“Loyalist Trails” 2010-41: October 10, 2010

In this issue:
Women in Wigs — © Stephen Davidson
Reverend John Beardsley (1732 – 1809) © George McNeillie
Video Clip for 2011 “Catch The Spirit” Conference
First Patron of UELAC
Prairie Regional Hosted by Manitoba Branch
Last Post: M. Naydene Smith, UE
Last Post: Alan W. Conn


Women in Wigs — © Stephen Davidson

One of the greatest disservices to loyalist history is the well-meaning but totally erroneous portrayal of female loyalists in the illustrations of old textbooks. You know the ones I mean — the pictures that show women in fairy tale ball gowns who are balancing elaborate white wigs on their heads.

While a very small percentage of loyalist women might have once worn wigs before they became political refugees, “ball-gown princess” was hardly the standard by which the greatest number of loyalist women attired themselves. Middle class and working class females, the majority of loyalist women, were far too busy with the toils of the workaday world to concern themselves with courtly fashions.

So while loyalist men wore wigs as a part of their daily attire, it was only women from the colonial elite who would have had any experience with hairpieces. And when you consider what it meant to be a woman in a wig in the 18th century, it is amazing that any woman ever willingly covered her own hair with someone else’s.

Colonial American wigs were usually made with the hair of yaks, horses, goats, or cows. Above all of these, the hair of a country-woman was the most prized wig-making material. It may be that the only contact rural loyalist women ever had with the world of wig fashions was when they cut their hair and sold it to wig makers in the larger colonial cities. However, a rich loyalist wife or daughter was all too aware of the impression that could be made at a colonial ball or party by wearing just the right wig.

Men’s wigs were generally small and practical, worn on a shaved head and doffed as soon as one was out of the public eye. However, women’s wigs after the 1760s were incredibly large; Hair pads and pomade were used to make wigs that could be up to a metre in height. A 1776 edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette reported that women in London wore wigs that included swatches of gauze and feathers — and one even had an artificial salad including real vegetables. A 1777 edition of the Lady’s Magazine carried illustrations of “zodiac wigs” that contained models of the stars, moon and sun. The elite women of the colonies quickly imitated these English fashions.

As a display of social status, richer women wore wigs that were larger than those of their less prosperous sisters. A “big wig” indicated a person of importance, as the expression still does to this day.

Flour was one component of the powder used to freshen wigs; apples, plant oils and lard were used as wig pomades. It is little wonder, then, that some women slept with wire cages over their heads at night to prevent their wigs being nibbled by mice. Mind you, the cages did very little to stop the lice from making homes in one’s scalp. Hairpieces took so much time to “attach” that women wore their wigs for weeks on end. One can only imagine how itchy they must have been.

A young loyalist girl named Anna Winslow ached to have a “high roll”. This wig-hybrid combined human hair with cow and horse hair, weighed about a pound, and doubled the size of one’s head. Although it was the latest craze among the upper circles of Boston society, Miss Winslow had to admit that the “high roll” made her head “itch and ache and burn like anything”. It also took hours to create, a fact that only served to underscore a woman’s social standing. If a rich loyalist woman wore a high roll then it indicated that she had large amounts of leisure time and was also well endowed with either a good number of servants or the money to afford a hair stylist.

Women in wigs were not without controversy. One colonial periodical said that the practice was “inconsistent with that delicacy which is, or ought to be, characteristic of the fair sex”. They ought, instead, to set “an example of modesty and virtue to their inferiors, rather than a towering head.”

Did loyalist women in the colonial elite really wear such wigs? When a newspaper printed a cartoon showing loyalist women admiring the British soldiers who had occupied Philadelphia in 1777, it portrayed them in “high rolls”. It must have been a recognized stereotype of upper class attire. After Philadelphia returned to rebel control in 1778, a member of the Continental Congress wrote that “they found the Tory ladies … wearing the most enormous high head dresses after the manner of the mistresses and whores of the British officers.”

In that same year loyalists were mocked in Philadelphia on the second anniversary of Independence Day. Patriots paraded an old person wearing a “most extravagant high head dress” through the streets causing “no small mortification of the Tories”. The symbol of beauty for women of the upper classes had become a symbol of disloyalty to the new republic.

