“Loyalist Trails” 2010-08: February 21, 2010

In this issue:
A Man with a Mission: Part One — © Stephen Davidson
Ebenezer Dibble (1715-1799): Fifth Generation in America (Part 1 of 13; © 2009 George McNeillie)
Father of Canadian Flag Honoured
2010 Olympics and UELAC II
Doan Reunion and Aaron Doan UE Heritage Designation
Last Post: Jack Babcock, UE
      + Response re Loyalist Sjrt. James Perrigo


A Man with a Mission: Part One — © Stephen Davidson

Birchtown was just one of many settlements founded by loyalists in Nova Scotia. But unlike the neighbouring towns, Birchtown was settled exclusively by black loyalists. At its founding, it was the largest community of free blacks in the Western Hemisphere. While those who settled in Birchtown were refugees with no choice of sanctuary following the American Revolution, one man among them had made a deliberate decision to live there. His name was John Marrant, a man with a mission.

Marrant was born in New York in 1755 and lived there until the death of his father. His mother took John, his two sisters, and brother to the south. Until he was eleven, John enjoyed a stable life and received a basic education. The Marrants then moved to Charleston, South Carolina where John sought out a trade. However, after hearing the sounds of music and dancing coming from a school, all he wanted to do was to make music.

Despite his mother’s protests, he took violin lessons and within six months was proficient as both a musician and dancer. Marrant went on to learn the French horn. Soon he was a sought-after musician for Charleston’s balls and social gatherings. Not bad for a thirteen year-old.

Marrant’s life took a dramatic turn one night as he made his way to play at a party. George Whitefield, an influential preacher in the Great Awakening, was speaking to a packed meeting hall in Charleston. As John and a friend walked past the place where Whitefield was preaching, his companion dared him to walk into the revival meeting and blow on his French horn.

John elbowed his way into the hall, but before he could put his horn to his lips, he collapsed to the floor. Half an hour later, a woman revived Marrant, whereupon Rev. Whitefield told him that he had had an encounter with Christ.

Two men carried Marrant to his sister’s home. His “distressed situation” continued for three days. On the fourth day, Rev. Whitefield visited John. After the preacher prayed with the teenager, Marrant recalled that his “sorrows were turned into peace and joy and love”. The teenage musician professed his faith in Christ, and for the next three weeks, he spent his time studying the Bible.

Family persecution and misunderstanding drove John to walk 130 miles into the wilderness with only a pocket Bible and hymn book. His pilgrimage was interrupted when he met a Native hunter, a man who had once sold animal hides to Marrant’s mother. The teenager was afraid the man would take him home, but instead the hunter allowed John to work alongside him in the forest for the next three months.

When the hunting season was over, the two headed for a large Cherokee town. Its leaders eyed them suspiciously. Despite having a Native friend and knowing the Cherokee language, 14 year-old John was regarded as an enemy who must be executed. This involved stripping him and placing him in a large wooden basket. Next, wooden pegs would be jabbed into him and set alight before he was thrown into an open fire.

On the day of his execution, Marrant began to pray loudly, calling on his God in the Cherokee language. His Native executioner suddenly hugged the teenager, promising that no one would hurt him until they had visited the chief. After a series of meetings with the Cherokee chief, Marrant brought many of the people, including the chief, to faith in his God.

For the next two months, Marrant lived among the Cherokees, adopting their mode of dress. “The skins of wild beasts composed my garments, my head was set out in the savage manner, with a long pendant down my back, a sash round my middle without breeches, and a tomahawk by my side”. Curious about other tribes, the teenager planned to travel further west. With a guard of Cherokees, he spent eight weeks visiting three First Nations. Though they had great hostility toward the Europeans who had driven them from the coast, they received the black teenager with great hospitality.

When he finally returned to his family’s town, Marrant discovered that everyone believed that wild beasts had eaten him. His family had searched the forest for three days, found a torn carcass, and buried it, thinking it was John.

When he knocked on the door of his mother’s house, Marrant was not recognized by either his mother, brother or older sister. However, his 11 year-old sister knew him as soon as she saw him. “I was then made known to all the family, to my friends, and acquaintances, who received me, and were glad, and rejoiced”.

