Nathan Barnum The Loyalist

arnum / arnham

Thomas Barnum His Ancestors and Descendants

vol.1:5 Sep/Oct 1998

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The Loyalist

Nathan Barnum was born about 1739 in New Fairfield, Fairfield, Connecticut, the son of Nathan Barnum and Rebecca Lockwood or Hannah Bonnell or Bunnell. A Nathan Barnum, of Danbury married Hannah Bonnell or Bunnell, 10 Aug 1738 in New Milford, Connecticut. I believe Hannah to be his mother instead of Rebecca Lockwood, and that is why he named a son Nathan Bunnell.

As far as is known at present there was only one other child, David Barnum born 30 March 1733, and would have been the son of Rebecca Lockwood. He named a daughter Rebecca Lockwood Barnum.

Nathan was probably married the first time before 1760 as a child is shown being baptized, in the New Fairfield Congregational Church ( FHL Film #002883 and New Fairfield Ecclesiastical Society Records photocopied in New Fairfield city library), "3 November 1760 Nathan Barnum Jun. daughter". He married Lois Wheeler, 11 March 1762, as shown in the same record. She was the daughter of Joseph Wheeler and Abigail Perry and the fifth child in a family of eight children. She died about 1780 on Long Island, New York as is shown by a letter that follows.

After their marriage they lived and farmed in New Fairfield. When he applied for land in Ontario he is shown as having 5 children (petition to Governor, 22 Sep 1793 mentions 3 sons and 2 daughters). This coincides with the following letter written to him in England, by his son Nathan Bunnell, that names the following brothers and sisters: Wheeler, Eliphilet, Samanatha (could have be the daughter by the first marriage),and Lois.

New York May 28 1787
Honoured Father

I had the pleasure of receiving your letter this day, dated
7th of March 1787 in which you inform me that you have
not recd any Intelligence. I find my brothers and sisters by
but Dear Father I have wrote to you sundry times concerning
our health and situations and do with great satisfaction take
my pen in hand to inform you of our welfare, which is very
pleasing to a tender parent. When shall I have the happiness
of seeing my only friend again. Shall I this year or next, or
ever,I fear not but be that as it will. I pray for your Health
and prosperity which in duty I am denied as well as gratitude.
You wrote to me several times concerning your business
requesting me to accomplish it for you which has been out
of my power on account of my circumstances as I have frequently informed you in my letters. I and my brothers and sisters arevery well. Wheeler has lately gone to the South and to a place called Egg Harbour J [Jersey] and I hear that the boatman he went with certified that he has got business at the Taylors trade, he left his master early in the spring thought him incapable of teaching him. Eliphalet is learning the shoe makers trade with one Weeks formerly living near John Underhill but now has removed to Bloomingdale 5 miles from New York. Lois lives at Mr. Calbeys yet. I teach a school at West Farms 12 miles from this place in a very reputable neighborhood among men of note. I have merrited the esteem of the people from of the highest Characters to the lowest, Do not think Dear Father I mention this to enflate myself by any means, but to give you satisfaction. My brothers and sisters bear a good character also Samantha lives with Mr. Clement yet. But she has had the misfortune to loose her second Mother Mrs. Clement. I must inform you as I have done before how will the information cut you to the heart, how shall I express it how will you bear to hear it, your Mother is dead she died last winter a year. Pray write by Every opportunity. I shall comefrequently to town to receive your letters and send you answers as I live very handy I have nothing more to write at presentbut remain your dutiful son.
Nathan Bunnel Barnum

There is not much known about the family or the town up to the time of the Revolutionary War. The New Fairfield town hall burned down in about 1870 and the records were lost.

At the time of the war the two brothers put their alliegence in two different places. David fought on the side of the patriots and Nathan joined the Loyalist forces on Long Island in New York.

He resided in Kentish Town, a suburb of London, for about four to five years after the end of the war, and apparently in a state of near poverty. An inventory of his estate at the time of its confiscation shows that he was a well to do man, and that he was now reduced to his present condition, and having gone through the trials of the war and suffered for what he believed in shows a strength of character.

