“Loyalist Trails” 2012-26: July 1, 2012

In this issue:
The Martha‘s Loyalist Castaways: Part 2 of 3 – by Stephen Davidson
The popularis tradition and New York Loyalism: the De Lanceys – by Christopher Minty
Congratulations: Ontario Graphic Licence Plate Project Update
Hyatt One-Room Schoolhouse Fund-Raiser July 22
Michael Payne: The Loyalists and the Fur Trade
Judith Beattie, Finding UEL-HBC Connections at Conference
Canada Day: Did You Know? – by Bill Glidden
New Book Review: Defending Our Home, by Ronald L. Doering, UE
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: Anne Jane Gauvreau, UE
      + Father (possibly Isaac) of Jane Davis, Niagara
      + Wood Family of Cornwall ON Area


The Martha‘s Loyalist Castaways: Part 2 of 3 – by Stephen Davidson

Captain John Sterling was the only officer identified by Captain Kennedy who shared his makeshift raft. The officers were two of the 181 refugees who were forced into the cold waters of the Atlantic following the break-up of the Martha on shoals off of Nova Scotia’s Cape Sable. The loyalist evacuation ship had left New York City eight days earlier, sailing for the mouth of the St. John River. Both Captains Kennedy and Sterling were officers in the Maryland Loyalist Regiment, and both were looking forward to founding a new settlement in the northern wilderness. The raft on which the officers were desperately clinging had once been the Martha‘s quarter deck. Although 25 castaways had initially found refuge on the raft, by the time the loyalists were rescued, only six of them were still alive.

Kennedy recounted that John Sterling kept him from slipping off the raft. Not to be confused with the Lt. Stirling who drowned while clinging to another section of the Martha, Captain Sterling was a “gentleman of Maryland”. He eventually settled in St. Mary’s, New Brunswick and died at 76, forty-three years after the sinking of the Martha. Left to mourn him were his wife Ann, four daughters and three sons. His married daughters were Isabella (George) Covert and Sarah (John) Cunningham. The remaining five children were George, Walter Delaney, Daniel Addison, Mary and Lucy.

A letter written to Nova Scotia’s Governor Parr reveals the name of another soldier who did not survive the Martha‘s destruction. Admiral Robert Digby, living in the loyalist settlement of Conway, Nova Scotia, had a cook named Mrs. Joshua Merrill. Earlier that year, Mrs. Merrill and her husband had visited the admiral’s home. Knowing that they planned to settle just across the Bay of Fundy, Digby persuaded Mrs. Merrill to stay on as his cook in Conway while her husband returned to New York to prepare for their move to the St. John River. The Merrills would be reunited as soon as the fleet carrying the Maryland Loyalists and Third Battalion arrived in Parrtown.

However, by September 27th, all of the loyalist evacuation ships had arrived — except for the Martha and the Esther. This was an irritation to Lt.-Col. Hewlett who wanted to get his men settled along the St. John River. No doubt he also had concerns about all of his worldly goods which were packed away in the Martha‘s hold. By October 19, the loyalists in Conway learned the tragic news of the shipwreck, prompting Admiral Digby to write the governor of Nova Scotia:

“I beg to recommend to your Excellency’s notice a poor woman whose case I think is really affecting … She has nothing in the World and no friends in this country. Therefore I beg your Excellency would be pleased to attend to her case, and allow her the lands that would have been allotted to her husband, Sergeant Merrill which I think will be bestowed and will very much oblige.” Sadly, the rest of Mrs. Merrill’s story has been lost.

In New York City, the British commander-in-chief, Sir Guy Carleton, also received news of the shipwreck. On the 21st of the month, he wrote government officials in England to seek aid for the survivors. In addition to sending on a list of “those who were saved from the wreck”, Carleton asked for extra pay for each surviving soldier and the sum of sixty pounds — the cost of hiring ships to transport the castaways to Parrtown. He also told the government officials that his deputy inspector general had sent the survivors a “bale of blankets.”

Carleton received a full account of the shipwreck from Captain Kennedy who planned to lay charges of negligence against the Martha‘s captain. The latter had sped away in the doomed ship’s last rowboat, leaving the passengers to die at sea. Despite the pleas of mothers who held up their children and the desperate cries for help, the captain and his men continued rowing for shore.

