“Loyalist Trails” 2009-42: October 18, 2009

In this issue:
Double Wedding: Divided Sisters — © Stephen Davidson
“Thanksgiving: The Four Winds”: A Native Loyalist’s View
Search Engines for UEL Images
      + Elizabeth and Margaret Klein
      + Was Simon De Forest a Loyalist?


Double Wedding: Divided Sisters — © Stephen Davidson

Susanna and Jane DeLancey were sisters so special to one another that they decided to have a double wedding. 20 year-old Susanna was engaged to Thomas Barclay; John Watts Junior had proposed to 19 year-old Jane. The latter couple had known each other all of their lives. Jane’s father was the brother of John’s mother. Both Watts and Barclay had been born and raised in New York; both bridegrooms had graduated from King’s College.

Susanna and Jane were the daughters of New York City’s influential and prosperous Peter and Elizabeth (Colden) DeLancey. Most of the eleven Delancey children were loyalists, a fact which had no bearing on their sisters’ happiness on their wedding day, but which would cast a dark shadow over the years to come.

Unaware of how such faraway events as the Battle of Lexington or the Battle of Bunker Hill would utterly disrupt their lives, the DeLancey sisters set the date of their double wedding for Monday, October 2, 1775. Carriages were prepared, horses groomed, and the African slaves were dressed in the family’s finest livery. It was one the weddings of the fall season for New York’s upper classes. Rivington’s Gazette published the details of the service and included a fragment of verse written by England’s Lord Lyttelton:

Round their nuptial beds
Hovering with purple wings, th’ Idalian boy
Shook from his radiant torch, the blissful fires
Of innocent desires
While Venus scattered myrtles.

The imagery of Cupid and Venus surrounding the new couples with the charms and tokens of everlasting love no doubt pleased the new Mrs. Barclay and the new Mrs. Watts. It is unfortunate that no poem was found to call upon some power to prevent family divisions. With the coming of the War of Independence, Susanna and Jane found themselves on opposite sides of a bitter civil war. The sisters shared a wedding ceremony, but would be divided by the events of the American Revolution.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Barclay set up their first home near Coldenham, the residence of Susanna’s grandfather. As Mrs. Barclay learned how to run a household, her new husband continued in his law practice. Following the Battle of Long Island in 1776, Barclay sided with the British victors, and fought against the patriots for the next seven years. He did occasionally go home to visit Susanna, and by 1783, the Barclays had four children. At the Revolution’s conclusion, Susanna’s husband had risen to the rank of major. He had been a part of campaigns in in Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, and the Carolinas.

Barclay’s service to the crown was costly. In 1779, the rebels of New York state charged him with high treason and seized all of his land. Patriots destroyed all of his buildings, sold his four slaves, and auctioned off Barclay’s library of law and history books. If he returned to his estate, he would be put to death “without benefit of clergy”. The future looked bleak. As ships carried loyalist refugees away from New York City, 30 year-old Thomas and 28 year-old Susanna had to make difficult decisions for their young family. Would they settle in Nova Scotia, the Canadas, or England?

By the fall of 1783, the Barclays had moved to Wilmot, Nova Scotia. Within six years, Barclay had returned to the law profession in nearby Annapolis Royal and became that area’s member in the provincial assembly. In time, he was made the Speaker of the House, a lieutenant colonel in the Royal Nova Scotia Regiment and adjutant general of the province’s militia. During this time Susanna and Thomas had seven more children.

The years of the Revolution were a different experience for Susanna’s sister Jane and her brother-in-law John Watts. Despite being members of the Church of England and having loyalist relatives, the young Watts couple sided with the patriots. This decision meant that John had to abandon his post as Recorder of New York when the British captured the city.

Whatever Watts’ service was during the war –whether as a soldier or a member of the civil service– he achieved a certain degree of popularity. Following the revolution, Watts was elected a member of the State Assembly for a number of years. Like his loyalist brother-in-law in Nova Scotia, Watts also served as the assembly’s Speaker. Later he represented his state in Congress, became a judge of Westchester County, and founded an orphanage. Watts and Jane had six sons and five daughters, all but one of whom died before 1836.

Happily, the story of the two sisters who shared a double wedding did not end in an eternal separation on opposite sides of the loyalist and patriot divide. In the year of the sisters’ 24th wedding anniversary, Thomas Barclay was appointed British Consul General in –of all places– New York City. He and Susanna moved their family from Nova Scotia to their birthplace where, for the next thirteen years, Barclay faithfully served the interests of the British government.

Although there is nothing noted in the records of the period, it is impossible to imagine that the two sisters were not reunited once Susanna Barclay returned to New York in 1799. Having shared a wedding ceremony, would they be slow to meet 24 years later?

As it turned out, Jane Delancey Watts had only ten years left to enjoy the company of her sister. She died at age 52 in 1809. Her loyalist brother-in-law Thomas Barclay died in 1830. John Watts, Jane’s patriot husband, died in 1836, and was buried with the rest of his family in their vault in Trinity Churchyard. Susanna Barclay died the following year at the age of 81. She and her husband were buried at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery.

Each DeLancey sister began and ended her life in New York City, but both had very different experiences of the most tumultuous event of their era, the American Revolution.

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

“Thanksgiving: The Four Winds”: A Native Loyalist’s View

“The Four Winds

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.”

