John Calef memorials and petitions (1766-1782)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Philip Heslip, September 2009
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: John Calef memorials and petitions
Creator: Calef, John, 1725-1812
Inclusive dates: 1766-1782
Extent: 12 items
This collection contains 12 official government documents concerning John Calef, a doctor and British loyalist, who lobbied on behalf of the Penobscot colony. Included in the collection are: memorials and petitions to the British House of Commons and Secretaries of State, memoranda and circulars from the Penobscot colony, and various official letters and requests, from John Calef.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

1937. M-349 .

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation

John Calef Memorials and Petitions, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


This collection is ordered chronologically.


John Calef was a doctor and British loyalist who served on the side of the crown during the Revolutionary War. Calef was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, on August 30, 1725, to Robert Calef and Margaret Staniford. Calef first married Margaret Rogers of Ipswich, who died in 1751; they had two children. After Margaret's death, Calef married Dorothy Jewett of Rowley, Massachusetts, in 1753; together they had fifteen children.

John Calef studied medicine at the Boston Latin School and became a naval surgeon in 1745. He served at Fort Halifax, now the town Winslow, Maine, for two months in 1755 and in 1756, started five years of service under Colonel Ichabod Plaisted and Generals Lord Loudoun and Jeffery Amherst. In 1764, Calef was elected to the General Court of Massachusetts but, remaining loyal to the King during the Revolutionary War, was forced to leave the position in 1779. He and his family fled to St. Andrews, New Brunswick, in the Penobscot region (Maine) and was the surgeon at Fort George (Castine, Maine) during a 21-day siege in July and August 1779. Calef traveled to England in 1780, to lobby the creation of a new province to be called New Ireland, but was unsuccessful. While in England, he published The Siege of Penobscot, his account of the conflict.

In 1784, Calef and his family fled to a loyalist community in St. John, New Brunswick, where he was the only qualified doctor. He was appointed surgeon to the British garrison at Fort Howe and served there until 1800, though in 1791 he moved his family to a house in St. Andrews. He joined his family permanently in St. Andrews and lived there until his death in 1812.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The John Calef memorials and petitions contains 12 government related items including: memorials and petitions to the British House of Commons and Secretaries of State, memoranda and circulars from the Penobscot colony, and various official letters and requests, from John Calef. Two items of interest are a 1782 memorial and petition appointing Calef Inspector of His Majesty's Woods, and an Estimate of Losses sustained by the rebels, which lists Calef's personal possessions lost or destroyed by rebel forces between 1768 and 1782. The loyalist claims commission, after listening to his petitioning, awarded him a lump sum of £2,400 for his losses.

The Remarks of the Eastern Country of Massachusetts Bay gives a brief history of the land transactions between the Plymouth company and various colonists for the Penobscot between 1630 and 1780. Also of note is a document of excerpts of letters from various notable British officers praising Calef for his efforts and achievements during the war.

Subject Terms

  • American loyalists.
  • Gage, Thomas, 1721-1787.
  • Goldthwait, Thomas, 1717-1799.
  • George III, King of Great Britain, 1738-1820.
  • Hutchinson, Thomas, 1711-1780.
  • Lansdowne, William Petty, Marquis of, 1737-1805.
  • Mowat, Henry, 1734-1798.
  • Massachusetts. Governor (1771-1774 : Hutchinson)
  • Maine--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775.
  • Maine--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
  • Penobscot expedition, 1779.
  • Sackville, George Germain, Viscount, 1716-1785.
  • Townshend, Thomas, 1732-1800.
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
  • United States--History--French and Indian War, 1755-1763.
Genre Terms:
  • Circular letters.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Memorandums.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Volume   1  
Memorials and Petitions [series]
1. Resolves of the House of Commons and an extract of a circular letter from Secretary H.S. Conway to His Majesty's Governors in America,  1766
2. Proclamation: By the Commanding Officer of the State Troops in the three Eastern Counties in the State of Massachusetts Bay, Brigadier General Hoadsworth,  1780
3. Copy of letters to Lord George Germain, London,  1780
4. Memorial and Petition of John Calef to the Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury,  1782
5. Memorandum to Lord George Germain, Principle Secretary of State,  1782
6. Memorial and Petition to Thomas Townshend, Principle Secretary of State, Memorial, Revival of an earlier request,  1782
7. Letter to Thomas Townshend,  1782
8. Copies of letters from Governor Hutchinson (1772); Thomas Gage (1782); Thomas Fluker, Secretary of Massachusetts Bay (1781); Thomas Goldthwait, Secretary of War for Massachusetts Bay (1781); and Captain Henry Mowat, Commander of the Sloop Albany (1780).
9. Estimate of Calef's personal losses sustained by rebels,  1768-1780
10. Note on the property of John Perkins on supposition of defection, no date
11. Calef's Remarks on the Eastern Country of Massachusetts Bay,  1780
12. Memorial and Petition on behalf of John Calef, John Perkins, Joseph Perkins, and Mark Hatch to Shelburne, one of His Majesty's principle Secretaries of State, no date

Additional Descriptive Data

Calef Family Geneology:

  • John Calef's first wife was Margaret Rogers of Ipswich. They had two children:
    • Margaret (b. 1748)
    • Mary (b. 1750).
  • Calef's second wife was Dorothy Jewett of Rowley, Massachusetts. They married in 1753 and had fifteen children:
    • John (b. 1753)
    • Jedidiah (b. 1755)
    • Elizabeth (b. 1757)
    • Daughter, still-born (b. 1759)
    • Robert (b. 1760), Dorothy (b. 1762)
    • Sarah (b. 1764), Susanna (b.1766)
    • Son, still-born (1768)
    • Mehitable (b. 1768)
    • Martha (b. 1770)
    • Samuel (b. 1772)
    • Daughter, still-born, (b. 1775)
    • Daughter, still-born, (b. 1776)
    • Jedidiah Jewett (b. 1778)

Related Materials

The Farley family papers contain an Ipswich deed transfer witnessed and signed by John Calef [July 23, 1774].

Calef, John.The Siege of Penobscot by the Rebels… London: G. Kearsley, [1781].


Condon, Ann Gorman. John Caleff Biography . Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.