“Loyalist Trails” 2008-46: December 14, 2008

In this issue:
White Collar Loyalists: Thomas Jefferson’s Friend — © Stephen Davidson
Ed Kipp and George Anderson Bus Trips
Data on the Existing Cemeteries in the United Counties of Dundas and Stormont
Index to the 1786 McNiff Maps
Donations to The Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University
“The State Of Vermont Rolls Of The Solders In the Revolutionary War – 1775 to 1783”
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: David Stuart Gilmor
Last Post: Elisabeth Merkley
      + James Forsyth of Niagara vs James Forsyth of Cornwall


White Collar Loyalists: Thomas Jefferson’s Friend — © Stephen Davidson

Locked away in an “ivory tower”, a university professor is supposedly free to spend his days in intellectual pursuits that have very little impact on the day-to-day world. But even the ivy-covered walls of the College of William and Mary could not withstand the violence of the American Revolution; one need only ask the loyalist professor, Rev. Thomas Gwatkin.

A native of Hereford County, England, Gwatkin was almost 29 years old when he joined the faculty of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia as its new professor of Natural Philosophy. He received £200 a year and perquisites (perks) of £100. Gwatkin, who was ordained in the Anglican Church, was quick to involve himself in the life of the college.

Within two years, he was a member of a secret society known as the Flat Hat Club. Other members included such future prominent patriots as Thomas Jefferson, James Innes, and St. George Tucker (who later became a state supreme court judge). One of Gwatkin’s duties was compiling a library for the secret club.

A man of many talents, Gwatkin became the professor of mathematics in 1772 and then the college’s languages professor in 1775. By this time he had secured a “situation for life” or tenure. He even did some private tutoring on the side. Lord Dunmore, the loyalist governor of Virginia, knew Gwatkin and was sure that the professor would one day become the rector at the local Church of England.

Although he did not oversee a congregation of his own, Gwatkin was certainly interested in the denominational issues of his day. In 1771, he actively opposed the idea of establishing an Anglican bishop for the colonies. A year later he wrote A Letter to the Clergy of New York and New Jersey which outlined his view that such bishops would inevitably become agents of ecclesiastical authority. He favoured a type of Anglicanism that would be independent of the state rather than attached to it. This view echoed Thomas Jefferson’s belief in the separation of church and state. D

id conversations between Jefferson and Gwatkin during meetings of the Flat Hat Club shape the views of a future American president or of an Anglican college professor?

However they came about, American notions of “liberty” had begun to influence Gwatkin’s ideas about the structure of the Church of England in the Thirteen Colonies. Would he one day side with the champions of colonial liberty or stand up for the freedoms of British citizenship?

Gwatkin’s day-to-day world was not all classrooms and politics — or even membership in secret clubs– and he readily joined in the social life of Williamsburg. Punch was very popular among the Virginian academics. Gwatkin later wrote that “their common drink … is a toddy or mixture of rum water and sugar. In general it is made pretty weak, the proportion being about a glass of rum to six of water.”

Life in the ivory tower certainly seemed a cozy one for the 34-year old scholar. He had not yet acquired property or a wife in Virginia, but having secured a steady place in colonial society, Gwatkin no doubt believed that he would soon have both. For the moment, he was a bachelor with nothing more than books, furniture, and a steady income to call his own.

But then in 1775, as so many contemporary loyalist accounts record, the “troubles” began. The rebels needed members of the academic world to give a philosophical basis to their notions of liberty. Surely, a man such as Thomas Gwatkin, who opposed the establishment of an American bishop, would be an ideal candidate for the job.

Thomas Jefferson approached his old friend and asked him to write a paper defending the actions of the Continental Congress. In the language of the day, the professor was “strongly solicited by the Americans to take part with them which he refused and was in consequence thereof frequently ill treated.” To their surprise, Gwatkin said no. As soon as the patriots of Williamsburg learned that the professor had refused to join their side, they marked him as a loyalist. (So much for freedom of speech in the academic circles of colonial America!)

Initially, Gwatkin only had to deal with the insults of the local rebel sympathizers, but eventually opposition to the loyalist scholar became very physical. A group of armed men came onto the William and Mary campus, determined to make Gwatkin change his mind, all to no avail. At later hearings, the professor testified that he was “frequently put in danger of his life”. Luckily, he was not imprisoned, but the stress of the situation did eventually affect his health.

In July of 1775, Gwatkin fled Williamsburg and found refuge on Lord Dunmore’s ship. A year later, he escaped to England in the company of Lord Fincastle, a man he had once tutored.

In 1782, Thomas Gwatkin was offered “a small living in Berkshire” under the patronage of the first marquis of Stafford, Granville Leveson-Gower. Three years later the British government deemed the loyalist professor to be a “zealous loyalist” and gave him a living of £80 a year. It was a far cry from the £300 a year income he had enjoyed at the College of William and Mary a decade earlier, but like so many other loyalists, he was at least able to live each day without the fear of attack from angry American neighbours.

