Thomas Chamberlin

On this day, 8 February 1831, Thomas Chamberlin (my 6th great-grandfather) passed away. Born in 1754, Thomas Chamberlain (Chamberlin) was the son of James and Lydia Chamberlain. The family lived on their homestead situated on Oyster Creek, midway between the towns of Barnegat and Waretown in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Some of Thomas’ siblings were brothers David and Jobe and sisters Rebecca, Lydia, and Mary.

Unfortunately, nothing more is known of Thomas’s early life, other than the events happening in the world around him. During Thomas’ childhood, unrest was growing in the American colonies. The debt incurred by the English from the French and Indian War, waged from 1754 to 1763, was passed onto the colonists. Starting with the Sugar Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765, Britain began levying additional taxes on the Americans.

Then, in 1767, Parliament passed the controversial Townsend Acts in an attempt to exert authority over the colonies through the suspension of a recalcitrant representative assembly and strict provisions for the collection of revenue duties. In response to these new laws, the colonists ramped up their resistance (both verbal altercations and physical violence). In addition, some colonial leaders chose to deliberately avoid their mandated duties, and merchants renewed nonimportation agreements. Angered, England dispatched two regiments of the British army to Boston in October 1768.

For two years, tensions grew. On 5 March 1770, these tensions bubbled over in Boston, when a small British army detachment, threatened by a rioting mob, massacred five colonists. Three years later on 16 December 1773, Bostonians again rebelled against the British, this time protesting a tax on tea. The colonists boarded British ships and threw the cargo (mostly crates of tea) into the Boston Harbor.

By this time, Thomas Chamberlin was a young man ready to forge his own way in the world. In early 1774, in Monmouth County, New Jersey, he married Mary Woodmansee (my 6th great-grandmother), the daughter of David Woodmansee and Penelope Worden.

Meanwhile, discord between the British government and the American colonists was escalating. From March through June 1774, Parliament passed the Boston Port Act, the Massachusetts Government Act, the Administration of Justice Act, and the Quartering Act, dubbed the Intolerable (or Coercive) Acts. In response to the Intolerable Acts, the First Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia on 5 September 1774.

In late 1774, about 60 miles away in Dover Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Thomas and Mary Chamberlin’s first child, David, named after his maternal grandfather, was born.

Meanwhile, outside the walls of the Chamberlin home, unrest continued to simmer. On 23 March 1775, Patrick Henry defended resolutions for equipping the Virginia militia to fight against the British, exclaiming, “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

A few weeks later on 18-19 April 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes Jr. rode from Charlestown to Lexington, Massachusetts, warning residents that 700 British soldiers were marching from Boston to seize the armory at Concord. En route, the British force was confronted on Lexington Green by 77 local minutemen. After leaving Lexington, the British were met by hundreds of militiamen in Concord, who sent the British hightailing it back to Boston.

Two months later on 17 June 1775, the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought in Boston. It was a moral victory for the colonists.

On 2 July 1776, the Continental Congress voted to sever ties with Great Britain, and two days later, the Declaration of Independence was adopted. The American Revolution had officially begun.

One of the largest conflicts of the entire war took place between Morristown and Middlebrook, New Jersey. On 25-26 December 1776, General George Washington and the Continental Army crossed the ice-strewn Delaware River, surprising the Hessian garrison garrisoned in nearby Trenton, New Jersey (approximately 50 miles from the Chamberlin home) and taking almost 900 prisoners.

A few days later on 3 January 1777, the Battle of Princeton was fought about 40 miles from the Chamberlin home. Again, the colonists prevailed. This event became known as the Ten Crucial Days and would be the turning point of the Revolution.

Starting on 19 December 1777, following defeats at the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown (both fought in eastern Pennsylvania), General George Washington and his troop of 11,000 regulars spent the winter in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 22 miles northwest of British-occupied Philadelphia. Although they suffered from bitterly cold weather, near starvation, and rampant disease, the Continental Army trained hard under the tutelage of Baron Friedrich von Steuben, a Prussian officer, becoming more regimented and ready to fight.

