Maj. Gen. William Brattle, Jr.,

Is your surname Brattle?

Research the Brattle family

Maj. Gen. William Brattle, Jr.,'s Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Maj. Gen. William Brattle, Jr.,

Birthdate: (70)
Birthplace: Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
Death: October 1776 (70)
Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada
Place of Burial: Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada
Immediate Family:

Son of Rev. William Brattle and Elizabeth Brattle
Husband of Katherine Brattle and Martha Brattle
Father of William Brattle; Katherine Wendell; Mary Brattle; Elizabeth Brattle; Sarah Brattle and 4 others
Brother of Thomas Brattle

Occupation: military officer, parson, physician, lawyer
Managed by: Erin Spiceland
Last Updated:

About Maj. Gen. William Brattle, Jr.,

William Brattle

  • Born: 18 Apr 1706, Cambridge MA
  • Christened: 21 Apr 1706, Cambridge MA
  • son of William Brattle (d 1717) and Elizabeth Hayman (d 1715)
  • Married: Katherine Saltonstall, Martha Fitch Allen
  • Died: Oct 1776, Halifax Nova Scotia Canada

After the 1774 incident known as the Powder Alarm, an angry mob surrounded the Brattle mansion and forced the family to flee to Boston. At age 70, Brattle left Boston for Halifax, Nova Scotia on Evacuation Day, March 17, 1776, and died a few months later on October 26, 1776. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Old Burying Ground (Halifax, Nova Scotia).



  • (1) on Nov 23 1727 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts to Katherine Saltonstall, daughter of Gov Gurdon Saltonstall & Elizabeth Rosewell. She was born 19 Jun 1704, New London CT and died 28 Apr 1752, Cambridge MA.
  • (2) on 1755 to Martha Fitch, widow of James Fitch. He survived her death in 1763.

Children of William Brattle and Katherine Saltonstall, born at Cambridge:

  • William bp Jan 4 1729
  • Katherine b June 2 1730, bp June 7 1730. Married John Mico Wendell.
  • Mary bp Mar 8 1733
  • Elizabeth bp June 16 1734 died May 8 1743
  • Sarah bp June 6 1736
  • William (again) bp Oct 8 1738
  • Lucy bp Mar 30 1740
  • Thomas bp July 14 1742. Never married.
  • Elizabeth (again) bp May 8,1743, died 10 July 1754.

"Of his nine children, only two lived to maturity, Katherine in whom the line but not the name was perpetuated, and Thomas."

"When he was quarreling with George Whitfield, his wife and daughter lay sick of throat distemper (19), probably in this instance diphtheria which he had brought into his home from the bedside of some patient. Five small daughters and a son were carried from the mansion to the burial ground. Katherine Saltonstall Brattle survived these blows only to succumb to the smallpox on April 28, 1752. The Major was married again on November 2, 1755, this time to Martha Fitch Allen, widow of James Allen (A.B. 1717). She died on August 26, 1763."

Source: Sibley's Harvard Graduates, Class of 1722


source: My Heritage Family site: LaHue Dissertation Web Site

William Brattle, Jr. Equiv Aha Loy 1706 - 1776

  • 1706 Birth in Boston, Suffolk, MA
  • Equivalent Lands: William Brattle, Jr., Lt-Gov. William Dummer, John White, and Anthony Stoddard bought the 44,000 acre Equivalent Lands from CT, which in 1737 would conflict with NARR-#5
  • Apr 1716 Boston, Suffolk, MA
  • 1722 Harvard College, Cambridge, Middlesex, MA
  • 1727 Marriage to: Katherine Saltonstall
  • 1729 AHA: Boston, Suffolk, MA
  • Between 1729 and 1772 Boston, Suffolk, MA Public Office: Selectman for 21 years
  • Between 1729 and 1739 Public Office: GC Rep Boston, Suffolk, MA
  • 1733 AHA: Captain Boston, Suffolk, MA
  • 1736, 1747: Boston, Suffolk, MA Public Office: Attorney General
  • 1755 Marriage to: Martha Fitch Allen
  • Between 1755 and 1773 Boston, Suffolk, MA Public Office: Councilor; except 1769 when he was negatived by the Governor
  • 1758 Military Service: Adjutant General
  • 1762 7YR WAR Military Service: Brigadier General
  • 1771 7YR WAR Military Service: Mjr-Gen of MA militia
  • 1774 Politics: NOT named as a Mandamus Councilor
  • Dec 1774 Property: Cambridge, Middlesex, MA
  • Residence: Cambridge, Middlesex, MA, Boston, Suffolk, MA
  • Politics: COUNTRY until negatived in 1769; then loyal to Governor
  • Mar 1776 Nova Scotia Politics: Loyalist; at end of Siege, evacuated with British to Nova Scotia
  • Occupation: "minister, doctor, lawyer"
  • Death: 1776 Nova Scotia

Biographical notes

From "The Loyalists of Massachusetts and the Other Side of the American Revolution" By James Henry Star page 294-295

William Brattle, son of the former, was baptized by his father in 1706. He graduated from Harvard College in 1722, and was a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. He was a theologian, and as a physician he was widely known, and no higher tribute to his eminence as a barrister need be sought than in the years 1736-7, when, only thirty years of age, he was elected by the House and Council to the office of Attorney General.

