An American Family History

The Brown Family of Leeds County, Ontario

The Society of Friends (Quakers) began in England in the 1650s, when they broke away from the Puritans. Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, as a safe place for Friends to live and practice their faith.

Benjamin Brown, Sr. was born in 1741 in Groton, New London County, Connecticut.

He married Sarah Case. She was the daughter of Nathan Case and Mary Tory. They were Quakers.

Bejamin and Sarah's children probably included:

Nathan Brown (1769, married Susannah Wilber),
Benjamin Brown, Jr. (1771, married Susannah Charlotte Wickham),
Hannah Brown (1774, married Dyer Fitch),
Oliver Brown (1776, married Sarah Wiltse),
Lucy Brown (1779, married John Wickham),
Ezra Brown (1782),
Jonathan Brown (1785, married Catherine Lamb Lesher and Esther),
Daniel Brown (1787, married Mary Wiltse), and
Case Brown (1791, married Mary Lesher).

Benjamin Brown served as a private for nine days in October, 1776 in the Ninth Regiment of the Albany Militia under Colonel Peter Van Ness.

On July 13, 1799 Benjamin and his brother Nathan sold their land in Chatham and moved to Leeds County, Ontario. They settled near what is now Athens.

Benjamin did not receive a land grant as a United Empire Loyalist.

In 1784 the widow Brown, Nathan Brown and Thomas Brown appeared on the provisioning list for disbanded troops as a member of the Loyal Rangers. They were mustered in Augusta.

Benjamin Sr. and Jr., Jonathan and Nathan were assessed in Yonge Township in 1805.

Two of the Brown sons refused to bear arms for the British during the War of 1812. Daniel was caught by the British, tried for treason and was acquitted. Ezra escaped across the St. Lawrence River to the United States.

Sarah died in 1815 and Benjamin died in 1822.

Alfred, Alva, Andrew, Benjamin, Daniel, David, George, James, John, Johnson, Nathan, Nathaniel, and Nelson Brown appeared on the census lists of Yonge Township, Leeds County Ontario in the 1840s.

New London County, Connecticut was one of four original Connecticut counties and was established on May 10, 1666, by an act of the Connecticut General Court.

Nathaniel Brown was born about 1750.

James Brown (1779, married Rhoda Wiltse).



Benjamin Brown was born about 1771.

He married Susannah Wickham.

Nathan Brown (1798),
Alvah Brow (1798),
Salome Brown (1802, married James Phillips),
Thomas Brown (1803),
John Brown (1805),
Benjamin Brown (1807),
Elizabeth Brown (1809),
James Wickham Brown (1811),
Hannah Brown (1816).

During the War of 1812, Benjamin was in Sherwood's Company.


Oliver Brown was born on March 29, 1776 in Chatam, Colombia County, New York.

He married Sarah Wiltse in 1802 in Leeds County.

Benjamin Brown (1806)
Hiram Brown (1808
Anthony Brown (1810),
Jeptha Brown (1812),
Ezra Brown (1814),
Alfred Brown (1816
Franklin Brown (1819),
Henry Brown (1822).

Oliver died on November 16, 1862 in Albion, Orleans County, New York.


The first European settlements in Ontario were after the American Revolution when 5,000 loyalists left the new United States.

James Brown was born about 1779.

He married Rhoda Wiltse

Jonathan Brown,
Peter Brown,
Sarissa Brown (married Ezekiel Parish),
Phoebe Brown,
James Brown,
Sally Brown,
Eliza Brown,
Thomas Brown,
Mary Ann Brown
and Samuel Brown.

James Brown served in the 1st Leeds Militia during the War of 1812.

The Battle of the Windmill was in November, 1838. Loyalists defeated an invasion attempt by Hunter Patriots, led by  Nils von Schoultz, who were attempting to overthrow British rule. The battle was at a windmill two miles east of Prescott.


In the War of 1812 (1812-1815) the United States declared war on England because of trade restrictions, impressment, and British support for Indian attacks. They signed the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814 after reaching a stalemate.


from A Record of Marriages Solemnized by William Smart

1823 Jan. 21st.—Peter Brown and Thankful Bentley, both of Yonge, banns, wit. Jonathan Brown, Daniel Munro.

1824 Jan. 28th.—Ezekiel Parish and Sarissa Brown, both of Yonge, banns, wit. Joel Parish, Trueinan Brown


Nathan Brown was born in New York about 1769.

He married Susannah Wilbur (Wilber).

Sarah Brown (1794)
Luther Brown (1796, married Rachel Conley),
Hannah Brown (1798)
Obediah Brown (1800, married Hannah Parish)
Nathan Brown (1801)
William Brown (1802, married Rachel Wiltse),
Daniel Brown ( 1804, married Sarah Towsley)
Asa Brown (1806, married Eliza Lee)
Susannah Brown (1808, Joel Parish),
Nancy Brown (1809),
Armenia Brown (1811)
Ellen B. Brown (1812),
Nathan Brown (1812)
Chester Brown (1814)
Anson Brown (1816), and
Elizabeth Brown (1822, married George Johnston).