A gentle breeze, a vicious wind; a cooling respite from the heat or a warming comfort heralding the end of winter. The Four Winds have acted as saviours and tormentors in Canadian life. Today, as Canada looks into harnessing the energy of the winds, it should be remembered that these very same forces were used to power the ships that took many Loyalists away from their former hostile homelands and to a new way of life. Once a mainstay powering the rural farm, we look to the wind to clean urban air but as Canada becomes less influenced by the wind in our daily lives, we should always recall that it’s ‘an ill wind that blows no good’ and the ‘winds of change’ are always upon us.

…David Kanowakeron Hill Morrison UE

[Editor’s Note: Read the full Thanksgiving Address. For details, visit Four Directions Youth Project – donations are needed, and appreciated.]

Search Engines for UEL Images

For years now, images relating to the United Empire Loyalists have been uploaded to the Internet and not just to our Dominion website. LT (Loyalist Trails) readers already recognize the value of using search engines to discover articles and websites of interest that in turn lead into completely new perspectives. This past weekend, I was introduced to a different use of Google.

After selecting Images on the Google page, I typed in “Loyalists”. Up came page after page of photographs that have been posted to “Loyalist” articles. By being more specific and limiting the search to United Empire Loyalist, I was able to avoid images connected to “Loyalists in UK” and elsewhere, and focus more on pages that related to our common interest. Some time the photographs were not identified as UEL but only appeared on pages where the words “United Empire Loyalists” were used in the fuller article. It was rather fun to recognize UELAC members in pictures taken closer to the millennium, but the search also turned up maps, monuments and photographs previously unseen.

If you haven’t explored “Images” on Google before, you will definitely encounter a broader development of resources for our use.



Elizabeth and Margaret Klein

Elizabeth and Margaret Klein were captured from their farm in the Mohawk Valley, N.Y. in 1760 by marauding Indians; their parents and siblings were killed. They were traded to Chief Joseph Brant who adopted them and brought them to Canada during the Revolutionary War. After about 25 years with the natives they were released.

Elizabeth Klein married Donald Daniel MacCrimmon and settled in Prince Edward County.

Margaret Klein married Jean Baptiste Rousseaux and eventually settled in Ancaster.

Chief Brant learned that there were relatives in Kingston–both he and his sister Molly Brant had residences there. Because there was family, Margaret Klein traveled to Kingston where she stayed and met Rousseaux.

I believe that the family Margaret returned to was Elizabeth Klein U.E., widow of John Klein, he having been scalped by the Indians in 1780 in the Mohawk Valley. Elizabeth Klein fled to Canada, married John Weitzel and settled in Kingston by 1783.

History has not been able to determine who these adopted sisters were, where they were in the Valley or who their parents were.

I would be pleased to share information with anyone interested in pursuing the answer to this question.( Genealogy is History wrapped in Mystery).

…Don Brearley {don DOT brearley AT bellnet DOT ca}

Was Simon De Forest a Loyalist?

My ancestor, Simon De Forest, is not listed among the United Empire Loyalists but I feel that he should be included as one of them.

Simon De Forest died in or near Albany, NY in 1777. He may have died escaping from a rebel prison, or he may have died fighting. At present I do not think he has been identified as a Loyalist. But I would like to prove somehow that he was indeed not only sympathetic to the cause but that he gave his life to sustain British rule over the colonies.

Simon De Forest was born in Albany, NY. in 1739. He was baptized in Halve Maan, Albany, NY on 17 February, 1739. He was the son of Abraham De Forest and Rebecca Symonse Van Antwerpen. He married Mary McGinnis in Albany NY on 5 June 1761, and they lived in “Halve Maan” near Albany. They raised several children, among them my 4th great grandmother, Hannah De Forest, (born 1767) who married Stephen Secord (UE) in 1784.

Mary McGinnis De Forest was the daughter of Timothy McGinnis and Sarah Kast McGinnis. By the start of the American Revolution, Timothy McGinnis had died and Sarah was a widow with grown children. She lived near the Mohawk River and refused to sympathize with the rebels. When they burned her house and arrested her, they also placed her daughters and sons-in-law in prison. Simon De Forest may have been one of the sons-in-law who was detained, or he may have become a prisoner of war at a later point in time. When Sarah fled north to Canada, Mary and her children, including ten year old grand-daughter Hannah, went with her.

Apparently the government of Canada was once approached for help on behalf of Simon De Forest’s surviving children because he “was imprisoned for his Loyalty and killed in attempting to make his escape from jail”, and that his “children may participate in the advantage of the children of other Loyalists”. There is a copy of a letter in the Public Archives of Canada, in Ottawa written by Richard Cartwright. It reads:

“It is humbly represented to their Excellencys – the Lieut. Gov in Council that – The husband of Mary DeFriest formerly resident on the Mohawk River was imprisoned for his Loyalty and killed in attempting to make his escape from jail. that the widow with her children came from that country in the year 1777 with the Army of St. Leger on their retreat from Fort Stanwyx. That she resided at Masheshe in Lower Canada and has provision allowance to her till the year 1786 when she removed with her family to this Province and died at Niagara. It is respectfully submitted whether under all the circumstances of this case, her name ought not to have been inserted on the U.E.List that her children may participate in the advantage of the children of other Loyalists.” York, 6 March 1808 Signed Richard Cartwright.

I do not know if a full search for evidence has been accomplished for Simon, but since the man was “killed in action, and his family then moved to Canada” he should qualify to be a United Empire Loyalist.

I would appreciate any assistance tracking down more information about Simon De Forest, especially any information which would show him as a soldier, and any nformation about his death, whether in action, or whilst or after escaping from a rebel goal.

…Noella Oberlin, Tennesee {noellaoberlin AT hotmail DOT com}