OUR COLONIAL ANCESTOR AND THE STORY OF ONE LINE OF THE FAMILY THAT MOVED INTO MAINE BY 1803.
Our Colonial ancestor was JAMES LANGLEY of Oyster River, New Hampshire who married MARY REYNOLDS in about 1705. Her father, William Reynolds, arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1637. James and/or his father (not yet identified) were probably born in either Northern England or Scotland. The results of a 67 panel y-dna test strongly indicate that this Langley line can trace its ancestry back to Scotland many generations ago.
ONE LINE OF THE LANGLEY-LONGLEY FAMILY
The genealogy that follows is the story of one line of this family which currently counts 10 generations from our progenitor, James Langley.
1. JAMES LANGLEY (possible father: Thomas Langley) born possibly at Portsmouth or New Castle, NH or Great Britain, abt. 1680, died before Feb. 1730/31; married probably at Portsmouth or New Castle NH abt. 1706, MARY REYNOLDS (Runnels), possibly born at Falmouth, ME abt. 1685, died before 18 APR 1737, daughter of Job and Sarah (Crawford) Reynolds.
Family tradition suggests that James Langley is of Scottish stock. The Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, mentions James as the possible son of "Old Langley", of Portsmouth, maltster who was taxed there in 1722, 1724, and 1725. This same Thomas was recorded in the Kittery/York, Maine court records as "absent from a meeting in 1690."
Family tradition says that James Langley is of Scottish stock. The Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, mentions James as the possible son of "Old Langley", of Portsmouth, maltster who was taxed there in 1722, 1724, and 1725. This same Thomas was recorded in the Kittery/York, Maine court records as "absent from a meeting in 1690."
But I am proposing that James is more likely the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Langley who were living in Portsmouth N.H. by 1657. The clue to this is that Thomas was granted one acre of land on the island of New Castle in 1657. Fifty years later, in 1707, James Langley was taxed there. This places both probable father and probable son in the same area.
It is also possible that Mary Reynolds, wife of James Langley, was living at New Castle NH in the 1690s and that's where they met. Her grandfather, William Reynolds, and her father, Job Reynolds, were also found living there at various times in the late 1600s. William lived at Great Island (later New Castle, N.H.) where he signed a petition on, 15 May 1690, asking for a general governor and military supplies. Job was taxed on Great Island in 1677-79, and Sarah, Job's widow, was recorded at New Castle in 1692 when she deeded land to her half-brother, and in 1696, where "the widow of Job Renouls had several ch. and did not put them out as apprentices." She must have either had the resources to keep them with her or, she couldn't afford apprenticeship fees, most likely the latter. There is a strong history of residence at Great Island, later New Castle, for both the Langley and Reynolds families.
New Castle, it seems, was quite a lively place right up until the American Revolution, for "it was alive with intrigue and excitement. Here lived the Governor and his officials; here were held the councils and the courts of law. The prison for the whole province was at New Castle as was its fort under the command of Captain Walter Barefoot. Its taverns were crowded with "philandering soldiers of fortune," and its prisons were full of traitors and ministers in danger of the Tower of London, or of the gallows.
"The prosperity of New Castle, however, for more than 200 years, depended for the most part on its fisheries. In early spring the small vessels fitted out for a cruise to the Newfoundland banks and eastern shores, returning in the fall... In New Castle Square is a simple, little Graveyard with headstones running back to 1713... The white frame Meeting-House opposite the burying ground was built in 1828 on the site of the original church, organized in 1682. In the Library is a copy of the charter (the original is in the archives of the Historical Society at Concord) given to New Castle by William and Mary in 1693, establishing it as a township."
Less than 70 years after James was taxed in 1707 at New Castle, his grandson, Jonathan Langley, was stationed there [from 1 Sept. 1775 until 5 Nov. 1775] in defense of the Piscataquis Harbor against the English at the very beginnings of the Revolutionary War.
Although James was deeded land on the south side of Oyster River on 5 Nov. 1714, then called the old Drew farm, he did not sell his property at New Castle Commons until 1721. Several generations of the Langley family lived on the property at Oyster River and it eventually came into the possession of the Mathes family.
James petitioned July 25, 1715, for "a highway out to the country road that goeth from Willey's creek to Oyster river falls," as he was "penned up by Bartholomew Stevenson to eight foot or thereabout." This road was laid out two rods wide, May 28, 1716, "beginning at Will Drew's old possession, joining to the bond highway... and so to Willey's way".
