The 1873 letter also stated that Nathaniel Lear died on the island and his widow Sarah moved to the little house near the toll house of the New Castle Bridge, "now occupied by widow of late Nathaniel Lear of Portsmouth". Looking at a street directory for this year, I find Mrs Jane Lear living at 113 Water St. Going back an earlier volume, I see that a Nathaniel M Lear was there, at 102 Water St. Further research shows him to be the son of John and Almira P (Shaw) Lear, who had married Jane E (aka Ellen J) Clark in 1862.
After 1775, no Nath'l is seen in either Portsmouth or New Castle. Whether one or both of them died, or moved to another community and just haven't been found yet, is not clear at this time. It is not until 1791 when another Nathaniel is seen on tax lists, this one being the one born in 1767 New Castle.
There are still too many unknowns with this family, but here is what I have so far:
NATHANIEL LEAR, b ca 1745 (first seen on Portsmouth tax lists in 1766); died unknown. Married SARAH (perhaps BAKER - see below). She was perhaps born ca 1746, if she was the "Mrs Sarah Lear" who died aged 85 [Portsmouth Journal, 12/24/1831].
Their children, as listed in the 1873 letter:
i. NATHANIEL LEAR, b. 8 Feb 1767 [from New Castle recs, ref to Lear family rec]. Died 5 Apr 1824, drowned at New Castle. He was married to KEZIAH AMAZEEN, on 2 Mar 1790 [New Castle vr]. She was born ca 1766 and died 6 Apr 1844, aged 78.
The children of Nathaniel and Keziah (Amazeen) Lear, as found in the New Castle vital records.
1. John Lear, b. 25 Sept 1790; Marr 5 Dec 1811 [no name listed].
2. Nathaniel Lear, b. 31 Dec 1791; d. 18 Sept 1868. Marr, ca 1815, Mary White.
3. Samuel Lear, b. 30 Nov 1793; d. Marr, 29 Oct 1816, Mehitable Amazeen.
4. Sarah Lear, b. 22 Nov 1795; d. 26 Feb 1883. Married 1st, on 5 July 1812, John Meloon. Marr 2nd, 18 Apr 1818, John Carrol.
5. Elizabeth Lear, b. 11 Mar 1798; d. 5 Oct 1887. Marr, ca 1820, John White.
6. Mary Lear, b. 25 June 1800; d. 28 Feb 1873. Marr, 29 Oct 1818, William A Meloon. Marr 2nd, 26 July 1855, Philip Yeaton.
7. Mehitable Lear, b. 28 Aug 1806; d. 1 Feb 1886. Marr 10 Apr 1840, George V Locke.
ii. JOHN LEAR, b. abt 1777-80 ("John Jr" first seen on Ports. tax lists, 1798); died after 1840. Married to ALMIRA P SHAW, the daughter of Thomas A and Lucretia (Trefethen) Shaw. She was born in Portsmouth, NH ca 1800, and died there on 19 Mar 1885, aged 80 yrs, 2 mos, 5 das. [NH death rec]. She remarried to John Locke on 10/13/1847 [Locke Gen, pg 234]. Children, that have been found so far:
1. Nathaniel M Lear, b. ca 1838 (based on census ages). Married Jane Ellen Clark in 1862, Portsmouth.
2. John S Lear, b. ca 1838 (base on age in census and on death rec) in Portsmouth, NH. Died in Portsmouth on 18 June 1905, aged 67 yrs, 16 das.
3. Daniel J Lear, b. ca 1840 (age 10 in 1850)
iii. SAMUEL LEAR, b. unk. died unk. Though he purchased property with brothers John and William in 1796, he doesn't show up on the Portsmouth tax lists for the south part of town, where his siblings were listed.
iv. WILLIAM LEAR, perhaps born between 1777-1780. First seen in Portsmouth tax list, 1798. Last seen, 1806. An article printed in the Constitutionalist and Weekly Magazine, 9/29/1812, which was correcting an earlier report that a William Lear had been impressed into the English Navy, states that he "was lost over board at sea from a fishing vessel". Though is was said in the 1873 letter to the Journal editor that William had not married, there was a William of Portsmouth who married Miss Sally Simpson [NH Gazette, 4/28/1801]
v. DANIEL LEAR, born ca 1783-1786 (in Portsmouth tax lists beginning in 1804). Died by 1813. Married to MARY YEATON. Daniel was of Portsmouth, a fisherman/mariner, and purchased land at "Frame Point", aka Ellings Point, on 4/12/1806, from Nathaniel Melcher. He died intestate, his widow selling this property at auction on 6/25/1813, bought by Joshua Wentworth of Portsmouth, Gent.
vii. poss MARY LEAR, one of two daughters unnamed in the 1873 letter from William A Meloon to the Portsmouth Journal. I did find (see clippings below), in two volumes of the Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Books, two descendants of Mary Lear, who was married 1st to PETER CLARK and 2nd to JAMES BROWN. These are the only places I have ever seen Nathaniel's wife Sarah with a maiden name, Baker. I have yet to find any other source with this name.