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The Thomas Swords Family


Original Sources

Van Wyck Papers:
       A compilation of documents pertaining to Mary Swords' claims to the Crown for compensation for her losses, received from Peter Van Wyck, descendent of Elizabeth Swords Webb, Thomas' niece.

Reference 3: Two pages, undated. "A Schedule of the Real and Personal Estate of the Late Thos. Swords, dec'd.

Reference 4: One page, undated. A receipt from Robert Hoakesley, Waggon Master General, for Oats, Straw hay, Forage, Oxen and a Car.

Dated Document 1: Two pages, November 11, 1783, London. A summary of the events leading to Mary's claims.

Dated Document 2: Three pages, March, 1?84, Chelsea, England. A further petition submitted to the Commissioners

Dated Document 3: Two pages, April 1, 1786, Chelsea, England. A letter from Mary, presumably to the Commissioners, recounting further grievances.

Dated Document 5: One page, August 23, 1788. Esekial Ensign's testimony.

Dated Document 7: One page, October 7, 1788. Pat M. Davitt's testimony.

Dated Document 8: Two pages, October 9, 1788. Elizabeth Phillips' testimony.

Dated Document 9: Two pages, October 16, 1788. William Pemberton's testimony..

Dated Document 10: Four pages, November 26, 1788, Chelsea, England. Further claims by Mary Swords.

Dated Document 11: Four pages, November 12, 1789. A formal statement on the demand of Mary Swords.

Date Doubtful: One page, perhaps July 5, 1786. Mary's letter requesting leave of absence from England, of the Commissioners, written upon her arrival in Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

Undated Document 13: One page. Eben Jessup's testimony.

Undated Document 14: Three pages. Yet another description of Mary's situation and demands.

Undated Document 15: One page. Mary's demand for compensation for the value of her son's lost baggage.

Public Record Office Papers:
       Documents collected in London by Gerard Swords; includes information on Thomas' military experience and Mary's claims.

#53 P.R.O. One page, January 10, 1756. Letter from General Barrington of the War office describing the raison d'etre and itinerary of a regiment soon to be formed.

#55 P.R.O. One page, undated. A list of members of the fifty-fifth Regiment of Foot, Ireland, among them Thomas Swords.

#56 P.R.O. One page. Mary's list of "things plundered from me by the Rebels." ca. Nov. 1788

#57 P.R.O. Two pages, November 4, 1783. Mary Swords' petition to the Lands Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury.

#61 P.R.O. Four pages, undated. A complete listing of Mary's claims to that time; ca. 1784?

#62 P.R.O. Five pages, April 6, 1785, London. "Evidence on the foregoing memorial of Mary Swords", including testimonies of Edward Jessup and Henry Monroe.

#s 73-74 P.R.O. Two pages, October 17, 1763, Fort George. Military correspondence between Lieutenant Thomas Swords and Sir Jeffrey Amherst.

Written Correspondence of the Swords family:
"Transatlantic Correspondence"

Letter 1- April 2, 1759, Albany New York, from Lieutenant Thomas Swords to his father Richard Swords in Maryborough, Ireland.

Letter 2- February 8, 1764, Fort George, New York, from Lieut. T. Swords to his father.

Letter 3- May 11, 1765, London, from T. Swords to his father.

Letter 4- Late summer or early autumn, 1765, London, from Richard Swords Jr. to his father.

Letter 5- January 10, 1766, (Albany?) from T. Swords to his brother Richard Swords Jr. (Dick).

Later Webb letters: Letter 7- August 30, 1841, Islington, England, from Thomas' nephew Joseph Dudley Webb to James Swords in New York City.

Letter 10- January 4, 1842, Islington, from Jos. D. Webb to James Swords.

Letter 11- August 24, 1842, Islington, from Jos. D. Webb to James Swords.


1. The "Family Tree" printed by Thomas and James Swords, gives the birth and some death dates of the brothers' immediate family.

2. "The Note" written by James, Swords describing his father and mother is a most valuable document for research purposes. The milestones of the family's experience as Loyalists are mentioned.

3. Two offset copies of pages of the "New York Genealogical and Biographical Record." Evidently prepared from "The Note," these documents supplement James' statement in only a few places.

4. Letter from John Sullivan, Brigadier General, to Colonel Dayton, May 1776.

5. The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut in August, 1776, give the minutes of council meetings and decisions made to remove certain prisoners to Preston, among them Thomas Swords.

6. Thomas Swords' humble plea to Governor Trumbull, written from Preston, Conn. on November 13, 1776. A particularly interesting document because it reveals Thomas' subjective feelings, rather than dates and circumstances.

7. The Public Records of the State of Connecticut of November 15, 1776, records a vote that three prisoners, among them Thomas Swords, be allowed to return to Albany, and there be released or not on parole, as the committee would decide.

8. An offset page, copied from the Archives New York Historical Society Book form, of Thomas Swords' letter to General Horatio Gates requesting permission to go to Canada - October 19, 1777.

9. A land grant verifying that Thomas Jr. and James Swords settled in Shelburne. Dated 1784, it declares each brother to have been granted 250 acres on town lots fifty nine and sixty.

10. Two four page copies of works prepared for a pamphlet to describe Trinity Church and her congregation. Though written in flowery prose, the documents summarize effectively the experiences of Thomas and James in America. Unfortunately they fail to describe their four years in Nova Scotia.

11. A lands committee document, Xeroxed from the Land Papers of Captain Andrew Barclay, 1784, is itself undated and the location of the committee unknown. Expressing regret that His Majesty does not permit more than 120 acres of land to be given to any one family as a compensation, the committee recommends that a Warrant of Survey be issued so that Mary may obtain 6,250 acres to be divided among her and her children.

