“Loyalist Trails” 2008-04: January 27, 2008

In this issue:
Five More Loyalist Widows, by Stephen Davidson
“City on a hill” Ronald Reagan quoting John Winthrop
Loyalist and Patriot Ancestors
Loyalist Collection at Brock University Grows
      + Information about John Cousins, Loyalist
      + Response re Loyalist Abiel Briggs and Elizabeth Chase


Five More Loyalist Widows, by Stephen Davidson

By reviewing the compensation claims made by loyalist widows in Montreal in the late 1780s we can gain a new appreciation of what these women had to endure during the American Revolution.

Lydia Van Alstine‘s claim to the board reveals an interesting fact. James Van Alstine died while serving with Sir John Johnson’s First Battalion, leaving Lydia to care for their five children. Although all of the young Van Alstines were under age in 1783, the eldest, Lambert, nevertheless played a part in fighting for his king — he was a “fifer” in his father’s battalion. Those who played the drums, bugles, or fifes for loyalist regiments are rarely mentioned in accounts of the revolution, so it is fascinating to have a young loyalist fifer identified by name. The loyalist father and son had gone off to war together. How Lydia felt about this is lost to history as is most of the loyalists’ emotional responses to the revolution.

Lydia Van Alstine remarried by 1787. Her new husband, Isaac Crouther, presented Lydia’s claims for losses of property along the Susquehanna River in Tryon, New York.

In addition to losing her husband during the revolution, Sarah Buck of Vermont also grieved the loss of her son. After joining the British army, he was killed by rebel soldiers. Sarah’s loyalist husband Benjamin had served the king for three years before dying in battle. However, as soon as he left home in 1777, rebel neighbours swooped down upon the Buck home and made off with grain, clothing, horses, oxen and two cows. Somehow Sarah was able to find safe passage to the British lines for herself and her three remaining children.

Deborah MacArthur‘s claim before the compensation board outlines in short sentences the story of a woman who suffered more losses due to “friends” than to patriot foes. Her first husband, Elisha Tuttle, was a loyalist who died in the early days of the revolution. Abandoning their 100-acre property in Charlotte, New York, Deborah and her son Andrew crossed the British lines into Canada in 1777. Her reasons for this move were that they “could not stay with the Rebels” –presumably due to persecutions.

Before she left her home, Deborah saw its gardens destroyed by the British army, and its livestock stolen by sailors and Natives. Both patriots and British soldiers made off with her furniture and utensils. Despite the poor treatment his parents suffered, Andrew Tuttle served the British forces on the ships that sailed the Great Lakes.

Mary Browster owed her life to Natives who brought her to safety in Canada in 1782. Mary and Joseph had immigrated from Ireland to Westmoreland, Pennsylvania before the outbreak of the revolution. Their loyalty to the king meant that they were imprisoned and fined by their patriot neighbours. Finally, almost everything the Irish family owned was seized by rebels. Natives made off with the Browsters’ cows and horses.

Joseph and Mary gathered up their three children and fled for Kentucky where Joseph had bought some land. However, their ship was attacked as it sailed along the Wabush River, and they were forced to stay in St. Vincents. What the Browsters had been able to bring with them was sold and used to buy a house in this French outpost.

In September of 1780, Joseph hired Native guides to take him north to Detroit; they murdered him along the way. Mary and her children stayed in St. Vincents until 1782 when once again they considered taking refuge in Detroit. Entrusting themselves to Native guides they were, in Mary’s words, “at last…brought to Canada by savages”. The next year the loyalist widow moved her family to Niagara, and a year later finally settled in Sorel, Quebec.

In 1788 Mary Browster was still a single mother. Margaret was 12, Simon was ten, and Martha was just six years old. Three men spoke on Mary’s behalf, but whether she ever received compensation for all that her family endured is not known.

Mary Brown saw her family scattered by the revolution. Her husband John took the oath of allegiance to the king in 1777, forcing the family to flee Dutchess County and cross over into British held territory. Everything they left behind was sold by the rebels; the cash they carried was destroyed by the British troops because it was “Congress money”.

John died and Mary’s four sons joined the army, serving under Colonel Robinson. At the compensation hearings that were held in Montreal in September of 1787, Mary only had her daughter, Mrs. Sally Tilney, living nearby. Mary knew that her four loyalists sons were alive and in “the king’s Dominion”, but did not know where. A witness spoke on Mary’s behalf claiming that she came from New York as “the widow of a loyalist”, but the board’s notes indicate that they thought her “evidence feeble”. Hopefully, Mary’s new husband, a Mr. Elgood, was able to provide for her.

Catherine was the widow of Valentine Cryderman, a German who had settled in Johnstown, New York. Although he had always been a loyalist, his advanced years prevented him from joining the army. He was arrested in 1776 and put in prison for three months where he was “used terribly ill”. Although the rebels tried to force him to take their side, Cryderman refused. He became so ill that suffered a nervous breakdown and was confined to his bed until his death in 1780.

