“Loyalist Trails” 2010-51: December 19, 2010
In this issue:
– The Party Girls of 1778 — © Stephen Davidson
– Reverend John Beardsley (1732 – 1809) © George McNeillie
– Royal Assent: How Our Government Works
– Website for Petite Rochelle
– Books: Davus Publishing New Website
– Loyalist Records History of Cricket in Canada
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
– Merry Christmas from the Editor
+ Father of George Nelson
+ Montgomery of Montgomery Taverns
The Party Girls of 1778 — © Stephen Davidson
I’m a loyalist history buff, not a party guy. However, if you are a bit of both, why not take my arm, and we’ll go to the most infamous party of the American Revolution — a party at which young loyalist women were the guests of honour. Imagine that it’s May 18, 1778. Our destination is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We’re going to crash a party known simply as the Mischianza.
General William Howe, the commander in chief of the king’s forces, was called back to Great Britain. There had been no major victories over the rebels in the past three years. Although the Continental Army was just 29 miles away in Valley Forge, the British troops did not venture out of Philadelphia at any point in the winter of 177-78. Instead, they enjoyed socializing with members of the city’s upper classes, especially their beautiful daughters.
To honour their departing commander, Howe’s officers decided to stage “as splendid an entertainment as the shortness of the time and our present situation would allow us.” Twenty-two officers passed the hat, and collected over £3,300 for the party’s expenses. It was to be a variety of entertainments –as the Italians would say, a “mischianza”– and would last three days. While a good time was the central purpose of the revelry, there was also a political message in its excesses. Let those who criticized General Howe back in England see that he had the respect and confidence of his troops. It was no coincidence that an article on the Mischianza was featured in a British men’s magazine well before the date of the government’s investigation into Howe’s behaviour in the Thirteen Colonies.
Captain John André, the British officer who would be hanged for spying in 1780, planned the entire event. The Mischianza would be a party the people of Philadelphia would never forget. Besides deciding on the menu, renting 27 barges, hiring three bands, creating the invitations and souvenir booklets for 400 guests, decorating the hall, writing poems for the occasion, and designing costumes for “knights” and “ladies”, André also sketched how the female guests should style their hair.
Fourteen of Philadelphia’s loveliest loyalist teenage girls were the special guests of honour at the Meschianza. While modern teenagers might fantasize about their formal gowns and the stretch limousines that would take them to their high school proms, these young colonial women experienced a social event beyond their wildest dreams. On Monday, May 18, they stood at the doorways of their homes, waiting in the warm sunshine for horse-drawn coaches to take them to the wharf at the food to Vine Street.
Not every parent approved of the Turkish costumes that André had designed. Although the white silk gowns had long sleeves, they were sheer and flowing. Turbans decorated in stars and edged in silver or gold were covered in pearls and tassels and crested with a feather. A large sash around the waist helped to accentuate each girl’s figure. There is a story of one Quaker father who, upon seeing his daughter’s party dresses, would not allow them to leave the house. However, tears and an attack of hysteria seem to have changed his mind about the “heathen, indecently gauzy costumes”.
This is where we crash the party. Stand just behind one of our loyalist teenagers as she steps off the wharf into one of the 27 barges that will take us along the Delaware River to General Howe’s Mischianza.
The first event was a grand regatta. Three divisions of “galleys” decorated in bright colours and streamers carried officers and their ladies sailed down the river while three bands played. Six barges escorted the fleet, keeping river traffic and onlookers away from the ships. The costumed passengers on each galley were rowed past British naval vessels such as the Fanny, the Vigilent, the Roebuck and a series of transport ships that extended in a line “the whole length of the town”. Given the crowds of spectators watching from shore, how could our loyalist party girls not feel like celebrities?
With the playing of God Save the King and three cheers from the crews of the naval ships, the 400 guests left their galleys and barges. After two vessels fired off their 17 gun salutes, the party-goers formed two lines and, following the bands, paraded up the slope. After passing under two triumphal arches, the guests came to a large square. Here our party girls would thrill to the second event of Mischienza, a medieval tournament.
To watch the jousting, the female guests sat in rows of benches in one of two pavilions, but the front rows were reserved for the fourteen teenage girls. After everyone was seated, trumpets blared and two companies of knights rode into the grassy square. Dressed in white and red silk were the seven Knights of the Blended Rose. Their motto: “We droop when separated.” Two black slaves decked out in blue and white squire costumes guided the chief knight’s horse. John André, dressed as a herald, proclaimed that “the ladies of the Blended Rose excel in wit, beauty, and every accomplishment” and challenged anyone who disputed this claim to meet the knights on the field of battle.
Suddenly trumpets sounded at the opposite end of the field. Seven knights sporting black and orange vestments rode into the quadrangle on black horses. Their motto, “I burn forever”, was emblazoned beneath a picture of a mountain erupting with flames. These Knights of the Burning Mountain proclaimed that their ladies were “not excelled … by any in the universe” and accepted the challenge to settle the matter with a joust.
What happened next? Join our party girls of 1778 to find out in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
Reverend John Beardsley (1732 – 1809) © George McNeillie
When Bishop Inglis arrived in Nova Scotia in 1787 he was not long in getting in touch with the state of the church. He writes that he finds little or no intercourse among the clergy. Few of them had even seen each other. “There was no union, no benefit of mutual advice and counsel.” He speaks also of the advanced age and infirmity of some of the clergy, and says that more missionaries will soon be wanted. His first visitation in New Brunswick was held at St. John on the 20th of August, 1788, in the little temporary church, or hall, on Germain Street. At the opening service the prayers were read by the Rev. John Beardsley, and a sermon preached by the Rev. Samuel Cooke, D.D., of Fredericton. There were then but five or six clergy in attendance. The bishop says, “Though few in number, they are a respectable body.”
In 1791 the rectors of all the parishes of New Brunswick, who were then assembled in convocation at Maugerville, addressed a memorial to Governor Carleton in which they state that “they think it their duty, with his Excellency’s approbation, to represent to his Grace of Canterbury that it is impossible for any bishop at such a remote distance as Halifax to minister to the real necessities of the church in New Brunswick.”
Both Bishop Inglis and Governor Carleton agreed with this representation, but nothing came of it until more than fifty years had passed. Still, it is worthy of note that the first cry for the extension of the Episcopate in Canada emanated from the Rev. John Beardsley’s parish of Maugerville.
Not long after the first visit of Bishop Inglis to Fredericton in 1788, John Beardsley made quite a notable missionary tout up the St. John River as far as Woodstock – or, as it was then commonly called – Meductic, which was the old aboriginal name of the place.
This was the first tour by an English-speaking clergyman on the Upper St. John. He already knew a good many of the settlers, who had formerly served in the Loyalist regiments and who had been disbanded on the river at the close of the Revolution. A good many half-pay officers were settled amongst them. He made calls at various convenient centres on his way up the river, and arranged to have baptisms on his return, at certain places on certain days as agreed upon.
The return trip of sixty miles occupied nearly a week travelling by canoe, stopping at intervals of a few miles on either side of the river. The candidates for baptism, infants and adults, assembled at central points as he proceeded from place to place. The number of those baptized was about 112, of whom a good many were adults. The baptisms were now and then varied by a marriage. If I remember rightly he called on the last day of his trip at something like 18 different places, baptizing on that day some 48 persons in all – truly a long and arduous midsummer days’ work. In this way he endeavoured to keep the Church alive, and there were few people up and down the river to whom he was personally not known.
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].
Royal Assent: How Our Government Works
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will grant Royal Assent during a formal ceremony in the Senate Chamber, on Wednesday, December 15, 2010, at 4:15 p.m.
His Excellency will grant Royal Assent to bills. He will then sign the attestation documents in the Chambers of the Senate Speaker. This will be the Governor General’s second Royal Assent since his installation ceremony on October 1, 2010. His first royal assent was by written declaration on November 18, 2010. For more information, please visit www.parl.gc.ca.
About Royal Assent
Royal Assent is granted by a representative of the Crown to approve a bill passed by the House of Commons and the Senate, making it into an Act of Parliament. Royal Assent is therefore the last stage in the legislative process and assembles the three constituent entities of Parliament (Crown, Senate, House of Commons). By tradition, Royal Assent is accorded in the Senate Chamber in the presence of members of the House and Senate. Since the Royal Assent Act of 2002, it may be signified by a written declaration by the governor general or by a deputy of the governor general (one of the justices of the Supreme Court).
About the role and responsibilities of the governor general
The governor general presides over the swearing-in of the prime minister, the chief justice of Canada and cabinet ministers. It is the governor general who summons, prorogues and dissolves Parliament, delivers the Speech from the Throne, and grants Royal Assent to acts of Parliament. The governor general signs official documents. He acts on the advice of the prime minister and the government, but has the right to advise, to encourage and to warn.
His Excellency is the Honorary Patron of UELAC.
The Restigouche River runs across Northern New Brunswick from west to east. For at least part of its journey, it forms the border between New Brunswick and Quebec before entering into the head of Bay Chaleur. The area has a rich history from well before the arrival of the Loyalists.
Near where the Restigouche empties into the Bay was the village of Petite Rochelle “the Little French Colony”, which is the subject of a new website at www.petiterochelle.com – if you are interested in that geographical area, or that period of history, you will enjoy.
Books: Davus Publishing New Website
Davus Publishing, which publishes books by David Beasley and Major John Richardson [Canada’s first novelist] has moved to a new site at www.davuspublishing.com. Check out the new look. Comments are welcome. And please add comments to David’s blog. Some of the books will soon be available as e-books.
Loyalist Records History of Cricket in Canada
A History of Canadian Cricket: An Immigrant’s Game by Patrick Adams. A book on the history of Canadian cricket from the early nineteenth century to the participation in the recent cricket world cups with a particular focus on the role played by immigrants. More here.
Anyone who would be interested in discussing cricket and loyalists, please contact me.
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Campbell, Donald (aka Daniel) – from Lynne Charles, with certificate application
– Lloyd, Daniel – from Linda Smith with certificate application
– McGraw, Neil – by Carl Stymiest (Volunteer Wendy Cosby), with certificate application
– Yerxa, John – from Charlotte Ayers
Merry Christmas from the Editor
This is the last issue of Loyalist Trails before Christmas Day. May we here wish each of you, and yours, a Merry Christmas and much happiness during these festive times.
George Nelson [1786-1859] was the son of Loyalists from New York who fled to Quebec to escape the American Revolution. As the son of an English Protestant schoolmaster, Nelson received a good education. From the age of 16, when he entered the fur trade, he lived among First Nations people. From 1802-23 Nelson served as a clerk in present-day Wisconsin, northwestern Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.
He married Mary Ann, an Objibwa woman, who was a valuable helpmate in his work. Upon retirement from the fur trade, they settled with four daughters at Sorel, just east of Montreal.
He was estranged from his brothers Wolfred and Robert due to their participation in the Rebellions of 1837-38 which he considered treason.
His journals detail an understanding of aboriginal peoples. Portions of his journals have been edited by Jennifer Brown and Robert Brightman in “The Orders of the Dreamed”.
Does anyone know if he is the son of one of three Nelsons listed in The Loyalists of Quebec 1774-1825, Horatio, Robert and William.
This reference is found in R Douglas Francis, Richard Jones and Donald B. Smith. Origins – Canadian History to Confederation. (Nelson Education. 2009). 403
Montgomery of Montgomery Taverns
I am assisting a friend trace her Loyalist ancestor, Montgomery. Her Montgomery received land in Parrtown, and after a number of years came to York (later Toronto) c1801.
The oral family history credits her Montgomery with owning Montgomery’s Tavern. She has since learned there were 2 Montgomery Taverns in York.
Can anyone point to the histories of Montgomery’s Taverns? Does anyone have Montgomery family details whichj support, or deny, the family tradition. Thanks for any help.