Colonel Thomas Proctor

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Colonel Thomas Proctor

Birthdate: (67)
Birthplace: Longford, County Longford, Ireland
Death: March 16, 1806 (63-71)
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Place of Burial: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Francis Proctor and Elizabeth "Betsey" Proctor
Husband of Anna Maria Proctor and Sarah Ann Proctor
Father of Thomas Proctor; Anna Proctor and Mary Harshbarger
Brother of Ann Proctor; Francis Proctor, Jr. and Jane Charlton Burke

Managed by: Alexander M Bishop
Last Updated:

About Colonel Thomas Proctor

A Patriot of the American Revolution for PENNSYLVANIA with the rank of COLONEL. DAR Ancestor #: A091775


   Thomas Proctor was born in Longford County, Ireland, in 1739 of Francis and Betsey Proctor and traveled with them as a boy by way of Nova Scotia to America, most likely in the 1750's. Almost nothing is known of his early life except that he learned the trade of carpentry and we may conclude that this was his reason for being at Ft. Pitt in 1759, the year it was built. He states in his journal written in 1791 that he met Captain Joseph Hays, Indian chief, thirty-two years earlier at Ft. Pitt, which would have made him twenty years old at the time. More than likely he spent the next ten to fifteen years as a carpenter in and around Philadelphia, joining the Carpenter's Association, a trade guild, in 1772 and was a member till his death.
   Thomas married twice, maybe three times. There is a record of his marriage to Mary Fox on December 31, 1776, at Saint Michael's & Zion Evangelical Lutheran Churches of Philadelphia by license. Some sources suggest she is also called Anna Maria. They had a daughter Anna. Mary died July 15, 1789, and was buried at St. Paul's Cemetery. Thomas married Sarah Ann Hussey at Christ Church, Philadelphia, on March 3, 1796. She also died young, age 35, two years before Thomas, and was buried in St. Mary's burial ground. No records have been found yet regarding whether he was married previous to Mary Fox or who was the mother of Thomas, Jr., Thomas was 37 when he married Mary Fox and if dates are correct she should be the mother of Thomas, Jr., DAR records indicate his daughter Mary by Sarah Ann was born in 1790, but if the records of the churches are correct Mary Fox died in 1789 and Thomas married Sarah Ann in 1796, the birth date of Mary probably is wrong. All DAR records found on Thomas Proctor point to Mary Fox as the mother of his children but if birth records can be found for the children perhaps this would change things.
       Generous to a fault Thomas sponsored a number of immigrants, several of which he apprenticed in the carpentry trade. Names include:
       William Davies, March 27, 1772, term 3 years, was taught carpentry
       James Smith, July 1, 1772, term 6 years 1-1/2 month,  carpenter's apprentice, etc.
       John Adams, July 19, 1772, term 3 years 9 months,  carpenter's apprentice.
       Jane Proctor, October 16, 1772, term 14 years 5 months, housekeeping.
       James Magill, October 22, 1772, term 1 year 3 months,  various duties.
       Anna Margaret Konckerlin, December 29, 1772, servant
       William Crooke, July 26, 1773, or September 8, 1773, term 5  years, carpenter's apprentice, etc.
   Thomas was thirty-six when the Revolution began and he was ready for a career change. A letter by his father in Section 2 refers to military service in South Carolina and the "Revolutionary War Records, 1775-83" lists Captain Francis Proctor, Sr., Roll Box 120, Colonel Thomas Proctor, Roll Box 120, and Captain Francis Proctor, Jr., Roll Box 84. Benjamin M. Nead writes about the military and civil service of Thomas in the "Sketch of Gen. Proctor," and his career can also be followed in the Pennsylvania Archives sections on "Pennsylvania Artillery." Briefly Thomas attained and received rank as follows:
   Captain, October 27, 1775, artillery company Ft. Island
   Major, August 14, 1776
   Colonel, February 6, 1776
   Colonel of Continental Army, May 8, 1779
   Retired, April 19, 1781
   By commission of Congress, Major of Artillery from December 25, 1782 to October 22, 1783
   High Sheriff of Philadelphia, October 1783 to October 1785
   Lieutenant of the City of Philadelphia, September 10, 1790, in charge of the Celebration of Washington's coming through Philadelphia on November 23, 1790.
   Major of the Artillery Battalion of Militia of the City and Liberties of Philadelphia, May 17, 1792 to April 12, 1793
   Brigadier General of the Brigade (militia of Philadelphia), April 1793, taking part in the Whiskey Rebellion August 7, 1794
   Major General of the Militia of Philadelphia, June 7, 1796.
   Of special interest is a debit entry in George Washington's August-September, 1777, Revolutionary War Expense Account for 15s that is annotated:
   At Valley Forge occurred what is probably the first public recognition of Washington's birthday. The Daily Expense Account shows that the band of Colonel Thomas Proctor's 4th Continental Artillery apparently took it upon itself to serenade the Commander-in-Chief, for we find under date of February 22, 1778, the following entry: "Cash paid the 22d Inst. to Proctor band by the G.O. ... 15s." "G.O." being here properly translated, "by the General's order." (George Washington's Accounts of Expenses While Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army 1775-1783. With Annotations by John C. Fitzpatrick, Vol. 1)
   Col. Proctor sent a letter of resignation to Gen. Washington whose reply expressed sympathy for Thomas's "domestic affairs" making it necessary to quit the service. It is uncertain whether this involved his health or that of his family, or an uncertain financial situation due to owning and managing a lot of property, or weariness at his inability to be a good team player with some of his superiors. It is fair to say that Washington was more accommodating to Proctor than some others. (See Washington's letter dated April 20, 1781 in the Section 4 on military notes. Also included as a graphic on the html table of contents listed on this file header.)
   Thomas encountered the common dilemma of acclimating to civilian life at the end of the war. From the "Memorial History of Philadelphia, from its first settlement to the year 1895, " Vol. II, p. 153:
   In the closing years of the Revolution the relations between the military heroes and the civil authorities were not cordial. The attitude of Chief-Justice McKean toward Col. Thomas Proctor of the Pennsylvania Regiment of Artillery illustrate the character of the estrangement. When Col. Proctor offered his vote at the poll in the Northern Liberties in October 1781, he was challenged by John Cling, an inspector, who demanded his certificate of having taken the test. This angered Proctor, who assaulted Cling, and the inspector prosecuted the soldier. The case was tried before McKean in September 1782. Proctor admitted the assault in court and undertook to justify it. "Stop," cried McKean, "you gentlemen of the army carry your heads too high; but I will teach you how to behave. I will bring you down; we shall be overrun else." Proctor was fined eight pounds. This was the beginning of an epoch of bitterness in which many unoffending soldiers of the Revolution received scant justice from the civil authorities of the State.
   As a member of the Carpenter's Association Thomas Proctor was"instrumental in obtaining the use of Carpenter's Hall for the meeting of the Continental Congress," (from "Old Saint Paul's Church, 1760-1898," page 22). Thomas was a member of the Sons of Saint Tammany of Philadelphia, an original member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Cincinnati, and an active member of the Free Masons, Lodge No. 19, of which he was Master in 1779.
   Thomas speaks of a health problem several times in his 1791 journal. Traveling four weeks in rain, snow and cold weather affected his rheumatism to the point of lameness. In the April 15th entry:
       "Being very unwell this morning and overtaken with rheumatism pains, and to such a degree that I was obliged to have assistance to convey me from my canoe to the fire, same time being cold and rainy.... I applied to an Indian doctor, who prepared poultices of roots and herbage, and applied it to my foot, the power of which over the parts affected, threw it into my knee, which produced the most exquisite pain; and I perceptibly felt that it shortened the sinews under my ham, into which I applied it no more; fearing the consequences might be fatal to me for life. "
   Thomas died in his home on Arch (between Fourth and Fifth), Philadelphia, PA, on Sunday, March 16, 1806, and was buried with military honors the following Tuesday at Old St. Paul's Church cemetery at 225 S. Third Street in historic Philadelphia. In the biography of Proctor by Mr. Nead, he mentions that the Carpenter's Association placed the first monument at Proctor's grave site which can be found in "Old Saint Paul's Church, 1760-1898," page 237:
       "In memory of Francis Proctor, Sr., who departed this life, March 12, 1792, aged 87 years; Gen. Thomas Proctor, departed this life March 16, 1806, aged 67 years; also Anna Marie, wife of Thomas Proctor, departed this life June 1, 1789; Robert Charlton, departed this life January 31, 1787, aged 36 years.?
   Later in 1936 the Montgomery Lodge No. 19 placed a plaque on the monument and another larger plaque on the gates of the church commemorating the life and achievements of Thomas. The gate plaque notes that he was" twice Worshipful Master of Military Lodge 19 and became first Worshipful Master of Lodge No. 19, F. & S. M. of Pennsylvania, now Montgomery Lodge No. 19, January 13, 1787. "


