Brigadier-General Samuel Waldo

Brigadier General Samuel Waldo
Brigadier General Samuel Waldo

Brigadier-General Samuel Waldo was a major player in 18th century Maine/Massachusetts colonial politics.  He was the father of Colonel Samuel Waldo, Jr. and Francis Waldo.  The Waldo family were the original owners of the Waldo-Dole House in Stroudwater, Maine

The following biography of Samuel Waldo was transcribed from Genealogy of the Waldo family : a record of the descendants of Cornelius Waldo, of Ipswich, Mass., from 1647 to 1900 and will be updated as I discover more information.

Samuel, son of Jonathan (Cornelius) and Hannah (Mason) (Waldo); bapt. Dec. 22, 1695, at First Church, Boston;1 died May 23, 1759, at or near the present site of Bangor, Me.2 His birth is given in the Boston records as of Aug. 7, 1696, but this is undoubtedly an error for his sister, Abigail, who was bapt. Aug. 16, 1696.3 Of his education and early life no authentic record has been found. Mr. Joseph Williamson says4 “at the hands of his father and in the Latin School he received some practical instruction which… enabled him to write forcibly, to speak effectively, and to judge discreetly. At the age of eighteen he assisted his father as clerk.”

These statements, however probable, seem to have only the authority of tradition. There can be no doubt that his early life was passed in business, whether with his father or not, and later he formed a partnership with his cousin, Cornelius Waldo [ca], which partnership was in existence Sept. 5, 1734, when they advertised in the Boston News Letter:—

“Best London Market Madera Wine lately Imported hither via St. Kltts: to be sold by the Pipe, Hogshead or Quarter’ Cask by Mess. Samuel and Cornelius Waldo.”

The counting-house and warehouse of this firm was near the “Crown” (a coffee house at the lower end of King Street), and later on Merchants Row, near the Swing Bridge.5 In 1738, however, Samuel was in business by himself and advertised in the Boston Evening Post on Aug. 7 :—

“Lately Imported and to be sold by Mr. Samuel Waldo at his House in Queen Street Choice Irish Duck, fine Florence Wine and a Parcel of Butter.”

He again advertised in the same paper on Oct. 28 :—

“To be sold by Samuel Waldo, Good Florence Wine in Chests, good Irish Butter by the Firkin at Two shillings per Pound, and a likely young Negro Fellow.”

His frequent voyages to England after he became interested in Maine lands, and which he is said to have made no less than fifteen times, must have interfered with a mercantile business, and it is doubtful if he was actively engaged in such affairs during the latter half of his life. Though he became a prominent and influential citizen of Boston, he never held a town office. His name appears frequently in the town records; but his services were confined to his acting on committees, to instruct the representatives in 1732 and 1736; to thank Peter Faneuil for the gift of the hall now known as “Faneuil Hall” in 1742; to thank the Governor for a portrait of His Majesty in 1742; and to visit the schools in 1742, 1743, 1747 and 1748.6 He served as councillor 1742-5 and 1758;7 and either he or his son, probably the latter, was elected representative from Falmouth in 17448 and again from Boston in 1749.9 That it was he and not his son, Samuel, who was elected Councillor in 1758 is proved by the “Diary of Benjamin Lynde,” in which, under date of “1758 May 31,” he says, “Election: I chose a Councillor [receiving] all ye votes but my own, Brigadier Waldo (returned from England) chose and Thos. Hancock Esq.” Mr. Waldo was appointed justice of the peace and quorum, Mch. 5, 1743-4.10

