Saturday, September 11, 2010

The other man who could have been father of our country?

Lately, I've been very interested in studying the life of one of my distant cousins from Massachusetts, Brig. General Timothy Ruggles (1711-1795). He is my third cousin, nine times removed to be exact. Ruggles served as a general during the French and Indian Wars and was one of Massachusetts' leading political figures prior to the American Revolution. His allegiance to the Loyalist cause proved to be his downfall, and he spent his final years in exile in Nova Scotia. Below is some biographical information about him. I'll post some more information about him and his family shortly.

Timothy Ruggles

"RUGGLES, Timothy, lawyer, born in Rochester, Massachusetts, 20 October, 1711; died in Wilmot, Nova Scotia, 4 August, 1795. He was a son of Reverend Timothy Ruggles, of Rochester. He was graduated at Harvard in 1732, and began the practice of law in Rochester, but removed to Sandwich about 1737, and thence to Hardwick in 1753 or 1754. At Sandwich he opened a tavern, and personally attended the bar and stable, while continuing to practise his profession. He was one of the best lawyers in the province of Massachusetts, and before his removal to Hardwick the principal antagonist bf James Otis, senior, in causes of importance, as at a later period he was the chief opponent of James Otis, junior, in contests in the general court. In 1757 he was commissioned a judge of the court of com-men pleas of Worcester county, and on 21 January, 1762, he became its chief justice. The latter office he held until the Revolution. He was also appointed, 23 February, 1762, a special justice of the superior court of the province. Mr. Ruggles was a representative in the general com't from Rochester in 1736, from Sandwich for eight years between 1739 and 1752, and from Hardwick fifteen years between 1754 and 1770. He was speaker of the house in 1762 and 1763. In 1765 he was chosen one of the delegates from Massachusetts to the stamp-act congress of that year in New York, and was elected its president, but refused to sign the addresses and petitions that were sent by that body to Great Britain, and was censured for the refusal by the general court of Massachusetts and reprimended in his place from the speaker's chair. Nine years later he accepted an appointment as mandamus councillor, and took the oath of office, 16 August, 1774. Ruggles rendered service in the French war that began in 1753 and ended in 1763. He had the rank of colonel in the expedition of Sir William Johnson against Crown Point in 1755, and in the battle of Lake George, where the French, under Baron Dieskau, met with a signal defeat, he was next in command to Johnson. In 1758-'60 he served as brigadier-general under Lord Amherst, and accompanied that general in his expedition against Canada. In recognition of his services a grant was made to him by the general court of Massachusetts in , January, 1764, of a farm in Princeton. A few years later he was appointed a surveyor-general of the king's forests in the province, and in the northern part of Nova Scotia. Lucius R. Paige, who in his "History of Hardwick" (Boston, 1883) has given the best and latest account of General Ruggles, writes that he was "one of the most prominent citizens of Massachusetts, and indeed of New England, in both military and civil affairs." In the years that immediately preceded the Revolution, Timothy Ruggles had been the leader of the king's party in the general court; and when the British troops left Boston in 1775 he went with them, but there is no evidence, however, that he took an active part in the war against his countrymen. It has been said of him that "he applauded the spirit which led to the Revolution, but regarded the violent efforts practised to effect the separation of the provinces from the mother country as impolitic and premature." General Ruggles's property was confiscated by the government of Massachusetts, but Great Britain gave him land in Nova Scotia, and after the close of the Revolutionary war he settled there and spent the remainder of his life in agricultural pursuits. In his new home, as before in Hardwick, he rendered lasting service to his neighbors by the use of scientific methods in farming and by the introduction of choice breeds of cattle and horses. He was more than six feet in height, careful in his dress, and had an expressive countenance, He was commanding and dignified in appearance and fearless in demeanor. His wit was ready and brilliant, his mind was clear, comprehensive, and penetrating. He was a forcible and convincing public speaker. Though abstemious, he was at the same time profuse in hospitality. As a military officer he was noted for cool bravery and excellence of judgment, as well as for knowledge of the art of warfare. "There were few men in the province," wrote Joseph Wil-lard, "more justly distinguished than Ruggles, and few who were more severely dealt with in the bitter controversies preceding the Revolution." " Had he been so fortunate," wrote Christopher C. Baldwin, "as to have embraced the popular sentiments of the time, there is no doubt he would have been ranked among the leading characters of the Revolution." See an article by Christopher C. Baldwin on Timothy Ruggles in the "Worcester Magazine" (1826), and addresses before the Members of the bar of Worcester county, Massachusetts, by Joseph Willard (1829), Emory Washburn (1856), and Dwight Foster (1878); also Emory Washburn's " Sketches of the Judicial History of Massachusetts from 1630 to the Revolution in 1775" (Boston, 1840)."

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia

1 comment:

  1. Sean,
    Thank you for sharing this information. I just discovered that I am a direct descedent of the general, and this is a very nice introduction to him.


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