Meanwhile, the British forces stationed in Philadelphia left the city in early June, heading north to New York City, the primary British stronghold in the colonies. Gen. Washington, learning of the British movement, rallied the troops who left Valley Forge on 19 June 1778, in pursuit.

About a week later, the Continental Army engaged the British Army at the Battle of Monmouth, the longest continuous battle of the Revolutionary War. On the morning of 28 June 1778, an advance force of 5,000 men, led by American Gen. Charles Lee, attacked the rear guard of the British forces near Monmouth Courthouse. The first shots of the Battle of Monmouth were fired around 10:00 a.m. Two hours later, Lee’s troops retreated. However, Gen. Washington stopped the retreat, relieved Lee of duty, and reorganized the troops. The fighting recommenced, nonstop, for almost five hours under the hot summer sun.

The same year (1778), about 30 miles from the site of the Battle of Monmouth, Thomas and Mary Chamberlin welcomed their second son, James Woodmansee Chamberlin (my 5th great-grandfather).

Including the Battle of Princeton and the Battle of Monmouth, more battles/skirmishes (nearly 300) happened in New Jersey than in any other colony. One of these conflicts happened on 6 October 1778, when British forces attacked the village of Chestnut Neck, New Jersey, located about 30 miles south of the Chamberlin homestead. Afterward, the British ships involved remained in the waters of Little Egg Harbor, waiting for weather conditions to improve so that they could sail back to New York City. American reinforcements arrived two days later. The British learned the location of the soldiers’ camp. On the evening of 14 October, 250 British troops under the command of Captain Patrick Ferguson came ashore at Osborn Island, owned by a Quaker family. Ferguson and his men forced 29-year-old Thomas Osborn to act as a guide to lead them to the American camp. Early on the morning of 15 October, the British made a surprise attack on a group of 50 soldiers, killing or wounding most of them and taking five prisoners.

At some point during these difficult times, Thomas Chamberlin answered the call to fight, enlisting as a private in Captain Reuben Fitz Randolph’s Fifth Company of the Monmouth Militia (a.k.a. the Manahawkin Militia), fighting alongside my 6th great-grandfather, Joseph Soper.

On 1 March 1781, all of the former colonies ratified the Articles of Confederation. In late September/early October of that same year, the Siege of Yorktown took place on the Virginia Peninsula. The combined forces of Gen.Washington and Count de Rochambeau of France forced Lord Cornwallis to surrender his army of more than 7,000 men on 19 October 1781. After this defeat, Cornwallis retreated to the British stronghold in New York City.

After the takedown in Yorktown, land battles occurred less frequently; however, the fighting at sea, mostly between the British and America’s allies (France, Spain, and the Netherlands) continued for two more years. In 1782, the Anglo-American peace treaty was signed and hostilities continued to lessen; however, it was not until 3 September 1783, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, that peace was declared, and Britain acknowledged the autonomy of the United States.

Two years after the end of the Revolutionary War in 1785, the Chamberlins welcomed daughter Lydia to the family.

Two years later in 1787, son Joseph Chamberlin was born.

In 1794, son Thomas arrived in the Chamberlin household.

Two years later in 1796, the couple was blessed with another daughter, Asineth Chamberlin. (Now, there is a name to add to my Interesting, Odd & Unusual Names list.)

While some of Thomas and Mary’s children were being born, others were becoming adults and starting their households. In 1798, second son James Woodmansee Chamberlin wed Rebecca Rulon, daughter of David Rulon and Mercy Soper, eldest child of Joseph Soper (mentioned earlier).

The next year in 1799, Thomas and Mary welcomed another son, Jesse, to the family.

The couple’s final known child was a daughter named Penelope, who was born in 1801.

In late February/early March 1802, Thomas’ father James Chamberlin died at the age of 82. Thomas Chamberlin was named the sole executor of his father’s will, dated 4 April 1796 and proved 18 March 1802. Under the terms of this document, Thomas was bequeathed most of his father’s homestead and several parcels of land.

