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Letter to Parliament (1780's)

Parliament Letter

Source: Parliament Letter, Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives

The following was a petition written to Parliament by Bernardus Lagrange. Parliament passed an Act prior to the American Revolution stating loyal subjects were entitled to compensation for their losses due to rebellion. In the following, Lagrange recounts all he and his family went through along with all the losses he sustained. He asked Parliament to grant him money for the losses he suffered. The letter is rendered in its original form.

To the Commissioners appointed by Act of Parliament for Enquiring into the losses and services of the American Loyalists...The memorial of Bernardus Lagrange...of the province of New Jersey in America, attorney at law, but now in the city of London in the Kingdom of Great Britain.

That your memorialist is and ever was a faithful Subject as well to the Late King as to his present majesty and uniformly approved in principle and practice to the Revolution from the sovereign authority of Great Britain and Every measure of the faction leading to the Late Rebellion...That early perceiving independence to be the object of the leaders of the Rebellion, He employed his best powers and abilities in attempts to underdeceive his infatuated and misguided neighbors, and in open opposition to the pursuits of their leaders. That this conduct of your memorial espoused him to the resentment and fury of the factions, a detail of his suffering might be tedious, he will therefore no further intrude on your patience, than to observe, that as early as June 1775 he was carted in New Brunswick in effigy, his house attacked by the purpose of his espousing him personally to the Rage of the inflamed Populace, that he has been publicly advertised as an Enemy and Traitor to his country and his personal safety rendered so precarious that abandoning all attention to his interest he was reduced for a long time to hide and secret himself from their pursuits, from which he at last relieved himself by joining the British Army under his Excellency Sir William Howe on Staten Island 14th July 1776. Your memorialist forebears to mention the losses and inconveniences sustained by him and his family who on this occasion were reduced to the necessity of confining himself and their effects in one room of his house. That upon the Evacuating the province of New Jersey by his majesty's Troops in June 1777 our memorialist has again forced to fly from his home to New York with his family, and the few effects he could bring with him abandoning his personal property together other damaged sustained amounting to large sums of money...Now at the age of Sixty two years with two children with him (and more than ten grandchildren now in London on account of their Loyalty) stripped of all resources in consequence of his Loyalty, Zeal, and unshaken infidelity to his Sovereign, in a Strange place altogether unknown, without the means of support...Wherefore your memorialist Humbly Prays you will be pleased to take his case under Consideration in order that he may be enabled to receive such aid or relief...Bernard Lagrange

Source: Letter from the Bernardus Lagrange folder, Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives.

From this document, answer the following questions.

  • Should Bernard Lagrange receive compensation? Explain?
  • What did Lagrange lose and how did he suffer to stay loyal to England?
  • How should history judge a man such as Lagrange?
  • Are you surprised as to how Lagrange's life turned out? Explain.
  • Was Lagrange a loyal man? Explain.
  • Given what you have read about Lagrange, how do you think the rest of his life unfolded?
  • Given what Lagrange endured, what appeared to cement his loyalty to Great Britain? What are the bounds of loyalty you feel to the United States?

You have now discovered the fate of one New Jersey loyalist, Bernardus Lagrange.

You have now completed the Fate of a Loyalist. Please continue into other sections regarding New Jersey in the American Revolution or go back to Electronic New Jersey Home Page to investigate other topics involving New Jersey history.