He possessed strong peculiarities, and Sabine says of him that "A man of most eminent talents and of greater eccentricities has seldom lived." He inherited a large and well invested property, and had ample means to cultivate those tastes to which, by his nature and education, he was inclined. He was for many years Major General of the Province, and afterwards Brigadier General. His large and beautifully situated house, which now exists in Cambridge, though greatly transformed, known as the "Old Brattle House" was the resort of the fashion and style of this section of the country. At the age of twenty-one he married Katherine, the daughter of Governor Gurdon Saltonstall. She died at Cambridge in 1752, and he married again in 1755, Mrs. Martha, widow of James Allen, and daughter of Thomas Fitch. General Brattle seems to have inherited from his father the same love for and interest in the welfare of his Alma Mater, which so characterized the beloved minister of the church in Cambridge. He was long one of her overseers, and in 1762 was appointed by the Council one of a committee for the erection of Hollis Hall, a task which was satisfactorily completed.

When the Revolution broke out in 1775, he was holding a very honorable office under the crown. Harris says he was "on terms of friendship with many of the regular army officers quartered in Boston and vicinity. His cultivated and refined tastes tending always to draw him to court, rather than plebeian society, were, no doubt, inducements for him to remain loyal. Certain it was, while studiously endeavoring to preserve friendly and peaceful relations with his townsmen and neighbors, he was openly opposed to their principles. He was an Addresser of Gen. Gage and approved of his plans, but at last public excitement reached such a height that he deemed it wise to withdraw from Cambridge, and leaving his house and property in the hands of his only daughter, Madame Wendell, at that time a widow, he quietly joined the Royal army in Boston, and at the evacuation in 1776, sailed with the forces to Halifax, where he died in October of the same year. It is said that his gravestone is still to be seen in the churchyard in that city." There is a portrait of William Brattle in the possession of his descendants, which was painted by Copley, being one of the first productions of that eminent artist. Of his nine children, only two lived to maturity, Katherine in whom the line but not the name was perpetuated, and Thomas.

From "Notes On Some Tory Row Land Titles" Cambridge Historical Society.Submitted by Ken2 on Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:33pm

The Brattle Estate

The Brattle estate, numbered 1 on Plan B, was in part inherited by William Brattle and in part assembled by him and by his son, Thomas Brattle, out of a number of relatively small holdings. In the latter part of the eighteenth century it was the show place of New England, extending from Windmill Lane, or Bath Lane as it was later called, to the Town Spring, and extending from the road to the river. The overflow from the spring formed a good-sized pond with an island in the middle. It was surrounded by rare and beautiful trees and shrubs interspersed with statues. A mall or walk was laid out through the grounds where the younger people were said to congregate.

The house, now housing the Cambridge Center of Adult Education, was built by General William Brattle shortly after his marriage in 1727. William Brattle was the son of the Reverend William Brattle, minister of the First Church in Cambridge and nephew of Thomas Brattle, at one time Treasurer of Harvard College, and heir to the not inconsiderable wealth of his father and uncle. He graduated from Harvard in 1722, ranking at the head of his class, not academically, but in order of social priority. He was a jack of all trades but a master of none. At one time or another he was a parson, a physician, and a lawyer, but was not a success at any of these professions. One writer described him as a "man of universal superficial knowledge." He held many public offices — selectman of Cambridge for twenty-one terms, captain and later major of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery, member of the House of Representatives, Overseer of Harvard College, and Attorney General of the Province. His wealth was invested for the most part in real estate, both in Boston and Cambridge and on the frontiers. He took so many mortgages and personal notes that he had


special forms printed for himself. Perhaps his greatest success was in the military field, finally rising to Major General of the Province, though he was commonly known as Brigadier Brattle.