The chief occupation of Waldo’s life was in connection with the “Muscungus Patent,” which was an extensive grant of lands in Maine, given by the Plymouth Council March 2, 1629, to John Beauchamp of London and Thomas Leverett of Boston, England. This grant extended from the seaboard, between the rivers Penobscot and Muscungus, to an unsurveyed line running east and west, “so far north as would, without interfering with the Kennebec Patent or any other, embrace a territory equal to thirty miles square. (About 1,000,000 acres, the north line of the Patent as since settled is in the south line of Hampden, Newburg and Dixmont.)”11 “It included the whole of the present counties of Knox and Waldo, except the territory of a few towns. Subsequent surveys added a portion of Penobscot County. For this immense tract of land no consideration was paid.”12 Beauchamp dying, Leverett succeeded to the whole grant by right of survivorship; and in 1714 the patent descended to John Leverett, President of Harvard College, great-grandson of the original grantee. All earlier settlements had been abandoned on account of the Indian wars; and John Leverett, finding the task of resettlement too great for one man to undertake, divided the land into ten shares and conveyed them to certain persons, thereafter called the “Ten Proprietors,” who subsequently admitted twenty other partners, known as the “Twenty Associates.” Of these latter were Jonathan Waldo, the father of Samuel, and Cornelius Waldo [ca], his cousin and partner. Settlements were begun at what are now Thomaston and Warren, but were interrupted by Indian wars until 1726, when a difficulty arising with one David Dunbar, who, calling himself “Surveyor General of the King’s Woods,” claimed for the British navy all pine trees in Maine having a diameter of two feet or more, it was determined to send an agent to England to obtain relief. Samuel Waldo was selected for this difficult task; and so successful was he in his enterprise and so valuable were his services, that he received for reward one-half of the whole patent, amounting at that time to 600,000 acres. In 1734 he obtained by purchase two-thirds of the remainder, thus becoming the undisputed owner of 500,000 acres, and thereafter the tract was generally known as the “Waldo Patent.”13

Waldo devoted much of the remainder of his life to the development and settlement of this tract. Many of his numerous voyages to England were undertaken with this end in view; and settlers were attracted from the north of Ireland and from Germany, a colony from Brunswick settling in the present town of Waldoboro in 1740. The terms were very liberal; and though many stories not creditable to Waldo have been published of the hardships and sufferings which these early colonists endured, owing, it is said, to the neglect of the proprietor, it is probable that this neglect was not intentional, but was due to the difficulty of providing for the settlers at so great a distance from the bases of supply. It does not seem probable that Waldo, after incurring great expense in obtaining settlers for his lands, would have allowed them to die of want and exposure if any effort of his could have prevented it. Whatever his shortcomings’ in this matter “it is,” says Williamson, “safe to assert that the enterprise and perseverance of Gen. Waldo hastened the development of the Penobscot Valley by at least a generation. He found the Patent a wilderness; he left it containing ten flourishing plantations. A county and two towns perpetuate his name, while one of the loftiest granite hills within sight of his earthly resting place is called from him, Mt. Waldo.”14

Notwithstanding Mr. Waldo’s activity in connection with his Maine affairs he did not neglect other matters which might serve to advance his interests, for that he was a selfish and ambitious man there can be no doubt. He was an active and influential politician, aud perhaps not over particular in the means he took to attain his ends. He was an intimate friend of Sir William Pepperell and of William Shirley, afterwards Governor, apparently a bitter enemy of Governor Jonathan Belcher, and took advantage of his frequent visits to London to undermine the influence of Belcher and to further the appointment of Shirley as his successor, in which he was finally successful. Belcher found no epithets too strong to be applied to Waldo: called him “wretch,” “disconcerted fool,” “dog,” “violent, malicious fellow,” “haughty blockhead,” etc.; asserted that he was seeking the governorship for himself, and finally accused him of the forgery of a letter which he used against the Governor. His favorite nickname for Waldo was “Duke Trinkalo,” by which name he referred to him in most of his letters of the period.15 There is no evidence, other than Belcher’s assertion, that Waldo was seeking the governorship for himself; but it is by no means unlikely that he was desirous to be knighted and thus be of equal rank with his friend Pepperell, and was working to that end.

Besides being a landed proprietor and politician, Waldo was also a soldier; and, in 1739, when the regiment under Col. William Pepperell was divided, he was put in command of the new or eastern regiment, which position he was holding when the expedition against Louisbourg was undertaken in 1745.16 Of this expedition Sir William Pepperell was made commander-in-chief; and Waldo, retaining his colonelcy of the second Massachusetts regiment, was commissioned brigadier-general, Feb. 7, 1745, and made second in command of the Massachusetts forces, but subordinate to Major-General Roger Wolcott of Connecticut as to the whole expedition.17 Pepperell, in his official report to Gov. Shirley of the capture of Louisbourg, says that “Brigadier Waldo and Dwight18 has behaved themselves worthy of their posts.”19 Waldo was thenceforth known as “Brigadier Waldo.”

