The Last New Hampshire Man of the American Revolution: Samuel Downing (1761-1867)

There were many patriots of the American Revolution, but few of them survive in photographs.  Private Samuel Downing is an exception.

He was man a little above medium height and stoutly made. His health was generally good. Samuel was the oldest surviving veteran of the Revolutionary War. He was also a road builder in Edinburg, New York.

He was born 30 November 1761,  baptized 1 Dec 1764 at Newburyport, Essex Co MA, and d. 18 or 19 Feb 1867 at Edingurgh, Saratoga Co NY, age 105 years. He served as a private from New Hampshire, and received a pension for his services.

He enlisted when 16 years of age. He was sent with others to guard baggage trains (probably in wagons, not actual locomotives) to Springfield, Mass. He was afterwards stationed in New Jersey, West Point, Saratoga, Schenectady, Johnstown and other places, participating in the campaign that resulted in the surrender of Burgoyne, and also at the engagement at Pine Bridge. His third winter in the army was spent at Newburgh, New York, and there he received his discharge when peace was declared.

Samuel married Eunice George. They are both buried in Clarksville Cemetery, Edinburgh NY. During the Civil War “the old gentleman took much interest…and frequently expressed a wish to have strength enough to assist the government. Three of his grandsons were in the Union Army.”

On February 6, 1867 the United States Committee on Pensions reviewed an Act granting  an additional pension to Samuel Downing, of $500 per annum to continue for the rest of his life. Samuel never lived long enough to collect it, dying less than two weeks later, on February 18, 1867.

On the day he claimed to be one hundred years old (but was really 97) November 30, 1861, reportedly he cut down a hemlock tree, 22 inches in diameter, a black cherry tree measuring a foot in diameter, and then digging a hole through the snow and frost, planted a small tree.

One of the few existing photographs of Veterans of the American Revolutionary War, taken in 1864 by Nelson Augustus Moore for E. B. Hillards publication The Last Men of the Revolution.

One of the few existing photographs of Veterans of the American Revolutionary War, taken in 1864 by Nelson Augustus Moore for E. B. Hillards publication The Last Men of the Revolution.

More information about Samuel and other long-lived patriots, can be found in the following book,  “The Last Men of the Revolution. A Photograph of each from life, together with Views of Their Houses, printed in colors. Accompanied by brief Biographical Sketches of the men;”by Rev E.B. Hilliard, Hartford Conn, published by N.A. & R.A. Moore, 1864

I guess this event blows New Hampshire Historical Marker #106 out of the water
! That marker (#106) commemorates the last soldier of the revolution, Joel McGregor, who died on October 31, 1861. (Psst…. maybe that sign needs to be rewritten).  Samuel got his own marker #178 which was placed in Antrim NH, a location where apparently he apprenticed before he ran away to join the army (which he finally did in Charlestown NH). Sam’s marker states, “At his death in 1867 he was the oldest recorded pensioner of the Revolution, although two others were enrolled later.”



John Downing, b. abt 1638 in Ireland, died after March 1715. John Downing married 2 Nov 1669 in Ipswich MA to Mehitable [Mehetebel] Brabrook, daughter of Richard & Alice (Ellis) Brabrook [Brabrucke/Brabrooke].  She b. abt 1651 in Salem, Middlesex Co MA (records show she was age 16 in 1668), and died after March 1715. He immigrated about 1654 to Ipswich, Essex Co MA. Brought as a captive by Capt. George Dell on the ship, “Goodfellow.”  Records of the Salem Quarterly Court, Essex Co MA: John Downing testified in 1661 that he and others were kidnapped in Ireland, brought to New England in the ship “Goodfellow,” and sold into servitude in Ipswich.  On 12 June 1699 John and Mehitable Downing conveyed half of their farm to their son, David Downing [it was formerly called Richard Braybrook’s farm].  Their son-in-law, Thomas Lufkin, posted bond in March 1714/15 to care for “my honored father, John Downing, and his wife.”
Children of John & Mehitable (Braybrook) Downing:
1. John Downing, b. 31 Oct 1673 in Ipswich, Essex Co MA
2. +David Downing, b. 1678 in Ipswich MA
3. Margaret Downing, b. 7 Feb 1679 in Ipswich MA; m. Thomas Lufkin
4. Richard Downing, d. 3 Nov 1702 in Ipswich MA

