COLONEL ANDREW BURR
HE was a son of John, and grandson of Major John Burr, of Fairfield. His father died when be was quite young, and he, having no brothers, his father's portion of the major's estate descended by entail to him. He was a lawyer by profession, an assistant and rnagistrate of the colony, several times Speaker of the House, and wielded large influence in the councils of the Colony; yet his chief claims to distinction rest undoubtedly on his military services, which were many and varied. Passing first to the consideration of his military career, we find him, in 1731, lieutenant of the second company or train-band of Fairfield. Two years later, he was promoted to be captain of the same company In 1739, he was appointed major of the Fourth Regiment, of which the Fairfield company formed a part; the next year he was made commissary, to provide supplies for the troops ordered to be raised for an intended expedition against the French power in the West Indies.
In 1745 occurred the famous Cape Breton
Expedition, which, as being intimately
connected with the family history, should be noticed in detail it was
in fact the most brilliant passage in the
long series of colonial wars, and worthier of more attention than it
has received from historians. The fortress of Louisburg
was built on a precipitous rock, at the head of Chateaurouge Bay-an arm of the Atlantic,-about midway of the
eastern coast of the island of Cape Breton. By the treaty of 1715,
the French had relinquished Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to
England, and soon feeling the need of a fortress in that region, seized
upon this rock, and in the course of twenty-five years' persistent
labor had succeeded in converting it -with
its natural escarpments of rock, strengthened by every device known to
the science of war- into the most formidable
fortress of the New World. About the time of its completion, in 1744, war again broke out between France and England, and very soon
after the colonists discovejed that the French privateers were using
the place as a covert, from which to dart out on their fishing and
trading craft, employed in those waters. They accordingly
determined to capture it, and Maine, New Hampshire,
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut entered into a coalition to effect this object; New York and the western colonies were invited to join, but declined participating in the affair. As soon as the news of the agreement reached Hartford, Governor Law called a special meeting of the Assembly, which accordingly met at New Haven, February 26, 1745. Major Andrew Burr was chosen Speaker and Captain John Fowler clerk of the House. Of the seventy-five deputies present, thirty-six were colonels, majors, or captains. The war spirit of the colony was at its highest, and several extreme war measures were passed almost without debate. The first measure provided for the enlisting of five hundred, afterward raised to eight hundred, men for service in the intended expedition, and further provided that each man so enlisting should be paid from the public treasury eight pounds for each month of actual service in the war. If he provided himself with a good firelock, sword, belt, cartridge-box, and blanket, he was allowed a premium of ten pounds; if not, of three. He was to have, further, one month's wages before embarkation, "to be excused from all impresses for the space of two years after his discharge from service, and have an equal share in all the plunder with the soldiers of the neighboring governments."
A second act directed that the colony sloop-of-war Defence should be forthwith equipped and manned with her full complement of men, and sail, with all convenient speed, as a convoy to the transports for Cape Breton. A third appointed Hon. Roger Wolcot commander-in-chief, and Major Andrew Burr colonel of the forces engaged in the expedition. Jonathan Trumbull and Elisha Williams, Esqrs., were also appointed a committee to visit Boston and confer with the committees of the different governments there in managing the affairs of the war, and a board of commissaries was created, of which Col. Gurdon Saltonstall was chairman, who were instructed to provide four months' provisions and other necessaries for the troops, and also good well-found vessels for transports.
Pursuant to adjournment, the Assembly again met at Hartford, March 14, 1745. Colonel Burr was continued Speaker, and Captain Fowler clerk. The Assembly then proceeded to fix the pay of officers of the expedition. The major-general was voted £100 per month, the coloneI £65, the lieutenant-colonel £55, the major £45. Hon. Roger Wolcot was also granted £300 to provide his tent, bedding, etc., and for the entertainment of the chaplain; Colonel Burr, Esq., £120; Simon Lathrop, Esq. (lieutenant-colonel), £8o; and Israel Newton, Esq. (major), £6o for the same purpose. The different officers of the regiment were commissioned. The treasurer was directed to pay to the commissaries twelve thousand pounds in addition to the four thousand already paid, to provide for the needs of the expedition, and an act was passed em powering the commissaries to impress transports, provisions, etc., when they could not otherwise procure them on just and reasonable terms. In the meantime, recruiting had been briskly carried on, and Colonel Burr had rendezvoused his regiment of five hundred men at New London, where the commissaries had been busy collecting a fleet of transports to receive them. This fleet consisted of twelve vessels--the colony sloop-of-war Defence, the Rhode Island sloop-of-war, a privateer, a snow of Newport, another snow ; Captain Rouse, a ship ; Captain Snelling, a brig; a snow, and three sloops. One of these was the Jane, of Norwalk, subsequently lost off Louisburg; another, the Diamond, of Middletown, lost on her return passage from Louisburg with all on board; and a ship, Captain Ting.
