Major Ezekiel Worthen A New Hampshire Patriot 1710 – 1783
The Revolutionary War, The French Indian War, King George’s War,
including “The Siege of Louisburg” by J. E. Worthen (12th generation)FORWARD
Major Ezekiel Worthen, (I 763) patron, Revolutioary War, son of Ezekiel and Abigail Carter Worthen was born March 18, 1710 at Amesbury, MA, and died September 17, 1783 at Kensington, NH. About 1732 he married Hannah Currier who was born January 26, 1711 at Amesbury, being the daughter of William and Rachel Sargent Currier of that town. (She died in 1746). His parents had too, been Quakers. A few years after his marriage he moved to Kensington, NH, where he lived the rest of his life, a period of nearly half a century. At an early date he was a leader in the affairs of the church and was frequently elected to town offices, such as selectman and moderator at the town meetings as well as representative to the Legislative or Provincial Congress and delegated to many conventions held for various purposes. He is best known however, as a military man as he enjoyed the unusual honor of serving with distinction in THREE wars. They were: King George’s War, (including the Seige at Louisburg), the French Indian War, and the Revolutionary War.
The chief event of King George’s War was the Siege of Louisburg in which a force of farmers, fisherman, commanded by a merchant, General William Pepperell, of Kittery, ME, took the strongest French fortress in America without the aid of regular troops. This was an exploit for which Pepperell was knighted. Ezekiel Worthen served at Louisburg with the rank of Ensign and Later First Lieutenant. He gained some repute as an engineer, through his work restoring the fortifications after the capture of the town to guard against a counter attack by the French. In the French and Indian War, some ten years later, Ezekiel was a Captain commanding a company of “New Hampshire Rangers”. In 1757 his company of Rogers Rangers, (started and commanded by General John Stark) as part of the garrison of Fort William Henry at the head of Lake George in New York State. The fort was compelled to surrender to General M. Moncalm, who had attacked it with a force consisting of French regulars, Canadian militia, and a large number of Indians. The garrison after they had given up their army and started out under a French escort, had been attacked.
The Indians began to kill and scalp some of the prisoners, especially those in the rear of the column where Ezekiel’s company was established. A member of savages rushed at Ezekiel and were about to tomahawk him, but, while they were quarreling over a red waistcoat, which he wore he seized a gun from one of them and ran, full speed into the woods. When out of their sight, he threw himself flat on the ground beside a large log
and squeezed up under the edge of it, pawing leaves and bark over himself. The Indians jumped the log and Ezekiel, and passed on into the forest. After nightfall, he crawled out of his hiding place and went on to Fort Edward in safety. The gun, above mentioned, which he brought back with him to Kensington, was given by one of his decedents to the Bunker Hill Monument Association and may be seen in the building at the foot of the monument.
When the Revolution broke out Ezekiel was 65 years old, (1775) and a member of the Provencial Congress of NH. He served as military advisor to the committee appointed to fortify Portsmouth and erected Fort Washington, Fort Sullivan at the Narrows to guard the entrance to the Piscataqua Harbor. For a time he was Commander of the troops assigned to the defense of Portsmouth and held the rank of Major. He saw no active service after the first two years of the War, but, continued to serve on committees and as a delegate to conventions and to manifest an interest in the struggle for independence. He spent his
last years in retirement at Kensington, NH, enjoying the esteem and respect of his fellow citizens. He was the foremost representative of the Worthen’s in which he lived. Ezekiel and Hanna had four sons, Samuel Worthen, who was born April 21, 1748 at Kensington, NH, who our line was descended from. He later married Sarah Clifford in 1769. She died about 1782 in Candia, NH. They lived on North Rd. in Candia. Another son of Ezekiel was Major Jacob Worthen who served in the Revolutionary War. Still another was Lt. Enoch Worthen, later also becoming a Major, whose home he built across the street from his father, which survived. He also had a 15 year old grandson who was a private in the land forces of the Revolutionary War, still another son, also named Ezekiel was also a Major.The Exeter Chapter of the DAR placed a marker on Major Ezekiel Worthen’s grave in Kensington.
