Barzillai Lew

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Barzillai Lew

Birthplace: Groton, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Death: January 18, 1822 (78)
Dracut, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Lowell, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Primus Lew and Margret Lew
Husband of Dinah Lew
Father of Zadock Lew; Dinah Freeman; Zimri Lew; Lucy Francis Dalton and James Adrastus Lew
Brother of Phebe Lew; Lucey Lew and NN Lew
Half brother of Relief Lew and Mary Lew

Occupation: Cooper, Fifer (also given Drummer), Capt. Ford's co., Col. Ebenezer Bridge's (27th) regt.
Managed by: Kenneth Kwame Welsh, (C)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Barzillai Lew

He was a drummer and fifer from Chelmsford, Massachusetts, who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Barzillai Lew (November 5, 1743 - January 18, 1822) was an African American soldier who served with distinction during the American Revolution.

Barzillai Lew's story began with Primus Lew of Groton, Massachusetts ( a former servant of Captain Jonathan Boyden), and Margret Lew (a former servant of Samuel Scripture). As free-blacks, Primus and Margret Lew married in 1742 and they had two sons and two daughters. Primus served as a musician in the French and Indian War in 1747. In 1752, Primus married again to Rose Canterbury and bought a farm on the west side of Nashua River in the Pepperell section of Groton, Massachusetts and they had two children.

Primus and Margret Lew's oldest son Barzillai (pronounced BAR-zeal-ya) often called "Zeal" or "Zelah," was born a free-black in Groton, Massachusetts November 5, 1743,.[1] Following in his father’s footsteps, Barzillai Lew was a fifer in Captain Thomas Farrington’s Company from Groton, which marched northward for “the total reduction of Canada." From March 10, 1760 to December 1, 1760, he served with the English forces against the French and Indians and was probably present at the capture of Montreal, Canada by the British.[2] Lew was known as "big and strong with an extraordinary talent as a musician."

In the mid-1760s, Lew sold his family farm in the Pepperell section of Groton and moved to Chelmsford, Massachusetts where he worked as a cooper making barrels. About 1766, he bought the freedom of Dinah Bowman (1744–1837), born a slave, who was fair skinned and described as "bleached by the sun," from Major Abraham Blood for 400 pounds (today's value about $28,000) and married her.

See also

Wood, Peter H. Strange New Land: African Americans, 1617-1776.


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Barzillai Lew's Timeline

November 5, 1743
Groton, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
May 7, 1790
Dracut, Massachusetts
January 18, 1822
Age 78
Dracut, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Lowell, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States