“Reullura”: Sadly, a Tale for the Ages

Thomas Campbell

Thomas Campbell

Note: I’m posting this on my genealogy blog because my background on my mother’s side is Scottish, and my DNA test shows a significant Scandinavian component. (This was a surprise.) I feel certain events like those in this poem were both caused by and experienced by my ancestors. History is strange that way.


“Reullura” by the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell (1777-1844) pulls together three periods in human history which are, at the same time, both wildly disparate and remarkably similar: (a) the period of the Viking invasions in the Early Middle Ages, (b) the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, and (c) the rise of radical Islamic terrorism in the twenty-first century.

How is this so?

Iona LocationFirst, regarding the Viking invasions, “Reullura” concerns the Norse raids against the Scottish Isle of Iona [marked with black dot at right], which allegedly occurred while Aodh (St. Aidan of Lindisfarne) was a young monk at the Christian monastery on Iona, which had been founded by St. Columba in AD 563.  The events of the poem take place when Aodh was young, and since Aodh is known to have arrived in Northumbria at the invitation of King Oswald in 635, we can estimate the date of the events of the poem to be somewhere between 625 and 635.  All this is to point out that Campbell’s narrative is anachronistic inasmuch as the Viking Age did not actually begin until 793, when the Norse attacked Lindisfarne and destroyed the abbey founded there by Aodh nearly 160 years earlier  (ironic, perhaps, in view of the poem’s theme).

Viking longship

Campbell’s poem centers on the figure of Reullura, said to be the wife of Aodh, “the dark-attired Culdee.”  That a monk could have been married is not exactly a stretch of the imagination since Celtic Christians were not under the authority of the bishop of Rome (the pope) until 664 and, therefore, unlike Roman Catholic monks, were able to marry.

Reullura, like many a Scottish heroine, has the gift of second sight, as Campbell explains:

And bright Reullura’s eyes oft saw

The veil of fate uplifted.

Alas, with what visions of awe,

Her soul in that hour was gifted.

Distraught with the fear of the Norseman’s attack, Reullura stands with her husband in front of the statue of St. Columba and predicts that the spirit of Columba will return to protect Aodh when the Viking ships begin their assault on Iona.  Reullura had good reason to fear the landing of the Norse, for, as one historian has put it, during their raids, the Vikings usually “gave themselves up to revelry, robbery, and rape. . . .”[1]  Reullura makes reference to these terrors when she laments the fate awaiting the women on Iona and declares her intent to die rather than submit:

And, dames and daughters, shall all your locks
With the spoiler’s grasp entwine?

No! some shall have shelter in caves and rocks,
And the deep sea shall be mine.


St. Columba

Though the monk Aodh dutifully declines to believe in the efficacy of the supernatural, Reullura’s prophecy does come true at midnight when Columba, whose lifespan “tenfold extends / Beyond the wonted years of men,” enters the temple just as the evil Norseman Ulvfagre presses Aodh to surrender the monastery’s treasures.  The immortal saint grasps Ulvfagre’s uplifted hand and, making a sign with his crosier, renders Ulvfagre’s companions incapable of rescuing the pagan leader.  Then Ulvfagre, spellbound, is pulled toward the statue of Columba where he stands riveted:

Till hands invisible shook the wall,
And the tottering image was dash’d
Down from its lofty pedestal.
On Ulvfagre’s helm it crash’d —
Helmet, and skull, and flesh, and brain,
It crushed as millstone crushes the grain.

The remaining band are then commanded to take Ulvfagre’s broken bones back to Norway as their only booty.  Then, as Columba accompanies the Christian remnant back to Innisfail (Ireland), we discover the sad end:

 Safe from their hiding-places came
Orphans and mothers, child and dame:
But, alas! when the search for Reullura spread,
No answering voice was given,
For the sea had gone o’er her lovely head,
And her spirit was in Heaven.

In these ways, Campbell’s poem narrates the terror of the Norse and the plight of gentle Christian folk within the reach of their longships.  But in what way does the poem reflect the Reformation era?

When The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, by which Campbell was employed, published “Reullura” in 1824, it was accompanied by this explanation:

“The Culdees [Céli Dé, or Companions of God] were the primitive clergy of Scotland and apparently her only clergy from the sixth to the eleventh century. They were of Irish origin and their monastery on the island of Iona or Ikolmkill [Ì Chaluim Chille] was the seminary of Christianity in North Britain. Presbyterian writers have wished to prove them to have been a sort of Presbyters, strangers to the Roman church and Episcopacy. It seems to be established that they were not enemies to Episcopacy;—but that they were not slavishly subjected to Rome like the clergy of later periods appears, by their resisting the Papal ordonnances respecting the celibacy of religious men, on which account they were ultimately displaced by the Scottish sovereigns to make way for more Popish canons.”[2]

John Knox

John Knox

Indeed, the renowned Scottish Reformer John Knox (1513-1572), who was an ordained priest, not only married an English woman named Margery Bowes, but also gave his daughter’s hand in marriage to his mentor, George Wishart (1513-1546), who was burnt at the stake, in part, for his belief that clergy should be allowed to marry.  That Knox was interested in the purity of the ancient British Church is substantiated by the remarks of Protestant refugee John ab Ulmis, who wrote Knox in 1551 to tell him that while traveling in the Border region he had noticed that the inhabitants of Lindisfarne (Aodh’s abbey) were “rightly instructed in religion.”[3]

John Foxe

John Foxe

What is more, the Scots were not the only Protestants who looked to the Celtic Church as its model in its arguments with Roman Catholicism.  John Foxe (1516-1584), the great English historian and martyrologist of the Reformation era, wrote of the purity of the Celtic Church in the preface to his Actes and Monuments of these Latter and Perillous Days, Touching Matters of the Church, more commonly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, which appeared in 1563.  His outline of Church history in England began with what he considered the purity of the British (i.e., Celtic) Church in the time of Ninian, Patrick, Kentigern, Gildas, and others—a purity he deemed protected in the Anglo-Saxon era by such lights as Aidan, Colmán, Bede, and Alcuin.  This Church Foxe termed “the true church,” which he argued had been corrupted much later:

“And thus hitherto stood the condition of the true church of Christ, albeit not without some repugnance and difficulty, yet in some mean state of the truth and verity, till the time of pope Hildebrand, called Gregory VII, which was near about the year 1080, and of pope Innocent III in the year 1215, by whom all together was turned upside down, all order broken, discipline dissolved, true doctrine defaced, Christian faith extinguished; instead whereof, was set up preaching of men’s decrees, dreams, and idle traditions.” [4]

Foxe then listed what he considered the “darkness” of the Roman Church, capping his invective with this statement:

“And thus have these [false teachings], hitherto, continued, or reigned, rather, in the church, the space now of full four hundred years and odd. During which space the true church of Christ [as instituted in the British Church], although it durst not openly appear in the face of the world, was oppressed by tyranny; yet neither was it so invisible or unknown, but, by the providence of the Lord, some remnant always remained from time to time, which not only showed secret good affection to sincere doctrine, but also stood in open defence of truth against the disordered church of Rome.” [5]

Though the English of the sixteenth century may not have loved their Scottish neighbors so dearly as Foxe’s words suggest, the Protestants among them would certainly have shared in the Presbyterian identification with the Celtic Church.

