A grandson of Rev.
Tuck takes issue with the stories of how his grandfather was
dismissed and how the McClary family is treated in history -
the name of the grandson is not given.
OF JOHN TUCKE, FIRST MINISTER OF EPSOM, NH
By his grandson
Owing to the inaccurate
accounts of my grandfather given in Farmer and Moore's Historical
Collections, I was induced to give a true and minute account
of his life. It is there observed that he was dismissed from
the ministry but without telling us why. As his removal from
the ministry owing chiefly to the diabolical machinations of
one person, whose true character had never been given to the
world, it will be necessary to consider it here.
The same person also lost his line in the time of the Revolution
and before him whom he had sought to destroy. Every reader of
the history of the revolution well recollects the high encomiums
lavished upon Capt. Andrew McClary whom every considerate person
must acknowledge, cast away his life like a fool.
Mr. Tucke was at first in favour with McClary and received some
assistance from him in his settlement, tho no more then from
any other citizen according to his property. The disposition
and character of him was at most desperate, overbearing and
arbitrary. It is well known that in new settlements it often
happens that some ill natured, overbearing fellow or set of
fellows go on regardless of all law and in time bring almost
everyone to do as they say. This character was Andrew McClary.
He swore implacable vengeance to all who would not join him
in effecting his designs. His difficulties were frequent among
his neighbors. After a long train of difficulties, in which
many worthy members of society had suffered severely, some by
his giant power (for he was an overgrown man) and others by
his skill in gambling. (He being a professor in the black art)
The Rev. Mr. Tucke, in performing such duties as every faithful
minister should, fell under his displeasure.
It was a sermon delivered in June 1774, it is believed, in which
he [implies] strongly against vices of every kind and endeavored
to dissuade his people from joining in them. This coming to
the ears of McClary, he supposed the whole force directed at
him, knowing himself guilty of introducing the worst of vices.
An uproar now commenced. His rugged voice, on which floated
the most abominable oaths, like bubbles from the raging cataract,
was soon heard in every part of the town, and vengeance was
proclaimed against all, and in some instances, death to such
as would not join with him in breaking up the ministry.
He next nailed up doors of the meetinghouse and threatened anyone
with death that should attempt to open it. Some persons tried
to reason with him but this only increased his rage and at one
time he was heard to say 'I have shut the house and I defy God
Almighty to open it,' at which his brother observed to him 'depend
upon it brother as you have shut the doors of the house of God
against our Godly minister, so I fear has God shut the doors
of Heaven against you.'
On receiving the news of the battle of Lexington in 1775, McClary
raised a company and marched to Charlestown, where after the
battle of Bunker Hill, he was exposing himself, boasting of
his courage in a place of imminent danger, when a cannonball
thrown from a ship put an end to his life on the 17th June.
Mr. [Moore] of Deerfield NH was near him when he was shot and
repeatedly urged him to retire. Said he 'God damn them, the
ball's not cast yet to kill me,' and from these words escaped
his lips, a cannon ball shot from the Glasgow cut out his bowels
and he had only time to say 'I am a dead man.'
This is the true account which has been kept in the dark, lest
it should have some effect of the concerns of his relatives,
but no one except the most suspicious would reflect anything
there from, and says every fine historian, 'the truth must be
Mr. Tucke now receiving an appointment in the army as chaplain
and prepared for his departure. He set out from Epsom and after
several days travel arrived at Danvers, here he was seized with
a violent headache to which he had been always more or less
accustomed through life, tho not to such an uncommon degree
as at this time. A physician was called in, and some medicine
administered which proved directly opposite to his complaint,
or in their words greatly enraged it, for it proved to be the
small pox, and he died Feb. 9th 1777, with all that composure
or mind which arises from a rectitude of conduct and a consciousness
of having committed no crime.
Mr. Tucke opposed, in his conversation, every measure of the
British Parliament in its various attempts to force a tax on
the American colonies, which he clearly foresaw would lead to
an open [ ] political affairs however he never found [ ].
In a history of the town of Epsom by Rev. Mr. Curtis, slight
notice is taken of the first minister, with an excuse for so
doing that information could not be obtained, but he knew the
family from whom I am descended and that my mother was his daughter
from whom alone of course, he was to expect correct information
about family particulars, more especially as chief of his papers,
manuscripts and books hell into her hands. Particularly a manuscript
entitled 'the Ecclesiastical Records of Epsom' which was exactly
kept during his ministry there. How could Mr. Curtis dispense
with the only true early accounts of the town, without even
inquiring of a single descendant whether any such thing existed?
