Descendants of John Adams, Loyalist, Fairfield County, CT & New Brunswick, Canada: Part 1, Children

I have written many times about my Adams family members and happened to think to check to see if I needed to update any of my posts about the descendants of Loyalist John Adams.

To my surprise, I discovered that I’ve never shared the genealogy of the Adamses in family groups, so here we begin with the first generation to settle in Canada at the close of the Revolutionary War.

I am proud of my research into this family because, back in the 1980s, when I was a newbie, I met cousin Alice Adams Koch. She was an ardent Adams researcher and, at the time, said no one had been able to pin down the origins of Loyalist John Adams and his unknown wife.

There were two great clues, though, if we could find the records. Sturges is a given name that remained strong in the family for several generations. According to family lore, Sturges told his children that he was named for his maternal grandmother. His surviving children also reported in the 1880 census that their father was born in Connecticut.

After learning about those clues from Alice, I began searching Connecticut-based genealogy books. Living in Southern California at the time, I had four excellent genealogy collections – Pomona Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles Family History Center and the Sons of the Revolution Library in Glendale.

I came across Donald Lines Jacobus’ excellent work, Families of Old Fairfield. Faircield County, Connecticut records are somewhat incomplete  for the 1700s, but there was enough information found to cause me great excitement.

Edward Adams had settled in Milford, Connecticut in the 1600s and his descendants lived in Fairfield County, which is not far from New York.

Historically, Fairfield County was a hotbed for Tories during the American Revolution. What really got me excited though was finding one John Adams who married Sarah Coley on 31 August 1765 in the town of Weston.

Sarah Coley was born on 8 June 1743, the daughter of Jonathan Coley and Lucy STURGES! Plus, this family was nowhere to be found in Connecticut after the Revolutionary War ended.

Added to that was the knowledge that John and Sarah’s first child was named Jonathan, a name not otherwise found in earlier Adams generations, but was the name of Sarah’s father.

The pieces all fit, although by preponderance of evidence, linking John of Fairfield County with Loyalist John. Another clue eventually popped up. John and Sarah’s daughter Hannah married William Segee in New Brunswick, Canada in 1789. They named their first child Joseph COLEY Segee.

Nothing was ever found to discredit the theory that Loyalist John was the same man in Fairfield County and that has been accepted as his origins now for decades.

NOTE: First and foremost, this is still a work in progress. It’s been at least 20 years since I did a major revision on this family. Many records have been found in that time that tidy up a lot of dates and places, many of which came from family records.

If you are a descendant of John Adams and Sarah Coley and can fill in any more of the question marks, please leave a comment.

John the Loyalist left no records naming his children. This list has been compiled mainly by preponderance of evidence, with the most certain children identified because the only Adams family living in the West Isles, New Brunswick, Canada in the early 1800s was John’s family. That leaves 4 of the 10 purported children of John to be “maybes” – Edward, William David and James.

John Adams, Loyalist, was probably born in Connecticut, a part of the line of Edward Adams who settled Milford, Connecticut by 1640. The records of the Fairfield area are spotty, due to frequent attacks by the British during the Revolution. Fairfield had a high number of Tories and Loyalists among the population and many of them left for Canada at the close of the war.

So far, John’s parentage has not been proven, but preponderance of evidence points to David Adams and Susannah Lockwood of Fairfield. John’s marriage record to Sarah Coley, born 8 June 1743 to Jonathan Coley and Lucy Sturges, has survived. Various members of this branch of the Adams, Lockwood and Coley families were accused of Tory sympathies and records on the births of David and Susannah’s children are incomplete. The clues so far found point to them as John’s parents.

John was born about 1740, presumably in the Fairfield, Connecticut area. He died after 1818, possibly on Deer Island, but more likely on nearby Adams Island. He married Sarah Coley on 31 Aug 1765 at Weston, Fairfield, CT. It is quite certain that our John married this Sarah because family tradition says that his son Sturges was named for his grandmother and Sarah’s mother was indeed Lucy Sturges.

There are no surviving birth or baptismal records in Fairfield for his children. Birth dates have been estimated from Canadian censuses and, for Jonathan, from Loyalist lists. Tradition also says that three of John’s sons went to sea and never married. If true, those sons are probably William, Edward and David.

