Stolen Honor: The Land Bounty of Midshipman Thomas Masterson

Sketch of the action at Osburns, April 27, 1781 (Wikimedia Commons)

The pension and land bounty claim system in place for Revolutionary War veterans was wrought with problems; the tributes bestowed upon thousands of veterans simply stolen from them. Countless early records had been lost to fire and abuse of the system was inherent. As early as 1809 Congress heard testimony on the issue in the form of a report by the Committee on the Public Lands entitled “Military Bounty Land Warrants Fraudulently Obtained”. On February 27, 1809, Jeremiah Morrow testified to Congress that

The committee cannot doubt that, in some instances, soldiers of the Revolutionary War have been defrauded out of their bounty lands. It is now as difficult to provide a safe remedy for such wrongs, as it was formerly to adopt such regulations entirely to prevent them; had a degree of evidence been required by law to be produced by persons claiming bounty lands, the effect must have been to render it difficult, and in some instances impractical, for persons rightfully entitled to have submitted their claims.[1]

By 1819 the problem of fraudulent claims was so severe that Congress instructed the Committee on Revolutionary Pensions to “investigate ways to deal with the fraudulent practices, and if that proved too problematic, to consider the possibility of repealing the Act.”[2]

In June of 1832 Congress restructured the pension system for Revolutionary veterans, and in July of that same year relieved Virginia of certain pension obligations it had to sailors who served in its navy and certain of its officers for half-pay.[3] When the federal government assumed Virginia’s obligations to these claimants, their widows and heirs, it unleashed a new wave of land bounty claims – many of which were fraudulent. A later government study would find 59,190 land warrants for which caveats against delivery had been filed before 1856.[4]

One of those eligible for land bounty was Midshipman Thomas Masterson, a ship’s carpenter aboard the Tempest during the Revolutionary War. A ship’s carpenter, both in the British and American navies, was according to regulation, a midshipman or a warrant officer of the lowest non-commissioned rank aboard the ship.[5] Thomas Masterson’s service is well documented; his name included in a Navy Board memo as one of the “Officers on board the Tempest in Sept. 1778,” with rank recorded on February 6, 1778; and appearing again in a document entitled “A Return of Spirit for the ship Tempest, December 7, 1779.”[6] The Tempest remained in the service of the Virginia navy until the end of April 1781. Thomas Masterson, to attain the rank of midshipman, would have needed to prove several years of experience as a seaman, or demonstrate a leaned trade such as Ship’s Carpenter or Cooper.[7]

Thomas Masterson was born about 1750 in Fairfax County, Virginia to Edward Masterson and his wife Mary. He was probably born either on the 300 acres his father owned on Four Mile Run, or on the eight acres on Difficult Run which his father purchased in 1750. The later tract eventually became the boundary between Fairfax and Loudoun Counties. When his father Edward died in 1754, Thomas was a minor child. The will of Edward Masterson, a millwright of Fairfax County, was probated September 18, 1754.[8] The original is well preserved and includes the names of nine children, including Thomas and his older sister Elizabeth (born 1744). Elizabeth Masterson married Joseph Farrow and the couple took guardianship of the minor child Thomas Masterson.[9] In 1766, Joseph Farrow apprenticed Thomas Masterson to the ship’s carpenter Thomas Dagg.[10] Thomas successfully completed his apprenticeship under Thomas Dagg, and thus as a qualified ships carpenter met the requirements of being awarded the rank of midshipman upon joining the Virginia navy.[11]

After his apprenticeship, Thomas Masterson bought land in Dumfries, Prince William County.[12] Dumfries was a major port city prior to the Revolution, supporting the local tobacco trade. In 1776, Thomas sold the land he owned in Dumfries; he being referenced in the indenture as “Ships Carpenter of Prince William County”.[13] Around this time he appears to have relocated along the James River, as in September 1776 a British mercantile claim listed Thomas Masterson as resident in Petersburg; the claimant, Wm. Cunningham & Co., maintained offices in Dumfries.[14] Petersburg is connected via the Appomattox and James River to the Chickahominy headwaters where a Virginia navy shipyard was located during the Revolutionary War.[15]