On February 7, 1813, the American army raided Elizabethtown (present day Brockville, Leeds County, Ontario). The Americans crossed the frozen St. Lawrence River and seized equipment, freed American prisoners, and captured Canadian men.


from A Record of Marriages Solemnized by William Smart

1823 March 12th.—Nathan C. Brown and Huldah Holmes, both of Yonge, banns,
wit. Hiram Boyce, James Phillips.

1824 March 17th.—Nathaniel Brown and Peggy Philips, both of Yonge, banns,
wit. Philip Wickwire, Seth S. Cornell.


Benjamin Brown, Jr.

David W. Brown (1800),
John Brown (1805), and
James Wickham Brown (1811).




Ezra Brown

Rebecca Clarissa Brown (1802),
Achsah S. Brown (1803)
Nelson Brown (1805)
Orrin Brown (1807),
Fannie Brown (1810
Almeda Brown (1813
Nancy Jane Brown (1816)
Elizabeth Betsey Brown (1819)
Sally Brown (1821


James Wickham Brown was born about 1811. His father was Benjamin Brown, Jr.

He married Eleanor Bates.

Byron Brown,
Sarah Brown,
Hiram Brown,
Ladorna Brown,
Adeline Brown,
Maria Brown,
Ome Brown,
James Brown,
Eleanor Brown and
Munsell Brown.




Dutchess County, New York patriots forced colonists loyal to the British government to flee north into what became Ontario.

From Six Generations of Browns by Harriet Brown Paul

Benjamin [Brown] was born in 1741 and married Sarah Case in 1768. She was the daughter of Nathan and Mary (Tory) Case who lived in Stanford, Dutchess County, New York. Her father's will signed May 3, 1800 mentions his daughter Sarah Brown and requests that he be "decently buried according to the order of the Frds." This establishes the family as Quakers.

Seven sons and two daughers were born to Benjamin and Sarah: Nathan, Benjamin Jr., Hannah, Oliver, Lucy, Ezra, Jonathan, Daniel and Case.

This family lived in Chatham, New York.

The National Archives contains a record of Benjamin's Revolutionary War service which follows:

Benjamin Brown, private in the Ninth Regiment of the Albany Militia under Col. Peter Van Ness. Regiment ordered to hunt for and apprehend Tories in Kinderhook and Kings District. Time served -- 9 days in October 1776.

Whether further time was spent in service and not recorded is a possibility, since his niece (daughter of Hannah Holmes) said that he served with the Minute Men at various times.

On July 13, 1799 Benjamin and his brother Nathan and their wives sold land in the Town of Chatham estimated at 20 acres for $750. At this time the family was preparing to move to Canada and all of Benjamin's family as well as his brother Nathan moved to Leeds County, Ontario. They settled near what is now Athens sometime between the date of this sale and 1801. In Canada he became the owner of land in Yonge Township, Leeds County.

Benjamin was 59 years old in 1800 which seems a rather advanced age to make the move to Canada. Probably the desire for better or cheaper land was a motivation. A researcher in Ottawa has found that Benjamin made an application for a grant of land as a United Empire Loyalist. However, since his name was not among those listed as Loyalists he received no grant. A certificate found attached to Petition B, Bundle 5, No. 48 in Ottawa gives interesting information:

I do here by certify that Benjamin Brown, formerly of Kings District in the time of War, but a resident in the this Province more than one year, to be a man that spared no manner of panes to assist myself and all other distressed people that he knew of either by night or day, he gave me all the intelligence he possibly could, kept me in his own house when others dare not do it and when I returned through the country on my way to Canada I found him to be the same well disposed and faithful subject to His Majesty, the King of Great Britain as he was when I left him in the year 1778. At present he and seven sons is settled in the Town of Young and is an excellent farmer.
Dated Feb. 24, 1801.
Signed: Barret Dyre

One ponders the circumstances that might have influenced Benjamin's change in attitude between 1776 and 1778. Might Sarah, his Quaker wife have been instrumental in effecting his changed loyalties? Did the 9 days he served in the Revolutionary War keep him from getting a Loyalist grant of land? His sons, Oliver and Daniel both received such grants since their wives were daughters of Loyalists. Both of these men later returned to the U.S. as did Ezra, Case and Jonathan.

Not many years after Benjamin's arrival in Canada the War of 1812 began to have an effect on his family. Two of his sons refused to bear arms for the British -- Daniel was caught by the British, tried for treason and was acquitted. Ezra escaped across the St. Lawrence. Further details of his activities are given later in this account.

Benjamin's wife Sarah died in 1815; Benjamin died in 1822. It is thought that they were buried in a small cemetery on the eastern edge of Athens across the road from the former location of a Friends Church. The cemetery is now in ruins."


from Portrait and Biographical Album of Ionia and Montcalm Counties, Minnesota

Hiram [Brown] was born in the ancestral home in Ontario, Canada, July 27,1842. He is a prominent farmer and representative citizen of Easton Township, Ionia County, a gentleman of sound information and agreeable disposition.

His parents, James W. and Eleanor Bates Brown, are Canadians of English extraction. He is one of ten children, all still living, namely: Byron, Sarah, Hiram, Ladorna, Adeline, Maria, Omer, James, Eleanor and Munsell. His grandfather, Benjamin Brown, was one of the pioneers of Leeds County, Ontario, Canada.

The subject of this sketch grew to manhood in the early home, and received his education in the public schools of Leeds County. When about twenty-four years old he went to Orleans County,N. Y., and worked out on a farm for about three years. . .

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©Roberta Tuller 2019
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