The church history at Oyster River also gives us insight into the residents. On 19 Jan. 1712/13 those living there agreed to pay John Thompson, Sr., seventy three pounds to erect a meeting house at the Falls. The inhabitants living nearest the Point at Oyster River decided to build their own meeting house using one half an acre of land donated by Frances Mathes. Those at the Falls were opposed to this new church because they wanted to share the costs for supporting a minister with those who lived at the Point. James Langley signed several petitions between 1715 and 1718 in favor of establishing a meeting house at the Point, sometimes called Drew's or Langley's Point. And, in the end, the meeting house at the Point was build and the Rev. Hugh Adams (of Scottish ancestry) was ordained the minister of both parishes, splitting his time between each. James was appointed deacon of the church 17 June 1724.
In his parish records, May 12, 1728, Rev. Adams speaks of "Deacon Langley and Mary his Godly wife." The graves of James and Mary are said to be on the old Langley farm, (formerly) that of William Drew... "and on the Stevenson place, next west, and in the middle of a field are indications of early graves."
James Langley died at Durham without a will, suggesting that he died unexpectedly, probably at the early age of about 46 years. Administration of his estate was granted at Dover to his widow, Mary, on 16 Feb. 1730/1.
The children of James and Mary were probably born at New Castle and Durham, N.H. (note below that the second child is named Thomas, some evidence that James' father was possibly Thomas).
Children: surname Langley: all born Durham NH:
i James, Jr., b. abt. 1707, m. 31 Aug. 1727, Hannah, dau. of John Edgerly. Had the homestead in 1732. (Probably left descendants)
ii Thomas, m. (1) Hannah Kent, (2) Sarah Trickery (3) Esther Ross. (Left descendants)
iii Elizabeth, bapt. 20 April 1718; m. Joseph Smith, 29 Feb. 1756 (?) She is not named in her mother's will, 1736. (Probably died before 1736, possibly left descendants)
iv Mary, bapt. 1722; had Dea. Joseph Wheeler for Guardian in 1732. (No known descendants)
v John. b. abt. 1720, minor over 14; had Capt, Fr. Mathes for guardian in 1732. (probably left descendants)
vi Job, b. abt. 1722, minor over 14; had Capt Fr. Mathes for guardian in 1732. (Left descendants)
+ vii SAMUEL, b. 5 Jan. 1724. (descendants - see next profile)
viii Eldad, bapt.. 12 May 1728; Had Dea. Joseph Wheeler for guardian in 1732; m. 28 Feb. 1750/1, Sarah Drew of Dover. (Left descendants), (See Hist. of Nottingham for his family)
OF LEE, NEW HAMPSHIRE
2. SAMUEL LANGLEY (James1, possibly Thomas) born at Oyster River, N.H., 5 January 1724, died at Lee, N.H., before 20 Febuary1800 when an inventory of his estate was submitted to the court; married, prob. at Durham, abt. 1753, married 1) HANNAH REYNOLDS, born at Durham NH, 4 June 1728, daughter of Job and Hannah (Huckins) Reynolds. He married 2) Hannah Tuttle b. abt 1735, named in father’s will as Hannah Langley.
Samuel was about six years old when his father's will was administered in 1730/1. He was twelve when his mother died in 1736. The court stipulated that two thirds of the personal estate of James Langley "shall be improved (for the suitable maintenance and education of the three youngest children in their minority namely Samuel, Eldad, and Mary Langley, until they may successively come of adult age:), by their said guardian Deacon Joseph Wheeler." In 1736, Samuel received that portion of his mother's estate that was equally divided among the four youngest children: Job, Mary, Samuel, and Eldad. Samuel is mentioned in the 1755 will of his brother, Job Langley.
Samuel signed a petition dated November 18, 1765, for the establishment of the town of Lee. Petitioners asked that this new town be set off from the town of Durham in order to establish a "place of Publick Worship and where all Town meetings and the Publick of Affairs are holden and Transact... that is closer to them than is the center of Durham that was more than Eight miles... that the consequence thereof it is probable will be that many of the Youth in said Town will be brought up in great Ignorance."
Samuel was 52 years old in 1776, when he and the men of Lee signed an Association Test that promised to "oppose the British forces, to the utmost of their power, at the risk of their lives and fortunes". Samuel did not actively serve in the Revolutionary war but by signing the Association Test he put himself and his family in a position for retribution had the British won the war
Samuel made his will in 1777 and it was proven in 1800. Town records and deeds indicate that he was a husbandman in Lee, owning animal stock, growing crops, and probably selling wood and timber off his extensive land holdings in Lee and Nottingham.
