Priscilla Scollay Melville

Wife of Boston Tea Party Participant Thomas Melville

Priscilla Scollay was born on August 15, 1755, in Boston, Massachusetts, daughter of John and Mercy Greenleaf Scollay. In 1761, along with about fifty other men, John Scollay signed a petition which was sent to King George III protesting the illegal actions of the British revenue officers. A strong supporter of colonial claims against the empire, John Scolly was chosen to Boston’s Board of Selectmen in 1764. The honor was repeated in 1773, and the following year he was made chairman, a title he held until 1790. Scollay Square in Boston is named for her family.

Thomas Melville was born in Boston, Massachusetts, January 27, 1752, the only son of Allan and Jean (Cargill) Melville. Losing his mother at the early age of eight, Thomas was raised and educated by his maternal grandmother, Mary (Abernethy) Cargill. At the age of fifteen, he entered the College of new Jersey (later Princeton University), where graduated in 1769 with a degree in theology.

Thomas Melville

Instead of becoming a minister, Melville went on a journey to Scotland, the home of his ancestors, as heir-at-law to his cousin, General Roland Melville. Thomas was welcomed there, and he received another degree from the St. Andrews College in Edinburgh. He would later receive an honorary Master of Arts degree from Harvard College in 1773.

Thomas Melville remained in Scotland and England two years, returning to Boston in 1773, where became a member of the Sons of Liberty organization led by Samuel Adams. From this period the cause of civil liberty engaged his attention. He took part in many of the important events preceding the revolution. He was one of the youthful disciples of Samuel Adams and John Hancock, and their friendships lasted for the rest of their lives.

The Boston Tea Party
In 1773, Parliament passed the Tea Act, which required that the requisite tax be collected within 20 days of a ship’s arrival, making December 16 the deadline. This Act gave the English East India Company a chance to avert bankruptcy by granting a monopoly on the importation of tea into the colonies. The new regulations allowed the company to sell tea to the colonists at a low price, cheaper than the smuggled tea being sold by local merchants, even including the required duty. The British reasoned that the Americans would willingly pay the tax if they were able to pay a low price for the tea.

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Mehitable May Dawes

Wife of American Patriot William Dawes, Jr.

William Dawes, Jr.

Mehitable May was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 6, 1751, to the well-respected family of Samuel and Catherine May. William Dawes, Jr. was born in Boston on April 5, 1745, to William and Lydia Dawes in Boston, Massachusetts. He was a fourth generation descendant of the first Dawes in America, who came to Boston in 1635. William Jr. became a leather tanner and tradesman, and was active in Boston’s militia.

On May 3, 1768, Dawes married Mehitable May, who was seventeen. They would have six children together. At the time of their wedding, there was a boycott on British goods to pressure Parliament into repealing the Townshend Acts. Because of the boycott, The Boston Gazette reported that everything Dawes wore that day was made in North America.

Dawes is credited with planning and carrying out the surreptitious capture in October, 1774, of two cannon stored in a gun house on Boston Common and guarded by two British grenadiers. He and his mates carried the cannon out a back window and hid them in a schoolhouse until they could be moved to a more secure place. While moving the heavy guns, Dawes suffered an injury to his arm and was treated by fellow patriot, Dr. Joseph Warren.

Dawes was an active Patriot; he collected intelligence on the British, sometimes acting the part of a bumpkin. He sometimes drank a pint and listened to conversations in the tavern, or wore a floppy hat while making his way slowly down the road on horseback. Despite the risk, Mehitable proudly supported her patriotic husband.

The Ride
In the spring of 1775, the most active Patriots in the town of Boston were John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Dr. Warren. By April, they knew that British General Thomas Gage’s next target was a sizable store of arms and powder at Concord, about twenty miles from Boston.

On April 18, 1775, the Patriots learned that British troops were about to set out for Concord under cover of darkness. They also feared that the British might make good on their vow to capture Hancock and Samuel Adams, who were then staying at Hancock’s childhood home in Lexington, on the road to Concord.

Dr. Warren summoned Dawes at 9:00 pm on April 18, and assigned him to ride from Boston to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams – then staying at Hancock’s boyhood home in Lexington – that they were in danger of arrest. Dawes was a good choice to get the message through. He had just turned thirty, and lived in the North End with his wife and growing family. He had a reputation as a stout fellow who didn’t take any guff – he once pushed a British Redcoat who made an inappropriate remark towards his beloved wife Mehitable.

Another thing worked in Dawes’ favor. His leather tanning business had frequently taken him through the narrow strip of land called Boston Neck that connected the then-peninsular city of Boston to the mainland town of Roxbury – the surrounding land was gradually filled in as Boston expanded in population. The British officers guarding the gate there were familiar with Dawes – they were unlikely to stop him. Shortly after the sentries allowed Dawes to pass, orders arrived from British headquarters halting all travel out of the city.

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Grace Growden Galloway

Loyalist in the American Revolution

Image: Growden Mansion
Bensalem, Pennsylvania
Joseph Growden built this home which was later expanded upon by his son Lawrence, Grace Growden Galloway’s father. Grace later inherited this home, but since married women at that time were not allowed to own property, her husband Joseph Galloway automatically became the owner.

One of the most interesting diaries written during the American Revolution was written by Grace Growden Galloway, while the world as she had known it was completely destroyed. Her family history was typical of colonial American families. Her grandfather settled in Pennsylvania and accumulated a large amount of property. His second son Lawrence sought his fortune as a merchant in England, where he got married. Lawrence’s second child, Grace, was born in England in 1727.

