A series of notices published years after the American War suggest such a lifestyle for one deserter. We have not yet found any information about the military service of Thomas Mallalue (or Malady). We first learn of him through an ad published in 1791 in the Western Star, a newspaper that began publication in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1789. He wrote:
Whereas Hannah, my Wife, has forsaken my bed and board - this is therefore to forbid all persons trusting her on my account. Thomas Mallady.
Richmond, October 14, 1791.
[Western Star, 25 October 1791]
Ads like these were quite common in period newspapers, and are seldom supported by additional published information. Hannah Mallady, however, did not take the accusation lightly. The following year, apparently after some other exchanges with her estranged husband, she published this ad:
[Western Star, 11 September 1792]
Thomas Mallady (or Mallalue), now revealed to be a British deserter, published a response the following week:
In the Star of last week, was published a piece under the signature of Hannah Mallalue - a performance in which my character is represented as black as the pen wielded by the hand of falhood [sic] could possibly describe. A publication, signed by a woman, the blackness of whose character my modesty will not permit me to lay naked to the view of the world - a woman with whom had it have been possible for any man to have lived, would not have been under the necessity of strolling about after a second gulled companion, while the first was still living. Let any ingenuous mind read the performance to which I allude, and then say, if any but an abandoned prostitute could ever have come forward with such a publication in the face of the world. No, not a woman on earth, who is not totally devoid of every species of virtue, could have assumed the impudence to publish such brothel ideas of a man, whom she claims as her companion.
The charges alledged against me in that piece, it is in my power, at any time to confute. But I do not conceive that a Newspaper is a proper place to produce affidavits to establish the character of any man.
Neither do I believe that the publick are so strongly inclined to believe any man a villain, as, without proof, without witnesses, or even the appearance of truth, to give credit to the aspersions of a malicious, vindictive, vagrant vixen. Thomas Malllady.
Hannah wasted no time in publishing the information that she claimed would prove her case:
Middletown, February 18, 1778.
These may certify that Thomas Mellalew and Hannah Andrews were married on the day of the date above, according to the form in the office for the solemnization of marriage, in the book of common prayer, by me, Abraham Jarvis, Minister of the Church of England.
These may certify whom it may concern, that Thomas Mellalew (or Mallady, as many persons called him) some years since lived in this town with his wife; and, while he lived in this town, he advertised his wife in the Springfield Newspaper, lest she should run him in debt when he was absent; and afterwards put in another advertisement, wherein he manifested his sorrow for the first, and said he had no foundation or just cause for publishing the first. Furthermore, while he lived in this town, he made an appointment to meet a Negro's wife, at a certain place in the night time, in a certain barn; and the Negro's wife informed Mrs. Mellalew of the appointment, who procured sundry persons, one of whom was dressed in a woman's clothes, to meet at the time and place appointed, when and where Mellalew attended in the dark attended in the dark, and his conduct was such, as caused them to lead him home to his wife; and he did not deny his intent in going to the barn, and in the barn called the Negro's wife by name several times, before the persons lying in wait discovered themselves. The substance of the above was sworn to before me, as nearly as I can recollect, by two of the persons who were in the barn, and one of them who was dressed in women's apparel.
P. S. Mrs. Mellalew's character in this town is good, for any thing that I know.
[Western Star, 25 September 1792]
We have found no additional information to suggest the resolution to this saga. The publisher of the newspaper certainly must have enjoyed this battle of words which brought revenue, and probably amused readers, to his paper.
Although Thomas Mallady's regiment is not mentioned, the information given correlates perfectly with the man called Thomas Melody on the muster rolls of the 17th Regiment of Foot. He first appears on the regiment's rolls in the second half of 1775; although there is no indication of where he came from, it is likely that he was a new recruit who enlisted as the regiment was preparing to embark for America, one of many weavers to leave the monotony of textile production for the adventure of a new overseas war.
Melody was in the regiment's ranks when it arrived in Boston in late 1775 and continued through the reorganization in Halifax in April and May 1776, the landing on Staten Island that June, and the rapid and highly successful campaign in New York and New Jersey from August through December. His fortunes changed, however, on the third day of January 1777 when he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Princeton with seventy-some of his fellows from the 17th Regiment and many other British soldiers.
Thomas Melody was among the prisoners sent to Connecticut and parceled out to various towns; he was sent to New Hartford in the northwestern part of the colony. From there his story dovetails with the information in the newspaper ads: he absconded from his imprisonment, and made his way to Middletown, Connecticut, where he married Hannah Andrews. The ads make it clear that he worked sometimes as a barber and that he was a literate man, skills he probably learned before enlistment but could also have picked up during his time as a soldier or after his desertion. We know nothing else about his life, but the vignettes revealed by the muster rolls and the newspaper ads certainly suggest an interesting personality.