On October 22nd, a notary public in New York City recorded the signed declarations made under oath of three of the Martha‘s crew. Somehow, in the month since the wreck of the Martha, its captain John Willis, first mate Lewis Hancoat, and carpenter Robert Cass had managed to make their way back to New York. Perhaps they knew of the survivors’ testimony against them prompting the three men to register their version of the events surrounding the shipwreck.

Carleton had only a month before the last of the British troops and loyalists were to leave New York City. By October 24th, he confided that “it may be too late” to have an inquiry that would investigate the disaster. Carleton hoped that the British secretary of war might be able to resolve the matter.

Either through correspondence or a return to New York City, Captain Kennedy made three accusations against John Willis, the Martha‘s captain. Willis was negligent in continuing to sail night after sighting land so near, he wilfully abandoned the passengers, and, once on shore, he discouraged the local inhabitants from going out to rescue the ship’s castaways.

Willis defended himself by saying that he thought that a rescue attempt was pointless as he was sure that there was no one to be saved. There is no record of any verdict being handed down by the official inquiry; the Martha‘s crew may never have been brought to justice.

Meanwhile, along the St. John River, an all too-short autumn was coming to an end. Three days after the Martha‘s castaways were reunited with their regiments, Lt. Col. Richard Hewlett had the disbanded soldiers board dozens of small craft and sail up the St. John River. The time to mourn the tragic loss of 113 of their fellow passengers would have to wait. Land needed to be surveyed. Log cabins needed to be built.

In the years that followed their arrival in modern-day New Brunswick, most of the men of the Maryland Loyalist Regiment and the 3rd Battalion of Delancey’s Brigade settled their families in and around St. Anne’s Point (modern Fredericton). Apart from what has been kept in family lore down through the generations, the descendants of these Maryland loyalists have forgotten their heritage — including the fact that 68 of their ancestors survived the worst shipwreck in the history of the loyalist evacuation.

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

The popularis tradition and New York Loyalism: the De Lanceys – by Christopher Minty

New York has often been depicted as the last bastion of Loyalism in America’s thirteen colonies during the American Revolutionary War. In Sept. 1776, the British Army formally initiated military occupation that would last until 25 Nov. 1783, which is forever documented in Howard Pyle’s “The Last Boat-Load of the British Army Leaving New York” in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. The print ominously depicts a morose body of British troops leaving New York, accompanied by a number of Loyalists. They represent the last remnant of British rule in the American colonies. (See print here).

New York was a stronghold for Loyalism, but it was also a hotbed of revolt during the 1760s. It was witness to the notorious Stamp Act Riots in Nov. 1765, when Lt.-Governor Cadwallader Colden could only watch as “some 2,000 people‚Ķbroke down the gate [to Fort George], stole various items and started a fire.” Colden was “the Chief Murderer of the Rights and Privileges” of New Yorkers. Sir William Johnson, prominent landowner and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, noted that the mob contained “several Persons of Consequence” and Gen. Gage described how “many people of substance … [were] … amongst” the mob. Considering that New York would become a mecca for Loyalists just over a decade later, one would presume that no would-be Loyalists would have taken part in this act of rebellion. To assume this, however, would be incorrect.

The De Lancey family are one group who are often associated with Loyalism. Oliver De Lancey, for example, became Brigadier-General of the De Lancey Brigade, and John De Lancey would lead the infamous Westchester Refugees in various skirmishes in New York. The leader of their “party”, as described by William Smith, jun., James De Lancey, however, had fled to England in mid-1775 and never returned to New York.

James had assumed de facto control of the De Lanceys upon his father’s death in 1760 and would seek to restore his family’s political hegemony after a poor showing in the 1761 election, which saw their bitter rivals, the Livingstons, assume control of the New York Assembly. De Lancey utilised the political momentum generated by the various colonial crises that reverberated around New York society throughout the 1760s, beginning with the Stamp Act in 1765. De Lancey began to associate himself, and his faction, with a notorious proto-revolutionary group known as the Sons of Liberty, led primarily at this time by Isaac Sears and John Lamb. James De Lancey became an established leader in the group and began to organise meetings against the political imperatives of the Livingstons, and he was hugely successful.