In the winter of 1746-7, when Massachusetts raised 1500 men for an expedition against Crown Point, the command was given to Waldo, but an epidemic of small-pox caused the attempt to be abandoned and there is no record of further military service by him. Soon after, in 1749, he made a final trip to England, accompanied by his sons, Francis and Ralph. On this visit he was, with Sir William Pepperell, presented at Court and received from King George II praise for his military services.”20

In 1759 Governor Pownall made an expedition to Maine for the purpose of establishing a fort on the Penobscot. Waldo, although 63 years old, accompanied him, though not apparently in an official capacity. On May 22, Pownall, with a detachment of his forces, ascended the river, and on the following day landed on the eastern bank, not far above the present site of Bangor, and there, while engaged in determining on a site for the fort, Waldo fell dead of apoplexy.

“There is a tradition that his death occurred in this wise: After he had landed with Gov. Pownall, he withdrew himself a few paces from the company and, looking round, exclaimed, ‘Here is my bound,’ – meaning the limit of the Waldo Patent – and instantly fell dead. . . This, however, is supposed to be fabulous, since Gov. Pownall makes no mention of it in his journal, and since, also, the Waldo Patent had the Penobscot for its eastern boundary.”21

The expedition returned to Wassaumkeag Point, at the head of the first falls, on the next day, taking Waldo’s remains with it, and there they were buried, on May 25, with military honors. The Boston Evening Post for June 4, 1759, has the following account of the ceremonies:—
“His Excellency had the Corps brought down with him to the Fort Point, where it was interred In a Vault built for the Purpose, on Friday, with all the Honours due to so faithful a Servant of the Public, and so good a Common-Wealth’s man as the Brigadier had ever shown himself to be. Upon landing the Corps, it was received by a Guard, and when the Procession began, the Ship King George, fired Half Minute Guns till it arrived at the Place of Interment:— The Procession was led by an officer’s Guard, next to which the Minister, then the Corps carried by the Bargemen of the King George, and the Pall was supported by the principal Officers; The Governor followed as Chief Mourner, then the Officers of the Troops, and the Master Artificers, employed in building the Fort, two and two: and the whole closed with a Captain’s Guard: before coming to the Ground, the Troops under Arms form’d a Circle. Divine Service was performed, and a sermon suitable to the Occasion preached by the Rev. Mr. Phillips:22 And upon the Interment of the Corps, the Guards fired three Volllies over the Grave.”

“It is generally supposed that the remains of Gen. Waldo continue to repose in their original burial-place… No itemized funeral charges appear in the settlement of Gen. Waldo’s estate, in the Suffolk Registry of Probate. But among the invaluable Knox manuscripts, is the account of Thomas Fluker, one of the administrators, which contains the following charges:

“1759. July 6, Ralph Inman, 15 1-2 dozen gloves at the Funeral £28. 18s. 8
3, Thomas Sanders, his expenses at the Funeral, 1. 8s.
Clark the Porter, carrying gloves, … 8
Aug. 3. William Fairfield, repairing the tomb near Kings
Chapel 6.
1760. July 9. To Capt. Sander’s people the care In removing
the remains of the Brig’ from Penobscot, . 1. 4.
To Mr. Clarke, the Sexton, 1. 10.
“From this it is evident that Gen. Waldo is buried in King’s Chapel Burial Ground, in Boston.” 23

Gen. Waldo died intestate and, July 11, 1759, his sons, Samuel and Francis Waldo of Falmouth, and his sons-in-law, Isaac Winslow of Boxbury and Thomas Flacker of Boston, were appointed administrators on his estate, which was very large. The inventory shows that it consisted of :—
Real Estate In Boston £4709:17 : 4
do in Massachusetts outside of Boston 7114:18:4
do In Connecticut, 2672: 18 :4
do in Maine . 41387:10:
Total real estate, £55884:19:0
Personal Estate . . 15135:15:6
Grand total, … . £71020:14:6
Debts due from the estate, 11871:16:0
Total net estate £59148:18:624

His lands in Massachusetts, outside of Boston, were mostly in Worcester County, his deeds of purchase there dating from 1731 to 1742, but mostly in the years 1733, ’34, and ’35. His heirs sold, between 1760 and 1773, 735 acres in Worcester, 2535 acres in Rutland, 1442 acres in Princeton, 647 acres in Holden, 568 acres in Oakham, and 1203 acres in Hubbardston; a total of 7130 acres in Worcester County. Previous to his death he had, himself, sold much other land in the towns of Worcester, Lancaster and Rutland. His lands in Connecticut were in the towns of Woodstock, Mansfield and Canterbury. Through his wife, he had inherited a large estate in Ipswich and other towns in Essex County; but these lands were mostly sold before his death. His lands included in the Muscungus Patent were valued in the inventory at one shilling per acre. During the Revolution, all his unsold estate, which included nearly the whole of the Muscungus Patent, was confiscated, owing to the fact that all of the heirs, save his granddaughter, Mrs. Lucy (Flucker) Knox, were royalists and absentees. Gen. Knox afterwards succeeded in recovering a part of the estate for his wife.

