Milton Militiaman’s Petition – 1807

By Muriel Bristol | January 30, 2022

Norton Scates was born in Milton, June 27, 1790, son of Benjamin and Lydia (Jenness) Scates. His mother, Lydia (Jenness) Scates, died in Lebanon, ME, May 16, 1802.

The Federal Census exists to apportion voting districts, for which a simple headcount would suffice, but the government has always found military and other purposes for it too. The age range breakdowns for males – males aged 16-plus years and males aged under-16 years – in the early enumerations were intended to assess the potential size of the militia.

Norton Scates would have been sixteen years of age, i.e., aged 16-plus years in census terms, when he was wounded seriously while marching with Captain Levi Jones’ Milton militia company in September 1806.

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives in General Court Convened – June 1807

The Petition of Norton Scates a private soldier in the 8th Company in 2d Regimt of Militia ~

Humbly Sheweth

That he was enrolled, Duly notified and ordered to appear on the parade at Norway plains in Rochester on the 15th day of Septr 1806 equipped according to law for Military exercise ~ that in obedience to the laws of the State at the Command of my officers, set out for the place appointed, that on the March to said place, by an accidental Discharge of a Gun, by one of my brother soldiers in arms, I received a cruel wound in my body, under my right shoulder blade, which confined me for a long time to a sick bed, and came very near to have terminated in death, but by Divine Goodness, and the assistance of Medical aid, my wound is healed ~ But your Petitioner thereby is made a criple [SIC] ~ his Constitution destroyd and he in the prime of life rendered incapable of making a comfortable living by his industry ~ that the bills of expenses occasioned by said misfortune have been considerable and your petitioner has no means to discharge them without applying to an indulgent parent who has already done to the utmost of his abilities ~ But I am informed that the Goodness and Benevolence of the General Court has heretofore extended to relieve in some measure the unfortunate in such cases ~ I am therefore incouraged to pray that your Honors would Grant me such relief as your wisdom & Justice shall think proper ~ as I in duty bound do pray ~

Milton, May 25th 1807 Norton Scates

We the undersigned, having seen the above Petition, Do hereby Certify that the facts above stated are correct and that the Petitioner, in our opinion, Merits the interference of the Legislature

Levi Jones { Captain of Said Company
Wm Palmer, John Remick, Jr, Wm Tuttle } Selectmen of Milton
Saml Pray, Surgeon

(Dr. Samuel Pray (1769-1854) was a physician and surgeon at neighboring Rochester, NH. He would be one of the two NH Medical Society “Censors” that examined and approved Milton’s Dr. Stephen Drew (1791-1872) for admission to the society in 1818).

At a June 1807 session held in Hopkinton, NH (the current State House not having been completed until 1819), NH Representatives Samuel Quarles [of Ossipee], Beard Plumer [of Milton], and Harvey were assigned to a committee to consider the petition, together with such member or members that the NH Senate might designate.

The committee on the petition of Norton Scates, reported that Norton Scates receive out of the treasury of this State sixty dollars towards defraying the expence occasioned by the wound mentioned in his petition; which report was accepted, and a resolve passed for payment of said sum (NH General Court, 1807).

Benjn Scates headed a Milton household at the time of the Third (1810) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 45-plus years [himself], one female aged 26-44 years, one male aged 16-25 years [Norton Scates?], one female aged 16-25 years, and one female aged under-10 years]. Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of David Wallingford and James Twambly.

Norton Scates married (1st) in Rochester, NH, November 22, 1812, Hannah Cook, both of Rochester (NEHGS, 1908). She was born in Rochester, NH, circa 1802.

Son Thomas L. Scates was born in Milton, December 17, 1813.

Father Benjamin Scates married (2nd) in Portsmouth, NH, February 8, 1814, Abigail Folsom, he of Milton and she of Portsmouth, NH. Rev. Joseph Walton performed the ceremony.

Norton Scates had evidently recovered sufficiently to march again with Milton’s militia company seven years later, in September 1814, when it was called up during the War of 1812. (See Milton in the War of 1812).

Ensign Norton Scates was one of fourteen officers of the Second NH Militia Regiment that petitioned the NH legislature, September 23, 1819, for appointment of a surgeon’s mate. (Captain Theodore C. Lyman was another petitioner (Scates’ brother, Benjamin Scates, Jr., was married to Lyman’s daughter, Lovey Lyman)).

Captain Jeremy Nute, Lt. James Hayes, Jr., and Ensign Norton Scates petitioned the Field Officers of the 2nd Regiment, May 31, 1820, to have their Milton company divided into a northern part and a southern part. Norton Scates signed also a remonstrance intended for the June 1820 session of the NH legislature. It opposed one or more competing petitions that sought the division of Milton into two towns.

