Major General Benjamin Lincoln Accepted the Sword of Surrender at Yorktown-Abraham Lincoln ancestor?

John Sprague asked:

Benjamin Lincoln lived from January 24, 1733 – May 9, 1810. He served as a Major General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He is best known for overseeing the largest US surrender of the war at the siege of Charleston and for being the officer who formally accepted the British sword of surrender at Yorktown.

The Lincoln family ancestors were among those who first settled in Hingham, MA beginning with Thomas Lincoln (the cooper) who was among several Lincolns who settled in Hingham when it was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In his early life, Lincoln worked on the family farm and attended the Hingham schools. Later in life, he felt the lack of further education and earned a Master’s degree from Harvard College. In 1756, Lincoln married Mary Cushing, daughter of Elijah Cushing of Pembroke, Massachusetts. Elijah’s ancestors were also among the founders of Hingham. There, in Hingham, the Lincolns raised eleven children who left many descendants.

President Abraham Lincoln’s family also hailed from Hingham, MA though it has not been determined if they were in fact related. My theory is that they were probably related in a previous generation dating back to the Norfolk, England area, in about the 15th or 16th century. Abraham Lincoln descended from Samuel Lincoln, a weaver’s apprentice from Norfolk, England. Hingham had several early Lincoln family residents, all of them came from Norfolk, England. Historians have spent years trying to piece together the Lincoln family genealogy. I’ve also spent much research in the genealogical field and am related to many Hingham ancestors including g-g grandfather Benjamin Lincoln Sr. and g-g grandmother Sarah Lincoln who was the sister of the general. My grandmother, Augusta Cushing’s family goes back to early Hingham as well as does my grandfather, Ralph Sprague’s family. I’m probably related to Mary Cushing who married the general. My ancestor g-g grandfather William Sprague was a founder of the town of Hingham.

General Benjamin Lincoln is buried in the Old Ship Burying Ground, behind the church there. In Lincoln’s honor, the bells at Boston and other places were tolled for an hour; the flags of vessels, and those at Fort Independence and Fort Warren, as well as those at the Charlestown Navy Yard were lowered to half-mast when he died.

He was one of the few men to have been present at the three major surrenders of the American Revolutionary War. He had been twice a Victor at Yorktown and also Saratoga, and once as the defeated party at Charleston. In spite of the major roles that he played during the war, he seems to be not as well known as many of his contemporaries in the Revolutionary War. Yet, there are places named “Lincoln” in the American South that are named after General Benjamin Lincoln rather than Abraham Lincoln. The following places are named in honor of Benjamin Lincoln: Lincoln, Alabama, Lincoln County, Georgia, Lincoln County, Kentucky, Lincoln County, Missouri, Lincoln County, North Carolina, Lincoln County, Tennessee, Lincoln, Vermont and numerous other place names.

He also served as Secretary of War. Then, later in life, he purchased 20,279 acres of land in Eastern Maine, near the town of Dennysville. Maine was still part of Massachusetts, in those days. Unlike many property speculators at the time, he settled down to improve and develop his land. Lincoln even settled one of his sons, Theodore Lincoln, in Maine, and visited the area every year between 1786 and 1805. Theodore built a home on the Dennys River, and called it the Lincoln House. This home still exists today and is called the Lincoln House Bed and Breakfast. It is an old home since Theodore arrived in 1792 along with the Hingham colonists that also included my ancestor, Samuel Sprague. They arrived in the harbor, aboard the “Sloop Sally” from Hingham, MA. Samuel had been a revolutionary soldier with the Massachusetts Militia and settled in the Passamaquoddy area. Benjamin retired to Hingham, MA and not Dennysville but had a connection to Eastern Maine and left a legacy there.

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One Response to “Major General Benjamin Lincoln Accepted the Sword of Surrender at Yorktown-Abraham Lincoln ancestor?”

  1. Victoria Taylor says:

    My mother’s side of the family is also related to Benjamin Lincoln. Thomas and Samuel were brothers in Hingham, Mass., making my great-grandfather, Joseph C. Lincoln, the Cape Cod novelist, related to Abraham Lincoln, or so he was told. I see that there is some controversy here, however. Thank you for your insight.

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