By utilising the strength generated by the Sons of Liberty, the De Lanceys were seen by common New Yorkers as defenders of their liberties against the oppressive legislation that was being passed by a musical chair of British ministries. De Lancey’s influence and place within the group was hugely influential, with Sears noting that “Every Thing that should have been transacted [at a meeting with the Livingston faction in Dec. 1765] would have been imputed to his Influence.” James De Lancey continued to associate himself with the Sons of Liberty and continued to galvanise support for his faction, which resulted in a resounding victory at the 1769 elections in New York. The De Lanceys had been in the political abyss for nine years, occupying the peripheries of the political scene but as a direct consequence of their association with the protest movement they were seen as the true defenders of American liberties.

When they returned to the forefront of politics, however, their political imperatives changed, and they would show why they had acted as they did. The De Lanceys viewed themselves as New York’s populares, drawing upon the Roman popularis tradition to generate the support of the common New Yorker. Just as Caesar had generated support from the plebeians, James De Lancey had targeted the average New Yorker. What would happen over the following years would define their role within the prism of Empire. (To be continued.)

Christopher F. Minty, University of Stirling

Congratulations: Ontario Graphic Licence Plate Project Update

Here’s another reason to celebrate this Canada Day weekend: I am pleased to report that we are more than halfway toward the required 200 requests for UELAC Badge graphic licence plates. Thank you to all who have ordered a set, and to those who have been actively promoting the project.

We’re more confident than ever that we can meet our target, but we still need your help. Keep spreading the word in your Loyalist circles, and at branch meetings and events. The sooner we can find the next hundred interested people, the sooner we can proceed with having the plates manufactured.

If you haven’t yet added your name to the list, or wish to get more details, you can do so by emailing plates@uelac.org or calling me at 905-486-9777. Full details, including some newly-added FAQs, can be found at the Dominion project page.

…Ben Thornton, Toronto Branch, plates@uelac.org

Hyatt One-Room Schoolhouse Fund-Raiser July 22

Little Forks Branch UELAC, have completed the re-shingling of the roof on the Little Hyatt One-Room Schoolhouse and are planning to hold a Fund-Raiser under the Tent on our school grounds, Sunday, July 22nd at 2:00 p.m.

A multi-media presentation by Historian James Manson titled,” The Stacey Letters: The Eastern Townships circa 1850, viewed through the eyes of a British Immigrant”, with video excerpts from the musical “Louisa” featuring the Stacey family, by Donald Patriquin and Sunil Mahtani. Live excerpts by Mary White and Cora Loomis.

Sandra Hewlett, a Stacey descendant and Certified Genealogist from Pennsylvania, will offer a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the earlier family in England.

We are hoping for beautiful weather and a large crowd! Following the presentation we shall be offering cold fruit punch and munchies and will have a big bucket for donations!!!

Free Will Donations in support of our new shingled roof on the Little Hyatt One-Room Schoolhouse will be gratefully accepted.

Of interest: Donald Patriquin is a retired music professor, McGill University, Montreal and who presented the musical “Louisa” a few years ago in Knowlton, Quebec. Louisa being Milt’s Great Grandmother and 2nd-Great to Cora Loomis.

Edward Stacey served as Ordinance Clerk in the Tower of London, England. His wife Sarah is buried in the Crypt in the Tower of London.

…Bev Loomis UE, President Little Forks Branch

Michael Payne: The Loyalists and the Fur Trade

At the end of 2006, when The Loyalists, Pioneers and Settlers of the West, a Teacher’s Resource was about to be published by UELAC, the Education Committee had two fine essays from Michael Payne, head of the Research and Publications Program for the Historic Sites and Cultural Facilities Branch of Alberta Community Development. However, only one could be used as the foreward. Loyalists and the Teaching of Canadian History: Old Ideas, New Trends and a Local Connection or Two was selected as the more effective bridge between what had been published in the three previous regional resources and the role played by the fur trade in the opening of the West. In that essay, Payne included a brief but little known account of the seizure of two Hudson Bay posts in the American Revolution.

The second work was entitled Loyalists and the Fur Trade: The Impact of the American Revolution on Western Canadian History. In the sixteen page essay, Payne explored the topic to a greater depth with the beneficial addition of appropriate footnotes for those who wanted to pursue the topic further. Loyalists and the Fur Trade was later anchored to the website of the Manitoba Branch UELAC.