[To] son Thomas, the old homestead whereon I now live, excepting eight chains of heath adjoining on the south side of Oyster Creek, next to that I bought [from] Hollowell; also one-half of cedar swamp on north side of Oyster Creek and one-half of cedar swamp on south side of Oyster Creek; also the survey upon the middle branch of Forked River, adjoining John Stout’s land; also all moveable estate on my plantation.

On 25 March 1802, daughter Lydia Chamberlin married a man with the same surname, David Chamberlin (relationship, if any, unknown.)

In 1809, according to Salter’s History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Thomas Chamberlin was living at Forked River, New Jersey. However, Old Times in Monmouth indicates that Thomas Chamberlin, a Methodist, was residing in Waretown, New Jersey in 1809. However, since Forked River and Waretown are less than four miles apart and Oyster Creek runs between the two towns, I would venture to guess that Thomas Chamberlin and his family were living on the old homestead that he had inherited.

Meanwhile, more of Thomas’ children were leaving the nest. On 2 August 1810, son Joseph Chamberlin married Hannah Bunnell.

On 28 July 1817, son Thomas Chamberlin wed Nancy Holmes.

On 8 May 1823, son Jesse Chamberlin married Mahala Bennett.

Sadly, amid all of these happy occasions, tragedy struck, when on 28 October 1826, eldest son David Chamberlin passed away. His grieving family laid him to rest in Old Waretown Presbyterian Cemetery, Waretown, Ocean County, New Jersey.

A year later in 1827, grief came again when son Jesse Chamberlin died. He was only 28 years old.

Whether it was because he was predeceased by two of his children or his own health had taken a turn for the worse, on 9 January 1829, Thomas Chamberlin drafted and signed his will.

Two years later, on 8 February 1831, Thomas Chamberlin passed away in his home. His family buried Thomas next to his son David in the old Waretown Cemetery. His headstone was inscribed as follows: “In Memory of Thomas Chamberlin who died February 8, 1831, in the 77th year of his age.”

About a month after his passing, Thomas Chamberlin’s will was proved on 4 March 1831. His wife Mary and son James W. Chamberlin were named as executors, and his other children were mentioned, except for David and Jesse, who had already passed. His will reads as follows:

In the name of God Amen, I Thomas Chamberlin, of the Township of Stafford and County of Monmouth and State of East Jersey, this ninth day of January one thousand eight hundred and twenty-nine, do make this my last will and testament in the manner following:

First, all my honest debts and funeral charges are to be paid. I give to my son James W. Chamberlin the place whereon he now lives and the cedar swamp on the middle branch of Forked River, I give to him, his heirs and assigns forever.

My son Joseph has had his share before and my daughter Asenath Brown has had her share and my daughter Lida Chamberlin has had her share, but I give her all that she owes me on the books.

I give to my son Thomas Chamberlin the place whereon he now lives that is to say, the south side of this place to certain marks that I have made, which land I give to my son Thomas Chamberlin on conditions that he is to pay one hundred and twenty-five dollars to my daughter Penelope Brown all. Also I give to my son Thomas one equal half of cedar swamp on Oyster Creek which I give to him, his heirs and assigns forever.

The residue of this place whereon I now live from Oyster Creek to the marks which I have made and the residue of swamp to be sold and one thousand dollars to be given to my grandchildren, Thomas B. Chamberlin, and Samuel B. Chamberlin, and Mary B. Chamberlin, to be put out for investing for their bringing up and when of age, to be equally divided among them all. Also, one hundred and twenty-five dollars to be given to my daughter Penelope Brown.

I give to my loving wife all my moveable estate on the place or elsewhere. I make and ordain my wife Mary Chamberlin and James W. Chamberlin my son, Executors of this my last will in trust for the intent and purposes in this my last will contained. In witness, I the said Thomas Chamberlin have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year above written, January ninth 1829.

Categories: Cole-Marriner Line, Everyday People, On This Day | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Thomas Chamberlin

  1. Pingback: Penelope (Worden) Woodmansee | Princes, Paupers, Pilgrims & Pioneers

  2. Pingback: *Press This* Thomas Chamberlin #219 | Its good to be crazy Sometimes

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