Milton Seeks a Magistrate – 1805

By Muriel Bristol | January 2, 2022

Fifty-two Milton inhabitants petitioned NH Governor John Langdon and his Executive Council in August 1805, seeking appointment of a Milton justice-of-the-peace. (Langdon was a Democratic-Republican, i.e., a Democrat, as opposed to a Federalist-Republican).

The Milton petitioners prepared an initial draft copy, but the corrected text of an accompanying “fair copy” or final version is what appears below. Presumably that is what the Governor saw.

Film tropes typically portray justices-of-the-peace being awakened in the night to sleepily perform civil marriages for eloping couples. While they might perform that function also, a NH justice of this period might be compared more accurately to a modern district court judge (Bell, 1843).

The petitioners recommended Lt. Jotham Nute (1760-1835) of Nute Ridge in West Milton for an appointment as their justice-of-the-peace.

Jotham Nute [Jr.] was born in Dover, NH, November 23, 1760, son of Jotham and Mary (Canney) Nute. (Either he or his father (of the same name) served in the Revolution as a private in Newcastle, NH, in 1776, presumably in coastal defense at Fort William & Mary (now Fort Constitution)). He enlisted with the Second NH Regiment in Dover, NH, January 1, 1777, for the duration of the war. He would have been but sixteen years of age. He served in several battles of the Saratoga campaign, encamped at Valley Forge, and was promoted to corporal and then sergeant. He participated in the Sullivan expedition of 1779.

Sgt. Nute was wounded at the Second Battle of Kingsbridge, NY – a Colonial defeat – in July 1781. He mustered out of the Continental Army as an invalid. (George Washington signed his discharge, June 7, 1783). Nute appeared on the pension rolls of 1783 as receiving an invalid half-pension.

Jotham Nute married in Madbury, NH, November 7, 1785, Sarah Twombly, both of Dover, NH. She was born in Madbury, NH, November 20, 1763, daughter of John and Patience (Bunker) Twombly. They settled at Nute Ridge in West Milton – then still a part of Rochester – in 1786.

The Revolutionary War pension system went through several phases or iterations. Nute applied for a replacement or supplementary pension from the NH General Court in December 1789:

The Petition of Jotham Nute of Rochester in the County of Strafford humbly Sheweth ~ That early in the late Contest between the United States & the Kingdom of Great Britain he entered the Service of his Country in the Regiment from this State, Commanded by Colo George Reid, in which from his Fidelity and good service he was promoted to a Serjeant and continued in the faithful discharge of his duty till the month of July 1781, when in an action with the British Troops near Tarrytown [N. York], he was wounded in the thigh by a musquet ball, which lodged in his hip, where it still continues. Jona Rawson, Atty to the Petitioner (NH General Court, 1884).

(The draft copy only of the 1805 petition regarding his appointment supplied the additional detail that he had also “for a Long time bin [been] a prisoner of war” but did not specify when this might have occurred).

Jotham Nute headed a Rochester, NH, household at the time of the First (1790) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 16-plus years [himself], four males aged under-16 years [including sons John T. Nute, Jeremy Nute, and Jacob Nute], and two females [including Sarah (Twombly) Nute]. Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of James Varney and Saml Nute.

Jotham Nute headed a Rochester, NH household at the time of the Second (1800) Federal Census, and he signed the 1802 petition that sought to have Rochester’s Northeast Parish incorporated as a separate town (Milton). In 1800 and in the 1805 petition that follows he was styled “Lieutenant,” i.e., a lieutenant in the NH militia.

The Milton Selectmen of 1804 were William Palmer, Jotham Nute, and John Remick, Jr. (Mitchell-Cony, 1908).

To his Excellency the Governor & Honorable Council of the State of New Hampshire ~

Humbly shew ~

The subscribers, inhabitants of Milton in the County of Strafford in said State and the vicinity thereof, that there is no Magistrate or Justice of the peace acting at present in commission within the distance of five miles on one side, and of Seven miles on the other side of the residence of Lieut Jotham Nute of Milton as aforesaid. That in consequence of the aforesaid want of a Magistrate within said bounds, the citizens are much incommoded in obtaining the civil assistance and official duty of a justice of the peace, as well as redress of grievance in breaches of the peace and other criminal acts incident to society. That your petitioners would beg leave to represent that the aforesaid inconveniences may be remedied by the appointment of the said Jotham Nute to said office. That his local situation alone makes the appointment in every respect desirable, were that the only reason which could be assigned. But that they also feel a confidence in recommending the said Nute to your notice as a Gentleman every way worthy of the appointment, both as it may respect his natural and acquired abilities, his moral and political conduct, and the claim which former public services and sacrifices have upon his fellow citizens. They on that head only observe that he has faithfully served his country in the revolutionary war for the term of Seven years; that he has fought and bled in her defense; and has from hence been taught duly to appreciate the blessings of liberty and good government. That by his own honest industry he has acquired a handsome property, enough to secure him from temptation in an office of so high [a] responsibility. That within the aforesaid bounds your petitioners know of no person who in that office would give so general satisfaction, or do more real good to his Country.

Wherefore your petitioners pray that the aforesaid Jotham Nute may be appointed and commissioned to act in the office of Justice of the peace within the County aforesaid, whenever and so soon as your Excellency and the honorable council may in your wisdom deem proper – and as in duty bound will pray &c &c – August 28, 1805.

