children. Apparently it came from descendants of Dr. Church's daughter Hannah.

   Both the Church family genealogy and Loring report that Dr. Church married a woman named Hannah Hill when, in fact, Dr. Church's wife is named Sarah Hill. I suspect that the Church family genealogy based its report of the birth of Benjamin from the information provided by Loring.  One must question how a descendant of Dr. Church's children could get Sarah Church's first name wrong. One should note that Dr. Church's biography published in Sibley's Harvard Graduates correctly identifies Dr. Church's wife as being named Sarah.

   The assertion that Dr. Church could have had a son named Benjamin in Rhode Island has to be dismissed since Dr. Church was about four or five years old when his father moved the family to Rhode Island.
Thane of Fife - Royal Navy Snow. A Snow was a type of brig - a merchant ship that could be converted into a warship.

   After his graduation from Harvard in 1754, Church read medicine and in March 1757, he was appointed surgeon on the Massachusetts Province snow-of war, Prince of Wales. He left that ship in December of that same year, apparently just before the ship was captured by the French. The French and Indian War was being fought at this time and one might note that the famous siege of Fort William Henry occurred in August 1757. When he applied for his pay, Church said he was about to take a long voyage to London to study medicine. Church arrived in London sometime early in 1758 and "walked the hospitals." In December 1758 he wrote to Robert Treat Paine that he longed to return to Boston and when he did it would be with a wife. Whether he was referring to Sarah Hill or not is unknown. In July, 1759 Dr. Church posted an ad in the Boston Post Boy indicating that he was now in practice in Boston and had returned from London with a good assortment of drugs and medicine.
   At most, Dr. Church was in London for eighteen months. There is little doubt that his son James Miller Church was born sometime in 1759. It hardly seems plausible that he fathered two sons in the this time frame, especially since there is no mention of the existence of the second son other than what has been set forth above.
   The Church family genealogy states that Edward Church, Dr. Benjamin's brother, had a son named Benjamin who "probably died young." Edward married in November 1763 and his wife died in April 1766. It doesn't seem likely to me that Edward would have named a son Benjamin after their father if his older brother already had a son named after him who could not have been more than six or seven years old.
   There is no mention of a Benjamin III in the wills of Deacon Church or his wife Hannah. There is no record of a Benjamin Church III petitioning the Crown for a pension even though Sarah, her two daughters and James Miller Church are all mentioned in the various petition documents.
   So then where does this leave us? I think that the most plausible explanation is that there was confusion amongst the Church descendants and that James Miller Church was mistaken for a son named Benjamin. James Miller fled to London with his mother and his two sisters in July 1777 at the age of about 18. I think it is safe to assume, since he did not attend Harvard like his father, grandfather, and uncle that he studied medicine with his father. Upon his arrival in England, James Miller joined his mother and sister in petitioning the Crown for a pension. Sometime later, James Miller Church either purchased or was appointed to a commission as an ensign in the Royal (3rd)Westminster Regiment of Middlesex. This was a militia regiment based outside of London whose records for that period no longer exist. I have a feeling that this was not a regiment in being but a militia regiment with only a commander and staff that needed authorization and funding before it could recruit its full complement.
   The Town and Country Magazine, or Universal Repository of Knowledge, Instruction and Entertainment, for the Year 1784, London, Vol XVI reports that on January 1st, 1784, James Miller Church, Esq, of the West Middlesex Regiment married Miss Mary Amy Fowney, daughter to Heron Powney, Esq.

   Pension records further indicate that James Miller was made Lieutenant in 1795, surgeon's mate in 1795, and surgeon in 1796. He retired on April 18, 1817 and died fourteen years having lived on a small pension.

