Major Burritt was born in Arlington, Vermont on 13 October 1775. He was one of 12 children, and the youngest son, of Daniel Burritt, Sr. (1735-1827) and Sarah Collins (1733-1815) of Connecticut, later Vermont, and finally Augusta Township, Grenville County, Ontario. Daniel Burritt Sr., a confirmed United Empire Loyalist, fought at the Battle of Saratoga when Major was just under two years of age.
In 1792, the year of his seventeenth birthday, Major arrived with his parents in Upper Canada where his much older brothers Stephen and Adoniram had already made their homes on Crown land they had received as United Empire Loyalist veterans of the American War of Independence.
Nine of Major’s eleven siblings also settled in Upper Canada:
- Lois (1756-1849) married Jehiel Hurd
- Adoniram (1758-1856) married Sarah Read
- Stephen (1759-1844) married Martha Stevens
- Edmund (1761-1796/8) married Philena Hinds
- Urania (c 1767-1820) married Ziba M Phillips
- Sarah Sally (1768-1803) married Asahel Hurd
- Tamer (c 1770-1819) married David Wright
- Daniel Jr. (1772-1859) married Electa Landon
- Nancy (c 1777-1850) married Thomas McIlmoyle
Major’s sisters who remained in Vermont were Phoebe (1763-1849) wife of Robert Buck, and Esther (1765-1835) wife of first Joseph Young who predeceased her, and second Ichabod Benedict.
Circa 1796, Major married Mary Towsley (1773/4-1844). As a child of a United Empire Loyalist, on 27 July 1797 (at age 21) Major applied for 200 acres of Crown land. His petition was duly approved on 21 August 1797, and he began farming in Augusta Township.
Major and Mary had eight children, all born between 1796 and 1810:
- Marcus (born c 1797) married first Martha Buell (died before 19 June 1834), who predeceased him, and second the widowed Mrs. Eliza Sexton (d 1838)
- Anson (1798-1873) married Hulda Baker/Buker (1812/3-1876)
- Phoebe (1799-1867) married Truman Adams (1804-1874) as his second wife
- Truman Burritt (1803-1879) married, but the name of his wife is presently unknown
- Johnson (1804-1886) married Catherine McNickle (1803/4-1856)
- Electa (c 1808-1850) married Truman Adams as his first wife
- Lucretia (1808-1881) married Stephen Hurd (1802-1887)
- Clement Burritt (born c 1810) married Martha Adams (1811/2-1890)
In February 1812, Major and his brothers Adoniram, Stephen, and Daniel Jr. were commissioned officers in the 2nd Regiment Grenville Militia. Other members of Major’s family who were commissioned in the same regiment in February 1812 were his nephews (Stephen’s sons) Henry Harry Burritt (1791-1872) and Edmund Burritt (1793-1880) and his brothers-in-law Jehiel Hurd (1760-1829) and Asahel Hurd (1768-1839).
Major, Adoniram, and Daniel Jr. served as company commanders throughout the War of 1812, while their brother Stephen (who had gained extensive military experience during the Revolution) served as lieutenant colonel and commanding officer of the 2nd Grenville. Aware of possible confusion between his forename and his rank, Major signed his pay receipts as “Major Burritt, Lieut.”
The 2nd Grenville engaged the enemy at Prescott (4 October 1812), Salmon River (23 November 1812), Ogdensburg (22 February 1813), and the Battle of Crysler’s Farm (11 November 1813).
In 1813, Major Burritt received the rank of temporary-captain, because at the time there was not a vacancy in the regiment for a new, substantive captain. He held this rank during the Battle of Crysler’s Farm.
Members of his company during the war included three of his nephews: Stephen’s son Ensign Edmund Burritt (1793-1880), his late brother Edmund’s son Calvin Burritt (born 1795), and his sister Esther (Burritt) Young Benedict’s son Adoniram Young (1784-1845) who prior to the war left Vermont to join his mother’s family across the border in Ontario.
Some of the other members of the company commanded by Lieutenant Major Burritt during the war included: Lieutenant William Henry Bottum, Sergeants David Aldrick/Aldridge, Alexander McCrea/McRae, Hebron Harris, William Robinson, Corporal Luther Cliflin, Privates John Bullis (company drummer), Elisha Calder, Stillman Merrick, Edward McCrea/McRae, Ezekiel Rose, John Davis, Peter Street, Charles Rose, William Brown, Jesse Brown, Abel Neusman, Thomas Crouch, Edward Roseman, James Leah, Daniel Harris, Daniel Bullis, Robert Norton, William Mars, John McCrea/McRea, Abraham Elwood, Archibald, Hill/Hull, Benjamin Mosier, James McCrea/McRae, Henry Day, Aaron Derrick, Gideon Bullis, Joshua Lasey/Lacey, Charles Tallman, Asaph Putman, William B. Smith, John Borke/Burke, Thomas Hicks, Barnabas Nettleton, Daniel Cross, Isaac Merrick, Abel Adams, Richard Bullis, Jesse Tompkins, Thomas Chester, and Jonathan W. Fisher.
After 1815, but before 1827, Major received a promotion to captain. On 17 April 1830, he achieved field rank upon his promotion to major and second-in-command of the 2nd Regiment Grenville Militia. On the same date, Major’s nephew Henry Harry Burritt, who served as a young lieutenant during the War of 1812, became a lieutenant colonel and the regiment’s commanding officer.
Proud of his Loyalist heritage, Major occasionally signed formal documents using his UE post-nominal letters. In surviving documents, his name often appears as Major Burritt, Esq.
He spent his final years living with his daughter Phoebe, her husband Truman Adams, and their children in Burritt’s Rapids, Oxford Township, Grenville County, Ontario. On the 1861 Canada Census, the last census upon which he appears, he is identified as head of the household.
Major passed away at 87 years of age on 27 January 1863 in Burritt’s Rapids. He was predeceased by his parents, his wife, and all 11 of his siblings and their spouses. He and Mary Burritt had at least 36 grandchildren. Today, Major and Mary Burritt have an ever-growing legacy on each side of the Canadian-American border.
Veteran SummaryMajor Burritt
Major, 2nd Regiment Grenville Militia
Place of Birth
Arlington, Vermont, USA
Place of Death
Burritt's Rapids, ON, CAN
Died on: 27 JAN 1863
Reason: Old Age
Location of Grave
Christ Church Anglican Cemetery, County Rd. #2 (9km East of Merrickville at 4419 Donnelly Drive)
Burritt's Rapids, ON, CAN
Latitude: 44.98339N Longitude: -75.79896