Photo of Huron Robertson with his son (on right in plaid) Vilas Theron and his Daughter Harriet Pearl.
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Theo Vial Qunicy Patriot December 16, 1848 Page 2. BRYANT NEWCOMB Incidents in the life of Mr. Bryant Newcomb of Braintree, who died Nov 30th, age 87 years and 1 month. Mr. Newcomb was born at Braintree, Oct 25th, 1761. At the commencement of the Revolution he was in his fourteenth year, yet young as was he fully appreciated the right and justice of the Ameri- can cause. His youthful mind was inspired with an ardent and patriotic love for his country. He shared in the glory, and endured the sufferings, attendant open long and glorious struggle for the rights of man. Frequently as I listened to his recitals of the scenes of joy and woe, pleasure and pain, suffering and want, that he passed through in that period. His father, Capt Thomas Newcomb, was the grand- child of Francis Newcomb who came from Oxford County, England. He was a brave and worthy man. Reserved throughout the revolutionary struggle, first as Lieutenant, afterwards as Captain, of an artillery company. When the news came of the battle at Lexington it found him as it did General Putnam, at work upon his farm: like him also, he left his plough in the burrow and quickly hastened to the scene of action. As he was leaving his home, his wife asked him (it being dinner time) if he was not going to eat dinner first. No, said he, if we tarry a moment we know not whom it may cause to loose his dinner tomorrow. It was such self denying and patriotic examples as these the son had to imitate and to inspire his youthfulness. That they were not for- gotten the story will show. He accompanied his father and appointed in the time a gunner in the same company of which his father had command. While the British had the possession of Boston, Captain Newcomb was stationed first at Quincy, Green Hill, then at Nantucket. Afterwards he was engaged in several of the battles and skirmishes that occurred in Rhode Island and Connecticut. It was at the battle of Newport that the young gunner had the honor of discharging the first gun. This I have heard my grand-father share with a feeling of pride and satisfac- tion, and with such ????? and manner that the ways reminded me of the following lines of Goldsmith____ “Sat by his fire and talked the night away Went O’er his wounds or tales of sorrow done, shouldered his crutch and showed how fields were won.” In the autumn of 1780, the rigors and hardships of the camp, proved too much even for the robust and frail constitution of the youth. He was taken sick and sent home. This event produced an entire change in his future life. On his recovery to health he, together with Job Field, Lemuel Clark, Samuel Curtis, Edward Savil, Josiah Bass, Thomas Vinton, James Bass(colored,) Gregory Clark, Lewis Glov- er, all of Braintree shipped on board of a Privateer of twenty guns, called the Essex. This vessel belonged to Salem and sailed sometime in the month of April, 1781. Her officers consisted of Capt. John Heitheart, Lieutenant Thayer, 2d. Lieut. Lovell and 3d. Lieut. Pilsbury. Her crew numbered one hundred and thir- ty men and boys. They sailed in fine spirits and di- rected their course across the Atlantic with the inten- tion securing rich prizes along the coast of Eng- land and Ireland. On their way they captured a small English store ship, which, after supplying them- selves with as much articles of her cargo as they thought might be necessary for their present and future wants, they maintained and set off to one of the American ports. This ship was afterwards, I believe, retaken. The successful adventure elevated their hopes and they proceeded on with joy. But, alas they were soon doomed to disappointment, for scarcely had they reached the coast of Ireland before were ta- ken by his Majesties ship the Queen Charlotte, a frigate of thirty six guns. Capt. King commander. They where captured on the 4th day of June, 1781, Conveyed to Ireland and committed to prison. The high hopes of and bright visions with which they com- menced their adventurous voyage were now blasted. Instead of great bounties and luxuries which they fancied awaited them they now saw nothing before them but penury, suffering, and want. At the expira- tion of twelve days they were taken from the prison in Ireland, and once more conveyed on board of the frigate, put in irons and confined between decks to await the readiness of the Cartel or transport ship to carry them to England. Newcomb and Field were ironed together. They allowed to secrete about their persons a lot of the ship bread and two bottles of wine, which rendered their unpleasant quarters a lit- tle more tolerable. The Cartel took them to Ports- mouth. There they placed on board a Guard ship. Here they were kept some time and then