“Loyalist Trails” 2012-35: September 5, 2012

In this issue:
Your Essential Numbers (Part 1 of 2) – by Stephen Davidson
John Davis Beardsley (1771 – 1852) by George McNeillie
George Galloway: A Loyalist’s Story (Part 2 of 3) – by John P. Galloway, Jr.
In the Archives: Summer 2012, by Christopher Minty
Promoting Canadian History through Horticulture
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Editor’s Note


Your Essential Numbers (Part 1 of 2) – by Stephen Davidson

While the history of the loyalist era is best told using the diaries and letters of those who endured the American Revolution, it is important, nevertheless, to have accurate numbers to set these stories in their proper context. The loyalist experience is full of superlatives. In its day, the evacuation of the loyalists was the largest migration of refugees in North America’s history. It was also the largest emancipation of slaves until the American Civil War. Loyalist settlements gave rise to the fourth largest city in North America (Shelburne, Nova Scotia) and the largest community of free blacks in North America (Birchtown, Nova Scotia).

But how big is “largest’? How many loyalists were there in the rebelling colonies? How many finally left the United States? Thanks to the research contained in history books published in the last two years, we now have the essential numbers needed to quantify key aspects of the loyalist era.

The agreed population for the thirteen colonies declared independence in 1776 is two and a half million. Twenty percent of that population was black (500,000) and enslaved. While it can’t be pinned down exactly, the percentage of American colonists who identified themselves as loyalists is believed to be between 20% and 33%, translating into 500,000 and 833,330 respectively. During the Revolution, 20,000 enslaved Africans escaped their rebel masters and joined the British. This is the same as the number of white colonists who joined loyalist regiments.

Maya Jasanoff’s 2011 book, Liberty’s Exiles, has an amazing collection of numbers in its appendix, Measuring the Exodus. Although the number of loyalists who left the rebelling colonies has been placed as high as 100,000, Jasanoff gives very credible data which indicates that the best estimate is actually 60,000. The loyalist refugees took 15,000 slaves with them, so the total departing population was 75,000. To put this in context, Jasanoff points out that these numbers mean that one out of every 40 persons living in the United States left the country in the loyalist evacuation.

Before considering where in the world these 60,000 refugees settled, it is important to pause for a moment and realize how many loyalists decided to remain in their homeland. Loyalist genealogists and historians can sometimes confuse the words “loyalist” and “loyalist refugee”. Subtracting those who left as refugees from the total number of loyal colonists gives us between 440,000 and 773,330 loyalists who stayed in the new republic. Or to put it another way, only 8% to 14% of all loyal Americans left. Most of the descendants of loyalists alive today actually live within the United States, not Canada or Great Britain.

A great difficulty in pin-pointing the precise number of loyalists is the fact that the number changed during the Revolution. After 1774, loyalists were continually leaving the rebelling colonies, diminishing their percentage of the total population. Some who had been alive in 1776 had died fighting for the king by 1783. Other loyalists were terrorized and persecuted by rebels during the war. In order to spare their families further harm, they made oaths of allegiance to the new republic, placing them on the rebel side of the ledger.

One of the other great forced migrations in North America’s history is that of the Acadian people. Wikipedia puts the total number of these displaced Francophones at 11,316. The loyalist refugee population was five to six times this number.

The numbers having to do with the fighting forces in the Revolution are interesting. David McCullough in his 2005 book 1776 notes that in the summer of that year, the British sent the largest expeditionary force of the 18th century to New York. After sailing across 3,000 miles of ocean for three months, over 400 ships brought 32,000 troops to Staten Island. That number was more than the population of Philadelphia (30,000) or New York City. Two years later, according to Rene´ Chartrand’s American Loyalist Troops, there were 6,300 loyalist soldiers ready to serve the crown.

Ruma Chopra’s 2011 book Unnatural Rebellion notes that the British commissary in New York City provided food for 35,000 men and 4,000 horses, employing over 500 citizens. Hessian soldiers formed between a quarter and a third of the British army. There were more than 150 loyalist military units in which 50,000 loyal Americans served at one time or another. 1,500 of them became officers, according to Braisted and Allen’s 2011 book, The Loyalist Corps. How could such a mighty military force have ever lost the Revolution?