The story of the Rev. Thomas Gwatkin raises the interesting but unanswerable question about how a different outcome for the American Revolution might have affected the lives of patriots and loyalists. If the War of Independence had been won by the loyalist forces, would Gwatkin –rather Thomas Jefferson– have become a person of prominence, an intellectual whose ideas still would have an impact on life in North America today?

…To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at stephendavids@gmail.com

Ed Kipp and George Anderson Bus Trips

At the recent Sir Guy Carleton Branch Christmas Social, President Sylvia Powers announced that the historical tours lead by Ed and Elizabeth Kipp and George and Janet Anderson would no longer be conducted by them. As Ed indicated, they are passing on the torch to “someone” after ten years of trips. Until that “someone” appears, there is great benefit to be had in acquiring their tour guides now available in pdf on cd. I can confirm that independent visitors to these historical and heritage areas have found the detailed information to be of great value.

Tour Guides, Historic Sites in the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys, Eastern Ontario and Southwestern Quebec, by Edward and Elizabeth Kipp; George and Janet Anderson – ISBN 978-0-9733749-5-7

This CD-ROM contains the tour booklets in PDF format that were created for the following tours: Forts and Battlefields – Chambly to Saratoga (2003); Eastern Ontario Historical Sites – St. Andrews West to the Blue Church (2004); Historic Sites in the Hudson Valley – Albany to West Point, NY (2004); Historic Sites in the Mohawk Valley – Schenectady to Rome, NY (2006). All files are in PDF format. Price is: $25.00 CDN per CD plus $2.00 S/H. Make cheque or money order payable to E. Kipp

Published by and available from: Edward Kipp, 6242 Paddler Way, Orleans, Ontario, Canada K1C 2E7. For more information, click here or E-mail: {ekipp AT rogers DOT com}

Data on the Existing Cemeteries in the United Counties of Dundas and Stormont

Data on the Existing Cemeteries in the United Counties of Dundas and Stormont affected by the St. Lawrence Power Projects – Lyall & Margaret Manson .(Original compiled by James A. Smart, O.B.E. for The Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario April 1956, corrections and additions by Lyall and Margaret Manson)

Book & CD-ROM contain a retyped copy of the Smart text with additions & corrections to the data as described in the Preface, cemetery maps and an alphabetic index to the above text. In addition the CD-ROM contains a copy of the original 1956 text by Smart. All files are in PDF format. Price: Book: 30.00 CDN per copy plus S/H. Any location in Ontario: $9.00 CDN. Other locations in Canada and the USA: $12.00 CDN. CD-ROM: $25.00 CDN per CD plus $2.00 S/H – Cheque or money order made payable to St. Lawrence Branch UELAC. Published by and available from St. Lawrence Branch, UELAC, P.O. Box 607, 3 Augusta St., Morrisburg, Ontario Canada K0C 1X0.

Click here for the Branch web-site, or for more information, E-mail: {ekipp AT rogers DOT com}

…F.H. Hayward, President, UELAC, as recommended by Ed Kipp

Index to the 1786 McNiff Maps

An Index to the 1786 McNiff Maps of the Townships of Lancaster, Charlottenburgh, Cornwall, Osnabruck, Williamsburgh and Matilda. (the Loyalist Maps) by Edward Kipp & George Anderson, May 2007 ISBN 978-0-9733749-4-0

This CD-ROM contains the following: a master alphabetic index to the McNiff Maps; a concession and lot index for each township; copies of the maps by township. All files are in PDF format. Price: $25.00 CDN per CD plus $2.00 S/H. Make cheque or money order payable to E. Kipp – Edward Kipp, 6242 Paddler Way, Orleans, Ontario, Canada K1C 2E7.

For more information, click here or E-mail: {ekipp AT rogers DOT com}

…F.H. Hayward, President UELAC

Donations to The Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University

Just a friendly reminder for those who might be looking for a income tax deduction for 2008. There is still time to donate to The Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University. As long as your donation is received by December 31, 2008 a receipt will be issued for a deduction on your 2008 income tax.

Donations can be made on line through our website using “Canada Helps” or with your Visa or MasterCard using safe and secure “PayPal”. If you use your credit card you will not likely have to actually pay it till the New Year, which is an added bonus at the Christmas Season.

We thank you for your continued support, and wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

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

“The State Of Vermont Rolls Of The Solders In the Revolutionary War – 1775 to 1783”

There are the mens’ names, payroll lists, companies assigned too, etc. A lot of the men ended up being loyalists. It takes a while to sift through the pages but it is well worth it when you find your ancestor, his company and his payroll.

This book is on the military page; click here to proceed directly to the book.

…Loyally, Chuck Ross UE

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions are:

– Nicholas Redmond by Sheila Beatty (with certificate application)

– Francis Putnam (I have lost the name of the person who submitted this – if you would let me know, I would gladly note that attribution. Sorry….doug)

Last Post: David Stuart Gilmor

David Stuart Gilmor passed away on Sunday, November 30th, 2008 at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto. Beloved husband of Etheldreda Lisel (nee Parker), and loving father of Michael (Fran), Elaine (Joe Pyra) and Bob (Gayle), he will be lovingly remembered by his sister Rosalie (Fred Briggs) and sisters-in-law Violet Gilmor, Win Noonan and Audrey Parker and by his grandchildren and great grand children.

Stuart joined Toronto Branch in December 1955, claiming his loyalist ancestor Robert Gilmour. He filled a variety of executive positions over the years: program, finance, trustee and was Branch President for the years 1975-76.

The Branch minutes of those years indicate he had an executive of 21 members and a Branch membership of 250! Some issues remain the same today; attendance at meetings, preserving Branch records, and the McCleary bequest. The future of the Ladies Committee was up in the air at that time. You knew when Stuart spoke that a relevant point would be made with great formality to his ‘fellow Loyalists” and to “Madame President” or “Mister President”. Stuart was always ready to help out when needed without being asked and helped organize bus tours for Conventions. Always with a smile, Stuart was well known for his great sense of humour.

Stuart also served as Dominion President in 1976-77 during which time he made it his personal project to visit each Branch across Canada. The unity of Canada was a frequent theme of his presentations. He was also a member of St. Andrew’s Society and Boys’ Cabin.

He will be missed.

…M. Hemphill, Toronto Branch

Last Post: Elisabeth Merkley

After a short courageous battle with cancer, Elisabeth passed away on Wednesday, December 10, 2008. She is survived by husband Harold, daughter Beth, granddaughter Hannah, and son-in-law Ian. She is also survived by sisters Renate (Heinz-Otto), Johanna (Frank) and Marie (Manfred). Nieces and nephews include Margaret, Sylvia, Frank, Tanya, Shari, Eric and Rebecca. The Funeral Service was held at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Ottawa on Saturday, December 13. (Ottawa Citizen, 12/11/2008)

Elisabeth was an associate member and her husband Harold and daughter Beth are Life Members of the St. Lawrence Branch.

…Lynne Cook UE


James Forsyth of Niagara vs James Forsyth of Cornwall

I am trying to determine the difference between two “JAMES FORSYTHs” who are both UE’s.

One lived at Cornwall and the other at Niagara Falls (Fort Niagara in 1783 census). These two individuals are often confused in family trees and I am attempting to prove which is which.

Specifically, I am descended from James FORSYTH of Niagara Falls and am trying to prove his parentage and where he originated. This is what I have gathered for the James FORSYTH of Niagara Falls:

James FORSYTH b. 02 Sep 1738, (prob.-Middletown, Middlesex Co., Connecticut) d. Abt. 1812, Niagara Falls, Upper Canada; (prob.- s/o James & Mary [MASON] FORSYTH of Connecticut)

Married Eunice ? b. Abt. 1745 d. Niagara Falls, Upper Canada. His regiment is unknown.

Son – William FORSYTH b. Abt. 1774, d. 27 Feb 1841, Fort Erie, Bertie Twp., Welland Co.


m. (1) Abt. 1795 Mary AYCKLER Abt. 1777 d. Bef. 1810, Fort Erie, Bertie Twp., Welland Co., Niagara Falls, Ontario. She is believed to be dau of UEL William Ackler & Maria [Landman] Ackler. (Name also spelled Aglor, Ackler, Aigler, Egler, Eagler, Eiklor, Eigl) From “An Annotated Nominal Roll of Butler’s Rangers 1777-1784 with Documentary Sources” Author: Lieutenant Colonel William A. Smy, OMM, CD, UE Ackler, William.

Their children were:

Daniel Forsyth b. 27 Sep 1796

William Forsyth b. 15 Nov 1801 m. Rebecca Moffet

Elizabeth Forsyth b. 1805 m. John Adams

Matilda FORSYTH b. Bet. 1805 & 1807 m. 18 May 1825, Trinity Church, Chippawa, Stamford Twp., Upper Canada; Cornelius VAN WYCK

Samuel Forsyth b. Bet. 1805 & 1807, m. Sarah De Field

Phoebe Forsyth

m.(2) Jane ?

Their Children were:

Horatio Nelson Forsyth

Collingwood Forsyth

Sophronia Forsyth

Wellington Forsyth

William Forsyth

Issac Brock Forsyth

Jane Forsyth

Melissa Forsyth

Thomas Forsyth

Can anyone shed further light on the origins of the James FORSYTH family of Niagara Falls or of the other James Forsyth of Cornwall who may have lived in Tryon New York? (I believe that particular individual originated in Scotland and was a boatman in a Loyalist regiment.)

…Alice A. Walchuk UE, 12 Park Cres., Dryden, ON P8N 1T6 {walchuks AT drytel DOT net}