Stoughton's Last Revolutionary War Veteran


JAMES CAPEN (1756-1853)





Mr. James Capen, Stoughton, died 24 February 1853, in the 97th year of his age.  Mr. C[apen]. was born in Stoughton, Dec. 13, 1756, and was the eldest son of Mr. Edward Capen of that town, who died June 8, 1819, in the 89th year of his age, who was the third son of Jonathan, of Dorchester, who died about Dec. 1, 1740, in the 40th year of his age, who was the 8th son of Samuel, of Dorchester, the time of whose death is not recollected, but who was born about the year 1651, and was the second son of Capt. John, who with his aged father, Bernard Capen, was among the early settlers of Dorchester.  Bernard died Nov. 8, 1638, aged 76, and his son Capt. John, died April 4, 1692, aged 80.


The deceased became a voter in Dec., 1777, and at the May election in 1778, voted for Thomas Crane, the representative of the town of Stoughton, (now Stoughton and Canton) who was an influential member in passing, that year, the famous acts, entitled "An act to prevent the return to this State of certain persons therein named, and others, who have left this State, or either of the United States and joined the enemies thereof;"  "An Act to confiscate the estates of certain notorious conspirators against the Government and Liberties of the inhabitants of the late Province, now State of Massachusetts Bay," and "An Act for confiscating the estates of certain persons commonly called absentees," by which two former governors, and 301 by name, of the most prominent and wealthy men in the State, and many others too numerous to be named, attached to

the British Government, were prohibited from returning to the State under the penalty of death, and their estates, real and personal, sold by our revolutionary State government, and the proceeds paid unto the State treasury to aid in carrying on the war.  The deceased was drafted into the service in the fall of 1777, and served six months in Charlestown with his loaded musket in hand, as one of the guards of prisoners taken at the capture of Gen. Burgoyne.  That general he occasionally saw during the time.


Thomas Crane, Esq., was much relied upon by the General Court of Massachusetts, during the Revolution, as appears by their Resolves in which they entrusted the care of the State Powder Mill in Stoughton, (now Canton, and on the spot where the Revere Copper Works are,) and the manufacture of powder there to his care and supervision.  Mr. Capen not long since related that on one occasion, when the affairs of the revolution wore a gloomy aspect, and the army was suffering for supplies, that Thomas Crane, Esq. went around the town soliciting contributions for the relief of the army, and that on producing his papers, he well remembered that Mr. Crane's tears fell upon the papers like a shower, and that Mr. Crane with great expression and emphasis assured the by-standers, that the child Liberty was about to be born, and that all that was needed was strength to enable it to be delivered. When one passes from among us, who has seen what Mr. Capen had, and was such a connecting link between a past age and the present, it is not unprofitable to allude to the curious events of which he was a witness.   EA


signature from 1849 Rev. War Pension



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