Children: surname Langley: all born Durham later Lee NH
+ i JONATHAN, b. 28 Nov. 1754 (descendants - see next profile)
ii Hannah m. Samuel Scales (left descendants)
iii Levi, b. 4 Oct. 1762; m. Abigail Durrell (left descendants)
iv Susannah, b. 22 May 1766; m. _________ Woodman
v Job named in will
JONATHAN LANGLEY OF
NOTTINGHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE
3. JONATHAN LANGLEY (Samuel 2, James 1, possibly Thomas) born at Lee, N.H., 28 November 1754, died after 1815 and before the 1830 census when he is no longer enumerated; married in Nottingham, N.H., 30 Dec. 1773, ABIGAIL LEATHERS, born in Nottingham, N.H., 7 September 1755, daughter of Vowel and Lydia Leathers.
Jonathan was active in Nottingham town affairs serving as Constable in 1780. He served in the Revolutionary War as a private in Captain Benjamin Butler's Company in the militia on Grand-Island, New Hampshire, from September 1 through November 5, 1775. It is probable that he served at other times, but much minute man activity went unrecorded.
In Nottingham NH Town Records Jonathan is addressed as Captain Jonathan Langley, and beginning in the 1780s and throughout the rest of his life, he is addressed as "Gentleman" in all Rockingham NH Deeds. He owned considerable land in Nottingham. On 22 February 1804 Jonathan signed a deed giving "all the real estate that I now occupy," 150 acres with buildings in Nottingham, to son, Jonathan Langley, Jr. The deed continues: "my right to the said premisis being only a life estate herein, viz, [giving me] the use occupancy and improvement of the premisis above mentioned during my natural life." Jonathan and Abigail would continue to live on the land until their death, but it legally belonged to the son, probably in exchange for their care and the upkeep of the property.
Abigail (Leathers) Langley, as noted above, was the daughter of Vowel Leathers, a prominent citizen in Nottingham and a Gentleman as noted in all deeds. Vowel was a Captain in the Revolution serving in the same Company as Jonathan, and in other positions. He is named repeatedly in the Nottingham town records serving in many positions of responsibility. In Vowel’s 1810 will, Abigail Langley inherited a large piece of land in Lee NH.
Vowel also left “all my lands in Northern Nottingham…” to his servant, Cezar, “who has served me for a long time… provided he continue to serve me and my wife during our lives as well as he now does.” In the inventory of Vowel's wife, Lydia, Cezar is left 40 acres of land.
Children, surname Langley, all born at Nottingham NH:
+. i SAMUEL, b. 27 Aug. 1775 (descendants - see next profile)
ii Vowel, b. 5 Sept. 1777; named for his grandfather Capt. Vowel Leathers (left descedants)
iii Jonathan, b. 15 Sept. 1779 (left descendants)
iv Miriam, b. 19 Sept. 1781; m. 18 Apr. 1802, John Pierson.
v Lydia, b. 6 June 1784; m. 3 Feb. 1803, Benjamin Follett; by 1810 was at Industry, Maine (left descendants)
vi Hannah, b. 3 Sept. 1785; m. 1808, Joseph Stevens of Lee
vii Titus, b. 4 Nov. 1788 (probably died young)
viii Joseph, b. 29 Jan. 1792
ix Mark, b. 10 Feb. 1793 (probably died young)
OF NOTTINGHAM, N.H.,
AND BINGHAM, ME.
4 SAMUEL LANGLEY (Jonathan 3, Samuel 2, James 1, possibly Thomas) born at Nottingham, N.H., 27 August 1775, died at Bingham, Me., 24 Feb. 1867, [g.s. Bingham Cemetery]; married (pub) at Nottingham, N.H., 25 April 1799, COMFORT CHESLEY, born 25 July 1780, died at Bingham, 7 Jan. 1841, [g.s.], daughter of Joseph and Sarah (Drew) Chesley.
In 1797, at about 21 years old, Samuel paid a poll tax of two pounds, thirty-four shillings, the first tax record listed for him. The next year, 1799, Samuel paid tax on one horse and three cows but didn't own land. His brother, Vowel, owned land but no animals. By 1801, Samuel owned two oxen, two cows and 25 acres of land, six of which were pasture.