David Downing, son of John & Mehitable (Braybrook) Downing, b. 1678 in Ipswich, Essex Co., MA; d. 20 Sep 1723, age 46 in Gloucester, Essex Co MA. He married 5 Nov 1701 in Chebacco (Ipswich), Essex Co MA to Susanna Roberts, daughter of John & Hannah (Bray) Roberts. She b. abt 1680 in Gloucester, Essex Co MA, and d. 22 Dec 1719, age 39 years in Gloucester MA.
Children of David & Susannah (Roberts) Downing:
1. Hannah Downing, bapt 19 Sep 1703 in Gloucester, MA; m. 3 Dec 1719 in Gloucester MA to Ebenezer Day; had issue
2. David Downing, b. betw 1704-1705 in Gloucester MA; m. Mary Joslin [“Josline” in
records] 14 Dec 1722 in Gloucester MA
3. Lucy Downing, b. 29 Nov 1706 in Gloucester, MA
4. Jonathan Downing, b abt 1708 in Gloucester MA; m. 30 Jan 1728-29 in Glouceser MA to Sarah Day; had issue.
5. +John Downing, baptized 25 July 1708 in Gloucester, Essex Co MA.

John Downing, son of David & Susanna (Roberts) Downing, baptized 25 July 1708 in Gloucester, Essex Co., MA; d. 1743 in Newbury MA [one source says died Jan 1777 in
Springfield MA]. He married 16 Oct 1731 in Newbury, Essex Co MA to Tabitha Deland [his surname shown as “Downin,” hers shown as “Delawn” in recs], daughter of Philip and Jane (Atkinson) Deland [from book, “Deland Family in America”]. She b. 25 Nov 1706 in Newbury MA, and d. Oct 1777.
Children of John & Tabitha (Deland) Downing [from Newbury MA recs]:
1. John Downing, b. 7 Nov 1733 in Newbury MA; prob. the John who m. Martha Smith 10 March 1755 in Newbury MA.
2. Susanna Downing, b. 3 Aug 1734 Newbury MA; married Moses George.
3. son, b. Nov 1735 Newbury MA
4. +David Downing, b. 8 March 1737/38 in Newbury MA
5. Moses Downing, b. 12 Dec 1742 Newbury MA

David Downing, son of John & Tabitha (Deland), was b 8 March 1737/38 in Newbury MA and d. 1798 in Marlow NH. He was listed on the Massachusetts records as wounded in 1758 during the French and Indian Wars.  David Downing, and his father-in-law, Moses George, served in both the French and Indian War and in the Revolution. David was wounded at Ticonderoga prior to the Battle of Saratoga; and Moses was wounded at Saratoga. David married 7 March 1762 in Newbury MA to Susanna Beacham/Beauchamp. She b. abt 1730, and d. in 1831 in Marlow NH. David, along with his father-in-law Moses George were mentioned in the Diary of Moses Greenleaf, published in the bulletin of the Museum of Fort Ticonderoga, Vol XV, No. 6.
Children of David & Sarah (Beacham) Downing:
1. +Samuel Downing, born 30 Nov 1761 near Exeter NH [baptism recorded 1 Dec 1764 at Newburyport MA]
2. Daniel Downing, baptized 25 Sep 1763
3. David Downing, bapt 4 Feb 1770 Newburyport MA
4. Thomas Downing, bapt 4 Feb 1770 in Newburyport MA
5. Jonathan Tewksbury Downing, bapt 17 Nov 1771 Newburyport MA