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Molly Stark

Wife of General John Stark

Image: Molly Stark Statue
One of Wilmington, Vermont’s most prominent landmarks is the statue of Revolutionary War heroine Molly Stark. Her descendants donated the statue to mark the center of the Molly Stark Trail, which crosses southern Vermont and is thought to be the route taken by General Stark on his victory march home from the Battle of Bennington. To confuse the enemy, General Stark referred to the route they were taking as the Molly Stark Trail, and it is identified as such on the official Vermont Highway Map.

Early Years
Elizabeth (Molly) Page was born February 16, 1737, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. Around 1755, she moved with her family to Dunbarton, New Hampshire. Her father, Caleb Page, was the first postmaster of New Hampshire.

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Sarah Kast McGinnis

Loyalist in the American Revolution

Image: Sarah Kast McGinnis Historical Marker
Bath, Ontario, Canada

Sarah Kast was born near German Flats, New York, in 1713, the daughter of Palatine Germans who were brought to America by England’s Queen Anne in the early 1700s. Her father, Johann Georg Kast, was born in German Palatine; her mother, Anna Margaretha Feg, in Idar Oberstein Germany.

The family arrived in New York City in 1710, and settled in the frontier of the Mohawk River Valley west of Albany, NY, and opened a trading post. Sarah grew up with the Mohawk, sometimes all the children would go to the swimming hole together and play. She knew their language.

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Anna Keyes Knowlton

Wife of Patriot Thomas Knowlton

Image: Thomas Knowlton

Anna Keyes was born April 5, 1759. Thomas Knowlton was born November 22, 1740 in West Boxford, Massachusetts. When Knowlton was eight years old, his father moved the family to Ashford, Connecticut, where they lived on a farm of 400 acres.

In 1755 at the age of 15, Thomas enlisted in the English army and fought under Major Israel Putnam in the French and Indian War for four years, and achieved rank of Lieutenant by age 20. In 1762, he participated in the Battle of Havana in Cuba, and was lucky enough to survive. (Of Israel Putnam’s Company of 107 men, only 20 returned home, due mostly to tropical diseases). Returning to Ashford, Connecticut, Thomas farmed with his father.

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Betsy Dowdy

American Patriot and Paul Revere of North Carolina

Image: A wild Banker pony
On the Outer Banks of North Carolina

On the northernmost coast of North Carolina there is a string of sandy islands called the Outer Banks. Betsy Dowdy lived on Currituck Banks there, in the northeastern corner of North Carolina, ten miles south of the Virginia border, bounded by Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. Betsy had a Banker Pony named Black Bess.

Banker Ponies
On the northernmost coast of North Carolina there is a string of sandy islands called the Outer Banks. In the remote regions of those islands, wild ponies roam free. Banker Ponies are actually horses, but they are referred to as ponies because they are smaller than most horses, standing at about 14 hands.

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Prudence Cummings Wright

American Patriot and Minutewoman

Image: Battle of Lexington
First battle of the Revolutionary War

Prudence Cummings was born November 26, 1740, at Dunstable, Massachusetts, the daughter of Samuel and Prudence Lawrence Cummings. She was raised in a household that freely discussed politics, and not all shared the same opinions. Prudence married David Wright of Pepperell, Massachusetts, on December 28, 1761 and settled in Pepperell. For the next fourteen years, Prudence helped her husband, cared for her children, and was a leader among the young matrons of the town.

Patriots and Tories
There were two parties in the colonies: Whigs and Tories. The Whigs (Patriots) were in sympathy with democratic ideals and insisted upon representation for the colonies. The Tories included those whose sympathies were with the king, the clergy of the established church and others associated with the English government. Some supported the king simply because he was king, while disapproving of his methods.

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Elizabeth Steele

Steele gives Greene two bags of coins

Patriot of the Revolutionary War

After the Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina (January 17, 1781), Patriot General Nathanael Greene was trying to gather and equip his scattered army to attack and defeat British general Charles Cornwallis. General Greene had ridden alone toward Salisbury, North Carolina and arrived at an inn late at night, declaring to a friend there that he was “fatigued, hungry, alone and penniless!” Innkeeper Elizabeth Steele overheard his comment.

After serving the general a hearty meal, Elizabeth Steele gave the general two bags of gold and silver, perhaps her earnings of years. With Steele’s help, Greene went on to unravel British control of the South, while leading Cornwallis toward Yorktown, Virginia, where Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, 1781. This surrender eventually led the British government to negotiate an end to the Revolutionary War, resulting in independence for the new United States.

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Flora MacDonald

Loyalist Woman of the American Revolution

Off the western coast of Scotland lie many islands known as the Hebrides; the group farthest to the northwest is called the Outer Hebrides, and three of these islands were North Uist, South Uist, and Benbecula – west of the Isle of Skye. Flora MacDonald was born in 1722 in Milton, South Uist, to a well-placed family in the MacDonald clan. Flora was brought up on Skye, and received some education – the young people of the island were gathered into conveniently placed schools at various points, where a teacher from the mainland gave instruction.

Image: Flora MacDonald
Painting by Allan Ramsay

Flora’s father had died in 1724; four years later, her mother married Hugh MacDonald, a member of the same clan, though only a distant relative; and he lived at Armadale on Skye. Then arose the question whether Flora should remain with her brother Angus in Uist, or go with her mother to Skye. Flora was given her choice, and decided firmly: “I will stay at Milton because I love it, till my dear Mama comes back to me.”

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