By the middle of April everything was in readiness, and the little army, amid a storm of huzzas and farewells from the crowded streets, marched on board the transports, which immediately put to sea, standing out to windward of Block Island, and through the portals of the sound at Montauk into the ocean. The fleet was sixteen days at sea, but came safely and dropped anchor, April 30, 1745, in Cabaroosa Bay, near the fortress. Not, however, without mishap. On the 23d, they fell in with the French frigate Renornrne, thirty-six guns, from Louisburg, with dispatches to France, which engaged them, and damaged the Rhode Island sloop-of-war considerably, but which, after an hour's spirited conflict, was glad to haul off and bear away on her voyage. Had she known their weakness, with her superior weight of metal she might easily have sent the whole convoy to the bottom. The Massachusetts troops had arrived on the 4th, so that the combined land and naval forces of the colonies, numbering about 4,500 men, were collected in readiness for the approaching struggle. On the morning of the 30th, the fleet crossed the bar, and approached the town, piloted by the fishermen of Marblehead and New London. The surprise of the garrison at sight of this armament, which, seen in the offing, they had supposed to be privateers in wait for their trading craft, was complete, but at the tap of the drum, they sprang to arms, and a detachment of 150 men, under command of Col. Bouladrie, was sent to resist the landing of the troops. Gen. Wolcot, however, with Yankee shrewdness, made a feint of landing at one point, while Col. Burr, with his men, waded the surf, reached the shore at another, and were drawn up in line of battle before the enemy could cover the distance between them. Then followed a sharp skirmish in which the French were utterly routed, and fled, leaving their commander, Bouladrie, and half their number in the hands of the victors.
Thus the initial step of the campaign, that of gaining a safe landing for the troops, was accomplished. From their camp that night, Wolcot and Burr could take in at a glance the whole line of coast and the defences of the enemy. Hard by, two miles away, was the grand battery, armed with thirty 42-pounders, and commanding the harbor and city. Nearly opposite their position, on an island of the bay, was the Island battery, mounting the same number of 28-pounders. Between the town and the mainland lay a morass two miles wide and impassable for horses, and when this was passed, the fosse 8o feet wide, and the ramparts 30 feet high, and mounting 65 cannon of different calibres, still interposed between the invaders and the city. In the batteries and the fortress were posted 6oo regulars and 1,300 militia, well armed and provisioned for five or six months, and, in addition, an irregular force of half-breeds and Indians was ambushed in the neighboring forests, and was available under certain contingencies.
Having thus briefly stated the obstacles, let us go on and see how they were overcome.
Early next morning a detachment of 400 provincials was sent around behind the hills east of the city, burning houses and stores as they advanced, until they came within view, at scarce a mile's distance, of the grand battery. At this moment, the smoke from the burning houses surging through the provincial ranks, deceived the enemy into the belief that a great army was upon them, and panic-stricken, they threw their powder into a well and fled in confusion toward the town, leaving the provincials to rush in and secure the fortress without the loss of a man.
It was a proud moment for the gallant fellows, and as the tricolor of France came down with a run, and the great guns, double-shotted, were turned upon the foe, they felt, no doubt, that their losses from the piratical Frenchmen were amply avenged. Next morning the army addressed itself seriously to the work of the siege. Five fascine batteries were begun beyond the morass, and within striking distance of the town, the Connecticut troops erecting the redoubt nearest the enemy's position, and but two hundred yards distant. The heavy cannon were placed on wooden floats, and drawn by the strong lumbermen of Maine across the morass to the batteries, where they were placed in position. The men carried the ammunition and other stores in baskets on their shoulders, as in more peaceful days they had been wont to carry grain from their sunny cornfields. Working slowly in this manner, by the 20th of May they had succeeded in erecting five fascine batteries, one of five 42-pounders, and in completely investing the town. On the 21st they commenced a furious bombardment in which they were aided by the British men-of-war, several of which had now come in; this was continued for twenty-four days, almost without cessation, although the besiegers suffered greatly during the time from cold, hunger, severe rains, the sorties of the besieged, and the attacks of the Indians.
By the 14th of June, it was observed that the fire of the carronades and 42-pounders had begun to tell terribly on the walls, and success seemed near. The Island battery was then nearly silenced, and untenable; the west gate of the town broken down; a large breach made in the adjoining wall; the circular battery of 16 guns in ruins ; the northeast battery badly damaged, and the soldiers driven from its guns. Under these circumstances it was determined that, on the i8th, the combined land and naval forces should assault the town, but the enemy, judging that such an attack was intended, and fearful of its result, on the 16th sent in a flag of truce, asking for terms of surrender. These were given and accepted, and, on the 16th of June, the city and fortress of Louisburg, with the island of Cape Breton, were surrendered to the provincial arms. Theirs had been the hardships of the enterprise, and theirs was the glory of the victory, though they were not destined to share in its fruits. During the siege prizes to the value of five million dollars had been taken, a share of which belonged of right to the colonists, but which was awarded by the home government to the naval forces, nor is there any record of their receiving a penny of it, nor any indemnity whatever for the losses and burdens of the war, although a few years later they saw the mother country reap the fruits of their victory in the acquisition of Canada, and the withdrawal of French pretensions in that quarter.
A very interesting memorial on this subject was addressed to the British King, by the General Court of Aug. i6, 1745. Its closing paragraphs are as follows:
"Will your Majesty be pleased further to permit us humbly to recommend to your royal consideration and favor, the officers and soldiers who have voluntarily served their King in this expedition, going through incredible labors and fatigues in erecting batteries, (one of which they advanced within about 200 yards of the city walls,) drawing guns, (some 42-pounders) firing nine or ten thousand great shot and shells, and small shot without number, and in receiving the enemies' shot near equal, in all which the officers and soldiers from Connecticut, (whose loyalty and resolution is inferior to none,) bare their full share, notwithstanding all which, these officers and soldiers, (who would have been entitled to the plunder if taken) received no benefit thereof, the same by capitulation being given up, and the city and forts, with their artillery, saved and surrendered to your Majesty, whereas the officers and soldiers at sea, both before and since the surrendery, have had great and valuable prizes fallen into their hands, even within sight of the city walls, particularly since the surrendery, two French East India ships richly laden, and one South Sea ship, which we have advice had on board four hundred thousand pounds sterling in money, besides a valuable cargo in goods, and it is supposed that the captures there amount to a million pounds sterling or more, which it is probable would never have fallen into the hands of your Majesty's subjects if this expedition had not been undertaken. We have presumed to send your Majesty a roll of the officers from Connecticut, and most humbly pray your Majesty's most gracious acceptance, audience, and favor. "Signed by JONATH. LAW, Gov."