Between December 1775 and July 1776, the Virginia Committee of Safety established a small navy by purchasing several schooner-rigged vessels, and contracts were made for a number of galleys to be constructed on the different rivers of the colony. George Minter was elected master of a row-galley to be built on the James River under the direction of Col. Archibald Cary. He was requested to “recommend proper persons to be mate, two midshipmen, gunner, and to enlist forty seamen.”[16] On June 1, 1776, the Virginia Committee of Safety further empowered John Herbert, master shipbuilder, to “engage any number of ship-carpenters that he could procure upon reasonable terms, and to examine such places upon the James River or its branches as he thought proper and convenient for erecting shipyards, and to report to the Committee.”[17]

The Tempest was one of four large row galleys ordered by Virginia’s Committee of Safety. The Tempest was the second galley to be built, after the Tarter, at the Frazer’s Ferry shipyard on the Mattaponi River (a tributary of the York River). Construction began in late 1776 or early 1777. The galleys built under this contract had a beam of eighty-one feet, and were

Square Stern’d with a Quarter Deck thirty feet long three feet Waist with Quick Work as high as the Sills of the Ports, Ten Gunn Posts. The Plank to be of two Inches thick Yellow Pine, the whole to be finished in a Workman like manner as many Ports as can conveniently be rowed in also Oars, Masts, Yards and all necessary spars fitted to a Cleet.[18]

These were substantial vessels; the length of the gun deck would have approached one hundred feet. The galleys were schooner rigged, usually fitted with two or three sailing masts. A full complement of crew for the Tempest was 120 men, and she was armed with between sixteen and twenty 6-pounder guns.[19] These large row galleys had a shallow draft for vessels of such size, and thus were well adapted Virginia’s tidewater region. These galleys could escape the guns of British warships by retreating into shallow waters, could venture into the exposed waters of the lower Chesapeake Bay, and could even make forays into the Atlantic.[20]

One such foray is recorded in the pension application of David Henderson, a midshipman aboard the Dragon. Testimony shows that the ships Dragon, Tartar, Northampton and the Tempest were

upon a private expedition against the Island of Bermuda for the purpose of making reprisals upon the British, and with that view we sailed from the Capes of Virginia sometime in the year 1778. In a few days after leaving the Capes, we discovered two large British vessels which afterwards proved to be the Roebuck & the Emerald, with a Large Sloop Tender with them. They immediately gave chase to us, the Tender out sailing us came so near as to fire on us, and had nearly cut off the Brig Northampton, but the rest of the Fleet shortened sail so that she might keep up, and the night coming on, we succeeded in eluding them, and the next day all got back safely into the Bay.[21]

The Tempest was eventually lost to the British on April 27, 1781. Gen. Benedict Arnold had moved his men to Osborne’s, a small village on the south side of the James River, just south of Richmond. Osborne’s was the rendezvous of the small force of the Virginia navy which had been collected with the intention of co-operating with the French fleet in a projected attempt against Portsmouth. The British forces came upon the Americans before their presence was known. General Arnold summoned the American commander to surrender, offering one half the contents of their cargoes in case they did not destroy any part. The American commander is said to have replied, “We are determined and ready to defend our ships, and will sink them rather than surrender.” General Arnold ordered two 3-pounders to open a fire on the stern of the Tempest, while Captain Page with two 6-pounders “opened from an unexpected quarter, with great effect.” At the same time Lieutenant Spencer ordered a party of Jägers (German riflemen) to shoot any sailors who showed themselves on deck.

Although brisk fire was returned by the Tempest, the Renown and the Jefferson, with support of a body of Virginia militia on the northern bank, the superior force of the British was too great. A shot from one of the British pieces cut the anchor cable of the Tempest, exposing her side to a raking fire from Lieutenant Rogers’ 3-pounders. The captain of the Tempest, James Markham, ordered the crew to take to the boats to escape. In all, two ships, three brigs, two schooners, and five sloops were taken by the British; an additional four ships, five brigs, and several smaller vessels were burned or sunk.

After the Revolutionary War, the Dumfries economy collapsed as plantation owners moved south in search of fresh soil. Because of siltation, ocean-going vessels could no longer enter its harbor. Instead, ships were forced to anchor in the river and have smaller boats ferry goods from shore.[22] Thomas Masterson did not resettle in Dumfries; in the 1787 tax lists he is recorded in Dinwiddie County, paying taxes for a two-wheeled carriage.[23] Dinwiddie County borders upon Petersburg, and is the ancestral home of Thomas Masterson’s future wife, Lucy Hardaway.[24] It is not known when exactly Thomas Masterson might have married, but census records confirm that his daughter Millian was born in Virginia in 1790.[25] Thomas Masterson appears in the Dinwiddie County order books in March 1789 as a defendant, and in November 1789 as a plaintiff.[26]

