Loyalist Ships: The Union
[In an 1893 article about the history of New Brunswick, the arrival of The Union at Long Island and then New York to pick up evacuees and bring them to New Brunswick is described to represent that exodus.]
The account given by Walter Bates doubtless very fairly illustrates the general mode of procedure in the emigration.
In this particular case the agent, Rev. John Sayre, came to announce to the Loyalists at Eaton’s Neck, Huntington, Lloyd’s Neck, and places in the vicinity on Long Island, that the king had granted to all Loyalists who did not incline to return to their homes and would go to Nova Scotia the privileges just mentioned. The ‘king’s offer’ was duly considered and gladly accepted. Then followed the hasty collection of such possessions as the unfortunate exiles had been able to preserve amid the wreck of their fortunes, and their embarkation in the transport Union, Capt. Consett Wilson. The vessel took in her complement of Loyalists at Huntington, Long Island. The embarkation began on Friday, April 11, and was completed on Wednesday following, in which time there were placed on board 209 souls, viz., 65 men, 35 women, 107 children and 2 servants. The deputy agent in charge was Fyler Dibblee, of Stamford, Conn., attorney-at-law.
The Union proceeded through East River to New York, the place of rendezvous. A week was consumed in getting together the transports, preparatory to setting sail, but at length, on Saturday, April 26, a fleet of upwards of twenty vessels under convoy set sail from Sandy Hook light, bound for ‘St. John’s river, Nova Scotia.’ This fleet sailed in company with a large number of transports bound for Shelburne and Halifax. The total number of passengers, including some troops, amounted to 7,000, with all their effects, also some artillery and public stores. According to Walter Bates, the Union was the best ship in the fleet. She proved her capacity as a fast sailer by leading the van for fourteen days and arriving at Partridge Island before the other vessels had come in sight. She was soon afterwards moored in the most convenient situation for landing, the place of anchorage being under the shelter of Fort Howe, opposite Navy Island, in sight of the position where once stood Fort la Tour. To the right lay the ‘upper cove,’ and beyond rose the rocky peninsula, named by the Indians Monneguash, now the site of a city of nearly 50,000 inhabitants, but then covered for the most part with scrubby pine, spruce and cedar-a rough and forbidding prospect indeed to eyes familiar with the fertile lowlands of Connecticut and New Jersey, and the undulating cultured fields of Long Island.
The 18th of May has been held sacred by the descendants of the founders of St. John as the day on which their Loyalist forefathers landed. Whether there was any formal or systematic act of landing is problematical. The Union, and the majority, if not all of the vessels of the fleet, must have arrived (according to Bates’s account) on the 10th of May. It had taken the Union more than five days to embark her contingent of refugees and their effects. It may therefore be taken for granted, as the facilities for landing were of the rudest description, that the work of getting upwards of 3000 people and their effects on shore was a work of several days. Moreover, there was no common mode of procedure employed. Walter Bates speaks of Capt. Wilson’s kindness in allowing his passengers to remain on board the Union whilst a deputation was employed in exploring for a proper place of settlement up the river, and contrasts their good fortune with that of others who were ‘precipitated on shore.’
An excerpt from the Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB, April 27, 1893.
GLIMPSES OF THE PAST, Contributions to the History of Charlotte County and the Border Towns.
LXIV – THE UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS. [Rev. W. O. Raymond, M. A.]
For the full text, click here.
For the passenger list of The Union, click here.
Addendum: Who Missed the Boat?
The Union, one of the vessels carrying Loyalists from New York to New Brunswick in the Spring Fleet, began taking on passengers at Huntington, New York, on 11 April 1783 and sailed to New York with 209 passengers on board.
At New York, 43 of those passengers disembarked, and the ‘Union’ set sail for Saint John, N.B. on 24 April 1783 with 164 passengers. More details can be found in both Esther Clark Wright’s “The Loyalists of New Brunswick” and David G. Bell’s “Early Loyalist Saint John” for those who wish to get additional background information.
In the course of checking background information on a particular Loyalist, a long look at the manifest of the ‘Union’ prepared by Fyler Dibblee, revealed mostly familiar names. An hour or three later, all but three of the names on Fyler Dibblee’s list had been found at Saint John as arrivals with the Spring Fleet.
Of the three missing names, Thomas Burden was a grantee at Parr, Wright lists John Seaman as having gone to Kingston, Kings County, followed by the notation, “left,” indicating that he had departed, destination unknown. The third missing name, Nathan Shippy, is listed by Wright, but nothing more seems to be known of him.
It appears that all but perhaps one of those on Fyler Dibblee’s list did reach Saint John, either via the ‘Union’ or some other vessel in the Spring Fleet, but in order to know who did arrive on that ship, we need to know exactly who those people were who did NOT arrive on the ‘Union.’
So, who missed the boat?
We wish to thank Wallace Hale, from whose website and with whose permission the information above is drawn, as well as the following table listing the families who embarked upon the Union.
Table of Families
Return of the Famelies, &c., Embark’d on board the Union Transport, Consett Wilson, Master, began Huntington Bay April 11th, & Compleated April 16th, 1783.
|Signers names||No. of
|Servants||Former Place of Abode||Occupation|
|Fyler Dibblee||1||1||3||1||2||Stanford Connecticut||Attorney at Law|
|John Lyon||1||1||4||1||Reading, Connecticut||Farmer|
|John Lyon, Junr.||1||do||Farmer|
|David Picket||1||1||3||4||Stanford, Connecticut||Farmer|
|Ephraim Deforest||1||1||2||1||Reading, Connectic’t||Shoemaker|
|Seth Squires||1||1||3||3||Stratford, Connecticut||Farmer|
|Seth Squires, Junr.||1||do||Farmer|
|Abra’m Carrington||1||1||Milford, Connecticut||Farmer|
|William Straight||1||Killingsworth, Connectic’t||Refiner of Iron|
|Seth Seely||1||1||4||3||Stanford, Connecticut||Farmer|
|Seth Seely, Junr.||1||do||Farmer|
|John Hendrickson||1||1||Duches County||Farmer|
|Israel Hait||1||1||4||2||Norwalk, Connect||Shoemaker|
|Wd. Mary Raymond||1||0||do|
|Nathan Shippy||1||Duches County||Carpenter|
|Silas Raymond||1||1||3||1||Norwalk, Connect||Carpenter|
|Jaremiah Holcomb||1||1||2||Hackingsack, Jersey||Farmer|
|George Happie||1||1||1||Duches County||Shoemaker|
|James Picket||1||1||1||1||Norwalk, Connectic’t||Carpenter|
|John Underwood||1||1||Newport, Rhodeisland||Farmer|
|Wd. Ruth Nichols||1||0||1||1||do|
|Johannes Chick||1||1||1||1||Eaton’s Neck, Long Island||Farmer|
|John Chick||1||Eaton’s Neck, Long Island||Farmer|
|Walter Bates||1||Stanford, Connectic’t||Farmer|
|John Gorden||1||1||Danbury, Connecticut||Farmer|
|Joseph Lyon||1||1||1||Reading, Connecticut||Farmer|
|Simon Losee||1||1||4||2||Long Island||Shoemaker|
|Thomas Carle||1||1||4||2||Duches County||Farmer|
|Wd. Hester Burlock||1||0||1||1||Norwalk, Connectic’t|
|Stephen Fountain||1||1||Stanford, Connecticut||Blacksmith|
|Abra’m Dickerman||1||Nw. Haven, Connectic’t||Shoemaker|
|George Lumsden||1||1||1||3||Nw. Haven, Connectic’t||Shoemaker|
|John Hand||1||1||1||1||East Nw. Jersey||Carpenter|
|Elias Scribner||1||1||2||3||Norwalk, Connectic’t||Shoemaker|
|Joseph Ferris||1||Newtown, Connecticut||Joiner|
|Solomon Tucker||1||1||1||3||Stanford, Connectic’t||Weaver|
|Daniel Smith||1||Nw. Milford, Connecticut||Farmer|
|Abel Bardsley||1||1||1||Fairfield, Connect||Farmer|
|John Marvin||1||Norwalk, Connecticut||Farmer|
|John Seaman||1||Duches County||Farmer|
65 Signers; 35 Women; 59 Children over 10 years old; 48 Children under 10 years old; 2 Servants
Total, 209. A True Return
Test. FYLER DIBBLEE, D. Agent.
We wish to thank Wallace Hale, for his permission to use the above table, taken from his website (no longer accessible online as of 2021).