In taking leave of the subject, it is worthy of remark that fifteen days after the surrender, and before news of the event had reached the colony, the Connecticut Assembly passed a vote to raise 300 additional men for the Cape Breton expedition. The said troops "to be and belong to Col. Burr's regiment now employed in such service."
The General Assembly of Aug.15,1745, detailed Col. Burr with 350 men of his regiment for garrison duty at Louisburg, until the next June, or until the pleasure of the home government should be known. He was shortly relieved, however, for we find him Speaker of the House at the next session of the Assembly in October, 1745.
With the spring of 1746 another war threatened the half exhausted colonies. The English ministry then decided on a campaign against the Canadas, and sent directions to the colonists to furnish their quota of men and stores for the expedition. In this war Colonel Burr seems not to have taken active service, though he bore a prominent part in the preparations for enlisting and provisioning the troops. He with Gurdon Saltonstall (afterward Governor), and four other prominent gentlemen, constituted a board of commissaries for providing transports, provisions, arms, clothing, and other necessaries for the use of the troops. He was at the same time appointed War Committee for New Haven County, with Col. Thomas Fitch as colleague, "to assist his Honour the Governor in the affairs relating to the war, referred, or that may be referred by this Assembly to said Committee." No mention is made of him in a military capacity again, until 1750, when, at the October session of the Assembly he was commissioned Colonel of the Fourth Regiment (of Fairfield County). The war of 1744 terminated with the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in October, 1748, and from that time to the famous French and Indian war in 1756, the colonists enjoyed comparative peace, yet during this time there were, no doubt, almost daily incursions of the savage hordes along the borders, so that we are not to infer that his sword was left to rust from disuse; of his personal history and adventures not a scrap remains, and the biographer is unfortunately confined to the bare, dry details of the records for the materials of his history ; enough, however, is gleaned there to prove that he was an efficient officer, brave, firm, and capable, and of grea? reputation in the colony.
2, 1726, he was
appointed by the Governor and Council, sheriff of Fairfield County; his
recognizance was 2,000 pounds ; his sureties were Thomas Hill, of
Fairfield, and John Lyon, of Greenwich. He held the office until
the13th of May following, when he resigned
it, "representing the
disadvantages that attended him in sustaining the office," and Thomas
Hanford, of Fairfield, succeeded him. While
sheriff, he had some difficulty in disposing
of a certain Thomas Shaw, who had been placed in his charge by the
Superior Court at its August term in Fairfield, "to be disposed of in
service," and to aid him, a resolution was passed at the fall term of
the Assembly, impowering him to agree with the person to whom said Shaw
should be indentured, that in case he (Shaw) should persist in his
thievish and burglarious practices, so as to
expose himself to the gallows, and to suffer the pains of death, which
then "seemed very hazardous," in that case, such person should be paid
back so much of the money agreed upon as should then--ie.,
at the time of the hanging remain
unsatisfied for, by the service of said Shaw; and
with this guarantee, we are to infer that Mr. Shaw soon obtained a
situation, as we hear no more of the matter.
At the Oct. session of the Court, 1727, he was appointed with Capt. Moses Dimon, to sell lands of Joseph Lockwood, of Fairfield, minor. May 11, 1732, he was on a committee with Capt. Platt and Esq. Lewis, to lay out a new parish at Stanford and Horse Neck. At the May session in 1733, he was one of a committee of six, who submitted a report on the disposal, or dividing, of the several townships laid out in the western lands. The report recommended first, an act granting all the money received from the sale of the seven towns lately laid out in the western lands, to the then settled towns of the colony, divided to them in proportion to the list of their polls, and ratable estate for that year, and to be secured and forever improved for the use of the schools kept in said towns according to law. And second, an act, creating a committee of two for each county, to sell the townships, or receive subscriptions for the shares--each town being divided into fifty shares, three of which were reserved, one for the first minister there settled, one sequestered for the use of the established ministry forever, and the third for the use of the school or schools in such town forever. The report was accepted by the Assembly, and Andrew Burr, and Samuel Burr, were appointed to take subscriptions for Fairfield County. The land open to buyers in this county lay in Township No.4, the middle town of the tract, bounded on the west by Ousatunnuck River. In Oct., 1734, he was appointed with Stephen Burr, to sell estate of David Burr, of Fairfield, and to put the money it should produce at interest for the use of the same.
May, 1737, he was appointed with Nathan Stanley and others, to receive the money contributed by the several societies, "for the civilizing and Christianizing the Indians in this Colony." May, 1746, on committee with Ebenezer Silliman and Thaddeus Burr, to settle differences in the parish of North Stratford, "and to pursue proper and peaceable methods for the settlement of a gospel minister among them." May, 1749, he was granted eighty-one pounds for his services as committee in assisting Col. Fitch in revising the laws. Jan. 8, 1755, on committee with Ebenezer Silliman, Samuel Fitch, and Joseph Platt, "to assist the Governor with their advice and counsel," in regard to the raising of forces for the defence of his Majesty's just rights and dominions in North America (see letter of Sir Thomas Robinson, in "R. I. Col. Rec.," vol. V., p. 406). Also March 17, 1756, the same were appointed a Committee of War, "to attend, and advise the Governor in any matters aforesaid-(relating to the intended expedition against Crown Point)-whensoever he shall think proper to call them together." November, 1755, appointed with David Rowland and John Reed, "to repair to Greenwich, to consider and settle some disputes that had arisen between the parishes of Greenwich and Horse Neck, respecting their parochial extension, and levying ministerial taxes." The same committee was reappointed on the same business at the May and September sessions of the Court, in 1756. Feb. 9, 1757, he was appointed "to receive the arms and accoutrements belonging to the king, used by the soldiers of the Colony in the last campaign," (that against Crown Point). His last appearance in public life was as Assistant at the October session of the Court in 1763. He was renominated for. Assistant at that time, but died before the election in May. His death occurred at his home in Fairfield, Nov. 9, 1763, and his tomb is still to be seen in the old burial-ground at Fairfield.
