Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring Clean: Convicted of High Treason

I came across an old email I had saved from the NJGLOUCE-L Mailing List at Rootsweb from 2004 that mentioned a relative, Jonathan CHEW.  Jonathan was the son of Jeffrey and Amy (DRIVER) CHEW, and was my paternal 6th-great granduncle.

Printed in the New Jersey Gazette of Trenton, December 16, 1778 was a notice from the Courts of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery for the county of Gloucester, which opened on November 17th and closed December 5th 1778.  Jonathan CHEW was listed among several other men who were convicted of high treason and sentenced to death.

The email mentions that his property was later confiscated because he had joined the army of the King of Great Britain.  The email references the On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies.

Jonathan CHEW was born 1733 in Gloucester County, New Jersey.  He married Mary SWEETEN, daughter of Andrew and Rebecca (________) SWEETEN.  Jonathan died in 1799.  Jonathan served as a captain in the loyalist forces.  Apparently, he was later pardoned by the governor.  More research needs to be done on this interesting time period in the CHEW family of New Jersey.

Doing a quick online search, I located this document from the digital collections of the New Jersey State Archives regarding Jonathan CHEW. In the document, a letter written by Associate Judge John Cleves SYMMES to the governor shows he was conflicted about the death sentences handed out:

"In the county of Gloucester there is a Jonathan Chew condemned for high treason; he was convicted by jury. I take it that he was disaffected from the beginning of the troubles, and joined the enemy at their coming to Billingsport, and acted as a captain among them. The charges laid against him in the indictment of levying war and adhering to the enemies of the state was well supported, and I cannot think there is any equitable circumstance in his favor, either as matter of law or fact. But the following considerations may plead for him with your honors for a pardon.
1. He is a very weak man in his understanding. 2. He has a family of twelve children, that must be objects of charity if their friend is taken away, and they have no property left. 3. It appeared in the Court that he was humane, and inclined to distress the inhabitants that were in his power as little as possible, in person or property. 4. He left the enemy after they had retreated through Jersey, and came home and threw himself in the way of justice"
Jonathan was a brother to my Jesse CHEW, a Methodist circuit rider, who also had Loyalist leanings, and his home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Spring Clean: The Spring Clean is my attempt to examine, cite and document the files and scans that I have accumulated over the years in my genealogy research.  By cataloging, filing and re-examining different pieces of data I hope to discover new facts about my family. 


Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

Congratulations on Top 100 Recognition!

Bill ;-)
Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

Travis said...

Thanks, and congratulations to you as well, Bill.