Politically Brattle was an ardent Whig in the 1760's, so ardent that in 1769 Governor Bernard "disallowed" his election by the Legislature to the Council. By 1773 he decided that political agitation and legal metaphysics were driving the colony into civil strife and more likely to produce evil than good. He joined Hutchinson in his last reviews of the militia, and it was said that he performed his part "with great propriety, though accompanied with some degree of pomposity." In July, 1774, under orders from General Gage he cooperated with him in withdrawing ammunition from the Medford Powder House, which was under his command, to the Castle. The Brigadier's correspondence with Gage somehow came into the hands of the patriots and was printed in the Boston Gazette. Popular pressure persuaded Brattle that it was time to leave. He took saddle and rode to Boston. Before he reached the Brighton Bridge shots were fired at him. He remained in Boston until the evacuation. By deed dated December 13, 1774, he conveyed "all and every part of" his real estate in Cambridge "whether the same lies in the first or second parish or both" to his son Thomas Brattle for £1500. After the Battle of Lexington the mob plundered the cellars of the Cambridge house and the Provincial Congress took over the remaining stores. Brigadier Brattle died in Halifax in October, 1776.

During the siege of Boston the mansion house served as quarters for Thomas Mifflin, Commissary-General of the army. After the armies left, William Brattle's daughter, Katherine Wendell, moved in. William Brattle's property in Boston and elsewhere was confiscated, but through Mrs. Wendell's efforts, it is said, the Cambridge property was saved.

From Cambridge History - William Brattle House

// // //

William Brattle House

The Brattle House is now the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, but in the pre-Revolutionary era it was the home of William Brattle Jr.. At the time of his death, General-Major Brattle was one of the wealthiest men in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was a decorated military figure who fought in the French and Indian War or the Seven Years’ War. Like many of his fellow loyalists, Brattle attended Harvard College. In 1727, several years after completing his degree, he had this mansion built.

He was the son of William Brattle and the nephew of Thomas Brattle, who founded Brattle Street Church in Boston, a prominent Congregational then Unitarian house of worship whose members included the Hancocks and the Adamses among other leading Boston families. Although in the 1770s, William Brattle was called a “fence-straddler” for simultaneously appeasing patriots while supporting the British. The Powder Alarm of 1774 revealed where his true allegiance lay.

Brattle was instrumental in the Powder Alarm. In the autumn of 1774, convinced that Cantabrigians were plotting to steal the remaining colony-owned powder from the Charlestown Powder house (which still stands in modern day Somerville), William Brattle informed Thomas Gage, the Commander In Chief and Royal Governor of Massachusetts Bay, of his apprehension about the gunpowder and the build-up of local militias. Brattle’s letter to Gage was lost and later found by a patriot who subsequently published it in a popular Boston newspaper.

Instead of quietly investigating the powderhouse inventory, Gage gathered 300 troops and sailed to Charlestown on a “secret” mission with the objective of seizing the remaining barrels. Removing the powder was fully within his jurisdiction as the governor of the colony, however, he misjudged the provincials’ reaction. The colonists perceived this operation as a provocative measure, and as an unwarranted exhibition of royal power.

By the following morning, approximately 4,000 people gathered on Cambridge Common. Patriot leaders utilized the power of the assembled crowd to protest their grievances. They then demanded the resignation of Lieutenant Governor Thomas Oliver, as well as Judges Samuel Danforth and Joseph Lee who were all members of the Mandamus Council. Oliver presumed that Governor Gage would send troops to suppress the mob, and feared the potential violent confrontation. In an effort to prevent an armed conflict, he traveled to Boston to speak with General Gage. In due course, Oliver returned to Cambridge, with assurances that Gage would not send troops. However, a despised tax collector, Benjamin Hallowell, rode past the crowd and within a few minutes men on horseback were in full pursuit.

Although the incidents of the day did not spark the revolution, the Tories of Cambridge felt unsafe and moved to Boston and later many went on to Canada or England as the conflict intensified.

After the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the abandoned Tory properties were occupied by patriots. During the Siege of Boston, the Brattle mansion was the headquarters of the Commissary General, Thomas Mifflin, who was often visited by John and Abigail Adams, as well as General George Washington.

From Wikipedia: William Brattle House

According to Edward Abbott, writing in 1859:

General Brattle conveyed all his real estate in Cambridge, December 13, 1774, to his only surviving son, Major Thomas Brattle...By the persevering efforts of Mrs. Katherine Wendell, the only surviving daughter of General Brattle, the estate was preserved from confiscation, and was recovered by Major Brattle after his return from Europe,—having been proscribed in 1778, and having subsequently exhibited satisfactory evidence of his friendship to his country and its political independence.

For a time, the William Brattle House was home to American journalist Margaret Fuller. Fuller's uncle Abraham owned the home at the time, and the Fuller family moved in shortly after Timothy Fuller's unsuccessful campaign for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts as an Anti-Mason.They arrived in September 1831 and left by April 1833.