Samuel Downing, son of David & Susanna (Beacham) Downing, was born either near Exeter NH 30 Nov 1761[according to one source] or at Newbury MA [according to his biography]. He was baptized 1 Dec 1764 at Newburyport, Essex Co MA, and d. 18 Feb 1867 at Edinburgh, Saratoga Co., NY. He married abt 1784 to Eunice George, dau of
Enos & Dorothy (Jewel) George.  She b. 10 Oct 1768 in Antrim NH and d. 6 Apr 1851 in
Edinburgh, Saratoga Co, NY.  After his marriage they removed to Edinburgh NY.
Children of Samuel & Eunice (George) Downing:
[to see descendants of this line, visit Rootsweb]
1. Susannah Downing, b. 14 Dec 1784 Antrim, NH, d. 21 March 1823
2. Anna Downing, b. abt 1786 in Antrim NH, d. 7 Aug 1838
3. Margaret Downing, b. abt 1788 in Antrim NH, d. 27 March 1859; m. James Barker
4. child, b. abt 1790 Antrim NH
5. Elizabeth Downing, b. abt 1791 in Antrim NH, d 1798
6. Hannah Downing, b. 20 Jan 1794; d. 17 Aug 1865; m. Perris Fuller
7. Samuel Adams Downing, b. 1 Oct 1795 in Edinburgh, Saratoga Co NY
8. Thomas Downing, b. 1 Oct 1797 Edinburgh NY, d. 17 July 1798.
9. Thomas Jefferson Downing, b. 1 Sep 1800 in Edinbugh NY; d. 13 Jan 1869.
10. Mary Downing, b. 3 Nov 1802 in Edinburgh NY; d. 2 July 1830
11. Elizabeth Downing, b. 25 July 1805 in Edinburgh NY; d. 28 Feb 1827
12. George Washington Downing, b. 9 Dec 1808 in Edinburgh, NY; d. 29 March 1892 in Fabius NY; buried Berwyn Cemetery, Lafayette NY; m. 1840 to Sophronia Greenleaf
13. James Madison Downing, b. 14 Aug 1811 in Edinburgh, NY; d. 19 Jan 1892; m. Melinda Arvilla Robinson


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27 Responses to The Last New Hampshire Man of the American Revolution: Samuel Downing (1761-1867)

  1. carol wright corson says:

    great info! My mother was Carolyn Mae Downing, daughter of Leslie Downing. Have visited Sam’s grave many times in NY. I now live in Alexandria, NH

  2. HJ says:

    I loved this article. I believe that James T. Downing, grandson of Jonathan Tewksbury Downing (Samual’s brother), was one of the oldest surviving Civil War veterans of New Hampshire and was living in Tilton at the time of his death in 1931. I’m far from 100% certain of my facts and would appreciate it if anyone could confirm or correct me on this.

  3. aimee walrath says:

    George Washington Downing was my GGGGGG grandfather he is hurried in Maplewood cemetary in fabius NY

  4. Pingback: “Joel McGregor, Last Surviving Soldier of the Revolution” in Newport, New Hampshire | Northern New England Villages

  5. Craig Robert downing says:

    My father, Samuel Robert downing, was born 4/30/1918. He said his family moved from Kansas City, Kansas to sacramento, california. He never talked about his family back east. Can anyone help out.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Craig, here is a little bit of info. Sorry I can’t spend more time on it. Perhaps your local library gives classes on genealogy for beginners and offers free tools for you to use in researching.

      — Downing, b– d –; m. Mary –. She b. abt 1800 in VA? and d —
      Children of — & Mary (?) Downing:
      1. Harrison Downing, b abt 1833
      2. +William Luther Downing, b abt 1835 Missouri
      3. Ezekiel Downey Downing, b abt 1836 Missouri, d. 18 Nov 1881 in Atchison KS. He m. Barbara Crites, had 9 children.
      4. Mary Downing, b abt 1837 Missouri

      William Luther Downing, son of –; b. abt 1835 Missouri and d –; he married by 1860 to Maria Earwood/Yearwood, ?dau of Jerry Earwood. She b. abt 1836 in Missouri and d. –. [probably the Jeremiah Yearwood living 1880 in Walnut Atchison Missouri is her brother].
      1880 US Census > Kansas > Atchison, Walnut
      William Downing self M 45 Missouri [b abt 1835 Missouri]
      Maria Downing wife F 44 Missouri
      Nancy R. Downing dau F 20 Kansas
      Robert Downing son M 18 Kansas
      George Downing son M 15 Kansas
      Margaret Downing dau F 12 Kansas
      John Downing son M 7 Kansas
      Benjamin Downing son M 4 Kansas
      Harry Layton other M 22 Maine
      Children of William & Maria (Yearwood) Downing:
      1. Nancy R. Downing, b. abt 1860 Kansas
      2. Robert Downing, b abt 1862 Kansas
      3. George Thomas Downing, b. Mah 1865 in Leavenworth Kansas, d. 1948 KS; m. Mary F. Powers. Had 8 children: William Luther, Jerry W., Robert, Anna Georgia, John Keith, Thomas, Roy, and Charles A., all born in Kansas.
      4. Margaret Downing, b abt 1868 Kansas
      5. John Downing, b. abt 1873 Kansas
      6. +Benjamin F. Downing, b. 21 July 1887 Kansas