By the late 1780s –half a decade after the exodus of the loyalists–wig wearing was only fashionable with the older generation or among the more conservative members of North American society. By the end of the 1790s it had died out entirely. Surely wig wearing must have come to an abrupt end even more quickly among loyalist women.

It would be hard to imagine any well to do loyalist woman sporting a large, high wig after she fled the United States in 1783. There were no servants to tend to her, no hair stylists available, and no grand society balls to attend. Her pioneering sisters from the lower classes who had settled along the St. Lawrence River, the St. John River, the Great Lakes or the Atlantic coast were far too busy trying to establish new homes to have time to worry about wearing wigs.

To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

Reverend John Beardsley (1732 – 1809) © George McNeillie

In the twenty odd years he spent in the ministry, while in the old colonies, Mr. Beardsley had built two churches and a parsonage. He had worked both in Connecticut and in Dutchess County, N.Y. energetically, besides giving his service in the army as chaplain through the campaigns of five or six years of Revolutionary warfare. He had now in 1783 reached his 51st birthday, an age when most men’s best working days are in the past, but he was still the man of action. The Rev. John Sayre, who for a good many years had been his neighbour at Fairfield, in a letter to the S.P.G., written at St. John, in Oct. 1783, observes:- “Mr. Beardsley, formerly missionary at Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is in good health at the mouth of St. John’s River, where he is building a shelter for his family, but means to go to Amesbury (now Kingston) where the people have invited him to be their minister.”

Mr. Beardsley was also urged by the people of St. John to be their resident minister, but he again displayed a fine spirit. His colleague the Rev. John Sayre had accepted the position of S.P.G. missionary at Maugerville, although Major Studholme, the commanding officer at the mouth of the River St. John, had taken pains to have a house built for him there at the expense of the British Government. Mr. Sayre however preferred Maugerville, which had been settled since 1763 and was now a populous and thriving township some sixty-five or seventy miles up the River St. John. He, Mr. Sayre, was only able on one single occasion to officiate to the Maugerville people (in the Congregationalist meetinghouse) when he was stricken with a lingering disease (dropsy) from which he did not recover.

Mr. Beardsley, in addition to his duty in St. John, on several occasions officiated at Kingston and, according to Walter Bates, made some preparation for building a house there, but Providence had ordered otherwise. Bates mentions in his narrative that on the occasion of one of the Rev. John Beardsley’s visits, on October 7, 1784, he had himself the honour of figuring as the bridegroom at the first marriage in Kingston. The bride was Abigail Lyon, daughter of Captain John Lyon. Parson Beardsley had also plenty of experience in the matter of weddings. During his first year in New Brunswick he was called upon to officiate at seventy-five weddings.

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

Video Clip for 2011 “Catch The Spirit” Conference

A comprehensive overview of the 2011 Conference “Catch The Spirit” hosted by the Col. Edward Jessup Branch is available for you to review on the branch’s website. It includes some pictures, an outline of the conference program and events, some notes about the history of the area and a list of some other sites to visit while you are there, especially if you make it an extended visit.

Just added is a short video, the first of several, which will highlight various aspects of the conference. Look for the “Click here to see conference videos” link on the conference overview, which is here.

We hope you enjoy the trip.

…Ken Law, Conference 2011 Committee

First Patron of UELAC

In the October 4th issue of LT, I posted the questions “Who was the first governor general to serve as the Patron of UELAC? How long has UELAC enjoyed the special relationship with the Queen’s representative in Canada?” Back in April 1963, when E. John Chard restarted the Loyalist Gazette (Vol. 1, No. 1), His Excellency Major-General George P. Vanier, D.S.O., M.C., C.D. is listed as the Patron. However, an earlier issue (Vol. 1, No. 1. October 1931) simply lists the Patron as His Excellency the Governor-General of Canada. It is not until the next issue ( Vol. II, No. 1 February 1932 ) that it is documented that His Excellency the Right Honourable The Earl of Bessborough, P.C., G.C.M.G etc, Governor-General of the Dominion of Canada served as the Patron of UELAC. (The Phillip E.M. Leith Memorial Award will be presented in the Bessborough Armouries in Vancouver on October 24). A telephone conversation with Rosemary Doyle Morier of Rideau Hall revealed that our Association has enjoyed the patronage of the governor-general since 1921 when Lord Byng was the Governor–General of Canada. I recommend that you go to http://www.gg.ca/document.aspx?id=55 for further information on our first Patron. One interesting point in the document was that Lord Byng was “the first Governor General to appoint Canadian aides-de-camp — one of them was Georges Vanier, who later served as Governor General from 1959 – 1967.” Hockey fans will already know of the connection to Lord Byng, but there is much more. Finding the answers to those questions has greatly enriched the history of our 96 year old Association.

