History From America's Most Famous Valleys
The Orderly Book of Sir John Johnson
During the Oriskany Campaign
Annotated by Wm. L. Stone
With an Historical Introduction illustrating the Life of Johnson by J. Watts De Peyster, and Some Tracings from the Foot-Prints of the Tories, or Loyalists in America by T. R. Myers.
Joel Munsell, 1882
THE JOHNSON FAMILY OF THE MOHAWK VALLEY.*
(Original motto of Sir WILLIAM JOHNSON, Bart.)
"I cannot see," observes a gentleman (of New York Whig antecedents and ancestry), at once an historical scholar, a practical soldier and an accomplished man of business, "how a man so formed and trusted in himself and his family [as Sir John Johnson] could have acted differently than he did."
In many respects the two greatest men who administered the affairs of the colony or province, or, even since, of the State of New York, were Lieutenant-Governor,
* The following genealogy of the Johnson family is compiled from various sources : from memoranda furnished by the present Baronet, Sir William George Johnson, from Burke's "Peerage and Baronetage of Great Britain, from Sabine's "Loyalists of the American Revolution," from Wm. L. Stone's "Life of Sir William Johnson, Bart.," &c., &c.
acting Governor, James de Lancey, and Sir William Johnson, Bart., the "Indian Tamer"-the Conqueror at Lake George in 1755, and the Capturer of Niagara in 1759. If space permitted, it would be a very interesting and agreeable task or duty to clear up some historic doubts in regard to the first Sir William and introduce illustrations of his ability which have never been presented to the American public.
It is marvelous what ridiculous nonsense has been published in regard to the antecedents and adventures of this remarkable man. The following is the literal truth, furnished from a most authentic source:
"The Hon. Sir William Johnson, Bart., in America, was the son of Christopher Johnson, Esq., of Smith-Town, County Meath (Ireland), a gentleman of great repute and renown, descended from a distinguished Irish family,* and of Anne Warren, daughter of Michael Warren, Esq., of the same county, and sister of Sir Peter
* It has been bruited that originally the family name was not Johnson, but Jansen, and that the first who bore it and settled in Ireland was a Hollander, who, like many of his countrymen, went over afterwards with William III in 1690, won lands and established themselves. If this report had a grain of truth in it, that the name should become anglicized immediately would be nothing remarkable, since hundreds of similar and of far greater transmutations and travesties, some amounting to simple absolute translations, occurred in this State within a generation after its settlement: the Feuersteins becoming Flints, the Muhlers Millers, &c., &c. This Jansen story, however, is a myth, like many of the stupidities which are engendered by ignorance or started through envy or other like meannesses in illiterate neighborhoods. Col. Guy Johnson, nephew of Sir William, always retained a touch of the brogue. "His tongue bore evidence of his Irish extraction" (Captain Snyder, in Stone's "Brant," II. 67.
Warren, Knight of the most Honorable Order of the Bath, Vice-Admiral in the British Navy under George II (and well-known for his exploits-among these his cooperation with Sir William Pepperell in the famous expedition against Louisburg, the French Gibraltar in America, in 1745), and niece of Admiral Lord Aylmer, of Balrath, County Meath, Ireland.
"The above Christopher Johnson was son of William Johnson, then called MacSean or MacShane, a "general of very great repute and credit in that part of Ireland (county Meath, whose principal river is the Boyne, famous for the victory of William III. over James II., 1st July, 1690), and of Anne Fitzsimmons, of Tallynally, county of Westmeath. William MacSean was the son of Thomas MacSean and Frances Fay, of the very ancient family of Derrinaganale, county Westmeath. This Thomas MacSean was son of John (O'Neil), from whom the MacSeans of that family were called, and was descended from the Royal (Irish) family of Dungannon, County Tyrone, formerly princes of Ulster and monarchs of Ireland, "antecedent to Christianity" and "before the coming of St. Patricke." The family of Warren (here referred to), of Warrentown, is the head and stock of several illustrious families of that name in Ireland, and the founder was one of the principal followers of Earl Strongbow when he conquered Ireland, 1169-70. This family of Warren is descended in a direct legal line from the Marquises of Warrene, in Normandy, France.
