Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Canadian Records of Claim Asserted by Joshua Pell, Formerly of Pelham Manor, A Loyalist Who Fought for the British in the Revolutionary War

Following the close of the Revolutionary War, the "Commissioners of Forfeitures in the Southern District of New York State" conducted sale proceedings involving lands of those who were not loyal to the Patriot cause during the War. On August 23, 1784, the Commissioners of Forfeitures sold a 146-acre farm located in the Manor of Pelham that once had belonged to Loyalist Joshua Pell, Jr. Pell served as an officer in the Bugoyne campaigns during the War. (To read his diary, see October 2, 2006: The Revolutionary War Diary of Loyalist Joshua Pell, Jr. of the Manor of Pelham.)

Like so many Loyalists after the Revolutionary War, Pell fled to Ontario where he was among the pioneers who settled the area. Interestingly, after the War many such pioneers filed claims on account of services rendered during the Revolutionary War. Such claims were investigated by Special Commissioners appointed by the British Parliament, two of whom were sent to Canada (Col. Thomas Dundas and Mr. Jeremy Pemberton). These Commissioners met personally with claimants and collected evidence in support of their claims. The evidence was summarized in a number of manuscripts. Oddly, these manuscripts subsequently made their way to the National Archives in the United States.

Those papers were copied and printed in the early 20th century. Those within the "Second Report of the Bureau of Archives" published in 1905 included information about claims submitted by Joshua Pell, Jr. in connection with the confiscation of his farm in the Manor of Pelham at the close of the War. The information is transcribed below.

"462. Case of JOSHUA PELL, late of Pelham Manor, N. York, Esq.

Claimant Sworn Saith:

He is a native of New York. At Commencement of the troubles tried all in his Power to persuade the Rebels they were wrong in opposing Governmt.

Declared his sentiments & endeavoured to Convince people they were wrong, & had thereby made himself obnoxious. Before the Troubles was 1st Lieut. to the Militia of Pelham & New Rochell & when Americans took Arms his Compy. almost to a man chose him Capt. but he declined serving in the Cause of Rebel- [illegible] [Page 499 / Page 500]

Remd. in New York Province & made excursions to Collect Informn. which mt. be useful to Brit. Army. Always avowed his sentiments & declared against the Americans taking up Arms. Joined the Brit. Troops soon after they landed, & went to get information voluntarily. Went up the Sound to gain Intelligence. Remained in the Brit. Lines when Army Landed in Potts Neck, & during that Campaign acted as a guide to ye Army.

Commanded a Compy. of City Militia in New York. Remd. in New York till Evacuation & came to this Prov. & has continued here since.

Has recd. £200 from Govnt. in Spring 1777. He believes a reward for services.

Produces Certificates from Daid [sic] Mathews, late Mayor of N. York to his honesty & unshaken Loyalty & to his sufferings in the Cause. Produces an order from Govr. Tryon dated 2nd Novr., 1776, to embody the Militia at White Plains.

Property. -- 200 acres in Manor of Pelham in Co. of West Chester, with 3 Dwelling houses, 2 orchards & Improvmts. This he possessed under Father's Will. Father died 2 yrs. before Claimt. left N. York. His father remained at New York, not in his sound senses. Will made before the Troubles.


Farm consisted of 3 houses & 20 orchards, Plough Fields & mowing ground, all enclosed with stone Walls. 20 acres soft Meadow, 40 acres Wood Land, Convenient for Trade. Thinks it would have sold at £15 pr. acre New Y. Cury at a a Vendue.

This farm has been sold lately under Confiscation since the Peace. Wright in Possession, who bought it of the first Purchase, Guyon Greevy, as Claimt. has heard.

20 Lots in the suburbs of New York, with a Brick house, Barns & Buildings, purchased of James Delancey after 1778 in Considn. of £2,975 N.Y. Cury. Bought a greater number of Lots and sold off all but 20 lots at £100 N.Y. Cury. a Lot, at price he purchased near 600.

Claimant laid out considerable sums in Improvts. purchased in the War, thinking we shd. carry the Day--paid the money--Delancey warranted, tho' not so fully as Claimt. wished.