But lose they did, and 60,000 loyalists left the colonies at the war’s conclusion. Actually, loyalists began to leave the rebelling colonies as early as 1774. In early 1776, 1,100 fled Boston. In 1782 there were loyalist evacuations from Savannah and Charleston, culminating in the largest of them all — the departures from New York City throughout 1783. These dates do not take into consideration the numbers of loyalists who travelled overland to Canada (formerly New France) or overseas to Great Britain during the Revolution.

The numbers associated with the great loyalist diaspora will be examined in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

John Davis Beardsley (1771 – 1852) © George McNeillie

In a day when most farmers were careless with regard to their premises, Uncle Ralph’s house, barns, carriage-house, sheds, etc., were tastefully-built and every building nicely painted, and his lawn kept in fine condition. People paid him many compliments on the fine appearance of his house and buildings, which he greatly appreciated though he would quietly reply, Well, it’s my hobby.”

The next brother of the John D. Beardsley, Sr. family was Charles John Alfred, who married Agnes Currie. She was a rugged old dame and survived, as her husband’s widow, for more than thirty years. Their house was just above that of his father. He was comparatively a young man when he died. His wife, Agnes, was known throughout the neighbourhood for many years as “The Widow” – or ‘The Widder Ba’sly.” She kept a dog that used to torment me, as a little boy of six, on my way to school, by putting his forepaws on my shoulders and walking behind me on his hind legs. One day I made the fatal mistake of trying to bribe him with a buttered biscuit from my lunch basket, to leave me alone. And from that he watched for me more assiduously than ever! In the end, I confided my trouble to my mother, who in turn confided it to “the Widow”, and from that day I experienced no further trouble from the dog, though I have heard him howling at the window as I went by.

The Widow had a black cow with a “crumpled horn” that was anathematized by the neighbours as a public nuisance. In those days the cattle had the run of the highways, and there was hardly any kind of a gate fastening, latch or hook, that this cow could not manage to unfasten and let a drove of cattle into the corn-field or turnip-patch. In the fall of the year, the cows of the whole neighbourhood were turned in upon the intervale to feed on the luxurious after-grass. As the intervale was overflowed by the Spring freshet every year it was never fenced. Though the Widow owned no share of the intervale, she turned in her cows with the rest, and it was found that in all the mischief perpetrated by the united herds, the leader was generally the Widow’s cow with the crumpled horn. She would leave the rich after-grass, and lead the way to Bull’s Island, where the succulent corn was ripening, and I remember being sometimes sent after them in haste by my Father on the old bay mare “Gill” – riding bare-back without shoes or stockings, for a reason that will shortly appear. The cows on being turned about would often go down by the fishing bar, which was nearly a mile long, and it was necessary to follow them to the end in order to chase them back to the intervale. At the foot of the bar there was a fairly deep channel which the animals were made to swim with Gill and her rider in pursuit. The old mare swam gallantly with the bare-legged boy on her back. He had learned to take his shoes and stockings off before going after “the Wido’ws cow”.

The widow’s daughter Annie married George Clowes, and they lived for several years in Grandfather Raymond’s old house. Here I used to play, as a boy of four or five years, with little Alice Clowes, a child of my own age. The Clowes family subsequently moved over the river to Northampton and the old house was pulled down a few years afterwards. It stood a little way in front of my brother Arthur’s house, where the railway now is.

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

George Galloway: A Loyalist’s Story (Part 2 of 3) – by John P. Galloway, Jr.

[Editor’s Note: This story began last week with an old letter, written in April 1783 from John and Hannah Galloway to bid farewell to their son George, who was preparing to embark from New York City to an as yet unknown destination. George was a Loyalist. The letter was possibly the last communication between George and his elderly parents, and he treasured it by preserving it and passing it on to one of his sons as a family keepsake. Remarkably, it has remained preserved in the family to this day – view a PDF copy of the letter.]

George’s name shows up in the history of Orange County in the Minutes of the April 1775 Town Meeting for the precinct of Cornwall – he is assigned the duties of “path-master” for District #6, and his older brothers Alexander and James are assigned the same duties for Districts #4 and #24, respectively. As was expected of most citizens at the time, George signed the General Association in 1775, pledging to support efforts to protect the rights of the colonists in opposition to certain laws passed by the British Parliament that they viewed as illegal. George also received a commission on 15 September 1775 as a 1st Lieutenant in Captain Steven Sloat’s Company in Colonel Jesse Woodhull’s Cornwall (East Orange) Regiment in the New York Militia, and was reappointed on 21 February 1778. His brother Alexander was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in Captain Francis Smith’s Woodbury Clove Company in 1775, and his brother James replaced Alexander as 2nd Lieutenant in 1778.

