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Jonas Fay

Birthplace: Lambstown, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Death: March 06, 1818 (81)
Bennington, Bennington, Vermont, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Capt. Stephen Fay and Ruth Fay
Husband of Sarah Fay and Lydia Fay Safford
Father of Ruth Brush; Ethan Allen Fay and Maj H.A. Fay
Brother of John Fay; Stephen Fay; Ruth Fay; Mary Fay; Beulah Fay and 5 others

Occupation: Judge
Managed by: Alice Zoe Marie Knapp
Last Updated:

About Dr Jonas Fay

  • Daughters of American Revolution Ancestor #: A039521
  • Service Source: GOODRICH, ROLLS OF THE SOLS IN THE REV WAR, 1775-1783, P 837; WALTON, RECS OF THE GOV & COUNCIL STATE OF VT, VOL 1, PP 122, 9, 53, 55, 67, 73; VOL 2, PP 1, 40, 114, 163


"Jonas FAY, patriot, was born at Hardwick, MA, 28 January 1737; son of Stephen and Ruth (CHILD) FAY; grandson of John and Elizabeth (WELLINGTON) FAY, and great-grandson of John and Mary (BRIGHAM) FAY, who came from Wales to Boston, arriving on the Speedwell, 27 June 1656. The FAYs were of French origin, having fled to Wales during the Huguenot persecution. Jonas served in 1756 in the French war as clerk in Capt. Samuel Robinson's company of Massachusetts troops at Fort Edward and Lake George. He afterward studied medicine and in 1766 was among the early settlers of Bennington, VT, where he practiced his profession. In 1772 he was appointed a delegate from Bennington and neighboring towns to appear before Gov. William Tryon of New York and urge him to discontinue his violent proceedings against the Vermont settlers. In March 1774, he was clerk of the convention of settlers which drew up resolutions to defend their cause and their leaders by force, Allen, Warner and others having been threatened by the New York assembly with outlawry and death. In 1775 he accompanied Ethan Allen's expedition to Ticonderoga as surgeon. In January, 1776, he was clerk to the convention at Dorset and drew up the petition to congress to be allowed to serve the patriot cause independent of New York. He was secretary of the convention of July, 1777, that framed the constitution of Vermont and during the summer of that year was a member of the council of safety. Between 1777 and 1782 he was four times an agent of the state to the continental congress. He was a member of the governor's council, 1778-85; judge of the supreme court in 1782, and judge of probate, 1782-87. He then returned to the practice of medicine at Bennington, removing to Charlotte in 1800, to Pawlet a few years later and finally returning to Bennington. He was twice married: first, 1 May 1760, to Sarah [FASSETT], daughter of Capt. John FASSETT, and secondly, 20 November 1777, to Mrs. Lydia SAFFORD. He was joint author with Ethan Allen of A Concise Refutation of the Claims of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York to the Territory of Vermont (1780). He died at Bennington, Vt, 6 March 1818." from 20th Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans: Vol IV


"He received a good education and was a man of extraordinary energy and versatility of talent. He was in the sanguinary battle near Lake George, Sept. 8, 1755, when at the age of 19, and in 1756 was clerk in Capt. Samuel Robinson's Company in the French war at Fort Edward. 

"He studied medicine and soon after 1760 commenced practicing the healing art in Hardwick, ranking high as a physician and still higher as a politician and patriot. He practiced several years, also taught school, residing at the place marked 'Mr. Wesson' on the Ruggle's map.

"May 19, 1761, he purchased 4 1/2 acres of land in Hardwick near the 10 acres that were 'reserved for a burial place, a training field, and to set a meeting house on.' In 1761 he was called Ensign on the town records. Sept. 23, 1762, he was one of ten who were licensed as innholders in the town of Hardwick, 'during the time by law appointed for keeping the "Fair" in said town who recognized.' He was assessor 1766 and 1767.

"He removed to Bennington, Vt., in 1768, residing in a house that stood on the Blue Hill, a mile south of the meeting house, and at once became conspicuous as a physician, a leading politician, and occupied a prominent position among the settlers on the 'N.H. Grants' as well in the contests with N.Y. as in that of the mother country and also in the organizatio of the state government. In 1772 when Gov. Tryon of N.Y. invited the people of Bennington to send agents to N.Y. to inform him of the grounds of their complaint, he (and his father) were appointed for that purpose.

"He was clerk to the convention of settlers that met Mar., 1774; resolved to defend by force, Allen, Warner and others, who were threatened with outlawry and death by the N.Y. assembly; and as such clerk, certified their proceedings for publication.