So, now we come to the third echo from Campbell’s “Reullura”: the rise of radical Islamic terrorism in our own times.  Just as the Norse wreaked havoc in northern Europe in the Early Middle Ages, Islamic terrorists have spread terror throughout the Middle East and inspired terroristic acts in Europe, Canada, Africa, and the United States.  And, as with Reullura and the innocent women and children on Iona, women and children (as well as men) have suffered miserably at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists.

Here are just some of the atrocities reported in the western press since 2014:

16 April 2014, CNN, and 1 November 2014, USA Today: In Nigeria, the Islamic terror group Boko Haram kidnapped 500 girls from their boarding school.[6] The girls were forced to convert to Islam, and Abubakar Shekau, a Boko Haram leader, bragged that he could not release them because  he had “married them off.”[7]

10 August 2014, Patheos: The Assyrian Aid Society reported that women who had fled from ISIS (the self-described Islamic caliphate) were throwing their children off cliffs to keep them from starvation or capture.[8]

19 August 2014, The London Daily Mail: After gunning down Yazidi men in Sinjar, ISIS fighters rounded up thousands of women and children and buried them alive in mass graves.[9]

19 August 2014, New York Times: When the Kurds took back the Mosul dam, they found more than one woman who had been tied up and repeatedly raped.[10]

13 October 2014, Fox News: Hundreds of captured Yazidi women and children were sold as sex slaves to ISIS fighters.[11]

Isis slaves

Women Slaves of ISIS

Violence against women, which is supported by Sharia law, then expanded into Europe in 2015 when, on New Year’s Eve, mobs of men from Muslim countries made organized assaults on women, robbing, assaulting, and raping them:

8 January 2016, The London Daily Mail: Police in Germany were “investigating more than 150 cases across five German cities [Cologne, Hamburg, Bielefeld, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart] where women have been attacked by the ‘organised Arab or North African gangs.’” Similar attacks occurred in Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, and Austria as well.[12]

In short, the Viking raids described in the poem “Reullura” seem almost to have been “ripped from today’s headlines,” as the movie reviewers so often say.  In fact, one of the stories to come out of the 2014 atrocities in Sinjar, Iraq, was exactly like the tale of Reullura in one key way.  On August 13 that year, the International Business Times reported that Yazidi women were committing suicide by throwing themselves off of cliffs in order to avoid capture and rape, which, of course, was Reullura’s fateful decision in Campbell’s poem.


And so it is that the poem “Reullura” has echoed down the centuries, tying together the Middle Ages, the Reformation, and the so-called Post-Modern period in which we now live.


Text of the poem:


Star of the morn and eve,
Reullura shone like thee,
And well for her might Aodh grieve,
The dark-attired Culdee.
Peace to their shades! the pure Culdees
Were Albyn’s earliest priests of God,
Ere yet an island of her seas
By foot of Saxon monk was trod,
Long ere her churchmen by bigotry
Were barr’d from wedlock’s holy tie.
‘Twas then that Aodh, famed afar,
In Iona preach’d the word with power,
And Reullura, beauty’s star,
Was the partner of his bower.

But, Aodh, the roof lies low,
And the thistle-down waves bleaching,
And the bat flits to and fro
Where the Gaël once heard thy preaching;
And fall’n is each column’d aisle
Where the chiefs and the people knelt.
‘Twas near that temple’s goodly pile
That honoured of men they dwelt.
For Aodh was wise in the sacred law,
And bright Reullura’s eyes oft saw
The veil of fate uplifted.
Alas, with what visions of awe
Her soul in that hour was gifted —
When pale in the temple and faint,
With Aodh she stood alone
By the statue of an aged Saint!
Fair sculptured was the stone,
It bore a crucifix;
Fame said it once had graced
A Christian temple, which the Picts
In the Britons’ land laid waste:
The Pictish men, by St. Columb taught,
Had hither the holy relic brought.
Reullura eyed the statue’s face,
And cried, “It is, he shall come,
Even he, in this very place,
To avenge my martyrdom.

“For, woe to the Gaël people!
Ulvfagre is on the main,
And Iona shall look from tower and steeple
On the coming ships of the Dane;
And, dames and daughters, shall all your locks
With the spoiler’s grasp entwine?
No! some shall have shelter in caves and rocks,
And the deep sea shall be mine.
Baffled by me shall the Dane return,
And here shall his torch in the temple burn,
Until that holy man shall plough
The waves from Innisfail.
His sail is on the deep e’en now,
And swells to the southern gale.”

“Ah! knowest thou not, my bride,”
The holy Aodh said,
“That the Saint whose form we stand beside
Has for ages slept with the dead?”

“He liveth, he liveth,” she said again,
“For the span of his life tenfold extends
Beyond the wonted years of men.
He sits by the graves of well-loved friends
That died ere they grandsire’s grandsire’s birth;
The oak is decayed with age on the earth,
Whose acorn-seed has been planted by him;
And his parents remember the day of dread
When the sun on the cross look’d dim,
And the graves gave up their dead.
Yet preaching from clime to clime,
He hath roam’d the earth for ages,
In time a remnant from the sword —
Ah! but a remnant to deliver;
Yet, blest be the name of the Lord!
His martyrs shall go into bliss for ever.
Lochlin, appall’d, shall put up her steel,
And thou shalt embark on the bounding keel;
Safe shalt thou pass through her hundred ships,
With the saint and a remnant of the Gaël,
And the Lord will instruct thy lips
To preach in Innisfail.”

The sun, now about to set,
Was burning o’er Tiree,
And no gathering cry rose yet
O’er the isles of Albyn’s sea,
Whilst Reullura saw far rowers dip
Their oars beneath the sun,
And the phantom of many a Danish ship,
Where ship there yet was none.
And the shield of alarm was dumb,
Nor did their warning till midnight come,
When watch-fires burst from across the main,
From Rona, and Uist, and Skye,
To tell that the ships of the Dane
And the red-hair’d slayers were nigh.

Our islemen arose from slumbers,
And buckled on their arms;
But few, alas! were their numbers
To Lochlin’s mailed swarms.
And the blade of the bloody Norse
Has filled the shores of the Gaël
With many a floating corse,
And with many a woman’s wail.
They have lighted the islands with ruin’s torch,
And the holy men of Iona’s church
In the temple of God lay slain,
All but Aodh, the last Culdee;
But bound with many an iron chain,
Bound in that church was he.
And where is Aodh’s bride?
Rocks of the ocean flood!
Plunged she not from your heights in pride,
And mock’d the men of blood?
Then Ulvfagre and his bands
In the temple lighted their banquet up,
And the print of their blood-red hands
Was left on the altar cup.
‘Twas then that the Norseman to Aodh said,
“Tell where thy church’s treasure’s laid,
Or I’ll hew thee limb from limb.”
As he spoke the bell struck three,
And every torch grew dim
That lighted their revelry.
But the torches again burnt bright,
And brighter than before,
When an aged man of majestic height
Enter’d the temple door.
Hush’d was the revellers’ sound,
They were struck as mute as the dead,
And their hearts were appall’d by the very sound
Of his footsteps’ measured tread.
Nor word was spoken by one beholder,
Whilst he flung his white robe back on his shoulder,
And stretching his arms — as eath
Unriveted Aodh’s bands,
As if the gyves had been a wreath
Of willows in his hands.

