35 – Archibald and Duncan Campbell, Loyalists of Duchess Co, NY

There is an interesting family of loyalist who lived in Dutchess Co, New York and either owned or rented property in the Beekman Patent.

Archibald and Duncan Campbell were brothers. There was also a brother John and maybe Thomas. Archibald and Duncan came to the American Colony to fight in the French and Indian Wars and stayed, retired on half pay, until the Revolutionary War, when they were called up for service. I can’t really do their story justice here but will provide some links at the bottom.

Archibald Campbell

Archibald Campbell probably did not marry as he specified that he was a bachelor in his will. He did have 3 children with a woman named Jane Muro/Monroe – 2 sons and a daughter – the daughter being b. after Archibald’s death. He died in the Revolutionary War and has been made somewhat famous for the grisly tale that surrounds his death.

Mary Campbell dau of Archi BP

Stone of Mary Campbell, dau of Archibald
Find A Grave Memorial# 53714752
Campbell Burial Ground
Hurd Corners, Dutchess County, New York, USA

In March of 1777, Archibald Campbell marched his troops to the yard of Judge Ward in White Plains. As he approached, he was yelling oaths and ordering surrenders when suddenly a shot rang out from inside the home killing him. Archibald’s troops entered the home but on finding no one in the lower part of the home, they decided to retreat. As Archibald lay dying, he is said to have written his will in his own blood.

NOTE: While Archibald was killed, he most likely did not write his will in blood. In fact, he left a will in NY and it is from this we learn the names of his children. “Brookland Fort” on 17 Oct.  1776:

  • “Archibald Campbell of Fredericksburgh, Dutchess County, bachelor and Captain of the New York Company of Volunteer at Long Island, ‘my two boys left at my farm at Fredericksburgh’ are given the farm, stock and mill with £100.  ‘Mr.  Monson, Daniel Chase and Mathew Patterson are to settle for Archd.  and Duncan, brother Tom, Arch is to have Sarah for Duncan.’

No executors or witnesses.  The will was proved at London, England by testimony of Duncan Campbell, of Well Street, Parish of Saint Mary le Bone, carpenter, and Archibald McDuff, of Silver Street, Parish of St.  James, Westminster, cabinet maker.  Letters testimentary were granted to Duncan Campbell, of Aldergate St., London, victualler, and John Campbell, of High Holborn, upholster, brothers of testator.  The will was probated in New York Feb.  1791.  [NYWF 87].

It is said that Archibald’s sons were sent to England so they could receive a proper education but eventually returned to America. On 22 April 1789 a petition to the Chancery Court of Archibald and Duncan Campbell of Paulings Town, Dutchess Co., infants (under the age of 21 and above 14), whose father was dec’d, prayed that John McKay of Greenwich, CT may be appointed their guardian.  A bond dated 24 April 1789 was signed by John McKay, Esq.  and James Grant of Pawling, farmer, as surety.

Archibald Campbell Jr BP

Archibald Campbell, Jr
Find A Grave Memorial# 53710854
Campbell Burial Ground
Hurd Corners, Dutchess County, New York, USA

At Find-A-Grave, there is more history about Archibald Campbell, Jr.

  • “Archibald was a leading local citizen; he was elected a Vestryman for Fredericksburgh (now Patterson) Christ Episcopal Church in 1797, represented the church along with his wife’s cousin Uriah Mitchell at a convocation in New York City, was town Postmaster, and served as executor for many estates in and around Pawling. Archibald Campbell built a home at Hurd’s Corners (also known as Campbellville) northeast of Pawling, which stands today (2007) with the Campbell burying ground directly behind it.”

You can see all those buried in the burying ground here: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gsr&GScid=2358103

The Pawling House Bed & Breakfast, originally built as a residence for one of Pawling’s distinguished families in the 1860s and fully renovated as a B & B in 2007, gives us a historical sketch which can be seen here: http://pawlinghouse.com/history . According to this site Duncan, s/o Archibald Sr: “… was trained as a surgeon, died while serving in the West Indies with the English army.” Also, according to the above site, Mary, dau of Archibald and Jane, who was b. after the death of Archibald, never married but lived with her brother Archibald, Jr. At Find A Grave, Mary is listed as b. 18 Apr 1777 and d. 2 Jan 1843.

Duncan Campbell, Brother of Archibald Campbell, Sr.

Duncan Campbell, like his brother Archibald, was a loyalist during the Revolution. There are several pieces of correspondence and Newspaper articles discussing his activities.

Duncan was captured by the Americans after his ship carrying loyalist recruitments sank off of the Jersey Shore (on their way to New York).  He was carrying weapons, ammunition and perhaps counterfeit currency at the time.  As a result of his capture, he spent much of the war in prison.

He was released on strict probation when his wife became ill.  She eventually died leaving him with small children. I only know the name of one, John, from a letter cited below.  Even after Duncan’s probation, it seems he could not avoid trouble with the Americans and was questioned on smuggling weapons while going to visit his sick wife.  If one searched New Jersey Newspapers during the Revolution, you will surely find several articles written about Duncan.

