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a County convention to consult on measures of public policy. That party denominated Federalists were the most numerous in the town, while that distinctive title was borne by any party, though when in the plenitude of their strength they ever used their power in a liberal manner, and extended equal courtesy to their political opponents.
The growth and improvement of Leicester, as we have already observed, has been constant though gradual. The refinement in taste that has been effected in many parts of New England has not been entirely inoperative here. The growth of the village here has been so rapid, that individuals recollect the time, when from four to six houses were all that were erected in the village, where now there are nearly forty, besides the public buildings and others in progress of erection. The style of architecture is neat, and although the village can boast of no palace, it is not disfigured with one tenement that indicates poverty or want. There bave been many improvements proposed, and so far as unanimity in design can promise success, they will be carried into effect, by which this village may vie with any in the country for beauty and neatness. A Bank, as we have already stated, was chartered and located in this town in the winter of 1826, and when, as is proposed, the building for that institution shall have been erected, and the congregational meeting house removed, so as to enlarge the common before it, and produce a proper symmetry in relation to the Academy, Leicester may boast of attractions in her scenery, her public improvements, enterprize and wealth, which all will be ready to acknowledge.
The situation of the town is healthy, and epidemics of a dangerous character have seldom prevailed. The average number of deaths, annually, may be reckoned at about fifteen, which will bear no fair proportion to the annual births. The population of the town has annually furnished emigrants to other towns, and other States, and there is scarcely a State in the Union that has not among its citizens natives of this town.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTIOES. We are aware that we have omitted the names of many in the foregoing sketches, which a sense of justice would require us to have inserted. Nothing but an inability to do any justice to them has debarred us from the pleasure of recording them. A few, however, whose histories we have been able to obtain, we feel ourselves warranted in noticing. VOL. II.
SETH WASHBURN. Among those who acted a pretty important part in the events of our history, was the Hon. Seth Washburn, Esquire, whose name we have more than once had occasion to mention. He was a na. tive of Bridgewater, and a lineal descendant of Job Washburn, who was one of the original proprietors and settlers of that town. He was a native of England, and arrived in New England within a few years after the settlement of Plymouth :* He died in Bridgewater in 1670. Seth Washburn, the subject of this memoir, was great grandson of John Washburn. He removed to Leicester some time previous to the year 1750, but the precise time is not known. Though destitute of a good education, he successively held almost every office in the gift of the people of the town, and was a member of the Senate from this County during the years 1780, 1783, '84, '85, '86, and '87, in which body he is said to have possessed a very considerable influence. He was a firm patriot and a most unwavering and decided supporter of the rights of the Colonies. After bis return from the service in 1775, which we have spoken of, he acted as “muster master" during the war, and aided the prosecution of it by every means in his power—though we do not know that he was, for any considerable time afterwards, in the service. He had been a soldier in the French war prepi. ous to 1749, and was ever esteemed a man of great courage and self possession. This was particularly observed in the engagement on Bunker Hill. Although he came late into the action, and the British were then on the point of forcing the redoubt and lines, and the Americans, after having expended their ammunition, were almost at the mercy of their exasperated foe, he showed no agitation, but delivered his commands with the utmost coolness and decision. He had a good deal of native eloquence, and whenever be addressed any body of men it was with propriety and effect. His business in life was that of a blacksmith until he became ergaged in public affairs. He was distinguished for his piety and the urbanity of his manners. During the insurrection in 1786, he was a decided friend of the Government, and influential in checking the spirit that then prevailed inimical to the wholesome restraints of the laws. He died at the age of 70, in the year 1794, leaving two sons, one of whom, Joseph Washburn, was a member of the com
* Whether he was the John Washburn who was Secretary of the Massachusetts Company, in London, in 1629, we have not been able to ascertain ; but from the name, and the time of his removal to New England, we presume he may have been the same.
pany which marched to Cambridge, in 1775, and be afterwards served during the war of the revolution, having received during his service the commissions of Ensign and Lieutenant in the ContiDental service. After his return to Leicester from the army, he continued to reside there till his death in 1807. The other son of Seth Washburn now resides in Putney, Vermont.
THOMAS NEWHALL. The name of Capt. Thomas Newhall, deserves a place among those distinguished for their usefulness and public spirit. His life presents but few incidents out of which to swell a biographical sketch, for it was passed in the peaceful retirement of his farm and his native town. He was not, however, inactive there. He possessed a vigorous mind and employed its powers for the public good, and, so far as his influence could extend, for the good of his country. He was a native of Leicester, and was born in 1732, and died in 1814, at the age of 82 years. We have already noticed his munificence to the Academy in this town, and we cannot better conclude this brief notice than by transcribing the judicious epitaph upon his tomb stone.
“ Generous and patriotic through life : at an advanced age, he became a liberal benefactor of the inhabitants of this town, and to the literary institution established therein, of which he was one of the first trustees."
He left at his death a very considerable estate, but left no children.