All saw the stranger’s similitude
To the ancient statue’s form;
The saint before his own image stood,
And grasp’d Ulvfagre’s arm.
Then uprose the Danes at last to deliver
Their chief, and shouting with one accord,
They drew the shaft from its rattling quiver,
They lifted the spear and sword,
And levell’d their spears in rows.
But down went axes and spears and bows,
When the Saint with his crosier sign’d;
The archer’s hand on the string was stopt,
And down, like reeds laid flat by the wind,
Their lifted weapons dropt.
The Saint then gave a signal mute,
And though Ulvfagre willed it not,
He came and stood at the statue’s foot,
Spell-riveted to the spot, —
Till hands invisible shook the wall,
And the tottering image was dash’d
Down from its lofty pedestal.
On Ulvfagre’s helm it crash’d —
Helmet, and skull, and flesh, and brain,
It crushed as millstone crushes the grain.
Then spoke the Saint, whilst all and each
Of the Heathen trembled round,
And the pauses amidst his speech
Were as awful as the sound:

“Go back, ye wolves! To your dens,” he cried,
“And tell the nations abroad,
How the fiercest of your herd has died
That slaughter’d the flock of God.
Gather him bone by bone,
And take with you o’er the flood
The fragments of that avenging stone
That drank his heathen blood.
These are the soils from Iona’s sack,
The only spoils ye shall carry back;
For the hand that uplifteth spear or sword
Shall be wither’d by palsy’s shock,
And I come in the name of the Lord
To deliver a remnant of his flock.”

A remnant was call’d together,
A doleful remnant of the Gaël,
And the Saint in the ship that had brought him hither
Took the mourners to Innisfail.
Unscathed they left Iona’s strand,
When the opal morn first flush’d the sky,
For the Norse dropt spear, and bow, and brand,
And look’d on them silently;
Safe from their hiding-places came
Orphans and mothers, child and dame:
But, alas! when the search for Reullura spread,
No answering voice was given,
For the sea had gone o’er her lovely head,
And her spirit was in Heaven.


[1] William Cook Mackenzie and William Morrison. History of the Outer Hebrides. London: Simpkin, 1903.  21.

[2] London: Colburn, 1824. 11.297.

[3] Henry Cowan. John Knox: The Hero of the Scottish Reformation. New York: Putnam, 1905. 97.

[4] The Actes and Monuments of John Foxe: A New and Complete Edition. Eds. George Townsend and Stephen Reed Cattley.  London: Seeley, 1841. 1.516.

[5] The Actes.  1.517

[6]Aminu Abubakar. “As Many as 200 Girls Abducted by Boko Haram, Nigerian Officials Say.” CNN.  16 Apr. 2014. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.

[7] Ameen Auwalii. “Boko Haram Denies Truce, Says Kidnapped Girls Married.” Special for USA Today. USA Today. 1 Nov. 2014. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.

[8]Greg Kandra. “Report from Iraq: Families Throwing Children from a Mountain to Keep Them from Terrorists.” Patheos. 6 Aug. 2014. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.

[9]Corey Charlton.“‘They Started to Put People in Those Holes, Those People Were Alive’: Yazidi Survivor’s Horror Story Reveals How ISIS Threw Screaming Women and Children into Mass Graves.” Daily Mail. 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.

[10]Azam Ahmed. “In Retaking of Iraqi Dam, Evidence of American Impact.” New York Times. 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.

[11]“ISIS Magazine Claims Group Has Enslaved and Sold Yazidi Women and Kids.” Fox News. 13 Oct. 2014. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.

[12]“Migrant Rape Fears Spread across Europe: Women Told Not to Go Out at Night Alone After Assaults Carried Out in Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland Amid Warnings Gangs Are Co-ordinating Attacks.” Daily Mail. 8 Jan. 2016. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.
©Blog text. Eileen Cunningham, 2016.



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John Stewart, Lord Kincleven and Earl of Carrick in Orkney (1576-1643)

Orkney and Shetland

Bleau’s 1654 Map of Orkney and Shetland

John Stewart, Lord Kincleven and later the 1st Earl of Carrick, was the third of five sons born to Robert Stewart, Earl of Orkney and Strathearn, and his wife Jean Kennedy, daughter of Gilbert Kennedy, 3rd Earl of Cassilis.  He was also the grandson of King James V, whose mistress, Euphemia Elphinstone, had given birth to Robert Stewart in about 1533.  James had recognized Robert as his son and had him educated, along with his other illegitimate sons, for a career in the Church.  (Robert Stewart, being far from a pious man, however, never did more than take pensions from church benefices.) 

The birth year of John Stewart is not certain, but he was often said to be the third son, between Patrick and James, and was probably born around 1576 (Cracroft).  At that time, his father had not yet received the earldom of Orkney but did hold lands in Orkney and Shetland.  However, Jean Kennedy, John’s mother, “does not appear to have set foot in the islands at all,” and all of Robert’s legitimate sons, including John, were “educated in the south” (P. Anderson Robert, 131).  John had three sisters—Mary, Christian, and Elizabeth.  There were also six half-brothers and several half-sisters, illegitimate children of Robert Stewart, all of whom made their appearance in Orkney while Lady Jean remained in Edinburgh.

From various documents, it is possible to detect some of the personal undercurrents in these relationships.  In 1585, when Robert Stewart was created earl of Orkney, the entail (right of inheritance) was to his sons Henry, Patrick, James, and Robert—John’s name being omitted.  If the line of legitimate sons failed, the entail was to Robert’s illegitimate sons—James and Robert—then to his nephew, Francis, Earl of Bothwell.  When Robert died in 1593 and the earldom passed to Patrick (Henry having predeceased his father), the papers drawn up for Patrick in 1600 named Patrick’s sons as heirs and then, behind them, his “second brother, John” (Steuart 2922).  This time, brother James is not mentioned.  These omissions could have been clerical errors, but the fact that their mother Jean was also omitted from Earl Robert’s will—when his mistresses were all named—leads one to wonder what family dynamics were at work here.

It is hardly possible to say that Patrick’s naming his brother John was due to a special friendship between the two because the first time John’s name appears in the historical record in 1594 (the year after the father’s death), it is in an indictment against him for conspiring with a witch to poison his brother Patrick, who discovered poison in the possession of John’s servant, Thomas Paplay (Paul 440).

John Stewart, at that time styled Master of Orkney, a title for younger sons of an earl, was suspected, and Paplay was arrested and tortured mercilessly.  During the torture, he gave up the name of one Alesoun (or Alison) Balfour, a “known notorious witch”  (“Witchcraft”).

Witch Hunt ScotlandHowever, Alesoun Balfour refused to confess or implicate John Stewart, despite the fact that her husband and son were cruelly tortured before her eyes.  It was only when her daughter was put to torture that she “confessed.”  Though she later recanted, she was tried and put to death on 15 December 1594.  In 1596, John Stewart, Master of Orkney, was indicted for “consulting with witches, for [the] destruction of [the] Earl of Orkney” (“Witchcraft”).  Now, John would have been only about seventeen when the incident occurred and nineteen at the time of the indictment.  Perhaps the mixture of his youth and the forced confessions are enough to persuade us that John was not involved in this incident and that Patrick was sure enough of his brother’s loyalty that he did, in fact, place him in line for the earldom if his own male line failed.  Whatever the case, John Stewart got his revenge eighteen days after his acquittal when he murdered the inquisitor of Alesoun Balfour, who just happened to be Patrick Stewart’s chamberlain (“North Isles—Eday”).

