J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

“Mr. Daulton a Tory”?

One of my favorite Revolutionary War memoirs is that of Daniel Granger (born 1762), published in the Mississippi Valley Historical Review in 1930.

Daniel was only thirteen when he showed up on the siege lines in December 1775 to serve in place of his older brother, who was sick and needed to go home. The brothers switched places again around the end of February 1776, so Daniel served less than three months of the siege. But his memories of those months are very vivid, probably because it was such a short, intense time. In December, I was able to use Daniel’s memory of a password to date one of his anecdotes.

However, there’s one detail I just can’t find a match for. Apparently referring to Lechmere Point in Cambridge, Granger wrote:
I well recollect that on the Westerly part of this Point stood a very beautiful Seat, which belonged to a Mr. Daulton a Tory as I was informed with a beautiful Yard, Garden, Trees & Serpentine walks &c &c. But every thing had been cruelly mutillated by the Soldiers out of spite to Toryism.
I can’t find a prominent man named “Daulton” in this area. It’s possible that Daniel heard or remembered the name wrong, or that it was garbled in transcription. Or that the estate he remembered was somewhere else. Or that I haven’t searched for the right spelling variation. Still looking.

10 comments:

Charles Bahne said...

John, check out the Revised Edition of "East Cambridge", Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge, by Susan E. Maycock for the Cambridge Historical Commission (published by the MiT Press in 1988). It gives a history of land ownership in that area and has several detailed maps. It mentions two houses near Lechmere Point, both originally owned by Spencer Phips. The easternmost house was owned in 1775 by Richard and Mary Lechmere; the westernmost house was owned by Samuel and Sarah Bordman. (Mary and Sarah were Phips daughters.)

Just a guess, but perhaps "Bordman" got misheard as "Daulton"?

One source cited by Maycock is Sophia Simpson, "Two Hundred Years Ago; or, A Brief History of Cambridgeport and East Cambridge", published in 1859.

The Cambridge Historical Commission may have additional info in their files; their office is in Central Square.

Don N. Hagist said...

I'm going to hazard a guess that Granger may be referring to the house of John Borland. It's a bit of a phonetic stretch, but Borland's Apthorp House might fit the description given by Granger.
Don N. Hagist
http://redcoat76.blogspot.com

Robbie Tinn said...

Could Daulton have been renting from Judge Richard Lechmere, owner of Lechmere Point? I have evidence that shows there was indeed a large farmstead on the Point, but whether a Mr. Daulton lived there or not I haven't been able to discover (as of yet). Judge Lechmere lived on Brattle Street next to Vassall, of course, so considering his status/wealth, I don't think it would be hard to imagine the farm being his property and that he chose to rent it out to this Mr. Daulton.
Hope any of this helps, but please update on your findings as I'm also interested in this information. I will do the same if I discover anything else.
Thanks!
Robbie

Charles Bahne said...

A correction -- my earlier post was written too early in the morning. Looking back at the "East Cambridge" book, it's not clear what Mr. Bordman's first name was. I had guessed Samuel but I don't know if that's correct. In any case, his wife was Sarah (Phips). There was an Andrew Bordman active in that area at a later date, but he may have been a later generation.

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for the suggestions and leads!

If only "Daulton" sounded like "Lechmere," then everything would be easy! Because indeed he was the main landowner out on Lechmere Point—hence the name. "Bordman"? Worth a look.

By 1775 Richard Lechmere had moved from Brattle Street to that point, selling his older house to Jonathan Sewall. But I know one Cambridge Loyalist (George Ruggles) swapped his house with a Boston Patriot who wanted to leave in late 1774, so it's possible that another sort of switch took place with Lechmere's estate: a man named something like Daulton was using it while Lechmere used his house in town, left when it became dangerous, and stuck in Daniel Granger's mind as an amalgam of the Tory owner and the gentleman who had been living there when the army arrived.

John Borland's house was close to the center of Cambridge, just on the other side of the college from the siege lines. (It's now inside one of the Harvard houses.) So while Borland's name was misspelled in all sorts of creative ways by soldiers during the siege, I doubt Granger was stationed near that house.

Charles Bahne said...

More from the Cambridge Historical Commission's book:

The maps of property ownership show clearly that all the land in East Cambridge was owned then by just 4 families: Lechmere, Bordman, Ireland, and Matson. The Irelands had acquired their lots from Rebecca Lee, another Phips daughter. They do not appear to have had any buildings on their property. The Matsons had a very small lot on the banks of the Millers River (or Willis Creek), again with no buildings.

Interestingly, John Borland did own property along present Washington St. in Somerville, between Kirkland St. and Union Sq. There are some houses shown along that road but not on Borland's properties. I also think that would be too far away to be described as part of "this point".

The original Phips house, on what became Lechmere family land, dated back to the 1600s. Spencer Phips built a new mansion nearby around 1750, but it burned shortly after it was built. According to one of the maps in this book, another house on the Lechmere property was "demolished between June & Nov. 1775" -- but this house was on the easterly side of the hill, not the west.

The 17th-century house, or a replacement on the same site, was south of Fort Putnam, and southwest of the one that was demolished. It was also on Lechmere land, but apparently was rented out -- perhaps to a Daulton?

The Bordman house was about 3000 feet southwest of Fort Putnam. It survived until the 1840s and was described as an "ancient" homestead set amid orchards.

The only other house in that entire area of Cambridge was the Ralph Inman mansion, near the present Cambridge City Hall. But that house wasn't considered to be on Lechmere Point, and it became Gen. Putnam's headquarters.

Charles Bahne said...

Richard Lechmere is reported as moving "to Boston" when he sold his Brattle St. house in the early 1770s. Although he kept the East Cambridge land, there's no evidence that he ever lived there -- he seems to have always held it as rental property.

Lechmere also owned a large mansion in Dorchester, at Edward Everett Square, which he did use as his own home for a while, but I'm not sure of the chronology on that one.

John L. Smith said...

I'm lovin' just reading all of these comments! I hope the Daulton mystery can be solved. I find this fascinating!

Todd Gardner said...

I know this may sound crazy and I am far from an expert, but could this young 13 year old be talking about the old neck of Boston as the point or peninsula? If so, perhaps he was referring to Henry Hulton? Hulton sounds much more like Daulton and perhaps he was confused in his recollection. I know Hulton was a loyalist and I believe had a home in the Brookline area. Just a crazy idea but not seeing the whole journal I noticed the assumption was Cambridge although he doesn't say Cambridge per se from what was shown in your great blog. I enjoy the hunt of this particular topic.

J. L. Bell said...

I thought about Henry Hulton, who was one of the Customs Commissioners. His estate was indeed in Brookline, and it had some sort of garden. However, Daniel Granger definitely recalled doing sentry duty on a point near the river, and he mentioned Cambridge in other passages. So getting him all the way down to Brookline feels like a stretch. Maybe he heard the name Hulton and got it stirred up with the local Tory, though.