RJO’s Ancestors in American Colonial Wars, 1637–1763
On the obscure strife where men died by tens or by scores hung questions of as deep import for posterity as on those mighty contests of national adolescence where carnage is reckoned by thousands.
This is one of a series of genealogical pages on my ancestors who served in early American wars, including the Pequot War (1637–1638), King Philip’s War (1675–1676), King William’s War (1689–1698), Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713), Dummer’s War (1723–1726) and King George’s War (1744–1745), the French and Indian War (1754–1763), the American Revolution (1775–1781), and Shays’ Rebellion (1786–1787). Ancestors who belonged to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts (1637– ) are also noted, and an additonal page presents a special essay on Lexington and Concord and the Nineteenth of April.
King William’s War (1689–1698)
King William’s War was the American phase of the War of the League of Augsburg in Europe, the first of a series of Europen conflicts that echoed across the distant American frontier for the better part of a century. The Dutch king, William of Orange, and Mary, the daughter of King James II of England, both of them Protestants, assumed the throne of England, Scotland, and Ireland in 1689 as King William III and Queen Mary II. War with Louis XIV and Catholic France soon followed, in which William formed a Protestant alliance with the Dutch and with several German states. The conflict spread to North America where English and French competition for the fur trade in the Saint Lawrence Valley and Hudson’s Bay led to the outbreak of hostilities. Count Frontenac, the French governor, ordered French forces and their Kanawake and Abenaki allies to raid English border settlements in New York and New England, establishing a pattern that would be repeated many times for the next seventy-five years. In response to the French raids, New England forces were sent north to capture or harrass French settlements. The Treaty of Ryswick (1697) restored all captured territories. Peckham’s The Colonial Wars: 1689–1762 is an excellent survey of King William’s War and all the subsequent “French and Indian Wars.”
JAMES BLOOD (say 1647–13 Sep 1692) — 7G Grandfather
James, son of Richard Blood, was killed by Indians at Groton, Massachusetts, 13 September 1692. This date appears in Shattuck  as “Oct. 13, 1692” but Shattuck’s errata  corrects it to 13 September. Green quotes the 13 October date from Shattuck in one place  while questioning it (“Possibly there is an error in regard to the time”), but gives the 13 September date elsewhere .
JERATHMEEL BOWERS (2 May 1650–23 Apr 1724) — 9G Grandfather
“David Jeffries, writing from Boston, September 16, 1692, to Lieutenant-Governor John Usher, says:— ‘·· ye 14th Inst at night a Post came to towne fro̅ Major Hincksman, wch gave an acctt of about 80 or 100 Indians, yt our scouts had made discovery of in ye night siting p̷ theire fires hammering of slugs for theire gunns our scouts was soe neare them yt they could see ye Indians & heare them talke, yesterday morning we had news yt ye Indians had killd two men at Groton Jera: Bowers is gone out wth about 100 men after them…’” [Green 63, 80]. Jerathmeel Bowers had later service in Queen Anne’s War as well.
STEPHEN HOLDEN (1660–Mar 1718/9) — 8G Grandfather
JOHN HOLDEN (1684–27 Dec 1753) — 7G Grandfather
Green [81–82] provides the following account of the capture of Stephen Holden and two of his sons in June 1697 and of their eventual release:
Cotton Mather says that one man was killed at Groton, in the year 1697, and another, with two children, carried into captivity. (Magnalia, Book VII. page 91.) He does not give the date clearly, but inferentially it is June. The prisoner was Stephen Holden, who was captured, with his two oldest sons, John and Stephen, Jr. John was released in January, 1699, at which time the father and the other boy were yet remaining in the hands of the savages. It was not long, however, before they too were freed; for, in the following June, the House of Representatives voted three pounds and twelve shillings for the expenses that had been incurred in bringing them back.
Holden’s petition to the General Court to be reimbursed for buying his own freedom is as follows:—
To The Honored & great Assembly now setting in Boston The humble petition and Request of Stephen Holden of Groton
Honored Srs It having pleased the Almighty God to order it that myselfe & my two biggest sons tho̅ small were taken captiues by the Indian enemyes from our towne of Groton and being with the Esterne enemy & my 2 sons about one year & ten moneth when tho̅ it was my portion to escape with my life thro Gods mercy beyound what I did expect or look for & I think fared better than some other English yett great hardship and difficultyes I underwent. but being very desirous with one of my sons that was there to gitt home If it might be fore the English vessells came I was necessitated to give my promise to my Indian Pilates whom I satisfyed att Richmans Islands by English that I borrowed of there thre pound & twelue shillings If I might haue ye boldnesse I would humbly craue That It might be payd out of Publiq stock I should take it thankfully att your hands Thus with my thankefulnesse to God that both myselfe & both my children he hath graisosly returned to our home againe commend your honours and concerments into ye hands & wishing ye Presence & benidiction of ye soveraine God I take Leaue & subscribe myself your humble servant & suppliant
Groton May 27th 1699
June 6th. 1699 once read. & Voted by the house of Representatives that the abovesd. Petic̅oner Stephen Holden of Grotton be paied out of the publick Trear̅y Three pounds & twelve shillings money
Sent up for Concurrence,
Jams. Converse Speaker
19. July, 99. Read and past in Councel
Isa. Addington Secry
[Massachusetts Archives, LXX. 400]
Among the names of the captives received on board the Province Gally, January 17, 1698–9, at Casco Bay, were “John Houlding of Grotten” and “Tamasin Rouce of Grotten.” It is recorded, a week later, that “Steven Houlding of Grotten” and “Steven Houlding Junr of ditto” are “yet in the Indian hands.” (Archives, LXX. 398, 399.)
- Green, Samuel Abbott. 1883. Groton During the Indian Wars. Groton, Massachusetts: Published by the author.
- Mather, Cotton. 1702. Magnalia Christi Americana. London.
- Peckham, Howard H. 1964. The Colonial Wars: 1689–1762. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Shattuck, Lemuel. 1855. Memorials of the Descendants of William Shattuck. Boston: Dutton and Wentworth.
© RJO 1995–2014