Dickinson Family Association
Volume XVII, Number 2
A message from the DFA Board
** 150th Annual Reunion to be Re-Scheduled **
2020 has proven to be a challenging year for the majority of everyone worldwide. Due to increasing health issues, travel restrictions, and economic concerns our 150th Annual Reunion will need to be rescheduled. Historic Deerfield and PVMA are temporarily closed; however we are coordinating with them to hold our reunion events in June 2021. In the interim, the DFA will continue to work on other projects. We apologize for any inconveniences and look forward to seeing you next year!
The Fate of Nathaniel Dickinson
An account of a Loyalist from Deerfield, MA:
Nathaniel, first son of Samuel Dickinson and Hannah (Field) Dickinson, was born on October 7, 1734 in Deerfield. Samuel owned a house on Old Main Street; sawmill and a large 300 AC farm in “The Bars” section of Deerfield amongst other lots in the area. Nathaniel lost his mother and a sister when he was only 5 years old. He later served as a solider during the French and Indian War and became closely aligned with Col. William Williams, who had moved to Pittsfield and married Nathaniel’s sister, Hannah, in 1765. Both Nt’l and his brother Samuel continued to acquire several properties in Deerfield, Conway, Shelburne, and Barnardstown. Nt’l continued to be a highly regarded, trusted citizen of Deerfield until the Revolutionary War period when he became a very outspoken Loyalist.
Nathaniel was connected with other “high tories”; i.e. Col. Israel Williams, nephew of Col. William Williams, who fled from Hatfield to Pittsfield during the Rev War. Nathaniel was mobbed, tied up to be hanged, and his life threatened; however he remained a Loyalist. After a trip to Pittsfield in Jan. 1775, he traveled to Boston where he was mobbed again three times and sent back to Deerfield. He was found with letters from Col. Williams to Gen. Gage; eventually being charged with treason. On Jan. 26th, Nt’l was in Hatfield when another mob drove him into Sunderland. The mob couldn’t find him, and he fled to Boston joining British Troops with Gen. Gage where he served active duty in the Battle of Bunker Hill. On March 17, 1776 along with Gen. Gage and others, Nt’l retreated to Halifax, NS. In Boston, Nova Scotia, and NYC he held key positions as a commissary, conductor of artillery, and lieutenant.
Meanwhile, back in Deerfield, the Committee of Correspondence confiscated his estate. It was initially auctioned on Dec. 17, 1776. Nathaniel’s brother, Samuel, was allowed to rent a portion of the farm; however this decision changed per a MA General Court session in 1779 and a subsequent Council Order issued on Feb. 29, 1780. The “Committee” was directed to manage the farm for purposes of pasturing cattle for the use of the Army. On Nov. 30th Samuel Dickinson, age 44, perished in Deerfield. He left no will; however his sister, Hannah, inherited his property.
Nathaniel continued to be “loyal to the crown” throughout the remainder of his life. By 1778, he was permanently banished from MA; however he continued to serve as a commissary in NYC where he met and married Hannah Cock on Jan. 27, 1781. After the British evacuation, they were granted land in St. John’s, N.B. and had two children. Within a few years, Nathaniel had purchased properties in several towns throughout New Brunswick and began to improve them. In 1786, he eventually returned to Boston and Deerfield for a short period; however he was unsuccessful in a trial to reclaim his lost property which was valued in excess of 1,000 lbs. NH Governor, John Wentworth amongst several other notable men, served as a witness for Nathaniel’s claim testifying that he was a “man of good character”.
His sister, Hannah, had retained possession of the majority her brothers’ property. She offered to split ownership; however Nt’l could not stay in Deerfield as he remained banished. Nt’l was allowed to sell some of his remaining property before his return to Canada and eventually was compensated for a portion of it. Hannah (Madame Williams) continued to rent out the farm and other properties in Deerfield until her death on May 21, 1821 in Pittsfield. Hannah was a strong willed woman who was respected locally for her wealth and influence. Several articles in the Berkshire Eagle have been written about her.
Nathaniel was a resident of Westfield, N.B. when he suddenly died in Gagetown, N.B. on May 6, 1788. Per N.B. probate records, his entire estate was inherited by his wife Hannah and their daughter Amelia. Their son, Samuel, perished in 1790 in St. John’s, N.B. Unfortunately very little is known about either Amelia or Samuel. Nathaniel selected his friend, Major Benjamin Woosley, and Hannah as executors of his will. Benjamin and Hannah married in 1789 in St. John’s Trinity Church; however they eventually resided in Bridgeport, CT and had four children. In essence, Nathaniel paid a high price for his allegiance; however everyone respected him for his persistence. Both Canadian/British online records and MA Archives documents were sourced for this article. We will focus on another Deerfield descendant’s story for our Summer Newsletter. In the interim, continue to stay safe, practice social distancing, and avoid mobs. Genealogical research can offer reprieve during these challenging times.
Ken Dickinson, President
2020 SCHOLARSHIP – LAST CALL
Application forms are available for the 2020 DFA scholarship. Applicants must be descendants of Nathaniel Dickinson and must be accepted to a four-year college or university. The deadline for submission is April 30, 2020. Full information on requirements and an application form may be found on our website. For additional information you may contact our scholarship chair, Lisa Butler, 12 Cove St. Noank, CT 06340, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Check out our NEW WEBSITE!
The new site is very interactive. Viewers can do searches, send us messages and feedback, order books, donate and even join the association online. Newsletters will be sent only by email to those members whose email addresses we have, so it’s more important than ever to keep us informed of any changes. We will still send newsletters in January and April by postal mail to those members who do not have email.
Web site: www.dickinsonfamilyassociation.org
Newsletter editor: Dale Williams