His uncles, Matthew, James and Andrew were grantors in the new town of Thornton, NH that same year, 1768. In 1770 a census of Thornton showed only 4 tax paying men living in the town. By 1775 there were Thorntons, Wallaces, and Crawfords settled there. The Thornton men included William Sr. and, William Jr. and Matthew, his sons. James, John and Thomas, other sons of William Sr. chose to remain in Schenectady, NY.
Captain Matthew, as he was known, was chosen to represent the town of Thornton in the third Provincial Congress on 21 April 1775 in Exeter, NH as well as the 4th congress held in May. He was appointed to various committees including one that was asked to form a plan to regulate the militia. On 6 July 1775 he was recommended to serve as a Lieutenant in Captain Osgood's company in the Continental Army. He was also recommended by David Hobart, David Webster and Samuel Sheppard to the Committee of Safety to be allowed to enlist his own company of 43 able bodied men as soldiers. In their letter the men wrote that Matthew was "a man we can depend upon in the greatest trouble or distress".Two of the men who joined up with him were Thomas and Jonathan Crawford of New Chester, possible relatives of his wife Mary Crawford and also his cousin John Wallace.
Captain James Osgood and 1st Lieutenant Matthew Thornton were able to raise three companies who marched from Haverhill, NH on 8 September 1775 to Ft. St. John in Quebec, which fell to the American forces on 2 November 1775. On 21 December 1775, Matthew's term of enlistment was up and he mustered out of the army. This was the last time he took up arms as a patriot.
On 30 September 1777 Matthew Thornton was arrested and accused of being a traitor. It seems that he had be caught on 16 August 1777 at the Battle of Bennington on the British side of the breastwork. He claimed that he had left Thornton, NH to check on his property at Otter Creek, New York, some 170 miles away. He claimed that he was taken by Hessian soldiers and forced to drive their wagons, witnesses said that there was not a wagon in sight when he was taken.
|General John Burgoyne|
His trial was not until September 1779. He plead not guilty. His Uncle, Matthew, was not a judge at his trial, but it possible that he influenced the jury's decision of not guilty. It's hard to imagine what he could have said to convince the jury of his innocence.
New Hampshire Historical Society, Proceedings, Vol. 3
Musgrove, History of the Town of Bristol
New Hampshire Provincial Papers
Committee of Safety Minutes