It is speculated that Samuel and Comfort moved to Industry with her parents, Joseph and Sarah (Drew) Chesley by about 1802, for although Samuel is listed on the tax rolls in Nottingham that year, he is not taxed. In 1803, he is not listed at Nottingham at all. Samuel sold land at Industry, ME in 1809 and purchased land in Bingham, ME in 1812. A partial list of the family of Samuel Langley was found in the Bingham ME town records as follows:
Samuel Langley was born 27 Aug. 1775;
Comfort Langley his wife b. 24 July 1780;
Mark Langley their child b. 4 Sept. 1799;
Polly Langley was born 22 July 1807;
Peter Langley b. 24 July 1809;
Clementine Langley b. 15 June 1811;
Elisha Langley b. 7 Aug. 1813
This original record shows a family without children for eight years — doubtful for that period. By checking U.S. Census data in 1810 and 1820 it is clear that Samuel and Comfort had at least three more children than noted above.
The mystery of the missing children was solved when a letter came to light naming the children of Samuel and Comfort (Chesley) Langley including the children above plus three others. The letter written by Marie Langley, second wife of Mark Langley Jr., says... "Dad (Mark Jr.) has been interested in tracing back his relations or ancestors... (his) grandfather Langley (Samuel) was a soldier in the 1812 war and so (his great grandfather, Jonathan) was most likely in the Revolutionary war. Dad's father (Mark Sr.) was born in 1801 and lived 80 years. There were three Langleys in the Civil war (Mark Jr, Joseph and George Milton), Dad being the youngest... His grandmother Langley was Comfort Chesley from New Hampshire...His father had three brothers Elisha, George and Peter. His father’s one sister, Louisa, married Joseph More, Polie married White House Willey, Sarah married Samuel Smith, and Clementine married Daniel Hale."
The Bingham town records omit George, Louisa and Sarah. This practice was very common. In some cases a town clerk, from memory, recorded the names years after the family had moved on.
Further connections appear in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (NEHGR), Oct. 1949, under the entry Baptisms and Funeral Services by Rev. Obed Wilson, George Langley and Comfort (Chesley) Langley are both listed as being baptized by the Rev. Obed Wilson, and are both "from Bingham, Me." And, as previously shown, Clementine Langley, Samuel's daughter listed above, was married, in 1829, by the same Rev. Obed Wilson.
In his will, dated 5 Oct. 1887, George Milton Longley (son of George W), left "To Mrs. Mark Longley, $100 a year for five years out of my estate if she lives as long." She was Elizabeth (Pierce) Langley, the 86 year old wife of Mark Langley, Sr. Elizabeth was George's aunt, by marriage. Her husband, Mark, died in 1881 at Zanesville, Wisconsin. Elizabeth died, 21 May 1892, at age 91 yr. 2m. 21d, and is buried at the North New Portland, Maine Cemetery. Samuel and Comfort Langley are buried at the Bingham Town Cemetery. Their stone is still very readable.
Children: surname Langley: born Nottingham, NH, Industry and Bingham ME:
i Mark, b. prob. at Nottingham, N.H., 4 Sept. 1799; m. at Bingham, Me., 30 May 1820, Elizabeth Pierce, dau. of Calvin Pierce, in abt. 1820. (left descendants)
+ ii GEORGE W., b. abt. 1804. (left descendants - see next profile)
iii Louisa, b. 16 August 1806; m. Joseph Moore 6 June 1823 (left descendants)
iv Polly, b. 22 July 1807; m. Turner Whitehouse Willey 1 Jan. 1829 (left descendants)
v Peter, b. 24 July 1809; in a deed dated October 1833 Peter W. Langley, merchant, of Bingham sells land in Bingham; the deed also signed by Mary Langley, presumably his wife. In the 1850 census, a Peter W. Longley , b. Maine, is found living at a New York City boarding house. He works as an Agent (salesman). His age is listed as 37, three years less than birth records indicate.
vi Clementine, 15 June 1811; m. Daniel Heald, 28 Apr. 1829 (probably no descendants).
vii Elisha, b. 7 Aug. 1813
ix Sarah, b. abt.. 1815; m. abt. 1834, Samuel Smith.