His estate in Connecticut "both real and personal" was confiscated "the last Tuesday of December, 1778"
The record appears in the Probate Court records FHL Film #1016212 "

At an adjourned county court held at Fairfield in and for Fairfield County on the last Tuesday of December AD 1778:
The estates of the following persons who have joined ye enemy were declared forfeit to & for ye use of this state & the cost annexed to their several names were taxed as cost of prosecution by ye court (viz.) Nathan Barnum, Joseph Vaughn, Simeon Leach, James Leach, Ebenezer Leach, Benjamin Vaughn"

An inventory on the estate was taken and valued at 1635 English pounds. dated 25 Feb 1779. 35 pounds were alloted to his wife and family. They had apparently not yet left Connecticut. The estates were handled through the probate court just as though the men were deceased. All those who could, made claim against the estates. These claims were reviewed.

At a General Assembly of the govenor and company of the state of Connecticut holden at Hartford on the 18th day of January 1782, Upon the memorial of James Birdsell of the Albany in the State of New York, showing to this assembly that John Cornell & Nathan Barnum both of New Fairfield went off to and joined the enemies of these states that at the time of this going they were both indebted to him-That since their going of there estates have been ajudged forfit and have been sold for the benefit of this state that the memoralist living out of this state heard nothing of the proceedings with said estates praying that the Court of Probate may be impowered and directed to reapoint the commission on said estates to examine his accounts and make report of the sums found due to the judge of the court of probate for the District of Danbury in order that he may beceive payment as per memorial on file, Resolved by this assembly that the judge of the court of probate for the district of Danbury be impowered and direcred to reapoint the comissioners to examine and ajust the accounts of the memorialist and make return to him of the sums they shall find due at the cost of ye memorialist and and there upon said judge of probate is impowered and directed to draw an order on Col. John Chandler for the payment of the same out of the avails of said estate.

The story of his loyalty to the crown is told in his own words in letters to "The Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament for enquiring into the Losses and Services of the American Loyalists". There are 25-30 letters and documents included in the American Loyalist Claims at the Public Record Office, London, England, ref. no.; A.O. 12-13. These files can be found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City on 189 rolls of microfilm. The claim of Nathan Barnum can be found on FHL Film #366802, 366738. These letters carry us through his activities from 1775 to about 1789.

It appears that by December of 1785 he had arrived in London as he presented a claim, accompanied by a desposition signed by "Wm Franklin late govn of New Jersey" .


London Dec 15, 1785

My Lords,
Being well informed of the Character of Mr Nathan Barnum Late of Connecticut, I beg leave to recommend him as a Person who took an early and active Part in Support of the British Government, and who having greatly suffered in his Person and Property during the late Rebellion highly merits the relief and assistance he sollicits.