Catherine would have nursed Valentine through his illness; she watched him send three of their sons off into the British army. Michael, the eldest, served under Sir John Johnson. One other son and three daughters stayed with their widowed mother. Finally in 1785, Catherine and her children were able to settle in New Johnstown; Michael Cryderman decided to live along the Bay of Quinte. Catherine’s second son spoke on his mother’s behalf at the Montreal hearings, saying that all of his siblings wanted their mother to receive whatever their father deserved for conmpensation. Did she? The board’s notes say “seems a good family”, so perhaps in the end Catherine Cryderman received enough to see her through to life’s end.

“City on a hill” Ronald Reagan quoting John Winthrop

T H E G I P P E R: “Our party must be the party of the individual. It must not sell out the individual to cater to the group. No greater challenge faces our society today than ensuring that each one of us can maintain his dignity and his identity in an increasingly complex, centralized society. Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business… frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite. Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people…[O]ur cause must be to rediscover, reassert and reapply America’s spiritual heritage to our national affairs. Then with God’s help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all people upon us.” ­ Ronald Reagan

Ronnie quoting from the 1630 address of Governor John Winthrop upon the landing of the fleet of 1000 settlers (doubling the European population of New England in one fell swoop) and a great amount of equipment and animals to establish themselves in Boston that summer. We are fortunate to have had ancestors – William Chase and his wife (their descendant Elizabeth Chase married Abiel Briggs) – who were there and heard Winthrop speak that long ago summer day in a field by the landing beach in Boston. At the time, he was speaking to more than 40% of the English population in North America. This is the real capitalist deal to encourage each person to reach his/her full potential. It’s still relevant every day we go forward.

[submitted by Harry MacDonald]

Loyalist and Patriot Ancestors

If the ancestor that is proven as a Patriot and a different ancestor is proven as a Loyalist, of course you are entitled to prove lineage to both societies; many folks are members of both societies and have proven ancestors in both.

However, you can not be a member of DAR and UELAC through the same ancestor. DAR will disqualify any ancestor that is proven to DAR and UELAC. They go by the date of oath, whichever is the last oath. I have spoken with the DAR and they have said don’t tell us about loyalist connection or we will have to disqualify the ancestor. I know some folks at DAR think it is wrong to disqualify someone who served honorably as a Patriot and later after for whatever reasons went to Canada as a Loyalist. I know some speculate that folks went to Canada as they were giving land away to those loyal to the crown and that they went with neighbors and each swore the other was loyal to get the many acres given.

You can check out more details on the DAR website at http://www.dar.org/natsociety/service_right.cfm?TP=Show&ID=97

Membership in the National Society is based on strict adherence to the cause of independence through military service in the Continental Line, state lines, militia, navy, marines, privateers, etc., Civil Service or Patriotic Service.

I have not found anything from UELAC stating they would disqualify a Loyalist if they were a patriot.

Personally I feel if they served honorably on both sides they should be allowed to be proven to both organizations. No one knows the reason for the switch; we didn’t live during the times to know – Did they get captured and only would be released if they took up opposing arms? Or to save their family from harm? The list of reasons go on and on. I am pretty sure I have an ancestor who signed an oath on both sides, and another one who signed a Patriot oath but got land as a Loyalist.

Hope that helps.

…Jill, UE

Loyalist Collection at Brock University Grows

The Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University are happy to announce that the purchase of the Upper Canada (317 Rolls of Microfilm), and New Brunswick Land Petitions (22 rolls of microfilm) is now complete. These additional items are now being catalogued at Brock. This total cost of this addition was $18940.08

We would like to say a special “THANK YOU” to those who have contributed to our cause, and those who have purchased our Butler’s Ranger’s Annotated Nominal Roll. Without your support this would not have been possible.

…Edward Scott, Chairman, The Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University.


Information about John Cousins, Loyalist

On the list of Loyalists available on the UELAC website, a John Cousins is listed as “proven” as a Loyalist Ancestor three times, in Calgary in 1995 and twice in Hamilton in 1985. My wife Marilyn is the third great granddaughter of a John Cousins, Loyalist, who went to Prince Edward Island in 1785, (at that time Isle St. Jean).

In a book, The Wrights of Bedeque, it states, “John Cousins (1759-1840), a Loyalist of Huguenot decent came to PEI via New Hampshire………”And in another book, An Island Refuge…, published in 1983 by the Abegweit Branch of the U.E.L. Association, on page 80 it begins “John Cousins came to the Island of Saint John in 1785 as a Loyalist following the American Revolution.” (A four page family history follows).

This John Cousins subsequently farmed Lot 20, Parks Corner, Queens Co. PEI: married Mary Townsend (1768-1850), daughter of James and Elizabeth (Davis) Townsend. John and Mary raised seven children (James, Sarah, Eliza, John F., Alexander, William and David). John F. (1795-1870) married Helen/Ellen Montgomery, and their daughter Jane Townsend Cousins married John Clay (1829-1900). John Clay was Marilyn’s (Marilyn Grace Clay) great grandfather.

Is the PEI John Cousins the same as the John Cousins in the Loyalist Directory on the web site?

Can anyone provide details as to why the PEI John Cousins is considered a Loyalist?

…Robert (Bob) Adair, UE, Sir Guy Carleton Branch, Ottawa {bob DOT adair AT sympatico DOT ca}

Response re Loyalist Abiel Briggs and Elizabeth Chase

Please see my working copies of the Abiel Briggs and Ebenezer Briggs family trees at www.oldsaintjohn.com

The people copied and I are descendants of Abiel Briggs and Elizabeth Chase. Well, maybe one or two might be descendants of Abiel’s brother Ebenezer Briggs and his wife Diadema Chase who was Elizabeth’s sister.

There was a revolutionary war veteran named Abiel Briggs who received a US government pension for his service in Washington’s army. This is not our Abiel Briggs who is a different person entirely and for whom there are records establishing his presence in NB while the other Abiel Briggs received his pension in MA.

Our Abiel Briggs and Elizabeth Chase are buired in the Jacksonville Community Cemetery in Carleton County, NB. See PANB cemetery records.

And with the greatest of respect, I think the correct narrative for the arrival of Abiel is a little different form the view earlier expressed and copied by you in your quey although that view was commonly held up until recent times which explains the appearance of Loyalist names at the grave of the Abiel Briggs of MA. Please bear in mind that new information had been forthcoming in the past decade with the explosion of this history on the internet and voila:

Abiel Briggs, b 1761 in North Kingston, Kent County, RI, d 23 Oct 1844 aged 83 years and was buried with his wife at Jacksonville Community Cemetery, Carleton County, NB, [From PANB database of Daniel F. Johnson Vital Statistics in NB Newspapers: Volume 89 Number 2075; St John Daily Sun of 25 Jan 1893: … In the early settlement of this country Eben Briggs and Abial Briggs located as what is now known as Sheffield (Sunbury Co.) N.B. Both of them were married before they came to this country and perhaps the former had the shortest courtship on record. Having gone to a Quaker meeting, he and his future wife were married by the preacher at the close of the meeting. These men settled near Loader place, so called. As their families with the other settlers increased, the school teacher became a necessity and one John Palmer’s services were called into requisition, who in his humble way ‘taught the young idea how to shoot’. At this time it was not unusual to see a troop of horses on Sunday mounted by people of both sexes going to Maugerville to attend divine service. If the like could be seen in this day, it would astonish the natives. Abial had several children, one of whom in his day was well known in St. John as, James Briggs the ship builder; and Elijah Briggs, another of his sons, removed to Carleton County. Making his way without a road through the forest, he drew a large tract of land and settled in what is now known as the Seventh Tier, where he became a prosperous farmer and raised a large family, most of whom are now residents of the county. He died about a year ago at a good old age, leaving a large amount of wealth to his children. He was a consistent member of the Free Baptist Church.] married 1788/1789 Elizabeth Chase born 24 May 1771 at Freetown, MA, d. 24 Jun 1855 aged 84 years, (d/o James P. Chase and Elizabeth Douglas and a descendant of William Chase who came to New England as a passenger on the Arabella with the first governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, in 1630. Passage to the New World for himself, his wife and his one child cost him £12 which was such a lot of money, it had to be a first class ticket unless it also included the cost of joining the new company of settlers.), first settled in Waterborough Parish, Queens County then went to Jacksontown, Wakefield Parish, Carleton County in 1827. Abiel and Elizabeth had 15 children all of whom save for Abel married and had children. Those 15 children are:…..

Apparently, Abiel came and lived here for a number of years from 1783 to 1788. He then returned to Massachusetts to marry Elizabeth Chase who by then was 18 years old. Elizabeth stayed in MA in 1783 to continue caring for her aging father and he died triggering Abiel’s return to marry Elizabeth. He probably kept up a correspondence with Elizabeth through the years. This was possible because small coastal trading schooners from Boston and other points in New England came up the St John River to the area where these Loyalists had settled. They transported goods, news, people – just about everything including mail. The captain would receive the mail outgoing and distribute the mail incoming and then do the same in Boston. In Boston, there was Ben Franklin’s post office (Ben was appointed by the British in about 1750 as the first post master general in North America). Up the St John River, there were storekeepers or tavern keepers who would do the duty.

As to the Phoebe Briggs question, the consensus is arising that Abiel was never married to a lady by the name of Phoebe in light of his 1778 marriage to Elizabeth. All the children are clearly those of Elizabeth if that date is correct. The priest or church secretary or warden who entered the christenings in the records made a blunder by putting in the name Phoebe instead of Elizabeth. It’s easy to do. We’ve all done it. People who do much family research commonly see this kind of error in the government registrations of birth. I believe that is what happened.

…Harry MacDonald