Monday, June 19, 2017

Joshua Burnham Proves his Military Service

The Colonel Burnham Homestead in Milford, New Hampshire

Joshua Burnham, my 5th great grandfather, served in the American Revolutionary War, and in 1818 he decided to apply for a military pension.  Lest you think that paperwork, red tape and bureaucracy are anything new, you should read this blog post.

Joshua Burnham, son of Stephen Burnham and Mary Andrews, was born In Gloucester, Massachusetts on 26 January 1754.  He served in the Revolutionary War in 1775 for eight months, and re-enlisted for 1776- 1777 for a term of one year.  In 1779 he married Jemima Wyman, the daughter of Increase Wyman, in Wilton, New Hampshire.  They lived on a large farm in Milford, in a beautiful old homestead which is still standing today as “The Colonel Joshua Burnham Tavern”.  

It appears that Joshua Burnham sold his land and homestead.  He ran into hard times and in 1818 he had to apply for a military pension.  Here are some of the documents he submitted to prove his military career.  Below you will see a sworn affidavit from Joshua, and another three depositions from three friends who served in the military with him during the Revolution.  Each affidavit also has another sworn statement by a court clerk, guaranteeing that the signatures of the friends are genuine. 

I Joshua Burham of Milford in the Coun-
ty of Hillsborough and State of New Hamp-
shire aged sixty four years, declare and
say That in the month of April in the
year one thousand seven hundred and
seventy five at said Milford, then called
Amherst, I enlisted as a private soldier
In Capt. Josiah Crosby’s Company in Col.
James Read’s Regiment in the New Hampshire line in the American
Army to serve eight months and served
the whole of said eight months in said
Crosby’s Company- at the end of which
I enlisted as a private soldier in Capt. ----
Jones’ Company in said Read’s Regiment
To serve one year and served the whole
Of said year in said Jones’ Company-
Serving all said time of service.  I served
at Bunker Hill, New York, Philadelphia, and
in Canada ?? said was in the battle at
Bunker Hill & I was discharged from the
Service with others by the ???
of the Officer, at a place called Aesapus farmer
But known by the name of Kingstown in
the State of New York.
I further declare that I am in reduced
circumstances, have no property, and
am in need of relief and support having
no way to support myself but by my labor,
and my health is very poor beside being
lame in one of my ankles & which has
been a confirmed complaint for about
four years last ??
Witnesses to signature                       Joshua Burnham
Solomon Kittridge
Nathl. Shattuck              sworn to this ????
                                         Before me G. Smith        Associate Justice of the
                                                                                   Court of Common Pleas

I Israel Burnham of Lyndeborough in the
County of Hillsborough do solemnly swear
that I am well acquainted with Joshua Burham
who has given his affidavit on the other side of this
that I know him to be the same person who
served with me in the Continental establish-
ment faithfully for the term of one year in Capt.
Jones’ Company in Col. James Reed’s Regt. In the
New Hampshire Line his service commenced in
Jan. A.D. 1776 & ended in Jan. A.D. 1777.  I was dis-
charged on account of sickness about one fort-
night before my time expired.    ?? the said
Joshua in the service I have no doubt in my
mind but he served out his time.  I was honestly
discharged as he did not return home for about
three weeks after my return.  We both lived
in the same town.
Sworn to this 6th day of July 1818                       Israel Burnam
Before me   J. H. Smith           Associate Justice of Court of C. Pleas

I Nathl. Shattuck of Amherst depose and say
That I have been acquainted with Joshua
Burnam before mentioned for about four-
teen years- I further say that I have had op-
portunity to be acquainted with his property
and know that by misfortune in the
business of a trader he has become poor
and wholly destitute of property, and stands
in need of relief- that he is old and infirm
in health and lame in one of his feet.
Sworn to this 31st day of March AD 1818                    Nathl. Shattuck
before me                J. H. Smith  Associate Justice of the Court
                                                        of Common Pleas

I Joseph Leavitt of Amherst in the County
Of Hillsborough aforesaid do solemnly swear
That I am well acquainted with Joshua Burham
And who has given his affidavit on this sheet
I know him to be the same person who served
In the Continental establishment for the term
Of one year commencing the first part of
Jan. A. D. 1776 & ending the fore part of Jan.
A.D. 1777 his service was alone in Col Reed’s
Reg. in the New Hampshire Line in Capt.
Jones’ Company at which time I served in the
Same Regt. And left the said Joshua in the
Army as he was sick & unable to travel when
I was discharged.  I ??ed to the same Town
With him, now it, Amherst
Sworn to this 6th day of                   Joseph Leavitt
July 1818 Before me                        J. H. Smith -  Associate Justice
                                                                                   The Court of C. Pleas

This certifies that Nathaniel Shattuck, Israel Burnham,
And Joseph Leavitt are all credible witnesses in
Court of Law -             J. H. Smith -            Associate Justice of the
                                                                       Court of Common Pleas


Joshua Burnham was granted his pension in July 1818.  He died in 1835 and his widow applied for a pension which she received until her death in 1843.  I’ll blog more about this next week, because poor widow Jemima Burnham had to do even more paperwork to prove her marriage and her case for her widow’s pension. 

Click on this link for a previous blog post about Col. Joshua Burnham:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Joshua Burnham Proves His Military Service”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 19, 2017, ( accessed [access date]). 

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