A British Mercantile Claim of 1803 reports “Thomas Masterson, of Loudon Co., died insolvent abt 12 years ago.”[27] Thomas Masterson’s ancestral home was in Fairfax/Loudon County, where someone who is insolvent might in fact return to live with family. It would appear that this 1803 claim, again by the claimant Wm. Cunningham & Co., refers to the same Thomas Masterson named in the 1776 claim. By 1816 Thomas Masterson’s widow, Lucy Masterson, was living in Dinwiddie County with her daughter Millian, who had married James Booth.[28] In a Kentucky Court of Appeals record, dated April 15, 1816, James Booth is named in a transaction involving 4000 acres of land in Gallatin Co., Kentucky, which was passed down to “Milly Boothe, late Milly Masterson of Dinwiddie County Virginia by her father Thomas Masterson.” Purchaser of the land was William Masterson for a price of $1000.[29] Another Kentucky Court of Appeals record, dated May 16, 1816, mentions James Boothe (sic) and Lucy Masterson, “widow of Thomas Masterson, dec’d.”[30]

By virtue of Midshipman Thomas Masterson having served as an officer for three years, his heirs were eligible for a land claim of up to 2666 and two thirds acres. When in July of 1832 the federal government relieved Virginia of certain pension obligations, the heirs of Revolutionary War veterans seeking land bounty grappled with a lack of witnesses to substantiate their claims; this void opened the door for fraudulent claims to be presented. The service of Midshipman Masterson appears to have been the basis for one such fraud.

Virginia’s coastal Lancaster County was in fact the home of many of the sailors and officers who manned the vessels of the Virginia navy, however, by 1833 few veterans were still alive. In the rejected 1833 claim on behalf of the heirs of Martin Norris, the situation is well documented: “It would probably not be news to the State that in the County of Lancaster (where Norris lived) there are living but two men who served in the war of the revolution + and they were in the navy, consequently there must be great difficulty in obtaining evidence of facts connected with the revolution in that county.”[31]

Between the years 1832 and 1838, one of the men called on to offer sworn testimony, both in the rejected claim of Martin Norris and in the claims of no fewer than sixteen other applications on behalf of the heirs of deceased Revolutionary War veterans, was John Lowry.[32] The signature on each deposition was compared to ensure that it was the same person offering testimony.

With the lack of available witnesses in Lancaster County it might appear normal to have one man offer testimony in so many cases; however John Lowry was a boy of just five years of age when Virginia began building its navy. In his deposition on behalf of the heirs of George Doggett, he certified that he was “John Lawry of Lancaster County aged 68 years;” this places his year of birth at about 1770.[33] Federal census records of 1810, 1820 and 1830 all support John Lowry’s 1838 deposition that he was born around the year 1770.[34] Despite his young age at the outbreak of the Revolution, almost six decades later John Lowry offered very detailed sworn testimonies claiming to have firsthand knowledge that a veteran “entered in the service of the United States in the Revolutionary War in the year 1776.”[35]

There are several land bounty claims in which reasonable doubt is cast upon on the depositions made by John Lowry on behalf of his neighbors; some of which were rejected by the governor outright. In the rejected claim on behalf of the heirs of John Lunsman, Lowry testified that Lunsman “enlisted in the Naval Service during the Revolutionary war in year of 1778 on board of a galley as a midshipman for the term of three years which time this deponent states the said John Lunsford served or in other words that he was captured, taken prisoner, that he was held for some time this deponent thinks about a year this deponent further states that after his return or exchange he the said Lunsford reenlisted and went down to the Siege of York”.[36] The level of detail reported by a person who was only eight years old at the time aside, the official record did not support this John Lunsman having been a midshipman. Commissioner John H. Smith reported to the governor, “The Journals & Papers of the in Navy Board & Navy have given no information respecting this claim, which enables me to report upon it: and accordingly John Lunsford’s name is not on the permitted list No. 5”.[37]

The 1834 claim for land bounty on behalf of the heirs of Midshipman Thomas Masterson requires even a greater leap of faith. In the petition to secure a land bounty warrant, the details of Masterson’s service were correctly summarized in a letter to the governor of Virginia: “Thomas Masterson a midshipman in the Va. Navy in the War of the Revolution … entered the Navy very early and served three years as a midshipman without ever resigned.”[38] The attorney representing the heirs-at-law asked that the request for land bounty be allowed to them, and Commissioner John H. Smith “reported this claim good for a service of three years”.[39] However, the brothers Thomas and John Marsdon (Masden) who submitted this claim do not appear to be the rightful heirs of Midshipman Thomas Masterson.

