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Thomas Dunbar
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Birth: May 20, 1764
Washington County
Rhode Island, USA
Death: Dec. 12, 1840
Hampden County
Massachusetts, USA

THOMAS DUNBAR was the son of John Dunbar and Anstis Champlin, of Westerly, Rhode Island.

Thomas was born at Westerly, Washington Co., Rhode Island 20 May 1764 [James N. Arnold, R.I. Vital Records, Vol. 5, Part IV, Westerly, p. 110, 1894]; died at Blandford, Hampden Co., Massachusetts, 12 December 1839/40 not far from Chester; buried at Dunbar Cemetery, Smithies Road, Chester, Hampden Co., Massachusetts [Francis H. O'Leary, Gravestone Inscriptions for Chester, Massachusetts, 1761-1981, p. 29, Agawam, Mass., 1983; Revolutionary War Pension File, microfilm]. His gravestone gives his date of death as 12 December 1840 aged 75 1/2.

Thomas was married at Westerly, Washington Co., Rhode Island 29 August 1784 to Eunice BARBER by Elder Isiah WILCOX [A certified copy of their marriage record, dated 29 August 1843, is included in his Revolutionary War Pension Application, p. 560, microfilm].

Much of what we know of Thomas is derived from his application for a pension from the Federal Government based upon his 19 months of service during the Revolutionary War. Thomas states in a 4 September 1832 affidavit (in support of his pension application) that he does not recall the dates of his service precisely, so the following chronology may contain errors. Much of the narration of Thomas's service is taken verbatim from his application for a Federal pension.

Thomas entered service at New London, Connecticut in the spring of 1776 aged 12 on board the 14 gun brig LADY SPENCER commanded by Micah MELARY, First Lieutenant PINKHAM of Nantucket, Second and Third Lieutenants COLEFOX. During the 5 month cruise of the LADY SPENCER, it mainly cruised at the latitude of 36oN, in order to intercept ships which were bound for New York, then in the possession of the British. They captured one British schooner bound for New York from Fayal, laden with wine and brandy, and sent her into the port of New London. This schooner was mastered by Capt. CLAY, an old sea captain. The LADY SPENCER returned to New London at the end of about 5 months at sea.

Shortly after his return to port, say in the fall of 1776, Thomas returned to service at Stonington, Connecticut on the REVENUE, a 14 gun privateer sloop. Capt. William JAGGER was Commander of the REVENUE and patrolled off the coast of Sandy Hook, Long Island. They took one prize, the schooner EXPERIMENT, bound from New York to Halifax, and sent her into the Mystic River to Mystic, Connecticut. He had not been on this cruise many weeks before being captured by a British ship, the RANS___. Thomas and the rest of the crew were sent to New York City where they were confined aboard a prison vessel, before being exchanged for British prisoners. Thomas was placed on a cartel and was landed at New London, Connecticut and later returned to Westerly, Rhode Island.

In the summer of 1777 or 1778 Thomas served a three-month tour guarding the coast at Point Judah, Rhode Island, under the command of Sergeant John PIERCE, Lieutenant Lebbers COTTERALL, and Capt. Henry WELLS. He was stationed at the farm house of Henry GREEN, and frequently helped GREEN on the farm and getting in the hay. After this 3-month tour of duty Thomas returned to Westerly.

Thomas then served another 3-month tour of coastal guard duty at Watch Hill, in the southwestern corner of Rhode Island under the command of Sergeant Lebouts PENDLETON, Lieutenant Paul MAXON, and Captain William RHODES of Westerly. During this tour of duty there were four British ships cruising of the coast and intercepting colonial vessels attempting to enter or exit the port. His and other companies were frequently brought in to defend grounded colonial vessels from being plundered or burnt by the enemy, these ships had run ashore to evade the British ships. During this time, a prize ship from Ireland, the TWO BROTHERS, taken with beef, bread, and butter had been captured by one of the American vessels and was on her way to New London, when she was observed by the British ships. She was run ashore on Westerly Beach, and boats from the British ships came to the TWO BROTHERS, and tried to get her off, but not being able to succeed, they set it on fire. His and other companies went to extinguish the fire and save the cargo, but the vessel was not put off. The cargo was put into the barn of Col. NOYES of Westerly. After his dismissal he returned home to Westerly.

In the summer of 1778 or 1779 Thomas again volunteered into service and was stationed as a guard at Westerly Beach under the command of his uncle, Capt. Samuel CHAMPLIN. Capt. Samuel CHAMPLIN (William4-2, Jeffrey1) was a veteran of the Indian wars of the 1750s and 1760s and was made a Captain of the 2nd Militia Company from June 1767 until at least May 1770. In February 1777, Samuel was placed in charge of the guard appointed by the Rhode Island General Assembly to watch the Westerly area shores that were "exposed to the ravages of the enemy" [Robert Champlin, pers. comm., June 1994]. The guard consisted of 25 soldiers stationed there to keep watch on some British ships which lay in view of that place. The British made many attempts to land with their boats and in a number of cases succeeded and in some instances carried away stock. The British did great injury firing from their ships upon the buildings there. The British likewise took a considerable number of sloops and forced many others to run ashore. Thomas served this duty for one year and five months at which time he was dismissed and returned home.

