Peter Etter, American Loyalist

Peter Etter lived from July 5, 1751 to 1798.

Peter Etter was of Swiss descent, his father Peter having been born in 1715 in Bern, Switzerland. His mother, Margaretta Martin, was born in Switzerland in 1724. The elder Peter Etter (following his father, Johannes Etter) and wife emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1737, where he practiced the weaver’s trade in Philadelphia. Johannes and Peter the elder were friends with Ben Franklin and his family. Peter moved to Braintree, MA, in 1750, hoping to work with other German-speaking weavers in a joint weaving operation. In Braintree, the elder Peter became friends with John Adams, although they had quite a few political disagreements. Even as Massachusetts moved toward revolution, and Peter the elder having married into a Loyalist, Anglican family (Margaretta having died in 1754, he married Elizabeth Veazie in 1755), Peter and John Adams remained friends.

Braintree was the place of Peter Etter the younger’s birth on July 5, 1751 to Peter and Margaretta Etter. Peter lived in Braintree until political events forced the Etter family to flee to Boston in 1775. There, Peter, his brothers Franklin and Daniel, and father Peter, signed an agreement with other Boston Loyalists to join together into a defensive association to help the beleaguered British troops defend the city against General Washington and the American militia then laying siege to the city. When the British evacuated Boston in 1776, Peter, Elizabeth, and seven children, including the younger Peter, fled to Halifax. They were among thousands of Loyalists who fled to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. Peter Etter the elder lived in Halifax, and was buried in the Old Burying Ground in 1794.

During the war, Peter the younger joined the “Royal Fencible American Regiment” of Nova Scotia to fight against the rebellious Americans. He became a jeweler, as did his brother Benjamin, and married Sarah Nartain in 1786, perhaps in Halifax. In 1790 he moved to Westmorland County, New Brunswick, with is near the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy, and lived on land his father had originally purchased.

A good source for the Etter family is Joan Magee, et. al. Loyalist Mosaic: A Multi-Ethnic Heritage, 1984.

About theamericanplutarch

Writer, thinker, historian.
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