Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Willard, Abijah

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WILLARD, Abijah, soldier, b. in Lancaster, Mass., in 1722; d. in Lancaster, N. H., in 1789. He served at the capture of Cape Breton, was wounded in the campaign, and rose to the rank of captain. In 1774 he was appointed a mandamus councillor, and soon became an object of public indignation. While in Union, Connecticut, he was seized and confined, but was released on the signing of a declaration that was dictated by his captors. He commanded a Massachusetts regiment under Jeffrey Amherst, went to Halifax with the royal army in 1776, and at a late period of the Revolutionary war was on Long Island. In 1778 he was proscribed and banished, and in July, 1783, was in the city of New York, where he joined fifty-four other loyalists in a petition to Sir Guy Carleton for extensive grants of land in Nova Scotia. These petitioners are known as the “Fifty-five,” and their petition caused much excitement in New York and St. John. In a controversy between “Viator” and a “Consistent Loyalist,” published in London in 1784, his name often appears. On the one hand, it was said that as commissary he “saved the government several thousand pounds,” and on the other he “saved to himself and nephew many thousand pounds more than they were worth when the rebellion began.” Willard settled in New Brunswick, and was a member of the council. After his death his family returned to Massachusetts.