As Thomas later recounted this story some 50 years later, immediately after he was dismissed from the above duty, say 1780, he volunteered to serve on board the sloop CENTURION based at Stonington, Connecticut. The CENTURION, under the command of Benjamin PENDLETON of Westerly, patrolled the Long Island Sound to intercept maurauders. There was at this time a number of boats belonging to refugees on Long Island which were continuously landing and committing great depredations on the coast. The CENTURION went out for the purpose of capturing these boats. After they had been out about ten days they returned to Stonington after having captured three boats, and brought the men prisoners and delivered them to the Commander of Fort Griswold at Groton, Connecticut. While at Groton they were informed that a privateer schooner called the HUFFER (HUSSEY?) had sailed from New York to retaliate upon the CENTURION for capturing these boats. The HUFFER mounted two more guns than the CENTURION and was commanded by Capt. ATKINSON. The CENTURION immediately sailed and fell in with her off Block Island. Here an engagement immediately took place and after an action of a little more than an hour the Americans succeeded in boarding her and taking all her men prisoners. There were four persons killed and several wounded on board the CENTURION. During this engagement Thomas was struck in the face with a broadsword; the scar remained as of 1832. The HUFFER was brought into Stonington and the prisoners were taken to Fort Griswold at Groton. In all the CENTURION took several boats loaded with cattle and sheep, which were going over to Long Island.

The same story is recounted with minor variations in the Pendleton Genealogy [Everett H. Pendleton, Early New England Pendletons, p. 148] which states that "according to Middlebrook's Maritime Connecticut During the American Revolution [Vol. II, p. 65], Benjamin PENDLETON was Lieutenant of the sloop CENTURION, of 6 guns and 25 men, commanded by Joseph DODGE of Westerly. On the 13 April 1782, while cruising about 15 leagues southwest of Block Island, "Captain Dodge captured the British sloop HUSSEY mounting one carriage gun and 10 swivels, and manned by 18 men".

In the summer of 1781, he was again called out for four months to defend Westerly Beach under the command of Capt. Samuel CHAMPLIN (probably his uncle) and Colonel NOYES. Once again, their mission was to defend the coast and to protect American vessels that had run aground to keep clear of the enemy.

Thomas, a mariner at Westerly, was mentioned in ship records dating from 1799 until 1807 [Ship Registers and Enrollments of Newport, Rhode Island 1790-1939, Vol. I, Providence, R.I., The National Archives Project, 1938-1941]. From 6 February 1799 until 28 November 1800 he was owner and master of the ANSON, a single-masted sloop used in the coastal trade, built in Connecticut in 1788. From 22 May 1801 until 18 May 1803 he was owner and master of the EUNICE BARBER, a two-masted schooner used in the coastal trade, built at Pawcatuck, Rhode Island in 1801. From 26 June 1806 until 28 May 1807 he mastered the ESTHER, a two-masted schooner used in the coastal trade, built at Freetown, Massachusetts in 1799. The latter vessel, owned by Benjamin FRY, a merchant of Newport, Rhode Island, was cast ashore at Cape Cod and lost.

Thomas is listed on probate records at Westerly, Rhode Island, from 28 February 1774 to 29 April 1811 [Rev. Frederic Denison, A.M., Westerly (Rhode Island) and its Witnesses 1626-1876, Providence, 1878, p. 241; Westerly 5A: 235, 241; 6A: 133, 1B: 418; A. G. Beaman, R. I. Vital Records, New Series, Vol. 4, Washington Co. Births from Probate Records, p. 112, 1978]. Thomas and family removed to Lebanon, Connecticut, after the War of 1812 and thence to West Springfield, Massachusetts, and later to Chester, Massachusetts, where he resided in 1830 [Pension Application; 1830 U.S. Census, Massachusetts, Hampden Co., Chester, microfilm].

In the receipts section of her father's probate, proved 6 June 1816, Thomas and Eunice are listed as residents of Colchester, Connecticut [Rhode Island Genealogical Register, July 1986, p. 50]. They were enumerated at Hartland, Hartford Co., Connecticut, in 1820 [1820 U.S. Census, microfilm]. By 4 September 1832 his affidavit states that he was a resident of Chester, Massachusetts. In an affidavit dated 3 August 1843, his widow, Eunice, aged 76 years, testified that Thomas died 12 December 1839 at Blandford, Massachusetts, not far from Chester. At the time of his death, Thomas received an annual pension of $80 for his service during the Revolutionary War.

Children (all b. at Westerly, Washington Co., R.I. [James N. Arnold, Vital Records of R.I. 1636-1850, Vol. 5, Part IV, Westerly, p. 100, 1894]); surname Dunbar:

i. Anstress (Anstis), b. 6 Oct. 1786.
ii. Thomas, b. 8 Nov. 1788.
iii. Sally Freebody, b. 9 Nov. 1788.
iv. Daughter?, b. ca. 1790 [1790 to 1810 U.S. Censuses].
v. John J., b. 30 May 1794.
vi. Nathan Barber, b. 20 Nov. 1796.
vii. William Champlain, b. 20 Sept. 1798.
viii. Eunice B., b. 3 Oct. 1800; d. 19 Nov. 1817; bu. at Westerly, Washington Co., R. I. [Alden G. Beaman, R. I. Vital Records, New Series, Vol. 3, Washington Co., R.I., p. 359, 1977].
ix. Oliver Champlain, b. 27 Dec. 1807.

Family links: 
  Eunice Barber Dunbar (1769 - 1857)*
  Thomas Dunbar (1788 - 1872)*
  John J. Dunbar (1794 - 1864)*
  Nathan Barber Dunbar (1796 - 1857)*
  Oliver Champlain Dunbar (1807 - 1883)*
*Calculated relationship
Dunbar Cemetery
Hampden County
Massachusetts, USA
Created by: Tom Brocher
Record added: Dec 25, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 82381347
Thomas Dunbar
Added by: Donna (Strout) Sakaske
Thomas Dunbar
Added by: Tom Brocher
Thomas Dunbar
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Donna (Strout) Sakaske
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Thank you for your service
- P.K. Magruder
 Added: Sep. 26, 2014

- J Vogel
 Added: Jan. 13, 2012

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