THOMAS DENNY. Another patriotic gentleman whose name we have mentioned, and who deserves a particular notice, was Thomas Denny, Esq. He was a man of uncommonly vigorous mind, and commanded great inAgence and respect, at a time, when talents and integrity rather than wealth or family, were the tests of merit. He was the son of Daniel Denny, whose name we have mentioned as one of the earliest settlers of the town, and was born in the year 1724.
He took a leading part in the affairs of the town early in life, and ever afterwards retained and increased his influence among those who best knew bim. Some of the resolutions adopted by the town in regard to the aggressions of the mother Country, were, as we have already stated, the productions of his pen, and show, by their style and language, an education above that of many of his cotemporaries. He often represented the town in the General Court, during the difficult sessions of that body, before the revolution, when they were constantly embroiled in contests with the representatives of the Royal Government. As an evidence of the confidence placed in him by his constituents, he was the only member chosen from this town to attend the Provincial Congress at Concord, in 1774. In this body he was one of the most useful and active members, and scarcely any one was listened to with more attention and respect in the debates of the assembly. After that Congress was adjourned to Cambridge, he was taken ill, and returned to Leicester, where he died, Oct. 23, 1774, at the age of 49. His death was a subject of deep regret to all who knew his worth. Had he lived, he must have taken a leading part in the events of the Revolution, in the incipient stages of which he had so decided an interest. He held the office of Colonel of the regiment of Militia, in the limits of which he resided, which was then an honorable mark of distinguished merit.
Io connexion with him, we ought to mention his brother, Col. SAMUEL DENNY, who, though he did not take so prominent a part in the transactions previous to the Revolution, was a leading man during it, and once commanded a regiment of men in the service." He held many public offices in the town, and was a member of the Convention in 1788 that accepted the Constitution of the United States. He died in 1817, at the age of 86 years. Col. Thomas Denny left three children at his death. His son, bearing the same name, was a highly respectable and influential man during his life. He died Dec. 11, 1815. He was, at the time of his death, a member of the Board of Trustees of Leicester Academy, and often during his life represented the town in the General Court, and was, at that time, the wealthiest man in the town.
Col. Samuel Deony left five sons and three daughters. Three of his sons are yet living, viz. Nathaniel Paine, William,and Samuel.
WILLIAM HENSHAW. Another individual who deserves honorable notice in this place is the late Col. William Henshaw. His biography deserves an abler pen, and a more complete detail than we have been able to give He was the son of Daniel Henshaw, who was an early proprietor of Leicester, and removed there in the year 1748, from Boston, where he had till then resided. William, the subject of this memoir, was born in Boston, Sept. 30, 1735, and removed with his father to Leicester. His opportunities, till his removal, for an education, had been good, but he received none from schools after that period. Yet, by his own industry and application, he acquired
a very good English education, and some knowledge of the Latin and Greek languages. After his removal to Leicester, his time was mostly employed upon a farm. In 1759, he went, as a Lieutenant, into the service against the French and Indians, and served through that eventful campaign. Having many friends in Boston, he early became acquainted with the views and feelings of the patriots and ardently engaged in the cause of liberty. Many of the resolutions and instructions” of the people of Leicester were drawn up, as we have already stated, by Col. Henshaw and evince a good literary taste while they exbibit an extremely accurate knowledge of the events that were transpiring as well as the abstract rights of the colonies. He was a member of the jury, who, at the April term of the Superior Court, in bolden at Worcester, 1774, remonstrated against Chief Justice Oliver's acting as Judge and refused to act as jurors in case he did. The remonstrance was drawn with great spirit, and was from the pen of Col. Henshaw, we believe, as a draught of it in bis hand writing is among his papers. lo June, 1775, he was commissioned by the Provincial Congress, Adjutant General of the forces that had been the raised. This was the first appointment to that office, of any one after the authority of the mother country was renounced. He faithfully performed the duties of this office till the arrival of Gen. Gates, at Cambridge, who had been appointed Adjutant General, by the General Congress : and he continued to perform the duties of the office till the end of the campaign, as an assistant to General Gates. On the first of January, 1776, he was commissioned by Congress as a Lieutenant Colonel of the 12th Regiment of Infantry, and was with his regiment during the campaign of 1776, in and near New York. The precise time of his discharge from the army we cannot now state. But after his return, he retired to his farm in Leicester. He often held the highest offices in the gift of his townsmen, and always, we believe, faithfully performed the duties of his station. He died, at the age of 85, in February, 1820. He retained his mental faculties till his death. A few years previous to that time, Gov. Brooks applied to him for information concerning certain questions relating to the Battle of Bunker Hill, and we transcribe his letter in return, in order to show the part he took in the transactions of that day, and to exhibit to what degree he retained the vigor of his mind at the age of 82.
“ DEAR SIR—When Breed's Hill was taken possession of by our troops, I was at home, The best information of the action I had