Mr. Waldo lived in both Boston and Falmouth, now Portland, having a residence in both of those towns. His house in Boston, which he inherited from his father, was situated in Cornhill Street.

In person, Gen. Waldo was, says Mr. Williamson,25 “a man of commanding presence, tall, stout, and of dark complexion.” Through the courtesy of the authorities of Bowdoin College we are able to publish a copy of his portrait, by an unknown artist —by some thought to be Smibert— which adorns the walls of the Walker Art Gallery. By it one can obtain an excellent idea of the personal appearance of the man, but of his character it is more difficult to form an opinion.

Williamson says:— “He was a man of excellent understanding and great activity. His knowledge of men and books was much improved by travelling; and his undeviating integrity, his military turn of mind and independent manners, rendered him a highly respected commander.”26 And, again, in speaking of the choice of Pepperell and Waldo for the command at Louisbourg, he says:— “They were chosen for their popular manners, energetic character and great moral worth, rather than any skill in military affairs.”27 Gov. Pownall says he “was an accomplished gentleman, active and enterprising; had enjoyed the advantage of foreign travel, having crossed the ocean fifteen times, and was an elegant military officer, tall and portly.”28

In the Jennison Papers, in possession of the American Antiquarian Society, he is said to have been “a man who left his mark wherever he went and accomplished more than any individual projector of his times, who relied solely on private resources and personal influences
and exertion… Waldo may be designated a Colonial Nobleman.” His intimacy with Sir William Pepperell, the high social position to which he attained, and his influence with the government both at home and abroad, all indicate a high character. Yet he quarrelled bitterly with his family over the division of his father’s estate, and conducted himself in so unseemly a manner that his brothers-in-law and co-executors, Edward Tyng and Thomas Fayerweather, men of the highest character, in a letter still in existence in the collection of Charles P. Greenough, Esq., of Boston, characterized him in scathing terms as base, untruthful and blasphemous, and as especially unmanly and unkind to his only brother, closing with these words:— “but what shall we say when a man is so infatuated to the World that all Natural Affection is laid aside & his whole bent & study is how to gain the World tho on the most dishonourable Terms.”

His treatment of Col. Thomas Westbrook, with whom he was associated in some of his enterprises in Maine, was, if Rev. Thomas Smith and others are correct, far from creditable. “Mr. Waldo came to town,” says Smith, in his diary, under date of June, 1743, “with an execution against Col. Westbrook for ten thousand five hundred pounds and charges.” To this Judge Freeman, the compiler of “Smith’s Journal,” whose father administered on Westbrook’s estate, says, in a footnote:—”He” (Westbrook) “died of a broken heart caused by Waldo’s acts who led him into large land speculations and then struck upon him in an unfortunate time ;” and Hon. William Goold adds:— “Waldo’s execution swept off all Col. Westbrook’s large property, including his splendid seat, which, with all his other lands, were set off to Waldo, and were held by his sons for many years after.”29

It would perhaps be unjust to accept Governor Belcher’s accusations too seriously, as they were made during the heat of a violent political quarrel; but, in connection with other testimony, they must have a certain weight, and we are inclined to the belief that Gen. Waldo’s talents, great and brilliant as they undoubtedly were, were marred by an overpowering ambition and avarice which, at times, made him unscrupulous in the means he employed to gain his ends.

