Last night on Who Do You Think You Are some movie person that I’m not familiar with found out that her 5x great-grandfather was a Loyalist during the American Revolution. It reminded me that I too have a Loyalist ancestor, although I hadn’t done much research on him.
Stephen Fountain, my 6x great-grandfather, was born in Stamford, Connecticut around 1745 to Matthew Fountain and an unknown to me wife. Some online trees have Elizabeth Hoyt as the mother of all of Matthew’s children, but there is some conflicting information and I’m pretty sure that the first four or five children where from a different mother. More investigation is needed there.
In 1775 and 6, Stephen is married to Sarah (Scofield) and is a blacksmith/gunsmith in either Brookhaven, NY or Stamford, possibly both. And apparently, he is assisting the British ships in Long Island Sound with arms and supplies, and recruiting those sympathetic to the crown.
On 13 May 1776, the Joint Committee of Brookhaven hears “evidence being called to discover the secret plots and misconduct of sundry evil-minded persons”, namely Captain Jonathan Baker and blacksmith Stephen Fountain. Stephen’s apprentice Henry Hulse, Jr. testifies of secretive behavior:
a number of New-England people had staid in that neighbourhood, being to him strangers, who were often in private conference, in private places, with said Fountain, and would not let him (the deponent) come near them, nor hear what they said;
In all, 22 witnesses testify against Baker and Fountain and they are convicted “as persons that have acted inimical to the liberties of America in a most glaring manner”. The committee asks Lieutenant William Clarke to take the prisoners to the Provincial Congress in New York for disposition. On 8 June 1776, Congress confirms what the Brookhaven Committee had decided and sentences them to prison.
Jonathan Baker and Stephen Fountain, charged and convicted by the Joint Committees of Brookhaven, Manor of St.George, and Patenship of Meritches, of being enemies of their country, and, as such, of having taken up arms and held correspondence with our enemies on board of the Ministerial Ships of War, and very much promoted discord amongst the inhabitants, and seduced many to forsake the cause of their country, were sent to this Congress.
Resolved, That the said Jonathan Baker and Stephen Fountain, be committed to close custody.
And Ordered, That Daniel Goldsmith, the Jailer, he, and he is hereby, directed and requested to receive and keep them in safe custody until the further order of this Congress.
Details are sketchy on what happens next and how long he was imprisoned for, but it seems that Stephen escaped and joined the Royal Army.
In late 1780 through early 1781, Stephen was a member of the Queen’s Rangers. Fans of the TV series “Turn” might recognize the Lieutenant Colonel Commandant of his unit, one John Graves Simcoe, Esq. I’m hoping Stephen makes an appearance next season!
In April of 1783, Stephen, wife Sarah and 207 other Loyalists boarded the ship “The Union” and were resettled in Nova Scotia. The Loyalists were granted land there and Stephen established a blacksmith shop and lived in Sandy Cove, Digby, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia until he died in 1818.
This post is 28th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.
Special thank you to cousin Linda Drake, who worked with UELAC to document that Stephen Fountain was a Loyalist and to past president of UELAC Vancouver Branch Wendy Cosby who called this to my attention.
Testimonial quotes taken from this source:
AMERICAN ARCHIVES: Fourth Series containing A DOCUMENTARY HISTORY of The English Colonies in North America. By Peter Force; Volume VI.; Published by M. ST. Clair Clarke and Peter Force. Available here: