Reynell Coat of Arms
as published in the obituary of Sir Thomas Reynell, 6th Baronet (1777-1848)
Thos. Reynell Lt., his signature from a regimental paylist dated Saint-Vallier, Québec, 28 January 1777
Born: Laleham, Middlesex County, England, ca.1746
Regimental commission dates:
Ensign, 8 December 1767
Lieutenant, 3 May 1770
Killed: Battle of Freeman's Farm, 19 September 1777
Lieutenant Thomas Reynell was the senior subaltern in the 62nd Regiment during the Northern Campaign of 1777. From a prominent family and in line to inherit a baronetcy, Reynell met his untimely end in the Battle of Freeman's Farm on 19 September 1777. Reynell is perhaps the most tragic of all the regiment's officer casualties: his wife, Anne, and two of their four young children were also present with the army. The following was later relayed by Ensign Thomas Anbury of the 24th Regiment in his Travels Through the Interior Parts of America (London: 1789):
You will readily allow that it is the highest test of affection in a woman, to share with her husband the toils and hardships of the campaign, especially such an one as the present. What a trial of fortitude the late action [the Battle of Freeman's Farm] must have been, through a distressing interval of long suspense! The ladies followed the route of the artillery and baggage, and when the action began, the Baroness Reidesel, Lady Harriet Ackland, and the wives of Major Harnage and Lieutenant Reynell, of the 62d regiment, entered a small uninhabited hut, but when the action became general and bloody, the surgeons took possession of it, being the most convenient for the first care of the wounded; in this situation were these ladies four hours together, when the comfort they afforded each other was broke in upon, by Major Harnage being brought in to the surgeons deeply wounded! What a blow must the next intelligence be, that informed them Lieutenant Reynell was killed! Madame de Reidesel and Lady Harriet could afford but little consolation to their companions, through an anxiousness they knew not how to smother, lest it might be soon, very soon, their own situations.
Baroness Frederika Riedesel herself recorded the tragic event of Reynell's death in her later memoir (Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution, journal and correspondence of a tour of duty 1776-1783. Marvin Brown, trans. University of North Carolina Press: 1965):
On September 19 there was a battle, which, although it resulted in our favor, forced us to halt at a place called Freeman's Farm…. I saw a number of wounded men, and, what was even worse, three of them were brought to the house where I was. One of them was Major Harnage, the husband of one of the ladies of our party, the second a lieutenant [Thomas Reynell], whose wife was also an acquaintance of ours, and the third was a young English officer named Young.
A publication titled Once a Week: An illustrated miscellany of literature, art, science, & popular information by Eneas Sweetland Dallas (Bradbury and Evans: 1880) retold the experiences of the British ladies and their families present with the army during the course of the Northern Campaign of 1777. According to this volume, “…Lieutenant Reynell had been shot through the head and killed on the spot.” The originating source of this specific description is unknown.
Thomas Reynell was born into a prominent English family as the second son of Sir Thomas Reynell, 3rd Baronet (1697-1775). His older brother, Richard (ca.1735-1798), never married and therefore upon his death, the baronetcy would have fallen to Thomas had he not been killed at Freeman's Farm. According to Thomas Faulkner's History and Antiquities of Kensington (London: 1820), the interior of Kensington Church has the following memorial:
In the north gallery is a beautiful marble tablet, thus inscribed:
‘Underneath are deposited the remains of Sir THOMAS REYNEL, of Laleham, in the County of Middlesex, Bart., who departed this life on the 12th day of September, 1775, aged 78.
Sir Thomas was lineally descended from Sir Richard Reynel of Rytney in the County of Somerset, Knt., and Captain of the Castles at Exeter and Launceston, in the year 1191. He married Sarah, daughter and co-heir of Richard Righton of Chipping Norton, in the County of Oxford, Esq., by whom he had issue, two sons, Richard and Thomas, who survived him.
Underneath, also, are deposited the remains of Sir RICHARD REYNEL, Bart., eldest surviving son of the abovenamed Sir Thomas Reynel, who departed this life on the 27th Nov., 1798, aged 67, a man of approved integrity and honour.
THOMAS REYNEL, the youngest son of the abovenamed Sir Thomas Reynel, was a Lieutenant in his majesty's 62d regiment, and fell in the memorable battle of Saratoga, on the 19th September 1777, aged 31, bravely fighting for his country.
Sir Richard Reynel was a Commissioner of the Salt Office, and at his death the title became extinct.'
Ensign Richard James received Lieutenant Reynell's lieutenancy the day after his death.