George has been identified as both a farmer and as the owner of Galloway’s Tavern in Southfields, on the old Clove Road where present day NY State Route 17 runs. Steven Sloat also owned a tavern on the Clove Road, about 6.5 miles south of Galloway’s Tavern. Richard Koke, in his book “Corridor Through the Mountains,” notes that while it had long been a mystery as to whether the actual proprietor of Galloway’s Tavern was George or one of his brothers, a circa 1779 wartime map found in the New York Historical Society resolved the mystery, showing the hostelry as belonging to George Galloway. This tavern served as George Washington’s Continental Army HQ for three days in July 1777, and was described as an “old log house” in a journal by one of Washington’s officers.

George married, probably no earlier than 1778, but the identity of his wife has not yet been discovered. Birth, marriage, and death records for that area at that time are spotty, with the exception of the excellent records maintained by the Dutch Reformed Church. His wife died in either late 1782 or early 1783. They had two children: John, born late 1779 or early 1780, and George, born around 1782 or even early 1783 (it’s possible George’s wife died in childbirth). She may have come from a family with strong Loyalist sympathies, because at some point between 1778 and early 1779 George shifted his loyalties over to the Tory side. There are reports indicating his wife may have been a daughter of Austin Smith, a staunch Loyalist who actively supported the British cause, but documentation to confirm that has not been found. Additionally, events were unfolding at the time that caused many people to reevaluate where their loyalties should actually fall. Michelle Figliomeni, in her book “The Flickering Flame: Treachery and Loyalty in the mid-Hudson during the American Revolution,” notes that by 1779 the area where George’s tavern was located had been “devastated by the movement of [Continental Army] troops, back and forth along this crucial route between New England and New Jersey. The ruminating troops stripped the hillsides bare of small game and firewood, and purloined whatever livestock or crops were unprotected by the farmers’ rifles.” This situation could certainly have soured George’s opinions on the merits of the rebellion. George also appears to have had a close connection with the Roblin family in Smith’s Clove. The Roblins directly participated in the notorious outlaw Tory gangs of Claudius Smith and John Mason that raided and robbed numerous Patriot homesteads, often selling off plundered livestock and other goods to the British in New York City. On 2 June 1779, an arrest warrant was issued for John Mason and Nathan Miller for robbing Nathaniel Satterly, a prominent Orange County citizen and Committeeman. Philip Roblin, George Galloway, and Hendrick Dyer (husband of George’s sister Elizabeth) were named as accomplices and also ordered to be arrested. At this point it seems that George left his home and fled to New York City and the protection of the British. His wife either fled with him or joined him later.

In New York City, George joined up with the Loyal Refugee Volunteers (LRV), a group that was organized in November 1779. The city was in desperate need of firewood during the later years of the war, and the primary mission of the LRV was to set up bases across the river in New Jersey to fell trees and cut up the wood, fending off periodic attacks from the Continental Army and NJ Militia in the process. They built a series of four wooden Blockhouses from 1780 to 1782 to defend their position, with a notable battle occurring in July 1780 at the Blockhouse at Bulls Ferry, where a group of about 75 LRV under the command of Thomas Ward fought off an attack of more than two thousand men led by General “Mad Anthony” Wayne. Interestingly, Thomas Ward also happened to have been a member of the Mason Gang in the Clove! Post-battle muster lists do not show George as having been present during this battle, but a provisioning roll from early 1782 shows that he served at that time under Major Ward at the largest and most substantial Blockhouse, known as Fort DeLancey, located on Bergen Point (now Bayonne NJ). His brother-in-law Hendrick Dyer (Henry Dier), as well as Philip Roblin and Austin Smith are also listed on this roll. Even though the fiercest hostilities ended with the surrender of General Cornwallis at Yorktown in October 1781, there was still a good bit of fighting going on around New York City until the peace treaty was signed in 1783. The 1782 provisioning roll lists several LRV names as being killed in action.

