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The Bliss Branch

UPDATED    23 Apr 2016

Jonathan Bliss
(October 1, 1742 - October 1, 1822)
Biographies, p 374-5

Jonathan Bliss, jurist, was born in Springfield, MA. Descended from Thomas Bliss of Belstone, Devon, he was the son of Captain Luke and Mercy (Ely) Bliss. His parents were well-to-do, and he received a good education, entering Harvard College where he graduated in 1763. He then read law in the office of Lieutenant-Governor Hutchinson, where he was a fellow student of Sampson Salter Blowers, and on his admission to the provincial bar, commenced practicing in Boston. He acquired a good connection and quickly came to the front.

In 1768 he was elected to the General Court of MA from Springfield, and was one of the minority of seventeen who were in favor of acceding to a demand of the home Government that a certain obnoxious vote should be rescinded -- hence the reproachful term "rescinder."

He was a consistent supporter of the British Government throughout the pre-revolutionary troubles. At the outbreak of hostilities in April 1775, he accompanied Earl Percy on his march to Concord following the skirmish at Lexington. Later in the same year he removed to England and resided there for nine years, joining the New England Club of Loyalists in London. His name appeared in the Massachusetts Proscription Act, 1778, as an enemy of the State, and as such he was forbidden to return thither.

In 1785 he was appointed by the Crown attorney-general of the newly formed province of New Brunswick, and leaving England, took up his residence at St. John, New Brunswick, where he practiced for twenty-four years. The year of his arrival he was elected member for St. John in the House of Assembly, and was intimately associated with all the legislation of New Brunswick's formative period.

His legal ability gave him a leading position at the bar, and he appears as counsel in most of the important causes of his time. He was retained in 1790 by Benedict Arnold in the suit for slander which the latter brought against Manson Hart. In 1809 he was appointed chief justiceof New Brunswick and retained this position till his death at Frederickton, N.B.

He married a daughter of Hon. John Worthington of Springfield, MA. As a lawyer he ranked high in the estimation of his contemporaries, and in his public career he consistently adhered to the principles of loyalty to the Crown which he had imbibed in his youth. As attorney-general and chief justice he enjoyed the unreserved confidence and respect of the people of New Brunswick.



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Thomas Bliss 1588-1647
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Photographs of Bliss Family Members in the Civil War
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Bliss and Holmes - Descendents of Ephraim Bliss
Descendants: genealogical data, biographical sketches of Ephraim Bliss of Savoy, MA, & Israel Holmes of Waterbury, Ct., and related families, by E.B. & A.B. Dayton. 184p. 1961. $40.00
Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America
From about 1550 to 1880, by J. H. Bliss. 811p. 1881. (free pdf)
Romantic History of the Bliss Family from the time of its beginning in England to its advent
into America. C. A. Hoppin. 184p. 1913. $41.50


Photographs of Bliss in the Civil War
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The Civil War: Strange & Fascinating Facts
Of the many songs originated in the war, at least one became a well-known hymn -- "Hold the Fort, For I Am Coming." [YouTube] It was born in an incident of the fighting around Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, when the Confederates isolated General J.M. Corse with his 1,500 men in Allatoona.

When a division of 6,500 Southeners attacked the outpost, and all seemed lost for the bluecoats, signalmen flapping their flags on Kennesaw Mountain sent Corse the messages:

Sherman is moving with force. Hold out.
Hold on. General Sherman says he is working hard for you.

Corse did hold out, despite 705 casualities and 200 men lost as prisoners. Near the end, when Sherman sent a message asking if Corse had been wounded, the defiant reply went back:

I am short a cheekbone and one ear, but am able to whip all hell yet.

Of these materials Philip Paul Bliss wrote his popular hymn.

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