domestic life was
a pleasant and happy one. He married, April 30th,
1719, Sarah, daughter of Jonathan Sturgis of Fairfield, who bore him
thirteen children. She died about 1745. He
again married Sarah Stanly of Hartford, by whom he had one child, a
daughter, born Dec. 3, 1749.
died Nov. 9, 1763.
His will was dated Nov.24, 1760, and reads as follows:
Imprimis. I give and bequeath to my loving wife Sarah, the household
goods that she brought with her, that are in being after my decease.
And also the use of one-third of my real estate that I shall die
possessed of during her natural life, this to be in lieu of dower.
All the rest
of my estate I will and bequeath to my children, viz: David, Andrew,
John, George, Oliver, Elizabeth, Mary, Sarah
and Jerusha, in manner and proportion hereafter mentioned, I having already given to my son David the
value of thirty-four pounds lawful money, which shall be accounted as
part of the portion given him.
"Item. To my son Andrew, I have already given him thirty pounds lawful money, which shall be accounted part of his portion : And to my son George I have given ten pounds lawful money which shall be accounted part of his portion.
"Item. To my Son David, in consideration of his being my first born, I give all my law books being in partnership with Gov. Fitch: Also what I expended on his College learning. Also the acre of land I gave him where his house now standeth to be over and above his share with the rest of his brethren.
"Item. All the rest and remainder of my estate not given before in this my last will, I give, devise, and dispose of the same to my aforenamed children to them their heirs and assigns forever, in such manner that each of my sons shall have twice as much as each of my daughters aforenamed, making what is set off to my three sons as part of their portions respectively, and what I have charged to my daughter Elizabeth shall be part of her portion given in this my will, so that my aforenamed daughters shall have equal share, and half so much as each of my said sons, and my will is, that whatsoever I shall hereafter give to any of my children and shall be charged to them: or if it be by deed of gift, shall be taken and accounted as part of the portion of my estate, given to them in this my will. As to my daughter Ann, the wife of Capt. Sam. Sturges, I have already given her what 1 consider her full portion.
"Finally. I do hereby constitute and appoint my dutiful and beloved sons, David Burr and George Burr, executors of this my last will and testament (hereby revoking all former wills by me made.) In confirmation whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, the day and date fixed before written. My will farther is, that if my movables will not pay my debts, besides what is given to my wife, then my executors shall have power to sell lands to pay them.
Signed (ANDREW BURR) in presence of
DAVID ROWLAND, ANDREW ROWLAND, SARAH WARD."
REVEREND AARON BURR, D.D.
[Charles Burr Todd FB
ON the 4th of January, 1716, there was born to Daniel Burr, of Upper Meadow, a district in the northern limits of the present town of Fairfield. Ct., a son, on whom the graces that preside at birth seem to have lavished all those gifts which they so charily bestow on the majority of mankind. He had a lively, intelligent, profound intellect a handsom person, equable temper, sufficient wealth, and all the advantges of birth, breeding, and education, and still further to insure his successful rearlng, five hearty, healthy boys, and three merry girls shared with him in the care and solicitued of his parents.
"From childhood," says his biographer, (Stearns' "Hist. of First Church, Newark) "he had a strong inclination for learning, and early discovered tokens of that extraordinary quickness of intellect which afterward distinguished him." Fortunately his friends had the discernment to perceive this, and early determined to give him a liberal education, with a view to entering him later in some one of the learned professions. Accordingly, in his eighteenth year he entered Yale College, then beginning to acquire that prestige as an educator youth, whitch had before belonged exclusively to Harvard, and after the usual term of four years graduated with the highest honors of the class. This occurred in 1738. He was particularly proficient in Greek and Latin, and on receiving his first degree, was a candidate for, and received the privileges of, a resident graduate on the Berkeley foundation, which were only granted, after competition, to the three best scholars in Greek and Latin of the class. The year after and while pursuing his post-graduate studies, an event occurred which exerted a controlling influence on his subsequent career. In this year he experienced that mysterious' change which we call conversion and which has changed the life current of so many men. A very interesting account of this event is given, in the following extract from his private papers:
"This year God saw fit to open my eyes, and show me what a miserable creature I was. Until then I had spent my life in a dream, and as to the great design of my life had lived in vain. Though before I had been under frequent conviction, and was driven to a form of religion, yet I knew nothing as I ought to know. But then I was brought to the footstool of sovereign grace, saw myself polluted by nature and practice, had affecting views of the Divine wrath I deserved, was made to despair of help in myself, and almost concluded that my day of grace was passed. It pleased God at length to reveal his Son to me as an all-sufficient Savior, and I hope, inclined me to receive him on the terms of the Gospel."