I Have the Honor to be with the greates Respect

My Lords,
Your Lordships
Most obedient______servant

Wm Franklin
late govn of New Jersey


The Memorialist of Nathan Barnum Connecticut in North America

Most Humbly sheweth

That he took an early and decided Part at the Commencement of the late troubles in America- After he left his Family and Property, he was employed in very dangerous and confidential Service by the late General Tryon, during which he was apprehened upon Suspition, but liberated for want of Proof against him-Soon after the King's Troops came to New York he received a Warrant to recruit for the Service, for which his Knowledge of the Country and Inhabitants rendered him distinquishedly capable, in so much that his Commanding officer Colonel Ludlow, promised him a Captaincy upon raising the men-In different Excursions he brought in about 200 Recruits who inlisted into the several Provincial Corps then raising, having been at his own House while on these recruiting Expeditions an Information for harbouring him was lodged against his Wife, who was, for that Crime, imprisoned and plundered no less than three times, at last he procured a Flag and removed her within the Lines where she died leaving him with 5 Infants-As a pretense for journeying through the Country, if questioned, instead of a Pass which he could by no Means procure, he carried with him a Bond for 3200 pounds, so that he might produce it as a Reason of his Travelling if stopped by the Way, which Bond he lost in the following Manner: A man whom he had recruited, being punished for a Crime deserted to the enemy while he was out on his last Excursion, and informed against him in consequence the_________________ Country to apprehend him, by one of whom he was discovered, but before he was taken, his leg was shattered with a Musket Ball, and immediately after, he was desperately wounded in the Thigh of the same Side with a Bayonet, and his Bond with other Papers of little Comparative Consequence was destroyed before his Face -- In this Condition he was carried upwards of 100 Miles on Horseback without any medical Assistance, in extreme Anguish, exposed to the Inclemency of the Weather, then severe and subject to Cruelty and Insult--He was then thrown into Fairfield Prison, in which he suffered an Extremity of Misery and Distress, being refused every Necessary and Assistance for his Wounds; being obliged to the humane and friendly care of a Brother Officer and fellow Prisoner for the Cure of his Wounds which was effected contrary to all human Expectation--Being reserved to be tried by the Court for High Treason and knowing the great Hazard he would run; profiting by the Prejudices of the People against the Small Pox, he contrived to procure Matter & innoculated himself so long previous to the Sessions that he broke out with that Distemper, at the Time the Court met; and was removed to the Hospital from which not withstanding he was chained to the Floor, he made his escape and joined His Majesty’s Troops then on the Expedition to Danbury--When he joined his Regiment he found all the Captains were appointed, but he was solemnly promised the first vacant Company by his Colonel---While visiting his Children by Leave of Absence in Spring, 1781, upon Long Island he was again captured by a Party of the Enemy who had landed there from the main; but having his Uniform and Commission he was then considered as a British Officer, as to his Exchange; but he experienced much private Malice and Insult, both before and after his Confinement in Goal; being whipped with Hiccory Rods on his naked Body and otherwise so cruelly treated, that it was almost a mericle he survived the inhumanity he suffered-While he was in this melancholy Condition not being _____________ to New York, he was struck out of the Returns and a Captain appointed in the Regiment in his Stead.

All these Services and Sufferings he humbly presumes to lay before Your Lordships in the hope that they will be considered in the proper Point of view as most if not all of them are well known, particularly his Success in recruiting, which is attested by __________who assisted him with His Boats, while commanding His Majestys Sloop Senegal in Long Island Sound by Colonel Stephen DeLancey, Colonel Wightman, and others: all whose Certificates are lodged with the Commissioners of American Claims.

In the full Expectation of being honoured by a Recommendation from the Commissioners, at Lincoln’s Inn-Fields, he most humbly intreats Your Lordships to be pleased to continue his Pension granted in October 1785, in Consideration of These his Services and Sufferings, and his small Family, scattered by the Event of the war and he, as in Duty bound will ever pray etc.

Nathan Barnum

Ensign Nat. D. Barnum of Ludlows Regiment Prisoner of War to the United States is permitted to go to Wethersfield and remain there until Exchanged.
Head Quarters
29 March 1783
Aid de Camp


9th June 1783
The Bearer Nathan Barnum an Ens. in British Service, who hath been detained as a Prisoner of War hath now by the Advise and Approbation of his Excellancy the Govenor & his Council of Safety-Permission to go from hence to rEading and Fairfield in the State of Connecticut to procure Some Monies Due to him there, and after returning & Paying his Debts, Contracts here has full Liberty to return to N. York and partake of the enrollement of his Service.