The intentions of marriage of “Mr. Sam’l Waldo of Boston and Mrs. Lucy Wainwright of Ipswich” were published at Boston, June 20, 1722.30 No record of their marriage, which probably occurred at Ipswich, has been found. She was daughter of Major Francis and Sarah (Whipple) Wainwright of Ipswich; born Apr. 30, 1704, at Ipswich;31 died Aug. 7, 1741, at Boston.32 The following obituary appeared in the Boston Evening Gazette for Aug. 10, 1741 :—

“On Friday Died of a Cancer in her Breast Mrs. Lacy Waldo late wife of Mr. Samuel Waldo of this Place, Merchant, now in Europe: the beauties of whose Person when in her Prime of Life, tho’ such as were surpassed by none of her sex were excelled by those of her Mind: where Religion and Vertue were most happily tempered by the uncommon Sweetness of her natural Disposition for the Exercise of all the Duties of humane Life. The Accomplishments render’d her, in her Maiden State, the Delight of young and old of both sexes, and in her marriage State, a most amiable Wife, a discreet and affectionate Mother, a good Mistress, an agreeable Companion and a valuable friend. She had during several of her Last Weeks, an hard Conflict with her Distemper, amidst the Pains of which she possessed herself with an unwearied patience and Christian Resignation and preserved all the sweetness of Temper and Manners, which was peculiar to her In the full Enjoyment of her Health; nor could her Sickness efface the agreeableness of her Person, till death drew the Vail over it, before which all Beauty must fade, that is not immortal, and set her Spirit free from her perishing earthy Tabernacle, to enjoy that unbodied State of Being, where we are assured, the Righteous rest from their Labors till its frail Partner shall at length put on incorruptible Beauty, and be Inseparably reunited to it in Life eternal. Her Funeral will be attended this afternoon.”

A funeral sermon, on the occasion of her death, preached by Rev. Charles Chauncey, at the First Church in Boston, was afterwards printed, under the title, “Joy, the duty of Survivors, on the Death of Pious Friends and Relatives.”


1. Records of First Church, Boston.
2. Boston Evening Post, June 4 1759.
3. Records of First Church, Boston.
4. “Maine Hist. Society’s Collections,” vol. X., p.75.
5. “Memorial History of Boston,” vol. ii., p. 20.
6. Report of Record Commissioners, vols. Xii, pp. 32, 34, 138, 145-7, 306, 309; xiv., pp. 9, 161; xv., 347-8; xvii., p. 165.
7. Massachusetts Civil List.
8. Boston Evening Gazette, May 29,1744.
9. “Memorial History of Boston,” vol. ii., p. 534.
10. Massachusetts Civil List.
11. “Williamson’s History of Maine,” p. 240.
12. “Maine Hist. Society’s Collections,” vol. X., pp. 75 et seq.
13. “Mass. Hist. Society’s Collections,” 4th ser., vol ii., pp. 227-8, states that by a final division, after Waldo’s death, in 1773, the Twenty Associates held 100,000 acres, the Ten Proprieters 90,100 and the Waldo heirs about 400,000 acres. For action ot the Royal Council on Samuel Waldo’s petition concerning Dunbar’s interferences with the Muscungus Patent, see Mass. Hist. Society’s Collections, 4th ser, vol. ix., p. 196. For a copy of the Muscungus Patent, see Mass. Hist. Society’s Proceedings, vol. i, p. 13. For Waldo’s defence of Leverett’s title to the Muscungus lands, see Ibid vol. ii., p. 543.
14. “Maine Hist. Society’s Collections,” vol. x., p. 75 et seq.
15. Jonathan Batcher’s letters in “Mass. Hist. Society’s Collections,” 6th ser., vol. Viil.
16. Williamson’s “History of Maine,” vol. ii., pp. 201, 225.
17. “N. E. Hist. & Gen. Register.,” vol. xxiv., p. 386.
18. Joseph Dwight of Brookfield, also brigadier-general
19. “Mass. Hist. Society’s Collections,” 1st ser., vol. i, p. 52.
20. “Maine Hist. Society’s Collections,” vol. x., p. 75 et seq.
21. “N. E. Hist. & Gen. Register,” vol. Xiv., p. 6.
22. Probably John Phillips, son of Rev. George.
23. “N. E. Hist. & Gen. Register,” vol. xxxvi., p. 369.
24. Suffolk Probate Records, No. 12076.
25. “Maine Hist. Society’s Collections,” vol. X., p. 75, et seq.
26. “History of Maine,” vol. Ii., p.235.
27. “Maine Hist. Society’s Collections,” vol. X., p. 75 et seq.
28. “N. E. Hist. & Gen. Register,” vol. Xiv., p. 7.
29. “N. E. Hist. & Gen. Register,” vol. xxix., p. 163.
30. Boston Records.
31. Ipswich Records.
32. Boston Records.

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