Being the grandson of James V meant, of course, that he was a first cousin of James VI, son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Lord Darnley.  Through James V’s mother, Margaret Tudor, sister to England’s King Henry VIII, the Stewarts stood in line to inherit the throne of England should the Tudor line fail, which it did on 24 March 1603 at the death of the unmarried English queen, Elizabeth I.

Coronation of James I

Coronation of James I of England

James VI departed Scotland in April, taking his cousin, John Stewart, along with him for the ceremonies related to his accession to the crown, which would make him James I of England.  John Stewart must have enjoyed the festivities, as we learn from thirteen-year-old Lady Anne Clifford, daughter of George, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, who kept a diary, that John Stewart, Master of “Orckney” and Sir John Murray of Tullebardine “came thither to see us” at Hampton Court because they “were much in love with Mrs. Carey” (Progresses 196). (Which Mrs. Carey is referenced here is unclear.)

Stewart was still in the London area in November 1604, when once again letter writers were reporting on his shenanigans.  On November 7, Edmund Lascelles wrote to Gilbert Talbot, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury, to tell him about the arrival of the king at Whitehall from Royston.  Before closing, he added a bit of court gossip: “Mr. Thomas Somerset and the Master of Orkney fell out in the Balowne Court at Whithall.  Boxes on the eare passed on eyther side, but no further hurt doon; Mr. Sommerset was commanded to the Fleet, whear he is yet, and the Master of Orkney to his chamber; what more will be doon in it we know not yet” (Progresses 465).

Now, it is a bit unclear exactly what is meant by the term “Balowne Court,” but apparently there was a game, invented by the Romans but still popular in England at the time, played with a “Balowne, or Balloon, Follis [leather bag or handball]. . . filled with wind” and requiring the use of a gauntlet (or glove) made of leather thongs. The players protected their arms with wooden bracers like those worn by archers to protect the forearm (Fosbroke 2:682).  If this is, in fact, the intended meaning of balowne court, we can perhaps conclude that Somerset and Stewart were playing a game of some sort when they fell to fighting.

Young Thomas, later 1st Viscount, Somerset was at that time a freshly received student at Gray’s Inn, one of the Inns of Court where young men were educated for the law.  He was also a member of the House of Commons, and though he was obviously no slouch, the fact that he was sent to the Fleet while Stewart was confined “in his chambers” probably is explained by their social difference at this point in time, though it must be noted that the Fleet did not hold common criminals, as Newgate did, but troublesome nobles or political and religious dissidents.

Lady Elizabeth Howard

Lady Elizabeth Howard

Now, it should be noted here that just nine days before this scuffle, on 26 October 1604, John Stewart, aged 28, had married Lady Elizabeth Howard Southwell, aged 40 and the mother of six children.  It seems that with a Scotsman on the throne of England, marriages with Scots, especially those close to the king, were highly prized.  Elizabeth’s father was widower Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham, whose “determination to be identified with the royal house” is shown not only by his daughter’s marriage to John Stewart, but by his own marriage on 2 June 1604 to Margaret Stewart (Brown 571).  He was 67 and she, a teenager. Margaret was sister to James Stewart (or Stuart, as they were beginning to style themselves in the French manner), 3rd earl of Moray, and a granddaughter on her mother’s side to James Stewart, the Regent Moray (d. 1570)—another illegitimate son of James V, a half-brother to Robert Stewart, and a half-uncle to John Stewart, Master of Orkney.  These relationships seem to have trumped, in Nottingham’s mind, the December-May nature of the alliances.

It is possible that Nottingham desired these marital connections to the royal house of Stuart inasmuch as he had been related to the previous monarch, Elizabeth I.  What is more, his first wife, Catherine Carey, had been a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth but, even more than that, a dear personal friend and confidante of the queen. Certainly it would be nice to maintain such connections with the royal family, but Nottingham had still one more reason to push for a secure position in the new monarchy: he had been instrumental in the queen’s decision to execute Mary, Queen of Scots, mother of James VI and I.  Nottingham had been appointed as one of the commissioners for the Scottish queen’s trial for treason, and, though he had not actually sat at the trial, he had led some of the examinations in London in preparation for trial.  Contemporaries noted, in addition, that it was through the urging of Nottingham that Elizabeth had finally decided to sign her cousin’s death warrant (“Howard”).  King James had never really known his mother and had been raised as a Protestant, but there were times when he first came into his majority, that he greatly resented what his “handlers” had done to his mother.  Better not to take chances, but to push forward with new alliances that prove friendship with the new king.

Before her marriage to John Stewart, Lady Southwell had been serving as lady-in-waiting to James’s queen, Anne of Denmark.  By early February 1604, it was already being “confidently reported” that the Lady would marry John Stewart, Master of Orkney.  Edward Somerset, 1st earl of Worcester, had commented on the impending marriage in a letter to another courtier, adding this note about the environment in which the ladies-in-waiting served: “[T]he plotting  and mallice amongst them is sutche, that I thinke Envy hathe teyd an invisible snake abowt most of ther neks to sting on another to deathe.”  Perhaps it was time for Lady Elizabeth to move on, albeit with a husband about half her age (Progresses 464).

Whitehall 2

Whitehall Palace with Bowling Green at left

One of the first properties acquired by John Stewart was a gift from the Earl of Nottingham, his father-in-law.  The accounts of the Paymaster of Works (1600-1601) has the following entry:  “The Ladie Southwell, for money by her La . [Ladyship] layde out for the repayringe of the house called Hances house, sometymes appointed for an Armorie, adioyninge to her Mat   [Majesty’s] Orcharde at Whitehall” (“Bowling Green”). Property adjoining the orchard at Whitehall was prestigious indeed and goes some way toward confirming Earl Charles’ social ambitions for his daughter and her new husband.

The next big step for John Stewart occurred on 10 August 1607 when King James created a title for him, Lord Kincleven (variously spelled as Kinclaven).  For his financial support, he obtained charters in 1616 “of the dominical lands and mill of the Monastery of Crossregal, of the lands of Ballorsom, and of the lands of Knockronnall, and the barony of Grenane,” which were parts of the ancient but then extinct earldom of Carrick in Ayrshire (W. Anderson 597).

Stewart received these honors despite the fact that his brother, Patrick, 2nd earl of Orkney, and Patrick’s son Robert had been found guilty of treason and executed in 1615.  That John seems to have played no role at all in the intrigues and rebellions of Patrick and Robert testifies to his loyalty to the government of his cousin, King James VI and I, in whose train he had traveled to London in 1603 and to whom he owed his title and his advantageous marriage.  Nor had he been involved with the treasonous activities of his father, who was imprisoned in the late 1570s.

After King Charles I came to the throne in 1625, Kincleven sought the title Earl of Carrick in view of his possession of these lands.  The process to renew the earldom in Stewart’s name was soon halted, however, when Sir John Hope, the Lord Advocate, advised the Privy Council that the earldom of Carrick “was one always borne by the heir-apparent to the Crown” (Tudor 368) and could not be transferred to Stewart.

