Pulled From the Stacks: Tory or Patriot?

Written by: Kiera E. Nolan, DAR Library Reference Librarian
August 19, 2015

The Glorious Cause for Liberty not only divided the colonies from England, but those within the colonies from each other. Often times neighbors were at war with neighbors, and even in some cases, as in this one, sons were divided against their fathers.

Especially early on in 1775 and 1776, before the Declaration of Independence made it clear that the Americans were not seeking reconciliation with Parliament or King George III, the wealthier land owners in some places were reluctant to take sides because they were unsure how it would affect them economically, or because they were loyalists to their King. In the case of the Allis family of Whately, Massachusetts, it is hard to discern if the patriarch of numerous patriots was being economically shrewd, or if he was just a Tory, loyal to King George III. Either way, he held out too long with choosing a side.

In 1775 the Committee of Safety came through Whately, Massachusetts, and went to the wealthier land owners who were suspected Tories. This list included Captain Elisha Allis, who had gained his rank of Captain in the French and Indian War. While quite a few members have gotten their membership in the DAR through Capt. Allis’ children, he himself is not on the patriot rolls.

When the Committee of Safety rolled through his town, he was forced along with some of his other suspected neighbors to sign an oath, “freely and voluntarily,” pledging his support for the then rebels, denouncing General Thomas Gage as Governor of Massachusetts, Parliament, and, of course, King George III. The oath also allowed him to graciously lend men and money to the new rebellion.

I came across this story while doing some quick genealogy research during lunch. I started a half hour looking to see if the father of numerous patriots was a possible patriot himself, and ended the half hour knowing that while his sons served and became Patriots, Capt. Elisha Allis was named a Tory. Amazing what a short catalog search can find you at the DAR Library!

Books/Files Pulled:

  1. Genealogy of William Allis of Hatfield, Massachusetts and Descendants, 1630-1919, by Horatio D. Allis
  2. History of the Town of Whately, Massachusetts 1661-1899, Including a Narrative of Leading Events from the First Planting of Hatfield, by James M. Crafts
  3. History of the Town of Whately, Massachusetts, Including a Narrative of Leading Events from the First Planting of Hatfield 1660-1871, by J.H. Temple
  4. Correspondence “Re: Elisha Allis,” 7 March 1930, by V.H. Keller

All materials were found in the stacks of the DAR Library, in the Family Histories, Massachusetts state section, and in the File Collection, under the call words:

FAMILIES
ALLIS
ALLIS
HORATIO
MA

COUNTIES
FRANKLIN
WHATELY

FC
FAMILIES
ALLIS
ELISHA
MA

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