GEORGE W. LANGLEY
OF BINGHAM, MAINE
5. GEORGE W. LANGLEY (Samuel 4, Jonathan 3, Samuel 2, James 1, possibly Thomas) born probably at Industry, Me, abt. Dec. 1803; married at Concord, Me., 10 July 1823, MARY SPAULDING, born prob. at Concord, Me., 16 Jan. 1807, daughter of Dr. Jonah Spaulding and Rebecca Wright.
George and his wife, Mary, are found in Moscow ME town records. He is also enumerated in the 1830 Federal Census in Moscow ME and in an early land record showing George W. Langley being granted a parcel of land in Moscow. This is probably the land where the family lived in the 1830 Federal Census. No other deeds, land transactions or probate records have been found.
The family is not enumerated in the 1940 Federal census and by the 1850 Federal Census, the sons, George Milton (Milton) is living with his brother, Jonah, and David is living in a boarding house. David, age 19, had attended school during the past year, and worked as a farmer. The parents can not be found leading to the possibility that the parents were probably dead by 1850.
Children: surname Langley, changed to Longley: born in Bingham and Moscow ME:
i Jonah S., b. 3 Feb. 1825; d. 18 Feb. 1912; m. (1) at Solon, Me., 5 July 1846, Nancy Ann Jewett, b. there 16 May 1813, d. there 3 Jan. 1894 ; m. (2) at Solon, Me., 23 May 1896, Mrs. Annastozzia M. (Gilman?) Cooley b. 1858 (no descendants)
ii George Milton, b. 30 Mar 1826; d. 19 Nov. 1887; m. (1) at Solon, Me., 16 Mar. 1855; Sally Rowell, b. 17 Jan. 1829; d. 27 Feb. 1857; two children; Mary b. 1856, d. in Colorado. , Edward b. and d. 1857; m. (2) 2 May 1870, Mrs. Susan Lambert of Chicago (this Susan is probably Susannah P. Langley, daughter of Mark and Elizabeth (Pierce) Langley. This would further explain why in 1887 George Milton Langley left $100 a year to Elizabeth Langley).
iii Mehitable, prob. b. at Bingham, Me., 2 June 1828, d. at East Oasis, Wis., 25 Oct. 1870; m. 2 Aug. 1846, Alexander Spaulding, he was born at Carritunk, Me., 24 July 1818, d. 13 Jan. 1890 (left descendants)
+ iv DAVID, b. 15 Feb. 1831. (left descendants - see next profile)
DAVID W. LONGLEY
OF SOLON, MAINE
6. DAVID W. LONGLEY (George 5, Samuel 4, Jonathan 3, Samuel 2, James 1, possibly Thomas) born at Moscow, Me., 15 Feb. 1831, died at Bingham, Me., 26 Apr. 1866 [probate]; married [pub.] at Anson, Me., 1 Sept. 1855, ELIZABETH GETCHELL, born at Anson, Me., May 1836, died at Old Orchard Beach, Me., 12 May 1926, daughter of Isaac and Catherine (Savage) Getchell.
David and his brothers, Jonah and George Milton, changed their surname from Langley to Longley sometime during the 1850s. They are indexed as Langleys at Solon, Somerset Co., Me., in the 1850 U.S. Census.
Throughout their lifetime, David and Jonah were alternately engaged in the farming and lumber business — summer and winter jobs. Jonah prospered in the lumber business and lived to be 87. David died young, 35, with no indication of cause. He may have died in an accident associated with lumbering, for his death occurred in late April, at the peak of the March, April, and May log drive down the Kennebec River. For example, in late March of 1887, Jonah was preparing to have his men drive 170 million logs down river. It was hard, dangerous and exciting work. In the Spring of 1886 the Somerset Reporter noted that "A great many young men have gone on the "drive" some letting [sic] their farms for the season preferring to work on the drive to farming."
Elizabeth (Getchell) Longley was the daughter of a prosperous Anson family. It may have been her dowry money that allowed them to buy and sell property at a dizzying pace during the 1850s and early 1860s. David and Elizabeth were the grantors in a total of 23 recorded real estate transactions from 1850 to 1862. Jonah and George Milton Longley were grantors in a total of 41 transactions over the same period. Many times the brothers were buying and selling land back and forth between one other. They may have been buying land for logging in this heavily wooded area of central Maine — very important to the shipping and manufacturing industries of America in the mid-1800s.
Widowed at an early age, Elizabeth moved first to her widowed father's home in Anson, and later took on a position as manager of the Continental Mills boarding house for young women working at the mill in Lewiston ME. Her three oldest children, Allen, Frank and Alice are also living with their mother.
