“Loyalist Trails” 2009-09: March 1, 2009

In this issue:
Loyalists Making Music — © Stephen Davidson
Samuel Willson – Loyalist or Not? by David B. Clark, UE
East Oxford Pioneer Cemetery
The Cast of Rascals and Numskulls: A Play About Robert & Phoebe Land
M is For Moose, by Charles Pachter
      + Philemon Wright
      + Response re Adam Green
      + Response re Myrtle and Ann Transport


Loyalists Making Music — © Stephen Davidson

When we ask our teenagers to turn down their music, we are usually hoping to reduce the volume of some device powered by electricity. To make the same request of a loyalist teenager, we would have to ask a group of singers or a band of instrumentalists to quiet down. But if you had the chance to hear loyalists sing or play, asking them to be quiet would be the last thing on your mind.

Most of the music makers of the 18th century were people who had learned to play small, portable instruments “by ear”. Very few loyalist refugees would have had the opportunity to learn to read music or play instruments so complicated that they would need to take lessons. Irish and Scottish immigrants, for example, played Celtic tunes on pipes and fiddles they brought from their homelands. Such small, handheld instruments were so common that they were rarely mentioned in the records of the American Revolution; but there are a few references, and from them we can learn something about music-making loyalists.

Lambert Van Alstine of New York was in his teens during the Revolution, and yet had learned enough about the fife to play it in Sir John Johnson’s First Battalion. Clearly music must have been part of this young loyalist’s upbringing. How much fife-playing Lambert enjoyed during his adult life in Montreal is lost to history, but it seems reasonable to suppose that other former military musicians must have been among the loyalists who settled in the city.

Although their American masters would not allow them to play the drums on plantations, enslaved Africans could become drummers after joining the British army. The Polly, a ship which took loyalist refugees to England, had four free black men on its manifest: George, Francis Stewart, another George from Savannah, and a man named July. All were regimental drummers. The privilege to once again play an instrument that was so crucial to their culture was just one of the joys that the Black Loyalists regained with their freedom.

Loyalist instruments were more than just fifes and drums. Rebels took a chamber organ that had been in the home of the loyalist John Doty after the Anglican minister fled north to Sorel, Quebec. However, Doty, like most Christians in this period, was able to worship despite the loss of a pump organ.

In fact, most churches in the Thirteen Colonies had no instrumental accompaniment for their hymns. An exceptional denomination was the Moravian church. Its worship services could include music made by trombones, organs, and choirs. Unlike the Puritan founders of New England, this German denomination did not frown upon instrumental music in worship.

Church music was a delight for loyalists to sing and to hear. When Rev. David George went to Shelburne, Nova Scotia to establish a church among the loyalist refugees, he simply stood in a clearing in the woods and began to sing. Free blacks recognized the African timbre of George’s voice and went into the forest to see who was singing. It can be said that the Baptist denomination began in Nova Scotia with a song for those who came to hear the Black Loyalist eventually became members of his new congregation.

Later, when free blacks gathered by the hundreds in Halifax to set sail for Sierra Leone, an English navy lieutenant attended one of their worship services. “I never remembered to have heard the Psalms sung so charmingly in my life before” wrote John Clarkson. “The blacks who attended seemed to feel more at singing than they did at Prayers.” The psalms of the Old Testament were the hymnbook from which these loyalists sang rather than the “Negro Spirituals” that would later be created during the 19th century.

Lt. Anthony Allaire, an officer in the Loyal American Regiment, was also impressed by congregational singing. His regiment once came into a part of North Carolina which had three Moravian settlements. After an evening service, Allaire wrote in his diary that he was “highly entertained with the decency of these people and with their music”.

Although it began with the serious intention of improving the calibre of congregational music, the Singing School of the 18th century proved to be very popular. As it spread across the Thirteen Colonies, the singing school gave rebels and loyalists alike a venue for making music that was more social and recreational than traditional church singing.

Given the high degree of illiteracy among the Thirteen Colonies’ first wave of settlers, church congregations had no use for hymnbooks in their worship services. They could neither read words nor musical notes. Instead, a song leader would sing a line of a hymn and hold the first note while the congregation echoed back the line they had just heard. This style of church music was called “lining out”.

With an increase in literacy during the 18th century, an itinerant singing master could visit a community and teach its members how to both read music by sight and sing in harmony. Singing schools were held in the evenings when the work of the field and chores of the day were done. In addition to benefiting congregational music, the singing schools also provided colonists of all ages and genders with a means to “meet and mingle”.

A loyalist singing school first convened in Woodstock, New Brunswick in December of 1816. Rev. Frederick Dibblee, the local Anglican vicar, mentions three such schools meeting in his church over the next few years. The tradition of group instruction in singing was obviously something the loyalists brought with them to British North America. It endured for at least thirty years –if not longer– after their arrival.