Son Eri N. Scates was born in the “Fish House” in Milton in 1820.

He was a son of Captain Norton Scates and was born in Milton at the “Fish house,” where his father dwelled and kept the post office in the early twenties (Farmington News, July 28, 1899).

The “Fish House” had nothing to do with fish, as such, but was instead the former residence of John Fish (c1760-1819[?]). Fish had been one of Milton’s original selectmen, then town clerk, and had received his appointment as a justice-of-the-peace, June 24, 1814. He was said in 1820 to have been “removed by death,” and Scates took up residence in his house.

J. Norton Scates received an appointment as Milton’s second Postmaster during the administration of Democratic-Republican James Monroe, April 8, 1822. As this was at least in part a political plum, he was likely also a Democratic-Republican, i.e., a Democrat. He had paid over $6.39 to the Postal Department by July 1823 but owed them still a further $10.09 (US Postmaster General, 1824). Norton Scates received $3.98 in compensation for being Milton postmaster in 1824 (US Dept. of the Interior, 1824).

Step-mother Abigail (Folsom) Scates died in Milton, April 14, 1825.

Benjamin Gerrish succeeded Norton Scates in the postmaster position in 1826. The presidency being still held by a Democratic-Republican, President John Quincy Adams, this substitution might have arisen through Scates’ relocation to neighboring Middleton, NH.

The NH Senate considered a NH House bill on Tuesday, June 27, 1826, to revoke the militia commissions of officers that had moved from their respective militia company areas and had neglected to resign them in favor of new officers.

The Senate and House of Representatives of said State in General Court convened respectfully represent to your Excellency, that the following officers, who have been duly commissioned to command in the militia of said state, have removed from the limits of their respective commands without having resigned their commissions to wit: … Norton Scates, captain of the fourth company of infantry in the thirty-ninth regiment; and Benjamin Scates, jr., second lieutenant of the company of cavalry in said thirty-ninth regiment; and Japheth Gray ensign of the fifth company of infantry in said thirty-ninth regiment … (NH Senate, 1826).

Scates had risen to the captaincy of the Fourth Company in the Thirty-Ninth Regiment of NH Militia Infantry, but then had moved, apparently from Milton to Middleton, NH. (His brother, Benjamin Scates, Jr., had been 2nd Lieutenant of the Cavalry company of the same regiment and had also moved).

Norton Scates headed a Middleton household in that same Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 40-49 years [himself], one female aged 30-39 years [Hannah (Cook) Scates], one male aged 20-29 years, one male aged 10-14 years [Thomas L. Scates], one male aged 5-9 years [Eri N. Scates], and one female aged 5-9 years.

(Father Benj. Scates headed a Milton household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 70-79 years [himself], one female aged 40-49 years, one male aged 10-14 years, one female aged 5-9 years, and 1 male aged under-5 years. Their household appeared in the enumeration between those of Benj. Scates Jr., and Ed. Ellice).

Norton Scates was mentioned in the replevin action of York vs. Davis regarding a pasture in Middleton, NH. “Replevin” is the legal term for a lawsuit seeking return of personal property, in this case nine cows impounded by defendant Davis.

On trial, it appeared that the plaintiff in 1833 and 1834 occupied a pasture by parole permission of John York, Jr., who held the same by a conveyance from James Goodwin executed in 1832, and that the defendant owned and occupied a pasture, contiguous to that occupied by the plaintiff, which he purchased of one Norton Scates in 1830. The plaintiff offered evidence tending to show that Goodwin and Scates, while owners of the closes agreed by parol on a division of the fence between them, and built and maintained the fence accordingly until they parted with their title and occupation. The court instructed the jury that such agreement not being in writing would not be binding on their grantees or successors in the occupation (NH Supreme Court, 1844).

The lower court had decided in favor of the plaintiff, John York, Jr. The defendant Davis had appealed to the NH Supreme Court.

Norton Scates appeared only as having been the prior part-owner with one Goodwin of the meadow land. They had agreed between them to partition the shared land with a fence (Good fences make good neighbors). Scates had sold out to York in 1830, and Goodwin to Davis in 1832. Davis had not maintained his portion of the fence as faithfully as he might have, which allowed York’s nine cows to cross over. (The grass being always greener on the other side). The NH Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff York, who got his nine cows back (NH Supreme Court, 1844)

Father Benjamin Scates died in Milton, August 9, 1833.

Son Thomas L. Scates married in Boston, MA, October 11, 1835, Eliza Clarke. Rev. Hubbard Winslow performed the ceremony.

Son Eri N. Scates married in Dover, NH, April 5, 1837, Mary N. Smith, both of Dover, NH. Edward Cleveland performed the ceremony.

Son Thomas L. Scates was printer of the Groton Academy Catalog in 1838. He published the Yeoman’s Gazette, a Middlesex County, MA, newspaper, in 1838-39.