In the depositions to support their claim, the brothers Marsdon (Masden) called upon John Lowry to confirm the validity of their assertion. On July 21, 1834, John Lowry testified,

I certify that I was well acquainted with Thomas Masterson, commonly called Marsdon, in the revolutionary war – Said Masterson was a midshipman in the Virginia navy in said war and served at least three years – the said Masterson resided on the Island in the lower part of Lancaster County and died many years since – His only heirs at law are Thomas and John Marsdon alias Masterson who now reside on said Island.[40]

The official Naval Record in fact shows no variant surname spelling for Thomas Masterson, as suggested by the deponent. The official record confirms the spelling “Masterson,” both in the list of “Officers of the Tempest in Sept. 1778” and “A Return of Spirit for the Ship Tempest Dec 7, 1779,” as well as in the list of Revolutionary War officers and their warrantees who received land bounties.[41] At no time in the official record is any reference made to a midshipman named “Marsdon” as deposed by Lowry in 1834, nor was even a variant spelling Masden/Maston. There was a Thomas Mason in the Virginia state navy, his land bounty going to William Mason.[42] Whether due to social pressure, or some other motivation, it would appear that John Lowry may have been one small contributor to the “the fraudulent claims being filed by the thousands”.[43]

Census records between 1810 and 1850 continually record the brothers Thomas and John “Marsdon” in Lancaster County, they reporting themselves with the surnames Mason, Maston or Masden, depending on census year.[44] Census and marriage records in Lancaster County show that the claimants descended from a line of men named Mason. Thomas Marsdon (Masden) was in fact born well after Midshipman Masterson’s death, and there is no census, land or other tax record which documents any person named Thomas Masterson having lived in Lancaster County at any time between 1775 and 1840.

Despite the lack of evidence, a divergent surname, and the questionable testimony of a child-aged witness at the time of the war, the brothers Thomas and John “Marsdon alias Masterson” were awarded land bounty warrants 8091 and 8093,[45] after which the census record shows they bought slaves, stayed in Lancaster County, and continued using the surname Masden.[46]

The law caught up with the Masden brothers in 1842. In the summer of that year, Thomas and John Masden were sued for $4000 in damages in the Chancery Court of Lancaster County for “the false and fraudulent claim set up by them as heirs of Cornelius Mastin to the land bounty, commutation pay or any other consideration due to him as an officer or his role [as a] soldier in the army of the United States during the Revolutionary war”.[47] In their complaint, the Mastin family offered testimony that until 1841 that they “did not know anything of their right to bounty land or of any claim whatever which of might they had in the government of the United States as the heirs at law of Cornelius Mastin”.[48]

Thomas and John Masden were accused of “unjustly + illegally defrauding” the true heirs at law; the brothers having asserted that through an alias they were in fact the children and heirs at law of Cornelius Mastin, and having hired an agent named Hard in Caroline County to file a land bounty claim on their behalf. The plaintiffs complained to the Chancery Court that this bounty land was sold for “the sum of four thousand dollars, which amount was hand over by the said Hard to the said John and Thomas Mastin on their order”. Their testimony describes the true heirs as Elizabeth, Jane and Mary Ann, the children of Cornelius Mastin, and that “the aforesaid John and Thomas were not the lawful children, or his children at all, of the aforesaid Cornelius Mastin + that the mother of the said John and Thos was a certain Wife ____ Hill” and of no relation to Cornelius Mastin.[49] The attorney representing the brothers Masden filed a demurrer with the court; a legal brief asserting that although the facts alleged in the complaint may have been true, they did not entitle the plaintiff to prevail in the lawsuit.[50]

On July 27, 1842 the Commonwealth of Virginia ordered the sheriff of Lancaster County to summon Thomas and John Masden to appear in court to answer the charges; failing to do so would be punished by a penalty of £100 each, and the charges “taken for confessed and the matter decreed accordingly”. It is not clear if or how the brothers settled the case, as a note dated August 1842 in the Chancery Court records simply indicates that the case was closed “for want of answer.”[51]

Cases involving fraudulent land bounty claims were clearly difficult to prove; even when an injustice was obvious, or even admitted, the United States government was not in a position to right every wrong. In his testimony before Congress in 1809, Jeremiah Morrow closed his committee’s report of “Military Bounty Land Warrants Fraudulently Obtained” with the words “To authorize a second warrant to be issued whenever it is alleged by the original claimant that the first had not been issued by his order, or to his assignee, would be to sanction the principle that the public record is not conclusive evidence; the admission of which would expose the public to extensive impositions.”[52]


[1] American State Papers: Documents, legislative and executive, of the Congress of the United States, Volume 1, 10th Congress, 2nd Session, edited under the authority of Congress, (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1832), 327.