Thomas Proctor or Thomas Procter (1739 – 16 March 1806) commanded the 4th Continental Artillery Regiment during the American Revolutionary War. He was born in County Longford, Ireland, emigrated to British America, and joined the carpenter's guild in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1772. He received a commission as an artillery captain in October 1775 and proceeded to raise a company of Pennsylvania state artillery. In the summer of 1776, a second company was recruited and Proctor was promoted to major. One of the companies fought well at the Battle of Trenton in December 1776, though Proctor was not there. He wed Mary Fox the same month. He led his gunners at Princeton in January 1777. The Pennsylvania artillery companies informally joined George Washington's army. The state authorities elevated Proctor to colonel and charged him to recruit the Pennsylvania State Artillery Regiment in February 1777.

In June 1777 Proctor's Continental Artillery Regiment officially became part of the Continental Army. He played an important role at the Brandywine in September 1777 and at Germantown a few weeks later. In June 1778 he led his gunners at Monmouth. In 1779 he went on the Sullivan Expedition against the Iroquois Nation. On 10 August 1779 his regiment was renamed the 4th Continental Artillery Regiment. He took guns into action at Bull's Ferry in 1780. The hot-tempered Proctor often quarreled with the Pennsylvania civil authorities and this led him to resign from the army in April 1781.

Proctor served as sheriff of Philadelphia County from 1783 to 1785 and was elected to the Philadelphia city council in 1790. Secretary of War Henry Knox appointed him in 1791 to go on a peace mission to the native American tribes near Lake Erie. Governor Thomas Mifflin appointed Proctor a brigadier general of militia in 1793 and the following year sent him with a brigade of 1,849 men to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. By 1798 he was a major general of militia. He was a Freemason and founding member of the Society of the Cincinnati in Pennsylvania. He died at his home in Philadelphia on 16 March 1806, having outlived his second wife Sarah Ann Hussey by two years.


Proctor was born in County Longford, Ireland in 1739. With his parents Francis and Betsey Proctor, he moved first to Nova Scotia and then to the American colonies. At some point in the 1750s he took up the carpenter's trade. The year 1759 found him at Fort Pitt where he met the Indian, Captain Joseph Hays. In 1772, he joined the Carpenter's Guild in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and remained a member until his death.

After the outbreak of the American Revolution, the state of Pennsylvania authorized an artillery company on 16 October 1775. Proctor asked the state Council of Safety to appoint him captain on 27 October and his request was immediately granted. While other state troops were sent to the Flying Camp (reserve), the artillery company was retained near Philadelphia to defend Fort Island. At first, Proctor's company mustered only 25 men but it increased to 100 by May 1776.

A muster roll from 31 July 1776 showed Proctor's company numbering 114 soldiers with 12 musicians. The staff included one captain-lieutenant, one first lieutenant, one second lieutenant, one lieutenant fireworker, one quartermaster sergeant, and one clerk. The company also counted three sergeants, three corporals, eight bombardiers, 24 gunners, 69 matrosses, six musicians, five drummers, and one fifer. The gunners served on the USS Hornet (10) during an engagement with the British HMS Roebuck (44). Pleased with the gunners' performance, the state added a second artillery company to make a battalion on 14 August 1776. At the time, John Martin Strobaugh was appointed captain of the 1st Company, Thomas Forrest became captain of the 2nd Company, and Proctor was promoted to major. Proctor vigorously recruited enough gunners and matrosses to fill both companies. The Pennsylvania State Artillery Battalion transferred to George Washington's main army on 23 September. In October the state re-enrolled the soldiers for the duration of the war.

Proctor led his artillerists at the Battle of Princeton on 3 January 1777. After the engagement, he added a captured British brass 6-pound cannon to his battery. Since he did not have enough horses to haul an additional piece, he left behind an old iron 3-pound cannon.

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Colonel Thomas Proctor's Timeline

Longford, County Longford, Ireland
February 11, 1784
Age 45
March 15, 1788
Age 49
Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa
Age 51
Indiana, United States
March 16, 1806
Age 67
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States