The States have Confiscated this before the Peace & have sold it since the Peace, as the Property of Delancey.

Claimt. gave a fair price. Wd. not have sold it for that sum. Claimant's name not in the Act of Confiscn.

Claimt. produces Copy of Presentment by Grand Jury of West Chester Co. agst. Claimt. for adhering to the Enemies of the State at the General Session of Peace, 7th Nov., 1780.


Indors'd Judgment entered 26th Octr., 1782.

When he was going away he had put Barls on Board Sloop, when the American Troops came down under Col on purpose against him as he understood. Claimt. made escape at the Back Door. The troops then took ye Barls of [Page 500 / Page 501]

Prov. Produces an acct. signed by Dier Troop certifying his having taken provs. from the Claimt. for use of Amer. Army.

54 Barrels of Pork at £6.10, Amt. . . . . £351.0.0
319 Pine Planks at 2/6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35.17.9
132 Boards, 1/9 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.11.0
15 Leads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7.10
Sail & Gib. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.0.0
[TOTAL. . . . . . . . . . . . . .] N.Y. Cury. £413.16.7

This Certificate apprs. by affirm. of Henry Pell to have been procured from Col. Dier Troop when the Property was seized by him.

Claimt. saith these Prices are under the usual Price, but Claimt. claims now acc. to the Price in the Certificate & accord to that Quantity.

A mare taken by the Rebels, at what time Claimt. does not recollect, Val. 25.

150 Bushels of Wheat taken a yr. afterwards by a party of Rebels just escaped. Whr. they came on purpose cannot say. Val. 110 N.Y.C.

A Sloop 30 Tuns Burthn. which Claimt. kept for fetching


wood, burnt more than a year after he left his house. He made Profit by Employg. her in fetching wood. Burnt in Creek by the Americans. Val., 150 N.Y. Cur.

4 horses, 2 of them taken when the wheat was, other two taken from his son & wife by a party of Rebel Troops. Val., 25 each, 80.0.

A Schooner taken from Sound in 1782 by an American Boat in Hell Gate. Claimt. paid for Ransom, £160 N.Y.C.

States Dam. by Brit & Hess. Troops in 1776 & Stock, &c., furnished to them.

Claimt. never got anything from Govnt. but the £200. Cannot say what that £200 was for.

Damages to house, &c., £400 N.Y.C.

Converted into Barracks for Hess. Applied to Barrack Master but ed. get nothing.

As to 20 Tons of Hay & Cows, Ox, &c., Claimt. wavies his Claim now which Claimt., however, saith were taken by the Brit. Troops.

This house in New York had been Conveyed by Jekel Archer to Claimt. in discharg. of Debt & Claimt. had mortged. for £200 which saved it from Confiscation. Claimt. now Claims only for Dam. done. Produces affidavit by 3 persons who state the Damage 200 Stable & 200 to House.

In the yr. 1781 part of the Brit. Troops encamped & did


him Damage on his farm, hired of Delancey, to amount of 500 N.Y.C.

Is told he shd. have applied to Quarter Master. Claimt. submits Dam. to anr. farm rented from Heron, by an encampment [Page 501 / Page 502] of Brit. Troops, to amt. of £200. Is told as above & submits Certificate is produced, 27th Novr., 1783, from Notary Public, stating that Claimt. swore to his Loss to the Val. of 1,393.4. N. York Cury., by the Hess. & Brit. Troops & that he had recd. from Govnt. only £200 Str., which he looked upon as payment for Loss of Shop goods & Cloathing taken by the Hessians, not included in the above charges.



Claimt.'s Character in Loyalty established. In 1774 sided with the Loyalists openly. Always avowed his sentiments. Uniformly Loyal. Employed as a guide & was of Signal service to the Brit. Army.

Knew he was settled on a farm in Pelham Manor, such Land worth from £15 to 20 pr. acre, N.Y. Cury.

Bels. this Propy. is all lost."

Source: Fraser, Alexander, ed., Second Reort of the Bureau of Archives for the Province of Ontario by Alexander Fraser, Provincial Archivist, pp. 499-502 (Ontario, Canada: The Legislative Assembly of Ontario 1904).

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