Wednesday, 7 October 2015
The American Connection
The Blanchards are a well-known New England family. Originating in France, some fled to England to escape the Huguenot (French Protestant) persecution, and arrived in Boston from England in the 1600s. Their descendants settled throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. However the chaotic period following the Revolution prompted one illustrious member of the family to depart for Canada, thus forging connections that resonate to this day.
Jotham Blanchard was born in Dunstable NH in 1745, the ninth of 12 children. Both his father and grandfather had served in the military, and therefore it seemed right for him to also serve. He rose through the ranks quickly, eventually becoming a Colonel; however he wasn't an active combatant.
He married Elizabeth Treadwell and not long afterward he moved his growing family to Peterborough NH. During and after the war he was active in municipal politics, being at various times a town moderator, selectman (one of a board of town officers chosen annually to manage local affairs), and a member of the Committee of Safety.
In 1776 he signed an Association List in which he pledged property and life in support of the Revolution. Near the end of the war he sat on a committee to decide what action should be taken against those who had been on the British side. The final report recommended that Loyalists should have their property confiscated, while no action should be taken against neutral parties.
However post-war acts of retaliation and greed displayed by the victorious colonists disillusioned him, and so he immigrated to Nova Scotia with his family in 1785. It was this move that has caused a number of historians to postulate that Jotham was a Loyalist himself but there is little direct evidence of such. The family settled in Truro Nova Scotia, where in 1796 Jotham obtained a grant of 23,000 acres of land in Sydney County. Jotham and his wife Elizabeth had ten children.
The Blanchards are inextricably linked to two other large and influential Nova Scotia families: Archibald and Waddell. Legend has it that the reason there was so much intermarriage among the three families was that no one else was good enough. (The fifth daughter of Jotham and Elizabeth married into the Waddell clan, from whom my maternal grandmother Lucy is descended. I will be discussing Lucy in an upcoming post.)
It's interesting to note that one of Jotham's grandsons, Hiram Blanchard, became the first Premier of Nova Scotia following Confederation.
*This is a re-post from the original Cinquefoil Heritage blog on Blogster which has been removed by the author.