29 June 2009

Joshua Huddy

Joshua Huddy was born in 8 November 1735 in Salem County, New Jersey. In his younger days, he was a troublemaker, being tried for theft and assault among other crimes. He married Mary Borden in 1764, and later moved to Colts Neck (Monmouth County), New Jersey with their two children. He was married again in 1778 to Catherine Hart, a widow who had two children.

In 1779, Huddy joined the Monmouth County Militia, where he served as Captain from March to December. He led many raids and captured Loyalists. He was also accused of executing some of these Loyalists.

In September, 1780, an attempt was made by a party of Refugees (the term Refugee was used by Loyalists who operated independently of the British Army, but still claimed British protection) to capture Huddy at his home in Colts Neck. A party of six Refugees, under the command of an audacious mulatto slave named Colonel Tye, (1) made their way to Huddy's home. When they arrived, Huddy was in the house with a servant girl, named Lucretia Emmons. Huddy would attempt to defend himself against the band of Refugees. The servant girl loaded the muskets in the house and handed them to Huddy. Huddy moved from window to window, firing at the Refugees to make it appear to them that a number of men were defending the house. He was able to wound several of the Refugees, including Colonel Tye, who was shot through the wrist. (2) The Refugees had enough and set fire to the house. Huddy, seeing his predicament, called out that he would surrender if the Refugees would help him extinguish the fire, to which they agreed. Angered that one man had caused so much trouble, the Refugees took Huddy off as a captive, closely followed by the roused neighboring militia. The Refugees, with Huddy, reached Black Point (between the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers on the Rumson peninsula) slightly ahead of the militia, and embarked on boats which they had hidden earlier. When the militiamen reached the riverbank, they fired upon the Refugee boats. In the ensuing confusion, Huddy escaped, jumping off the boat. As he swam for the shore, he was shot from the riverbank in the thigh. Huddy raised his hand and shouted: ‘I am Huddy! I am Huddy!’ by which his compatriots brought him safely to shore. (3)
Two years later, on 1 February 1782 Huddy, then a 47 year-old artillery company officer, arrived in Toms River, New Jersey to defend the Blockhouse there. (4) The Tory newspaper, Rivington’s Royal Gazette, of New York, wrote that on 20 March 1782, “Lieutenant Blanchard, of the armed whale boats, and about eighty men belonging to them, with Captain Thomas and Lieutenant Roberts, both of the late Bucks County Volunteers, and between thirty and forty other Refugee loyalists, the whole under the command of Lieutenant Blanchard, proceeded to Sandy Hook under the convoy of Captain Stewart Ross, in the armed brig ‘Arrogant,’where they were detained by unfavorable winds until the 23d.” (5) About midnight of the 23rd this party landed near the mouth of Toms River (probably near present-day Ortley Beach). Garret Irons, who was on patrol, ran seven miles to the Blockhouse to alert the twenty-five or twenty-six defenders. (6) By daylight of the 24th , the Loyalist force reached the Blockhouse. Lieutenant Blanchard demanded the surrender of the Blockhouse and those inside, which was refused. The Loyalist force then stormed the Blockhouse. In the ensuing action, the Patriots had nine men killed, and twelve captured; the rest made their escape. Rivington’s Royal Gazette reported that the Rebels had killed a Major of the militia, two Captains and one Lieutenant. On the Loyalist side, Rivington’s reported two killed – Lieutenant Iredell, of the armed boatmen, and Lieutenant Inslee, of the Loyalists – and Lieutenant Roberts and five others wounded. (7) The Loyalists burned all of the dozen or so houses in the village except for two. They also burned the Blockhouse, the tavern, the blacksmith shop, and the salt warehouses together with a saw-mill and grist-mill. Huddy had escaped into the countryside, but was found later that day with two other Patriots hiding in a nearby mill. Huddy and the two other Patriots, Daniel Randolph and Jacob Fleming, were taken prisoner aboard the Arrogant, and brought back to New York.

Huddy was housed in the infamous Sugar House Prison in New York until 8 April 1782. (8) At that time, Huddy, Randolph and Fleming were removed to a sloop (a small sailing boat) and placed in irons. On the 9th, they were transferred to the British man-of-war Britannia, under a Captain Morris. (9) On the 12th, Captain Richard Lippencott, a Loyalist, came aboard the ship claiming he had orders from the Board of Associated Loyalists of New York to hang Huddy. Lippencott took a rope from Captain Morris and proceeded with his captive to the Highlands. At Gravelly Point, a gallows was erected and a barrel placed under it. Huddy made out his will on the barrel before stepping upon it. A label was attached to his breast, which read: “We, the refugees, having long held with grief the cruel murders of our brethren, and finding nothing but such measures daily carrying into execution; we therefore determine not to suffer without taking vengeance for the numerous cruelties, and thus begin, having made use of Captain Huddy as the first object to present to your view, and determine to hang man for man while there is a refugee existing. UP GOES HUDDY FOR PHIL. WHITE.” (10) Huddy’s body was left hanging on the shore until the afternoon, when it was taken to the house of Captain James Greene of Freehold. Huddy was buried at the Old Tennent Church with military honors.