Certified by Ens. Williams


John Collins of Litchfield in the county of Litchfield in Connecticut and Eliakim Squire of Lanesborough in the State of Massachusetts Bay severally make oath as follows-the said John Collins deposit and saith that he is well acquainted with Nathan Barnum whom this Deponent understood at the time, hereinafter mentioned to be an officer in the British Service and this deponent saith that the said Nathan Barnum was confined as a prisoner in the Goal at Litchfield aforesaid _____ sometime in the month of June last to the beginning of October last during which time this deponent hath heard and believes that the said Nathan Barnum was denied the use of Pen, Ink and paper and has heard and believes that the said Nathan Barnum was whipped ironed and otherwise very ill used in the said prison which the deponent had the means of hearing as he lived the next door to the said Goal And the said Eliakim Squire deposeth and sayeth that sometime in the month of September last he saw in Litchfield Goal aforesaid Nathan Barnum formerly of Fairfield County in Connecticut-whom he understood to be then an officer in the British Army and heard and believed he was very ill used there and further these Deponents say not.

John Collins
Eliakim Squier
County of Sunbury
May 7 1784
Sworn to before me James Peters Justice of Peace


London 23 October 1787

I do certify that in the years 1778, 1779 and 1780, I knew Mr Nathan Barnum, Ensign in the Third Batallion of General De Lancey's Brigade; having served at the same Post where they were stationed, the greater part of that time. That I have frequently heard Colonel Ludlow, and Lieutenant Colonel Keislett mention, that Mr Barnum had at various times, brought to the Regiment near two Hundred Recruits, whom he Procured from without the British Lines at very great risk. That I have always understood Mr Barnum suffered particularly by the loss of considerable Property in America, and underwent much hardships by being taken Prisoner by the Americans which, I believe, preported his preferment in the Corps to which he belogned.

George Wightman
State Lt. Col. Commandent
Loyal New Englanders


It gives me pain to intrude upon you, but situated as I am in a strange Country and in low circumstances I hope I shall meet with your Excuse in my newest application.

At the commencement of the late unhappy Disturbance in America, I took a decided Part on the Side of Government, and, while on the recruiting Service, in Connecticut, was betrayed, by a Deserter from the Kings Troops, that I had enlisted; in Consequence of which, I was not only closely confined but tried for my Life, and I have little or no Doubt I should have suffered Death, had I not by innoculating myself for the Small Pox, been removed to an Hospital, from which I made my Escape.

The reason I inform you of the above circumstances is that I imagine from the Hatred borne me, my Friends have not been able to procure, from the Court of Probate, in FAirfield County, Connecticut, a Copy of the Confiscation of my Property, which I have repeatedly wrote for, without recieving as yet any satisfactory Answer.

I Therefore request, You will be so good, as to let me know, whether You have got a Copy of the Confiscation of my Property, when in that Province.

I have the Honour to be, with Respect

Your most obedient and very humble Servant,
Nathan Barnum
late of New Fairfield, Connecticut
Post Office Kentish Town
October 27, 1788


To the Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament for inquiring into the Losses and Services of the American Loyalists

The Memorial of Nathan Barnum late of New Fairfield in colony of Connecticut


That at the Commencement of the late Rebellion, he took a decided Part against Congress and being persecuted was obliged to leave his Residence and Property in New Fairfield in December 1775 which is more largely set forth in the Memorial before Your Honors.

That he has sent Instructions and Money to his Son in America, to procur Certificates of the Confiscation of his property, on Consequence of his loyalty; but hath not as yet received, though he daily expects them.

That, being apprehensive You will be obliged to report upon his Claim, without those necessary Proofs, he hopes the following State of his Service, Sufferings and Losses, the former being substantiated by the accompanying respectable Certificates will enduce You to make the most favourable Report in Your Power Should he not receive the above Papers in Time.