Secondary Sources:

1. Bird, Harrison, March to Saratoga
    Oxford University Press, New York. 1963
Written in narrative style, the book describes in detail the fate of General Burgoyne and his army, from January to December, 1777. Bird's account effectively conveys the atmosphere of life during the Revolution while including useful facts concerning the progression of the Campaign.

2. Bradley, A. G., Colonial Americans in Exile
    E. P. Dutton & Co., New York. 1901
Depicting the problems, homesickness, resentment and relief experienced by Loyalists who fled the Colonies for Nova Scotia, Great Britain and the West Indies and Bahamas, Colonial Americans in Exile is well written and fascinating. Bradley balances effective descriptions with unusual factual information in an invaluable research source to be read cover to cover.

3. Brown, Wallace, The Good Americans
    William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York. 1969
In a concise and informative book, Canadian historian Wallace Brown traces the Loyalists from the events leading to the emergence of the party, to representative motives of individuals, to the "ill managed war," to life in exile, and finally to the readmission of banished Tories. Tackling a voluminous topic, the author condenses the Tory experience to a well written and cohesive work.

4. Callahan, North, Royal Raiders
Bobbs-Merrill Company, New York. 1963
Callahan's novel is perhaps less useful than The Good Americans, in that it cannot be employed for reference purposes on a single chapter or page basis. Including more anecdotal than factual information, the author invites the ambitious researcher to read the entire work, and to be rewarded with a rich picture of the Loyalist experience.

5. Crary, Catherine S. The Price of Loyalty
McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York. 1973
In a 452 page volume, Catherine Crary has organized numerous letters, entries in journals, newspaper articles and announcements into categories such as "Raids, Retaliation and Refuge." Crary then presents the background of each letter, entry, etc. The result is a fascinating and cohesive compilation of original sources. The Loyalist experience, points out the author, cannot be generalized, as motives and situations of individuals differed radically. In combination with Wallace Brown's work, The Price of Loyalty covers the full extent of available information on Loyalists. Sensational!

6. Flick, Alexander Clarence, Loyalism in New York During the American Revolution
Columbia University Press, New York. 1901
If the reader can brave Flick's rather stiff 1901 style, he will discover a complete account of the experience of the New York Loyalist specifically. Official action against the party, the committee system and land confiscation are representative of the genre of topics discussed. Though wading through the entire work is tedious, Flick is unbiased in his presentation of a wealth of unusual facts.

7. Harding, Anne Borden, "The Port Roseway Debacle: Some American Loyalists in Nova Scotia" In "The New England Historical and Genealogical Register," Vol. XCVI, January, 1963
Capturing the reader's attention throughout the article, the author describes the establishment of the settlement at Port Roseway, Nova Scotia, from the "Association" and Sir Guy Carleton to the collapse of Shelburne in the 1790's.

8. MacKinnon, Neil, "The Changing Attitudes of the Nova Scotian Loyalists towards the United States, 1783-1791" in "Acadiensis" Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring, 1973.
The subject of the Loyalists' reactions to both the United States and Great Britain is fascinating. MacKinnon effectively demonstrates how the attitudes of the Nova Scotian refugees towards the Rebels gradually mellowed, while those towards the British became harsher as the years in exile progressed. Well written and intriguing.

9. Sabine, Lorenzo, Loyalists of the American Revolution, Vol. II
Little, Brown & Co., Boston. 1864
In a single paragraph, Sabine describes each individual known to have existed in 1864. The author's monotonous style need only be taken in small doses, as the volumes are useful simply for verification of dates, etc.

10. Shelton, W. G., "The United Empire Loyalists: A Reconsideration." In "Dalhousie Review" Vol. XLV, no. 1, 1965
In his article, Shelton focuses on those Loyalists who, having remained loyal to the Crown since the beginning of the Revolution, were honored with the title of United Empire Loyalist. The author attempts to remedy history's unfair description of the U. E. Tories, denounced particularly sternly because they were the original supporters of Great Britain, by depicting their motives to be entirely reasonable and understandable.

11. Snell, Charles W. Saratoga National Historical Park, New York
Government Printing office, Washington, D.C. 1950
This pamphlet, available to visitors to the Saratoga National Park, describes Burgoyne's Campaign of 1777, including background on St. Leger and Howe, the Bennington disaster, and the two battles of Saratoga themselves. It includes several sentences on the Swords farm as Burgoyne's headquarters. How exciting to see "Swords farm" officially placed on a detailed map of the area!

12. Tremaine, Marie, A Bibliography of Canadian Imprints l751-1800.
University of Toronto Press, Toronto. 1952
I was sent ten Xeroxed pages from this volume describing three newspapers published in Shelburne, among them those produced by the Robertsons and T. and J. Swords. The Tremaine work was informative as to the nature of each publication, as well as to factual information such as the number of years printed, etc.

13. Trevelyan, G. M. History of England Vol. 3
Doubleday Company, Garden City, New York. 1956
History of England was invaluable to me in following up on leads relating to British history, one of which being how Thomas Swords could have been wounded as a marine during non-war years. A straight-forward style enhances Trevelyan's ability to clarify complicated topics.

14. Van Tyne, Claude H., The Loyalists in the American Revolution
MacMillan and Co., New York. 1902
The majority of the research on the Loyalists has been done recently, i.e. within the last fifteen years. As a result, general accounts such as Van Tyne's appear inferior to works such as Wallace Brown's and Catherine Crary's. In describing the treatment and activity of the Loyalists, Van Tyne fails to distinguish sufficiently between the Colonies: Southern and New York Loyalists were handled very differently.

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Polly Hoppin and Heritage Hunters of Saratoga County
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