Ezekial Letts, Marine

Ezekiel Letts. Despite the 5th Company of Philadelphia Militia being identified as his command in a return dated 6 February 1781, Ezekiel Letts resigned as Captain of the militia company representing the Middle Ward (West side of Third Street to East Third Street) of Colonel James Reed’s 1st Battalion in November 1780, presumably to enter on board the Confederacy on 16 November. Letts served as Captain of this company since at least the 15 April 1780 return taken at Philadelphia. One incident involving his men which occurred on 10 June 1780 is recorded in the Journal of Samuel Rowland Fisher may have been the impetus for his resignation. He was previously commissioned Captain on 25 August 1779 of Bradford’s First Regiment of Foot according to a muster roll taken at Billingsport on 18 October 1779. Prior to that, Letts had been commissioned Captain of the Middle Ward’s 1st Company of Foot in Colonel William Bradford’s 1st Battalion on 25 June 1777 according to the 12 July 1777 muster roll taken at Billingsport. Prior to his captaincy, Letts was commissioned Lieutenant of Captain Robert Smith’s Company of Colonel Joseph Cowperthwait’s Battalion of Philadelphia Militia on 11 September 1777. Early in the war on 5 January 1776, Ezekiel Letts was commissioned Ensign in Captain John Taylor’s Company of Colonel Anthony Wayne’s 4th Pennsylvania Battalion. He resigned on 11 October 1776, apparently some time after a field promotion to Lieutenant. The reason for his resignation is made clear in a document dated 31 October 1776 and signed by Benjamin Rush which was auctioned at Christies East in 1997 and which is associated with Rush’s petition on behalf of Ezekiel Letts to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety dated 29 October 1776 from Essington which, “Humbly Sheweth, That Your Petitioner Went from here in the beginning of the Year for Canada an Ensign, and has Since been Promoted to the Rank of Lieutenant in the above Battalion. Your Petitioner having labour’ d under a long Sickness and became exceeding Weak, induced him to request his discharge for the recovery of his health, which the General was pleased to grant, and now being greatly rccoverd and growing hearty, begs leave to offer himself a Candidate for a Captaincy in the eleventh Battalion, And Your Petitioner, as in Duty bound, shall ever Pray. I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Letts for several years, and beg leave to recommend him as a prudent, sensible, worthy man, & warmly attached to the American cause.” Prior to receiving another officer’s commission, Ezekiel Letts apparently returned to duty after his illness as a Private in Captain Samuel Simpson’s Company of City Guards under Major Lewis Nicola in January or February of 1777. Before the war, Ezekiel Letts married Hannah Farmer at the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia on 13 April 1772. Born on 16 October 1753 and baptized at Christ Church, Philadelphia on 20 April 1754, Hannah was the daughter of Edward Farmer and Hannah Morgan. A 1779 tax record lists Ezekiel Letts next to Edward Farmer’s estate and Hannah’s brothers, James Farmer and the William Farmer estate. In 1774, Ezekiel Letts was one of Philadelphia’s representatives to the Baptist Association meeting. In 1775, he is listed as a tailor on 3rd Street, as his occupation is also noted in his mother-in-law’s probate records. One William Burkelow was indentured to Captain Ezekiel Letts on 6 July 1773 for a term of over nine years as an apprentice to learn “the trade of a tailor, have two quarters’ night schooling in the two first years and three quarters’ in the three last years.”

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