Swanbourne’s connections to early American History

Swanbourne’s connections to early American History

Connections may be made from 1763 to 1824 (summarised below), with dates of major historical events included:-

1763 February 10th – The Treaty of Paris ends the 7 Year War, with Britain victorious.  Canada and Florida are ceded by France and Spain to Britain.

1767 General Patrick George Tonyn (1725–1804), the brother of Rev. Charles William Tonyn (1728-1805), Vicar of Swanbourne from 1760 to 1767, was granted several thousand acres of Florida land for his service during the Seven Years War.   In this year Rev. Charles Tonyn leaves his post as Vicar of Swanbourne, moving to become Rector of Radnage (Princes Risborough, Bucks).

1775 General Patrick George Tonyn is appointed the Governor of British East Florida.

1776 American Revolutionary War begins.

1776 Governor Patrick Tonyn makes East Florida a haven for southern Loyalists.  He raised the East Florida Rangers to harass the Revolutionaries in Georgia and South Carolina, and gained Seminole and Creek support.

1777 HMS Hussar, with 12 year old boy sailor Thomas Francis Fremantle on board, was sent to patrol off the North American coast during the American War of Independence.

1779 British Army payroll is moved from New York to Long Island.  HMS Hussar becomes involved in safely delivering army payroll money in golden guineas. During this year, Thomas Francis Fremantle is transferred from the HMS Hussar to the Jupiter and soon after to the Phoenix.

1779 A slave boy (probably from Florida) is baptised by Rev. Charles William Tonyn as Peter Florida. He is a servant boy for the Tonyn family at Radnage Rectory, Bucks.

1780 On November 23rd, HMS Hussar runs aground and sinks at Pot Rock between Long Island and Manhattan, rumoured to be carrying gold, but subsequent salvage efforts prove unsuccessful.

1780 In October, HMS Phoenix sinks in a hurricane off Cuba; Thomas Francis Fremantle survives.

1781 October 19th The Siege of Yorktown leads to British defeat in America, aided by the French Fleet blockade.

1782 In March, Thomas Francis Fremantle (aged 17) is promoted to Lieutenant and to the command of HMS San Antonio, a 12 gun sloop, and he continues his service off America further to the south, between Florida and the Caribbean Islands.

1782 In April, the British defeat the French Fleet at the Battle of Saintes, off Dominica, preventing a French and Spanish invasion of Jamaica.  Attributed to be the first use of ‘breaking the line’ tactics by British naval forces.

1783 On September 3rd, The Treaty of Paris was signed which ended the American Revolutionary War.  As part of the agreement, Florida was to be handed back to the Spanish.

1785 By the end of the year Patrick Tonyn had completed the handover of Florida to the Spanish, and returned to England.

1794 The Bucks Volunteers were a regiment raised on Sir George Nugent’s Buckinghamshire estates (to defend against a possible French invasion) that subsequently fought in Europe and North America.

1812 June 18th President Madison declares war on Britain, and US forces invade Canada, burning down the government buildings in York and destroying settlements on the North shore of Lake Eire.  Pre-occupied with fighting Napoleon in Europe, Britain fights a defensive war relying on Canadian militia for the next two years.

1814 August 24th – Following distinguished service in Europe where they had served under Wellington, the Bucks Volunteers form part of a force of 4500 British Regulars which land and defeat a larger American force at Bladensburg.  President and Mrs Madison narrowly escape as British troops capture Washington, setting fire to public buildings including the Senate and US Treasury.  Entering the White House, they eat a meal prepared for the President, then set fire to the building.

1815 The Treaty of Ghent (in February) ends the war between Britain and the US.

1824 First Lord Cottesloe (son of Thomas Francis Fremantle snr.) marries Louisa Elizabeth Nugent (the daughter of General Sir George Nugent, who originally founded the Bucks Volunteers in 1794) on 24th November 1824. The couple live in the Old House at Swanbourne.

FOOTNOTE: – Salvage efforts in 1840 recovered two cannon from the HMS Hussar which ended up on display in Central Park, NY, but one was found still loaded with gunpowder in 2013.  This was safely disposed of by using a controlled explosion.  If the rumours were correct, there may be up to $4 million dollars of gold still lying with HMS Hussar (the first ship on which Thomas F. Fremantle ever served), the remains of which are now thought to lie beneath landfill in the Bronx.