According to Sir William George Johnson, Bart., there is an exceptional honor attached to the patent of nobility conferred upon the first Sir William and his son, Sir John, which is almost unprecedented in British history. The patent which perpetuates the baronetcy in this family contains a clause which gives the title of "Knight" or "Sir" to the eldest son on his attaining his majority, an extraordinary clause, as knighthood as a rule is not hereditary, but is conferred for special services and terminates with the life of the recipient.
I. WILLIAM JOHNSON, Esq. (afterwards Knight and Baronet), was
born at Smith Town, County Meath, Ireland, and subsequently adopted by his
maternal uncle, Admiral Sir Peter Warren, K. B., capturer of Louisburg, &c.,
and went out with him to North America, where he rose to the rank of Colonel
in the British Army, Major-General of the Provincial Forces and (or) of the
Militia, 16th April, 1783, and distinguished himself as a military commander
during the French (American) War (1754-63), and as a negotiator with Indian
tribes. He was created a Baronet 27th Nov., 1755. In 1756 he received his
commission as "Colonel, Agent and Sole Superintendent of all the affairs
of the Six Nations and other Northern Indians," "with no subordination
but to London (London?)." He died 11th July, 1774, of chronic malignant
dysentery, aged 59, at his seat, Johnson Hall, Try on County, New York, leaving
by Catherine Wisenberg [Weissenberg ?], his wife:
I.. JOHN, his heir.
II. ANNE, married to Col. DANIEL CLAUSS, of North America, and died about 1798.
III. MARY, married to Col. GUY JOHNSON, and had two daughters: 1. Mary, wife of Field Marshal Lord Clyde, queller of the East India Mutiny, originally Sir Colin Campbell, and mother of Gen. Sir Guy Campbell ; 2. Julia.
The son and heir of Sir William Johnson, Bart.:II. SIR JOHN, of Johnson Hall,* Tryon (afterwards Fulton) County, N. Y., finally of Mount Johnson, Montreal: Colonel of Regiment of Horse in the Northern District of New York, in 1773; Major-General of the Militia belonging to the same portion of the Province after the decease of his father; Lieut.-Col. commanding the Loyal or Provincial " King's Royal Regiment of New York," otherwise "The Queen's Loyal New Yorkers;" or "Johnson's or Queen's Royal Greens;" Colonel, B. A., 21st October, 1782; Brigadier-General of the Provincial Troops, &c., 14th March, 1782; Superintendent-General and Inspector-General
* To furnish some idea of the condition of insecurity in which the Johnson family lived, and the state of preparation maintained at the Hall-the family home-a semi-fortification, the following order, copied from the original by Col. T. Bailey Myers, is inserted entire.
It was by a father who was so careful in his instruction, who was so capable in the handling of men, so conscientious in his labors, administrative, executive and military, and so fortunate in his enterprises, Sir John Johnson was brought up and prepared for the arduous career which absorbed the best portion of his active life.
"1st. You will keep your Party sober and in good order and prevent their having any unnecessary Intercourse with the Indians least any difference might arise between them from too much familiarity.
2d. If any difference should arise between them, if the Indians use any of your party ill, I am to be immediately acquainted with it.
4th. You will in the day time keep one Sentry on the Eminence to the Northward of the House, who upon seeing the enemy advance is to fire his piece and retreat to the Fort. Another Sentry to be posted at the Gate of the Fort on the outside, who is also to enter the Fort on the advanced Sentry alarming him.
3d. The Sergeant to take care that the Men's Quarters be kept very Clean and that they wash well and freshen their Salt Provisions, the neglect of which makes them subject to many Disorders.
7th. In case of an attack the 3 Bastions to be properly manned and the 2 curtains also, there mixing some of my People with yours. The remainder of my People to man the Dwelling House and fight from thence, making Use of the Four Wall Pieces and Musquetoons and of the windows fitted for them.
General of the Six Nations of Indians and their Confederates, of all the Indians inhabiting Our province of Quebec and the Frontier, 16th September, 1791 (a copy of Sir John's commission is appended as a note); * Colonel-in-Chief of the six Battalions of the Militia of the Eastern Townships of Lower Canada. He was Knighted at St. James', London, 22d Nov.,
6th. Whenever an alarm is given by the advanced Sentry, you will order three Patteroes [or Peaeroes, a very small kind of cannon] immediately to be fired, that being the signal I have given to the Mohawks, and on their approach near the Fort, when challenged, they are to answer "George" as distinct as they can, then to be admitted if practicable.