However, Kincleven pointed out that “the title he had assumed was derived from Carrick in Orkney and not Carrick in Ayrshire” (Balfour 441). This is an interesting sleight-of-hand in that Stewart did not receive the charter for Eday, where Orcadian Carrick supposedly lay, until he received the letters patent for the title Earl of Carrick (in Orkney) (“Eday, Carrick House”).

Carrick House, Eday

Carrick House, Eday

Some have even speculated that Stewart deliberately named a corner of his holdings Carrick afterward, in order to meet the letter of the law.  This conjecture is based on the fact that there is no evidence of a place named Carrick in Orkney before this time (Crichton-Stuart). What’s more, the place name Carrick derives from the Gaelic word caraig, meaning crag,  while place names in Orkney are almost exclusively derived from Norse origins, Orkney having belonged to Norway until 1468 (Bell 247).  But whether it existed at the moment of Lord Kinclevan’s argument, the king was content with this solution, and the patent for the earldom of Carrick was delivered to Stewart by the Lord Chancellor on 14 December 1630, “which patent the said earl accepted on his knees, his ambition now being gratified” (W. Anderson 597).  Certainly, he became busy in 1631 building Balmerino House in Leith (Gentleman’s 595) and in 1633 building Carrick House on his lands in Eday (Bell), which may have been an attempt to bolster his prestige and his claim to the name Carrick.

Once Stewart had been created an earl, it necessarily followed that he would acquire a coat of arms, which has been described, thus: “The arms of this Earl were quarterly, first and fourth or [gold], a lion rampant gules [red], armed and langued azure, within a double tressure flory-counterflory gules, and all again within a bordure company azure and argent; second and third, azure, a galley at anchor within a double tressure flory counterflory or” (Crichton-Stuart 102).

With the earldom there also came new charters and commissions.  In 1630, Earl John was named Commissioner of Fisheries.  On 14 January 1632, Charles I showed his favor when he “erected Carrick and the port of Calf Sound in the island of Eday in Orkney into a burgh of barony” (Crichton-Stuart).  The term burgh of barony refers to a town on estates held by a landowner directly from the crown.  Sometimes landowners who were granted burghs of barony were also given authority to hold weekly markets, to collect taxes, to oversee criminal courts, and even to apply the death penalty, but historians have pointed out that “there is no indication that any form of municipal government was ever constituted” in Earl Carrick’s lands (Crichton-Stuart).  Two and a half years later, on 14 June 1634, Stewart was also given a charter of the easterly and westerly lands of Corstorphine, near Edinburgh, with an entailment for his heirs (Paul 441).

In 1633, the earl of Carrick undertook the building of Carrick House, located on Calf Sound on the eastern side of Eday.  It looks out to sea between the so-called Red Heads of Eday.

Carrick House stone work

Renovations at Carrick House by Colin Watson Stonework

According to one source, Stewart chose this remote location due to “some discontent which fell out between him and his Lady” (Brand 37).   Be that as it may, Carrick House was a two-and-a-half storied house with a slated roof and crow-step gables, which were in vogue among the Scottish baronial set of the day.  The date 1633 can still be seen in the round-arched keystone in the north wall, but the arms engraved above the door are those of subsequent owners, the family of Sir John Buchanan (Bell 238).  Over the years, additions have been made to the house, which still stands intact today, and even now in the fall of 2014 renovations are being done by Orkney-based Colin Watson Stonework, in particular the Buchanan arms (see at left and below) (Watson).

Carrick House stone work 3

Buchanan Arms by Colin Watson Stonework

However, it was Stewart himself who established on the site twelve salt-pans—shallow containers or depressions where salt water is left to evaporate, leaving usable salt for human use.  He apparently had a view toward foreign trade in salt but died before he could bring his idea to fruition.  Only one of the salt-pans can be seen at the present time (Brand 38).

As the Reformation advanced in Scotland, the Stewarts, like other Scottish barons of the day, found themselves in tumultuous times.  Robert Stewart’s half-brother, James Stewart, 1st earl of Moray—another illegitimate son of James V—was one of the strongest champions of the Presbyterian cause against his Catholic half-sister, Mary, Queen of Scots.  As Regent of Scotland, he had made sure that the young King James VI was raised as a Protestant, and in 1588 the king appointed his half-uncle, Robert Stewart, to his commission against the Jesuits, who were being obliged to leave the country.  Still, this is no sign of inward belief, and it is known that a Roman Catholic funeral service was offered at the elder Stewart’s passing in 1592 (Tudor 253).

Solemn League and Covenant

The Solemn League and Covenant

Then in August and September of 1643 came the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, an agreement between Presbyterian Scots and the Cromwellian Parliamentarians in England, who opposed Charles I, by which a Presbyterian-parliamentarian union of England, Scotland, and Ireland was formed.  Signing the Covenant was a prerequisite to office-holding in England and Scotland, so, not surprisingly, John Stewart did subscribe the Covenant (Balfour 441).

The exact date of John Stewart’s death is unknown. According to The Peerage, he died somewhere between late 1643 and early 1645/46 (“John Stewart”). We know that the Covenant did not make its way to Kirkwall in the Orkneys until December 1643, and since Stewart did accept the Covenant, we know he was still alive at that time.  He would have been sixty-seven.

John Stewart left only one surviving legitimate child, Margaret Stewart, born c. 1605, who, in 1630, married the Englishman Sir Matthew (John) Mennes, who became a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Charles I.

Though he had tried to obtain his brother’s lands in Orkney, he had failed, (P. Anderson “Stewart”) and at his death in 1643, the titles and honors he had been awarded by the Stewart kings became extinct.

In summing up, the life of John Stewart provides us a look into the system of court patronage and how illegitimate sons—and grandsons—of kings could cultivate friendships, make advantageous marriages, and scrap together baronies for themselves—albeit in the forgotten northern isles.  Carrick in Orkney was probably a non-existent place when Stewart received the title Earl of Carrick in Orkney.  Eday is an island only about eight miles long and (today) “home to 150 people who are vastly outnumbered by the isle’s wildlife and bird population” (“Eday”).  It was probably not much different when it belonged to John Stewart, but the land perhaps mattered less to Stewart than the title, which gave him at least the pretense of equality among the peers of the realm.

Works Cited

Anderson, Peter D. Robert Stewart: Earl of Orkney, Lord of Shetland: 1533-1593. Edinburgh, John Donald, 1982.

Anderson, Peter D. “Stewart, Patrick , Second Earl of Orkney (c.1566/7–1615).”  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: UP, 2004.]

Anderson, William. The Scottish Nation.  Vol. 1. Edinburgh: Fullerton, 1867. Internet Archive. Accessed 4 Nov 2014.

Bell, Walter L. “Notes on an Armorial Stone at Carrick House, Eday, Orkney.” Proceedings of the Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland. 42. (1908): 237. Accessed 4 Nov 2014.

“The Bowling Green and ‘Hance’s House.’” Montagu H. Cox and Philip Norman, eds. Survey of London. 13.2. (1930): 228-235. British History Online. Accessed 29 Oct 2014.

