The story of Nathan Packard

In Keith Brough and Frank Gardner’s book, General Ward’s Colonial Army, they write about a man named Nathan Packard, who they describe as a 1st Lieutenant and son of Zachariah Packard and Abigail Davenport. They further write that this individual was born in 1733 seemingly in Bridgewater, was a 1st lieutenant in Col John Bailey’s Regiment in 1775, a captain in Colonel Edward Mitchell’s Regiment, and holding similar positions until 1779 in varying companies (and regiments). They say he died in 1798 at age 65. But this snapshot is still not enough. Who was Nathan Packard and what was his story?

I wrote in my family history about some of those relating to Nathan Packard. I noted that

Nathaniel and Lydia would have two children before each of them died in the 18th century: Zachariah(1697-1771) and Mary (1695-1770). Mary would marry into the Leonard family. Nothing else is known about her. As for Zachariah, he would marry a woman named Abigail Davenport, and have four children: Elijah (b. 1725), Nathan (1733-1798) who was a captain in the Revolutionary War, Abigail and Nathaniel (d. 1721). When Zachariah died in 1771, he would have a will and inventory that were in keeping with the agricultural lifestyle of many of the Packards. Within his will, he would give his sons Nathan and Nathaniel a “servant” named Peter, his daughter Abigail a “servant boy” named America, and said that a “servant maid” named Ann would be given to his wife Abigail, only set free after her death…Hence, he [Zachariah] is clearly a slaveowner which was not explicitly stated in his will, except for calling the enslaved people listed above “servants” who are “worth” to him (as “quick stock”) a total of 69 pounds, 4 shillings, 9 pence. Using this measurement, it means that these people constitute almost 33% or one-third of his total property! Through his distribution of enslaved people to his sons Nathan and Nathaniel, daughter Abigail, and wife of the same name, it makes all of these individuals slaveowners as well.

Michael, on Find A Grave adds a further meaning of Zachariah’s inventory:

By the way, I just started looking at your family history. The excerpt from Zachariah’s will you quote on page 19 contains a word (Mistress) that you apparently couldn’t interpret because of the cursive writing style of the time, which wrote lower-case “s” almost the way we would today write “f” except in the final position or after another “s.” Hence “history” would look a bit like “hiftory” and “mistress” would look a bit like “miftrefs.” Compare the German letter “ß” (Eszett), which is a ligature double “s.” The line reads, “The Service of the Negro woman Ann during her Mistress [sic, should be Mistress’s] Life.”

But there is much more to the story. Moses Cary writes in A Genealogy of the Families who Have Settled in the North Parish of Bridgewater that Nathan Packard had seven songs, five daughters, marrying a woman with the last name of Jackson. Bradford Kingman adds in his “acclaimed” History of North Bridgewater about Nathan too. He writes that Nathan was a captain from North Bridgewater in 1778, a resident in Bridgewater’s north parish in 1770, served in the British military in 1755, was a 1st lieutenant in 1775. [1] As I noted in my post, “Packards in the DAR: who are they?” (link), Nathan Packard is an established Patriot. His GRS entry shows this, establishing him as a captain while also noting he served as a 1st lieutenant and that he married a woman named Lydia Jackson (on October 10, 1758, with her named “Lidia” in the record). Later on, a woman named Mary Manley Packard would become a charter member of a DAR chapter “through the service of her great-grandfather, Capt. Nathan Packard, who was a illustrious patriot of the Revolution.”

Nathan has a Find A Grave entry noting that he and Lydia moved to West Bridgewater (now called Brockton) to raise their family. The had 12 children in all! His gravestone is mostly unreadable except for his name and perhaps his year of death. The gravestone of his wife, Lydia, is much more readable. That is all I will note for now, but the story of the Packards continues onward.


[1] See pages 201, 214, 226, 232, 237-238, 241 of the book itself. Other Packards such as Hezekiah Packard, were members of his company, along with someone with the last name of Fobes, to name a few.

4 thoughts on “The story of Nathan Packard

  1. Pingback: Chapter III: The Packards in Bridgewater | Packed with Packards!

  2. Pingback: Zachariah Packard: the slaveowner | Packed with Packards!

  3. Pingback: From slaveowners to liberators: the Packard family and slavery | Packed with Packards!

  4. Pingback: More than Zachariah Packard’s property: the story of America, Peter, and Ann | Packed with Packards!

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