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, August 12, 2020

Paula Bagger with More on Marlborough

After my series of postings about Revolutionary conflict in Marlborough, Paula Bagger of the Hingham Historical Society filled me in on some details about the household of Loyalist merchant Henry Barnes. She has researched that family in the course of making important discoveries about the enslaved artist Prince Demah.

In particular, Paula identified the little girl whom Dr. Samuel Curtis quizzed about the two undercover British army officers who visited the house in March 1775. So I’m sharing Paula’s information as a “guest blogger” posting.


The “child” was undoubtedly Christian (“Chrisy”) Arbuthnot, the daughter of Christian Barnes’s brother William Arbuthnot from Hingham. Born in 1765, Chrisy would have been ten years old whereas the other young women who lived with the Barneses from time to time (Catharine Goldthwait and several Murray nieces of Elizabeth Inman) were older. The Barneses became Chrisy’s guardians when William Arbuthnot, a widower, died in the late 1760s.

Chrisy decamped to England with the Barneses in 1776 and died in 1782 in Bristol.

As for Catharine Goldthwait (1744-1830), who remained in Marlborough trying to preserve the estate in 1775, she traveled to England in the late ’70s or early ’80s. She spent time with her parents, Thomas and Catherine (the latter Henry Barnes’s sister), who had settled in Walthamstow outside London. But she seems to have spent some time with the Barneses in Bristol as well.

In July 1795, Catherine wrote Deborah Barker of Hingham to tell her that Christian Barnes had died in April. Henry Barnes died in London in 1808.

In England, Catharine Goldthwait met and married eighty-year-old Dr. Silvester Gardiner, a wealthy Loyalist widower [shown above]. They returned to America together. After Gardiner died, she married the merchant William Powell of Boston, a wealthy Patriot widower. She had no children of her own but adopted a niece and then two great-nieces.

Thanks, Paula!

One of the oddities I came across while researching this extended family is that Catharine Goldthwait’s sister Mary (1753-1825?) married Francis Archibald in Maine, was widowed, and fell into mental illness—the reason her teen-aged daughter came to live with Catharine Powell in Boston and eventually take her aunt’s last name. Mary Archibald lived on relief in the homes of various Maine householders, including now-famous Revolutionary War veteran Joseph Plumb Martin for several years.


COMING UP: Gossip about Marlborough’s Dr. Curtis.

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