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      CHACE LIKE IN QUAHOG  page 2      

So much for the genealogical background of the Chase/Chace family.

There are quite a few explanations for the spelling change from Chase to Chace. Some believe it was an administrative error made by a clerk in Freetown, but there is another more plausible answer to explain the Chace explosion of names in the late 1700's and beyond.

Freetown does not get the credit for the part it played prior to and during the Revolutionary War. The men of Freetown had the insight to prepare for the war with England. Their participation, including armed conflict with the Tories, was every bit as important as what was going on in Boston, although the Boston Tea Party in 1773 did get a lot of publicity and had a far more active press.

Freetown was split into parts: one for the Tory Party and the other for Whigs (Patriot) Party. East Freetown was the Whig (Patriot) part of Freetown. The Village of Assonet held loyalty to the Crown led by Colonel Thomas Gilbert. After the Boston Tea Party, those living in Freetown and Assonet drew up a number of resolutions against those favoring the Revolution. Examples of two of these resolutions:

1. Resolved, that ye Body of the People at Boston on the 16th day December last, taking upon themselves the Style and Appelation of a Body of People who did not Indeavor to prevent a number of people in Indian Dress or Disguise from acting there Savage Nature in ye destruction of 342 Chests of Tea, as we apprehend, was not doeing their Dutey, but was contrary to Law, and we fear will bring upon the Vengeance of the affronted Majesty and also plunge us into Debt and Misery when the Injured Owners of the said tea shall make their Demand for the Vallue of ye Same.

2. Resolved, That this Town of Freetown do here by Declare that we Abhor, Detest and for Ever bare our Testimony against the proceedings of ye Body and Indians aforsaid, and any others who have or shall act in any Riotous manner, it being so very Conterary to ye Spirit of our Laws, and ye Liberty of ye People.

Although the Tories held much of the power in Freetown, none were elected to town office in March 1775. Colonel Gilbert in Assonet, continued to support the Crown with the help of the famous British General, General Gage in Boston. Gilbert had three hundred men of Bristol County in Assonet for the purpose of stopping the insurrection in this section of Massachusetts. To counter this force the Whig towns of Bristol County mustered their forces and marched two thousand strong on the Village of Assonet, to disperse the Tory Battalion. All of this took place a little over a week before the battle of Lexington and Concord. Perhaps even more important, on July 2nd, 1776, two days before the action of Congress at Philadelphia, Freetown adopted and published its own Declaration of Independence!

Understanding the division between the Whigs and Tories forms the basis why the spelling of men who were born a "Chase" in Freetown, died, and were buried as a "Chace." Those who changed the spelling of their name to "Chace" were Whigs who joined the militia in Freetown under Captain Benjamin Read. As recorded in the rolls are: Greenfield Chace (my ancestor, his brothers Gilbert Chace and George Chace Jr., Fairfax Chace as well as; Thomas, Noah, Phillip, Nathan, Benjamin, Augustus, Edward, Darius, Ebenezer, Walter, and Lony. As concerns the Tory Chases, one was tarred and feathered in Taunton and others were put on prison ships for harboring guns and ammunition for the British. In any event, the Tory party, in time, lost all power and were no longer a factor in politics.

The proliferation of Chaces in Bristol County was somewhat staggering in the late 1700's and 1800's. Here are some interesting family statistics:

Greenfield Chace (born in Freetown in 1754) had eleven children. One of his sons James (born Aug 1786) married his second cousin Phebe, who was the daughter of Augustus Chase who married his first cousin, Olive Chase. James had eleven children all named Chace. One son named James married Love Chase and another son named Geenfield married a Phebe Chase. (So much for genes, but there is more!)

Gilbert Chace had eight children. Allen born 26 May 1784 married his first cousin Sarah Chase, daughter of his brother Greenfield. His second wife was Sally Chase, daughter of his nephew James Chace. Allen had eight children with his first wife.