Barton Lucas: well-off Cadet, Ensign, and Captain

Battlefields of the Seven Years War, courtesy of this website.

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this biography when I was working at the Maryland State Archives for the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

Barton Lucas, a captain of the Third Company of the First Maryland Regiment, was born, according to some sources, in 1730, in Prince George’s County. His father was Thomas Lucas and mother Anne Keene. Barton had four siblings named Basil, Margaret, Thomas, and Sarah. [1]

Lucas served in the Seven Years’ War (1754-1763) which had Britain, France and indigenous people as combatants, resulting in transfer of northern parts of America and Canada from France to Britain. [2] In 1758, he signed on as a cadet, a military officer in waiting, in Joshua Bell’s Company and he soon was a ensign in Captain Alexander Beall’s Maryland Company, for which he received modest pay. [3] Maryland troops fought at the battle of Fort Duquesne in September of that year, joined by South Carolinian troops, to fend off indigenous attacks, but the English were defeated and Marylanders covered their retreat. [4] During these military engagements, Lucas was injured. [5]

In 1762, Lucas married Priscilla Sprigg, whose last name changed to Lucas after their marriage. His “beloved wife” Priscilla, “Prisey,” was born in 1735 to Osborn Sprigg, a Maryland legislator, and Rachel Belt, and was one of five siblings. [6] In 1756, Lucas’s father died, willing 112 acres and his plantation to Lucas. [7] In the 1750s and 1760s, Barton bought and sold enslaved blacks for his plantation. [8]

During the Revolutionary War, Lucas, a prominent community figure and combat veteran, served in the military. He was recommended as a field officer to a Battalion “on the upper part of the Patuxent” in 1775, however, he likely never served in this capacity since he was chosen in January of the next year as a Captain of the Third Company of Col. William Smallwood‘s Maryland Battalion. [9] In the summer of 1776, this Maryland regiment marched to New York and was put under the command of Gen. George Washington.

At the Battle of Brooklyn, the First Maryland Regiment, especially companies led by Lucas, Daniel Bowie, Peter Adams, Benjamin Ford, and Edward Veazey, later called the Maryland 400, held off the British while the rest of the Continental Army escaped Long Island to safety. While Lucas’s company played a key role in the Battle of Brooklyn, on August 27, 1776 with sixty percent of his company killed, Lucas was ill and could not participate in the battle itself. [10] John Hughes, a private in his company, said years later that “Capt. Barton Lucas became deranged in consequence of losing his company.” Still listed as ill, after the battle, Lucas was returned home and later resigned on October 11, 1776. However, Lucas rejoined the military as a colonel in the Prince George’s County Militia from 1777-1778. [11]

After his military service, Lucas settled down to his plantation in Prince George’s County. Existing records show that enslaved blacks, plantation tools, and farm animals were part of his overall property. [12] At his death, sometime between April 8, 1784 and May 16, 1785, in Prince George’s County, he was still called a colonel and much of his property value consisted of enslaved blacks. [13]

– Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.

Notes

[1] Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, p. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038].

[2] John Frost, Pictorial Life of General Washington: Embracing a Complete History of the Seven Years War, the Revolutionary War, The Formation of the Federal Constitution, and the Administration of Washington (Philadelphia: Lery, Getz & Co., 1860), 52, 65, 106.

[3] Letter to George Washington from Captain Nathaniel Ewing, 9 March 1779. Founders Online. National Archives; Orderly Book, 10 November 1758. Founders Online. National Archives; Letter to George Washington from Robert Stewart, 25 February 1762. Founders Online. National Archives; Archives of Maryland, vol. 61, pp. 392; Archives of Maryland vol. 59, pp. 54, 159, 170, 173, 196-7, and 251; “French and Indian War: Roster of Maryland Troops, 1757-1759 [Calvert Papers].” Maryland Historical Magazine 5, no. 3 (1910): 281; Maryland State Papers (Scharf Collection). 1759-1801. Certification of military service on the frontier [2/19/1767]. S1005 [MSA S1005-57-2, 1/8/5/44].