In December 1775 being on board the Dutchess of Gordon with Gen. Tryon His Excellency desired him to return Home where he could be more serviceable to the Royal Cause by distributing His Majestys Proclamations, Copies of which he was furnished with, and when he could no longer stay to bring a List of such Friends of Government as was in the County, who could be depended upon as strickly loyal. This Service being accomplished he was compelled to return for his Personal safety and brought to the General the List required, who again employed him, in a more private Manner to go into the Country, not only Circulate those Proclamation, but to encourage his Neighbours to perservere in their Loyalty, and also to gain Intelligence of the views and Motives of the Rebels. While engaged in this Service, the Army arrived at Staten Island and he was apprehended upon Suspition, and cast into Jail when no proofs appearing against him, he was set at Liberty, He then went to the Army where he received a warrant as Ensign, to recruit Men for the Service and again returned to Connecticut for that purpose, Where his Success was so great that Col. Ludlow, his Commanding Officer promised him a Captaincy, in the Regiment provided he enlisted the proper Quota of Recruits. In Consequence of this Promise, he made several excursions into the Country, in which he was so successful as to bring near 200 men within the British _______ __________ ___________ Provincial Regiments. In the Interim his Wife being informed against for harbouring him, was imprisoned and plundered no less than three Different Times, so that he was obliged to procure a Flag to bring her in where She died. Finding it impossible to procure a Pass to travel the Country, he carried a Bond for ¦3200 New York Currency, which was due him by Joseph _________, Joseph Wheeler and John Hubbill, in Lanesborough, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, for the Pretense of settling that debt, if stopped on his Way. In January 1777, having engaged upwards of ninety Men to cross the Sound to Long Island he was informed against by one of his own Recruits, who had been punished in the Regiment, and deserted therefrom; in Consequence where of he was pursued, and in his Flight had his Leg shattered by a Musket Ball, and, when taken was desperately wounded in the Thigh with a Bayonet and his Bond which served as a Pass destroyed before his Face, in which Situation, he was carried upwards of 100 Miles on Horseback, without any medical Assistance, exposed to Insult, and suffering by the inclemency of the Season: He was then thrown into Fairfield Prison, where in he continued for some Time in great Distress having no Surgeon to dress his wounds, being relieved only by the Friendship, Assistance and attention of Mr Alexander Clark, afterward Adjutant in the same Regiment with him, who dressed his Wounds, and otherwise saved him, which he never can sufficiently return: In April that year, the court was to meet, by whom he was to be tried for High Treason but knowing the Apprehensions and Prejudices of the Country against the Small Pox he procured Matter and, at the time of the Courts Meeting, broke out with _________ case, in consequence of Self Innoculation; and being sent to the Hospital, where he was ____________ the floor to prevent his escape he found Means to bribe one of the Nurses, who not only brought him a file to cut off his Irons; but amused the Centenal placed over him, while he effected it, whereby he made his escape, and joined the Troops, on the Expedition to Danbury, in April that Year, when he found all the Captains of the Regiment appointed during his Captivity; but on account of his recruiting Services, he was, by the Colonel, solemnly promised the first vacant Company. That in spring 1781, having got Leave of Absence in Order to visit his motherless Children, scattered after his Wife's Death; at Hempstead, he unfortunately was seized, by a Party of Rebels, who had come over the Sound, in Order to relieve a number of their Peoples who had fled to the Woods in Consequence of being defeated by Colonel Wormb, of the Hessian Yagers; but being captured in his uniform, and with his Commission, they could not proceed against him otherwise than as a British Officer; but they indulged their Malice against him, in a private capacity, by not only insulting him, before he came to the Place of Confinement, but tying him up, in Jail and cruelly whipping him with Hiccory Rods (and what other Instruments of Torture they could procure) upon his naked Body. While he was in this horrid situation, an Order was issued from Head Quarters that all Prisoners of war should be struck off the Returns, whose Stay in the Country could not be accounted for and by an obedience to this order, he was excluded in the Return of the 2nd Battn of General De Lancy's brigade which not only prevented him from receiving his Half Pay, but an Advantage was taken of his Captivity to make a Captain in the Regiment in his Absence and Room.

That at the Peace, he went to Nova Scotia, and settled in that Part of it now made into a separate Government, under the Name of New Brunswick, and when there he had a Deposition by Isaac Raymond of his Property lost on account of his Loyalty, sworn before Squire Symonds, of Sunbury and presented to Your office, His Authority Your Memorialist can now prove by the most unquestionable Evidence.