  Thus my feeling that the descendant(s) of Hannah Church confused James Miller Church with a son named Benjamin and that there was no Benjamin III. That's a conclusion I will support in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Edward Church

   Dr. Benjamin Church, Jr. had one half-brother and two full brothers. His older half brother, Samuel, the son of Deacon Church and Elizabeth Viall, was four years older than Benjamin and was born in Bristol, R.I. in 1730. Little is known about his full brother Giles (date and place of birth unknown but presumably in Boston), except that he studied medicine and later moved to Georgia.  The third brother, Edward, was six years younger than Benjamin. Interestingly, whereas both Benjamin Jr. and Edward graduated from Harvard, neither Samuel nor Giles ever enrolled there.(See my January 5, 2012 post on the Benjamin Church, Sr family.)

   Edward was born on September 12, 1740 at Fayal, the Azores, where his father Benjamin, Sr. had been in residence from late 1739 or early 1740. Benjamin Sr.presumably had moved there with his family to participate as a merchant in the active trade between the colonies, the Azores, and England. Edward could not have remembered much about the Azores since his father and family moved back to Boston sometime in 1742.

   At the age of 13 3/4, Edward was admitted to Harvard with the class of 1758, ranking 17th in a class of 39 strong; but he was expelled in February 1757, a year before he was to graduate. Despite his father's pleas and a submission of a humble "Confession of his Faults", he was "unanimously denied" readmission until May 1758, when the faculty decided that he could be readmitted "with Safety and Honor to the College." Edward spent his senior year with the class of 1759 and graduated with it. His petition for his M.A. with the class of 1758 was "unanimously rejected." When he took his second degree in 1762, he was prepared to argue that "Eternal Punishment is not Contrary to Divine Goodness." Although the reasons behind Edward's expulsion from Harvard are not known, it is not surprising given the the rebellious and rambunctious spirit he exhibited in later life.

Holden Chapel, opened March 1745, third oldest building at Harvard, where the student body attended morning and evening prayer services. Looks like the perfect place to contemplate "eternal punishment."

   After graduation from Harvard, Edward went into business with his father as a vendue-master (auctioneer) at his father's business location in Newbury Street, "two doors south of the Sign of the Lamb", a tavern dating back to 1638 which served as a staging area for the stagecoach. In April, 1762 he became a Freemason and later joined his brother Benjamin as a member of the Rising Sun Lodge, a lodge founded by Benjamin, Jr. On November 1, 1763, Edward was married to Elizabeth Furnace by the Rev Mather Byles, Jr.( the son of his father's pastor at the Hollis Street Church, the Rev Mather Byles, Sr.) at Christ Church (Old North Church) which he thereafter attended. Edward left his father's business in 1764 and went into business for himself as a merchant. In 1765, he was elected a collector of taxes by the town of Boston but declined to serve probably because he was planning to go to London where he was believed to be when he received word that his wife of three years, age 27, had died on April 18th, 1766.

   A Church family genealogy states that Edward was said to have a son named Benjamin from his marriage to Elizabeth Furnace but that the child "probably died young." Also, according to the family genealogy, a review of deeds recorded in Worcester show a "levy" on 55 1/2 acres of land in Shrewsbury, Mass to cover a loan made by Edward to his ex-brother-in-law, Benjamin Furnace, in September 1771, for L100, 8s, 11d, plus costs. Two years later, Edward deeded this land and 14 acres more back to Furnace for L159, 10s, and 6d - a very nice profit indeed.

   Family tradition has it that Edward was an ardent Whig and the author of several anonymous political tracts. Given his brother's involvement and prominence in the Whig cause, this is certainly not only plausible but likely.

   Edward set out for London on business again in April 1768 and his pastor, Mather Byles, Jr. entrusted him with a letter to Benjamin Franklin, who was serving as a paid agent for Georgia at the time; and Samuel Adams gave him the Journals of the Massachusetts House of Representatives to be transmitted to Franklin with a cover letter describing Edward:
Mr. Church is a gentleman of integrity & ingenuity. You may therefore rely on such intelligence as he may give you of the circumstances of things here.  
   We should set the background for what was occurring in Boston and the rest of the colonies in April, 1768. The Stamp Act had been passed in 1765 and, in reaction, across the colonies, protest groups, calling themselves  the "Sons of Liberty" formed to fight the new tax. Uniting in the fall of 1765, colonial leaders appealed to Parliament stating that as they had no representation in Parliament, the tax was unconstitutional and against their rights as Englishmen. These efforts led to the Stamp Act's repeal in 1766, though Parliament quickly issued the Declaratory Act which stated that they retained the power to tax the colonies. Still seeking additional revenue, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts in June 1767. These placed indirect taxes on various commodities such as lead, paper, paint, glass, and tea. Again citing taxation without representation, the Massachusetts legislature sent a circular letter to their counterparts in the other colonies asking them to join in resisting the new taxes .In London, the Colonial Secretary, Lord Hillsborough, responded by directing colonial governors to dissolve their legislatures if they responded to the circular letter. Sent in April 1768, this directive also ordered the Massachusetts legislature to rescind the letter. Franklin was serving as an agent for Massachusetts although Hillsborough had refused to recognize him as such.

   One must believe that Edward Church was held in a certain respect by Samuel Adams in entrusting him to serve as his agent in a briefing of Franklin. Granted Church's journey to London was probably fortuitous, yet Adams did choose him to represent him to Franklin. The family genealogy states that Edward carried on a correspondence with Franklin and the family allegedly had letters that show cooperation with Franklin "in advocating the cause of the colonists."
Benjamin Franklin - 1767. Portrait by David Martin (1737-1797). Commissioned by Robert Alexander of William Alexander and Sons, Edinburgh.

   Edward was back in Boston by July 1769 when, ardent Whig that he was, he became active on the committee established to obtain subscriptions for merchants to the Non-Importation Agreement. John Mein, however, publisher of the Boston Chronicle and partner of John Fleeming who was to marry Edward's sister Alice in August 1770, and a thorn in the side of the Whigs, was quick to publish evidence that Church had continued to import goods in violation of the agreement. Church tried to defend himself through a post in the September 25, 1769 edition of the Boston Gazette:

If there are many among us so base as to break through a solemn agreement, I would beg leave of the public, to exculpate myself from the scandal of being ranked among the number, by informing them that (although my name now justly appears in Messers, Mein and Fleeming's an importer) at the time the agreement took place here, I was in London; therefore could not become a subscriber. Immediately after my return, understanding the agreement was general, and strictly adhered to, that I might not be in any way instrumental in counteracting the good design, I unsolicited countermanded large orders which I left in London for spring-goods; thereby in a great measure frustrating my design in going home. The few haberdashery goods which arrived, I had ordered, and expected to be sent immediately after me, which was the only reason for not countermanding.
   The Committee of Inspection asked Church to reship these goods to London, which he refused to do; so a year later it published his name throughout New England, in the August 20, 1770 edition of the Boston Gazette, as one of a small hard-core group who were violating the agreement. It must be noted that Edward was not the only merchant who found ways to skirt the non-importation agreement if it was to their benefit. In Edward's instance, however, I believe that his temperament was such he believed that he was in compliance with the agreement except for those goods he mentioned in his defensive reply in the Boston Gazette. And, as I think his later actions demonstrated, Edward was the type of man who once he believes he is in the right will not back down no matter what.

   Edward Church went back to England in 1771 and undertook a "post-chaise" tour of England and Scotland with his Harvard 1759 classmate Henry Marchant. Marchant was a prominent attorney in Rhode Island  where he served as Attorney General. He later became a delegate to the Continental Congress and signed the Articles of Confederation. His pastor was Dr Ezra Stiles of the Second Congregational Church in Newport, R.I. Marchant was embarking on a 2000 mile year's tour of the Continent and was sufficiently prominent that Governor Thomas Hutchinson entrusted him with official letters and on July 8, 1771 James Otis, Samuel Adams, Thomas Cushing, and Francis Dana saw him off by accompanying his vessel as far as the lighthouse in Boston Harbor. Dr Stiles, at this time, was working on the second edition of Edward Church's great-grandfather's history of King Philip's War.
   Stiles gave Marchant a letter of introduction to Benjamin Franklin who welcomed him and introduced him to London. .Marchant produced a six volume travel diary for his trip and sent back incredibly verbose letters to Dr Stiles. George III, however, did not impress Mr. Marchant:

I slipt in and along I went into the Room where the King robes. He was vastly merry and laughable while the Robes and Crown were putting on. It did not strike me agreeably.
   Edward Church and Henry Marchant traveled from London to Glasgow and took a tour of northern England and Scotland. They visited Edmund Dana, also Harvard Class of 1759, in Edinburgh where he had gone to complete his education. Dana married the daughter of a Scottish peer and founded what became known as the "English Danas." He was the elder brother of Francis Dana who had seen Marchant off on his voyage from Boston and later served as secretary to John Adams, became a member of the Continental Congress, and Chief Justice Of Massachusetts as well as a very prominent Federalist. Benjamin Franklin joined them for a part of or all of their journey. There are conflicting reports as to just when he was present but there is no doubt he accompanied them for at least a substantial portion of the journey. Edward Church was made an honorary Burgess of the city of Glasgow on November 13, 1771. Franklin had previously been made an honorary Burgess on September 19, 1759. It is not known precisely why Edward Church was given this honorific and the Church family genealogy contains this statement:

"According to the practice which prevailed both before and after the date of the admission of Mr. Edward Church of Boston as an Honorary Burgess of Glasgow, no record of the transaction has been preserved, either in the Council Register or the Guild Register, both of which have been examined. On the occasion of a visit from a distinguished Visitor it was quite common to present him with a Burgess Ticket, as was apparently done to Mr. Church, .but to omit in the Register any reference to the ceremony." The "Ticket" reads : 
"At Glasgow the thirteenth d'ay of November one thousand seven hundred and seventy one years the which day in presence of the Eight Honorable Colin Dunlop Esquire Lord Provost to the said City, Archbald Smellie, Hugh Wylie and James Brodie Baillies thereof George Brown dean of Gild and sundry of the Gild Council of the said City, Edward Church Esquire of Boston is Admitted and Beceived Burges and Gild brother of the said City and the whole Libertys Privileges and Immunities belonging to a Burges and Gild-brother thereof Are granted to him in most ample form Who gives his Oath of fidelity as use is. Extracted furth of the Gild' books of the said City by John Wilson. "
   Edward soon returned to Boston and advertised new English goods available at his store believed to be in Newbury Street somewhere near his father.It appears that Edward had prospered as a merchant for he leased at least one ship, and had it in mind to become a patron of Dartmouth College. His personal pleasure tour of Scotland and England would indicate that he had substantial means at his disposal.

   Soon after his return to Boston, Edward married Hannah Skinner, daughter of William Skinner, Harvard 1731, a Boston lawyer who, I believe, died in 1760. Edward and Hannah had six children - five daughters and a son.

   As the struggle between the Whigs and the Crown became more heated, Edward Church continued to support the Whigs. His great-grandson, the Rev Edward B. Church, described him in this way:

"My great grandfather was a very high- spirited man and a liberal of liberals, writing many pamphlets against royal rule, but yet he may not have been willing to take a subordinate place in the army and the Adams influence which had condemned his brother would likely fear to give him a position worthy of his ability when his brother had been condemned for treason against the commonwealth."

   Edward Church, born 12 Sep 1740, Fayal Azores.

          m. Elizabeth Furness (born 1739), married,1 Nov 1763,  Christ Church, Boston, Mass.
                  died. 18 April, 1766.
                    son. Benjamin Church. 1764-1766.

           m. Hannah Skinner (born 16 Sep 1753, Boston, Mass.)
                    died, 1816, London, England.
                    daughter, Anna Elizabeth Church, no further information.
                    daughter, Elizabeth Maria Church, no further information except she never married.
                    son, Edward Church, born 1773-1780, most probably 1779, died, 22 April, 1845.
                    daughter, Sarah Russell Church, born 1780-1790, died, 27 Aug 1807.
                    daughter, Fanny Church, no further information.
We will continue Edward's story as the Revolution breaks out at Lexington and Concord.