"He was surgeon in a regiment of 'Green Mountain Boys' at the capture of Ticonderoga and the expedition of Allen and was continued in that position by the committee of the Mass. congress who were sent to the lake in July, 1775, and also was appointed by them to muster the troops as they arrived for the defense of that post. He was also surgeon for a time to Col. Warner's regiment.

"In Jan., 1776, he was clerk to the convention at Dorset that petitioned congress to be allowed to serve in the common cause of the country as the inhabitants of the N.H. Grants and not under N.Y., and was also clerk of the convention held in the same place in July following. He was a member of the convention which met at Westminster in Jan., 1777, and declared Vermont to be an independent state and was appointed chairman of a committee to draw up a declaration and petition announcing the fact, and their reasons for it, to congress; of which declaration and petition he was the draughtsman and author.

"He was secretary to the convention that formed the constitution of the state in July, 1777, and was one of the 'Council of Safety' then appointed to administer the affairs of the state until the assembly provided for by the constitution should meet. It was this 'Council of Safety' which assembled in the 'Catamount Tavern' on the day of the battle of Bennington, Aug. 16, 1777. 'Jonas Fay was vice president and one of the most active members. There were gather there, Ira Allen, Thomas Chittenden, Jones Fay, and their staunch comrades. There was one Catamount on the signpost and twelve Catamounts within.'

"He was also a member of the State Council for 7 years from 1778, a judge of the supreme court in 1782, judge of probate from 1782 to 1787 and was one of the three side judges Sept. 11, 1782 for the trial of prisoners in a special term of the superior court held at Westminster, Vt., and Moses Robinson was chief judge.

"Jonas Fay was a member of the continental congress at Philadelphia as the agent of the state, under appointments made in Jan., 1777, Oct., 1779, June, 1781 and Feb., 1782.

"On the occurrence of the birth of twin sons, Jan. 12, 1779, he named one of them, Ethan Allen, and the other Heman Allen after his two friends of those names.

"Dr. Fay was a man of extensive general information, decided in his opinions and bold and determined in maintaining them. His education was such as to enable him to draw with skill and ability the public papers of the day of which many besides the Declaration of Independence before mentioned, he was the reputed author. IN 1780 he, in conjunction with Ethan Allen, prepared and published a pamphlet of 30 pages on the N.H. and N.Y. controversy which was printed at Hartford, Connecticut.

"After the year 1800 he removed to Charlott, for a few years, and afterward to Pawlett, but returned again to Bennington where he died, Mar. 6, 1818 aged 82 years."

from John Fay of Marlborough by Orlin P. Fay





Jonas was married twice. His first marriage was on May 1, 1760, to Sarah Fassett, daughter of Capt. John Fassett. His second marriage, on November 20, 1777, was to Lydia Warner, widow of Chellis Safford.


According to Orlin, he had nine children, five by Sarah. However, there is evidence that he had two sons by the name of Chellis, one born in 1768 and one in 1772. Both are children of Sarah, who thus bore 7 children, while Lydia had three.


Jonas and Chellis seem to have been friends of long standing. The two must have grown up together in Hardwick, as did their wives. They were married within months of each other in Hardwick, Jonas in May and Chellis in February. They both moved to Bennington. They both were physicians. And they both named a child for the other: Jonas Safford; Chellis Fay.


The main source for our knowledge of the birth of Chellis Safford Fay is The Compendium of American Genealogy, 1600s-1800s, Volume VI, p. 372.




Lydia Warner had married Dr. Chellis Safford on February 8, 1760, in Hardwick, where Jonas and Lydia were married November 20, 1777. Both marriages are recorded in the Vital Records of Hardwick (Lydia's last name is given as Worner and as Worker, but her birth is recorded as Warner). Lydia and Chellis had five children, including a son Chellis, born 4/15/1771. Lydia's husband died in 1771; I do not know if before or after the birth of his son. That son lived until 1843; he married, and he named one of his sons "Chellis Fay Safford" (4/30/1803 - 3/18/1894). Chellis Fay Safford married Persis Swift Greely. Chellis Safford Fay married Lydia Wilcox in 1808.


He was surgeon under Ethan Allen at Ticonderoga and Bennington.

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Dr Jonas Fay's Timeline

January 28, 1737
Lambstown, Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
May 2, 1763
Bennington, Bennington, Vermont, United States
January 12, 1779
March 6, 1818
Age 81
Bennington, Bennington, Vermont, United States