General Jonathan Moulton -- The Man And The Legend

Hampton's 325th Anniversary, 1638 - 1963

The General Moulton House
The General Moulton House

by Stillman M. Hobbs

Fact has been so mingled with fancy concerning the life of General Jonathan Moulton that for years the fanciful tales were handed down from generation to generation and magnified with the telling, while the facts of the man's life and accomplishments have been largely obscured or neglected.

The facts of General Moulton's life are far from prosaic and his accomplishments were considerably more than ordinary. He was descended from John Moulton who came to Hampton with Stephen Bachiler in 1638. Although Moulton was probably the wealthiest man in Hampton, owning slaves, running a prosperous store, and engaging in many land enterprises, he found the time and energy to transact public affairs. His ability was apparently recognized by the citizenry of Hampton since he served for many years as the modereator of town meetings and represented the town in the provincial legislature. In 1778, he was one of Hampton's two delegates sent to Concord to make a new state constitution.

Jonathan Moulton was also recognized for his military prowess. During the long and bloody Indian wars he had served with distinction as a courageous and resourceful fighter.

In 1763, Moulton and sixty-one other men were granted land in the interior of New Hampshire by the Masonian proprietors. Moulton was the head of the grantees, and it was largely through his foresight and enterprise that the town of Moultonborough was founded to forever honor and perpetuate the Moulton name in New Hampshire.

A little later, Moulton was granted by Governor Benning Wentworth the land which is now the town of New Hampton. The "Moulton Annals" relates the manner in which the General secured this grant from his great and good friend as follows:

"In 1763, General Jonathan Moulton of Hampton, having an ox weighing one thousand four hundred pounds, fattened for the purpose, hoisted a flag upon his horns, and drove him to Portsmouth as a present to Governor Wentworth.

"The General refused any compensation for the ox, but said he would like a charter of a small gore of land -- adjoining the town of Moultonborough --. The Governor granted this simple request of General Moulton, and he called it New Hampton, in honor of his native town."

During the Revolution, Moulton was an active patriot and soldier. He was moderator of the town meeting which decided what steps to take in opposition to British taxation. He was a member of the local committee of safety and as Colonel, he was assigned the responsibility of guarding the coast from possible attack. Colonel Moulton marched to Saratoga in 1777 with men from Hampton and other New Hampshire towns to reinforce the army of General Gates.

Jonathan Moulton had indeed served well and honored Hampton, the town of his birth, had contributed greatly to the settlement and development of New Hampshire, and had willingly and skillfully defended his people and his country in warfare. It is only historic justice that he should be remembered for these things. Let the legends of the Devilish compact and the returning ghosts be recognized for what they were -- pure fancy!

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For more about Jonathan Moulton, see here