So despite the losses they suffered during the American Revolution, the primitive conditions they faced in the Canadian forests, and a loss of contact with contemporary English music, the loyalist refugees found their own ways to make music.

To secure permission to reprint this article contact the author at {stephendavids AT gmail DOT com}

Samuel Willson – Loyalist or Not? by David B. Clark, UE

My last article in Loyalist Trails produced a flurry of emails from new “Green family” cousins and other interested parties. New resources and reference books were located, as I had hoped, and overall the value of both Loyalist Trails and the Loyalist Directory on the Dominion UELAC website were proven beyond doubt. So here I go again.

At the last branch meeting in Victoria, B.C., a fairly young woman received her eighth UEL certificate. I couldn’t believe someone could locate all of the records necessary to accomplish such an herculean task. But it inspired me to see what could again be accomplished through the vehicle of “Loyalist Trails.”

A second family line that I am descended from, is the family of Samuel Willson of Hardwicke Township, Sussex County, New Jersey, who also came north following the end of the revolution. I have despaired about ever being able to trace his potential U.E.L. connection since he did not apply for land, based on any military service or losses in the south, and did not apply for entry onto the U.E.L. roll. However, his daughter Sarah (Willson) Dynes (my great great grandmother) did apply to have his name entered on the roll in 1836 using the following language in her petition (abridged ):

“[…] at the commencement of the revolutionary war […] he then joined the British Forces and rendered them every service in his power. That for his loyalty and attachment to the British Government he was much harassed and annoyed by the Rebels and was compelled to pay several fines on account of […] such attachment,” and “he was obliged to abandon his property there and came into Upper Canada […] till his death […] caused by disease […] contracted while on duty in the defence of the country in the second year of the late war (1812).”

Her petition was supported by an affidavit made by her sister Mary (Willson) Gainer or Garner. It recalled the recruitment of Samuel Willson as follows (abridged):

“that he enlisted into a British Regiment commanded by Colonel Barton and was recruited by a party commanded by […] a Captain Moody, that he with about forty men […] marched from Hardwicke […] for Staten Island” and “were attacked by a party of the rebels and routed, he afterward returned home and […] furnish(ed) provisions to the said Captain Earle and his party […].”

So that is the background with which I have to work. A look into “Captain” Moody’s life, I thought, might produce some further clues. A mild mannered James Moody entered the revolutionary war on the 28th of March, 1777, when a group of Whigs (rebels) fired shots at him while he stood on his farm in Sussex County, Jew Jersey.

Early in April, with a group of 73 like minded men he left for the British lines to join the Royal Standard with Col. Joseph Barton’s, New Jersey Volunteers. After a brisk skirmish with rebels they eventually reached Staten Island where the NJV were garrisoned.

Acting as an unpaid volunteer under Col. Barton, Moody took part in two authorized recruiting expeditions. The first was in June and July of 1777, when he and a close friend moved through the Hardwick to Johnsonburg area recruiting over 500 loyalist men. On his second expedition, which took place in the latter third of 1777, he was accompanied by a force of over 100 men on a seventy mile penetration to Perth Amboy. The force was ambushed by rebels and a prolonged fight ensued. Many of Moody’s companions were killed, 60 captured, some sentenced to be hanged, and 8 escaped, including Moody.

So there are three known potential time periods that Samuel Willson might have been in the presence of James Moody (who only became an Ensign in late 1777, was paid a temporary half-lieutenant’s pension after the war while resting in England, and never bought the rank of Captain). These were: (1) the exodus from Sussex County in April of 1777, (2) the first recruiting expedition of June/July of 1777, and (3) the final recruitment effort which ended in disaster in the latter part of 1777.

Allowing for the changes in memory that accompany the recalling of an event that took place nearly sixty years earlier and the protagonist of which has been deceased for almost a quarter of a century, there are some similarities between the recorded history of James Moody’s recruiting and guerrilla actions, and the events recited in the affidavit accompanying the petition for entry on the U.E.L. roll in 1836.

The questions remaining to be answered are: “Is there enough here to go on?” and “Even if the exact event could be determined, and the participation of Samuel Willson clearly defined, could a case be made that he was, in fact, a United Empire Loyalist within the parameters set out in the definition of a Loyalist?

To answer these questions: Was he a resident of the former colonies prior to the hostilities? Yes. Did he take up arms? I am at this point uncertain, until one of the above events can be clearly ascertained as that referred to in the affidavit and petition, and further, does recruitment by an unpaid guerrilla fighter and spy constitute taking up arms under the Royal Standard if, at that point, the recruit hasn’t reported in to the regiment? Lastly, did he evacuate to Upper Canada after the Treaty of Separation and settle there? Yes.