Mr. Tucke was a son of the Rev. John Tucke who settled at Gosport
(Smith's Isles) where he continued until his death 12 August
1773. A monument was erected over his grave with this inscription.
He had two brothers who immigrated to this country at the same
time. One settled at Hampton and the other somewhere in the
south. It is said in Maryland, descendants of the former are
found in Brentwood, N.H. and in Massachusetts.
The subject of this history married a daughter of Rev. Samuel
Parson of Rye by whom he had seven children. John, the elder
of these, in the beginning of the war of Independence, sailed
on a cruise in the ship American and was never heard from again.
The whole crew was made up of promising young men. Richard died
at [ ] in the West Indies. Joseph went out to Europe as super
cargo and died in Liverpool. Samuel Jones, the only son now
living is a merchant in Boston (it is true and mentioned in
Farmer and Moore's Col. That he was a merchant of Baltimore,
but not then because he removed back to Boston in 1822 whence
he went in 1817). The three daughters are living. One married
Thomas Rand of Rye, one Simeon Drake of Northwood, the other
Samuel G. Bishop Esq. of Connecticut, no Columbia, N.H.
Mr. Tucke, though his fore mentioned death, must be lamented
by all true friends of science and virtue, left ample monuments
of his great [ ] and experience there in. He was eminent in
the mathematics, as his manuscripts (now belonging to me) fully
show and he wrote the banned languages with accuracy and ease.
The deplorable condition into which the family of Mr. Tucke
was thrown on his being obliged to desist from preaching, cannot
be described. His wife, a widow, of a delicate constitution,
with several young children, was now left in a great measure
to the will of his enemies, as will be explained.
The most frivolous law suit, and to Mr. Tuck the most fatal,
were brought against him by or at the instigation of McClary.
On being driven from the meetinghouse, Mr. Tuck preached in
the hall of his own house, where his good friend would assemble
for instruction on days of meetings. But the number was gradually
lessened by the [madness] of McClary. He at length hit upon
the most effective and perhaps the only means, utterly to destroy
his victim. They were suits of law! Swayed by the will of the
No cushion had been furnished to the meetinghouse, and after
a time Mr. Tuck, at his own charge procured one and placed it
in the pulpit. This was of course wrested from him when the
church was nailed up. When it was found that the house was not
again to be opened to Mr. Tucke, he caused it to be entered,
and the cushion taken out. This he had a right to do because
it belonged to him. This was no sooner known to McClary but
he brought a suit against Mr. Tuck in which he was arraigned
I will not disgust my readers with the particulars of the trial,
for they tend only to stamp with the blackest infamy, the prosecutor,
of which indeed they must have discovered too much in the very
outset of this narrative. It will suffice here only to observe
that although nothing was made out against the defendant, yet
it caused him the greatest distress.
At another time he was tried for theft and with no better foundation
than before, but with more success on the part of the prosecutor.
Mr. Tucke had boards at a mill, his neighbors also had boards
there. Mr. Tuck having occasion for some, went a man with directions
which to take, but when he came to the mill, took boards from
the wrong pile; in consequence of not understanding his instructions,
or from the difficulty of distinguishing among piles of boards,
where of course there was much sameness.
Thus are the circumstances stated that led to the destruction
of the family, for the widow was swindled out of the rent of
her farm for some years, which greatly increased their distresses.
James Gray who died in the winter of 1821, for a stipulated
price per acre, improved her farm. After years he was requested
to make payment, and after being put off for some time, she
saw no other way of obtaining her right but by a recourse to
the law. Accordingly a suit was commenced. At the day of trial,
a women much attend in person' at a great distance from home;
(she had no male connection nearer than Rye) but this would
have been trifling but for the acts of a villain. (all at the
instigation of Gray) For eventually, she had with great fatigue,
on horseback, arrived at the appointed place, or in its neighborhood,
some one or more, under the greatest pretensions of friendship,
waited upon her and informed her that the trial of her case
would not come on until a future day. Thus disappointed she
returned home. The trial immediately came on, and the result
was, she lost her right. The loss, together with the coast of
court, subjected her to still greater sufferings.
It was considered very remarkable at that time and is so at
the present day by all old people who knew the circumstance;
which was this; General Andrew McClary was killed near Bunker
Hill just one year, on that very and to him fatal day, from
the time he nailed up the meetinghouse at Epsom, before related.