Six years later, both works are worth a refreshing re-read.


Judith Beattie, Finding UEL-HBC Connections at Conference

Much has been said of the revitalizing power of attending UELAC Conferences in different parts of the country. In addition to the fellowship, there is also the chance to learn more about a different region from your own. Part of that last benefit is the opportunity to gain new insight into our heritage from speakers better known to the host Branch. When Judith Beattie, Archivist and Historian of the Hudson Bay Company, addressed the Diamond Jubilee Gala at the Hotel Fort Garry in Winnipeg, there was no doubt that we would gain from her research and observations.

In her introduction to her theme, Finding UEL-HBC Connections, Ms. Beattie made it clear that she had more than enough information to share:

In fact, right on the UEL Manitoba website is an excellent article by Michael Payne giving background and analysis of the Loyalist connections to the fur trade, so you can read more there. I won’t be repeating his work. Instead, I will be telling stories about some the men he mentioned. Since this is the 200th Anniversary of the arrival of the Selkirk settlers and the introduction of European agricultural in Western Canada, I decided to focus my talk on the Loyalist fur trade connection to the Red River Settlement.

By providing a copy of her presentation (PDF), the keynote speaker has also added to our growing resources available to those exploring the relationship between the United Empire Loyalists and the Fur Trade. Thus Judith Beattie has ensured that her work will be available to all UELAC members across Canada.


Canada Day: Did You Know? – by Bill Glidden

On Wednesday, 4 July 2012, we can thank the War of 1812 with Great Britain, including Canada, a British colony, for inspiring the author of the national anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner. Had not Francis Scott Key witnessed the British Navy’s bombardment of Fort McHenry, who knows what we would be singing at the opening of sports events and the like?

For those of us who live quite closely with our neighbors to the North in Canada, we become familiar with another national day of recognition that will occur on Sunday, 1 July, known as Canada Day. In Canada, owing to the fact that the country is effectively two nations under God or other entity, the national anthem is actually two songs – one in English, one in French – sung to the same tune.

The whole dual nation thing comes up at this time of year, most notably in Quebec, because of the two national holidays. Quebec marks “la fete nationale” on 24 June, the traditional date of the religious feast saluting St. Jean Baptiste, the patron saint of the French-founded province. One week later comes Canada Day on 1 July which, though there are modest celebrations in Quebec -even more modest of late due to the federal government’s cuts to celebration budgets – is a much bigger deal outside the province.

Still as typical Canadian historical trends would have it, Canada’s national anthem sprung from a celebration of French Canadian nationalism. Back in 1880, the leading organization for the promotion of French-Canadian rights was assembling a big convention as a show of franco force. It was to be timed with the annual St. Jean Baptiste celebration. One of the themes of the gathering was stemming “la grande hemmorage”, the exodus of French-Canadians to the United States in search of jobs and opportunity. Organizers called for an anthem to be debuted during the event. So, at the hugh gala banquet the song had its world premiere, to reportedly rousing applause, O Canada, though it was soon forgotten.

In the early years of the 20th century, O Canada surfaced again as a potential national anthem when Montreal lawyer Robert Stanley Weir wrote lyrics more appropriate to the English-speaking population. Thus the somewhat militarized English version -“stand on guard”, “son’s command”. “patriot love” – saw the light of day in 1908. But it was not until 1980, the centennial of its first signing, that the federal government designated O Canada as the official national anthem.

The lyrics to O Canada have been modified over the years to reduce repetion and sound more inclusive. And as for the inconvenient fact of having both an official French and English version of the national anthem? The solution is an official bilingual version of the song, with the four- line middle section given to the French lyrics. This is the one song at official national ceremonies or hockey games in Montrial.

For those who are wondering, what is Canada Day? This refers to the Confederation of the former British colonies into the dominion known as Canada in 1867. The provinces of Upper and Lower Canada became Ontario and Quebec. You may notice that it follows very closely to the end of the American Civil War in 1865. The Civil War having an effect on the decisions to confederate the British colonies, from coast to coast.