The Mayflower line is well documented from Henry through his daughter, Elizabeth (Sampson) Sprout; through her daughter, Mercy (Sprout) Oldham; through her daughter, Anna (Oldham) Young, through her son, Joseph Young; through his daughter, Anna (Young) Savage; through her son, Joseph Savage; through his daughter, Catherine (Savage) Getchell, Elizabeth's mother. [contact me for more information on this Mayflower Line firstname.lastname@example.org]
Children: surname LONGLEY: born Solon & Bingham, ME:
+ i ALLEN JOHN, born at Solon, Me., June 1856, died at Lewiston, Me [res. Lisbon], 23 Apr. 1928; married at Lewiston, 8 Feb. 1881, BRIDGET BARRETT, born at St. John's, New Brunswick, Canada, 12 Feb. 1856, died at Lisbon, Me., 30 Nov. 1935, the daughter of John and Mary (Minnough) BARRETT (left descendants)
ii PERRY S., born at Solon, Me., 7 Mar 1858, died at Solon, Me., 8 June 1916; married at Solon, Carrie BODWELL (no children)
iii FRANK, born at Solon, Me., 1860, died prob. at Eau Claire, Wis., m. in Lewiston Me on 23 Dec 1881, Mary Ellen CROWLEY. She died 03 Jun 1904 in Lowell. (left descendants)
iv ALICE B., born at Solon, Me., 1862, died at Madison, Me., 1935; married Charles Sumner MASON, died at Boston, Ma., Jan. 1910, [g.s. Solon Cemetery] (no children)
v DAVID WEBSTER, born at Solon, Me., 6 Oct. 1863, died at Anson, Me., 2 Sept. 1928; married at Anson, Me., abt. 1893, Lizzie (left descendants)
PARTS OF THIS ARTICLE TAKEN FROM AN ARTICLE THAT APPEARED IN THE MAINE GENEALOGIST V.29 [NOV 2007] #4, "The Parentage of George W. Langley of Somerset Co. ME" author Linda Longley.
Jonathan Langley, Private in Captain Benjamin Butler’s Company on Great Island, New Hampshire:
Jonathan Langley was born 28 November 1754 at Durham, Strafford County, New Hampshire, to parents Samuel and Hannah (Runnels) Langley, a family well established in the Oyster River Parish of Durham. Several published accounts indicate that the Langley family lineage goes back in time to Scotland with support for this view coming from a recent Y-dna test showing matches to established connections of Scottish ancestry.
Jonathan was born in the mid-18th Century with his large extended family living close by, a family that based its livelihood on husbandry, actively farming and caring for their land and the animals they owned. Many Rockingham County land records of the time confirm that farming was not the only source of income for the families of the region. Tall white pine trees native to New Hampshire were abundant and are noted many times in deeds, presumably adding value to property sold.
The men in the family took on many titles; husbandman, yeoman and gentleman, but all were descended from the first known James Langley, as noted in a tax list in 1708, living in New Castle, Great Island, New Hampshire. He was called yeoman, and voted Deacon in his church on 17 June 1724.
Jonathan grew up in what is now called Lee, Strafford, New Hampshire, which was separated from Durham by mutual consent in 1766. The family had at least a rudimentary education as Jonathan and his father, Samuel, were both able to sign their name to deeds.
Although little is known of Jonathan’s early life, it was probably a life of hard work and vigilance. The second half of the decade of the 1750s proved to be troubling times in the Colonies. During the “French and Indian wars” beginning in 1754, there were attacks from marauding enemy troops ready to assault a vulnerable settler. New Hampshire also sent militia to the north and west to fight the enemy. The “wars” finally ended with the Treaty of Paris on 10 February 1763. But soon after, and beginning in 1764 with the first of the many unpopular laws imposed by the British, tensions began to increase between England and America. Minor skirmishes and mutual harassment over a ten year period ultimately lead to the Revolutionary War. Portsmouth, a major East Coast port, was not far from Durham and Lee, and talk spread among the colonists traveling as it did up the waterways. Jonathan’s family was certainly well aware of the events brewing among the colonies.
Prior to the breakout of the Revolutionary War and on 30 December 1773, Jonathan Langley married Abigail Leathers, the daughter of Vowel Leathers, gentleman, and influential member of his community. Abigail lived in a picturesque town one over and just west of Lee called Nottingham, Rockingham County, New Hampshire. Town and land records support the notion that Jonathan’s marriage to Abigail changed his fortunes and status when he took up residence in this new community.