[2] Annals of Congress, 16-1, 12/15/1819, 734, referenced in Charles J Finocchiaro and Jeffery A. Jenkins, The Politics of Military Service Pensions in the Antebellum U.S. Congress, (Evanston, Illinois and Buffalo, New York: University at Buffalo and Northwestern University, 2006), 14., accessed December 11, 2017.

[3] Will Graves, “Pension Acts, An Overview of Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Legislation”, March 28, 2017,, accessed October 19, 2017.

[4] Paul W. Gates, History of public land law development, written for the Public Land Law Review Commission (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1968), 279.

[5] Brendan J. McDermott, English and American Shipboard Carpenters, ca. 1725-1825”, (College Station, Texas: Department of Nautical Archeology/Anthropology, Texas A&M University, 2000), 14-18.

[6] Gaius Marcus Brumbaugh, Revolutionary War Records, Volume 1 Virginia, (Washington, DC and Lancaster, PA, 1936), 15, 32-33.

[7] McDermott, English and American Shipboard Carpenters, 14-18.

[8] Edward Masterson, Last will and Testament (Fairfax County, Virginia: September 18, 1754). Microfilm copy held in the Library of Virginia, County And City Records, Fairfax County, Reel 27, Will Book B1, 69-71.

[9] Joseph Farrow and Thomas Dagg, Masterson’s Indenture to Dagg (Prince William County, Virginia: November 3, 1766), Prince William County, Deed Book Q, 411-412. Microfilm copy held in The Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center for Genealogy and Local History (RELIC), Manassas, Virginia.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Thomas Masterson, Indenture (Prince William County, Virginia: November 1, 1774), Prince William County, Liber T 1774-1779, 14, RELIC.

[13] Thomas Masterson, Indenture, (Prince William County, Virginia: September 10, 1776), Prince William County, Deed Book T, 268-272, RELIC.

[14] The Virginia Genealogist: British Mercantile Claims 1775-1803, Volume 21, John Frederick Dorman, ed. (Washington, DC: John Frederick Dorman, 1977), 34.

[15] Chickahominy Shipyard 047-0078, National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Department of the Interior (Washington, DC: 1979), .0470078_Chickahominy_Shipyard_Site_1978_NRHP_FINAL_REDACTED.pdf, accessed November 20, 2017.

[16] Cerinda W. Evans, Some Notes on Shipbuilding and Shipping in Colonial Virginia (Williamsburg, Virginia: The Mariners Museum Newport News, 1957),, accessed September 14, 2017.

[17] Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, Volume II (Richmond, Virginia: The Virginia State Library, 1932), 513.

[18] Naval Documents of The American Revolution, Volume 6 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1972), 775.

[19] The Virginia Navy of the Revolution, Volume 24, (Richmond, Virginia; Southern Literary Messenger, MacFarlane, Fergusson & Co.,1857), 12, 210-213.

[20] Irv Owings, Tempest of the Va State Navy, email communication, March 31, 2006,, accessed November 20, 2017.

[21] C. Leon Harris, Transcription of the Pension Application of David Henderson, Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters, Number S5506, original document in the Library of Virginia,, accessed September 20, 2017.

[22] History of Dumfries, (Dumfries, Virginia: Town of Dumfries, 2017)., accessed September 9, 2017.

[23] Netti Schreiner-Yanti, The 1787 Census of Virginia: An Accounting of the Name of Every White Male Tithable Over 21 Years, (Springfield, Virginia, 1987), 766.

[24] Ginny Schilt and Masterson Family Association, Edward Masterson, His Children and Grandchildren, Masterson Family Newsletter and historical journal , Volume 2, number 4 and Volume 3, number 1 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1992), 55, 66-67.

[25] 1860 U.S. Federal Census of Todd County Kentucky (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), NARA microfilm publication M653.

[26] Dinwiddie County Order Book, (Dinwiddie County, Virginia: 1789).

[27] Schilt Edward Masterson, His Children and Grandchildren, 55, 66-67.