John Marrant stayed with his family until the outbreak of the Revolution. During a visit to the coast, he was seized by sailors and forced to join the crew of a British sloop. While Marrant served as the vessel’s musician, he was witness to the British capture of Charleston in 1780, survived being washed overboard three times, and was wounded during a bloody sea battle at Dogger Bank in 1781. When his ship finished patrolling the West Indies, it returned its crew to England.

After having his wounds treated in Plymouth, Marrant settled in London where he worked for a cotton merchant for three years. But his concern for the spiritual welfare of his African kin weighed upon him. A letter from his brother who had settled in Nova Scotia after fleeing South Carolina prompted Marrant to seek ordination in 1785. Under the sponsorship of Lady Huntingdon, the 30 year-old Rev. Marrant set sail for the wilderness of Nova Scotia and the community of Birchtown. It was hardly the typical course of action for a black loyalist, but then John Marrant was a man with a mission.

In the next issue of Loyalist Trails, you can read about John Marrants’ travels throughout Nova Scotia, his marriage, and his place in literary history.

To secure permission to reprint this article, contact the author at {stephendavids AT gmail DOT com} how do I email him?

Ebenezer Dibble (1715-1799): Fifth Generation in America (Part 1 of 13; © 2009 George McNeillie)

The Rev. Ebenezer Dibblee was born April 16, 1715, in Danbury, Connecticut. He graduated at Yale in 1734 and was for a time a licensed preacher among the Congregationalists. He married in 1736, Joanna Bates, a daughter of Capt. Jonathan Bates of Stamford. Dr. Johnson, whose influence in behalf of the Episcopal Church was at this time powerful in New England, induced Ebenezer Dibblee to enter the ministry of the Church of England, of which I am inclined to think his wife was a member. He went to England in 1748, and was ordained by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Parish Church of Kensington in London, and at once returned to America to take charge of the Parish of Stamford, where he remained as rector for fifty-one years. He had been a lay reader there for a year or two prior to his ordination. His first entry in the parish records reads: “Arrived to my mission October 26, 1748, and began to do duty the Sunday following.”

The migratory instinct of later generations of the old New England families is seen in the fact that the following papers have been carried far from Stamford by members of the Dibblee Family and are now in possession of Albert Dibblee of San Francisco and of Thomas Dibblee of Santa Barbara in California. The papers are:

1. Letters of Ordination of Ebenezer Dibblee at the Parish Church of Kensington in London, County of Middlesex, England, to the diaconate, signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, dated 3rd of August, 1748 – a parchment with the seal of the Archbishop affixed.

2. Letters of Ordination to the priesthood, by the same prelate, dated Aug. 7, 1748 – a parchment with the great seal of office.

3. Declaration of Conformity to the Liturgy of the Church of England, certified by the Bishop of London, dated August 11, 1748.

4. Licence from the Bishop of London, under seal, to the Rev. Ebenezer Dibblee to minister in the “Province of New England,” dated August 17th, 1748.

5. Commission under seal from the S.P.G. [Editor’s note – Society for the Propagation of the Gospel – the Church of England’s missionary branch] to hold services at Stamford and Greenwich in New England, and to be paid by the Society 20 pounds per annum, dated August 17, 1748.

After his return to Stamford, Ebenezer Dibblee proved himself a true missionary, visiting the surrounding towns in Connecticut, and occasionally crossing the Sound to Long Island and officiating at Huntington. He was about sixty years of age when the Revolution began and was a loyal upholder of British connexion. His personal popularity and mature age saved him in large measure from the rigorous prosecution meted out to many of the Loyalists, though on one occasion he was “cruelly dragged through the mire and dirt.”

Excerpt from Book of Family History, by The Ven. William Odber Raymond, LL.D, FRSC. © 2009 George McNeillie – all rights reserved [published here with permission; see footnote].

George McNeillie

Father of Canadian Flag Honoured

This week, Lynne Cook of the St. Lawrence Branch sent me a link to a Flag Day event in Brockville. (Flag Day is what many members in Ontario used to call February 15 before it became a provincial holiday known as Family Day.) The article by Nick Gardiner, Staff Writer for the Brockville Recorder and Times, detailed a special event held by the Liberal Part of Leeds and Grenville to honour Judge John Ross Matheson as “father of the Canadian Flag” for his contributions forty five years earlier.

A Second World War Veteran, lawyer, judge, former M.P. and Honorary President of UELAC 1991-2003, the Hon. John Matheson, Honorary President UELAC 1991- 2003, is also a life member of the Kingston and District Branch. The Cataraqui Loyalist Town Crier November 2009 carried an article regarding another honour. The Matheson Gate was dedicated in his name at the Canadian Forces Base Kingston on 9 October 2009.

As Joe Gollner said in his blog of February 22, 2009, ” He is, in many ways, an embodiment of the very best in what people can achieve over a long and varied career……..Looking back, I think the lingering impression … is entirely one of respect for the contributions of people like John Matheson and a marvelling at how any one person can undertake so much.

“The oldest hath borne most: we that are young
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.”
– King Lear


2010 Olympics and UELAC II

When the United Empire Loyalists first came to our country, their achievements would have dominated the media, due largely to their overwhelming numbers. Now more than 225 years later, it is harder for journalists and reporters to acknowledge the descendants of those Loyalists on the public stage. It remains an ongoing challenge for UELAC members to share the lineage of those in the news, especially those connected to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

On 12 February 2010, Measha Breuggergosman, born and raised in Fredericton NB, gave a bravura performance of the lyrics by Greek poet Kostis Palamas in the Olympic Anthem at the Vancouver opening ceremony. It was during an earlier presentation of Who Do You Think You Are in 2007 that it was revealed that her ancestors John and Rose Gosman and their daughter Fanny settled initially in Nova Scotia. They were also listed in the Book of Negroes. This classical musician is also featured in the current issue of Chatelaine.

Saskatoon-born Catriona LeMay Doan won her first gold medal for speed skating at the 500m distance in 1998 at Nagano, Japan as well as a bronze medal in the 1000m event. She earned her second gold medal in the 500m distance in 2002 at her fourth Olympics. This year, Catriona was honoured as one of the Olympic flag carriers at the opening of the 2010 Olympics, and she has also served as a colour commentator on the CTV broadcasts. However , it is her husband, Bart Doan, Assistant Coach for the Calgary Oval X-Treme, the Olympic Oval’s high performance female hockey program in 2008 who appears to be the link to the United Empire Loyalists. In the recent issue of the Bicentennial Branch Quarterly, Ted Steele’s article “Loyalists and Scoundrels in the Family” claimed Catriona as a cousin, as well as Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes and Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.

If there are hints of Loyalist lineage in a surname, perhaps there is a also connection for Saskatchewan’s Mike Babcock, the coach of Team Canada at the 2010 Olympics. The trail eastward to the Babcock Loyalists of the Bay of Quinte and Kingston areas has yet to be documented, but perhaps there is a Loyalist Link for yet another Olympian.


Doan Reunion and Aaron Doan UE Heritage Designation

The Port Colborne Heritage Committee will be honoring the name of Aaron Doan UE with a Heritage Designation and name change from Steele Cemetery to Doan Cemetery on Saturday July 10, 2010 @ 2:00 p.m. The Cemetery is located @ 2146 Second Concession Road, in the City of Port Colborne. This cemetery, which contains the family burial site, is on the original Crown Grant to Aaron Doan UE.

Doan descendants will be celebrating a family reunion on Sunday July 11, 2010 @ Bethel Community Centre, 2703 Chippawa Road, Port Colborne, Ontario. Family history information starting @ 10 a.m. with a pot luck lunch @ 12.00 noon.

If you need further information on the Doan Reunion or Cemetery Designation contact Jerry Fisher UE at 905-892-5477 or by email.

Last Post: Jack Babcock, UE

With the passing of John Henry Foster Babcock on 18 February 2010, UELAC lost another member. He did not hold office at the Branch or Dominion level. He did not receive his Certificate of Loyalist Lineage for Benjamin Babcock until his 109th year. However, it is his life story that stands as a tribute to the many people who have served Canada in very quiet ways. In recent years he appeared frequently in the spotlight as Canada’s sole surviving veteran of the First World War. In addition to the accounts in the Globe and Mail and on the CBC website there will be many resources that document his role in our country’s history. While reference to a three part YouTube video was made earlier in Loyalist Trails, Global Television has also announced the repeat of “Last Soldier” at 7:00 p.m. on 27 February 2010.

The media does not record his family history beyond that of his father, but you can rest assured that he was proud of his Loyalist connections and late membership in our Association.

…Frederick H. Hayward, UE, President, UELAC


Response re Loyalist Sjrt. James Perrigo

Your ancestor had quite an exciting military career. He was clearly an accomplished soldier. He joined Burgoyne’s Army in June 1777 and was slotted into LCol John Peters’s Queen’s Loyal Rangers, as the officers of his regiment had not yet joined. Peters later looked upon this assignment as if it was meant to be permanent rather than temporary, which led to much dissatisfaction amongst the loyalist leadership.

Pte James Perrigo. Perigo on a list of Sherwood’s Coy, 23Aug77, joined 24Jun77 and noted gone to McKay’s.(P29) On a list of men who joined the QLR 25Jun and left 24Aug77.(P27) Sherwood’s Coy, entered 25Jun, went to Mackay’s 22Aug77.(P35) James Pernigo reported captured at Bennington, 14Dec80.(T65)

This last entry was incorrect. James had transferred and that information was lost in regimental records, so they assumed he had been captured. Many others in similar straits were reported as deserters.

The regiment that he had been recruited into was known as Phister’s ‘Loyal Volunteers.’ Phister and the other leaders of the ‘Loyal Volunteers’ joined the army on the march to Bennington, and Phister was killed in the Battle of Bennington. Thereafter, Burgoyne assigned a captain named Samuel Mackay from his staff to command the ‘Loyal Volunteers’ and Perrigo transferred to his original regiment, the LV – ‘Loyal Volunteers.’

Perrigo continued throughout the campaign with Mackay’s until the expedition was on the edge of surrender in October. He and many other “Loyal Volunteers’ escaped and when Perrigo arrived at Ticonderoga, he again transferred, this time to the 1st battalion, King’s Royal Regiment of New York following Capt Samuel Anderson who had temporarily served under Mackay, as he had been unable to join the Royal Yorkers earlier in Montreal.

Cpl James Perrigo. James Perigo on LV return dated 20Dec77. Noted transferred to 1KRR “without leave at Ticonderoga.”(P38) Cpl Perigo, transferred to 1KRR, 24Nov77.(T68)

James Perrigo then served as Serjeant in Samuel Anderson’s Light Infantry Company of the Royal Yorkers for a year or two. Then he transferred, or was transferred, to Sam Anderson’s brother Joseph’s Line Infantry Company in which he served for 1781 and 82. Joseph Anderson resigned his commission in Dec82 and Archibald McDonell was promoted to captain and took command and James served under him until disbandment in Dec83.


– P29, His Majestys Queens Loyal Rangers Commanded by Lieut. Col: John Peters and in Capt. Sherwood Company, Bottonkilm 23 August 1777.
– NYSL, Albany, Peters’ Papers, Document 3577. (gives names, ranks, entered dates, current dispositions)
– P27, Number of Men that Join’d Lieutenant Colonel John Peter’s in the Campaign Commanded by Lieutent General John Burgoyne and not Included in the Provision or Pay Abstracts.
– NYSL, Albany, Peters’ Papers, Two versions of Document 3580. (gives names, numbers, joining dates, killed, prisoners)
– P35, A List of the First Company of the Queens loyal Rangers Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Peters; A List of Major Zadock Wrights Company etc…; A List of the 3d Company of the Queens Royal Rangers Commanded by Captain Justus Sherwood; A List of the Fourth Company of the Queens Loyal Rangers [commanded by Jeremiah French] etc…; A List of the 5th Company of Queens Loyal Rangers Commanded by Captain David McFall [no list]; A List of the Sixth Company of Queens Loyal Rangers Commanded by Captain Simeon Covel; A List of the Seventh Company of the Queens Loyal Rangers Commanded by Captain Andrew Polmotear; A List of those Men that came in with Reuben Hawley, given under his own hand in 1777; A List of Men that Join’d me at Skenesborough as Colonel of the Militia being Old Officers and Soldiers in Gloucester County in July 1777. NYSL, Albany, Peters’ Papers, Document 3591. (gives names, ranks, joining and ending dates and disposition at end of campaign)
– T65, Return of the Corps of the Queen’s Loyal Rangers Commanded by Lieut. Colonel John Peters, Including Officers and Privates as they now stand, and free of all Claims that may be made of them by any other Corps.
– Braisted transcript. NYSL, Peters’ Papers, CL3598. (gives names, ranks, dispositions including prisoners)
[The spellings in the source descriptions are exactly as found on the original document.
The “P” sources are Primary and the “T” are Transcripts.
NYSL is the New York State Library.]

…Gavin Watt, H-VP, UELAC