Perhaps the most challenging aspect of our work researching Maryland’s Revolutionary War soldiers is connecting their military service to civilian life. It’s relatively straight forward to piece a man’s army history together, but finding records of that person’s life afterward, and determining that it’s not someone else with the same name, can be difficult. Sometimes we can only use indirect or circumstantial evidence.
That’s the case with George Claypoole. He enlisted as a private in Captain Edward Veazey’s Seventh Independent Company in early 1776. The company suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Brooklyn, its first engagement. It lost three out of its four officers, and only a third of the men escaped death or captivity. Claypoole survived—there is no record of whether he was captured or not—and did not rejoin the army after his enlistment ended in December 1776.The Seventh Independent Company was mostly raised in Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s counties, and some preliminary research turned up a will of a George Claypoole filed in Kent. But whose will was it? Perhaps it was our George, or his father, a cousin, or an entirely unrelated man.
On examination, the will was written on July 9, 1776. That was two days after Veazey was ordered to march his company north to New York to join the Continental Army, and a day or two before the men departed. The timing makes it almost certain that this will was written by the same person who enlisted in Veazey’s company. Like Andrew Ferguson, George Claypoole responded to the news that his company was being deployed by writing his will, “being desirous to settle my worldly affairs.” As a young man of just twenty-four, Claypoole had little property to distribute, and named his sister Rebeccah his sole beneficiary.
George Claypoole’s will was filed on July 28, 1781. He was only twenty-nine when he died, five years after he marched to war.