Thomas Shearman, son of Oliver, (b:1760 - d 1840)

His relationship with the Tories and reasons why he possibly was not granted his application for a pension following the Revolutionary War.

June 23, 1997

Hank Sherman
Freehold. NJ 07728

Dear Hank,

Thanks for the continued interest.

As promised, here is my discourse on Thomas Shearman.

Like most of the young men in the Shark River - Howell area, Thomas Shearman was probably somewhat disaffected from the Revolutionary Government early in the war. In late 1776, he was lured by promises of land to join Samuel Wright's Tory Association.

By 1777, the Tony associations were exposed and broken up and Thomas seems to have become a relatively loyal militia man. He served tours under Captains James Green and Daniel Hampton, neither of whom ever distinguished himself as a fighting commander. As such, most of Shearman's militia tours probably consisted of half-hearted patrols of the extensive shoreline. The fact that Shearman took part in no actual clashes betrays that his company was somewhat disaffected, since there were no shortage of Tory irregulars to battle. But it was just as easy for a militia company to avoid combat -- by letting word spread of their route (giving Tories time to vacate the area) or simply choosing not to engage suspicious parties. Of course,. Shearman should not be blamed for having timid commanders.

By the later years of the war. it seems that Shearman drifted toward disaffection again (the local war was growing more brutal, and no militiaman was safe from Tory kidnapping parties). Twice Thomas Shearman is listed as delinquent from militia service, and given the general lack of such documents, it is likely that Shearman skipped at least a few other tours. In addition, Shearman was indicted for an unnamed misdemeanor in 1782, probably for either defaulting on fines for militia delinquency, or illegally trading with Tory agents -- this illegal trade was rampant in the Shark River - Manasquan area.

I suspect that Shearman's pension application was rejected because of his occasional disaffection. In a sense this is unfair. because it does seems that he met the criteria for receiving a pension, six months of military service. But pensions were ultimately granted on reputation as much as actual merit. While Shearman served many militia tours and had a comrade who supported his claim, it seems that his reputation doomed his claim. Monmouth County was a small community, and there should be little doubt that some of the old men around the court house remembered Shearman more for his disaffection than for his undistinguished militia service.

So, does this make Shearman a patriot or a Tory? Ultimately, history is done a disservice by such simplistic labels, and I do not think that Shearman's record fits either label particularly well.

Hope this information is helpful. Good luck.

Sincerely,

Michael S. Adelberg, MA, MPA, Historian

Paperwork that Mike found to give us a picture of Thomas Shearman's exploits.
Entry 7540:- 7/11/80,
"Delinquents from the alarm in Capt. Daniel Hampton's Company".

3 delinquents including Thomas Shearman.

Entry 8688 - 4/23/77,
* Deposition of William Sands before the council of safety: 9/25/76, "This deponent went to Deal, to teach a school, where he was soon afterward called on business to a place near Shark River meeting house, where he met Henry Weatherby"... Weatherby slams cont movement and tells Sands about Wright's rebellion -- group is unarmed, "yet they soon expected them from the British Army" -- group is to meet again the next night.

* The next night, they meet at Gawan Drummond's house, "he the sd Weatherby asked the sd deponent to write him an enlistment roll, at the same time informing that the former roll which the sd Weatherby has was full, and that the sd Weatherby was then on his way to a place called Long Branch for the purpose of enlisting men, who as sd Samuel Wright some time after informed this deponent, were to seize Coll. [Daniel] Hendrickson, the Rev'd William Mcknight, Capt. [Stephan] Fleming and sundry others, who were to be conveyed to Staten Island, when they were to receive forty dollars reward for each person so taken.

* Talks with Wright, "informed him that he, the sd Wright, with his men intended to continue concealed in the woods, until the British Troops should land, when they would join them, and cut off the provincial guards; but if they should be discovered that he, the sd Wright, and his men intended themselves to rush upon sd guards and if possible cut them off, and then push over to Staten Island or Long Island, and join the King's Troops.

* Recalls William Smith, now a prisoner, joined Wright's group, Sands hears a plan while at Smith's cabin in the woods, Brits would land near Sandy Hook and draw the militia's attention, "at the same time an armed vessel was to run Southward near to Manasquan to land arms and ammunition for the use of sd Wright and his men, who were to a day previous notice, were to be embodiied in the woods to receive sd supplies.

* If Sands was discovered, he was "to come to him [Wright] and he would protect him, that if the deponent wanted any supplies, he might be free [to ask for some from] Gawan Drummond, Samuel Longstreet, Thomas Leonard, David Knott, Jacob Wardell, Richard Lippincott, Thomas Wooley & some of the Whites, all of the Township afsd., and Coll. George Taylor of Middletown, who as sd Wright disclosed was his friend, the sd undertaking, and did supply such persons as were joined with him, with provisions.

* On Weatherby's recruiting: "had enlisted a great number of men and that if he, this deponent, had been present the night before he might have seen sixty or seventy of their men together, who met to choose their officers.

* when Weatherby returns to Long Branch: "he pulled a paper out of his stocking, on which this deponent thinks were the names of 15 or 16 persons" including the carpenter Hofmire and Thomas Shearman.

* Concludes, "that although he thinks he was for a time admitted to all the secrets of sd disaffected party, yet he never heard anything of their being embodied for the purpose of putting out a fire, or merely protecting themselves at home, but always understood their designs was to act in concert with the British Troops against their country.

Entry 3566: 11/82,

Monmouth Court of Oyer and Terminer:

Justices: Peter Forman, Denice Denice, John Leconte, Richard Cox

Magistrates: Joseph Lawrence, William Tapscott, Garret Longstreet, Peter Covenhoven, Daniel Randolph, Abiel Aiken, Jesse Halsey, Charles Gordon. Coroner: John Brinley.

Constables: Peter Smith, William Morison, William Wilgus, Zebulon Clayton, William Hunter, Carhart Walling, Samuel Woodmancy.

92 total indictments

6 high treason: Chrineyonce Vanmater [not guilty], John White, Daniel Hullett, Andrew King, James Tucker, Peter Cooke

2 murder: John Okeson [death sentence], Judiah Lippincott [death sentence] '2 horse stealing: Peter Eaton [death sentence], John Garrison

2 robbery/highway robbery: John Leaming [not guilty], Joseph Sheldon [death sentence]

5 burglary: Ezekiel Tilton, Conradt Hendrickson, Shore Stevenson, John Tilton, Harmon Johnson [all tried together, all get death sentence]

2 assault: Noah Clayton [fined l30], David Rhea [fined l300]

4 riot: John North [fined l40], Jacob Hart [fined l10], Elias Longstreet [fined l10], William Cosgrove

1 perjury: David Hay

1 seditious words: William Wardell

67 misdemeanors, significant persons are: William Dillon, Lydia Stillwell, Chrineyoni Van Mater, Peter Wardell, William Wardell, Aaron Buck, Samuel Allen [not guilty], James Fleming, [3 counts, guilty on 2, fined l1000], John Farr, Rosinna Throckmorton, Peter Corlies, Thomas Shearman, Mariboe Parker

Jurors fined L8 for not attending: William Hutchinson, Edmund Beakes, Gilbert Smith, William Imlay, Samuel Imlay, Caleb Ivins.

(Michael writes in a sentence: Thomas Shearman was also listed delinquent on a militia return compiled April 1782 by John Burrows). This means that Thomas was 22 years of age at this time. b:1760.

(These pages were copied from a letter to Hank Sherman July 1997,  in regard to a request to Michael about Thomas Shearman’s pension requests.)

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