His thoughts were now turned towards the Christian ministry, as the worthiest, most sacred and most responsible pursuit of man, and in September, 1736, he was licensed as a candidate for sacred orders. His first parish was Greenfield Massachusetts, a pretty village in the valley of the Connecticut, a few miles above Springfield. He remained there but a short time, and then removed to New Jersey and preached, as the old chronicles inform us, at a place called Hanover; while here a wider sphere of action opened before him. In 1677, a colony of Connecticut people, principally from New Haven, had settled in East Jersey. The church which they then founded had grown with the years, until it had now become a numerous and wealthy society, known as the First Church of Newark; it was now without a pastor, and having heard of the piety and eloquence of the young preacher from Connecticut, they appointed a committee, in Nov., 1736, to go down to Hanover and treat with him "on the subject of his becoming a candidate." Next month, Dec. 21st, it was put to vote "whether the town desire Mr. Aaron Burr should have a call for further improvement in the work of the ministry among us, as a candidate for further trial, which was carried in the affirmative, nemine contradicente." They were cautious folk, however, and engaged him at first, for but one year, commencing Jan. 10, 1737. The connection proved mutually satisfactory, and at the expiration of the year he was ordained as their pastor, by the Presbytery of East Jersey, with which the church was then connected. His emotions, on being inducted into this responsible office, are thus referred to in his journal "Jan. the 25th, I was set apart to the work of the ministry by fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands. God grant that I may ever keep fresh in my mind the solemn charge that was then given, and never indulge trifling thoughts of what then appeared to me to be of such awful importance."
The early part of his ministry was remarkable for that wonderful religious movement, which, commencing at Northampton and other towns in the Connecticut Valley, spread from town to town and from point to point, until nearly the whole country was embraced in its ever increasing circles. Great Britain also presented, at the same time, a similar phenomenon. This movement is known in religious annals as the "Great Awakening." Whitefield and the Wesleys were its leaders in England, and Whitefield, Edwards, and Burr among its chief promoters in America. The personal friendship and connection with Whitefield, begun at this time, forms one of the most charming passages in the life of this good man. The vessel in which the former took passage for this country was bound to Newport, R. I., and as it happened Mr. Burr was in that city when the vessel with its distinguished passenger arrived. It is probable that he accompanied Whitefield on his journey to Boston soon after; at least he was in that city while the latter was preaching there, and his letters of this date contain many pleasant little scraps of information concerning the great preacher and his sermons. For instance, in one, the first of the series, he remarks:
"To-day I heard Mr. Whitefield preach in Dr. Coleman's church. I am more and more pleased with the man." Again, "on the 21st I heard him preach on the Common to about 10,000 people. On Monday visited him and had some conversation, to my satisfaction." "On the 23d went to hear him preach in Mr. Webb's church, but the house was crowded before he came. Same day Mr. Whitefield preached at Mr. Gee's church, and in the evening at Dr. Sewall's. On Saturday I went to hear him preach again, on the Common; there were about 8,ooo there."
It was during Mr. Burr's stay in Boston at this time that an incident occurred, which is related as showing his remarkable power as a preacher.
One evening a young lady very wealthy and accomplished, but a skeptic in religion, was passing by the church in which he was to preach, and attracted by the crowd that was pouring in, entered. By and by Mr. Burr entered the desk. There being nothing remarkable in his appearance, she regarded him with contempt, and would have left the church had not a regard for appearances restrained her. But with the first deep, melodious tones of the preacher her interest was awakened; she listened with the most breathless attention to the sermon which followed, and at its close went out weeping and convinced. That evening dated a most decided change in her character and life; she became a humble, earnest Christian, and some years after died, in the triumphs of faith.
After some weeks spent in Boston, Mr. Burr returned to his parochial duties in Newark. Some time after, in November, 1740, he was visited by Mr. Whitefield, who preached in his church with the most gratifying results. A correspondence was kept up, it is said, between the two until Mr. Burr's death.
Two years after this visit, in June, 1742, the First Church of New Haven honored Mr. Burr with an invitation to become their assistant pastor with Mr. Noyes, and appointed a committee with President Clapp at their head, "to go down to Newark and lay the call before Mr. Burr, and at the same time to treat with the good people of Newark and gain their consent to Mr. Burr's removal." But both Mr. Burr and "the good people of Newark" seem to have been perfectly satisfied with their mutual relations, and the delegation was obliged to return home unsuccessful. Soon after we may suppose that Mr. Burr returned their visit, as he was chiefly occupied during this summer with sending the devoted Brainerd on his long cherished mission to the Indian tribes of the continent, and in the course of the summer made a long journey into New England and urged upon its people the duty and necessity of christianizing the Indians about them, and also recommended Mr. Brainerd as well fitted, both by nature and grace, for the work. Other ministers seconded these efforts and the result was that, in 1744, Brainerd was ordained and sent on a mission to the Indians at the Forks of the Delaware.
A marked peculiarity of President Burr's character was the large development in him of the paternal instinct, --a trait also shared by his famous son. He loved children, and had an instinctive desire to take every bright, active boy he saw and "make a man of him." As an educator of youth, he was justly celebrated. Very early in his pastorate at Newark he gathered a class of boys, eight or ten, about him, and instructed them in the principles of the English and classical languages. This was but the beginning. On the 23d Oct., 1746, Jonathan Dickinson, John Pierson, Ebenezer Pemberton and Burr with an equal number of lay associates, received a charter for a new college of New Jersey, and which was organized the first week in May, 1747, at Elizabethtown. Of this institution Jonathan Dickinson was the first resident. In August, 1747, Mr. Dickinson died, and the students, eight in number, were removed to Newark, and placed under the care of Mr. Burr. The following September, Governor Belcher granted a new charter, under which the college is at present conducted, and on the the 9th of November 1748, Mr. Aaron Burr was unanimously chosen the first president of the new college, "an office," says the college record, "which he was pleased modestly to accept, and took the oath of office required by the charter." His devotion to the interests of his new charge knew no bounds; indeed, he is to be regarded not only as the first president and true founder of this sturdy giant of our day, but as its fostering parent as well.