If you have any comments on this particular Willson family line or Moody’s expeditions, I would be happy to hear from any readers.

[Moody history quoted from: “An American Loyalist – Moody of New Jersey,” by M.G. Sausser, publ. 1910 in Magazine of History, Sept/Oct issue.]

…David Clark {landmenbc1 AT shaw DOT ca}

East Oxford Pioneer Cemetery

East Oxford Pioneer Cemetery – Woodstock, Ontario. This cemetery near Woodstock is marked at the entrance with a plaque dedicated in 1954 to the memory of Samuel and Lucy Canfield, United Empire Loyalists.

This marker is now part of the collection of monuments and commemoratives to Loyalists. We would really appreciate help from you in identifying, gathering and posting additional Loyalist memorials.

The Cast of Rascals and Numskulls: A Play About Robert & Phoebe Land

The play was described in the Feb 8 issue. Click here for a photo of the cast – interesting to see the costumes and characters.

…Ruth Nicholson, UE, Hamilton Branch

M is For Moose, by Charles Pachter

A Charles Pachter Alphabet Book, Cormorant Books Inc., ISBN 978-1-897151-33-4

All the public elementary schools in Halton were recently given a copy of this marvelous Canadian historical artistic alphabet book. It is really an adult alphabet book too. Who cannot marvel at two beautifully dressed Canadians – a Scot in his dress kilt and a First Nations man in his ornately beaded clothing and feathered headdress, facing one another with a lake in the background and a full moon above. The next page has a lone igloo on bleach white snow with a purple sunset behind. The caption reads: “I is for Identity and Igloo and such. Canada is cool, I love it so much.”

When I got to the “S” page there was a portrait of Governor Simcoe and an unusual three-quarter aerial view of Suzanna Strickland Moodie. At the back of the book are excellent explanations of several of the images. The one about Simcoe goes further and adds a wonderful account of “The Loyalists”. I appreciated the following wording of the moving and relocation of the Loyalists: “Britain then initiated a decade-long salvage-and-rescue operation to assist persecuted Anglo-American loyalists …” The book even has a wonderful butter tart recipe.

The author, Charles Pachter was born in Toronto and still lives in the downtown area. He is a painter, a printmaker, a sculptor, a designer, an historian and a lecturer. His work has been shown at the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the McMichael Gallery, among others. He is a member of the Order of Canada and I’m told that he welcomes speaking engagements. Let us not miss the opportunity to thank this author and to welcome him to some of our branch meetings.

…Ruth Nicholson UE, President, Hamilton Branch


I am trying to find information that was previously provided to me indicating that Philemon Wright was a UEL. This information came from someone who is now trying to save the farm that was once owned by the Wright Family in Woburn, Mass

Philemon Wright was born in Woburn, near Boston, Massachusetts in 1760 of a family which had been amongst the town’s founders 120 years before. He was raised a farmer in a reasonably prosperous family that was, however, beginning to feel the effects of overpopulation and land shortage in New England. As a young man, he served two years with the rebel forces in the first years of the Revolution.

But what happened then? Did Philemon become a Loyalist and serve the King? Where did he live for the next twenty years – in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick perhaps?

Two decades later, we know that Wright led a group of 5 families and 33 labourers to the then isolated and unsettled township of Hull in March 1800, following the opening of British North America to American settlement. The Hull venture was one of the most successful of the “leader and associate” group settlement schemes of the era. The associates signed over most of their large land grants to Wright, giving him ownership of almost the whole front of the township.

If you have information that Philemon was indeed a UE Loyalist…would you please help me.

Dorothy Meyerhof of Sir Guy Carleton Branch did some quick research:

Below is the summary of Philemon Wright’s story from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. It confirms the Wikipedia statement that he fought for the rebels (or Patriots, depending on your point of view) in the American Revolution. The DAR entry follows too.

It goes on to say that in 1800 he swore allegiance to the British Crown when he decided to move with other settlers to “Wrightstown” now Hull, Quebec. This was a requirement of the land grant application and becoming a citizen of Canada, nothing to do with his fidelity during the American Revolution and would not qualify him as a United Empire Loyalist [editor note: there were late comers to Canada in this time period who referred to themselves or were referred to by some others as “late Loyalists”. Again, not considered UE Loyalists] . The Loyalists fought against the American rebels in the Revolutionary War or in some other way actively supported the British side during that war, risking their lives, families and fortunes by doing so.

