The Real Historical Characters of Die Fasting


All historical fictions make reference to real historical people and events, and the degree to which they’re candid about it is the degree that separates them from pure fantasy.  (There’s nothing inherently wrong with pure fantasy, either, as long as both writer and reader are aware what they’re about.)  Your author’s intention is to create compelling stories that are as close as possible to established historical fact. 

The actual historical figures for whom imaginary dialog has been crafted in Die Fasting are:

  • Lt. Col. John Bradstreet
  • Col. Oliver DeLancey
  • Lord George Augustus Howe
  • Marinus Willett

Effort has been made to ensure the consistency of their speech and behavior in the novel with their reputations as passed down in the historical record, but the reader is asked to pardon the admitted inventions necessary to the creation of a story line, and understand that here most especially he or she is reading fiction and not history.

Several other historical personages "appear" in the novel, but are spared the indignity of having words put in their mouths: General James Abercromby, the Sieur de Noyan, Major Robert Rogers.

Still other historical individuals—George II, Louis XV, Benjamin Franklin, and so forth—are merely mentioned in the book. Though the fictional characters may have taken liberties with their motives and even their honor, your author has tried to avoid imputing any behavior inconsistent with the record of their statements and actions.




Lt. Col. John Bradstreet (1714-1774)

·       Born in Canada of mixed English and French parentage, Bradstreet received the British army commission that George Washington, for one, long coveted but never received.  However, despite his many successes in the French & Indian War, he was much embittered by the army’s failure to promote him. 

Lt. Col. John Bradstreet

Col. Oliver DeLancey (1718-1785)

·       Yes, lower Manhattan’s Delancey Street is named for his family, which once had a country house there. 

·       Oliver DeLancey became a leading Tory in the Revolution.  His properties were confiscated, his family was banished, and he died in Yorkshire.


Lord George Augustus Howe (1724-1758)

·       George Augustus Howe combined a reserve of common sense unusual among aristocrats, with a fatal dose of foolhardiness.  The former quality was much admired—and missed—by his American-born subordinates.

·       Not to be confused with his younger brother, Admiral Richard Howe (1725-1799), prominent during the American Revolution

·       Nor to be confused with his younger younger brother, General William Howe (1729-1814), also prominent during the American Revolution.  All three brothers were, in succession, “Lord” Howe.


2nd Lt. Marinus Willett (1740-1830)

·       Please see special notes about Willett in “The Fudge Factor.”

·       Willett became a national hero for his tenacious defense of the Mohawk Valley during the last five years of the Revolutionary War. 

·       An anti-federalist and a Jeffersonian, Willett was briefly, in 1807‑08, mayor of New York City! Buried in Trinity Church graveyard, his funeral attracted 10,000 mourners.





General James Abercromby (1706-1781)

·       An experienced, if not distinguished officer, Abercromby’s appointment in March 1758 as British commander-in-chief was widely celebrated ... because it implied the dismissal of his intensely-loathed predecessor, Lord Loudoun.  However, Abercromby’s reputation never recovered from the debacle at Ticonderoga, and he was in turn dismissed the following year. 

General James Abercromby

Pierre Jacques de Payan, Sieur de Noyan (1695-1766)


Major Robert Rogers (1731-1795)

·       A native of back-woods New Hampshire, Rogers became an early folk hero of the Europeans who were born in North America.  Spencer Tracy idealized him in Northwest Passage (1940)—an entertaining (though screamingly racist) movie.

·       We’d remember Rogers and his Rangers today as fondly as Davy Crockett … if he hadn’t become a Tory during the Revolution!  He died impoverished in London. 

Major Robert Rogers




King George II of Great Britain (1683-1760)

·       The last British monarch ever to lead his men into an actual battle (in 1744), George II did tend to favor military solutions.  However, the Seven Years’ War got completely out of his—or anyone else’s—control. 

George II

King Louis XV of France (1710-1774)

·       Louis XV inherited the throne of France at the age of five from his great-grandfather. One of Louis XIV’s most famous aphorisms was, “Après moi, le déluge!” and #15 spent his entire life struggling to deal with it. 

·       When they learned (in 1760) that New France was “history,” Louis XV’s friend Voltaire attempted to console him by observing, “After all, Sire, what have we lost – a few acres of snow?” 

Louis XV

Commodore George Anson (1697-1762)

·       One of the globe’s famed explorers and  circumnavigators (1740–44).

·       Together with Admiral Sir Edward Hawke, he developed the unprecedented system of blockading France by supplying ships remotely and rotating them home at regular intervals.  


Gaius Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE)


Lt. Gov. James DeLancey (1703-1760)

·       Also at one time the Chief Justice of the New York colonial court.


Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

·       Compiler and publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanac (1732-58).

·       Although Franklin had many achievements to his name by the time of Die Fasting, Thomas Dordrecht would have known him for the same feats for which the entire world then esteemed him, his demonstration that lightning and electricity were one and the same, and his creation of the lightning rod.

Benjamin Franklin

William Harvey (1578-1657)

·      The author of a famous text on anatomy, Harvey argued that blood was pumped around the body by the heart, before returning to the heart and being recirculated in a closed system.

William Harvey

Sir William Johnson (1715-1774)

·      Born in Ireland, Johnson emigrated to New York in 1738, and settled west of Schenectady, where he managed to assimilate so well with the Iroquois that he was, for a generation, the point-man of all negotiations. 

·      He became the first British hero of the war by defeating the French at the 1755 Battle of Lake George (which should not be confused with the conflicts of 1757 and 1758).  

Sir William Johnson

Major-General Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm (1712-1759)

·       An aristocrat, like Howe and Abercromby, Montcalm was equally contemptuous of both Native Americans and American-born Europeans.  His moments of common sense brought great success.  His failure at the citadel of Québec in 1759, however, was fatal.  

Marquis de Montcalm

Prime Minister William Pitt (the Elder) (1708-1778)

·      The father of the British Empire, Pitt’s determination to forcibly remove the French from North America fatefully prevented any early solution to the Seven Years’ War.

·      Lionized by American patriots in the years leading to the Revolution for his rhetorical support of their protests, Pitt’s role in creating the ultimate problem—the need for taxes to pay off the staggering war debt—was perhaps minimized.

William Pitt

Colonel Jedidiah Preble (1707-1782)


Algernon Sidney (1622-1683)

·       Particularly admired in North America, Sidney had fought on the Parliamentary side in the English Civil War, but became critical also of Oliver Cromwell’s dictatorial leadership.

·      He was executed for treason—“martyred” according to some—by Charles II.

Algernon Sidney

General John Stanwix (1690-1765)

·       Despite his advanced age, after successfully organizing forts in what is now Rome, NY, in 1758, he was sent to do the same thing in Pittsburgh, in 1759.


Dr. Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

·       A Protestant “Dissenter” clergyman who spent much time skirting the establishment of the Church of England, Watts is famous, first, as the author of some 750 hymns, including the lyrics of “Joy to the World,” and “Oh God Our Help in Ages Past.” 

·      He was also known as the author of works on logic that were the standard texts on the subject in English-speaking universities for over a century. 

Dr. Isaac Watts






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