5th. When there are no Indians here the Gates to be locked at 8 o'clock in ye Evening and opened at Six in the Morning, first looking around about to see that all is safe and clear, the advanced Sentry then to be posted Every Day.
The men's arms and ammunition to be kept in Good
To FORT JOHNSON, I am, Sir,
Lieut. August the 9th, 1756. Yrs.,
ALEXANDER TURNBULL.-- WM. JOHNSON.
NOTE.- Cause of this absence. On the 10th of August the Marquis de Montcalm, who had succeeded Baron Dieskau his command of French army, invested Oswego. On the 13th of this the garrison, Shirley and Pepperell's regiments, 1600 men, evacuated and retreated to the old fort across the river, and surrendered on 13th, and both forts leveled. Johnson was at Albany on the 20th when the news arrived, and was sent by Ld. London with two battalions of militia to German Flats to support Gen. Webb, who had started from Albany for the relief of the garrison two days before the surrender, but, on receiving intelligence of it, retreated with precipitancy to German Flats, which ended Loudoun's campaign and disappointed and incensed the Six Nations, who looked for his protection, and gave Sir William much trouble ; the Mohawks only remaining reliable, the others for a time negotiating for peace with the French.
* GEN'L J. W. DE PEYSTER, BUFFALO, March 80, 1882.
DEAR SIR :-I enclose copy of Sir John Johnson's commission as Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs. The original is bound up in a collection of autographs and documents in my possession, and could not be detached without mutilation.
Possibly this may be of some slight service to you.
Very respectfully yours, WM. C. BRYANT.
[To whom the Johnson family owe a heavy debt of gratitude for
1765. (On the death of his father, Sir William (I.), Sir John positively refused to accept the succession to the former's dignities and offices in connection with the Indians, and they were conferred upon his cousin. Guy Johnson, who exercised them throughout the Revolutionary War, and thus Sir John and Col. Guy have often been confounded, to the disadvantage of Sir John. Sabine says, "Col. Guy Johnson's intemperate zeal for his royal master caused the first affray in that [Tryon] county.") Sir John married, 30th June, 1773, MARY, daughter of Hon. JOHN WATTS, Senior, Esq., some time President of the King's Council of New York, and by her (who died 7th August, 1815) he had issue:
I. WILLIAM, Lieut-Col., born 1775; married in 1802, SUSAN-
an extraordinary beauty-daughter of Stephen de Lancey
his noble defence of Sir John Johnson, and the writer abundant thanks for information, rendered doubly valuable by the courtesies attending its transmission. J. W. De P.]
George the Third, by the Grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. To our trusty and well-beloved Sir John Johnson, Bart., Greeting : We reposing especial Trust and Confidence in your Loyalty, Fidelity and Ability do by these Presents constitute and appoint you to be Superintendent General and Inspector General of our Faithful Subjects and Allies, the Six United Nations of Indians and their Confederates, and of their Affairs, and also of our faithful Allies the Indians inhabiting Our Provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, in America, and the frontiers of our said Provinces, and of their affairs : And you are to observe and follow such Orders and Directions as you shall receive from Our Commander in Chief of Our Forces in Our said Provinces of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, or, in case of his absence, from the Officer who may be left in the Command of the said Forces for the Time being.
Given at Our Court at St. James's, the Sixteenth day of September, 1791, In the Thirty First Year of Our Reign.
By His Majesty's Command,
Governor of Tobago, and sister of Sir William de Laucey, K.C.B., "Quartermaster-General of Wellington's army," killed at Waterloo; and died 1812, leav ing by her (who married secondly, 1815, General Sir Hudson Lowe, K.C.B., and died 1832) three daughters:1. Charlotte, married in 1820, Alexander Count Balmain, Russian Commissioner at St. Helena, and died in 1824.2. Mary, died unmarried in 1814.3. Susan, died unmarried in 1828.
