History of Redding > My Brother Sam is Dead > Analysis > Loyalists  

Loyalists of Redding, Connecticut (CT)

Redding is portrayed as a Tory town in my brother Sam is dead but town records contain very few references to the Loyalists of Redding during the Revolutionary period. They most certainly existed, and prior to the war openly disapproved of opposing the British Government, stating "a firm dependence on the Mother Country is essential to our political safety and happiness."

Many, if not all, of Redding's Tories were Anglican Church members. Anglicans were in a difficult position, their choice of religion was tied closely to the crown of England and a split from England left them with an uncertain future. Congregationalists did not have these ties, so for them it was a matter of right or wrong…did they agreed with the actions of England's leaders or disagree.

The confusion of the Tories/Loyalists is explained by Tim Meeker in Chapter 2,

"Ever since I could remember, all my life in fact, there had been discussions and arguments and debates about whether we ought to obey His Majesty's government or whether we should rebel. What kept confusing me about it was that the argument didn't have two sides the way an argument should, but about six sides."

It should be noted that many Anglicans were angered by the actions of England's leaders, but felt a Rebellious split from England was excessive and a diplomatic approach to the issues was in the best interest of all colonists involved.

Redding's Tories referred to themselves as the Redding Loyalist Association. The Redding Loyalist Association was led by the son of John Beach, Lazarus. In February of 1775, they and other Tories living in Fairfield County published an article in a New York publication proclaiming their loyalty to the King.

The Redding Loyalist's "resolutions" sent to James Rivington's Gazetteer, the government organ (paper) in New York City, proclaiming their allegiance to the Crown of England is as follows:

"Mr. Rivington: In the present critical situation of public affairs, we, the subscribers, Freeholders and Inhabitants of the town of Reading and the adjoining parts in the County of Fairfield, and Colony of Connecticut, think it is necessary (through the columns of your paper) to assure the public that we are open enemies to any change in the present happy Constitution, and highly disapprove of all measures in any degree calculated to promote confusion and disorder; for which purpose and in order to avoid the general censure, incurred by a great part of this colony from the mode of conduct here adopted for the purpose of opposing the British Government, we have entered into the following resolves and agreements, viz:

1st Resolved, that while we enjoy the privileges and immunities of the British Constitution we will render all due obedience to his most Gracious Majesty King George the Third, and that a firm dependence on the Mother Country is essential to our political safety and happiness.

2nd Resolved, that the privileges and immunities of this Constitution are yet (in a good degree) continued to all his Majesty's American subjects, except those who, we conceive, have justly forfeited their rights thereto.

3rd Resolved, that we supposed the Continental Congress was constituted for the purpose of restoring harmony between Great Britain and her colonies and removing the displeasure of his Majesty toward his American subjects, whereas on the contrary some of their resolutions appear to us immediately calculated to widen the present unhappy breach, counteract the first principles of civil society, and in a great degree abridge the privileges of their constituents.

4th Resolved, that notwithstanding we will in all circumstances conduct with prudence and moderation, we consider it an indispensable duty we owe to our King and Constitution, our Country and posterity, to defend, maintain and preserve at the risk of our lives and properties the prerogatives of the Crown, and the privileges of the subject from all attacks by any rebellious body of men, any Committees of Inspection, Correspondence, etc…

This document was signed by 141 Freeholders and Inhabitants of the town of Reading and the adjoining parts in the County of Fairfield but the signers were not revealed by the publisher, James Rivington.

Patriots' Reaction

Historian Charles Burr Todd wrote: "The effect of this document on the Patriots of Redding was like that of a red flag on a bull. They at once set to work to discover its signers and presently made public in a circular the entire list so far as they belonged to Redding. It was given out by the Committee of Observation under this preamble:"

"Whereas, there was a certain number of resolves published- and whereas said Resolves are injurious to the rights of this Colony, and breath a spirit of enmity and opposition to the rights and liberties of all America and are in direct opposition to the Association of the Continental Congress: and notwithstanding said resolutions were come into with a seeming view to secure the said signers some extraordinary privileges and immunities, yet either through negligence in the printer or upon design of the subscribers, said signed names are not made public - and now if there be any advantage in adopting those principles we are willing they should be entitled there to; and for which end and for the more effectual carrying into execution and Association we have taken some pains and by the assistance of him who carried said resolves to said Printer we have obtained the whole of said names.

The Committee of Observation added: "There are only 42 Freeholders in the above number. There are several minors, etc. that make the above number of 74 that belong to said Reading, and we hereby hold them up to the public as "adversaries" to the Association of said Congress."

Signed by the order of the Committee of Observation for said town of Reading. Ebenezer Couch, Chairman."

The entire list of Redding Loyalists was published by the Committee of Observation for all to see, publicly exposing the signers and placing them in great danger among their Patriotic neighbors. Not all of those who had signed were ardent adherents to the British cause, and the "pressure" applied by the Patriots in publishing the names of the signers caused some to realign themselves with the Patriot cause. Those remaining adamantly against the War of Independence fled to the safety of the British lines, while the majority simply fell silent opting for their trusted and beloved church leader, Rev. John Beach's policy of passive resistance in the Revolutionary period.

