Chauncey Judd


Were we writing a tale of fiction, we should feel bound, in deference to the feelings of our readers, to end our story with the marriage of Chauncey Judd to Ditha Webb. For certainly that first unfortunate act of gallantry, which occasioned him so much suffering, and had so nearly cost him his life, deserved to be crowned with a correspondingly felicitous result.

But we are writing history, not fiction; and history, though often a maker of romance, has little regard for that which is prepared for her by the schemes of men. The allotments of human experience are the prerogative of a higher wisdom than our own. In the beautiful language of another, Every man's life is a plan of God, who shapes its progress and its issues to promote purposes of good beyond our limited vision, and reaching down through unmeasured ages of the future.

Ditha's family early removed from Gunntown into what was then the far-off regions of Central New York. Of her subsequent history we have found no record.

Chauncey resided with his parents after his restoration. Though the war was prolonged nearly three years further, yet the circumstances of the family were somewhat more comfortable than they had been in its earlier years. The money received from the tories served to remove the debt which rested on the homestead, and complete the "doing off" of the house so far as it was ever accomplished. The children were now getting to be older, the four eldest being married and commenced housekeeping for themselves, and the younger ones approaching more nearly the age when their labor was of substantial value in the kitchen and on the farm. Chauncey's slender frame and delicate health, serving as a constant reminder of the hardships he had undergone, made him rather the favored member of the family, as they secured for him a peculiarly tender regard in the social circle of the neighborhood.

It was at what now would be thought a premature age that Chauncey took to himself a wife. As we scan the family records of those days, we are struck with the prevalence of early marriages. Why, indeed, should there have been delay? A young man became of age at twenty-one, and could not well enter upon his life-work as a farmer till he had a home and a household of his own. Chauncey's mother married in her seventeenth year, and was not eighteen years older than her oldest son. It was to such beginnings, coupled with industry and temperance, that, we are to attribute the numerous and healthy families of that day. The blessing of the full-quivered sire rested upon many a patriarchal household.

Among the young people who were intimate in the family was the young sister of his Uncle William's wife, Mabel Hotchkiss. She was, as before stated, the daughter of Captain and Deacon Gideon Hotchkiss, the veteran soldier and one of the leading men of the town. The houses of the Judds and Williamses were but a few rods apart. Mabel, of course, was a frequent visitor at her sister's, and so it was the most natural thing in the world that he should have won her regard. Like Desdemona in the play,–

She loved him for the dangers he had passed, And he loved her that she did pity them.

They were married in September, 1785, a little before the completion of his twenty-first year.

Little remains to record of his subsequent life. The religious impressions made upon his mind in the anguish of his terrible trial never left him. He became known as a man of exemplary character and devoted piety. He was at one time chosen a deacon in the Baptist church, but his great diffidence and self-distrust led him to decline the office. His wife died about 1799, after which he married again.

His own death occurred February 24, 1823, at the age of fifty-three.

Of the tories who engaged actively in the war against the independence or America, the subsequent history was for the most part a melancholy one. Probably not more than one-half of those who went from Waterbury ever returned. Those who did were mostly broken-down men, reduced to poverty, laden with the odium of having made war upon their country, and in many cases stained with vices and addicted to habits which sent them to an early grave.

It was one of the questions complicating the peace negotiations between the States and Great Britain in 1783, what should be done with these tories. Several thousand in the aggregate had removed to Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, the greater part of whom were in circumstances of extreme destitution. Congress should grant pardons to all political offenders of this sort, restore their confiscated estates, and remunerate them for the losses they had suffered. This was refused, on the ground, first, that congress was without the requisite authority, its sole power, under the Articles of Confederation, being to recommend measures to the several states. Secondly, these men, by their principles, example and counsels, had encouraged the British government to prosecute the war, and many had personally engaged in plundering and ravaging the country, and ought rather to be made to render compensation than expect to receive it. Thirdly, that the confiscated estates had been sold and resold, often divided, and could not now be restored without opening the way to endless litigation. And finally, that in the impoverished condition of the country it was impossible to pay its own meritorious soldiers; much more those who had done so much to bring ruin both upon it and themselves.

The matter was at length compromised by inserting three articles into the treaty to the effect that the loyalists should not be debarred from collecting debts due them before the war; that Congress would recommend to the states to restore confiscated property as far as possible, and that no future confiscations should be made or prosecutions begun because of what had been done. These terms, which were certainly most generous on the part of the infant states, were finally, though with great reluctance, accepted by Great Britain, and the peace was concluded upon that basis.

The recommendations of Congress to the states were, however, ineffectual, as it was probably expected they would be. Connecticut would not consent to restore the property of such as had been engaged in plundering and burning Danbury, Fairfield and other sea-coast towns. The same was true in other states. Let England, they said, pay us for the wanton injuries she has inflicted before she asks compensation for the traitors by whom it was done.

Failing thus in securing relief from the states for the refugees, Parliament undertook the duty for themselves. A commission was appointed to obtain returns of the losses incurred by their friends, and ultimately a sum amounting to about fifteen and a half millions of dollars was appropriated from the British exchequer for their compensation.

The loyalists, then, says Sabine, were well cared for. Whatever were the miseries to individuals occasioned by delay; whatever the injury sustained by those who were unable to procure sufficient evidence of their losses; and whatever were the wrongs inflicted upon others by the errors in judgment on the part of the commissioners, – the Americans who took the royal side, as a body, fared infinitely better than the great body of the whigs, whose services and sacrifices were quite as great. For, besides the allowance of fifteen and a half millions of dollars in money, numbers received considerable gratuities, half pay as military officers, large grants of land, and shared with other subjects in the patronage of the crown. The rewards of those who served under Congress, on the other hand, were exceedingly limited; and, excepting those who filled the public offices under the state and, after the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, under the national government, few who served in the field or who suffered by the ravages of the king's troops, obtained considerable or adequate recompense. In truth, thousands were allowed to go down to the grave in the most abject want and destitution.[1]

We must spare room, ere we close, for a single paragraph respecting our friends, Tobiah and Rachel, and their descendants. After the war they, continued to reside in Derby, now Seymour, maintaining a respectable character in the humble class to which they belonged. The advantage of common schools, free to all, the abolition of slavery, and the gradual abatement of prejudice against the colored race, have opened to them possibilities which were formerly denied them. One of Tobiah's descendants, – a great-grandson, we believe, – the Hon. Ebenezer D. Bassett, was appointed by President Grant, in l869, minister resident to Hayti, and now worthily represents the dignity of the United States at that republic.

A century has passed, and the feeble colonies which, at such expense of treasure and suffering, in private and public, planted here the germs of a free government, have become a rich and powerful nation. The wildest dreams of our fathers as to the future could never have conjectured what have now become realities. The grandchildren and great-grandchildren of our Revolutionary families live in homes which would then have been palaces, and enjoy luxuries which the proudest nobles of the mother land could not then have commanded. The blessings of just laws, of universal and free education, of unrestricted enterprise in every branch of industry, and of free, self-administered institutions of religion, are enjoyed by every citizen. We shall not have read the lessons of our early history aright, if we have not learned from them a just appreciation of our blessings, and a heartfelt gratitude for them to Him who gave them.

  1. Loyalists, p. 112.