Finding pre-Revolutionary War records relating to my Loyalist, Walter Stewart, has been a frustrating experience for years.
Therefore, I am trying a different approach, collecting ALL the Stewart records I can find in Dutchess County, New York in the 1700s up through the Revolutionary War.
In spite of the fact that Stewart/Stuart is not an uncommon surname, it isn’t often found in Dutchess County in the 18th century.
Here are the bits and pieces I’ve been able to cobble together:
Walter Stewart, my Loyalist ancestor, was born c1750, reportedly in Scotland although I’ve never been able to prove it. He married Elizabeth Briggs on 3 March 1774 in The Flats, Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York. His marriage is recorded in the records of the Dutch Reformed Church. Walter is found on the 1783 muster roll of the Loyal American Regiment, where he served under Colonel Beverly Robinson and sailed to Canada in the fall 1783 fleet. Walter settled in Sussex, Kings, New Brunswick, Canada, where he spent the rest of his life, passing away c1820.
It is believed that Elizabeth Briggs had no surviving children, if any at all, and that all of Walter’s known children were born in New Brunswick, Canada.
Walter is said to have been a farmer, like his brothers, but I’ve found NO land records for Stewarts in Dutchess County in the right time period.
However, in Canada, Loyalist James Stewart settled in Nashwaak, York, New Brunwick. He was born c1750 and died 1 June 1837. He married Catherine (reportedly Jones) in 1772 in New York, but no record in New York has been uncovered. Widow Catherine Stewart filed for a war pension in Canada c1837 and gave the particulars. James Stewart also served as a corporal under Colonel Beverly Robinson in the Loyal American Regiment.
It is very likely that James is a brother of Walter’s. Besides military service in the same regiment, a distant cousin of mine through Walter Stewart shares DNA with descendants of James. When she notified me about the shared matches, I checked my distant cousins and I, too, share DNA with James’s descendants.
I’ve been able to build families and descendants of Walter and James, but today’s goal is to share pre-war details.
Therefore, I will move on to Isabella Stewart, possibly the widow of a Henry Stewart, who lived in Dutchess County, New York by the 1770s.
This was a Patriot family, given that Isabella’s reported son, William, is in the DAR Patriot Index.
William Stewart was born 23 June 1738, in Scotland, and died on 10 March 1788 in the North East portion of Dutchess County, New York. Like Walter Stewart, William’s marriage record is found in the Dutch Reformed Church. He married Catherine Rowe on 3 December 1771.
I don’t want to read too much into the fact that Walter and William married just over 2 years apart in the same church. That area was heavily settled by German and Dutch immigrants and it may be that the Dutch Reformed Church was the closest church in which they could marry.
William and Catherine had five known children:
1. Catherine, born 16 January 1774, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York; died 26 November 1848, Milan, Dutchess, New York; married William Hermans. This couple is in the DAR Patriot Index.
2. William, born 9 September 1778, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York and baptized on 1 November 1778 in the Reformed Church.
3. Isabella, born 9 October 1780 and baptized on 2 November 1780, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
4. James, baptized 15 September 1782, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
5. Henry, married Phebe Sherrill and is in the DAR Patriot Index.
Isabella’s second son, James Stewart, was born c1755. He married Mary Rowe, 30 November 1778, The Flats, Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York.
James and Mary were the parents of four known children:
1. Henry, born 13 May 1779, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
2. John, born 9 December 1780 and baptized 28 October 1781, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
3. Isabella, born 5 December 1872 and baptized 23 January 1785, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
4. William, born 19 September 1784 and baptized 23 January 1785, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
There is one more Stewart marriage found in the Dutch Reformed Church records. John Stewart married Mary Granier/Grennier on 25 December 1778 with the notation that both lived in Fishkill, Dutchess County.
This couple left the area and their only known children were baptized at the 1st and 2nd Church in New York City:
1. Margaret, born 29 September 1783 and baptized 14 December 1783.
2. Charles, born 19 February 1786.
Nothing further is known about this family.
Land deeds for Stewarts in Dutchess County have eluded me so far. I don’t know if they were tenant farmers or if they might have received land grants that I haven’t been able to track.
However, Clifford Buck published Dutchess County, NY Tax Lists: 1718-1787 in 1991. There are no copies of this book near Tucson, but I have to thank my longtime genealogy buddy, Nancy Maxwell. She is the genealogy librarian at the Grapevine Public Library, where a copy of Buck’s book resides. She very kindly looked up Stewart entries for me. I was not surprised that there are not many:
- Stewart, James, Rhinebeck Precinct, Feb 1747-Jun 1747
- Steward, John, Rhinebeck Precinct, 1769
- Stewart/Steward, William, North East Precinct, 1771-1779
- Steward/Stewart/Stuart, Abraham, Jun 1768-1771, Nine Partners/Crum Elbow Precinct
- Steward/Stewart/Stuart, Thomas, 1777-1779, Nine Partners/Crum Elbow Precinct
- Stewart/Steward, William, Jun 1769-1770, Nine Partners/Crum Elbow Precinct
- Stewart/Steward, Thomas, town of Clinton, no year but probably 1787
I am quite sure that William in the North East Precinct from 1771-1779 is William who married Catherine Rowe and died in 1788 in the North East Precinct.
Probate records haven’t been of much help either, Aside from Catherine (Rowe) Stewart administering the estate of William in 1788, no new clues have been found.
If you have Stewarts in Dutchess County, New York and can add to my knowledge about them, I’d appreciate a comment. 🙂