Witch, Bishop, Soldier, Spy, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief... (1)

My 8th GGM Rebecca Greensmith (nee Steele) was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut in 1629 – making her the earliest known ancestor I have who was actually born in North America. Rebecca was an accused witch and was judicially murdered (hung) in the Hartford witch trials of the 1660s. She is the witch in the title of this recurring segment of which I will have much more to say in the future.

We all can name our four grandparents.  But how many can name any of their 8 great grandparents, or 16 great, great-grandparents? By the time you get to your great, great, great, great grandparents (4th GGF) you are dealing with 64 people and you have gone back in time almost 200 years.

We each have 1,024 (one thousand and twenty four) 8th great grand parents – making our genetic links to these people remote at best. But they all have stories, and many of them are lost to the world. The goal of this section of my blog is to explore the lives of these people and create a permanent record for future generations.

I will start with Laurence Thuresson - my 4th Great Grandfather – one of 64 of them.  I actually know the names of a lot of this generation. On my father’s father’s side, I know 14 of the 16. The names of many are attached to no stories whatsoever, about others I know an extraordinary amount: Henry Henderson and his wife Mary; Archibald Chisholm and Henrietta MacDonell; William Reynolds and Elizabeth Mudge; Abel Gilbert and the delightfully named “Blandina” Ostrom; John Armstrong and Mary Rogers; William Dougall and Eleanor Weir; Laurence Thuresson and Ann Richardson. 

This was a very interesting generation – these are all people born roughly in the mid 18th century in America; and so, 200 years before me.  In some cases their families had been in North American since the early 1600s.  Almost all of the people in this list were born during the time of the Seven Years War (1754 -1763) and grew up to be loyalists who fought or participated in the American War of Independence (1775-1784) for the losing side. They were then uprooted and became part of that great diaspora of loyalists featured in Maya Jasanoff's wonderful book, "Liberty's Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World". Some of them knew of almost nothing but constant warfare: with the Indians, with the French, and finally with their own friends and neighbours.

Over time I hope to tease out the history of this remarkable generation, but we are going to start with a truly remarkable man: Captain Lawrence Thuresson. His life and times in the next installment.