[28] Todd County History Book Committee, Todd County, Kentucky, Family History, (Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing, 2005), 142, 256.

[29] Cindy E. Lacy, Research notes on James Booth & Millian Masterson, (Houston, Texas, celacy61, 2017)., Accessed September 11, 2017.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Will Graves, Transcription of the Land Bounty Claim of the heirs of Martin Norris, Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters, Number VAS428, original document in the Library of Virginia,, accessed September 20, 2017.

[32] Library of Virginia, Revolutionary War Bounty Warrants, (Richmond, Virginia: Library of Virginia, 2017)., accessed December 11, 2017.
As of this writing, it is known that John Lowry gave testimony in at least seventeen claims:

The Heirs of Midshipman Thomas Masterson

The Heirs of Sergeant Martin Norris – rejected

The Heirs of Captain Thomas Pollard

The Heirs of Midshipmen Edwin Kent

The Heirs of Ensign Daniel Kent

The Heirs of William Newby

The Heirs of Lieutenant Merryman Payne

The Heirs of John Lunsford (Naval Service) – rejected

The Heirs of Henry Pullen

Within the claim for the heirs of Henry Pullen, John Lowry made depositions regarding:

The Continental Service of Stephen Chilton

The Continental Service of William Chilton

The Continental Service of Edward Blackmore

The Continental Service of William George

The Continental Service of Thomas Carter

The Continental Service of John Carter

The Naval Service of John Chilton

The Naval Service of William Smith

[33] Louis A. Burgess, Virginia soldiers of 1776 / compiled from documents on file in the Virginia land office; together with material found in the Archives Department of the Virginia State Library, and other reliable sources (Richmond, Virginia: Richmond Press, 1927-1929), 219.

[34] Will Graves, Transcription of the Land Bounty Claim of the heirs of William Newby, Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters, Number VAS381, original document in the Library of Virginia,, accessed September 20, 2017.

[35] Will Graves, Transcription of the Land Bounty Claim of the heirs of Ensign Daniel Kent, Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters, Number R15583, original document in the Library of Virginia, R15583.pdf, accessed September 20, 2017.

[36] Will Graves, Transcription of the Land Bounty Claim of the heirs of John Lunsford, Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters, Number VAS999, original document in the Library of Virginia, VAS999.pdf, accessed September 20, 2017.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Will Graves, Transcription of the Land Bounty Claim of the heirs of Midshipman Thomas Masterson (Marsdon), Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters, Number VAS519, original document in the Library of Virginia, VAS519.pdf, accessed September 20, 2017.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Brumbaugh, Revolutionary War Records, 32-33, 358.

[42] Ibid., 355.

[43] John P. Resch, Politics and Public Culture: The Revolutionary War Pension Act of 1818, Journal of the Early Republic, Volume 8, Number 2 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988) 124-125, 152.

[44] 1810-1850 U.S. Federal Census of Lancaster County Virginia, (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

The 1810 census lists a Thomas, age 26-44, and John MASON, living in Lancaster

The 1820 census lists a Thomas Jr. and John MASON, both age 26-44, living in Lancaster

The 1830 census lists a Thomas MASTON, age 20-30, living in Lancaster

The 1840 census lists both a Tho., age 30-39, and a Jno. MASDEN, living in Lancaster

The 1850 census lists a Thomas MASDEN, seaman, born 1810, living in Lancaster

The 1850 census lists a Thomas MASON, oysterman, born 1815, living in Lancaster

[45] Brumbaugh, Revolutionary War Records, 358.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Richard Hinton & Wife vs. Thomas and John Marsden (Lancaster County, July 27, 1842), Chancery Records Index, number 1842-003 (Richmond, VA: Library of Virginia), 2-10,, accessed December 19, 2017.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Jeffrey Lehman, West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2 (Detroit: Thompson-Gale, 2008),, accessed December 20, 2017.

[51] Richard Hinton & Wife vs. Thomas and John Marsden.

[52] American State Papers: Documents, legislative and executive, of the Congress of the United States, Volume 1, 10th Congress, 2nd Session, edited under the authority of Congress, (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1832), 327.

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Stolen Honor: The Land Bounty of Midshipman Thomas Masterson

The pension and land bounty claim system in place for Revolutionary War...
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1 Comment

  • Interesting story. Many young men used to lie about their ages and names to enlist. Are you certain this is the story, and why did these men catch your eye? Are you certain these details are accurate? Sounds like the typical 1800s snake lawyer situation from your narrative, is it true… !

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