      Benjamin F. Downing, son of William L. & Maria (Earwood) Downing, b. 21 July 1887 in Kansas City, Wyandotte Co. Kansas; died 1927 in Sacramento California; m. Alice Godsmark, dau of Alfred & Eliza E. (Wickham) Godsmark; She b. 22 February 1883 at Staten Island NY and died (or 1927 Carmichael CA) 29 December 1945 in Sacramento, Sacramento, California.
      1910 US Census > Wyandotte > Kansas City
      Downing Ben Head M W 34 m1x 8 yrs Kansas US US Electrician, electric light
      Downing Alice wife F W 25 m1x 8 yrs 3 ch 3 living NY US US
      Downing, Thelma daughter F W 7 single Kansas
      Downing, Hollis son M W 4 single Kansas
      Downing, Dorothy daughter F W 3 single Kansas
      Children of Benjamin & Alice (Godsmark) Downing:
      1. Thelma Inez Downing, b. 25 April 1903 Kansas City, Wyandotte, Kansas, d. 1995
      2. Hollis/Harold Downing, b 19 May 1905 Kansas City, Wyandotte KS
      3. Dorothy Downing, b.19 Jan 1907 Kansas City, Wyandotte KS
      4. Female, ?Elsie or Helen
      5. Female, ?Elsie or Helen b. 27 June 1911, Kansas City Kansas
      6. Paul A. Downing, 1915-1967
      7. Samuel Robert Downing, b. 29 April 1918 in Kansas City, Kansas

      Samuel Robert Downing, son of Benjamin & Alice (Godsmark) Downing, b. 29 April 1918 in Kansas, died 10 Sep 1987 Placer California. He married Pearl Estelle Whiteaker, dau of Carl & Florence Estelle (McCarthy) Whiteaker. She b 26 Feb 1921 in Elverta, Sacramento CA, and died 12 April 2003 in Georgetown, El Dorado California.
      California, Death Index, 1940-1997 about Samuel Robert Downing
      Name: Samuel Robert Downing
      Social Security #: 572146935
      Gender: Male
      Birth Date: 29 Apr 1918
      Birth Place: Kansas
      Death Date: 10 Sep 1987
      Death Place: Placer
      Mother’s Maiden Name: Godsmark
      Samuel R. Downing
      U.S. Navy
      World War II
      Apr 29, 1918 Sept 10, 1967
      masonic symbol
      Mount Vernon Memorial Park, Fair Oaks, California
      Name: Samuel R. Downing
      SSN: 572-14-6935
      Last Residence: 95678 Roseville, Placer, California, USA
      BORN: 29 Apr 1918
      Died: 10 Sep 1987
      State (Year) SSN issued: California (Before 1951)

      • Craig Robert downing says:

        Thank you very much Janice. The info you sent me will be very helpful to my niece who hit a brick wall when she was told about some fire that destroyed some count records back east. Thanks again, craig

  6. donna says:

    Great info but John Downing who married Mehitable was the son of Emanuel and Lucy Winthrop Downing. There was another John Downing in Ipswich with the story of the kidnapping. John Downing received a sizeable gift of land when he married mehitable. He was referred to as a planter back in about 1667 and an indentured servant wouldn’t have had the 300 acres to qualified as being referred to as planter.
    If you can get on do some quick searches on her. She was in the Ipswich jail during the witchcraft hysteria but not much is known about the accusations. I’ve done hours of research on these folks…

    • Caron says:

      Thank you!

      • Patricia Tanis says:

        I disagree that John Downing who married Mehitable Brabrooke was the son of Emanuel and Lucy Winthrop Downing. I am on Ancestry and it is NOT a one stop accurate source. Read about Lucy and explain how she would have allowed her son to marry an illegitimate daughter of an indentured servant. (No aspersions cast on Mehitable just explaining the circumstances). My hours of research have shown nothing it proven in terms of the John who is the son of Emanuel. This certainly sheds new light on the situation and I am grateful to have come upon it. I descend from David Downing and Susanna Roberts. I would appreciate any source references you can shed on Davide and his wife. Spent this morning scouring American Ancestors and that is how I found you.