What has been found on John from about 1783 onward includes the following:

John removed from New York to New Brunswick with the United Empire Loyalists in 1783. Author Martha Barto says he removed to Parrtown (St. John) and was granted Lot 703 before removing to Sunbury County.  He petitioned for land in several places, one being Burton, next to Lincoln, in Sunbury County. Nothing has been found to prove whether or not received any land there. John apparently moved from Sunbury County about 1804. A land deed for property on Deer Island dated 1818 between T. Farrell and D. Butler notes a section of land next to that “occupied” by John Adams. That seems to imply that he did not own the land and no land deed can be found proving that he did. 1818 is the latest date in which he is mentioned as living.

John reportedly served in the Commissary General’s Department in New Jersey and also lived on Long Island before fleeing, but these facts have not been substantiated. There is a muster roll of Lt. Col. Beverly Robinson’s Company, Loyal American Regiment, of Fort McGowan’s Pass dated 27 September 1781 (Sheet #22) that shows Place #8 – Private John Adams, Place #9 – Private Jacob Segge and Place #18 – Private Joseph Segge. John’s daughter Hannah married William Segee, so this John Adams is most likely the John of Deer and Adams Islands. There are a couple of miscellaneous pieces of information about John that include a statement that he settled in Gagetown after leaving St. John and that, at the outbreak of the war, he was in New York and enrolled a company of men. He supposedly received a warrant for a Captain’s commission, but the company was not assigned a place in the regiment under Lord Cornwallis’s command as had been promised, so he refused command and served as a clerk. Son Jonathan was reportedly a clerk in the same department, but no document as been found to verify clerk’s service for either man.

A land petition from 1 November 1792 at Bristol includes of John Adams of Connecticut and Samuel Holland signed for all. Land was requested at the Ottawa River, but the request was rejected. Another land petition dated 11 November 1803 submitted by John, Jonathan, Sturges and Thomas Adams requested 2,000 acres on the Rusagonis River in Sunbury County. They stated that they had received no land since their arrival.

Duncan Thomas of Fredericton, an Adams descendant, wrote a letter to D.R. Jack dated 10 September 1907 with the above information and said, although John was well off before the war, he lost everything and couldn’t be induced to make application for grants.

Children of John and Sarah (Coley) Adams

1. Jonathan, born 1766, Connecticut; died after 11 November 1803 when John, Jonathan, Sturges and Thomas petitioned for land in Sunbury County; married Grace Rideout, c1795
2. Hannah, born c1768, probably Connecticut; died before 1851 census; married William Segee, 10 March 1789, Maugerville, Sunbury, New Brunswick, Canada. He was born c1767; died 4 May 1841, Fredericton, York, New Brunswick, Canada. William’s obituary in the New Brunswick Courier stated that he was age 73 and a Loyalist of 1783. There is an obituary for a Hannah Segee who died in 1837 in the Daniel Johnson database of vital statistics from New Brunswick newspapers, but that was a different Hannah unless the name of her husband was reported incorrectly.
3. John, born c1771, probably Connecticut; died 12 March 1820, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada; married (1) Artemissia Ives, 15 June 1797, Maugerville, Sunbury, New Brunswick, Canada. He may be the same man who married (2) Elizabeth (MNU), born 1774 and died 8 February 1836, St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.
4. Daniel, born c1772, probably Connecticut; died by 1828, probably at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; married Sarah Ives, 30 September 1794, Maugerville, Sunbury, New Brunswick, Canada.
5. Sturges, born 1777, Connecticut; died 12 January 1827, Calais, Washington, Maine; married Lydia Brawn/Brown, c1808
7. ?William, born c1779, listed in Barto’s Passamaquoddy book; nothing else known.
8. Thomas, born 1783, New Brunswick, Canada; died July 1859, Calais, Washington, Maine; married Sarah Brawn, 28 August 1803, Maugerville, Sunbury, New Brunswick, Canada
9. ?James, born c1785, New Brunswick, Canada; married Elizabeth Moffatt; family lore, no records found

Next, we will look at grandchildren descended from John the Loyalist.

One thought on “Descendants of John Adams, Loyalist, Fairfield County, CT & New Brunswick, Canada: Part 1, Children”

  1. My name is Tony Gilman, I am, I believe a descendant of James Adams. I grew up on Deer Island, my father John Gilman (mother Helen Adams, her father John Adams) is a wealth of knowledge on family and local history (Deer Island). Presently I own a cottage on Deer Island on the original Adams land, complete with an Adams grave yard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.