The Battle of Bunker Hill Seen As A Family Affair, And Other Odd Observations

My cousin, Elisha Lee, raised an interesting point last fall. He said (I’m paraphrasing) that if you could go back in time and visit certain key events as they happened, such as the Battle of Bunker Hill, you could more or less pick out numerous ancestors fighting, if not side by side, then at least on the same field. At that particular moment, they had nothing to do with each other, no outstanding connections other than their shared service, but within a century or so, they would, many of them, be united by the bonds of family. The same could be said of the ill-fated Quebec expedition, which saw its members imprisoned by the British.

With this thought experiment in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of events where we either know or are pretty sure that certain ancestors would have likely crossed paths with one another.

I’ve also included a couple other quirky lists, which might just double as Jeopardy topics. These include:  “Tutored by John Adams,” and “Father/ Son Military Service in the Same War.”

Where else were they going to go?


Passage on the Mayflower & Life in the Early Massachusetts Bay Colony

  • William Bradford
  • John Alden and Priscilla Mullens Alden
  • William Mullens and Alice Mullens
  • Edward Doty
  • Isaac Allerton and Mary Norris Allerton
  • John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley Howland
  • John Tilley and Joan Hurst Rogers Tilley


The Battle of Lexington and Concord

  • Timothy Bigelow, Sr.
  • Samuel Farrar, Sr. (aged 66 at  the time!)
  • Samuel Farrar, Jr.
  • (Note: Samuel Lawrence and the Groton company marched at the alarm, but didn’t arrive in time.)


The Battle of Bunker Hill

  • Willam Prescott
  • John Linzee
  • Samuel Lawrence
  • Samuel Farrar, Jr.
  • Jonathan French, Sr.
  • Elishama Brandegee


Quebec Expedition and Life as a POW

  • Timothy Bigelow
  • Elishama Brandegee


The Surrender of Burgoyne

  • William Prescott
  • Samuel Farrar, Jr.


Tutored by John Adams

  • Timothy Bigelow
  • William Paine


Father/ Son Military Service in the Same War

  • Timothy Bigelow, Sr. & Timothy Bigelow, Jr.
  • Samuel Farrar, Sr. & Samuel Farrar, Jr.


If you can think of others, drop me a line!

The Timothy Paine House in Worcester, MA

You can visit the house owned by William Paine, and his father Timothy (after whom it is named). It is maintained by the Daughters of the American Revolution, and is open to the public…




Facebook Page:

or contact them at…

The Timothy Paine House Museum

140 Lincoln Street

Worcester, MA 01605

Tel: 508-797-3530

Google Maps:



Holy Cross has a nice write-up on the house and its history:


Colonial Society and its Legacy: William Paine’s House

“The Oaks”, one of the oldest surviving homes in Worcester is rich in both history, art, and culture. The building was begun in 1774 by Judge Timothy Paine (1730-1793), a member of the Colonial political elite. Judge Paine’s leanings were decidedly Tory as were those of his son William Paine (1750-1833) both Harvard graduates. With the advance of the American Revolution, Judge Paine deferred completing the residence, resigning his public roles to lead a quiet life in Worcester in his old house on Lincoln Street . It has long been suggested that Colonial troops occupied the house at some time in its unfinished state. William Paine who trained as a physician in Salem had married the social prominent Lois Orne of Salem in 1773, among whose wedding gifts was a lavish tea service by Paul Revere, the silversmith’s largest single commission. William left the country in 1774 after signing the infamous “Worcester Protest” (along with fifty other Worcester residents) arguing for the justice of British rule and continued his medical career in England and Scotland . He eventually served as surgeon general to the British army in North America . After the revolution he and Lois removed to Nova Scotia , moving back to Salem in 1787 when the ban against loyalists was lifted. They eventually returned to Worcester to settle into The Oaks after the Judge died in 1793.

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A Portrait of Lois Orne As a Girl

There is a lovely portrait of Lois Orne, as a girl, by the painter, Joseph Badger. It currently hangs in the Worcester Art Museum. Lois would go on, at the age of seventeen, to marry William Paine.



Lois Orne, age 21 months, by Joseph Badger


Joseph Badger
Born Charlestown, Mass., March 14, 1707/8.
Died Boston, May 11, 1765.

Lois Orne (Mrs. William Paine), 17571
Oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 20 11/16 in. (65.1 x 52.5 cm)
Eliza S. Paine Fund in memory of William R. and Frances T. C. Paine, 1971.102

Provenance, References, and Exhibition History, here.

I am excerpting below the accompanying scholarly essay, provided by the museum. No author or attribution is mentioned, but if I find one, I will add it. It includes a truly helpful biography of Lois, and useful context regarding her husband’s life and career.


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William Paine, MD: Surgeon-General of the King’s Forces in America

For younger readers, or those just coming to this material for the first time, it might be worth mentioning that not all the colonists, by a long shot, were in favor of independence from Great Britain. Those who refused to swear allegiance to the newly self-declared country, and who wished to remain subjects of George III, were broadly termed Loyalists, or, as they were known in the thirteen former colonies,  Tories.

One such person – in our family –  was Dr. William Paine. Like another of our ancestors, Col. Timothy Bigelow, William Paine was both a natural-born citizen of Worcester, Massachusetts, and a former pupil of John Adams, the patriot and future U.S. president.

As a young adult, Paine travelled to Scotland to study medicine, became a physician, actually met George III, and in the course of the war, after following his conscience and enlisting in the British military, rose up to eventually become “Surgeon-General of the King’s Forces in America.”



William Paine, M.D.

(I actually had to pause to let that sink in when I first read it. Surgeon-General of the King’s Forces in America. I almost want to laugh, not out of disrespect, but out of amazement.)

At any rate, after the war, Paine was granted land in Canada, and lived there for a time, before returning to his homeland, where he was in due course naturalized – or, renaturalized? – as a U.S. citizen.

Before I leave off, a brief word of thanks to my cousin, Elisha F. Lee, who suggested this man might be worth mentioning, and who kindly put me on to the two biographical sketches you will find below.

I’ve also included, as a bulleted list, some other sources from around the web. They’re well worth exploring, and perhaps at some point, I’ll reproduce them – with permission – here.

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