Brand, John. A Brief Description of Orkney: Zetland, Pightland-Firth and Caithness. Eighteenth-Century Collections Online. Edinburgh: Mosman, 1701.  Accessed 31 Oct 2014.

Brown, Keith M. “The Scottish Aristocracy, Anglicization, and the Court, 1603-38.” The Historical Journal. 36.3. (1993): 543-76.

“Carrick House, Eday.” British Listed Buildings. Accessed 4 Nov 2014.

Crichton-Stuart, John Patrick, John Home Stevenson, and H. W. Lonsdal. The Arms of the Baronial and Police Burghs of Scotland. Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1903.  Google Books. Accessed 31 Oct 2014.

Cracroft-Brenner, Paul. “Orkney, Earl of  (S, 1581 – forfeited 1615).”  Cracroft’s Peerage. 15 Oct 2011.  Web.  4 Nov 2014.

“Eday.” Orkney.com. 2014. Web. 4 Nov 2014.

“Eday, Carrick House.” Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. 2014. Web. 4 Nov 2014.

Fosbroke, Thomas Dudley.  Encyclopedia of Antiquities and Elements of Archaeology, Classical and Medieval.   London: Natalli, 1843. 2:682.

Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Review. Vol. 12. May 1862. Google Books. Accessed 31 Oct 2014.

 “Howard, Charles, Lord Howard of Effingham, Earl of Nottingham (1536-1624).” Dictionary of National Biography. 1891. Google Books. Web. Accessed 4 Nov 2014.

“John Stewart, 1st and last Earl of Carrick, M, #23785.” ThePeerage.com. Darryl Lundy, ed. 2 Nov 2014. Web. 5 Nov 2014.

Johnston, John C. Treasury of the Scottish Covenant. Edinburgh: Elliot, 1887.  Google Books.  Accessed 31 Oct 2014.

“North Isles—Eday.” Orkneyguide.com. 26 Oct 2004. Web. 26 Oct 2014.

Paul, James Balfour. The Scots Peerage. Vol. 2. 1905. Reprint. London: Forgotten Books, 2013. 440-41. Web. Accessed 31 Oct 2014.

The Progresses, Processions, and Magnificent Festivities, of King James the First. Ed. John Treadwell Nichols. London: Nichols, 1828. OpenLibrary.org. Web. Accessed 26 Oct 2014.

Steuart, A. Francis. “The Exclusion of Apparent Heirs in Scottish Peerages.”  The Juridical Review. 1904. 16:285-96. Web. Accessed 28 Oct 2014.

Tudor, John R. The Orkneys and Shetland: Their Past and Present State. London: Stanford, 1883. Internet Archive. 31 Jul 2008. Web. 31 Oct 2014.

Watson, Colin.  Colin Watson Stonework.  Breck, Orphir, Orkney. www.facebook.com/ColinWatsonStonework/info

“Witchcraft in the Orkney Islands: The Torture of Alesoun Balfour.” Orkneyjar: The Heritage of the Orkney Islands. Web. Accessed 23 Oct 2014.

Wright, Thomas.  Narratives of Sorcery and Magic. New York: Redfield, 1852.

(c) Eileen Cunningham 2014

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Jeremiah Gard and the Iron Men of Morris County, New Jersey

Speedwell iron forgeJeremiah Gard (1717-1783) and his siblings were all born in Stonington, Connecticut, to Joseph Gard (1675 – c. 1726) and his wife Mary Ball (1675 – c. 1724), where they grew up in the First Congregational Church of Stonington, a Puritan church in a Puritan colony. How it came to pass that several members of the family would find their way from Stonington to Morris County, New Jersey, may, in fact, be tied up a bit with colonial theological conflicts.

Jeremiah’s sister Mary (b. 1697) married a man named David Culver (sometimes spelled Colver), whose family were also members of the First Congregational Church (Am. Gen. 144; History of First Cong Church 200).  Presumably the couple were married in that church, but the published historical records of the church do not contain a record of their marriage.

Now, David Culver had a brother named John Culver, Jr., who married a woman named Sarah Long.  These two (John and Sarah) left the Congregational Church and associated themselves with the Rogerenes, a Quaker-like sect which had been outlawed by Puritan Connecticut.   Notes about the actions of the Rogerenes in the community of Stonington, Connecticut, depict them as a rather troublesome folk who would interrupt church meetings by shouting disagreeable things and making themselves a general nuisance.  Be that as it may, being a bit disorderly does not merit the kind of punishment that the Rogerenes would receive—including incarceration and  flogging, men and women alike (Williams 34).

Though the Rogerenes remained in Connecticut for some time, they left for the Morris County region of New Jersey sometime in the 1730s—some sources saying 1730-32; others, 1734; and still others, 1735 (Colver 60; Pitney 503; Williams 272).  They settled on the east side of Schooley’s Mountain, where they remained for three years before removing to Monmouth County (they eventually returned to Schooley’s Mountain eleven years after that).

John Culver, Jr., and his wife Sarah were the leaders of this group, which was actually the second wave of Rogerenes to settle in Morris County.  Apparently, there was enough distinction between the groups that the latter-arriving group were, in fact, referred to as “Culverites.”

Now, since the Stonington Gards also made their appearance in Morris County, New Jersey, at about this time, one has to wonder if there was a connection.  Mary Gard Culver was not a Rogerene, and neither she nor her husband joined the movement to New Jersey.  Still, it is possible that through this Culver connection, Jeremiah and his brothers Daniel, William, and Joseph (all of the male children of Joseph Gard) “lit out for the territory,” so to speak, around the same time as the “Culverites.”

In Morristown, New Jersey, the Gards affiliated themselves with the Morristown Presbyterian Church, which would have been more closely aligned with the theology of the Congregationalist Church than with the Rogerenes, and there is nothing to indicate they were ever part of the Rogerene sect.  Still, it is possible they might have disagreed with the draconian punishments being inflicted on the sect in Stonington, or possibly they were just ready for a change and heard about opportunities in New Jersey.

From a strictly economic point of view, there was certainly an attraction there to young men willing to work—the ironworks industry.  Here it would be worthwhile to drop back and review what had been going on in the area for about thirty to thirty-five years prior to the arrival of the Gard brothers.

Beginning as early as 1695, first the Dutch and then the English had begun settlements along the Whippany River.  Local historians state the Dutch were soon “making iron from Succasunna iron ore,” (Sherman).

The names Whippany and Succasunna (sometimes rendered as Suceasunna) both derive from Native American words.  The word whippenung, which meant “place of willows,” became associated with the river since the willow trees from which the Indians made their arrows grew along its banks.  The word whippenung had also become the common word for arrow among the Indians of the region (Sherman 25).  The language of the Lenni-Lenape provided the word Succasunna, meaning black rock, a reference to the abundant iron ore in the area.  This ore was readily available on the surface of the ground and “was to be had by simply picking it up.” Archaeological discoveries have shown that the Indians were the first to use the ore, making weapons and other implements needful to them (13-14).

By 1710, the forges of Morris County had become well enough established that new settlers arriving from Newark and Elizabethtown would refer to them to as “the old iron works,”  and the first church in the area was built on the banks of the Whippany “100 rods below the forge.”  The first forge on the Whippany was that of John Ford and Judge John Budd.  In 1845, a former resident of the area recalled the forge, saying, “I was born in 1778. I have seen old timbers said to have been a part of the old forge at Whippany. It stood at the west end of the cotton mill dam, between the river and the road.”  The smelting process by which pure iron was extracted from the ore was conducted in a “small and rudely constructed building” on the site (Sherman 12-13).