…Bill Glidden, Major (R) NYARNG, Deputy Town of Plattsburgh Historian

New Book Review: Defending Our Home: Loyalist Families of Dundas County and the Battle of Crysler’s Farm, by Ronald L. Doering, UE

A review of Ronald L. Doering’s Defending Our Home: Loyalist Families of Dundas County and the Battle of Crysler’s Farm, by Carolyn Thompson Goddard, UE, is now available in the Book Reviews section.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Last Post: Anne Jane Gauvreau, UE

25 November 1923 – 22 June 2012. Anne passed away peacefully on Friday, 22 July 2012. She was predeceased by her husband Robert Gauvreau (1980) as well as her sons Anthony Michael Hammer and Eric “Rick” Hammer, and is survived by her daughter Bonnie Overland and grandchildren Katherine, Paul and Robert Hugel and her great-grandson Ethan. GG will be dearly missed by her granddaughter Lisa Marie Goddard and her great-grandchildren Zachary and Alyssa “Aly.”

Anne was a social activist and passionately involved community member. Her contributions affected many people and organizations in a positive way. Anne loved nature and even though she travelled the world, her most loved place was Tofino where she always found peace. She developed many special friendships over her lifetime, all of which she cherished. Anne was a long-time member of the Victoria Branch, UELAC.

…Joyce Huffman, Victoria Branch


Father (possibly Isaac) of Jane Davis, Niagara

I have taken my family back to Jane Davis of Niagara who married James Soper of Grantham, in 1827 in Lewiston, NY. The children of James Soper and Jane Davis:

1. Elizabeth Eliza, born 1827, Grantham Twp, Lincoln County

2. Mary, ca 1828, Grantham Twp

3. Catherine, 1829, Grantham Twp

4. S, between 1830 and 1836, Grantham or Rainham Twp, Haldiman County

5. Martha M 1837, Rainham Twp

6. Anna, 1839, “

7. Naomi, 1844, “

8. James Albert 1846,”

9. Margaret Jane, 1847, “

10. Agnes, 1849, “

I am searching for Jane’s parents, my 4th/5th ggrandfather who could possibly be Isaac Davis, UEL.

I have read about Isaac, but I am not sure if all that I have read is about the same Isaac Davis. Believe it or not, there were a few Isaac Davis’ (sic) in the Rev War.

The Isaac I am focused on received land grants in Niagara as an UEL. Isaac might be a brother of Ethel Davis, who went as a Loyalist to NS. Looks like this Isaac and Ethel were both born in CT, USA.

I am most interested in the parents of Jane. If she is the daughter of this Isaac, then I need to connect my Jane Davis (1809) to Isaac and Elizabeth Banta?/Bartow Davis of Niagara, from 1795. Jane could be a daughter or most likely a granddaughter.

Does anyone have any information which could help me sort this out. Thanks in advance for any help.

Elizabeth Robbins

Wood Family of Cornwall ON Area

I am trying to extend my Wood family lineage. Enos Wood married Margaret Eamer at St. John’s Church in Cornwall Ontario, Canada on 30 July 1853. I have a copy of the marriage record from St. John’s Church (of which I have a picture) in Cornwall. Enos and Margaret Eamer Wood are great-grandparents to our family.

The only data on the marriage record for Enos was his name – nothing about his parents, where he was born, names of any relatives.

Margaret’s hometown listed on her marriage application is Mulrush, Ontario, which is now apparently under the waters of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Apparently the families were moved a short distance away to Cornwall, so I am guessing that Mulrush and Cornwall were not to distance from each other. We know only that Margaret’s maiden name was Eamer, a name on the Loyalist Lists from Cornwall.

Enos and Margaret married, and in 1855 they named their firstborn, a son, Samuel Reginald Wood. A short time later these three people left Canada and moved to the States. Eventually, after moving around a bit – Illinois/Tennessee/Illinois/Wisconsin/Minnesota/Wisconsin – and 10 children later, Enos and Margaret lived out their lives in Polk County, Wisconsin which is where they died and are buried. (Data came from birth / marriage / death / records of all family members.)

From the Largest Loyalist Families (Benjamin Eastman who settled in the Cornwall area) we see that John Eastman married Sarah Johnston who was the daughter of Robert Johnston and Sarah Wood. Is it possible that Sarah and Enos were related. We have no other clues about the Wood Family.

Helen Stoltz-Wood