[Column 1:]

Jeremiah Cook, Ebenezer Corson, Ichabod Corson, Nathaniel Rand, Joseph Rand, Eleazar Rand, William Tuttle, Caleb Wakeham, Benjamin Wakeham, Jonethan Wakeham, Daniel Wintworth, Aaron Varney, Gideon Johnson, John Hanscom, Simon Torr,

[Column 2:]

Dudley Burnham, Shubael Roberts, Joseph Cook, Enoch Wentworth, Eleazar Hodgdon, Joseph Corson, Richard Manson, Ebenezer Jones, Richard Goodwine, John Ricker, David Wentworth, John Wentworth, Thomas Nutter, Wm. Linscott, Benjamin Foss, William Foss, Samuel Ricker,

[Column 3:]

Samuel Twombly, Jr, Samuel Twombly, William Hatch, Benjamin Corson, William W. Lord, Stephen Jenkin, Jr, John Varney, Silas Whitehouse, James Roberts, Jere York, Benja Varney, James Varney, Ephraim Varney, Edmon Varney, John Jenkins, Lemuel Varney, Stephen Jenkins, Robert Knight, Joseph Lord.

Bolded names had appeared five years earlier as heads of households in Northeast Parish in the Second (1800) Federal Census.

The five-mile and seven-mile spans between magistrates to which the petitioners referred would be just about the distances between West Milton and Milton Three-Ponds (or Plummer’s Ridge), on the one side, and West Milton and Rochester, NH, on the other side.

The Milton Selectmen of 1806 were Levi Jones, S.L. [S.S.] Wentworth, and Lt. Jotham Nute (Mitchell-Cony, 1908).

(Grandson Lewis W. Nute was born in Milton, February 17, 1820, son of Ezekiel and Dorcas (Worster) Nute)).

The NH Register and Farmer’s Almanac of 1822 identified Milton’s Justice of the Peace and Quorum, which was the higher or senior office, as being Levi Jones, and its Justices of the Peace as being Jotham Nute, D. Hayes, John Remick, Jr., and James Roberts (Claremont Manufacturing Co, 1822).

The NH Political Manual and Annual Register of 1824 identified Milton’s Justice of the Peace and Quorum as being Levi Jones, and its Justices of the Peace as being Jotham Nute, D. Hayes, John Remick, Jr., and J. Roberts. Jotham Nute was also identified as being Milton’s coroner (Farmer, 1824).

The NH Annual Register and US Calendar of 1826 identified Milton’s Justice of the Peace and Quorum as being Levi Jones, and its Justices of the Peace as being Jotham Nute, D. Hayes, John Remick, Jr., and J. Roberts, Hanson Hayes, and Stephen M. Mathes (Farmer & Lyon, 1826).

Jotham Nute headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male, aged 60-69 years [himself], one female aged 60-69 years [Sarah (Twombly) Nute], one male aged 10-14 years, and one female aged 100-and-over years. Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of David Nute and Ezekl Nute.

Jotham Nute died in Milton, February 3, 1836, aged seventy-five years.

David Nute headed a Milton household at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 40-49 years [himself], one female aged 30-39 years, two males aged 10-14 years, two males aged 5-9 years, and one female aged 70-79 years. The older female was more particularly identified as [his mother,] Sarah [(Twombly)] Nute, aged seventy-seven years, recipient of a Revolutionary War widow’s pension. Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of James Varney and Ezekiel Nute.

Sarah (Twombly) Nute died November 21, 1849, aged eighty-six years.

WEST MILTON. Memorial day exercises by the pupils of Nute Ridge were held Monday, May 29, and tribute was paid to the soldier and sailor dead of all the wars by an appropriate program. Special exercises were paid at the grave of Oscar G. Morehouse, who was a teacher at the Nute Ridge school prior to his entering the service during the World war, and who died in France. Special tribute was also paid to Jotham Nute of the Revolutionary war, David Nute of the war of 1812 and Israel Nute of the Civil war (Farmington News, June 9 1939).


Bell, Samuel D. (1843). Justice and Sheriff: Practical Forms for the Use of Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, Coroners and Constables; Containing Forms of Proceedings, and the Revised Statutes of New-Hampshire, Relating to the Duties of Those Officers. Retrieved from

Claremont Manufacturing Co. (1822), NH Register & Farmer’s Almanac. Retrieved from

Classic Actress. (1936). Robert Taylor Marries Janet Gaynor in Small Town Girl. Retrieved from

Farmer, John. (1824). NH Political Manual and Annual Register. Retrieved from

Farmer, John & Lyon, G. Parker. (1826). NH Register & US Calendar. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (1999, March 14). John Langdon. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2011, December 21). Jotham Nute. Retrieved from

Kingsbridge Historical Society. (2020, July 5). On This Day in Kingsbridge: July 3rd, 1781. Retrieved from

Mitchell-Cony. (1908). Town Register Farmington, Milton, Wakefield, Middleton, Brookfield, 1907-8. Retrieved from

NH General Court. (1884). Provincial and State Papers. Retrieved from

NH Department of State. (n.d.). New Hampshire, Government Petitions, 1700-1826: Box 38: 1805-1807

US Congress. (1845). The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2021, October 6). Battle of Hubbardton. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2021, December 11). John Langdon (Politician). Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2021, October 23). Saratoga Campaign. Retrieved from

Wikipedia. (2021, December 22). Valley Forge. Retrieved from

Weight, Albert. (2009). The Sullivan Expedition of 1779. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: