Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cousins at the Battle of Lexington

A view of Jonathan Harrington's house,
he crawled across Lexington Green
to die in his wife's arms 19 April 1775

My 5x great grandfather, Andrew Munroe was not at the Battle of Lexington. He had died in 1766, and his wife had remarried to Caleb Simonds in 1774. At the time of the conflict on 19 April 1775, my 4x great grandfather, Andrew Jr., would have been only about eleven years old. Was he there? I’ll never know. It is known that many townspeople witnessed the event from their homes or from behind stone walls and trees. It is my bet that an eleven year old boy couldn’t have resisted watching history that morning.

Who did die at the Battle? There were eight American deaths on the Lexington Green, and 49 total Americans killed on the march from Boston to Concord Bridge and back to Boston (not all Lexington men). Another 73 British soldiers also died. A tour guide told me that members of the Munroe family accounted for half the dead at the Lexington Green, and many of those who fought. (Tuesday I posted a photograph of the memorial on Lexington Green that only lists six names.)

William Munroe (abt. 1625 -1718) was one of the first settlers in Lexington. I know that my distant cousin William Munroe (1756- 1837) (great grandson of the immigrant William Munroe) was a leader of the Lexington Militia as Orderly Sergeant, and entertained George Washington when he visited the site of the Battle in 1789. He rallied his Munroe Clan, descendants of Scots warriors, to the Battle of Lexington Green that day in 1775. In response, the British commandeered the Munroe Tavern as a field hospital, and tried to burn it down on their retreat.

I wanted to see if the tour guide was correct. How many Munroes and cousins were present in the Battle?

To start, I examined a copy of a propaganda broadside printed up to announce the atrocities at Lexington. The names of the dead were John Brown, Samuel Hadley, Caleb Harrington, Jonathan Harrington, Robert Munroe, Isaac Muzzy, Asahel Porter and Jonas Parker. The dead were secretly buried immediately after the conflict, and then later re-interred in 1835 under a large monument on Lexington Common (which lists only six names, however). I researched each name to see if were a Munroe or a Munroe cousin. Here are the names of the dead in alphabetical order:

1. John Brown- no known connection…
2. Samuel Hadley- I haven’t found a connection yet to the Hadley family.
3. Caleb Harrington (1751-1775) - Andrew’s uncle, William Munroe (1756-1837) the Orderly Sergeant, was married to Abigail Harrington. Caleb was her first cousin.
4. Jonathan Harrington (1745-1775) - according to legend, died after crawling, wounded, to his doorstep and died in his wife’s arms! Also Abigail’s first cousin.
5. Robert Munroe (1712-1775) - He was Andrew’s older brother, and Andrew Jr.’s uncle. He and Jonas Parker were both veterans of the French and Indian War. Ensign Munroe, as he was known, was famous for having held the banner at the Battle of Louisburg in Nova Scotia thirty years earlier. Munroe and Parker stood on the front line, and were the first two killed by British bayonets.
6. Isaac Muzzy (1744-1775)- His grandmother was Sarah Langthorne (1660-1710) , whose sister Constance (b. 1652) was the mother of Sarah Mooer (1677-1752), wife of George Munroe (abt. 1672- 1747), William the immigrant’s son. He was a distant cousin to the many Munroes on the town Green.
7. Jonas Parker (1722-1775) - This one was easy. Jonas Parker was married to Andrew’s sister, Lucy. So Jonas was Andrew’s brother –in-law, or Andrew Jr.’s uncle. He was definitely another member of the Munroe Clan.
8. Asahel Porter (1746-1775) - His brother married Hannah Munroe, sister to Orderly Sergeant William Munroe. Asahel Porter lived in Woburn and was born in Danvers, Massachusetts, where Andrew Munroe Jr. eventually settled. A few subsequent Porters married Munroes.

Total “Lexington Green Dead” with ties to the Munroe family = 6 out of 8 men

Bill Poole, a historian, and the Lexington Minute Men Company, have identified seventy seven Lexington men at the Battle on the Green that day. They draw their conclusion from depositions and recollections of surviving militia members. As re-enactors, they try to replay the part of each man exactly according to a script they replay every 19 April on the Lexington Green. You can find this list here at     click on the tab "biographies".

I didn’t have time to research all seventy seven participating men, but I counted surnames and found eight Munroe Participants, including two killed (Robert listed above, and Jedediah Munroe killed later during the retreat). There were four Parkers participating, including Captain John Parker, who headed the militia, and Jonas, named above as one of the dead). There were nine Harringtons, including the two mentioned above. Two Muzzys. Two Simonds.

Prince Estabrook, the black man wounded that day on the Green, was a slave to the Estabrook family. Prudence Estabrook married Benjamin Munroe. Joseph Estabrook, Prince’s owner, had a daughter, Millicent, who married a distant cousin of the Munroes, a Jonathan Rand.

Total participants on 19 April 1775 with ties to the Munroe family = 25 out of 77, and I haven’t even researched the other surnames. Lexington was obviously an interconnected small community at that time, with extensive kinship networks including the Munroe family.


Please see my blog about the Munroe family from November 18, 2009


For more information:

History of the Town of Lexington Massachusetts, Volume II, Genealogy, by Charles Hudson, 1913. This book names all the dead, some of the participants and also gives some short family genealogies of some families.

Paul Revere’s Ride, by David Hackett Fischer, 1994 In my humble opinion, this is the best account of the day of the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Prince Estabrook, Slave and Soldier, by Alice Hinkle, 2001

History and Genealogy of the Lexington, Massachusetts, Munroes, compiled by Richard S. Munroe, 1966   The homepage of the re-enactors who put on an excellent recreation of the Battle of Lexington Green every year. Sponsored by the Lexington Historical Society.

Copyright 2010, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Wow Heather! Great work in figuring out all those related Munroes!

  2. Heather, I wonder if Bill Poole is related to me. Just had to put that in. I was in my old home town on Sunday...your post is a prompt to write about it. Thanks. Good article also.

  3. The connections to the Monroe's are very interesting. I don't see that I have a Munroe connection but the Harrington's were my cousins. I'd have to look harder at the other surnames to see if I'm connected.

    1. Hi, I am a Harrington and wonder what connections we might have. My 3rd great grandfather was Jerome Benjamin Harrington born in 1820/21 in New York. Haven't found his parents. Do you have any New York Harrington cousins?

    2. Sorry, Richard, but my only Harrington connection is this one Harrington/Munroe marriage.

  4. I've been yold that John Muzzy, father and Isaac, Muzzy, son ard both distant cousins of mine. Found this out just yesterday. Ii woild like to find out whrre I can leatn more.

    1. Ed, the Muzzy family can be found in the Lexington Vital Records (available online at and in the History of Lexington, by Charles Hudson.

    2. Hi Cousin Heather, my name is Micah Winship. I am the 5th Gr. Grandson of Samuel Winship who was a typo in a Charles Hudson's first edition as "Simeon" and is noted in footnotes. However they do not represent him at the Minutemen renactment or website. I aim to change that and will do it myself. I'm related to pretty much everyone over there!

  5. Thanks for getting back to me Heather. The search goes on!

  6. Just realized my 7th great Grandfathers farm was next to the North Bridge and his Grandson was Captain David Brown who still worked the farm and was leadibg one of the Minutemen companies and was a second cousin. Across the river Reverend William Emerson (grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson) was also a second cousin. Minuteman leaders Capt. John Parker and John Buttrick were third cousins.