One early American account provides a pleasant image of Nottingham, describing the Town’s Center as: “beautiful for situation. It was upon the height of a large swell of land, gently sloping in every direction. The blue waters of the Atlantic, and the white canvas of vessels entering the harbor of Portsmouth, could be distinctly seen.”
Attractive as it may have been, Nottingham was hilly and rugged, more suitable for the keeping of livestock and the sale of lumber harvested from the many trees that populated the hills of the town. There is a street in Nottingham called Smoke Street, originally named Summer Street. Many inhabitants of this area produced large amounts of charcoal sold along the eastern seaboard from Portsmouth to Boston and used as fuel in furnaces for making iron and for heating and cooking in city fireplaces. The settlers of Nottingham sustained themselves by clearing enough land to grow food, selling their timber and charcoal, and growing grains for their animals stored in barns for feed through the long cold winter.
Abigail’s father, Vowel Leathers, a prosperous landholder in Nottingham was named 1st Lieutenant of the Militia in 1774 and voted selectman from 1774 to 1778. He was also appointed or voted into many other offices within the town. The influence of this stalwart man must have been felt by his son-in-law probably encouraging Jonathan’s enlistment in the militia a year after his marriage to Abigail, and a month after the birth of Samuel, their first child 27 August 1775.
In addition to the pressure from his father-in-law, and together with the patriotic fervor of the time, Jonathan was certainly “encouraged” to enlist by what we find recorded in the New Hampshire Provincial Papers. On 06 September 1775 the newly formed United States of American Colonies made an urgent call for a census of New Hampshire. Six important questions were asked of all residents, with the most important being how many men ages 16 to 50 years were living in Nottingham and who among them were in the army and how many were not yet enlisted. Of the 999 total inhabitants of Nottingham, including women and children, 165 men were eligible, and only 22 were already enlisted. In September, Jonathan fell into the category of eligible men not yet enlisted, but by 5 November 1775, he was found in the rolls of troops serving in Captain Benjamin Butler’s Company. Jonathan, at the age of twenty-one, served for four months at New Castle, Great Island, New Hampshire in defense of Piscataqua Harbor against his “Majesty’s Government.” His father-in-law, Vowel, was 1st Lieutenant in the company.
It is possible that Jonathan served at other times because numerous “minutemen” carried out the brunt of the many battles and skirmishes, and many hailed from Nottingham. Much of their activities went unrecorded. The number of troops in the defense of the Piscataqua Harbor in November 1775 was 1,250, with 269 men serving with Jonathan on Great Island.
A description of the war as Jonathan experienced it is taken here from the State of New Hampshire rolls of the soldiers in the Revolutionary War “…troops engaged in the defense of Piscataqua Harbor in 1775. The fourth provincial congress voted on the first day of September, 1775, to raise four regiments of minute men by the enlistment of men from the several regiments of militia. The men were to be enlisted for four months, and then others were to take their places. The troops were stationed in Portsmouth, New Castle, Kittery and vicinity to defend the harbor from any attack that might be made upon it by the enemy from the seaward.”
After Jonathan’s Great Island service and as the war relentlessly continued on, Jonathan may, as mentioned, have engaged in unrecorded minute man activity in the vicinity of Portsmouth. He was recorded again in Nottingham on 16 August 1776 when he signed an Association Test – an oath of loyalty to America and against the King. The test was administered to all the willing men of Nottingham by Jonathan’s father-in-law, Lieutenant Vowel Leathers, a Selectman in Nottingham at the time. Jonathan must have spent time at home during the war as he became active in town affairs by serving as Constable in the year 1780 and was one of several in charge of highways in 1783.
Jonathan was given the title of Captain where he is recorded in Nottingham tax records for the years 1798-1806. In the tax year 1802, Captain Jonathan Langley and his father-in-law, Captain Vowel Leathers, are shown with large land holdings: Capt. Langley had a total of 134 acres, with 334 acres belonging to Capt. Leathers. By 1806 the tax records show that Jonathan’s land holdings were greatly diminished, but his son, Jonathan Jr., had greatly increased his acreage.