II. ADAM GORDON, IIId Baronet.
III. JAMBS STEPHEN, Captain 28th Regiment, killed at Badajoz, born in 1785.
IV. ROBERT THOMAS, drowned in Canada in 1812.
V. WARREN, Major 68th Regiment, died 1813.
VI. JOHN, of Point Oliver, Montreal, Col. Com'g 6th Battalion of Militia, born 8th August; 1782, married 10th February, 1825, Mary Diana, daughter of Richard Dillon, Esq., of Montreal, and died 23d June, 1841 leaving issue:
1. WILLIAM GEORGE, successor to his uncle, and present (in 1882) Baronet.
2. CHARLES, Captain Madras Artillery, born 4tm.February, 1833.
3. JAMES STEPHEN, Lieut. 14th Foot, born 5th March, 1836; killed at Barbadoes.
4. ARCHIBALD KENNEDY, born 20th June, 1839.
1. MARIA DIANA.
.2. ANNE MARGARET.
3. ELIZA THERESA.
4. MARY ANNE.VII. CHARLES CHRISTOPHER, of Argenteuil, Canada East, born 29th October, 1798: Lieut.-Col. in the Army; Knight of the second class of the Persian Order of the Lion and Sun; married 1818, Susan, eldest daughter of Admiral Sir Edward Griffiths, of Northbrook House, Hants (Hampshire) (who took the surname of Colpoys), and died 30th September, 1854, leaving:
1. WILLIAM, an officer in 20th Regiment, born 28th May, 1831, deceased.
2. JOHN ORMSBY, Captain Royal Navy; born 11th August, 1822.
3. CHARLES TURQUAND, born 17th June, 1825, deceased.
4. EDWARD COLPOYS, born 11th August, 1855, an officer in the Army.
1. MARIA BOWES, married, 18th June, 1867, Rev. Win. Bell Christian, of Ewanrigg Hall, Cumberland, and Milntown, Isle of Man.
2. MARY ANNE SUSAN.
Vlll. ARCHIBALD KENNEDY, born in 1792, married, 13th September, 1818, Maria Johnson, daughter of Patrick Langan, Esq., of Montreal, died 8th October, 1866.
1. ANNE, married to Col. Edward Macdonnell, Deputy Quartermaster General to the Forces in Canada, who died in 1812.
2. CATHAEINE MARIA, one of the loveliest, wisest and best of women, married in 1805 to Major-General BARNARD FOORD BOWES, an officer of unusual ability and intrepidity, who fell in the attack upon the forts at Salamanca, 23d June, 1812.( See Harper's "Alison," III., 476 (2) and note +, and other authorities on the War in Spain). She died at Anglesey, near Gosport, England, in 1850.
3. MARIANNE, died 1st January, 1868.
SIR JOHN, died 4th January, 1830, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son,
III. SIR ADAM GORDON, Lieut.-Col. of the 6th Battalion of Militia, born 6th May, 1781; who died unmarried 21st May, 1843, and was succeeded by his nephew, WILLIAM GEORGE, the present (1882) Baronet.
IV. SIR WILLIAM GEORGE JOHNSON, of Twickenham, County of Middlesex, England, was graduated at Woolwich, and for the best portion of his life held a commission in the British Army as Captain of Artillery, and acted, in the discharge of various staff duties, at different posts, and once upon the Island of St. Helena; born 19th December, 1830; succeeded as IV. Baronet at the decease of his uncle, in May, 1843.
ARMS.-Argent, two lions counter-rampant, supporting a dexter hand gules; in chief, three estoilles of the last, and in bas, a salmon naiant in water, proper.
CREST.-An arm, gules, encircled with a ducal crown. Or, the hand grasping a sword, proper, poinard and hilt, Or.
MOTTO, -"Nec aspera terrent." "Difficulties do not stop (or deter) or dismay." " BOLDNESS WINS."
Sir John Johnson, might have exclaimed, in the words of Dryden:
" Fortune came smiling to my youth, and woo'd it,
And purpl'd greatness met my ripen'd years,
When first I came to empire, I was borne,
On tides of people crowding to my triumph:
The wish of nations, and the willing world
Receiv'd me as its pledge of future peace.
I was so great, so happy, so belov'd,
Fate could not ruin me, 'til I took pains,
And work'd against my fortune; chid her from me,
And turn'd her loose, yet still she came again.
My careless days, and my luxurious nights,
At length have wearied her ; and now she's gone.
* * * * * *
Oh ! I am now so sunk from what I was,
Thou find'st me at my low-water mark:
The rivers that ran in, and rais'd my fortunes,
Are all dried up, or take another course.
What I have left is from my native spring;
I've still a heart that swells in scorn of fate."
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