More on Revolutionary War Patriot Philip Pell, Jr. of the Manor of Pelham
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Philip Pell is one of the most illustrious citizens ever to have lived in Pelham. Born July 7, 1753, he was the eldest son of Philip and Gloriana (Treadwell / aka Tredwell) Pell. He served as Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Continental Army (and, some have claimed, for a time, as Acting Judge Advocate General) during the Revolutionary War. He rode triumphantly with George Washington into Manhattan on Evacuation Day at the close of the War. He served as a Delegate to the Continental Congress, a member of the New York State Assembly, a Regent of the University of the State of New York, and Surrogate of Westchester County.
Philip Pell, Jr. lived in a home that he built near today's Colonial Avenue (the old Boston Post Road) and today's Cliff Avenue. The 1750 date stone from his home that no longer stands is embedded in the side of a monument to him standing next to today's Pelham Memorial High School.
There is an important summary of Philip Pell Jr.'s life prepared by David Osborn, Site Manager of St. Paul's Church National Historic Site where Philip Pell is buried with family members. Released in July 2013, the summary concluded as follows:
"He died May 1, 1811, at age 57, followed by interment in the St. Paul's cemetery, near his brother and father, who had also served the cause of independenc. In a fitting postscript to his Revolutionary odyssey, Pell's wartime friend the Marquis de Lafayette paid his respects at the marble stone behind St. Paul's as part of an 1824 commemorative tour of American Revolution sites."
Source: Osborn, David, Philip Pell: Revolutionary War Leader, Last Member of the Continental Congress, National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior St. Paul's Church National Historic Site (visited Feb. 14, 2016).
Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog attempts to add to the body of research regarding Philip Pell, Jr. by providing images of a variety of Revolutionary War documents written in his hand. In each instance I have provided a citation and link to the source, followed by a transcription of the handwritten text of the page. Where necessary, I have added some commentary to provide context for the documents.
Colonel John Laurence, to whom Philip Pell wrote this letter dated May 17, 1777, served as Judge Advocate General and may be best known for his examination on September 23, 1780 of British Major John André as an exposed spy. The Continental Army hanged André as a spy on October 2, 1780 for assisting Benedict Arnold's attempted surrender of the fort at West Point to the British.
"Peekskill 17th May 1777
The Honorable Brigadier General McDougall has been pleased to appoint me a Deputy Judge Advocate in this department; and he is himself dubious of the pay I am entitled to, and also of the Band I am to sustain, beg you'll be kind enough to inform me as soon as may be convenient, and you'll oblige
your very Humble Servant
Philip Pell Junr.
N.B. please to direct your
letter to be left with Major Platt
at this place -- "
The single-page letter from Philip Pell, Jr. to Col. John Laurence, Judge Advocate General, dated May 17, 1777 was folded and apparently sealed with a wax impression. On the outside of the folded letter (i.e., the back of the page) is written the address:
John Lawrence Esq.
Judge Advocate General
Morris Town --"
Required to Access Via this Link). NOTE: Click on Image to Enlarge.
On February 3, 1778 the Continental Congress enacted a congressional resolve that read: "Resolved, That all officers of the army shall take and subscribe the foregoing oath or affirmation before the commander in chief, or any major general or brigadier general". Journal of the Continental Congress, Vol. X, p. 115.
On May 9, 1778, Deputy Judge Advocate General Col. Philip Pell, Jr. discharged his obligation to execute such an "oath or affirmation." It reads as follows:
"I do hereby certify that Philip Pell Esq. Deputy Judge Advocate in the Service of the United States, in the Northern Department. -----
did take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America, as prescribed by a Resolve of Congress, bearing the date the 3d of February, 1778.
In Witness whereof, I have signed and delivered the present Certificate.
Fish Kill May 9th 1778
As Deputy Judge Advocate General, of course, Philip Pell Jr.'s routine included responsibilities for dealing with General Court Martials -- of which there were many. There were important matters, but some were routine, though interesting. One such General Court Martial involved Amos Rose who had an altercation with an officer and raised his musket to fire just as a witness knocked it aside and saved the officer's life. Philip Pell, Jr.'s official record of the proceeding details what happened, how the proceedings were conducted, and the results of the proceeding. The following three pages constitute the record of those proceedings.
"Lieutenant Brewster -- that the prisoner was in the house & seem'd to be a little insulting then -- that afterwards he behaved very rudely to Capt. Johnson the Landlord of the house by attempting to sit down to table before Capt. Johnson himself, upon which Capt. Johnson turn'd him out doors, the prisoner try'd to break in again, Lt. Brewster went out to him -- The Witness did not go out, but soon heard the Report of a gun at the door, then went out, & the prisoner seem'd to be in a violent rage and attempting to resist Lt. Brewster -- that the prisoner continued to behave exceedingly bad till he was bound -- that he appeared to be but a little in drink -- that the stick of Lt. Brewster defended himself with, was a small piece of pine --
Charles Clarke being sworn -- was behind the house when he heard the gun fired, immediately came up & that Lt. Brewster had hold of the Prisoner and struck him with a small pine stick -- the Lt. ordered the Witness to go for a file of men which he did -- as the guard was taking the prisoner along the Prisoner said 'it was pretty well for a Rhode Island man and that he shot at him to kill him, that he was a little man and that he wou'd not be imposed upon by a little man -- that the prisoner did not appear to be in drink --
Samuel Halley being sworn -- was at the guard house while the prisoner was under guard, that he heard the prisoner say 'that he meant to kill him' -- that he appeared rational & as if he knew what he said --
Prisoner in his Defence says he was struck twice in the house by which he was stunn'd and did not know what he did after and that he was also in drink at the time -- that he remembred [sic] nothing of what he had done -- that he has been in the service a good while and always behaved well and"
"And never was confined or struck by an officer before --
The Court adjudges the Prisoner guilty; and upon considering the heinous and aggravated nature of his Crime sentences him to suffer the pain of Death --
A true Copy from the original copied by me Philip Pell Junr. Dpty. Judge Adv.
Head Quar Peeks Skill July 22n 1777
the Judgement of the Court Martial against Amos Rose is Approved by & said Amos Rose is Resolved to be Shot to death [struck out and thus illegible]
Israel Putnam M G --"
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