"The college," says Dr. Stearns, "was at the time in a feeble condition, and he not only contributed freely of his own means, but by the weight of his own influence and personal efforts, he was able to accomplish much in securing for it the patronage of the liberal, here and in other parts of the world." For the first three years of its existence, he received no salary whatever as president, and his intense interest in its welfare is shown in a letter of the period, which, after remarking that the college had lately drawn £200 in a lottery, adds, "It hath given the President such pleasure, that his spirits are greatly refreshed which were before very low." Mr. Burr remained president of the college, actively laboring in its behalf until his death in 1757. (The autograph which accompanies this sketch, is from a paper in the Connecticut State Archives, praying the General Assembly for authority to hold a lottery in that State for the benefit of the college, which power was denied them by the law of New Jersey. The paper is signed by Aaron Burr, Pres. of the college, as acting for the trustees.) Indeed, it is highly probable that his unparalleled labors in its behalf were the main cause of his untimely decease.
In the midst of this life of activity occurred his marriage with Miss Esther Edwards, daughter of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards of stockbridge, Mass. This event, and the manner of its accomplishment created no small amount of gossip in the social circles of the day. Mr. Burr was then thirty-seven, the young lady twentv-one. His courtship, judging from the letters of a young gentleman then a student in Princeton College, to his friends, describing the affair, was quite patriarchal.
The young letter-writer thus describes it "In the latter end of May, the President took a journey into New England, and during his absence he made a visit of but three days, to the Rev. Mr. Edwards' daughter at Stockbridge ; in which short time, though he had no acquaintance, nor had ever seen the lady these six years, I suppose he accomplished his whole design, for it was not above a fortnight after his return here, before he sent a young fellow (who came out of college last fall) into New England to conduct her and her mother down here. They came to town Saturday evening the 27th ult., and on Monday evening following, the nuptial ceremonies were celebrated between Mr. Burr and the young lady. As I have yet no manner of acquaintance with her, I cannot describe to you her qualifications and properties. However, they say she is a very valuable lady. I think her a person of great beauty, though I must say I think her rather too young (being twenty-one years of age) for the President."
A few weeks later, on becoming acquainted, he wrote again, giving his impressions of the lady "I can't omit acquainting you that our President enjoys all, the happiness that the married state can afford. I am sure, when he was in the condition of celibacy, the pleasure of his life bore no comparison to that he now possesses. From the little acquaintance I have with his lady, I think her a woman of very good sense, of a genteel and virtuous education, amiable in her person, of great affability and
agreeableness in conversation, and a very excellent economist."
The marriage wa~solemnized, June 29, 1752. Two years later, May 3, 1754, the old parsonage in Newark was enlivened by the birth of a daughter, Sarah, and again, Feb. 6, 1756, by the advent of a son Aaron. They were the only children of President and Esther Burr.
In the autumn of 1756, the college buildings at Princeton were completed, and the president removed thither, severing his connection with the church which he had served to the great satisfaction of all parties, for twenty years. But the career of this busy and pious man was near its close. In August, 1757, he made one of his swift journeys into New England, penetrating as far as Stockbridge, the residence of his father-in-law. He returned home much exhausted, but was obliged to set off at once to Elizabethtown to meet Governor Belcher, on pressing business connected with the college. At Elizabethtown he learned that the wife of the Rev. Caleb Smith was dead, and hastened to condole with his bereaved friend, and on his arrival was prevailed on to preach the funeral sermon of the deceased lady. On his return to Princeton, he suffered from attacks of intermittent fever, but disregarding it, made a forced journey to Philadelphia, still on college business. From this journey he returned utterly exhausted, only to meet fresh demands upon his energies, for Governor Belcher, his old friend and ally, the firm friend and patron of the college, had died suddenly, and who but President Burr could fitly pronounce his funeral eulogium. He spent nearly the whole of that night in preparing it, and 'the next morning, nearly delirious with fever, travelled to Elizabethtown, where the funeral ceremonies were to be held. During the sermon his friends perceived, with regret and alarm, that he was nearly prostrated by his disease; this was his last sermon. From Elizabethtown he returned to his home at Princeton, where he expired from the effects of the fever, September 24, 1757. His funeral was celebrated in the college chapel, and his remains interred in the college churchyard, where, eighty years after, the body of his famous son was brought for burial.
Few men, probably, have been more sincerely mourned than was President Burr. A large concourse of people, comprising many of the magnates of the land, gathered at his funeral. A glowing eulogium was pronounced upon him by Governor Livingston, of New Jersey, (Afterward published; a copy-and the only one that I have been able to find-i~ preserved in the library of the Mass. Historical Society, Boston.) and the press and the pulpit vied in paying manly tributes to his virtue, talents, and beneficence.
President Burr's personal appearance and habits we have but few details, and they are chiefly supplied by his
biographer, Dr. Stearns, and by Gov. Livingston. According to Dr.
Stearns, he was small in stature; and of a delicate frame but capable
of great effort. "Hewas a small man, and very handsome, with clear dark
eyes of a soft luster, a slender, shapely person, and the style and
bearing of a pnince," said the letter writers of his day.
