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John Stites in the Revolutionary War


John Stites appears to have served for both sides during the Revolutionary War or War of Independence. This got him into trouble for which he was subjected to an Inquisition by the American side, which resulted in his property being confiscated. After the war he tried to obtain compensation for the losses with the British government in London. 
 

The New Jersey Gazette (Trenton), December 16, 1778.

New-Jersey,
Essex county,

AT an Inferior court of Common-Pleas held for the county of Essex, on the 15th day of September last, were returned inquisitions for joining the army of the King of Great-Britain, and other treasonable practices found against ............John STITES...........

of which proclamation was made at said Court, that if they, or any on their behalf, or any persons interested, would appear and traverse, a trial should be awarded; but no traverses were offered:

Therefore NOTICE is hereby given, That if neither they, nor any in their behalf, nor any interested, shall appear and traverse at the next Court to be held for the said county, the inquisitions will then be taken to be true, and final judgment entered thereon in favour of the state.

JOHN CLAWSON, Commission

Elizabeth-town, Nov. 14, 1778.



See John's Inquisitions and associated Court cases with regard to his property :-

Inquisition 18 March 1779


John had land confiscated by the American side during the Revolutionary War. After the war he took action in London to try and reclaim his property :-
"Stites, John of New York City, merchant. Memorials by attorney London 1784; by the claimant, London, 1786. He is a native of America, was settled in NYC at the beginning of the rebellion but was obliged to leave in 1776. He purchased a small farm at Elizabeth Town, New Jersey, to which he took his family and there commandeered a militia detachment. When the [British] army came there in the same year he joined them. Claim for a house and 27 acres at Elizabeth Town; bonds, etc. Rejected. [National Archives, London ref :- AO12/14/231, 109/276; AO13/83/612-615, 111/483-494]"
(Note - the ref in the book refers to him as "Stiles", however the National Archives documents clearly show it to be "Stites".
Source - 'American Migration 1765-1794' by Peter Wilson Coldham, ISBN 0-8063-1618-7

The comment "He seems to have been a dubious Loyalist", is written in a similar article in the book 'Collections of the New Jersey Historical Society Vol 10, Loyalists of New Jersey' by E. Alfred Jones.

In his depositions to claim compensation from the British after the war he stated his service as :-

Application  of 1786 :-
"That at the commencement of the late rebellion in America your memorialist was settled at New York and from the persecution of its inhabitants he was obliged to fly to New Jersey where he purchased a small farm near Elizabeth Town, to which he removed with his family and upon the Royal Army taking possession of New Jersey in the autumn of 1776 he joined them and rendered the Royal cause every assistance in his power.
            That your memorialist went, at a very great personal risqué from Sir Geo. Osborne at his (Sir George’s) particular desire when he commandeered a detachment at Elizabeth Town to Sir Wm. Howe with intelligence of importance in the month of December 1776.
           
That in consequence of your memorialists exertions in favor of Great Britain, during the rebellion in America he has been prosecuted in the year 1777 and all his property in New Jersey ( a schedule of which he begs leave to annex) has been confiscated and sold in consequence of his loyalty to his Majesty and attachment to the British Government."

Evidence on the foregoing by John Stites :-
"He had once or twice turned out to exercise with the Militia at Elizabeth Town, but after the Kings troops landed in Staten Island he refused to go out against them and in consequence was obliged to quit the country. Says he joined the King’s troops the first opportunity and continued after he had joined them as a Merchant at New York"
See his compensation claims as held by the National Archives in London :-
Document 1
Document 2


Return to Dr. John Stites 




 

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