Original Document
Original Document
Royal Claims Commission Testimony on Loyalist Jacob Duche, 1784.

Memorial of the Revd Jacob Duche

The Revd Jacob Duche-the Claimant-sworn. 14th of Septr 1784.

Is a Native of Philadelphia & was settled at Philadelphia in 1775. He was in the Yr 1775 elected Minister of the united Churches of Christ Church & St Peters. He was for many Yrs before Assistant Preacher of them. The Emolument in 1775 was about £600 a Yr. The Salary was £300 a Yr C. The Glebe £100 C. & the Surplice fees about £200 C. Says it was at least £300 a Yr S. When first the People of America talked of associating & taking up Arms he gave his Sentiments agt it. In 1774 before any Associations had taken place he was appointed Chaplain to the first Congress. He preached in 1775 the only political Sermon he ever preached to a Regt of Militia in Philadelphia & it certainly was to encourage them in their Opposition to Taxation. This Sermon was printed & dedicated to Mr Washington. He never had any political Connection with the Congress. He only preached before them a few times. When they were prosecuting the idea of Independence He opposed it very warmly. Independence was declared the 6th of July 1776. Soon after this He recd a Letter from Mr Hancock saying that the Congress had appointed him their Chaplain. Upon receiving this Letter He was in great Distress how to Act. He thought by his refusing to accept the Church might suffer & so he accepted. The Congress then sat in Philadelphia. He was at German Town when he recd this Letter. He never did anything but read prayers. He did not believe that they meant to persist in their Independence. Lord Howe wrote to the Congress & He was extremely happy to hear that Lord & Sir Wm Howe were appointed as he had great Expectations from the weight of Lord Howe & Sir Wm in America. But finding from a Member of the Congress that there was no hope of a reconciliation & that they insisted on their Independence He immediately the next Day wrote a Letter to resign his Appointment. He mention'd no reasons for his resignation in his Letter. He was never called upon to take the Oaths but not going to take them his persecution followed. He took no Oath when he was appointed Chaplain to the Congress. He staid after this at Philadelphia untill the British Army came there & he was permitted to keep the Church open & he read the Service but he did not pray for the King. When the Army came to Philadelphia He called on Lord Cornwallis but not finding him He preach'd & pray'd for the King after the Service was over. He was seized by a Major Madden & confined by Orders of Sir W- Howe. He was kept in prison for one Night & the next Day his Key was brought with a Message from Sir Wm Howe that he was at liberty. He took no public part afterwards excepting the writing a Letter to Mr Washington which has been since published. He shew'd the letter before he wrote it to Lord Cornwallis. Upon this Letter being made public He thought it not safe & he came to Engd with the Consent of the Vestry & Sir W- Howe. He arrived in Engd in July 1778. Receives £100 a Yr from the Treasury. Formerly receiv'd an Allowance of £150 a Yr which was reduced by Mr Wilmot & Mr Coke.

The Revd Will- Andrews-sworn. I5 of Septr 1784.

Rector of Portsmouth in Virginia.

Has known Mr Duche for many Years. When he first knew him He was a Man of very good Character. Did not know him at the time of the troubles as they were separated & lived at a great Distance. Knows that he was Rector of St Peters & Christ Church. Dr Peters resign'd in his favor in the Year 1775. The Witness was for six weeks in Philadelphia in 1769. Mr Duche was then Assistant Minister. The Livings were always reckon'd f3oo a Yr. Knew the House in which Mr Duche lived has frequently been in it. It was a good House & the Witness then asked him what the House would cost & he said that it would cost when finished £2000 S. Knows nothing of his Loyalty but from report & from his publications.

Saml Shoemaker Esq-sworn.

Has known Mr Duche from his Infancy. His Character as a Clergyman was perfectly unexceptionable. His Connections influenced him he believes in political Matters. His father he says had a Bias his father's Brother has dis-inherited this Gent" for it & his Wife's family were all rebels. This induced him to accept of being Chaplain to the Congress. After his resignation he believes him to have been sincere. He looks upon him to be a very honest Man. Being asked his Opinion as to what people thought of the fate of the War in 1776 He says all the Loyalists & most of the rebels thought that Great Britain would prevail. But he says he hopes that Mr Duche acted from principle when he alter'd his Sentiments. Knows the House very well in which Mr Duche lived. It was a good House. He can't speak to the Value. He says it was not finished when he came away. Thinks £2ooo would be a very good Price for what was done. Thinks £1500 S. would pay for the Building & the Lot. He never heard of any Surprize in the town that the Congress had appointed Mr Duche their Chaplain & that Mr Duche was not well affected to the Congress. On the contrary he as a Loyalist thought that Mr Duche was lost to the Cause Remembers Sir W- Howe confining Mr Duche under an Idea that he was a Rebel. He held the Chaplainship only two Months. He says he has no doubt but that Mr Duche was of opinion with the Americans up to a certain point & afterwards he is willing to suppose that he acted upon principle.

Credit: The Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists, 1783-1785. edited by Hugh Edward Egerton, Oxford: The Roxburghe Club, 1915 (Reprinted by Arno Press and the New York Times, 1969).
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