tak- en to Plymouth and carried before the Court for xam- ination. They were condemned for piracy and high treason and committed to the Mill Prison. Previous to their condemnation they had been fre- quintly been importuned by the king’s officers to in the British service. All these importunities had been firmly resisted. The Judges many tried their powers of entreaty. The prisoners where committed into the Court two by two. Newcomb and Field stood before it. The usual questions having been gone through and the sentence and condemnation pronounced, when the Judge thus addressed them. “I am empowered to give advice to young men like you and to offer you in the name of his Majesty, Pardon on the condition that you enter our service. You shall be used well and shall receive the regular pay. Remember that you have taken up arms against your mother country and have been found guilty of one of the highest of crimes. I would entreat you to accept the condition and receive the pardon. I advise you as I would my own sons.” He then took out his watch and gave them ten minutes to decide. This last act was unne- ccessary. There was one question for them to decide, their determination was fixed, their minds were firm No inducements, nor entreaties, no promises nor bribes could swerve them from the path of duty. Notwith- standing they had already suffered ?????, and their future prospects looked dark and gloomy yet they preferred to endure it all, aye, even death itself rather than to sacrifice one jot, or tilt of their patriotism. There answer was- “Pardon us, no guardian, we will not enter into any sacrifice that will require us to act in opposition to our own country.” The emphatic answer at once changed the paternal tone and manner of the Judge to that of haughtiness and severity. He peremptorily ordered them away to the prison. It was about the first of September when they entered the prison and they remained there about seven months. Many were the suff- ing, privations and hardships they were called to en- dure. All communication from without was denied except through the officers of the prison. Their fare was coarse and hard. Yet their courage and hopes never failed them. The looked forward with the eye of faith for better times. They bore with patience their present sufferings in glorious anticipations of brighter days. No discipline or prison regulations could restrain them, however, from giving vent to their feelings on the reception of any favorable news from home: They secret and unknown friends without the prison, who would manage to give them a knowledge of passing events. One morning about the first of November, a large frigate was seen enter- ing the harbor. News from home said they, and everyone felt anxious to know what it might be “Cornwallis is taken,” and Newcomb. “Do you not see how sad and dejected the British officer look and appear, their faces are as long as your arm.” But no satisfactory answer to their questions could be obtain- ed. By and by an old boot was seen flying in the air. It fell within the walls. A dozen hands were imme- diately ready to receive it. In the boot was a paper, which revealed to them the glorious news that Corn- wallis, with his whole army was taken. This was too good news to let pass in silence. They gave three cheers and at the same time the American colors were posted which they had made out of red and white cloth. For this show of their rebel spirit the leaders were put under guard. Newcomb among the rest. The flag was quickly pulled down, or worse consequences would have followed. Many and carious were the ways and means resort- ed to while away the tedious hours of confine- ment. Some of them quite laudable and praiseworthy. The Yankee school master was there and all who could furnish half a penny a day as tuition fee could enjoy the privelege of his school. The Methodist preacher was there, who officiated regularly every Sunday. These schools and meetings served to make their situation less irksom by keeping the mind employed upon useful topics. I have often heard my Grandfather speak of the satisfaction and pleasure they aforded him. Newcomb, Field, and Savil had written a letter to John Adams, who was at the time in Amsterdam, acquainting him of their situation and requesting his intercession in their behalf. The result of this com- munication was made to them as follows - One morning in March, 1782, Henry Laurens was ad- mitted into the prison in company with one of the of- ficers. This Mr. Laurens succeeded John Hancock as president of the Continental Congress and was af- terwards chosen by Congress, to go to Holland and so- licit a loan and to negotiate a treaty with the United Netherlands. On his passage he was captured by a British vessel, and sent to England. He was com- mitted to the Tower as a state prisoner on the charge of high