As Philemon fought on the American side during that conflict, which makes him a Son of the American Revolution. [editor’s note: we do know there were some number who switched sides during the conflict. The side they were on at the end of the war would usually regard him as one of theirs. Think Benedict Arnold as an example; there were many who are less-well known]. Below is the entry for Philemon Wright from the database of the Daughters of the American Revolution. He has been proven as a United States Patriot; therefore would not also be a United Empire Loyalist.

Entry from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

WRIGHT, PHILEMON, colonizer, farmer, businessman, militia officer, jp, office holder, and politician; b. 3 Sept. 1760 in Woburn, Mass., son of Thomas Wright, a farmer, and Elizabeth Chandler; m. 1782 Abigail Wyman, and they had nine children; d. 3 June 1839 in Hull, Lower Canada.

Philemon Wright’s forebear arrived about 1620 in what would become Salem, Mass., and succeeding generations of the family spent their lives at Woburn, where they were engaged mainly in farming. In 1744. Thomas Wright took as his first wife Patiance Richardson, who died four years later leaving him with two children. Philemon was born of his second marriage and was the fifth in a family of seven children. He was only 15 when he joined the rebels in the American War of Independence, and he apparently participated in the battle of Bunker Hill. Like the rest of his family he learned to farm, and around 1796 he owned three pieces of land. He had a few debts, doubtless some savings, and, in addition to his possessions, a strong desire to succeed.

Wright’s contact with Jonathan Fassett of Bennington, Vt, might have resulted in a reversal of his plans to immigrate to Lower Canada, where the government was beginning to open lands beyond the seigneuries for settlement. On 12 Aug. 1796 Wright had bought half of Hull, Ripon, Grandison, and Harrington townships from Fassett for £600 sterling. He was unaware at the time that Fassett’s land grant had been revoked by the government, but when he was informed he did not lose heart. On 17 April 1797 he petitioned for the grant of Hull Township, undertaking to proceed with a survey and to find associates and settlers. He initially tried to recruit men in Lower Canada, but population pressure there was still too slight to tempt employees – let alone settlers – to move somewhere as distant as the Ottawa region. He finally found his eight associates at Woburn and the surrounding area, choosing them from among and beyond his family and relatives. According to the common practice, the associates, who had received 1,200 acres of land, each handed 1,000 over to Wright. The final deed of grant was not signed until 3 Jan. 1806 and actually referred to less than a quarter of Hull Township, which contained 82,429 acres altogether.

On 20 March 1800, after taking the oath of loyalty along with the rest of his party, Wright reached the spot where the town of Wrightstown (Hull) would be built; with him were 37 men, 5 women, and 21 children, as well as 14 horses and 8 oxen. In addition to the associates and the 18 members of his immediate family there were about 10 labourers. When Wright took the first steps to settle Hull Township, he had a particular vision of the future.

Entry in DAR database:
Ancestor #: A130952
Death: 2 Jun 1839   HULL CANADA
Service Description: *1) *ALSO CPL

Please go ahead and print the query and then I can finally put the issue to rest. I will be quite disappointed, as much of the documentation I’ve read in the last little while has led me to believe that he is a loyalist. See what happens when assumptions are made . I would appreciate any additional comments. Thanks again

…Sheila Wood {shryley2002 AT yahoo DOT ca}

Response re Adam Green

So far, I have received e-mails from three new cousins and several interested parties, one of whom put me on a lead to finding a copy of a family history that I had been looking for for 10 years.

The entry I added to the Loyalist Directory for Capt. John Moore (on behalf of Eleanor Watson) – produced new information that you may want to add to the current entry. In the Military section after the sentence about him supporting 36 men you could add “in Butler’s Rangers.” This is noted in the book discussed below.

In the Family Genealogy section, an e-mail from Judy Nuttall produced a book called “The Pathway of the Moores” by Angela Files, which lists the history of John Moore, his ancestors and his children and descendants, and details his military service and has a history of each of his children and their descendants as well as following his part in building the first church in Grimsby, creating the first Mason’s Lodge there and a great deal more family detail, and Moore service records for the War of 1812.

…David Clark {landmenbc1 AT shaw DOT ca}

Response re Myrtle and Ann Transport

I received info from another researcher a couple of years ago re an ancestor of mine. He is supposed to have come to Kingston from England in 1792 with the Treasury Loyalists. Two ships, the Myrtle and Ann brought 100 families from England to settle in Upper Canada. Hope this is a helpful clue.

Best regards and good luck with your research,

…Elaine Gillespie

Thank you for your answer. This is exactly what I wanted to know, and this makes sense, as John Roggie, one of these Loyalists, did indeed arrive in 1792. I had heard the term Treasury Loyalist before, but never knew what it meant. Now, I have looked it up on the internet, and it’s a pretty interesting story. Thanks again.

…Linda Corupe