"To encounter fatigue," says Gov. Livingston, "he had a heart of steel, and for the despatch of business the most amazing talents. As long as an enterpnse appeared not absolutely impossible, he knew no discouragement, but in proportion to its difficulty augmented his diligence, and by an insuperable fortitude frequently accomplished what his friends and acquaintances deemed utterly impossible. In private intercourse he was modest, easy, courteous, and obliging." A perfect master of the art of pleasing in company, his presence threw a charm over every social circle. Temperate even to abstemiousness, he was a lover of hospitality, and possessing ampler means than most of his brethren, he distinguished himself as a bounteous giver.
"As a pastor," says Dr. Stearns, "Mr. Burr was eminently faithful and assiduous; of winning manners and distinguished skill in finding out and opening the avenues of the heart, he employed his address, learning, and activity for the promotion of the moral improvement and spiritual welfare of the souls committed to him." Gov. Livingston also touches upon this topic. "He was none of those downy doctors who soothe their hearers into delusive hopes of divine acceptance, or substitute external morality in the room of vital godliness. On the contrary, he scorned to proclaim the peace of God, until the rebel had laid down his arms and returned to his allegiance. He was an ambassador that adhered inviolably to his instructions, and never acceded to a treaty that would not be ratified in the court of Heaven. He searched the conscience with the terror of the law, before he assuaged its anquish with the balm of Gilead, or presented the sweet emollients of a bleeding Deity. He acted, in short, like one not intrusted with the lives and fortunes, but the everlasting interests of his fellow mortals, and therefore made it his business to advance the divine life, and restore the beautiful image of God displaced by the apostacy of man."
There are several portraits of President Burr in existence, but all I believe copies of an original portrait; which was captured by the British during the Revolution, and somewhat defaced, but was afterward recovered and restored. The painting in the college library is copied from that portrait.
THADDEUS BURR was born at Fairfield Aug.22 1735 a son of Thaddeus and grandson
of Judge Peter Burr. His mother was Abigail, daughter of Jonathan Sturges, Esq., of Fairfield. At the age of twenty he graduated at Yale College with the degree of A.M., and soon after, for conspicuous merit, the same honor was conferred on him by the College of New Jersey. March 22, 1759, he married a beautiful accomplished lady Miss Eunice Dennie daughter of James Dennie, Esq., of Fairfield. The wedding ceremony was performed by Rev. Noah Hobart, then pastor of the church at Fairfield, and was entered on both the town and church records. The first ten years of his married life were spent in scholarly and social pursuits, and in the management of his large estates ; he first appeared in public life as Deputy for Fairfield at the Oct. session of the General Court, in 1769. In 1771 he again appears as Deputy, also Oct., 1775, Dec., 1775, May, 1776, Nov., 1776, May, 1778, Oct., 1778, and Jan., 1779. He was Justice of the Peace for Fairfield, May, 1777, 1778, 1782, and was high sheriff of the County in 1779. He early espoused the cause of the colonies against the King, and in 1775 was a member of the town committee of war; this we learn from an interesting historical incident which is worthy of record.
The battle of Lexington commenced at five on the morning of Wednesday, the 19th of April, 1775. At ten on the same morning, Trail Bissell, an unlaurelled hero, was commissioned by the authorities of the Colony to ride and alarm the country quite to Connecticut. Like Scott's " Malise," he was the messenger of fear and hate, although unlike him, he bore not a fiery cross, but his paper commission, stamped with the broad seal of the Colony. At every principal village he stopped, while the town committee endorsed his papers; and, before he left, a dozen swift horsemen, coursing north and south carried the news to the most secluded hamlet, and sent hundreds of gallant yeomen hurrying up to Bunker Hill and Dorchester, eager to act well their part in the birth-hour of a nation. At four on the afternoon of Thursday our hero dashed into Norwich. He rode into New London at seven P.M. of the same day. He was in Lyme at one on the morning of Friday; in Saybrook at four A.M.; Killingworth at seven A.M.; East Guilford at eight A.M.; Guilford at ten A.M.; Bran-ford at twelve M. He reached New Haven on the evening of Friday, and Fairfield Saturday morning at eight, where Mr. Thaddeus Burr endorsed his papers as one of the town committee. From Fairfield the express continued on through Westport, Norwalk, and Stamford to New York; from that city to Elizabethtown, New Brunswick, Princeton and Trenton, where it arrived at nine A.M. on the 24th of April, one hour less than five days from Lexington.
When Fairfield was menaced with an attack from the British in 1779, Mrs. Thaddeus Burr, a lady of rare excellence and dignity of character, remained behind with the hope that her sex, and position as a former acquaintance of Governor Tryon, might avail to protect the mansion-house with its rich store of paintings, furniture, and the like, from pillage and burning. The sequel is related by Dr. Dwight in the third volume of his Travels." "Mrs. Burr, the wife of Thaddeus Burr, Esq., High Sheriff of the county, resolved to continue in the mansion house of the family, and make an attempt to save it from the conflagration. The house stood at a suflicient distance from the other buildings. Mrs. Burr was adorned with all the qualities which gave distinction to her sex; possessed of fine accomplishments, and a dignity of character scarcely rivalled; and probably had never known what it was to be treated with disrespect, or even with inattention. She made a personal application to Gov. Tryon in terms which, from a lady of her high respectability, could hardly have failed of a satisfactory answer from any person who claimed the title of a gentleman. The answer which she actually received, however, was rude and brutal, and spoke the want not only of politeness and humanity, but even of vulgar civility. The house was sentenced to the flames and was speedily set on fire. An attempt was made in the meantime, by some of the soldiery, to rob her of a valuable watch, and rich furniture, for Gov. Tryon refused to protect her, as well as to preserve the house. The watch had been already conveyed out of their reach; but the house, filled with every thing which contributes either to the comfort or elegance of living, was laid in ashes."