The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973,[1] and included in an expansion of the Harvard Square Historic District in 1988. It is currently owned and maintained by the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, a non-profit organization that was incorporated in 1938. CCAE also owns the historic Dexter Pratt House.

The Powder Alarm was a major popular reaction to the removal of gunpowder from a magazine by British soldiers under orders from General Thomas Gage, royal governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, on September 1, 1774. One locked storehouse near Boston, in what was then part of Charlestown, now Powder House Square in Somerville, was controlled by William Brattle, the leader of the provincial militia and an appointee of the governor.


Photo: The Old Powder House in Somerville, Massachusetts, as it stood in 1935, atop the hill at Nathan Tufts Park overlooking Powder House Square


At the outset of the American Revolution, William Brattle, the leader of the provincial militia and an appointee of the governor, controlled one locked storehouse near Boston, in what was then part of Charlestown, now Powder House Square in Somerville. Brattle, who had not obviously sided with either Loyalists or Patriots, notified Governor Gage in a letter dated August 27, 1774 that the provincial ("King's") powder was the only supply remaining in that storehouse, as the towns had removed all of theirs. Gage decided that this powder had to be brought to Boston for safekeeping.


On August 31, Gage sent Middlesex County sheriff David Phips to Brattle with orders to remove the provincial powder; Brattle turned the key to the powderhouse over to Phips. Gage also gave orders to ready a force of troops for action the next day, something that did not go unnoticed by the local population. At some point that day, General Gage, whether by his intent, accident, or theft by a messenger, lost possession of William Brattle's letter; the widely held story is that it was dropped. News of its content spread rapidly, and many considered it to be a warning to Gage to remove the provincial powder before Patriots could seize it.

Early in the morning of September 1, a force of roughly 260 British regulars from the 4th Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George Maddison, were rowed in secrecy up the Mystic River from Boston to a landing point near Winter Hill in modern-day Somerville. From there they marched about a mile to the Powder House, a gunpowder magazine that held the largest supply of gunpowder in Massachusetts. Phips gave the King's Troops the keys to the building, and after sunrise they removed all of the gunpowder. Most of the regulars then returned to Boston the way they had come, but a small contingent marched to Cambridge, removed two field pieces, and took them to Boston by foot over the Great Bridge and up Boston Neck. The field pieces and powder were then taken from Boston to the British stronghold on Castle Island, then known as Castle William (renamed Fort Independence in 1779).

Response to the raid

Rumors flew throughout the day across the countryside about the British troop movements. The regulars were marching; provincial powder had been seized; war was at hand; people had been killed; Boston was being bombarded by His Majesty's warships. The alarm spread as far as Connecticut. From all over the region, people took up arms and began streaming toward Boston. One traveler in Shrewsbury reported that in the space of 15 minutes, 50 men had gathered, equipped themselves, sent out messengers to surrounding towns, and left for Boston. On the 2nd, several thousand men bent on violence gathered in Cambridge, where they forced several notable Loyalists, including William Brattle, to flee to Boston and the protection of the military. Sheriff Phips was forced, in writing, to dissociate himself from any and all government actions. Eventually facts caught up with the rumors, and militia units (some of which were still heading toward Boston) returned home.

Also on the 2nd, Boston newspapers published a letter from William Brattle in which he protested that he had not warned Gage to remove the powder; Gage had requested from him an accounting of the storehouse's contents, and he had complied. The content of his letter to Gage would be published on the 5th. Brattle remained on Castle Island through the siege of Boston, leaving when the British evacuated the city in March 1776. He died in Halifax, Nova Scotia in October 1776 at the age of 70.

Full story of the the "Powder Alarm"

The Copley Painting

From Harvard Art Museum

John Singleton Copley, American (Boston, MA 1738 - 1815 London, England)

  • Title William Brattle (1706-1776)
  • Classification Paintings
  • Work Type painting
  • Date 1756


Probably to Katherine Brattle Wendell, sitter’s daughter; Mrs. Williams, a descendant, by 1867; purchased by grandfather of William S. Appleton from the Brattle family, by 1873; by descent to William S. Appleton; Estate of Marjorie C. Appleton, by 1915; Thomas Appleton; his sale to Thomas Brattle Gannett, 1925; Mrs. Paul M. Hamlen, his wife; to their son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Brattle Gannett, by 1955.

view all 15

Maj. Gen. William Brattle, Jr.,'s Timeline

April 18, 1706
Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
April 21, 1706
Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
January 4, 1728
Age 21
Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
June 2, 1730
Age 24
Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
March 8, 1733
Age 26
Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
June 16, 1734
Age 28
Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
June 6, 1736
Age 30
Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
October 8, 1738
Age 32
Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
March 30, 1740
Age 33
Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts