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Are there any Sources that Confirm the place of birth of Revolutionary War heroine Deborah Sampson? Perhaps a pension application?

From: Melanie McComb, NEHGS Library, Genealogist

According to Mayflower Families through Five Generations, vol. 22: William Bradford, compiled by Robert S. Wakefield, fasg, and Ann Smith Lainhart (2004), pp. 137–38, Deborah Sampson was born December 17, 1760, in Plympton, Massachusetts. This birth date has been repeated in many accounts of Deborah’s life but no contemporary record has been located (Mayflower Quarterly 39:56–58, 48:172). Deborah’s birth record is not published in the Plympton volume of the Massachusetts Vital Records, 1620– 1850 series. But an unrecorded birth at the town level wasn’t uncommon, and the statewide collection of vital records did not begin in Massachusetts until 1841, eighty years after Deborah’s birth. Pen-sion files are a great alternative resource for vital record information. Details about the birth, marriage(s), and death of the sol-dier are generally included in the files, as well as affidavits from family members and acquaintances.

Deborah Sampson’s Revolutionary War pension application file and pension files from the National Archives have been scanned and uploaded to Fold3.com (a subscription site). In addition, Deborah’s brother, Ephraim Sampson (1759–1810), also served in the Revolutionary War. His pension application file is also online on Fold3.com. Both files contain a number of letters that discuss the family and may be helpful in your search. (Abstracts of these files are in Virgil D. White’s four-volume set, Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files [1990–1992]; Deborah Sampson’s entry can be found under her alias, Robert Shurtleff.)

Notes in Ephraim’s pension application file speculate on whether he was born in Plympton or Halifax, Massachusetts. In 1734, the town of Halifax was incorporated from several Plymouth County towns, including Middleborough, Pembroke, and Plympton. The vital records for Plympton have been digitized from the original records and are available at FamilySearch.org/search/catalog /399477; find the other towns at FamilySearch.org/search/catalog.

I recommend contacting Congregational churches near Plympton to search for a baptism record for Deborah and her brother Ephraim. If a church closed, the records may have been deposited at the Congregational Library here in Boston. The library has digitized many of these records, such as those of the First Church of Middleboro, which are now online at www.congregationallibrary.org/nehh/ series1/MiddleboroMAFirst4970.

Source: American Ancestors, Fall 2019 vol. 20, no. 3, pages 8,9, by NEHGS New England Historic Genealogical Society