John Poland (1752-1783) of Manchester, Massachusetts

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been preparing a DAR application form to establish lineage to my 6th great-grandfather, John Poland. His Revolutionary War service is not yet registered in the DAR Genealogical Research System. So, once my application is approved, he will be entered as a “new patriot” in the system. He will be the first new patriot that I establish in the DAR database. But I don’t intend him to be the last! I have several other Revolutionary War ancestors to acknowledge through this process.

I located his service record in Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, Vol. 12, Page 492. While there are three men named John Poland in this series, and others with the name Poland under various other spellings (Polland, Powland, Pollen, Polan, etc.), the man in this listing is the only one in which a place of residence is recorded: Manchester. My ancestor was most definitely from Manchester, as proven by his marriage record, the births of his children during this period, and town tax records.

In “proving” one’s lineage to a Revolutionary War patriot, the DAR requires documentation proving lineal descent for each statement of birth, marriage and death. Finding birth, marriage and death records for every person named in the 9 generations of the lineage from me to John Poland amounts to:

  • 18 birth records
  • 9 marriage records
  • 18 death records

As it happens, this application duplicates much of the maternal lineage established when I became a member of the DAR under Jonathan Tidd, Jr. That is, generations 1-6 of the lineage from me to Jonathan Tidd, Jr. is the same as from me to John Poland. As I’ve already submitted those documents, I don’t need to send them again. I only need to send documents for generations 7, 8 and 9 for this application. That brought the number of supporting documents to prove lineage down to:

  • 6 birth records
  • 3 marriage records
  • 6 death records

As a subscribing member to the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, I was able to locate all of these vital records online. Lucky me! Most of my ancestors were New Englanders, and the New England states kept very good records.

John Poland was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, on May 19, 1752. As far as I can determine, he appears to be the only son of Thomas Poland and Judith Elliot, married in Ipswich on Oct. 21, 1748. His mother died some time shortly thereafter, as indicated by Thomas Poland’s 2nd marriage to Joanna Tallen in Ipswich on Sep. 17, 1756.  After their marriage, Thomas and Joanna moved to the south side of the Cape Ann Peninsula and settled in Manchester. There, they had five children: Thomas, (b. 1757), Seward (b. 1759), Nehemiah (b. 1761), Ezra (b. 1763), Joanna (b. 1766).

Around 1771, it appears that Thomas left Manchester, as he no longer appeared on the town tax records. It may be that as hostilities between the colonists and the British leading up to the outbreak of war caused Thomas to take his wife and young children to a safer place. Thomas, Joanna and their children can be found on various records residing about 160 miles northward up the coast in Bristol, Lincoln County, Maine. Their youngest son, William, was born in Bristol in 1778 (per his 1814 enlistment record).

The 1814 enlistment record for John Poland’s younger brother, William, is interesting. It records William as being 6’2″ with hazel eyes, brown hair and a dark complexion. He was a mariner who started in the army but later was assigned to the navy. He served aboard the privateer, Alexander.
Did John Poland share any of his brother’s physical characteristics?

While his father and siblings departed for Maine (which was actually still part of Massachusetts at that time), John, remained in Manchester where he made his living as a seaman. This is supported by the 1792 court record in which his only son, John, was appointed a guardian where John is referred to as a “mariner.”

John Poland married Lydia Orsment on December 19, 1773, in Manchester.

John and Lydia had three children: Lydia (b. 1774), John (b. 1776) and Benjamin (b. 1780).

John Poland’s war service was under Capt. Joseph Whipple. Whipple was physician at Manchester and one of four men of the town selected to the Committee of Correspondence. In 1777, Whipple was serving as ship’s surgeon aboard the privateer  Gloucester when it was lost at sea, taking the lives of all 130 crewmen. It was a devastating loss for the town, as recorded in History of the Town and City of Gloucester. No doubt, John felt the loss as well, having served closely under Capt. Whipple as his fifer.

From the 1792 court record pertaining to the guardianship of the younger John, it is certain that John Poland died while his children were still young.  In 1783, the death of a Thomas “or John” Porland was recorded in Manchester, but the age at death (35 or 36) would have his birth year off by five years. However, because this record is a transcription of original handwritten town records, there is every likelihood that errors occurred in the transcription process. As the town records show no other John Poland dying in Manchester, I conclude that this death refers to John. Also, John Poland disappears from the town tax records around this time and does not appear on the 1790 Census. Finally, for that time period, it would be unusual for there to have been only 3 children from their marriage; the last child John fathered was born in 1780.

There were many reasons that men died young in the 18th century. Disease was the primary cause. But John may have died at sea; or, he may have died from complications arising from injuries received during his war service.

The same list of Manchester deaths cited above also records the death by fever on September 12, 1827, of the widow Poland. This may be John’s widow, Lydia. The age at death of “Widow Poland” (75) would mean a birth year (1752) which matches this birth record for Lydia.

John’s eldest daughter, Lydia, married David Morse in 1798 in Manchester where they raised a family of seven. She died of consumption at the age of 70.

His son, John, was taken in at the age of 16 by Ephraim Brown of Stoneham, Middlesex County, MA, a distance of about 25 miles from Manchester. Why he was taken in by Ephraim Brown is something I am investigating. In 1796, he married Dorothy “Dolly” Willy and they had 6 children. He died in Stoneham in 1824 at the age of 48. Dolly went on another 41 years, dying in 1856 of “old age.”

What became of John and Lydia’s youngest son, Benjamin, is a mystery. I’ve been unable to locate any records on him past his birth.

It will be up to perhaps 10 months before I learn whether my application to establish John Poland as a new patriot in the DAR Genealogical Research System. Hopefully, during the interim I may solve a few mysteries about him and his family.




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One Response to John Poland (1752-1783) of Manchester, Massachusetts

  1. Jim Beach says:

    Nice job researching. Very interesting. I enjoy reading your posts.
    Cousin Jim

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