“Loyalist Trails” 2010-43: October 24, 2010

In this issue:
Little Stories in the Petitions: Part One — © Stephen Davidson
Reverend John Beardsley (1732 – 1809) © George McNeillie
Atlantic Regional Conference Held in Saint John
New Brunswick Branch and Saint John’s 225th Anniversary – A Banner Year
The Life and Legacy of John Redpath to be Presented at Heritage Branch Charter Dinner Nov. 3
Eva Brook Donly Museum Acquires Cruikshank’s Niagara Frontier in War of 1812 Books
Court Won’t Block Niskayuna Mall Plan Concerning Historic Stanford Home at the Ingersoll Site
      + What is an Addressor?
      + Thanks for Responses to Transcription Request


Little Stories in the Petitions: Part One — © Stephen Davidson

As I read through the records of the loyalist compensation board to discover stories of forgotten refugees, I often stumble across little stories that are quick snapshots of what it was like to be a loyal American. Here are some of those glimpses into the past found in the petitions made by colonial refugees.

Thomas White was an Irishman who had immigrated to New York City and who, for all of his life, was “uniformly attached to the British Government”. White died before the Revolution came to an end, leaving a wife and five adult children. Over the two years that the Whites appealed to the crown for compensation, the oldest son died, and the next oldest had to represent the family.

While the Whites’ petition mentions lost timberland and property within the Bowery, what is most interesting is how Thomas White supported his king. He went to “great expense and trouble in clothing the new corps” — presumably a loyalist militia. Witnesses spoke about how White had distributed “charity” to poor loyalists. Here, then, was a man who was not only concerned for his own family’s welfare, but used his wealth to both fight for his sovereign and to care for the welfare of impoverished American loyalists. This type of hero receives far too little notice.

The compensation procedure required that loyalist petitioners not only have deeds and wills on hand to prove their cases, but also needed character witnesses to ascertain the truthfulness of the claims. It was clearly in each petitioner’s best interest to invite trusted friends or influential people to their hearings. However, John Cameron, a loyalist who settled at St. John’s on Lake Champlain needed a bit more of a briefing on how to select good witnesses.

When he had finished speaking to the commissioners at the January 1788 hearings in Montreal, he was followed by Walter Sutherland. The two men had known each other for eleven years; Cameron had worked as a secret agent for Sutherland. However, Cameron obviously wasn’t aware of how blunt his friend would be. When the commissioners questioned Sutherland about Cameron, he summed up his friend by saying, “He is an honest man, but very stupid.” Despite such an assessment, Cameron received some form of compensation from the crown.

Petitioners for financial aid were often children. They appeared before the board in the company of uncles or guardians. The youngest loyalist orphan to appear before the board in Britain was Elizabeth Gibbs Carsan. She was only nine years old. Her father died in 1777 when Elizabeth was two years old. Before his death Carsan had owned an estate of 3,000 acres in South Carolina on which he kept 500 head of cattle. These were stolen by both rebel and British foraging parties.

While the commission would not compensate Elizabeth or her guardian uncle for the cattle that the army had taken, they did recognize her father as a loyalist and offered her some financial compensation. It should be noted, however, that this compensation was entrusted to her Uncle William. One can only hope that he held it in trust for his niece rather than using it as a means to line his own pockets.

At the other end of the age spectrum was an 80 year-old Anglican vicar. Rev. Dr. Caner was an Englishman who had immigrated to Boston with his parents when he was a child. He eventually entered the ministry and was the rector for King’s Chapel. One witness had known him for 40 years. Despite supporting the British government in private conversations and from the pulpit, Caner’s sermons had little impact on his rebellious Boston congregation. He fled the city with hundreds of loyalists in March of 1776. He left a valuable library, casks of wine, a chaise and harness and a large house.

Dr. Samuel Clossy was an Irish doctor who had settled in New York in 1763. When the Revolution broke out, he was the professor of anatomy and natural philosophy at Kings College. In 1775, the president of the college was almost arrested by rebels, but he was able to flee to a British naval vessel. Clossy managed to stay on at the college for another year. By the end of 1776, he was on the staff of the military hospital, a position he filled for the next four years.

Dr. Myles Cooper, the president of Kings College had had a very narrow escape in 1775. His strong loyalist views were published in pamphlets that angered the patriots. One night an incensed mob marched on his house, with the intent of taking him from his bed, cutting off his ears, slitting his nose, and stripping him naked. A former pupil was able to warn him just in the nick of time, and he escaped to an English naval vessel. After sailing for Britain, he settled in Oxford, but later became the vicar for the first Episcopal church in Edinburgh.

When Edward Frost appeared before the Montreal board in the fall of 1787, the Irishman received a warm welcome. The transcript of his hearing recounted his service in the Seven Years War and how he had joined the British against rebel Americans in 1776. A marginal note revealed the commissioners’ regard for Frost. It simply said, “a good old soldier”.

Many other nuggets of biographical information lie hiding within the petitions loyalists made to the compensation board. Some of those stories will be told in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

Reverend John Beardsley (1732 – 1809) © George McNeillie

As long as Mr. Beardsley was stationed in the old colonies he only received a stipend of 35 pounds sterling per annum from the S.P.G., which was less than the average of 50 pounds sterling but it seems to have been the sum allowed him in his first mission and apparently remained unchanged when he came to New Brunswick. On his arrival in Parr-town in 1783, he drew lot No. 151, nearly opposite the present Hotel Dufferin, on the south-west corner of King Square. Paul Beardsley, who also drew a lot in Parr-town (as St. John was called for the first two years), is believed to have been the youngest brother of the clergyman. He was born in 1767. A Paul Beardsley, whom I take to be the same, was buried by Rev. John Beardsley at Maugerville on July 3, 1797.

Another of the Beardsley family, who came to St. John in June, 1783, was Zephaniah of Stratford, Connecticut, the native place of the Parson, not improbably one of his kith and kin. Zephaniah served in the war in Colonel Ludlow’s Battalion (the 3rd of De Lancey’s Brigade) from soon after the first fight at Danbury, in April, 1777, till the end of the war. He had a small house and shop in Stratford, which he built himself and valued at 30 pounds. He was a weaver; had a loom and furniture. He also followed fishing at certain seasons: had a boat and a share in two seines. Everything was seized by his enemies after he went off and joined the British. He says that “He suffered a great deal from cruel ill-treatment, which he experienced several times.” His wife was robbed after he joined the British, his house and shop pulled down and everything destroyed. This is all I know of Zephaniah Beardsley.

It is altogether probable that the children of the Rev. John Beardsley came to St. John in the same ship with Bartholomew Crannel, his daughter, Mrs. Beardsley, from New York, about the 26th of Sept. 1783. Mrs. Beardsley was the second wife of the Parson – her maiden name being Gertrude Crannel. Her son Bartholomew Beardsley Crannel was then only about 8 years of age and his half-brother John. D. Beardsley 12 years of age.

A few facts concerning Bartholomew Crannel will be of interest. His reputation still lives in Poughkeepsie traditions as a brilliant lawyer and public-spirited man. His law business was very extensive, more so than that of any other lawyer in the place. He was born on the Hudson in 1721, and in 1774 married a daughter of Peter Van Kleek – her name was Catherine (or in its Dutch form Trientie or Catryntje).

Very interesting information concerning Bartholomew Crannel is found in his testimony, given under oath at St. John, N.B., before Commissioner Pemberton concerning his losses in the Revolution. The date of the inquiry was Feb. 8, 1787. In his evidence, Mr. Crannel declares that:-

“He lived in Dutchess County when the troubles began. He exerted all his influence, which was considerable, to keep the people from taking any part against the established Government. He thought, as early as 1774, that the Whig Party had Independence in contemplation. There was a plan for established committees of correspondence in Dutchess County with the American rebels. He opposed this with all his interest and he thinks he so far prevailed as to prevent it. In 1775, he received an anonymous letter threatening his life. In 1776 Congress determined to build two frigates at Poughkeepsie (on the Hudson River), and a great number of shipbuilders came from New York, who were all violent in support of the Revolution.

“About June, 1776, an order came from Congress to several counties to summon meetings to consider about declaring Independence and taking the sense of the people upon it. The committees in Dutchess County, holding a meeting for this purpose, mention was made of Mr. Crannel and Mr. Snediker as persons who would be likely to prevent such a measure.

“Mr. Crannel was arrested at Goshen, persecuted in various ways, and forced to leave his home and abscond. In December, 1776, he arrived on Long Island. He remained within the lines until the close of the war and then came to St. John with a company of Refugees. He had considerable property in Poughkeepsie. Of this he furnished the Commissioner with a valuation, which need not here be quoted in full. He specifies ten lots of land in the town, valued in all at 4,000 pounds currency. Of these lots, No. 2 comprised two acres on the south side of the street leading through Poughkeepsie, with a dwelling house. During the war, this house was made use of as “Government House”, Poughkeepsie being the seat of Government of the State of N.Y. after the British army had occupied New York. The house had an excellent garden. Another lot, No. 3, of four acres, occupied by mills and a millpond, was valued at 1,125 pounds. The mills were very valuable – none in the community on which so many people depended for having their corn ground. A considerable stock of flour was stored there. Some was seized by his enemies; some was secreted by Mrs. Crannel, but afterwards discovered and taken.”

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

Atlantic Regional Conference Held in Saint John

UELAC members from P.E.I., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick gathered in Saint John on Friday October 15 for their Atlantic Region Conference. A welcome reception held at the Union Club helped everyone great old friends and put faces to names of new friends. The Cherry Brook Zoo was the location for the Speakers Corner on Saturday. With a theme of Loyalists as Refugees, presentations were made by Stephen Davidson, Dr. Bonnie Huskins and David Laskey. On Saturday evening, everyone gathered at the Union Club once more for the Gala Banquet. The speaker of the evening was the Dominion President, Frederick H. Hayward. The successful mini-conference concluded with a church service at Trinity Church “ The Loyalist Church”. For a more detailed report, complete with pictures, click here (PDF).

New Brunswick Branch and Saint John’s 225th Anniversary – A Banner Year

When Saint John’s 225th anniversary committee contacted our branch executive in March 2010 to coordinate our May 18th (Loyalist Day) activities with their celebration of the signing of the city’s charter on the same date, they told us there would be a small amount of money which we could use towards the celebrations. Rather than deciding on something that was only good for this year, we quickly thought of pop-up banners. We specified the content, supplied images, and contributed to the design of three very professional looking banners, which are easily transported, quick to set up, and make a very polished, high impact display.

The banners were first used at last spring’s Loyalist Day ceremonies and at our Loyalist Day banquet in May 2010. They were on display at our Maritime Conference in October and will be used at the branch’s Christmas Pot Luck and Auction in December, as well as genealogical fairs and other heritage venues this winter.

The messages on the banners are timeless “Loyalists: Proud of Our Story”, “Our Loyal City”, and “Our Loyal Heritage”. The images include the Adam Sherriff Scott painting of the Loyalists Landing in Saint John, a current city view of the Saint John’s harbour and the southern peninsula where so many of the arriving Loyalists were granted town lots, and a military drummer from the Revolutionary War era from a bicentennial (1983) painting by the famed local artist Fred Ross. Before the year is out, we hope to add a fourth banner to the collection with an image of a young child in Loyalist period dress and the words “Loyal Through the Generations”. This would complete the UEL picture, showing the Loyalist spirit and ideals live on in their descendants today and into the future.

The 225th committee also provided beautiful programs for the Loyalist Day ceremonies and aided in arranging for a band and a high school choir for the event, as well as sound equipment for the day. It all made for a wonderful celebration of Loyalist Day, which I think would make our ancestors proud of their descendants.

…Ruth Lesbirel UE, New Brunswick Branch

The Life and Legacy of John Redpath to be Presented at Heritage Branch Charter Dinner Nov. 3

The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada (Heritage Branch) will hold its thirty-seventh Charter Night Dinner on Wednesday, November 3, 2010, at the Officers’ Mess of the Black Watch (R.H.R.) Armoury, 2067 Bleury Street, Montreal. A social period with cash bar (6:00 p.m.) will be followed by a dinner with trimmings (7:00 p.m.), all for the modest price of $50. per person (including wine), payable on arrival.

The guest speaker will be Mr. Richard Feltoe, Curator of the Redpath Sugar Museum in Toronto. The author of A Gentleman of Substance: The Life and Legacy of John Redpath (1796 to 1869), published by Natural Heritage Books in 2004, as well as of two books on the Redpath Sugar Company, Mr. Feltoe is a well-informed and articulate speaker. He will tell us about Redpath’s colourful life, his many contributions to Montreal and Canadian society in the 19th century and his enduring legacy.

Non-members are welcome. Everyone who will attend should confirm with Robert Wilkins no later than October 27.

Robert Wilkins

Eva Brook Donly Museum Acquires Cruikshank’s Niagara Frontier in War of 1812 Books

Scott Gillies, curator of the Norfolk Historical Society’s collection of early American, Upper Canadian and Loyalist archives, reports the purchase from Global Genealogy of all volumes of Documentary History of the Campaigns on the Niagara Frontier in the War of 1812-14 ed by E. Cruickshank. The volumes, with indices of interest to UEs, may be viewed at Norfolk Heritage Centre in the Eva Brook Donly Museum, 109 Norfolk Street S., Simcoe.

The purchase was made possible by donations in memory of Marilyn Haslinger, UE. Marilyn was treasurer of Grand River Branch UELAC.

…Doris Lemon UE, Grand River Branch

Court Won’t Block Niskayuna Mall Plan Concerning Historic Stanford Home at the Ingersoll Site

(By Paul Nelson, staff writer, from the 17 October 2010 issue of the Albany (NY) Times Union.)

NISKAYUNA–A preservation group fighting the construction of a shopping mall that involves moving the historic Stanford Home at the Ingersoll site was dealt another legal blow when a mid-level appeals court denied a motion to block the building project. [NOTE: For more background, see “Action: Help Save Captain Richard Duncan’s ‘Hermitage’ from Development” in Loyalist Trails issue #2007-02]

“We do have a couple of avenues that we’re exploring,” said Alex Brownstein, an attorney who is representing the Friends of Stanford Home. He declined to elaborate further Friday on possible moves. In a one-page decision, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled 5-0 against the motion, Brownstein added.

The builder, Highbridge Development of Schenectady wants to make the building, at the corner of Balltown Road and State Street, the centerpiece of the Mansion Square mall. The site is about 12 acres. Earlier this month, a state Supreme Court justice issued a temporary restraining order barring the move of the mansion to another site on the property.

The preservationists are pushing for a new comprehensive environmental review, arguing that the special-use permit approved in 2007 by the Town Board was no longer applicable because Highbridge submitted an amended plan over the summer. Under the revised plans, the home will be repositioned about 350 feet to face Balltown Road and then leased for retail or office space.

Highbridge has said the shopping plaza would feature “shops, restaurants and other retail uses that provide shoppers with an upscale Niskayuna shopping and dining experience.” The developer has said it has several leases and letters of intent from potential tenants.

Note: During the time of the War for American Independence, the original home was used by the Duncans, of whom one member was a company commander of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York. At least one member of the re-enacted Duncan’s Company of the KRRNY travelled to Niskayuna about 2007, in full kit, to plead for the home’s preservation. Previous issues of Loyalist Trails from that year covered the subject in some detail.

…Michael Trout U.E., Selkirk, NY

More About Prison Ships

In your last post, a member – Ron Makin of the Simcoe Branch noted references to prison ships.. He might be interested in googling “The Wallabout Prison Ships, 1776-1783” by Eugene Armbruster, printed in 1920 at NYC.

Also in an item H.M.S. Prison Ship “Jersey”, part of the document states:

From the Rebels Under Sail The American Navy during the Revolution, By William M. Fowler, Jr. In the Forecastle.

In the fall of 1776 the British began to hold prisoners in Wallabout Bay. In April 1778 the most infamous of the death fleet the Jersey was brought to shore. The Jersey was a former sixty four gun ship built in 1736.

Americans also had prison ships at the mouth of the Thames River in New London. The American prison ships were small sized and one of them was named Retaliation.

And another reference:

In the Journals of the Prov. Congress, Vol. 1, pp. 908-937, reference is made to the Fleet Prison and Kingston Jail. Kingston was previously called Esopus by the Dutch. It seems that, on 2 May, 1777, two prison ships were ordered to alleviate the congestion in the jail at Albany due to the large number of loyalists that had been rounded up by the rebels. On 6 July, 1777, all prisoners at Albany were ordered to be sent “to the Warden of the Fleet Prison at Esopus Landing.” On the 10th, “they arrived in 2 sloops to the number of 80.” On 8 October, 1777, all prisoners in the Kingston Jail, the Courthouse and aboard the Fleet Prison were sent to Hartford, CT (some escaped enroute) and on 16 October, Kingston was captured and burnt by Vaughan. The prison ships were run up Rondout or Esopus Creek and burnt. It is not known how may prisoners were left behind those who had been taken to Hartford. “The jail, courthouse and Fleet Prison being all full and overflowing at the time Cantine took his party of 150 to Hartford.”

Later, in 1879, Mr. Thomas Jones, Justice of the Supreme Court wrote the “History of NY during the Revolutionary War” and recounts most of the above, citing mostly the Journals of the Provisional Congress, Vol. 1, pp. 908-937. To summarize, there were apparently three prison locations, all at Kingston – the Courthouse, the “Esopus Jail” and the Fleet Prison ships in the Hudson.

…Bernard C. Young


What is an Addressor?

In my recent research of Revolutionary War documents I have come across an occupation I do not recognize and a search of my files fails to find the answer. Pray tell what is an “ADDRESSOR.” The term comes up in the biographies of some Loyalists who were assistants(?) of General Gage, Governors and others in positions of responsibility.

Robert J. Rogers

Thanks for Responses to Transcription Request

I had a number of responses to my request for someone to transcribe the 4 pages about noted in last week’s issue of Loyalist Trails. My thanks to all of you. Dave Cooper was the first to respond and undertook to transcribe the four pages. The transcription is back. Now I need to find time to post it – hopefully by next week. Thank you, Dave!

…Doug Grant