I am indeed fortunate that much has already been written and published about this pioneer family. Of particular note is a book called "The Hazard Family of Rhode Island" by Caroline E Robinson, printed in Boston for the author in 1895. The given name of Thomas has been repeated very often throughout the generations and among concurrent cousins. This book has used various nicknames and descriptors to help distinguish them from one another. In the case with my 5G grandfather Thomas HAZARD, he was nicknamed “Virginia Tom”, perhaps because his first wife Mary was from Virginia. According to this Hazard Family book, the spelling of his surname changed to HASZARD only after he married his second wife Eunice RHODES.
A small and undated image of his signature is provided on page 46 (perhaps from a 1760 petition). And it looks like “Hafsard”, otherwise “Hassard” (the old handwriting style of a “double s” looks like “fs”). So there were other spellings of their surname also in use - not an uncommon occurrence in this era when standardized spelling was not a priority.
Thomas HAZARD was born on 22 February 1726/27 in Newport, Rhode Island (the double year is caused by the old calendar in use prior to 1752). He is listed as the oldest child of Jonathan HAZARD and Abigail MACCOON. His father gave him 300 acres in the Boston Neck area of Rhode Island. He kept the property but moved to Newport soon after his marriage to Mary Preeson/Preston BOWDOIN on 15 Nov 1746 in Northampton Virginia. He became a very successful and wealthy merchant. But on the home front there was much loss. Six of their children died in infancy or as young children, with only three attaining adulthood. Then Mary died in 1760 in Rhode Island when her youngest child was only two. In spite of his wealth, life must have seemed unbearably cruel. As a man of action, Thomas quickly married his 2nd wife Eunice RHODES on 12 Mar 1761 (presumably in Rhode Island) and had 8 more children between 1762 and 1777, including my 4G grandfather William HASZARD (1767-1847).
The affairs of the American colonies grew more turbulent, and the ensuing War of Independence (1775-1783) forced citizens to make life-changing decisions. Thomas sided with the British and was forced to flee first to New York and then to PEI as a Loyalist. He settled in PEI in 1786, while his son William reportedly moved there before him in 1785 and bought property near Charlottetown in 1792.
According to “The Hazard Family of Rhode Island” book mentioned above:
"It is not known that [Thomas] took an active part in actual warfare, but he was obliged to leave his family and flee to New York, then in possession of the British. His property was confiscated; he being the only member of the family who suffered in this way. The others who were attainted, after a little discipline and a few months’ absence from home, make their peace with the Colony, and were restored to their civil rights."
“ 'Virginia Tom’ was of too strong a build and too dominate a nature to yield his firm convictions to a matter of security to his person and estate. Even after the war was over, and he was offered free pardon and restoration of his property, he refused to accept either, at the price of submission. However, the Colony was most kind and gentle to her high-spirited children, and restored all his estate to his wife and children after the close of the war. His adopted mother proved herself but a step-mother, for of all the thousand acres of land granted to him in Ile S. Jean, now Prince Edward Island, but a small part, if any came into his possession. A great-grandson says: “As far as can be ascertained at present, he never profited by any grants of land in this Island, made to him as a loyalist.” Very little is known of his life after he went to Prince Edward Island, in 1786: shortly after his arrival there he is found filling some minor public offices; also at an election in 1787, he was returned as a member of the House of Assembly on both opposing lists. He was peculiar in being the only person having that honor. A great-grandson who furnishes this information adds, “I think that election was set aside as void. I have not yet ascertained whether or not he ever sat in the House.”
Was his estate in Rhode Island really restored to his wife and children? That seems doubtful. His first wife Mary had died in 1760, and his surviving first family were already grown. His second wife Eunice bore him 8 more children, presumably all in Rhode Island, but one died as an infant. We know that Eunice lived with Thomas in the Charlottetown area of PEI, so she was not resident in the US. So it seems probable that his younger second family traveled with him or joined him in PEI, where they continued a life together.
In a very short biography of families buried in Charlottetown PEI in the Old Protestant Burying Grounds (Elm Ave Cemetery), it says:
"The Hazard’s - Another Loyalist family, the Haszard’s arrived here complete with children and slaves. Thomas Haszard [died] in 1804. Two years before he died, he left the only bills of sale for slaves registered in Charlottetown. One of the Haszard sons, William, died in 1847, age 80, and his wife, Ann Farrant outlived him by 11 years, dying at age 78 and buried here.”
So who would Thomas’s confiscated lands in Rhode Island have been returned to? I have not yet found further details or proof of this. It has also been written that "his son, William Hazard, stated before the Loyalist Commissioners, in 1833, that his father had an estate of £20,000 confiscated in the United States.” So perhaps this offer was also refused, considering the price in principle too high.
The HASZARD spelling has now become synonymous with Thomas’s line in PEI. I believe that their isolation from the Rhode Island HAZARD branches, their preferences for using S’s, and likely their need to emphasize their differing allegiances, resulted in a new spelling of their name. It effectively marked their own territory, and it all happened within the lifetime of my 5G Grandfather Thomas HAZARD / HASZARD.
Reference the No Story Too Small blog by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow for more details.
It is giving me the much needed incentive to write and publish my family stories.