Duncan returned to London after the Revolution (probably after the death of his wife). From London, he acted as the executor to his Brother Archibald’s estate in Duchess Co, NY.  His brother John was a co-executor to the estate was also in London.

As I said, there are many articles involving Duncan but I will site a few here that were of interest to me:

Duncan detail his activities for the British in order to receive a pension: Bibliotheca Americana Or A Descriptive Account Of My Collection Of Rare Books Relating To America by Henry Stevens GMB FSA  p. 112 (Google books)

  • CAMPBELL (Duncan) Manuscript Memorial of Capt Duncan Campbell of the 84th Regiment desiring to he put on full pay. Signed and presented by the Duke of Argyle. 2 pages. Folio (5s 439) The Memorialist was Ensign in the 42nd Regiment in 1756 and served in America till the peace of 1763, was at the battle of Ticonderoga and at the capture of Martinique and Guadalupe, and was twice severely wounded. In the War of Independence, he raised a company of Loyalists at Boston and on his way to New York to join the army was shipwrecked and made prisoner by the Americans and suffered accordingly.

Duncan Campbell states he is well know in the Jersey’s. From: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/cgi-bin/amarch/getdoc.pl?/var/lib/philologic/databases/amarch/.16391

DUNCAN CAMPBELL TO GENERAL WASHINGTON., Fredericksburgh, Dutchess County, May 23, 1776.

SIR: Having leave from General Schuyler last March to come down and settle some property I had at this place, he directed me to the County Committee for further leave; but not finding my affairs as I expected, I waited on the Committee and applied to them for a pass to go to the Jerseys or Pennsylvania, where most of the gentlemen that were taken prisoners in Canada were already sent. Their answer was, that they could not take it on themselves to send me anywhere but back again to Albany, without General Schuyler’ s directions.

I have written General Schuyler twice, acquainting him of their ordering me back again, and begging that he would be pleased to let me know where I was to go; but received no answer, though I wrote a month ago. As this is ray situation, I will take it as a particular favour to have your Excellency’ s directions, and an order for carriages for myself and baggage, as none will otherwise be provided for me.

I would be glad to have the indulgence of going to the Jerseys, as I am well known in that place; likewise, as I have a large family of a wife and six children, which could be sent the most of the way by water-carriage.

I am, sir, your Excellency’ s most obedient and most humble servant,


Ensign and Q. M. to Twenty-Sixth Regiment, and prisoner of war. To His Excellency General Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental forces.

Family of Duncan: “Collections of the New York Historical Society for the Year 1882”– Letter Book of Captain Alexander McDonald, of the Royal Highland Emigrants. Link: http://books.google.com/books?id=JlMOAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

p. 363, Capt.  McDonald letter to Duncan Campbell from Halifax dated 25 Aug.  1777:

  • “Dear Duncan.  I have no time to write any particulars for wch Reason I leave the Major’s letter open for your perusal wch please seal & forward with Expedition to Annapolis.  Enquire of D.Hr Deschamps who is the proper person there to send it to. The woman who takes care of your Children is not very well (and) I have Ordered the Doctor to Attend her.  She complains of little Johnny been very unruly & wants me to Correct him.  I’ll threaten hard but will not touch him on any Consideration(.) Mrs.  McDonald is Still walking about & joins me in Kind love to Mrs.  Campbell & you & believe me to be Dear Duncan, Yours Sincerely,”

In another letter to General McLean dtd Halifax, 21 Aprile 1778, pg 409-410, Captain McDonald writes:

  • “… Poor Cap. Duncan Campbell’s wife died a few days agoe & has left him a Most distressed helpless Widower with five Children allmost all infants. We are greatly At a loss What plan to Advise him to – we think he Should goe home with them by the first Safe Conveyance & leave them in Some Town in Scotland in good hands to receive their Schooling, & their Condition to be looked into once or twice a Year by his Brother or Some Other prudent friend. I hope that As he was drove from home, Suffered Shipwreck & loss for the Service & had Also his wife turned Adrift, by which She lost her health, Government will allow Something for them, As well As Other Refugees that May help their Education. Your Assistance for this End will be Usefull & No doubt he would write You by this Occasion but that he lives at Windsor – “


Archibald and Duncan had dealings in New Jersey but did not come to the American Colony until the 1700’s which was beyond the scope of my study of early East New Jersey (ENJ) Campbells. I do however have interest in a Robert Campbell who was a loyalist with Butler’s Rangers so naturally I needed to eliminate Archibald and Duncan.  I have several copies of old newspaper articles re: Duncan. I may transcribe them and put them here but it’s not a priority right now. If you would like a copy, let me know in the comments and I can send it to you.

As of yet, I’ve not determined if either Archibald or (more likely) Duncan, owned any land in ENJ and believe they probably did not.

Other Sources and General Reading


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