Thomas Hendry: Independent Patriot

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Independent.  To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


To celebrate Independence Day, this week’s prompt is “independent” — very fitting! As I contemplated this week’s post, I also learned my Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) application was approved effective July 5. So to celebrate both occasions, I’m profiling my patriot ancestor and 7x-great-grandfather Thomas Hendry. His service is the reason I am eligible for DAR, and his family’s sacrifices benefited their community during the American Revolution.


Thomas Hendry was born about 1722 in Ireland.¹ I haven’t researched his Irish origins yet, so the earliest information I have is that Thomas arrived in Massachusetts in 1740.² Thomas married Ann Miller on March 23, 1743, in North Bridgewater,³ which is the present-day city of Brockton in Plymouth County. Thomas and Ann were married by Rev. John Porter, the first Presbyterian minister of North Bridgewater.⁴

Thomas and Ann had eight children:⁵

  • Thomas Hendry
  • James Hendry
  • Janet Hendry
  • John Hendry (from whom I descend)
  • Margaret Hendry
  • David Hendry
  • Ann Hendry
  • William Hendry

Thomas purchased a farm in Plymouth County on November 7, 1746.⁶ He and Ann owned this farm until they sold it to son Thomas, Jr. on January 3, 1769.⁷ The deed was not recorded until April 30, 1771.⁸ About a year later, Thomas, Jr. sold the farm,⁹ and the Hendry family moved to the New York frontier. Thomas was among a group led by John Harper that received a land grant for 22,000 acres near the headwaters of the Delaware River.¹⁰ They organized the community now known as Harpersfield.

Harpersfield was located in Tryon County on the edge of civilization in the Mohawk valley region. When the Province of New York authorized the creation of civilian armed forces in 1772, able-bodied males joined the Tryon County militia to protect their homes from skirmishes with the Mohawk. But as the events leading to the American Revolution began, settlers who sympathized with the growing Patriot cause formed the Tryon County Committee of Safety. The group was officially formed on August 27, 1774,¹¹ and began chasing Loyalists out of their communities. These Loyalists abandoned their property and fled to Canada, leaving Tryon County governed by the Safety Committee and policed by the militia it directed.

Thomas Hendry was a member of the Tryon County Safety Committee and appears in its minutes on June 2, 1775, when the entire body met together for the first time.¹² He is listed as one of the delegates from Canajoharie district.¹³ The Safety Committee was the de facto government for Tryon County during this time. It gave orders to the militia and sent representatives to the New York Provincial Congress to vote for independence. The committee was active until April 21, 1778, when its authority was superseded by the New York state legislature.¹⁴

However, Thomas remained involved in the Patriot cause after the Safety Committee disbanded. He appears in the minutes of the Council of Appointments on March 3, 1780, listed as a 2nd Major in the Fifth Regiment, Tryon County Militia.¹⁵ It is unknown when this regiment was first organized, but it consisted mainly of men in the Harpersfield community.

It is believed Thomas died in the spring of 1780 of consumption,¹⁶ not long after he was recorded in Council of Appointments minutes. Researcher Rick Harper references handwritten notes made by Thomas’s grandson William Hendry, but I have not seen these notes myself. Harper reports these notes say Thomas is buried near his three oldest sons — Thomas, James, and John — who were also members of the Fifth Regiment and died after a Mohawk raid in April 1780.


¹Birth date estimated about 21 prior to marriage.

²George Francis Donovan, The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts, 1620-1775 (Menasha, Wisconsin: George Banta Publishing Co, 1932), 158.

³Bridgewater, Massachusetts, 3rd Book of Records, 1739-1784, p. 171, Thos Henry-Ann Miller, 21 Mar 1743; image, Ancestry.com, “Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988” (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/matownvital/ : accessed 6 Jul 2019).

⁴Bradford Kingman, “Early Marriages in North Bridgewater,” New England Historical & Genealogical Register 19 (July 1865), 200.

⁵Town of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Vital Records of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850 (Boston: New England Genealogical Society, 1916), 156.

⁶Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Deed Records, Vol. 40, 1748-1750, p. 194-195; consulted as “Deed records, 1664-1900 [Plymouth County, Massachusetts],” digital images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/189525 : accessed 6 Jul 2019).

⁷Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Deed Records, Vol. 56, 1770-1773, p. 18; consulted as “Deed records, 1664-1900 [Plymouth County, Massachusetts],” digital images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/189525 : accessed 6 Jul 2019).

Ibid.

⁹Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Deed Records, Vol. 57, 1772-1774, p. 115-116; consulted as “Deed records, 1664-1900 [Plymouth County, Massachusetts],” digital images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/189525 : accessed 6 Jul 2019).

¹⁰W. W. Munsell & Company, History of Delaware County, N.Y.: With Illustrations, Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Some Pioneers and Prominent Residents (Ovid, New York: W. E. Morrison & Company Printers, 1976), 218-219.

¹¹Samuel Ludlow Frey, The Minute Book of the Committee of Safety of Tryon County (Cambridge: University Press, 1905), 1.

¹²Frey, The Minute Book of the Committee of Safety of Tryon County, 18.

¹³Ibid.

¹⁴USGenWeb Project, Tryon County Safety Committee (http://tryon.nygenweb.net/safety.html : accessed 6 Jul 2019).

¹⁵Thomas, Thomas, and John Henry (Tryon County Militia), United States Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, 74-New York (jacket 100-116); database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G94M-QC55?i=449&cc=2068326 : accessed 31 Mar 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication M246.

¹⁶Rick Harper, Descendants of James Harper (http://www.newmediamarkets.com/jamesharper/descendants/D0006/I1517.html : accessed 6 Jul 2019), “Thomas Hendry.”

3 thoughts on “Thomas Hendry: Independent Patriot”

  1. Jessica

    I enjoyed reading your Hendry ancestory on both Thomas and Alexander Rose. I am descended from William Ormiston Hendry, Alexander’s brother.

    Darryl Harper

    1. Hi Darryl – thanks for visiting! Tell me more about William Ormiston. I’m guessing he may be the William Hendry who had some notes about Thomas’s death? Does your family still live in the Delaware County area?

      1. Jessica,

        It’s nice to hear from you. My grandfather grew up in Harpersfield, New York. I live about a half hour from Harpersfield, Ohio. The William in question is Thomas’ son William, who was the youngest son, our direct ancestor John’s brother. If you can send me a private email I have more information I can give you about the Hendry’s and Harper’s.

        Darryl

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