[4] Joshua Dorsey Warfield, The founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland: A genealogical and biographical review from wills, deeds and church records (Baltimore: Kohn & Pollack, 1905), 213; “French and Indian War: Roster of Maryland Troops, 1757-1759 [Calvert Papers],” Maryland Historical Magazine 5, no.3, (1910): 272; Mary K. Meyer, “Genealogica Marylandia: MARYLAND MUSTER ROLLS 1757-1758.” Maryland Historical Magazine 70, no. 2 (1975): 225; Mary K. Meyer, “Genealogica Marylandia: MARYLAND MUSTER ROLLS 1757-1758.” Maryland Historical Magazine 70, no. 1 (1975): 107.

[5] Archives of Maryland vol. 61, page 392.

[6] Effie G. Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George’s County: Genealogical and Biographical History of Some Prince George’s County, Maryland and Allied Families (Richmond: Garrett and Massie, Inc., 1947), 595; “Sprigg Family,” Maryland Historical Magazine. 8 (1913): 80; Edward C. Papenfuse, Alan F. Day, David W. Jordan, and Gregory A. Stiverson. “Sprigg, Osborn.”  A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789. Vol. 2: I-Z (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1985), 763; Special Collections, Legislative History Project Collection, Osborn Sprigg (ca. 1741-1815) [MSA SC 1138-001-1160/1177, 2/11/12/72]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1765, Liber TT, p. 0338-9 [MSA CE65-19, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET].

[7] Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, pp. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038].

[8] Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, pp. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1765, Liber TT, p. 0338-9 [MSA CE65-19, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1759, Liber PP, p. 0093, 0144, 0321-2 [MSA CE65-17, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1772, Liber BB 3, p. 0068, 0085 [MSA CE65-22, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1775, Liber CC 2, p. 0135 [MSA CE65-23, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET].

[9] “Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution,” Archives of Maryland vol. 18, pp. 9; Archives of Maryland vol. 78, pp. 67 and 93; Archives of Maryland vol. 12, pp. 16; Archives of Maryland vol. 11, 92, 169, and 406.

[10] Fragments of letter of an Unknown Patriot Soldier (September 1, 1776), The Sprit of ‘Seventy-Six: The Story of the American Revolution as Told by Participants (ed. Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris. New York: Harper and Row, 1967), 440 [0/60/3/35]. Fully reprinted in Henry Onderdonk, Revolutionary Incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties (New York: Levitt & Company, 1849), 147-8.

[11] “Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution.” Archives of Maryland vol. 18, pp. 333; Archives of Maryland vol. 16, pp. 532.

[12] Prince George’s County Commissioners of the Tax, Assessment Record, Rock Creek Hundred, personal property, MdHR 40220-24 [MSA C1162-10, 1/21/10/011]; Will of Barton Lucas, Prince George’s County, Register of Wills, Administration Bonds, October 1785, MdHR 9791 [MSA C1146-4, 1/25/08/003].

[13] At her death in October 1785, Priscilla’s will listed one enslaved black woman and named her next of kin. Will of Priscilla Lucas, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Bonds, October 1785, MdHR 9791 [MSA C1146-4, 1/25/08/003]; Inventories of Precilla Lucas and Col. Barton Lucas, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Inventories, Liber ST, pp. 337-40, MdHR 9799 [MSA C1228-9, 1/25/09/001]; Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Accounts, 1791, Liber ST 1, p. 376, MdHR 9805 [MSA C1144-4, 1/25/10/015]; Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Accounts, Liber ST 2, p. 6, MdHR 18865 [MSA C1144-6, 1/25/10/017]; Will of Barton Lucas, 1784, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Wills, Liber T1, p. 216, MdHR 9725-1 [MSA C1326-3, 1/25/07/004]

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