        • Janice Brown says:

          Patricia I appreciate how you feel. I stand by my research, unless you have ‘proof’ it is false. Have you read the article “The Real John Downing“? Thank you for reading and commenting. I am a member of American Ancestors also.

          • Donna Hawell says:

            I am the author of the article mentioned and thought I would address the situation about Lucy Downing. On my website, I wrote about Lucy. She appeared to be consumed with the success of her eldest son Sir George. She and Emanuel followed him back to England to enjoy his privilege with the King. Lucy pretty much abandoned her American born children, including John. She was chastised by writers for having done so. Interesting, Sir George forced her to live a miserly existence when she became a widow, and he controlled her money. I imagine John would have been very happy to receive one half of Braybrooke’s wealth as stated in Mehitabel’s dowrey. She had one of the country’s most generous dowreys.

          • Janice Brown says:

            Donna, thanks for reading and commenting and for your additional comments on this discussion. I am a proponent of women’s history stories and so delighted that you researched and wrote about the women in this interesting family.

          • Donna Gawell says:

            I’m not sure I would have like my 9th or 10th? ggrandmother very much. She was supposedly known for her wit and clear letter writing, but was a typical aristocratic woman of her times. Too bad Sir George was such a scoundrel! BTW- John seems like he turned out all right based on his SIL’s loving testimony.

  7. Sam’s mother was Susanna Beechem, and she is buried in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire . She was 101 when she died.

  8. Kerbev says:

    Mehitable (Brabrooke) Downing’s mother Alice Ellis was never married to Richard Brabrooke. She was his servant. He was whipped for fornication. Mehitable was raised by her father and his wife Joan.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Thank you for the information. Can you share the primary sources you used to determine this information?

      • Donna says:

        I’m in the revising/editing stage of a historical novel about Mehitabel Braybrooke. I have done extensive research in this effort. The primary sources are the Essex Court Records. The Braybrookes and Mehitabel ended up in many court records and town birth, marriage and birth records.

  9. Caron says:

    Great facts! My 8th great grandmother and grandfather were John and Mehitabel Downing!

  10. Judy Peterson says:

    Judy P. In my searching of my ancestry I discovery that I am a 7th generation granddaughter of Samuel L. Downing. My granddaughters were asked to bring pictures of family members who serviced our country. I gave them copies of the picture above of Samuel Downing. The youngest granddaughter’s teacher notified the radio station and it was announced on the radio. The oldest granddaughter had me print out our genealogy and gave it to her history teacher just before school closed in mid March this year.

  11. Lee Lewis says:

    Hello, I am a descendant of John and Mehitabel Braybrook Downing. I am inclined to believe that John was the son of Emanuel Downing and Lucy Winthrop Downing. I believe that’s why John named his daughter Lucy, after his mother, and eventually that Lucy married into the Larcom family, whereby the name Lucy was passed down to the famous Lucy Larcom.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Lee, thank you for reading my blog and commenting. I appreciate your additional information on the Downing family.

    • Patti Cohoon says:

      I don’t believe that John Downing son of Emmanual Downing is the husband of Mehitable. I think it is more likely that the John Downing from Ireland and a possible indentured servant was her husband. If you read letters Lucy Downing wrote and comments she made about her children it is very unlikely that her son would marry the illegitimate daughter of a fornicating colonist. I am also a descendant of John and Mehitable and have done a great deal of research into Lucy Downing. She was not a nice person.

      • Janice Brown says:

        Patti, thank you for taking the time to read the story and respond. I am not a descendant (at least as far as I know) of John Downing and so I will leave the discussion to those who have researched it longer than I. Differences of opinion are welcome, and without sufficient primary documentation or DNA proof, its all circumstantial 🙂

  12. Donna Gawell says:

    Family naming patterns hold some clues here! My computer that holds an article on “The Real John Downing” just crashed and I am retrieving the data now. I will post it in the future. It provides evidence of the John Downing, son of Emanuel and Lucy as the husband of Mehitabel. Remember that Lucy and Emanuel were in England at the time of the marriage and Lucy’s letters contain no mention of most of the children she left behind in the colony. Her efforts were all on Sir. George, who ended up treating her very poorly when she was a widow. John would have been very happy to marry a girl with a very generous dowry!

  13. Pingback: Mehitable Braybrook, who burned down Jacob and Sarah Perkins’ house, married John Downing and was arrested for witchcraft – Historic Ipswich

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