reason. He was kept in the Tower about 18 months, and from which he had been but was recently liberated when he visited the Mill prison. The pris- oners all gathered around him. He made a short speech, full of sympathy and consolation. At the close of which he called for Newcomb, Field and Sa- vil and informed them that Mr. Adams had received their letters, and had make arrangements for their lib- eration, and in a few days they would hear from him direct. In about three weeks from that time the happy day arrived. They received the expected letter from Mr. Adams, and with it five guineas each. They went to France in a Cartel. and traveled several hundred miles in that country. It was some months before they succeeded in getting a passage home. They shipped on board of a brig bound to Philadelphia. On entering the Delaware bay, word was sent off from the shore that the river was blocked by the enemy. The brig was run ashore, the cargo immediately dis- charged and carried into the woods. Shortly after an English ship was in sight, and discharged a vol- ley of hot shot one of which set the brig on fire and she was burnt. Having succeeded in getting their wages, they left for home, walking all the way when they arrived safely on the 16th of October, 1872. Such are some of the most prominent events that characterized his early life. He was now twenty-one years old, without any trade or profession, and not worth the value of a dollar. But his was a mind not to yield to despondency. The same fortitude now urged him on, which had already sustained him through his many trials. He served as an apprentice for six months, with his brother and then established himself in the shoe business. Having manufactured several pairs, he took them upon his back and walk- ed to Boston, sold them, bought his stock and return- ed. This he continued to do until he was able to purchase a horse, then went on horseback with panniers. In a short time he was able to get a wag- on, or rather an apology for one, for it consisted only of the wheels with boards nailed upon the axels. In a few years however he succeeded in procuring one, more substantial and better finished. He kept his stand for the sale of his shoes near Dock Square and would generally sell his load in one day. He contin- ued in this business about twenty years. He then entered into the stone business and was engaged in that about the same length of time. He was cue of the first commence in the stone business, which has proved such a source of income and profit to many. He married at the age of twenty-two years, Miss Jane Glover, with whom he lived sixty-two years. She having died four years ago. By this union he became the father of nine children, eight of who, are still living and have families, so that his descen- dants in children, grand-children, great-grand-chil- dren and great-great-grand-children, will number up- wards of 150. Mr. Newcomb had many excellent traits of charac- rer. His home was a happy home. As a husband he was kind and good, as a father fond and affection- ate-as a neighbor, generous and benevolent. As a business man he possessed every requisite virture, which together with his economical frugal and tem- peratehabits, enabled him to accumulate quite a handsome fortune. He received a pension from the government for many years. This was a great source of gratification and pleasure to him. He would often speak of his pension money as the price of his youthful labor in his county’s cause, and as he thought of the past, and then contemplated upon the present prosperous and happy condition of his country, it would reani- mate his whole soul with joy and thanksgiving. His work is finished. He has gone, full of years, to his final rest. And we can well say with the poet-- Why mourn ye that our aged friend is dead? Ye are not sad to see this gathered grain. Nor when their mellow fruit the orchards east, Nor when the yellow woods shake down the ri- pined mast. Ye sigh not when the sun his course fulfilled His glorious course rejoicing earth and sky, In the soft evening when the winds are chilled, Thinks where his islands of refreshment lie, And leaves the smile of his departure spread, O’er the warm colored heaven and ruddy mountain tread. Why weep ye them for him who having ran. The bound of mans appointed years, at last Life’s blessings all enjoyed, life’s labor done, Serenely to his final rest has passed, While the soft memory of his virtues, yet Lingers like twilight hues when the bright sun is set. ONE OF THE DECENDANTS. TRANSCIBED FROM A SCANNED COPY BY: THEO DORA VIAL April 1, 2005 NOTE TO THE READER: WRITTEN THE SAME AS IT WAS IN THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE. THERE WERE ONLY A FEW WORDS THAT COULD NOT BE READ. THAT IS WHERE YOU WILL SEE THIS, “???” THEO DORA VIAL
Mar 01, 2007 · posted to the surname Newcomb