The Loyalists of Redding, Revolutionary Period

In 1775, a number of loyalists in town signed what was essentially a neutrality agreement, saying they would not bear arms on the side of the British and would not discourage enlistment in the American army. Rev. John Beach was one of these signers and perhaps it was concessions such as this agreement that allowed the Anglican community to survive in Redding, while other Anglican parishes in Connecticut dwindled and the ministers of some of them went either into exile or were jailed.

Redding Tories that chose not to heed the warnings and yield to the Patriots were fined and imprisoned. Minutes of the Connecticut's Governor and Council of Safety reveal the price paid by those parties:

"Lazarus Beach, Andrew Fairchild, Nathan Lee, Enos Lee, and Able Burr of Reading, in the county of Fairfield, being Tory convicts and sent by order of law to be confined in the town of Mansfield to prevent any mischievous practices of theirs, having made their escape and being taken up and remanded back to his Honor the Governor and this Council, to be dealt with."

"Resolved, and ordered by the Governor and his Council aforesaid, that the said Lazarus Beach (etc…) be committed to the keeper of the goal in Windham, within said prison to be safely kept until they come out thence by due order of the General Assembly, or the Governor and his Council of Safety, and that they pay cost of their being apprehended and being remanded, etc…, allowed to be 25 pounds, 3 shillings. Mittimus granted Jan. 28, 1777."

On Feb. 10, 1777, Beach, Burr, and Fairchild were ordered to "return to Mansfield and there abide under the direction of the Committee of Inspection of that town, while Enos and Nathan Lee were permitted to return home on their giving bonds for their good behavior."

Though he headed efforts to protect the safety of his church societies, one agreement Rev. John Beach refused to comply with was the omission of the King's prayer in his church services. This position brought upon him the active persecution of radical Patriots like the Sons of Liberty. In February of 1778, the Justices and Selectmen of Redding informed Rev. Beach that "in order that we may have peace and quietness at home" it was in his best interest to omit the prayer:

"Redding, Feb. 12th, 1778

Dear Sir: We have no disposition to restrain or limit you or others in matters of conscience. But understanding that you, in your Public Worship, still continue to pray that the King of Great Britain may be strengthened to vanquish and overcome all his enemies, which manner of praying must be thought to be a great insult upon the Laws, Authority, and People of this State, as you and others can but know that the King of England has put the People of these United States from under his protection, Declared the Rebels, and is now at open war with said States, and consequently we are his enemies.

Likewise you must have understood that the American States have declared themselves independent of any Foreign Power - Now Sir, in order that we may have peace and quietness at home among ourselves, we desire that for the future you would omit praying in Public that King George the third or any other foreign Prince, or Power, may vanquish, etc… the People of this Land.

Your compliance herewith may prevent you trouble.

We are, Rev. Sir, with due Respect, your obedient humble servants.

To the Revd. John Beach.
Signed: Lemuel Sanford, William Hawley - Justices
Hezekiah Sanford, Seth Sanford, Thaddeus Benedict, John Grey, William Heron - Selectmen of Redding"

Mr. Beach, however, continued to read the prayers for the King vowing that he would "do his duty, preach, and pray for the King till the rebels cut out his tongue."

Rev. John Beach, as a result, wasn't safe inside or outside of his churches. The Rev. Beach served not only Redding, but many of the surrounding towns as well. And it seems there's a story of rebels bursting into his services and threatening his life in every one. The Redding version is as follows:

"A squad of soldiers (hired, it is said, by Squire Stephen Betts for a gallon of French brandy to shoot Mr. Beach), gathered outside the open door of the church, and from one of them a bullet was fired which lodged in the ribs of the sounding board, a foot or more above the head of the venerable preacher.

As the congregation sprang to their feet in unfeigned consternation to rush from the church, he quieted them by saying: "don't be alarmed, brethren. Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" and then proceeded with his discourses as if nothing had happened."

The Rev. John Beach died in March of 1782, well before the peace treaty of September, 1783, but not as a result of a Rebel sword or bullet, simply old age. In many recorded histories, he is credited for maintaining a more tranquil community than others in Connecticut.

Redding Tories: Issac Drew, Ephraim DeForest, John, Joseph and Peter Lyon, and Daniel Read, were among those whose land was confiscated by the State courts. Many others were fined for refusing to perform military duty but as a whole the Loyalists of Redding were a less tortured one - before, during and after the Revolution in comparison to others in the state, where recriminations against British sympathizers took the form of wholesale jailing and even murder. Lazarus Beach, most certainly a thorn in the patriot's side in the early stages of the conflict, eventually fell into rank and remained in Redding after the Revolution serving as selectman from 1788-1789. Proof that extreme measures were not taken against the Loyalists of Redding unless the person had actually gone over to the enemy to take up arms or screen themselves under the protection of the Ministerial Army.

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The Setting of My Brother Sam is Dead, Redding Connecticut

Real-Life Characters portrayed in the My Brother Sam is Dead

Real-Life Events portrayed in My Brother Sam is Dead

Vocabulary used in My Brother Sam is Dead

Taverns of the Colonial Period

Camp Life and Orders Relating to Redding's Encampment

Loyalists (Tories) of Redding, CT

Cow-boys and Skinners

What is a Brown Bess?

Locations & Towns Mentioned in My Brother Sam is Dead

Colonial Money, Commissary Notes, Financing the War and Inflation Issues

Why is My Brother Sam is Dead Challenged?





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