From the mine at Succasunna (later owned by Captain Peter Dickerson’s family), horses were used to haul the ore in leather bags a distance of twenty miles from the mine to the forge.  Then, after being converted into iron bars, “it was bent to fit the back of a horse, and in the same way transported to Newark and Elizabethtown, and thence by small sailing vessels and rowboats to New York,” a two-day journey (Sherman 14).

Our knowledge of Jeremiah Gard’s association with the forges of Morris County comes from a deposition given in 1852 by eighty-six-year-old Jacob Losey, whose name is strongly associated with the ironworks industry of the area.  Losey was called to the courthouse as an old-timer in hopes that he could recall some details relating to the Gard family in the period shortly before and after the Revolution, this being part of a twenty-year-long struggle of Daniel Gard’s heirs to receive his military pension.  On December 15, Losey stated that before the Revolution, Daniel “was at that time a young and unmarried man and worked in his father’s forge at a place called Ninkey in Morris County.  After the close of the war he returned home with a wife and one or two children and again worked in the family forge” (“Gard or Guard” Image 144) [emphasis mine].

The Ninkey forge was located in the southern portion of Denville township on Den Brook, a tributary of the Rockaway River.  It was one of four forges on that stream, the others being Shongum, Franklin, and Coleraine (earlier called Cold Rain) (Pitney 27).  Interestingly, the Ninkey site actually sat on the 3,750 acres in southern Denville township which had been in the possession of William Penn from 1715 to his death in 1718 (Bianco 9).

It is not known who built the Ninkey forge, and I have come across no books or manuscripts related to the forges of Morris County that specify Jeremiah Gard’s ownership of the forge.  Without the sworn statement of Jacob Losey, the association of the Gards with the Ninkey forge would, no doubt, have been lost in the mists of history, as they say.

It is known from Losey’s statement that Jeremiah’s son Daniel was working at the forge before the Revolution, and it is also known that he enlisted for service with Captain Peter Dickerson of Morristown in February 1776, at which time he was nineteen years old.   The mines and forges of Morris County were uniquely poised to assist in the war effort as part of what today we’d call the war industry.

As the colonists had begun to defy the English king in his prohibition of industrialization in the colonies, ironworks had flourished to such a degree that “beginning in East Jersey, the iron industry. . . eventually led the combined Atlantic colonies to rank third in the world in iron production, a full fifteen percent of the total output” (Kennedy), and by the time of the Revolutionary War, Morris County had become “the principle smelting center of the United States” (Cooney).  During the war, Rockaway township forge men at Hibernia, Mount Hope, and Split Rock played a significant role in producing shovels, axes, cannon, cannon balls, and grapeshot for the Continental Army (“About”).

As matters with England deteriorated, many in Morris County rallied to organize regiments.  Peter Dickerson’s tavern in Morristown became a hotbed of the patriot cause, and all involved knew of the vital resource they had nearby in the ironworks industry.  For example, they would have known that Col. Jacob Ford, Jr., was mixing and granulating saltpeter, sulphur, and charcoal into gunpowder (Sherman 122).  Notably, at the second meeting at Dickerson’s tavern, on May 2, 1776, the men voted to purchase 500 pounds of powder and a ton of lead “to be kept in a magazine for the use of the regiment of 300 men soon to be organized” (167).  In addition, the provincial government lent Ford £2,000 to increase production, asking that the loan be repaid in gunpowder, one ton per month (123).

In October 1779, the Continental Army settled in at Jockey Hollow in Morris township, in which Washington’s capital at Morristown, New Jersey, was located.  During those harsh winter months, which Washington himself described as “intensely cold and freezing,” military supply came in large part from the iron forges in Roxbury and Randolph townships, and it was prosperous mine owner
Col. Jacob Ford, Jr., who gave shelter to Washington and his entourage during that time  (Seidel; “Mining”).  The army remained encamped in the Morristown vicinity until the following summer, and, as an aside, it is interesting to note that in December of that year Benedict Arnold was court-martialed trial at the Morristown tavern owned by Captain Peter Dickerson.

Of course, at the same time the local resources were a boon to the American cause, there was always the danger that the British would try to seize control of them.  Tories, those who remained loyal to the monarchy, would have been ready enough to inform British spies about the war materiél being produced near their homes.  Still, discovering and seizing the mills would not be an easy task.

For one thing, nature itself provided some protection.   Just to reach Ford’s powder mill on the Whippany, for example, one had to negotiate a path through an “impenetrable thicket.”  It was never discovered by the British (122).

Trickery was also used.  “Bustling” Benoni Hathaway, a colonel whose family was long involved with the ironworks industry in the region, had charge of Ford’s mill during the war, and if the output of gunpowder was lower than usual, he would have barrels filled with sand and placed about so that spies would think the production was ongoing (123).

The early attempts by the British to seek out and destroy these mills were normally undertaken by small detachments of horsemen.  Colonel Jacob Ford, Jr., and his battalion of Morris County militia successfully foiled their first attempt to use Ford’s own gunpowder to destroy his mill (199).  However in December 1776, the British General Alexander Leslie brought with him a much larger force than usual.  When Ford got wind of the General’s movement, he marched his battalion to Springfield, where he encountered Leslie’s men on the fourteenth.  As Andrew Sherman wrote, “The British commander received so convincing a demonstration of the high quality of Morristown gunpowder, and of the corresponding efficiency of Morris County militia, that he unceremoniously retreated toward Spanktown . . .” (200).

The French government had been watching the movements of the Americans closely, trying to determine the degree to which they should become involved—if at all, and this first battle at Springfield was definitely convincing.  As one writer put it, “When the French Government heard of the battle of Springfield, fought as it was, by militia alone, they made up their minds to assist our struggling forefathers” (200).

Naturally, as more and more men from Morris County joined the militias and the Continental Line, fewer men were available to work the mines and forges.  Therefore, Charles Hoff, manager of the Hibernia mine, wrote Governor William Livingston on July 27, 1777, seeking an exemption from military service for his employees.  He noted that General Washington had once given such an exemption and reinforced his request by quantifying the importance of their work to the war effort, saying, “We made the last year for public service upwards of one hundred and twenty tons of shot of different kinds” (History 51).  The legislature responded on the following October 7 by exempting several Morris County ironworkers (perhaps as many as twenty-five) from military service.

Still concerned that twenty-five exemptions were not enough, Hoff hit on another idea to bolster the number of iron workers.  Hearing that deserters from King George’s troops—both British and Hessian—were languishing in Philadelphia, Hoff sent a message to Brigadier General William Winds, a Morris County man himself, requesting that men from this pool be allowed to work for him. The bearer of the letter was Charles’s brother, John Hoff, who would “engage as many men as he thinks proper, such as are used to cut wood in the winter season and can assist in the coaling business during the summer season, and a few other tradesmen” (History 51).  He particularly requested men who could speak English, but it is known that Hessians were amongst the men who returned to Morris County with the deserters-turned-Jerseymen as the names of their descendants are well represented in county records in subsequent years.  Apparently enough Hessians were willing enough to become POW mine workers that some were sent to another mine owner, John Jacob Faesch (McGlynn).

