Col. Guy Johnson

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Guy Johnson

Birthplace: Warrenstown, Co. Meath, Ireland
Death: March 05, 1788 (43-52)
Immediate Family:

Son of John Johnson and Catherine Johnson
Husband of Mary Polly Johnson
Father of Mary Campbell

Occupation: Judge/colonel in the Tryon County militia/Superintendent of Indian Affairs
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Col. Guy Johnson

Guy Johnson (c.1740 – 5 March 1788) was an Irish-born military officer and diplomat for the Crown during the American Revolutionary War. He was the son of either John or Warren Johnson of Smithstown, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, the two younger brothers of Sir William Johnson.

In 1756, he sailed from Ireland and joined his uncle William in the Mohawk Valley of the Province of New York. In 1763, Guy Johnson married William's daughter Mary (Polly), and his uncle (now also father-in-law) gave them a square mile of land on the Mohawk River. In 1773, their first home there was destroyed by a lightning strike, but was then replaced by a large limestone house, which they called Guy Park. The house still stands in what is now Amsterdam, New York.

Guy Johnson became a deputy to Sir William in his uncle's position as British Superintendent of Indian Affairs and succeeded him when William died in 1774 on the eve of the war. Guy was also a county judge, a colonel in the Tryon County militia and a member of the Province of New York Assembly.

When the American revolutionary Committee of Safety sought power in 1775, Johnson remained loyal to the Crown and worked to control the Tryon County courts, assisted by fellow loyalists Sir John Johnson (Sir William's son) and Colonel Daniel Claus (another son-in-law of Sir William). These three also commanded three regiments of the Tryon County militia. However, American Patriots soon drove these men out of power. Johnson received a letter from General Gage ordering him to take as many Indians as he could to Canada to join forces with General Carleton for a joint attack on New England. Johnson fled with about 120 other loyalist and 90 Indians to British-controlled Canada in May, 1775. Johnson worked to secure the allegiance of the Iroquois at a council at Oswego, New York in July. They arrived in Montreal on July 17. Johnson's wife died during this trip.

In September, 1775, John Campbell arrived in Quebec with the title of Superintendent of the Canadian Indians. Guy Carleton told Johnson that he had no authority over any Indians in Canada and that the Indians were not to fight outside the Province of Quebec. Johnson decided to travel to England in November, 1775 with Joseph Brant to appeal his case with the British Lords. The Lords made Johnson the permanent Superintendent for Indian Affairs in the northern colonies, but with no authority in Canada. They returned back to New York City in July, 1776 after the city had been retaken by the British. He was ordered to stay in New York since he had no position in Canada. Guy finally was able to persuade his superiors to let him do his "duty' and he returned to Canada in 1779. Those years were eventful ones on the New York frontier, and included the Wyoming Valley Massacre and Cherry Valley Massacre, which were carried out by his subordinates.

Back at Fort Niagara in 1779, Johnson helped to provide for the Iroquois refugees from the Sullivan Expedition, and then helped to co-ordinate counter-raids. In 1781, General MacLean reported Johnson's accounts were "Extravagant, wonderful & fictitious, and the quality of articles so extraordinary, new & uncommon". Johnson was suspended as superintendent and summed to Montreal where Frederick Haldimand called Johnson's conduct "reprehensible". Although never convicted, Guy remained in disgrace and in limbo. He went to London to defend his accounts and died there in 1788.

Sir John Johnson took over Fort Niagara as superintendent in Guy's absence and officially received the position in March, 1782.


[From N. Y Col. MSS.]

Guy Park Augt 2d. 1774


Since I had the honor of Writing to you last, I have received his Excellency Genl Gages Orders Appointing me to the Superintendency of Indian affairs till his Majesty's pleasure is known, concerning which he has Likewise wrote to the Secretary of State as Sir Wm. Johnson had done agreable to desire of the Indians sometime before his death;-

Having been much indisposed for some days past it was not sooner in my power to write to you on a matter complained of by the Indians at the late Congress respecting the conduct of their old Antagonist Geo: Klock; It would take up too much of your time to enter at present into the relation of his repeated Offences, these were highly aggravated by the circumstance of his seducing one of their People to accompany him last Winter to England and Exhibiting him as a Show, but Lord Dartmouth having sent in quest of Klock, he returned hastily to America, & defrauded the Indian of his Money on the Passage, of this the Indian complained & went (with some others) to his House where they took part of that Cash away, and insisted on his signing a Release for part of the Lands of their Village included in the Patent to Van Horne and Livingston which all the other Proprietors had long since done,-He at length promised to comply & appointed a time, but when their Chiefs attended for that purpose with a Justice of the Peace, they were refused admittance, & Shortly after he went to Albany from whence he transmitted an Affidavit of his Danger with a View to have the Conajoharee Indians Indicted by the Grand jury, 'tho' Sir Wm. Johnson had given them a strict Caution against offering him any Insult, promising that the Affair should be laid before Government as it had been before, tho without effect, he having refused to Execute the Release, Klock has since returned to his House where he keeps close, so that the Indians have nothing to expect from his Justice, & thro' repeated disappointments are in doubt of relief from. Government, this has induced some of their People to throw out threats, which I have hitherto prevented them from putting into execution, but the Neighbours are much alarmed & have lately proposed to Petition your Honor, requesting that he may be compelled to satisfy the Indians, or that some step be taken for freeing the Neighborhood from the apprehensions occasioned by his quarrel.-- The Copy of the Speech made by the Conajoharees which I now enclose, will explain their sentiments, but I am concerned least some accident should happen as I can't see bow they can be relieved, & he now gives out that he has Mortgaged, or sold the Lands in dispute. I could however wish I was enabled to promise them some relief, whilst I ant endeavoring to prevent mischief, as their public complaint to the rest has made it a matter of serious concern

I had the pleasure to conclude the Treaty (which was interrupted by the death of your Worthy friend Sir William Johnson) in a satisfactory manner, and Deputies are sent from each of the Nations to accomodate the Breach to the Southward, but those Tribes who took up Arms there, are using all their influence to form a strong Association there, which it shall be my utmost endeavors to prevent by seperating their Interests.

I shall be glad to be honored with a Line on the subject of this Letter, and I beg Leave to assure you of the perfect Esteem with which I am


Your most Obedient and most Humble Servt


Sir Jn° Johnson offers

his best respects. The Honble

Lt Governor Colden.

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Col. Guy Johnson's Timeline

Warrenstown, Co. Meath, Ireland
March 5, 1788
Age 48