Norton Scates headed a Dover household at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 50-59 years [himself], one female aged 30-39 years, and two females aged 15-19 years. One member of his household was engaged in “Agriculture” as opposed to the other two possibilities of Commerce or Industry.

Son Thomas L. Scates appeared in the Boston, MA, directory of 1842, as a printer, with his house at 3 Beach street.

Norton Scates appeared in the Dover, NH, directory of 1843, as a laborer, with his house on Main street. Son Eri N. Scates was a mariner, with his house on Perkins street.

Norton Scates appeared in the Dover, NH, directory of 1848, as keeper of N. & J. Young’s storehouse, with his house on Water street. (N. & J. Young were tanners & curriers on Water street). Son Eri N. Scates was a watchman at C.M. [Cocheco Manufacturing] Co., with his house near School street.

Norton Scates married (2nd) in Rochester, NH, October 29, 1849, Hannah E. Matthes. She was born in Milton, April 8, 1804, daughter of Robert and Sarah (Jones) Mathes.

Norton Scates a laborer, aged fifty-nine years (b. NH), headed a Dover, NH, household at the time of the Seventh (1850) Federal Census. His household included Hannah Scates, aged forty-six years (b. NH), and William Scates, aged ten years (b. NH).

Norton Scates appeared in the Dover, NH directory of 1859, as a grocer on Main street, with his house at the rear of the store. Son Eri N. Scates was a watchman at C.M. [Cocheco Manufacturing] Co., with his house on First street.

Norton Scates, a merchant, aged seventy years (b. NH), headed a Dover, NH, household at the time of the Eighth (1860) Federal Census. His household included his wife, Hannah Scates, aged fifty-seven years (b. NH). Norton Scates had real estate valued at $1,000 and personal estate valued at $400.

Son Thomas L. Scates died of phthisis in Boston, MA, December 21, 1860, aged forty-seven years, three days.

Norton Scates was a Sealer of Weights and Measures for the city government of Dover, NH, in 1858, 1859, 1860, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1866. A city expense report of 1862 recorded payments to him of 40¢ for sealing measures, $3.00 for goods delivered to Mrs. Martin Drew (a dependent of a Civil War volunteer). He was a Measurer of Wood and Surveyor of Lumber in 1864 (City of Dover, 1865).

Son Eri N. Scates married (2nd), May 12, 1865, Nancy J. (Clough) Davis. She was born in Effingham, NH, August 11, 1833, daughter of John B. and Sarah (Wentworth) Clough. (She had married (1st) January 19, 1852, Henry S. Davis, and they had a son, Charles H. Davis, before divorcing in June 1862).

Norton Scates, a laborer, aged eighty-one years (b. NH), headed a Dover, NH, household at the time of the Ninth (1870) Federal Census. His household included Hannah Scates, keeping house, aged sixty-seven years (b. NH), and Albert Mathes, a savings bank clerk, aged twenty-seven years (b. NH). Norton Scates had real estate valued at $1,200 and personal estate valued at $500. (See  Milton in the News – 1903 for more details regarding her nephew, Albert O. Mathes (1842-1907)).

Son Eri N. Scates died in Ossipee, NH, January 8, 1877.

Hannah E. [(Mathes)] Scates later claimed a War of 1812 widow’s pension for Norton Scates’s service in Capt. William Courson’s Milton militia company. (See Milton in the War of 1812).

Hannah E. [(Mathes)] Scates appeared in the Dover, NH, directory of 1880, as a widow, boarding at Mrs. S.J. Bliss’. Sarah J. Bliss appeared as a widow, with her house on Portland street.

Daughter-in-law Nancy J. ((Clough) Davis) Scates died in 1881.

Hannah E. (Mathes) Scates died of uremia in Dover, NH, May 16, 1882, aged seventy-eight years, one month, and eight days.


City of Dover. (1865). Annual Report of the Receipts and Expenditures of the City of Dover. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2015, August 8). Nancy Jane Clough Scates. Retrieved from

Find a Grave. (2016, September 26). Thomas L. Scates. Retrieved from

NEHGS. (1908). First Congregational Church Records, Rochester, N.H. Retrieved from

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

NH General Court. (1805). Journal of the House of Representatives of the State of New-Hampshire. Retrieved from

NH Senate. (1826). Journals of the NH Senate. Retrieved from

NH Supreme Court. (1844). Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Judicature of New Hampshire. Retrieved from

US Department of the Interior. (1824). Official Register of the United States: Containing a List of Officers and Employees in the Civil, Military, and Naval Service. Retrieved from

US Postmaster General. (1824). Letter from the Postmaster General. Retrieved from

Author: Muriel Bristol

"Lady drinking tea"

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