From Losey’s testimony that Daniel Gard returned to his work in “the family’s forge” after the war, we can conclude that Gard’s forge at Ninkey maintained its production during the war years.  One can only speculate as to whether the men Hoff brought from Philadelphia worked there.  Of the Gard family itself, fifty-nine-year-old Jeremiah and most of his sons, left the area to fight the British.  Jeremiah and Daniel both entered the service as privates in Captain Dickerson’s Company, Daniel being wounded at Staten Island about a year and a half later but continuing in service to the war effort as a Commissary scalesman.

It is perhaps a bit difficult to imagine the exact duties of a nearly sixty-year-old man on a military campaign, but since recruits were desperately needed, George Washington observed that older men “had been inlisted upon such Terms, that they may be dismissed when other Troops arrive.”  He went on to note that, despite the challenges of recruitment and supply, “there are Materials for a good Army, a great Number of Men, able-bodied, Active, Zealous in the Cause and of unquestionable Courage” (Washington).  This suggests that perhaps Jeremiah was up to the task of serving his country as long as he was needed, but may have been allowed to return to Morris County and continue at his forge in the war industry when a replacement could be found.

Ephraim, 40, died of dysentery on November 21, 1776 (his mother dying the same day of the same disease), and he appears not to have been in military service before that.  Daniel, 19, who has already been mentioned, served as a wagoner in the New Jersey line.  Gershom, age 40, was a minuteman in the eastern regiment of the New Jersey militia and a continental paymaster in New Jersey until 1783.  Jeremiah the Younger, 32, was a private in the militia from Westmorland County, Pennsylvania, where he resided at the time.   John, 34, and Jacob, 26, both served in the New Jersey militia, John as a wagon master and Jacob as a captain in the western battalion. Persons under the age of eighteen were excluded from service, which explains why Jeremiah’s youngest son, Timothy, 14, remained at home, but Alexander, only 15, somehow managed to bypass the age-limit and served as a private in the militia as well.

That leaves Jeremiah’s sons Cornelius, then 27, and Moses, 38, still on the home front during the war, probably protecting the women and children and perhaps keeping the Ninkey contribution to the war effort going.

The war ended in February 1783.  Losey states that Daniel returned to his work in “the family’s forge” when he went back to Morris County after his discharge on June 5, 1783.  A month and a half later, on July 19, his father, Jeremiah Gard, died.

Three years later, the Gard brothers became part of the great westward expansion of the post-war period.  At that time, Gershom, David, and Alexander Gard (three of Jeremiah’s sons) sold the Ninkey forge to Judge John Cleves Symmes (“Gard or Guard” Im. 183).  Then, when Symmes went west to manage the area in the Miami Basin that goes by his name (the Symmes Purchase), the three Gard brothers went westward to Ohio with him.  But one brother, Daniel, remained in Morris County and continued to work as a forge man at what was called the “Valley forge” in the Berkshire Valley, later known as Baker’s forge (“Gard or Guard” Im. 190).

It was at that forge on January 1, 1806, that Daniel Gard suffered a terrible blow to his right arm which resulted in the amputation of the arm near the shoulder (“Gard or Guard” Im. 121), ending his career as a forge man.  However, that did not end the involvement of the Gard family with the iron industry of Morris County.  The U. S. Census records of 1850 show that Daniel’s son Jeremiah Gard (b. 1801) was not only a miner in Morris County, but may have been a supervisor at some level, based on the fact that named at the same “residence” in Randolph township were not only his own family, but thirty men identified as miners.

Through marriage, the Gards became associated with other owners of mines and forges.  Below is a list of the marriages among the various folks who are known to have been involved in the ironworks of Morris County:

  • Jeremiah Gard (b. 1717) owned Ninkey forge.
  • Jeremiah’s son Gershom Gard (b. 1735) married Phebe Huntington, sister of mine owner Deacon John Huntington. They resided at Ninkey.
    • Gershom’s daughter Jemima Gard (b. 1769) married Peter Keen, son of mine owner Captain James Keen.
  • Jeremiah’s son Alexander Gard (b. 1761) married Hannah Keen (b. 1765), the daughter of mine owner Captain James Keen.
  • Jeremiah’s son Daniel Gard (b. 1755) worked at Ninkey Forge and Berkshire Valley Forge.
    • Daniel’s daughter Rebecca Gard (b. 1746) married Nathan Hathaway, nephew of mine owner Jonathan Hathaway and cousin of “bustling” Benoni Hathaway.

The many stories associated with the mines and forges of Morris County put a human face on the men who labored in the iron industry to help build this nation before it even was a nation—Captain Peter Dickerson’s foresight in linking the forges to the war effort; Jacob Ford’s defeat of General Leslie and, later, his ton of gunpowder per month; Charles Hoff’s  initiative in recruiting Hessian deserters to help the American war effort in his forge; Benoni Hathaway’s sand trick; and Daniel Gard crippling injury in a forge on New Year’s Day, 1806.  The great American poet Walt Whitman knew their story, as indicated in his poem “Carol of Occupations”:

Iron-works, forge-fires in the mountains, or by the river-banks—men around feeling the melt with huge crowbars—lumps of ore, the due combining of ore, limestone, coal—the blast-furnace and the puddling-furnace, the loup-lump at the bottom of the melt at last—the rolling-mill, the stumpy bars of pig-iron, the strong, clean-shaped T-rail for railroads.

Well, it’s true the rails came later, but it’s almost hard to imagine how different things might have turned out on this continent had it not been for the role the mines and forges of Morris County played in the American Revolution.  It may be true that the motto of Morris County originated with the family of royalist Governor Lewis Morris, but it was the iron men of Morris County who made it true: Tandem Vincitur—At last it is conquered!

Works Cited

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“Gard or Guard, Daniel. Number W-420.  BLW 8340-100. Rev.” U.S. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 [database on-line].  Ancestry.com. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, 2010. Web. 9 Nov. 2014.

History of Morris County, New Jersey with Illustrations, and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers, 1739-1882. New York: Munsell, 1882. Internet Archives. 8 Mar. 2010. Web. 15 Dec 2014. http://www.archive.org/stream/cu31924028828386/cu31924028828386_djvu.txt

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Pitney, Henry Cooper.  A History of Morris County, New Jersey: Embracing Upwards of Two Centuries: 1710-1913. New York: Lewis, 1914. 10 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. http://books.google.com/books/about/A_History_of_Morris_County_New_Jersey.html?id=xc8wAQAAMAAJ

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Seidel, Maria. “Morristown, New Jersey.”  George Washington’s Mount Vernon.  Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.  2015. Web. 20 Jan 2015.  http://www.mountvernon.org/research-collections/digital-encyclopedia/article/morristown-nj/

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Smiddy, Betty Ann.  “A Little Piece of Paradise: College Hill, Ohio.”  2nd ed.  2008. Web. 18 Jan 2015.  http://www.selfcraft.net/hannaford/chbook/ch_intro_ch1-4.pdf

Washington, George.  “General Washington to the President of the Continental Congress, July 10, 1775.”  Library of Congress.  Web. 19 Jan 2015. http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/amrev/contarmy/presone.html

© Eileen Cunningham 2015

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