He lays these circumstances before your Honours, trusting, that in want of the Proof of Confiscation, etc. You will be pleased to consider his Claims in the most Favourable light; Keep them open for Proof as long as You can, and when obliged to decide thereon to grant him such Liquidations as his Service, as well as Property may deserve, and he as in Duty bound, will ever pray etc.

Nathan Barnum
Kentish Town
Decm 14 1788

N.B. Sir Roger Curtis and Col. Wightmans Certificates of recruiting Service are annexed.

Long Point Settlers; R. Robert Mutrie; Log Cabin Publishing; p.130, states he came into Ontario in 1792-3 with Richard Mead

Held lot #278 in Newark, Ontario, 1795-1800

On the 22 July 1793, at Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake) Nathan Barnum petitioned for land that was due him stating that he had brought with him from England, "farming utensils to a considerable amount". He petitioned for two lots in Toronto "viz. #16 in the first consession for himself, and #17 in the same consession for one of his sons and the remainder of the lands he may be entitled to, he wishes to take up in some part of the Province that remains unlocated, in Order to bring forward his children & to form a settlement".

Land Petitions in Ontario
The Petition of Nathan Barnum
His Excellency John Graves Simcoe, Esquire, Lieutenant Governor and Colonel Commanding His Majesty's Forces in the Province of Upper Canada &c. &c.
The Petition of Nathan Barnum Humbly Sheweth That your Petitioner is a reduced Subaltern Officer in Brigadier General De Lancey's Coprs and lately came from Britain with an Intention of settling in this Province, therefore prays your Excellency will please to grant him an allotment of Land according to the rank he bore in said Corps. Your Petitioner purchased in Britain, and brought with him Farming utensils to a considerable amount, al of which are now at Kingston, and being desirous of beginning to improve immediately would be glad to receive a Grant of Two Lots at Toronto viz. No. 16 in the first Concession for himself, and No. 17 in the same Concession for one of his Sons, and the remainder of the Lands he may be entitled to he wishes to take up in some part of the Province that remains unlocated, in Order to bring forward his Children &c. to form a settlement. When he has the pleasure of knowing your Excellency's sentiments in the matter, he will proceed in exploring the Country and could he be indulged in taking his Lands in a body, (clear of reserves), for the greater convenience of a Compact Improvement, he would be thankful, but submitting his Case entirely to your Excellency, hopes you"ll give him such indulgence as through your Goodness may seem meet, and your Petitioner in duty bound will ever pray Newark 22d July 1793

Ordered that he shall have a grant of Land that he is entitled to, but that part of his Petition for Land at Toronto must stand over with the rest of the Petitions

3rd June 1794 Nathan Barnum prays for Lands near Turkey Point and Patterson's Creek. Ordered that 200 acres only be granted the Petitioner at present-it not being expedient to make a Settlement in that District at this time.

The land in Toronto could not be granted at that time and no proof as yet has been found that he ever recieved it.

On the 3 June 1794 he was granted land at Turkey Point near Paterson Creek in Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada; "200 acres only be granted the Petitioner at present-it not being expedient to make a settlement in that District at this time".

In "The Correspondence of Lieut. Govenor John Graves Simcoe" we find the following:


The Heirs of Captain Barnum & Mr, Barnum. Walsingham, Concession l, Lots 10 and 11. Gores (in each of two, Lots 10 and 12. Concession 2, Lots 9, 11 and 12. Concession 3, Lots 10 and 12. Charlotteville, Concession 1 Lots 3 and 7. Gore, Lots 3, 7 and 8.

About 3500 acres.

Remark: Supposed to be for Mr. Barnum 3000 Acres
& for Mr. Barnum 500 Acres

Nathan had finally recieved his just dues, but it was short lived as he died 13 January 1795, in Long Point,Norfolk, Ontario, leaving no will. The estate was administered by his son Nathan Bunnell Barnum of Long Point and Thomas Watson of Newark. He left an estate totaling over 213 pounds.

The last 20 years of Nathan Barnum's life had been one of hardships and sorrow, but he came through it all with a fighting spirit and an iron will.

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