INTRODUCTION TO REVOLUTIONARY WAR PENSION APPLICATIONS

by George Richard Chamberlin

      In the first two decades following the Revolutionary War, pensions were granted to veterans, or their survivors, who had been disabled or killed in the war. Nearly all of these early pension and bounty land declarations were destroyed in fires in 1800 and 1814.   

     In 1818, an Act was passed authorizing pensions for veterans who served at the minimum, nine months in the continental army, and who were in financial need. Only Continental service qualified under the act. In 1818 the youngest veterans would have attained the age of 58 years.

     In 1830 the average life expectancy of a male was under 50 years of age.  On June 7, 1832, fifty-seven years after the Revolutionary War commenced, the United States Congress passed an Act authorizing pensions for military service. This Act allowed a pension for any man who served at least six months on active duty in any military unit, including navies and militia units. This Act removed the necessity of financial need.

     In a series of Acts that followed, Congress extended benefits in 1836, 1838, 1848, 1853, and 1855, to widows of veterans who qualified under the Act of 1832. In 1832 the youngest Revolutionary War veterans would have attained the age of 72 years. In 1855, the youngest Revolutionary War veteran would have attained the age of 93 years. Only a small percentage of veterans ever applied for pensions. 

     In a recent article appearing in The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, William J Parry, Ph.D., wrote, “Using the list of 274 men who served Colonel Anthony Van Bergen‘s militia regiment, I was able to identify 28 of these men who applied for pensions or bounty land….eighteen men applied, on the basis of their militia service, under the Act of 1832, six of these applications, or 33 percent were rejected. Widows of five men applied under the Acts of 1836 or 1838. Three of these applications, or 60 percent, were rejected.” 

     If the Parry research is correct, only 4.3% of this militia unit received pensions under the Act of 1832, and less than 1% of the veteran’s widows received pensions or bounty land under the Acts of 1836 and 1838.

George Richard also writes: “If anyone knows of a Chamberlain Pension that is not posted, If
they e-mail me a copy at grichardchamberlin@gmail.com I will gladly transcribe the rough text and have it posted on our WCGS website.”

Revolutionary War Pensioners

Links to the transcribed pension applications filed by the
Rev War veteran or his widow.
(Photos courtesy Bill Mennel, WCGS and Rev War re-enactor)
Aaron Chamberlain, Maine, #36963Judah & Phoebe Chamberlin, New York
Benjamin Chamberlain, Vermont, 21687Mary (Cheney) Chamberlain Widow of Josiah Chamberlain, Vermont, Application W-17608
Benjamin Chamberlin, Vermont, S-39306 Mary Chamberlian, Widow of Capt Abner Chamberlain and Nathaniel W. Seaver, Maine, Application W-22764
Benjamin and Mary Chamberlin(ain). Maine, Application W- 23792 Moses and Abigail (Stevens) Chamberlin, Pennsylvania,
W-4652
Betsy Chamberlin (Widow of Hinds), New York, Application No. R. 1831 Rejected Moses Chamberlain, Maine, Application S-36967
(Rev) Calvin Chamberlin, Vermont, Application No. S-39310 Nathaniel & Huldah (Perley) Chamberlain, Maine, Application W-21950
Charles Chamberlin, Application No. S-24629, New YorkNathaniel and Prudence Chamberlin, New Hampshire, Application 15963
Daniel Chamberlin, Pennsylvania, Application No. S.-44384 Nathaniel Chamberlain(in), Vermont, Application S-18778
David Chamberlain, or Chamberlin, Application No. S-44727, New YorkPhineas and Rebecca Chamberlin, New York, Application-1716
Ebenezer Chamberlain, Vermont, Application No. S- 39299
Rebecca Chamberlain, widow of Lewis Chamberlain, Massachusetts, Application W-8604
Ebenezer Chamberlain, Vermont, Application No. 39300
Russell Chamberlain & Loisa (Higbey) Chamberlain, New York, Application W-16896
Elias Chamberlin, New York
Elisha & Susannah (Brown) Chamberlain, New Hampshire, Application R-1835
Silas and Suzanna (Jones) Chamberlain, Maine, Application W-23788
Ephraim Chamberlin(ain) and Mehitable Spaulding Chamberlin(ain), New Hampshire, Application W- 25060Judith (Burleigh) Chamberlin widow of Thomas Chamberlin, New Hampshire, Application W-22767
Ephraim Chamberlain, Maine, Application S-28679 Thomas and Molly (Whitman) Chamberlain, Massachusetts, Application W-14475
Ephraim Chamberlain, Maine, Application 36962 William Chamberlin, Vermont, Application S-12462
Eunice (Ursley) widow of Elias Chamberlin, New York, Wyatt Chamberlin and widow Dinah Chamberlin
Henry Chamberlin, Vermont, ApplicationS-38601
James Chamberlin, New Hampshire, S-45625
Jason Chamberlain, New Hampshire, 45627
John Chamberlin & Lydia (Hosford) Chamberlin, New York, Application No. W-25402
John and Patience (Whiting) Chamberlin, Massachusetts, Application W-14461
Joseph Chamberlain, Vermont, Application No. S-39303
Joshua Chamberlin, New York, Application S-34687