Mr. Dwight was not quite right, however, in his statements, for the Rev. Andrew Eliot, then pastor of the church at Fairfield, and an eyewitness of the scene, says, in a letter written to a friend seven days after, "that Gov. Tryon consented to spare his house and Mr. Burr's, but that they were burned by the British rear-guard, consisting of a banditti, the vilest ever let loose among men." A few weeks after the burning, Gov. Hancock paid his old friend a visit, and while they were surveying the ruins, be remarked to Mr. Burr that he must rebuild, and offered to furnish the glass needed, provided he would build a house precisely like his own in Boston,-not an inconsiderable gift, as all who have seen the Governor's unique mansion, fronting on Boston Common, must admit. Mr. Burr accepted the offer, and built a house the exact counterpart of Mr. Hancock's. The site of the mansion burned in 1779 is now occupied by the residence of William R. Jones, Esq.
The friendship between them continued until the Governor's death in 1793. Gov. Hancock's aunt, widow of Thomas Hancock, spent the last year of her life with Thaddeus Burr, and died at his house. Her tombstone may still be seen in the Fairfield churchyard, and, as one learns from the inscription thereon, was erected to her memory by Thaddeus Burr, Esq.*
In January, 1788, Mr. Burr was a delegate (with Jonathan Sturgis) from Fairfield to the State Convention at Hartford, called to ratify the new Constitution of the United States, and steadily voted to adopt that instrument.
By Thaddeus Burr
& Eunice Burr
To the memory of their dear friend
Mrs. LYDIA HANCOCK
Relict of the Honbl. Thomas Hancock, Esq.,
whose remains lie here interred,
Having retired to this town from the Calamities of War during the
Blockade of her native City in 1775
Just on her return to the re-enjoyment
of an ample fortune
On April 15 A.D. 1776
She was seized with the Apoplexy and
closed a life of unaffected Piety
universal Benevolence and extensive Charity,
Aged sixty three years
Of this stone the oldest inhabitant of Fairfield is quoted by a writer in the New York Evening Post as saying:
"This lady was the 'aunt,' who came with John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Dolly Quincey to Fairfield, immediately after the battle of Lexington, and who was so jealous of Aaron Burr's influence over her. She was no relative, but chaperone to Miss Dolly, and aunt to Hancock, being the widow of his uncle and benefactor, Thomas Hancock, the rich Boston merchant. John Hancock had been a member of her family for years, and she loved him as a son. She remained in Fairfield with her friends Mr. and Mrs. Thaddeus Burr until Boston was evacuated, and then on the eve of her return home was stricken with apoplexy and died suddenly, as the inscription states. But why should she have been buried in Fairfield? and why was it left for her friends, the Burrs, to place a tombstone to her memory? and why, all these years, have her ashes been left to mingle with alien dust instead of being deposited in the Hancock tomb with those of her husband and other friends? I have addressed these queries to members of the Hancock family and to others, but no one seems able to solve the problem; perhaps it was owing to simple neglect, perhaps, again, the pour lady desired to be laid here, where, in time, her friends, the Burrs, would come to keep her company. It is a pretty spot you observe, with the blue Sound in sight, and the green fields all about."
An original portrait of Mr. Burr, and also of his wife, painted by Copley, were in the possession of the late Mr. Andrew E. Burr, of New York, a grand-nephew of Thaddeus Burr, to whose father they were left by the late Judge Warren, of Boston, in his will. The accompanying portraits are engraved from them.
Mr. Thaddeus Burr died in Fairfield, Feb.19, a8oi, and was buried in the old Fairfield burying-ground. His funeral sermon was preached by his pastor, Rev. Andrew Eliot, from Isaiah xxxi., 19: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they rise." The passages relating to the life and character of Mr. Burr were as follows : "Your thoughts naturally accompany me in the sorrowful action of the preceding discourse, it having pleased that God in whose hand our breath is, to take away that eminent and useful person, who for many years discharged some of the first duties in the town, the county, and the state, in which he studied to improve the talents committed to his charge, and to render himself peculiarly useful to society and agreeable to his friends and constituents. I here seem to tread on forbidden ground, he having never been fond of my enlarging on characters, and having such a morbid distrust of his own abilities and acquirements : but forbid not, departed spirit, thy friends to read and view some of thy virtues for their own and others' imitation. Having been blessed with a liberal education and an ample estate, he in the first place sat down to the cultivation of them, and in connection with his amiable consort he enjoyed an almost uninterrupted scene of domestic felicity, and in which he exhibited himself the faithful and tender husband, the kind and indulgent master, and valuable neighbor. He was not blessed with children of his own, but in the office of guardian he exhibited the affectionate father. Orphans saw the loss of parents almost made up for he made a deep impression on their minds ere they arrived at maturity, and those of tender age when they hear the things which he has done for their brethren will wish that he had longer lived. His house was the mansion of hospitality. There his friends partook of his bounty; there the traveler often stopped, and the most reputable strangers sojourned. This society chose him to the first offices of trust. The town employed him for many years as one of their selectmen. For a number of years until he declined the office he was the sheriff of the county; many times he represented the town in the assembly; he was appointed one of the judges of our court but declined the office; he was one of the electors of the first president of the United States; citizens resorted to him for advice; oft was h& chosen to arbitrate in their differences, to audit their accounts, and adjust their matters, and thereby prevent a long suit at law.
Burr Family Genealogy
Bibliography (a list of resources used in gathering information for these pages)