In November of 1747 the people of Boston rose up with great anger. The problem started when some fifty British sailors, seeking a better life in the New World, deserted from the HMS Lark. Commodore Charles Knowles responded by ordering a predawn sweep of the waterfront. to find the deserters and, failing that, to impress other warm bodies into service on the Lark. Later that morning according to an eyewitness, a “body of men arose I believe with no other motive than to rescue if possible the captivated…and to protest this form of barbarous abusage.” This was not the first time impressment gangs swept through the wharves and taverns of Boston, and every time they did, they met resistance. In 1742 a crowd attacked the commanding officer of the Astrea and destroyed a barge belonging to the Royal Navy. In 1745 protestors beat up the commander of HMS Shirley and battered a
deputy sheriff unconscious; later that year they rioted again when a press gang killed two seaman. Governor Shirley called out the militia, but only the officers showed up – the rest of the militiamen, it seems were part of the crowd. Commodore Knowles then announced he would bombard Boston from his warships, but his threat was empty: the greatest damage would no doubt accrue to the property of the rich, not the rioters. The laboring classes of Boston remained firmly in control of their city for three days until Governor Shirley negotiated the release of most of the impressed seamen. American colonists took to the streets to demonstrate their opposition to the British taxation which followed the French and Indian War. On August 14, 1765, in response to the imposition of a stamp tax on all legal documents, a Boston crowd numbering in the thousands beheaded an effigy of Andrew Oliver, the Massachusetts stamp distributor. After witnessing the destruction of his personal property, Oliver announced he would resign.
The long war with France had exhausted the British treasury, and various schemes were devised by the ministry and parliament to replenish it. Among these resulted in the taxing of the American Colonies, by greatly increasing the duties on tea, sugar, molasses,
coffee, and other goods imported from the West Indies and other countries. The Stamp Act was then passed by Parliament in 1765, providing that no deeds, wills or other legal papers should be valid unless they bore government stamps, which were brought from
England and sold at stipulated prices; another exercise of tyrannical power. The intelligence of the passage of this act caused great excitement and indignation throughout the colonies, as it had been constantly asserted and maintained that taxation without representation was tyranny. The duty on tea was the most obnoxious tax, not because of the amount per pound, but because of the claim of the British Government that it had a right to tax their American colonies at all; and the people very generally entered into an agreement that they would not import or use tea while it was subject to duty. As a consequence, the importation of tea was greatly limited, and the attempt to derive a revenue from this source was a complete failure. The British Government there upon took off the duty, and the East India company was allowed to ship their teas to America, and to pay the Government three pence per pound on its being landed. The three pence per pound was of course added to the cost of the tea to the consumers. The colonists were not so stupid as to be caught by so transparent a trick and their resistance to the tax became more determined than ever. Public meetings were held in many of the towns in the colonies, and it was resolved that “whoever directly or indirectly aided or assisted in the importation of any of the East Indies company’s teas, or any teas whatever, should be deemed an enemy of America.”
The British Government, finding that the colonists would not submit to their acts of tyranny, resolved to overawe them by making a display of its power. As Boston was the central point of the resistance to the demands of the King and Parliament, a force of 3,000 men, under the command of General Gage was sent to Boston and quartered among the people of that town. Trade and businesses of all kinds were suspended, in consequence, the people suffered from want of food and other necessities of life. People from adjacent towns sent them food and support. At the same time, it became known that troops were about to be sent from Boston to disarm Fort William and Mary at the mouth of the Piscataqua river. The information was immediately conveyed to Portsmouth by Paul Revere, whereupon the Committee of Safety of that town collected together three or four hundred men, who belonged to Portsmouth and the surrounding towns, for the purpose of capturing the powder and stores from the fort. The enterprise was successful in every particular, and ninety-seven barrels of powder, sixty stand of arms and sixteen pieces of cannon were taken and removed to a place of safety. The blow aimed at the people of the Province of Massachusetts, the principal place to offer open resistance, to the attempt to deprive them of their rights, was also directed towards the people of all the British
colonies in America, and the people of New York, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia and the other colonies, at once prepared to cooperate with their brethren of New England in the work of defending the rights of all. In May, 1774, a Congress, consisting of delegates from ALL the colonies, assembled at Philadelphia for the purpose of forming a confederation of colonies in opposing the attempts to strip them of their rights and liberties. New Hampshire joined in this movement with alacrity, and a Provincial Convention of delegates was called to meet at Exeter on January 225, of that year, to choose delegates to attend the First Philadelphia Convention or Continental Congress, as it was called. At a special town meeting held in Candia, July 11, Abraham Fitts was
chosen a delegate to the General Congress at Exeter. The Provincial Congress at Exeter elected Nathanial Folsorn and John Sullivan delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. The Continental Congress in an address to the people, counseled them to maintain peace, harmony and union among themselves, to practice economy, to promote manufactories, avoid lawsuits, improve themselves in such military arts as would best fit them for real action in engagements.
