This brick wall is, for me, decades old. We have Nicholas own pension statement, which is clear but frustratingly brief. His documentation from 1776 onward is pretty solid. Yet where did he come from?
In the last few years he has been connected to the Nicholas Russell transported as a criminal from East Kent to tide-water Maryland or Virginia aboard the ship Scarsboro in 1771. The normal procedure was that these transported criminals should serve as bondsmen for a specified length of time. Eight to twelve years seems to be the norm.
In 1775 Captain Abraham Shepherd, of Shepherdstown Virginia,(now West Va.) was commissioned to establish a company of men from the backwood counties of Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The Patriots enlisted by Captain Shepherd were experienced riflemen who came equiped with their own arms and the backwoods accoutriments of the day. This company became part of the Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment of the Continental Line, commanded by Colonel Moses Rawlings. Most of this regiment were killed or captured at Fort Washington New York, 16 November, 1776.
Sorry! So the question is, is it reasonable to believe that a convict estimated to be 14-15 years old could serve out his bond, gain the trappings of a woodsman, and arrive over a hundred miles from his origin to enlist in a somewhat elite regiment of continental soldiers?