Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

John Tolson Lindsay
MSA SC 3520-17455

Biography:

John Tolson Lindsay was born on March 15, 1758 in Saint John's Parish in Prince George’s County, Maryland to Samuel and Sarah Lindsay. [1]

Lindsay originally enlisted into the First Maryland Regiment on February 7, 1776 a month before his eighteenth birthday. At the time of the Battle of Brooklyn (otherwise known as the Battle of Long Island), Lindsay was a private in Captain Patrick Sim’s second company. Although the battle was a defeat for the Americans, the valiant defense by Lindsay and the other soldiers of the “Maryland 400” held off the British long enough to allow much of the trapped American army to escape. Lindsay was one of the lucky soldiers who survived that day, his company losing fewer than ten men. [2]

Lindsay did not reenlist into the First Maryland Regiment on December 10, 1776 like many of his fellow soldiers. It is possible that he returned to Maryland prior to this date, as he instead enlisted into the Fourth Maryland Regiment on December 23, 1776. He would see action at the Battle of Brandywine, the Battle of Germantown, and the Battle of Monmouth. He continued serving in the Fourth Maryland Regiment until August 16, 1780, where he was captured during the Battle of Camden. The battle was chaotic; after the militia units, Virginians, and North Carolinians gave way to the British, the remaining units from Maryland and Delaware attempted to advance but were thwarted. No Continental unit was able to keep its identity during the mayhem that ensued. During this battle, 250 Americans were killed, 800 were wounded, and an undetermined number were captured. [3]

Prior to the Battle of Camden, British control over the soldiers they held at Charleston was weak, allowing hundreds were able to escape capture. The British imprisoned the remaining prisoners, as well as those captured at the Battle of Camden, aboard sixteen prison ships in the harbor. The soldiers upon these ships faced disease, starvation, violence and neglect which led to many of them dying while being held. Lindsay was held in Charleston, like many prisoners from the Battle of Camden, upon one of these ships until he was exchanged in early 1782. [4]

During his service in 1779, Lindsay married Catherine Lindsay, his first cousin, and they had their first child, Rachel (b. 1780). He returned to them after he was exchanged, and he and Rachel had at least six more children; Anthony (b. 1782), Sarah (b. 1784), Elizabeth (b. 1786), Samuel (b. 1787), John (b. 1791), and Robert (b. 1792). Although he did not own land, Lindsay owned six slaves, four of whom were of working age between twelve and fifty. [5]

Lindsay lived in Prince George's County until his death, but his death date is unknown. [6]

-Taylor Blades, 2017

Notes:

[1] Transcript of St. John's Protestant Episcopal, Piscataway Parish Register 1689-1801, p. 320 [MSA SC 2227].

[2] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 7.

[3] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 135;  John Dwight Kilbourn, A Short History of the Maryland Line in the Continental Army (Baltimore, MD: The Society of the Cincinnati of Maryland 1992) 35-38.

[4] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 617; Carl Borick, "A peek at “Relieve Us of This Burthen: American Prisoners of War in the Revolutionary South, 1780-1782'”, The Charleston Museum. https://www.charlestonmuseum.org/news-events/peek-at-relieve-us-of-this-burthen/.

[5] Some Daughters of the American Revolution lineage books have one Rachel Dorsey as John T. Lindsay’s wife, but that was Catherine’s mother;  John Tolson Lindsay Memorial, Find A Grave Memorial #69762224. From Findagrave.com; Piscataway Parish Register 1689-1801, p. 399; Particular List of Slaves, Federal Direct Tax of 1798, Prince George's County, Piscattaway and Hynson Hundreds [MSA SM 56, M 3473-22].

[6] While the Daughters of the American Revolution lineage book has Lindsay dying in 1840, Findagrave.com states that the St. John's, now King George's, Parish register has Lindsay dying in May of 1814. As he had a son by the same name who stayed in Prince George’s County and John T. Lindsay had no will, it is impossible to see where the assessment or census records of the father end and the son begin.

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