Col John ChesterLeave a Comment
Colonel John Chester
Original Member (Elected July 1784)
Yale Class of 1766
“John Chester, the eldest child of Judge and Colonel John Chester (Harvard College 1722), of Wethersfield, Connecticut, and grandson of Judge and Major John and Hannah (Talcott) Chester, of Wethersfield, was born in that town on January 18, 1748-49. His mother was Sarah, daughter of the Rev. Joseph Noyes (Yale 1709), of New Haven. One of his brothers was graduated [from Yale] in 1769, and two in 1780.
“He settled in his native town and married Elizabeth, daughter of General Jabez Huntington (Yale 1741), of Norwich, Connecticut.
“As early as 1771 he was a Lieutenant in the militia, and in May, 1772, he began his public career as a deputy in the General Assembly from Wethersfield – a place which he filled in sixteen more sessions, between 1774 and 1787, in the last four being Speaker of the House.
“On the news of the Lexington and Concord fight, in April, 1775, he hastened to the front at the head of a picked company of about a hundred men, which ranked as the most select body in the provincial army of that period, and distinguished itself in the battle of Bunker Hill. In January, 1776, he was promoted to major, and in March he was one of the first officers to enter Boston after the evacuation of the British. In June he was appointed Colonel of one of the regiments raised to serve under Washington at New York, and was thus engaged in the Battle of Long Island. Soon after he was made brigade commander, and was present at the battles of White Plains and Trenton. At the close of this year (1776) he was recommended for a colonelcy in the new Continental Army, but on account of the condition of his personal affairs he declined the appointment and retired to private life [in March 1777], to the great regret, particularly, of General Washington.
“In May, 1777, he received a commission as Justice of the Peace, and was thenceforwards much engaged in public business and often appointed on important committees by the General Assembly. From 1785 until his death he was a Judge of the Hartford County Court.
“In 1788 he was elected to the Upper House of the Assembly, or Governor’s Council, and held this place until 1791, when President Washington appointed him Supervisor of United States Revenue for the District of Connecticut. He was removed from this office by Jefferson in 1801, and in 1803 resumed his seat in the Council and held it until 1808, when a paralytic attack obliged him to retire from public business.
“He was a member of the State Convention for the ratification of the Constitution of the United States in 1788.
“He died in Wethersfield, after a little over a year of prostration, on November 4, 1809, in his 61st year. *** The discourse delivered at Judge Chester’s funeral, by his pastor, the Rev. Dr. John Marsh, was published (Hartford, 1809, 8’ pp. 24) and gives an attractive picture of his character. ***
“Extracts from several of his letters, written while in the army (1775-1777), are given in the Magazine of American History, vol. viii, pp. 125-127 (1882), in Johnston’s Yale in the Revolution, pp. 18-19, 21-22, 61-62, and in the Correspondence of Samuel B. Webb, vol. I, pp. 87-91, vol. ii, pp. 136-37, 156-60.”
— F. B. Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of the College History, Vol. III (May, 1763-July, 1778) pp. 177-179 (New York 1903).