Huddy’s murder led to what is known as the Asgill Affair, which will be explained in the following post.

(1) Titus was a slave of John Corlies of Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, New Jersey. He escaped in November, 1775, and changed his name to Tye. Tye fought in the Battle of Monmouth, 28 June 1778, and afterwards launched raids, mostly in Monmouth County, against Patriots.

(2) Tye’s wound later caused lockjaw, which killed him. The Jersey Coast and Pines. By Gustav KobbĂ©. Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, 1970, p. 24.
(3) Kobbé, 24.
(4) A blockhouse is a small fort, one building, usually in an isolated position. The one Huddy was defending protected the village of Toms River and the salt works near by. “The post into which the rebels had thrown themselves was six or seven feet high, made with large logs, with loop-holes between and a number of brass swivels on the top, which was entirely open, nor was there any way of entering but by climbing over. They had, besides swivels, muskets with bayonets and long pikes for their defence.” The date of his arrival is cited from The War at the Shore 2007: Commemorating the 225th Anniversary of the Revolutionary War in Ocean County 1776 – 1783. [pamphlet] Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, 2007. The description of the Blockhouse is from A History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. By Edwin Salter. E. Gardner & Son, Bayonne, NJ, 1890, p. 205.
(5) Salter, 205.

(6) The War at the Shore 2007.

(7) Salter, 206. Of those casualties, the following have so far been identified by the author: Major John Cook, killed; Captain Ephraim Jenkins, killed; Daniel Randolph, captured; Jacob Fleming, captured; Moses Robbins, wounded. George, John and Joseph Parker were all with Huddy at the Blockhouse; their fate is thus far unknown.

(8) New York City contained many sugar houses. During the British occupation, the sugar houses were used as prisons. Many men died from the squalid conditions in these prisons, as well as the prison ships stationed off of New York City. The Sugar House Prison was the most infamous prison in New York.
(9) Randolph and Fleming were soon exchanged for two Tories: Captain Clayton Tilton and Aaron White.
(10) Phillip White was a Tory who met his death attempting to escape the Patriots about a week after Huddy’s capture. Lippencott claimed White was murdered by the Patriots, and in return, Huddy would be killed. The quote was taken from Salter, 185-186.


  1. I am enjoying reading your blog. I wonder if you have any information on a Robert Lee who died there in 1788 Shrewsberry I believe. He is a relative of mine. He may have been an indentured servant. Here is something I found about him on another site: In February, 1738 “Robert Lee, labourer,” was accused in a Shrewsbury court of stealing one and a half bushels of wheat, which he admitted. At first he was just heavily fined. The court record states on February 10, 1738 that Robert Lee "did acknowledge himself indebted unto our said Soverign Lord the King in the Sum of Ten pounds Lawful money of the Province above said to be levyed on his goods and chattels, Lands, and Tenements to the Use of our Said Lord the King his heirs and Successors." [2] February Court Record.

    Robert did not have ten pounds lying around his house anywhere, so he was forced to sell almost everything he had to pay the fine. He got five pounds for all his household goods from a merchant, Thomas Holmes, in March, 1738. We have a copy of the bill of sale and of the inventory taken of Robert Lee’s “moveable estate.” [3]. The inventory reads:

    “An Inventory of the Moveable Estate of Robert Lee Taken this 11th Day of March 1737/8 which are as followeth.
    (See inventory).

    Viz., One Feather Bed and two Pillows
    Two pair of Homespun Blankets
    One Coverlid two chests & one box
    One Linnen wheel and a woolen wheel & reel
    One Table two iron Pots four washing Tubs
    Two Barrels one Bedstead
    One iron Kettle and one iron Skillet
    Two frying Pans & an achain Trammel
    One Bible and a Pewter Basson a Pewter Quart & Porrindger
    One Looking Glass and Smoothing Iron Heaters
    Two Hogs Three Case knifes & three forks
    One cradle and a Course Lyre
    One ax two beetle Rings & two Iron Wedges
    One broad hoe one tin kettle a firkin and a three
    Gallon Cag & nine Small books”

    Besides the fact that Robert, Rachel, and the infant Giles did not have a bed to sleep in, a pot to cook in, or any tools for working the land after this transaction, we would point out two things. First, Robert signed the bill of sale; in fact, the signature is rather stylized. Secondly, look at the last item on the inventory: “nine small books.” Nine books of any size was a library among farm laborers in this time and place. Few public schools existed in the early 1700s, and the vast majority of colonials were illiterate. Robert could not only read and write, he was a very poor man who had invested in books.

    To finish the story, Robert appeared in court again on April 26. He did not have the full ten pounds, and so was sentenced to 13 lashes “laid on his bare back,” and then imprisoned until he could pay all his fine. We don’t know if he attended the christening of his son Giles on May 22, but eventually he was released from jail. April Court Record.

    I am still trying to figure more out about him and why the punishment was so harsh. If you have any info please send it to greatliving2@gmail.com

    1. I'm sorry. I haven't come across Robert in my research.