"Colonel Larned with the revolver"

Colonel Morris Larned and his wife Elizabeth Eaton

Well, Jeff Record got back at me with another Clue post, and wisely moved away from talking about double names, as there are only so many one can find! So, I’ll continue the game with my great-great-great-great-grandfather Col. Morris Larned (1786-1878) of Dudley, Massachusetts. While I have discussed several of his relatives (his wife was the last centenarian in my ancestry, and his namesake great-grandson Morris Larned Healy was a bit of a wild one), I really do not know much about Colonel Larned himself, other than that he was a colonel … but a colonel of what?

Morris was born, married, and died in Dudley, and the son of Thomas and Hannah (Morris) Larned. His father Thomas Larned (1762-1848) served as a private for Massachusetts in the Revolutionary War, and his paternal grandfather William Larned (1725-1806), served as major of the 5th Worcester County regiment of the Massachusetts militia 1776-78.[1] While Morris would certainly be of the age to serve in the War of 1812, I do not find his name listed among soldiers from Massachusetts during that conflict.

An 1881 history of Warren County, New Jersey, which gives a biography of Morris’s grandson Stephen Holmes Larned (1847-1923), states Morris “served as a colonel during the War of 1812. He was a woolen manufacturer and merchant, a tavern keeper and a farmer. He was a Universalist in religion and a Whig in politics.” The 1898 Learned genealogy describes Morris as “town clerk; for many years chairman of selectman; representative to General Court; Col. of militia.” So, was he a colonel in the war of the 1812, his town militia, or both? To date, I have only found records of Morris as being part of the Dudley town militia, with the rank of lieutenant as early as 1813, and that of colonel by 1819. (In between these years Morris served as town clerk of Dudley and appears in the records without a rank.) So, he was a member of his town militia during the War of the 1812, but he does not appear to have served in that conflict himself.

Morris’s title of Colonel is used in an interesting 1843 case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court...

Morris’s title of Colonel is used in an interesting 1843 case before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Inhabitants of Webster vs. Morris Larned, where Colonel Larned, the defendant, was alleged by the plaintiffs to have deceitfully represented himself to the inhabitants of Webster regarding the repair of a bridge over the French River which divided the two towns. The court ultimately dismissed the case against Colonel Larned. Phew! although it appears a new bridge over the river was later constructed (in 1868, rehabilitated in 1967), and I have driven over this bridge many times.

The same history of Warren County says that Colonel Larned’s son Thomas Morris Larned (from whom I descend), “was a farmer, a Universalist, a ‘Black Republican,’ and served several times as one of the selectmen of the town. He also held a lieutenant’s commission in a militia organization known as the ‘Dudley Rifles.’”

If I cannot find a revolver belong to Colonel Larned, maybe I’ll find a rifle belonging to his son!


[1] Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of in the Revolutionary War 9: 520, 607 (William also appears with his surname spelled as Learned).

Christopher C. Child

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.View all posts by Christopher C. Child