Milton in the News – 1816

By Muriel Bristol | January 31, 2019

Major Barnabas Palmer died in Milton in this year. He was born in Ireland. The place given is never quite the same: Dublin, Cork, or Limerick. Likewise, the birthdate is given as either May 28, 1720, which would make his age at death about 96 years, or May 28, 1725, which make it “only” 91 years.

Barnabas Palmer emigrated from Ireland to America at the age of sixteen years. Depending upon which birthdate is correct, he would have arrived either in 1736-37 or 1741-42.

Lieutenant Barnabas Palmer fought in the Siege of Louisburg in 1745, where he lost his right arm. This argues for the 1720 birthdate, as otherwise, he would have been a more recent immigrant, commissioned as a lieutenant, and commanding troops in battle at the age of only nineteen or twenty years (as opposed to twenty-four or twenty-five years). This would not be inherently impossible, just less likely.

The capture of Louisburg, at Cape Breton, was thought to be completely impossible. The British would not even attempt it.

And yet an entirely colonial militia force, principally from Massachusetts (which then included Maine), but with troops also from New Hampshire and Connecticut, did the impossible. (Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania provided shipping, weapons, equipment, and money). The colonies were not best pleased when, during the peace negotiations, the British traded Louisburg back to the French for some outpost in India.

Palmer’s children, all born in Rochester, were: Mary Palmer, born June 2, 1748; Margaret “Peggy” Palmer, born August 29, 1749; Jonathan Palmer, born July 12, 1751; Samuel Palmer, born 1755; William Palmer, born October 19, 1757; Elizabeth Palmer, born December 28, 1759; Barnabas Palmer, Jr., born December 29, 1761 (died March 13, 1762); and Barnabas Palmer, Jr., born February 18, 1765. (And likely more).

Barnabas Palmer signed the Rochester Association Test of 1776.

Rochester selectmen (“at that time”) Ebenr Tebbetts and Barnabas Palmer certified payment of a town bounty, May 23, 1777, for Revolutionary enlistees D. Wengate, Enoch Wengate, Wm Palmer, D. Watson, and Thos Chamberlain.

Major Barnabas Palmer represented Rochester in the NH House of Representatives from 1788 to 1790. It would have been he who cast Rochester’s “No” vote against ratifying the US Constitution.

Barnabas Palmer headed a Rochester household at the time of the First (1790) Federal Census. His household included three males aged 16-plus years, one male aged under-16 years, and two females. His household appears in the enumeration between those of Caleb Jackson and Joseph Knight, in a part of Rochester that would remain Rochester after the separations of Farmington (1798) and Milton (1802).

One of his sons, William Palmer, represented Rochester for several terms just a few years later, from 1794 to 1800. (From which time he acquired his title “Esquire”). It was this son who called Milton’s first town meeting.

Barnabas Palmer was one of eight founding members of Milton’s First Congregational Church, September 8, 1815. He died just over a year later.

In Milton, N.H. Mr. Barnabas Palmer, AE 96 – born in Cork, Ireland. In him we may lament the loss of an honest and faithful man; He was a possessor of religious, and a member of the Congregational Church about 80 years (Newburyport Herald (Newburyport, MA), [Tuesday,] November 5, 1816).

DEATHS. At Milton, N.H. Mr. Barnabas Palmer, 96 – born in Cork, Ireland. He left his native country when about sixteen years old, and came to this, where he settled and became the father of a numerous family of sons and daughters – he lost an arm (right) in the battle of Louisburg, at that time a major in the British service – he was many years a member of the legislature of New Hampshire before and after the Revolution, a warm and zealous advocate for American Independence, and whilst his voice was heard in our councils with wonder, he inspired and armed his sons for the field, whom he had the satisfaction to see return victorious (Salem Gazette (Salem, MA), [Friday,] November 8, 1816).

DIED. At Milton, N.H. Mr. Barnabas Palmer, aged 96; an officer in the British service at the battle of Louisburg; a hero of the American Independence, and many years a member of the Legislature of Massachusetts [SIC], before and after the Revolution (Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, DC), [Thursday,] November 14, 1816).

With a tip of the hat to Ms. Mary John, who found these newspaper articles and included them in the Find a Grave web-page for Maj. Barnabas Palmer.

Next in sequence: Milton in the News – 1827


Find a Grave. (2012, June 16). Maj. Barnabas Palmer. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2018, November 18). Siege of Louisburg (1745). Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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