Born 1734, died 1812; married about 1759 Mary Bush, who was born February 3, 1742, daughter of Justus Bush and Ann Hayes.
Compiled by Raymond M. Owen, Jr., and Gladys Husted Rungee Owen, great great granddaughter of Captain Mead.
The Mead (Meade, Meades, Mede) Family was an ancient and honorable English family. One of their ancestors had been a friend and physician of Queen Elizabeth and lived at the Court in Greenwich, England. Two brothers, William and John, sailed on Captain Stagg’s ship, Elizabeth, from Lydd, County Kent, England, to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in April 1635. From there they removed to Hempstead, Long Island, later to Wethersfield, Connecticut, and then to Stamford in 1641. John came to Greenwich in October 1660 and bought land of Richard Crab and others.
His descendent, Captain Matthew Mead, was commissioned Captain of the New Company or Train Band in the Town of Greenwich at the May session of the Connecticut General Assembly in 1773. At a special Town Meeting held March 11,1777, he was appointed a member of the Committee of Safety and Inspection together with Joshua Ferris, Robert Peck, Nehemiah Mead, Thaddeus Mead, Lieutenant Seth Palmer, and Gershom Lockwood. The Town voted to send for the “six four-pound cannon and shot for the same” which had been granted to it at the November 1776, General Assembly.
Captain Matthew Mead’s Company served under his older brother, Lieutenant Colonel John Mead, the commanding officer of the Ninth Regiment, Fourth Brigade, Connecticut Militia, comprised of various companies located in the towns of Norwalk, Stamford, and Greenwich. John had been offered a Captain’s Commission in the British Army by King George, but turned it down to serve in our army, becoming a full Colonel in May 1777 and a Brigadier General in May 1781.
Captain Matthew Mead’s Company had John Knapp as Lieutenant, Isaac Howe as ensign, six sergeants, and thirty-one privates, a total of forty men in all, to protect Horseneck. This was the First Detail. The Company, which was ordered to New York in 1776, took part in the Battle of Long Island August 27, 1776. The First Detail served during the months of August and September, and the Second Detail served during October, November, and December 1776 and January 1777. Captain Mead served with his men in both Details, whose composition was not identical. In the Second Detail Captain Mead had Isaac Howe, ensign, seven sergeants, two corporals, and twenty-five privates, a total of thirty-six.
He was in one of the last regiments, under General Israel Putnam, in the retreat from New York City to Harlem (Washington Heights). It has been said that during the retreat General Putnam with 4,000 men was left as a rear guard while the main army under General Washington took a position on Harlem Heights. When General Washington heard that the British General Clinton had landed in New York September 19, 1776, he sent a hurried order to General Putnam to evacuate the city and join him on Harlem Heights. Putnam was ignorant of the route leading from the city, and his aide, Aaron Burr, offered to guide the troops. He got lost, and Captain Mead’s Company suffered losses in a skirmish with the pursuing British Light Calvary.
After the retreat they were posted on Harlem Heights and remained there until the Battle of White Plains on October 28, 1776, in which they were engaged and suffered considerable losses. After the battle the Connecticut General Assembly ordered the Ninth, Tenth, Thirteenth, and Sixteenth Regiments of Connecticut to march to the Westchester border and place themselves under the command of General Wooster. Later the State regiments under the command of Colonel Enos and Colonel Whiting relieved them.
On December 19, 1778, Captain Matthew Mead was again, with six others, made a member of the Committee of Safety and Inspection. This group was to check the guns, ammunition, and food supplies for those who remained in Greenwich and to see to their safety.
During the Revolution Greenwich was a burr in the side of the British. General Tryon called the people of Greenwich “swamp rats” because after they attacked British supply ships on Long Island Sound and were pursued by warships, they disappeared into the swamps and small bays on the Connecticut shore. On more than one occasion small boats fled across the shallow sandbars where the pursuing enemy ships went aground, to the great amusement of the natives who gathered on the shore to watch.
The British General Tryon made his historical raid on Greenwich February 26, 1779. He had three objectives: the Cos Cob salt flats, the raiding fleet of small whaleboats, and the horse farms. The possible capture of General Putnam was an added inducement. General Putnam, however, made his famous escape down Put’s Hill.
At the time of Tryon’s Raid, Captain Mead’s house was situated on the Post Road to the west of Mead Tavern (corner of Putnam Avenue and Lafayette Place) with an old house in between. By the end of the war Mead was a Major. He died in Greenwich in 1812 and was buried in his wife’s family (Bush) vault, which was where the Greenwich Boys’ Club is now located. The vault and its remains have been moved to Putnam Cemetery, where it is today.
The children of Captain Matthew Mead and Mary Bush were Matthew, Justus, Bush, Charity, Rachel, Betsey, and Ann. His grandfather was Constable John Mead, born about 1658, died May 12, 1691, whose marriage to Ruth Hard(e)y was the first marriage recorded in the Town of Greenwich October 27, 1681.