An explanation was found for this huge shift in fortune in a deed showing that at the age of 50 years Jonathan sold much of his property in Nottingham to his son, Jonathan, Jr. The deed is abstracted as follows: Jonathan Langley, gentleman of Nottingham, sells to Jonathan Langley, Jr., yeoman, of Nottingham, land in Nottingham, a Life Estate “that I now occupy and improve, 150 acres including buildings viz… for my [Jonathan Senior’s] use, company and improvement of the premises during my natural life, signed on the 22 February 1804.” It is probable that Jonathan senior was retiring early, but in need of occasional help from his son. In return he promised that upon his demise, his son would own the estate.
In the 1810 New Hampshire census of Nottingham, Jonathan is recorded living next to his son, Jonathan, Jr. Then on 18 November 1815 he appears for the last time in land records when Jonathan Langley of Nottingham, gentleman, and his wife “Nabby” sign a quit claim deed to nephew, Joseph Leather, Jr., land given to them by “our father,” Vowel Leathers, deceased, and unto Lydia Leathers, widow of Vowel Leathers, late of Nottingham, deceased. Abigail (Nabby) relinquishes any right whatsoever in the estate of her mother, Lydia Leathers.
In the 1820 census only one Jonathan Langley is listed in Nottingham, but enumerated within the household are two adult males: one (26-45) and the other (45+). Captain Jonathan would be sixty-six years of age and Jonathan Jr., aged forty-one, both fitting into the census age categories as written. It is possible that Jonathan lived well into the 1820s, but this is only conjecture as no death record, will or probate record has been found. It appears that Captain Jonathan Langley, gentleman, while he was still alive, had distributed all his property to his heirs.
JONATHAN LANGLEY, born 28 Nov 1754 at Durham, later called Lee, Strafford, New Hampshire the son of Samuel Langley and Hannah Runnels. He married in Nottingham, 30 December 1773, ABIGAIL LEATHERS, born in Nottingham, 07 September 1755, the daughter of Captain Vowel and Lydia ( ) Leathers. Jonathan died probably at Nottingham, Rockingham, New Hampshire sometime after 1820.
Children of Jonathan and Abigail (Leathers) Langley, all born in Nottingham:
i. SAMUEL LANGLEY, b. 27 Aug 1775, d. Bingham, Somerset, Maine on 24/25 February 1867; m. Comfort Chesley on 30 May 1799 at Madbury, Rockingham, New Hampshire, b. (poss) Madbury, 25 July 1780, d. Bingham on 7 January 1841, the daughter of Joseph and Sarah (Drew) Chesley.
ii. VOWEL LANGLEY, b. 05 September 1777; m. (int) 10 October 1798, Hannah Martin of Gilmarton. Vowel enlisted in the US Army on 7 March 1814 and records describe him as follows: seven inches tall, dark hair, dark eyes, dark skin, ae 35, Farmer, b. Nottingham, discharged at Leattsburg 29 June 1815, term expired.
iii. JONATHAN LANGLEY Jr., b. 15 September 1779, m. 15 Dec 1805, Susannah Leathers, both of Nottingham. He lived his early life in Nottingham but in the 1830 and 1840 Federal censuses, he is living in Lee.
iv. MIRIAM LANGLEY, b. 19 September 1781, m. 18 April 1802, John Pierson.
v. LYDIA LANGLEY, b. 6 June 1784; m. (1) 3 February 1803, Benjamin Follett, b. 13 December 1775 in New Hampshire, d. in Industry, Franklin, Maine, 28 October 1819; she m. (2). John Chesley of New Sharon, Maine, formerly from New Hampshire.
vi. HANNAH LANGLEY, b. 3 September 1785; m. (int) 10 August 1808, Joseph Stevens of Lee.
vii. TITUS LANGLEY, b. 04 November 1788 (may have died young)
viii. JOSEPH LANGLEY, b. 29 January 1792. Probably the same Joseph of Nottingham who m. (1) 15 Mar 1811, Miss Mary Tuttle of Newmarket , (pub) Nottingham 15 March 1811. In Revolutionary War Pension Records, and on 23 Oct 1838, Mary H. Langley deposed: “I Mary H. Langley of Newmarket, age fifty years… say that I am the daughter of Isaac Tuttle of Dover NH, deceased, and Elizabeth Tuttle his widow…” In the same records Joseph Langley twice witnessed the signature of his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Tuttle. Additionally, in the 1850 Federal Census, Joseph and Mary both aged sixty are living in Newmarket, and he is listed as a Hotel Keeper.
ix. MARK LANGLEY, b. 10 February 1793 (prob. died young)
Endnotes available upon request: