“Loyalist Trails” 2011-42: October 23, 2011

In this issue:
The Great and Complicated Business: Honouring a Promise — by Stephen Davidson
Addendum: Widow Catherine Hewetson
Charles Raymond (1788 – 1878) by George McNeillie
New Internet Resource for Niagara Area Loyalist Research
Online information for Trinity Anglican Church and St. Paul’s Churchyard, NYC
Mini-Conferences Bridge the Gap: Prairie Regional Conference
Remembering “Catch The Spirit 2011”
Update to The War of 1812 Lesson Plans
War of 1812: Family Heirloom
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: Edwin Robert Procunier
      + Response re Deaths/Graves in Sorel


The Great and Complicated Business: Honouring a Promise — by Stephen Davidson

Having exhausted all other avenues of help, Peggy Gwynn sent a desperate letter to Sir Guy Carleton. It was early November 1783, and time was running out. The Royal Navy would be evacuating all of the remaining British forces from New York within a matter of weeks. The last of the loyalist refugees would be sailing off for Nova Scotia. If Peggy could not convince Carleton to help her, she would forever be separated from her husband and would once again be an American patriot’s slave. Peggy was an African woman; one of at least 3,000 Black Loyalists who hoped to live as free people following the patriot victory of 1783.

Regarded as runaway slaves by the patriots, these Africans had crossed the British lines following Lord Dunmore’s proclamation of 1775. Promised emancipation if they served the crown, thousands of enslaved blacks took the British at their word. By the end of the Revolution, Dunmore’s proclamation had launched the first and (and up to that time) largest emancipation of slaves in the history of New World. Sir Guy Carleton, the British commander-in-chief, was already busy overseeing the departure of the king’s troops and the loyalist refugees. Now he had to deal with thousands of black allies requesting the protection of the crown.

Carleton refused to see the Black Loyalists as property –or as allies that could be abandoned at the end of the Revolution. The British crown had promised them their freedom, and despite vigorous opposition from the new United States government, Carleton was determined to treat them as free citizens of the empire. Beginning in April of 1783, he saw to it that Black Loyalists were included among the passengers streaming onto ships to find sanctuary in Quebec, Nova Scotia, England, Germany and the West Indies.

As a demonstration that the British were not simply running off with patriot property, Carleton commissioned a ledger that would record the name, circumstances and destination of every African leaving the United States through the port of New York.

Should any American in the future make the claim that a particular African had been stolen from him, The Book of Negroes could be consulted and the escaped slave could be returned. Happily, there are no accounts of slaves ever being reclaimed by owners who referred to Carleton’s ledger in the years following the Revolution. Instead The Book of Negroes has become the key source for piecing together the story of the founders of Canada’s African heritage.

Peggy Gwynn’s letter was one of only two that were ever written to Carleton by a Black Loyalist. Two months earlier, a man named Yelback had come to New York, threatening to seize Judith Jackson and take her back to Cape Fear, Virginia. The African immediately appealed to Carleton. Jackson ran away from her master, John Bell, in 1776 when she was 17 and had served the British army for seven years. During that time, Judith married a Black Loyalist, James Jackson, who earned his freedom as a river pilot. Their son Harry was 8 years- old. Carleton ordered that Jackson’s complaint be investigated. Happily, Yelback had no case; and the Jackson family sailed for Nova Scotia’s Port Roseway in September of 1783.

However, for reasons never disclosed, Carleton could not rescue Peggy Gwynn. The law was on the side of her master and Gwynn was enslaved once more.

Another letter addressed to the commander-in-chief put the future happiness of a very familiar Black Loyalist squarely in Carleton’s hands. A loyalist named James Peters was about to sail for Nova Scotia with his family and his 20 year-old slave, Cairo. The problem? She was married to Pompey Rumney, a 25 year-old free African — a Black Loyalist who worked for Sir Guy Carleton! Peters asked that “the negro in question may accompany his wife and be furnished with a passport.” Carleton gave his permission, and the couple sailed for Nova Scotia with the Peters family on the Alexander. Twenty-three years later, the Rumneys were still happily married in Gagetown, New Brunswick. Cairo’s status as a slave to the Peters family had not changed; her devoted Pompey was still a free man.

Peters’ letter seeking an African’s release was certainly not typical. In April of 1783, John Willoughby presented the British general with an angry petition on behalf of his neighbours in Norfolk County, Virginia. They claimed that they had “lost at least three hundred negroes, and have come to New York in hopes of regaining their property. Are informed passports have been granted to several negroes to embark for Port Roseway; apprehending a total loss if a stop is not put to such embarkation.”

Of course, the runaway Africans of Norfolk County were not lost. They had entered the British service. Eight of the 300 “lost” to whom the petition referred had, at one time, been the property of John Willoughby. They were among the first enslaved Africans to take advantage of Lord Dunmore’s offer of freedom. The oldest made her escape when she was 36; the youngest must have been carried off in someone’s arms. She had only been 3 in 1776. Willoughby’s former slaves had faithfully served the British for seven years — longer than most white loyalists had spent fighting for their king.

Carleton could easily have turned over Willoughby’s slaves. He knew who they were since their names were recorded in The Book of Negroes. But Carleton stayed true to the agreement made by the British government, and rather than turning his back on the service of the Black Loyalists, he ignored the Virginian slave masters instead. Thirty-seven of the 132 Black Loyalists who sailed for Port Roseway on the first voyage of L’Abondance were from Norfolk County. More would follow in the months ahead.

Though the correspondence that Sir Guy Carleton received from Black Loyalists during the evacuation of New York was not large in number, it nevertheless reveals how one principled man made a significant difference in the course of thousands of lives.

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

Addendum: Widow Catherine Hewetson

From last week’s article, “Relief for the Widows,” by Stephen Davidson:

Catherine Hewetson was the only loyalist mother to write the commander-in-chief to find employment for her son. She hoped that Carleton would make her son an ensign, even though she knew that he had resolved “never to give a commission to any one under the age of sixteen”. Hewetson was making a very bold request — her son was just 12! A practical woman, Hewetson pointed out that a “half pay provincial ensigncy would give him education and support.” She obviously caught Carleton on a good day. He granted her request.

If Catherine was the widow of James Hewetson, I suspect Carleton saw her as a very special case, as her husband had been hanged by the rebels on July 4, 1777.

James was a very active, persistent recruiter for Sir John Johnson’s Royal Yorkers. In April 1776, he was being held in Coxsackie as in individual “inimical to the United Colonies” and was released after promising not to hold correspondence or conversation on political subjects and to remain within the bounds of Coxsackie; however, like so many loyalists, he saw his duty in a different light than the Albany Committee of Correspondence and was quickly back at work.

On August 9, 1776 he was again brought before the Committee and once again swore to behave himself.

In February 1777, he was chased down by Albany County militiamen in Rensselaerwyck, where he was recruiting. As a repeat offender who had breached his agreements, he was sentenced to be hanged. At the time of his execution, he was being carried on the rolls of the 1st battalion, King’s Royal Yorkers as the Captain-Lieutenant of the Colonel’s Company.

…Gavin Watt, HVP, UELAC

Charles Raymond (1788 – 1878) © George McNeillie

Fyler Dibblee, the oldest son of the school-master, married Grandfather’s sister Sarah and lived in St. John for many years on St. James Street, almost directly opposite his wife’s cousin, Nancy Sears — the one the first child born in Kingston, the other the first born in St. John. Fyler saved a little money which he had made partly at sea and partly in trade at St. John. This he invested in Bank of New Brunswick stock and his policy thenceforth was, save! save ! save ! My recollections of him are rather melancholy. He became miserly, and having outlived his only daughter Harriet and his near relations he left his money to his great-nephew, William Fyler Dibblee of Woodstock.

Grandfather Raymond once went [on] a voyage to Liverpool, with Fyler Dibblee, but proved such a poor sailor that he resolved henceforth to stay ashore. The press-gang plied their vocation in those days, and Fyler Dibblee had the misfortune to be “pressed” on board the Royal Navy. He was able, it is said, through Massive influence, to regain his freedom.

In the course of time Charles Raymond became engaged to Polly Sylvia, the eldest daughter of John D. Beardsley of Woodstock. They were married by her great-uncle, the Rev. Frederick Dibblee, on March 16, 1817. Parson F. Dibblee for many years kept a diary which I have studied at various times. He writes in it on March 21, 1817: – “This day Mr. C. Raymond with his young bride set out for Kingston; Mr. Beardsley went to Fredericton.”

The young couple soon afterwards moved to St. John. Grandfather’s certificate as a “Freemason” of St. John is dated April 2, 1819, and is signed “John Robinson, Mayor.” In it he is described as “Charles Raymond, grocer.” He was not improbably concerned in business with Fyler Dibblee. However, he must have disliked the confinement, for the next year he returned to Woodstock, where, on the 20th December, 1820, his father-in-law John D. Beardsley conveyed to him a piece of land on which my brother Arthur Raymond now lives. The next neighbour below was his wife’s uncle, William Dibblee, who lived with his mother, the widow Polly Dibblee, in an old house that stood where my brother Lee Raymond’s carriage-house now stands.

When the aged grand-mother, Polly, died in May, 1826, in her 80th year, her son William went to live with his niece, Mrs. Charles Raymond, and at his death in 1832 (six years later) left his farm to my father Charles William Raymond.

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

New Internet Resource for Niagara Area Loyalist Research

Robert Mutrie has just launched a new Website which I am sure UELAC Members and Loyalist researchers will find valuable. Robert has transcribed the Abstracts of Deeds Registers (1796-1865) of eight townships in the Niagara Region — Bertie, Willoughby, Stamford, Humberstone, Crowland, Thorold, Grantham and Niagara Townships and the town of Niagara (present Niagara-on-the-Lake). He has then copied the items into listings alphabetized by the surnames of the contracting parties.

These alphabetized listings serve as a guide to who lived where in pre-confederation Niagara. Appreciation for the maps in this section is given to Maggie Parnall from her publication The Mini Atlas of Early Settlers in the District of Niagara (1984) now out of print.

There is a summary of settlers’ listings in the Township Papers for Humberstone Township Bertie Township and Willoughby Township. More will be added during the coming months.

Robert is now now compiling genealogies of families in Lincoln and Welland Counties, Ontario. This growing one-of-a-kind Niagara Settlers database exceeds 1,000 pages and includes many thousands of descendants. Now you can buy the individual genealogies of your particular interest.

More than just a collection of family trees, each Niagara Settlers Genealogy includes fully sourced biographical notes and genealogical information for the first pioneer ancestor in Norfolk County and his nineteenth century descendants. The names, vital dates, and residency of descendants and their spouses are an integral part of these genealogies. When found, earlier ancestral information is also included.

More than 1,000 primary and secondary sources from hundreds of libraries and archives were researched developing these genealogies, which cite all sources. Many of these genealogies include information from hard to find or out of print books. The listing is partial. Robert Mutrie has more in the course of his earlier researches.

Looking for your nineteenth century ancestor in Niagara? Check out Niagara Settlers.

…Maggie Parnall

Online information for Trinity Anglican Church and St. Paul’s Churchyard, NYC

Did your loyalist ancestors live (or seek refuge) in New York City between August 1776 and November 1783? If so, they may have been married, buried or had children christened at Trinity Anglican Church on Wall Street. No matter where you are in the world, you can now access Trinity’s wedding and baptism registers as well as its tombstone epitaphs — click here.

You can also access the inscriptions on the gravestones of St. Paul’s Churchyard at this website. Some date back as far as 1766.

Mini-Conferences Bridge the Gap: Prairie Regional Conference

Mini-conferences bridge the gap between Branch Meetings and the Annual Conference while providing a forum for discussing regional concerns among members.

The Prairie Regional Conference took place between October 14 and 16, 2011, and brought together members from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. See the photo of the Prairie Regional Conference attendees at St. Andrews Anglican Church, Calgary, Alberta. There is no wider geographic region in Canada. While the opportunity to share speakers and resources makes regional conferences worthwhile, the challenges of distance and expense need to be overcome.

Communication is the key to encouraging active participation in all levels of our meetings be it Branch, Regional or Conference. When we let the general public know about who we are and what we do through traditional and contemporary media such as Facebook, Twitter or Blogs, we capture immediate or “real time” interest in our events. As Barb Andrew, UELAC Membership Chair from Manitoba, stated at the Prairie Regional Conference, the momentum created by the speed of communication and the actions of members creates an energy that the public identifies with and warms up to.

Regional conferences can benefit from this momentum by sharing speakers and ideas and talent. Camaraderie builds as we meet friends with common interests in preserving our Loyalist history.

Grietje and I enjoyed taking part in this Prairie Regional Conference with its thought-provoking workshops and great opportunities for discussing topics of mutual interest to all of us. We look forward to our next opportunity to meet again.

…Robert C. McBride, UELAC President

Remembering “Catch The Spirit 2011”

For those who attended the “Catch The Spirit 2011” annual conference in Brockville in June, hosted by the Col. Edward Jessup Branch, or for those who didn’t make it, here is an opportunity to refresh your memory (or to see what you missed). Watch the video on Youtube (7:30 min).

…Fraser Carr

Update to The War of 1812 Lesson Plans

The War of 1812, A PBS Presentation: Beyond the Broadcast offered educational lesson plans at different levels. Zig Misiak, an Honorary Vice President of UELAC who works closely with First Nations, especially in Southern Ontario, is planning an “add-on” to the lesson plans.

As you may or may not know I sit on the education advisory committee for the PBS War of 1812 documentary. I’ve looked at the lesson plans and there is a “please watch” notice I would like everyone to be aware of. Several words used in reference to First Nations are not what we use here be they historic or current. I’ve been asked by many school boards whether or not the curriculum guide is suitable for them and my answer is that I have to compose an add on making comments and reference to the proper terminology and send it out to them for use north of the Great Lakes. One of the things that is to come out of all the War of 1812 celebrations is that we move forward showing improvement in our understanding, involvement, and role of the First Nations and Metis and not have it hurt by “unacceptable” terminology.

Rick Hill, Chairperson of the Six Nations Legacy Consortium, is meeting with PBS and educators in the U.S. over the nxt week or two. I’ve reviewed the PBS lesson plans and have found several areas where we have concerns. Rick Hill and I are going to meet next week and collaborate on how to convey these issues to the U.S. people.

I will be sending out an “advisory bulletin” about the curriculum download stating some considerations and suggestions to the school system as they prepare to use the lesson plans. These should be available by late October or early November.

…Zig Misiak, HVP, UELAC

War of 1812: Family Heirloom

My g-g-grandfather Johnston Montgomery came to Quebec around 1812. Upon arrival he joined General Caldwell’s militia and fought in Upper Canada. In 1816 he returned to the Drummondville area and I am still living in the area. I still have his sword, and the bayonet to his gun. I have never been able to find any more information or records about him. I guess I have not looked in the right places.

…Marion Montgomery Coddington

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Emery, William Sr. , from Robert Emery
– House, James – from David Clark
– House, Hermanus – from David Clark
– Lawrence, George – from Howard Lawrence
– Pierpoint, Richard, from Maggie Parnall

Last Post: Edwin Robert Procunier

Edwin Robert Procunier passed away in London on September 26, 2011, just five days before his 84th birthday. Ed was a true Renaissance man, knowledgeable about theatre, music, opera, visual arts, literature, history and education. He was, first, a high school teacher and then a university professor.

He was born in 1927 in Lamaline, Newfoundland and was proud of his United Empire Loyalist stock, his Loyalist ancestor being George Neil. He was a former member of London & Western Ontario Branch UELAC.

As a Professor of English and Theatre Arts at University of Western Ontario, London, he wrote 27 plays which have been produced across Canada, on CBC Radio. He founded the London Community Players. His immense art collection has been bequeathed to The Rooms, Newfoundland’s public art gallery.

A Memorial Celebration will be held Saturday, November 19, 2:00 pm, at The Palace Theatre, 710 Dundas Street E., London, where “Procunier Hall” will be dedicated in Ed’s honour.

…June Klassen, President, London Branch


Response re Deaths/Graves in Sorel

In the Oct 2 issue of Loyalist Trails, a query Loyalist Refugee Camp at Sorel was posted. Several responses were submitted.

Back in the 1970 I asked for a special permission pass to search the records in Sorel. I found them later recorded in a book at the genealogical society in Sherbrooke. I am sure that you should be able to obtain them by contacting the Genealogical society in Sherbrooke, or checking on the internet. (Marion Coddington)

Marlene Simmons has compiled a rather complete record of BMD by Christ Church, Anglican at Sorel 1784 – 1899. It was published by the Quebec Family History Society, P.O. Box 1026, Pointe Claire, Quebec, H9S 4H9. It is an index; however, it lists Names (alphabetically), Birth dates where available, death dates and spouse’s names. The book is spiral bound and contains 290 pages. (Bernard Young)

As the UELAC Branch closest to Sorel refugee camp, I have acquired over time some items (Bev Loomis):

– Copies of some of the Registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths for Christ Church at William Henry, formerly Sorel. These records are referred to as the John Doty Records -1784-1795. The list comprises 24 pages of entries.

– I also have a list “Return of Refugee Loyalists, Families receiving Provisions at this Post and the Block House at Yamaska. Sorel, 1779-.1783 – ,

– Muster Roll taken at St.John’s.” General Return of Unincorporated Loyalists & Families receiving provisions Gratis from Government between 25 March & 24 April 1781″. These are pages printed off micro-film and some are difficult to read. Some pages show the page number on the reel ie : #91002 and #15447, but no reel number was recorded. This book of photocopies was given to me a few years ago and contains several pages.

I have Christ Church information on the Huff-Wickwire family in 1784-93, pp2&3. This is later than what I’m looking for on James Hough/Huff, who was a private in the KRRNY. He died on 17 Feb 1784 according to a document presented in 1816 as an affidavit at his brother’s claim for their mother’s estate of 200 acres. As the KRRNY had some troops in Sorel it would seem likely that James was buried as a soldier, but then given his age and that his family were there, perhaps he was buried as a private citizen. He was only 15 at the time,having served in the KRRNY for 3 years. He would, of course, have been buried right away in Feb 1784.

I continue to seek avenues to explore in my quest for information about James – perhaps there are some military records somewhere as he must not have been the only military casualty. Keeps my interest up for every little scrap of information about this Hough family.

…Don Maxwell