…Frederick H. Hayward, President

Prairie Regional Hosted by Manitoba Branch

When it comes to regional meetings, the Central West Region keeps thing short and sweet. Hosted by the London Branch in the Wonderland Library, members of the seven branches are scarcely more than three hours away from the six hours of discussion and presentations. In contrast, as the four branches in the Prairie region are considerably more distant from each other, the annual meeting is rotated from branch to branch to ensure that every four years members receive updates on dominion, regional and local activities. This also gives them the opportunity to conduct a “mini conference” over three days.

This year the Prairie Regional was centered at the Viscount Gort Hotel, September 24-26. Friday evening was set aside for an informal reception in the Kelsey Room. On Saturday morning, Regional VP Gerry Adair lead a discussion on the Loyalist Gazette using a survey generated by Bob McBride, editor. Bruce Wood and Rod Nerbas, co-chairs of the Manitoba Branch Education Committee made a presentation based on their efforts in the school system. Councillor Barbara Andrew reviewed the successful methods followed by the Manitoba Branch in building membership. While reviewing the on-line resources available to help Branch executives, the UELAC President reminded the participants of the varied histories of the four branches and the availability of the Branching Out reports for each branch. Perhaps the newest folder was the new Honours and Recognition complete with honourary positions, and the forms of recognition conducted at the dominion, regional and local levels. There was also the opportunity to question the President directly regarding special concerns such as the relationship of UELAC with the Museum of Human Rights being established in Winnipeg. Following lunch at The Forks, a tour of the Loyalist Resource Centre at 120 Eugenie Street was conducted. Margaret Carter supervised the removal of Loyalist iris from the Memorial Garden and ensured some were available at the silent auction held that night. (See pictures.)

Manitoba Branch’s Loyalist Heritage Dinner was truly a gala affair complete with printed programme, a Period Clothing Parade and two pipers. President Peter Rogers introduced the guest speaker, The Honourable Peter Milliken UE, M.P. for Kingston and the Islands, Speaker of the House of Commons and Honourary President of UELAC. His talk addressed the role of the United Empire Loyalists, his ancestral roots both Loyalist of Upper Canada and 19th century settlers in Saskatchewan, as well the three main roles he plays as Speaker of the House. His brief comments on the Loyalists and ancestral lines can be read here.

The presence of UELAC in the service at the Westminster United Church was acknowledged by an excellent introductory history in the bulletin. With the music of the piper, Standard Bearers Barbara Andrew and Rod Nerbas lead the Branch and Regional representatives (many in period clothing) down the two main aisles to the front of the church. Both Manitoba Branch President Peter Rogers and UELAC President Frederick H. Hayward were called upon to read scripture selections from Isaiah. At the beginning of his sermon, Rev. Robert Campbell made a full disclosure to the congregation that he too was a descendant of a United Empire Loyalist. (He had received his Certificate of Loyalist Lineage at the Winnipeg Conference in 2003.) His full sermon combines the concepts of faith, loyalty with reference to an earlier member of his congregation, Mrs. Colin H. Campbell, whose grandfather was Anson Buck of Halton County, Ontario. As he said, “It is easy to speak of Loyalism in historical terms, in political terms, in social terms. But in theological terms? We are just not accustomed to it.” Posted to the dominion website, his observations will reach a wider audience.

Warmly enriched by the host Manitoba Branch, the 2010 Prairie Regional successfully concluded with a lunch at a local restaurant where a few of the participants entered a “time warp” and left for home in their 21st century clothes.


Last Post: M. Naydene Smith, UE

SMITH, M. Naydene – of Guelph, died peacefully at Guelph General Hospital on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 in her 89th year. She has gone to join her beloved husband Ronald E. Smith who passed away in 2001. In addition to being a gifted teacher, one of her proudest accomplishments was becoming a member of the United Empire Loyalists. She is survived by her dear sister-in-law, Lois Moore of Cambridge and is lovingly remembered by nieces Sandra (Bob) Brown of Cambridge and Tracy Edwards (Les Ostrowski) of Lethbridge, Alberta. She will be sadly missed by her great and great, great nieces and nephews as well as her many, many friends. Besides her husband, she was predeceased by her parents Norris and Edna (Jackson) Sutton and her first cousin Murray Sutton. At Naydene’s request there will be no funeral home visitation. Cremation will take place with interment in St. Luke’s Cemetery, Camden East, Ontario at a future time to be determined. Memorial contributions to the Canadian Cancer Society or the Heart and Stroke Foundation would be appreciated. Arrangements entrusted to the WALL-CUSTANCE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 206 Norfolk St., Guelph. www.wallcustance.com.

A tree will be planted in memory of M. Naydene Smith in the Wall-Custance Memorial Forest, University of Guelph Arboretum. Dedication service, Sunday, September 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm.

Naydene was UE; her ancestor was Jocobus (James) Van Alstine and she earned her Loyalist Certificate in 1992.

…Ellen Tree, President Grand River Branch

Last Post: Alan W. Conn

Died at Hospice Wellington in Guelph, Ontario, in his 86th year after 62 years of marriage, Alan William Reginald Conn M.D., F.R.C.P.(C), youngest son of Grace Margery (nee Heather) and Hartly Robert Conn, M.D., predeceased by brothers Robert and Keith (Florence Flossie Cole). Husband of Marian Hamilton (nee Hart) of Woodstock, Ontario. Father of four daughters: Nancy Heather (Doug Grant) of Toronto; Mary Ann (Robert Brody) of Shaker Heights, Ohio; Wendy Elizabeth (Bruce Weir) of West Bolton, Quebec; Heather Victoria (Frank McElroy) of Roberts Creek, B.C. Proud grandfather of Elizabeth, Julia and Heather Ahlgren, Matthew Hutchinson, Hartley and Ian Brody, Cameron and Corcoran Conn-Grant.

All of his life, Al had a great sense of irony and humour, prompting many entertaining stories and much laughter. He had great affection for Bala, Muskoka, a favourite retreat with family and friends, where his love of live big-band music and jazz flourished; he was also passionate about travel, books, military history, NFL football, Formula 1 racing and his bright red 1960 MGA.

Raised and educated in Mimico, a graduate of University of Toronto Medical School, 1948. Served with RCAMC (Reserve) 1948-52, rank Captain; RCAF 1954-60, rank Squadron Leader. Worked for a year on an R.S. McLaughlin scholarship (UK) in 1952-53 where he survived the country’s second worst train accident. Lecturer in Anaesthesia, Hospital for Sick Children 1953-59; Chief of Anaesthesia 1960-71; Professor of Anaesthesiology, University of Toronto 1967-88 where he was named Professor Emeritus 1989. While Director of the Intensive Care Unit 1971-81, he spearheaded a technique to help save children from cold-water drowning.

He initiated the transport from Burma (now Myanmar) of conjoined twins Htut Lin and Htut Win and their successful separation at the Hospital for Sick Children in 1984. Recipient of many awards and medals including the Gold Medal, Canadian Anaesthetists’ Society 1994, and Gold Medal, World Federation of Paediatric Intensive Critical Care Societies 2000.

After 42 years in his beloved lakefront home in Mimico, he and Marian moved to the Village by the Arboretum in Guelph in 1999. A funeral service was held on Friday, October 8th at the Harcourt Memorial United Church, Guelph. The full death notice can be read here.

Al and Marian were family members of The Gov. Simcoe Branch, Marian being the Loyalist descendant as proved by daughter Nancy. They had participated in a number of branch events and also joined the Hudson Vally Battlefields bus tour. His jovial nature and strong leadership capabilities will be long remembered by many.

…Doug Grant UE