In response to the address, the military companies in Candia and other towns were frequently drilled in the use of arms. At a town meeting held January 3, 1775, Moses Baker was chosen a delegate to the Provincial Convention to be held at Exeter, January 25, and it was voted that the selectmen should buy a barrel of powder, flints and lead, answerable thereto as a parish stock. At the same meeting Walter Robie, Nathaniel Emerson, Samuel Mooers, Benjamin Cass and Jacob Worthen (son of Ezekiel) were chosen a committee to inspect all persons, to ascertain their views in regard to the affairs of the present day.
The Revolution stirred up the idea of equality, but, not in today’s terms. Who were these new “Masters” ? Men lording over women? Upperclass leaders continuing to rule the lower classes? Regardless of intent it could be construed either way. In the mid 1780’s there were
still many Americans male and female, who felt bypassed by the “mighty gains” celebrated on the Fourth of July. And yet, although many people were left out, we commit the fallacy
of hindsight if we judge the achievements of the Revolutionary Era according to modern standards of justice. “All men are created equal”, at the time, was certainly not intended to include women, slaves, or Indians. It was a radical concept for its day, regardless of its limited scope. But there is danger in these musings, even if true. What good was some “blueprint” to the people who were alive back then? We do not have to condemn the patriots for failing to transcend the prevailing ethic of their day, but we do have to acknowledge that only a minority of the people of that time – males of European decent, were in a position to benefit politically or socially from the American Revolution, (and black slaves that fought were given their freedom). We should not forget to pay some attention to the numerous contemporaries who did not live to see a personal advantage accruing to the notions of “liberty “ and “equality”. There is another danger in treating the idea of “equality” to modern terms. Today, “equality” is generally interpreted to include protection for the rights of minorities; during the Revolution, “the body of the people” referred EXCLUSIVELY TO THE MAJORITY. “The hardships of particulars are not to be considered,” wrote Christopher Gadsden, “when the good of the whole is the object in view.” “The people that is the patriots, enforced their own standards. Later on in our history, when women marched for the right to vote, when workers sat down in their factories and for the right to form unions, when African Americans engaged in mass demonstrations to terminate Jim Crow in the South – these extensions of democracy also
reflected our beginnings, mirroring the Yankees who paraded “with staves and musick” during the closers of 1774. Our Revolutionary heritage, works both ways. “The body of the people,” the dominant force during the 1770’s has empowered, while it deprived. But, no
matter what its’ faults, our democracy the Declaration of Inde-pendence, General George Washington, Jefferson, Adams….their vision and insight…The democracy fought for is still the best in the world, and our Constitution, as our framers conceived, needs to be taught, revered, valued, and never taken for granted. War has a price…every war we in America have ever been in, had a price. Freedom isn’t cheap. And that is something in our complacency we seem to take for granted. I am proud of my ancestor’s history and what they contributed for me, my children, my grandchildren and the legacy that follows. In God we trust. A country founded on HIS principals, will never perish. My prayer is for America to get back to Godly principals and come on our knees in repentance to appreciate what our Godly heritage really is. All equality and adjustments, healing racism will only then come into place with humility and forgiveness. As John Newton, a slave trader fell on his knees in repentance asking forgiveness from God Almighty and later wrote, “Amazing Grace”… “how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
Sources: “A People’s History of the American Revolution” by
Ray Raphael, and “History of the Town of Candia, Rockingham
County, NH from its First Settlement to the Present Time” J. Bailey
Moore, Manchester, NH 1893.