Evidence shows the LRV had their HQ encampment at Smithtown, Long Island, where the Volunteers’ families would live, and George’s wife possibly gave birth to their two children there. As the war was nearing its end, in September 1782, the British compiled a list of refugee men who desired to emigrate to Nova Scotia, along with the number of women and children who would accompany them. The list includes George with a wife and two children; Roblin and Austin Smith and other members of the LRV are also named. However, by April 1783 we know from his parents’ letter that George’s wife has passed away and one of the two children is living with John and Hannah. The second child must have also been temporarily placed with other relatives (possibly on the mother’s side) because 1784 records show George settled in Catarqui with no children, but 1791 records show both sons John and George living there with George’s new family.

(To be concluded next week.)

…John P. Galloway Jr.

In the Archives: Summer 2012, by Christopher Minty

As some of the readers of Loyalist Trails may know, I have been carrying out archival research for my doctoral dissertation throughout the summer. My research has taken me from the humidity of Williamsburg to the sporadic “thunderstorms” of Fredericton, New Brunswick, and the efficacy of this trip has far surpassed anything I could have possibly imagined. My dissertation, it seems, is really taking shape and I have isolated the pocket(s) I want to explore and develop throughout my work. In the pieces following this one I hope to document some of my initial research.

At the moment I am based at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, working at the Harriet Irving Library slowly making my way through the Loyalist Collection. Whilst here I have consulted the diary of Rev. Dr. Charles Inglis, first Church of England bishop of the Diocese of Nova Scotia. The most useful – and interesting – piece I used was his personal diary. Inglis recorded his personal thoughts regarding nearly every aspect of life in New York, not only as a Loyalist but as an American colonist. His notes were designed “to assist my Memory” and began in Jan. 1775, although they are largely from 1776. On 20 Feb. 1776, for example, Inglis noted that a “remarkable Occurrence happened here [New York] this Week.” It was around this time in the colonies when Thomas Paine’s infamous Common Sense was published, where he labeled George III “the Royal Brute of Great Britain”. Paine’s widely read pamphlet, of course, had its opponents and critics, but they are often forgotten along with the Loyalist population. Inglis, however, was amidst the debate. He noted, “S[amuel] Loudon inserted an Advertisement in the Monday’s Paper [18 Feb. 1776], giving Notice to the Public that on the next Wednesday he would publish an Answer to a noted pamphlet called Common Sense.” Inglis noted the title, and then went on to describe what would happen to Loudon as a result of his advertisement: “On that Monday Evening, the Committee of Mechanics … came to Loudon’s, & seized the whole Impression of the Answer, which was printed as far as p. 84. & put the Sheets into Trunks”. The Patriots, it would seem, were manhandling the freedom of the press and “they carried one Copy to a Beer House, where they read & unanimously condemned it” and “On Tuesday Evening they came again to Loudon’s & burnt the whole Impression.” Inglis was shocked by this, “This was a violent attack on the Liberty of the press – the pamphlet combatted Independency only – not a Siyllable against the Congress or their Measures”.

With this brief snippet from Inglis’ diary we can begin to see how intricately involved he was in the daily life of New Yorkers, not only with Loyalists but with the Patriots too. Life in New York was complex and defined by irrationalism – nobody knew what was going to happen. Over the next few months Inglis documented this in his diary, and we shall pick up where we left off shortly in Loyalist Trails.

…Christopher F. Minty, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Stirling

Promoting Canadian History through Horticulture

For some members of the Col. John Butler (Niagara) Branch, gardening is more than a hobby. It can provide a golden opportunity to promote both our Loyalist heritage and our interests in Canadian history. When the Branch was asked by District 9 of the Ontario Horticultural Association to set up a display for the 2012 Convention in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the proposed theme of “Gardening Then & Now 1812-2012” seemed like a good fit with the many commemorations of the 1812 Bicentennial in the region. However, it was the effort of Ann Huffman, Membership Chair of the Branch, that lead to a more successful promotion of the observation of 200 years of peace between Canada and the United States. Through her initiative, the City of Welland created a War of 1812 garden at one of the prominent sites in town. See Ann’s description of the process (PDF) with a picture of the final work of horticultural design is visible here. Perhaps she will be equally lucky with her plans to observe the centennial of UELAC in 2014.

…The Loyalist Gardener

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Forsyth (Forsythe, Forsey, Farsee), James – from Alice Walchuck with certificate application
– Marsh, William – from Terrilee Craig

Editor’s Note

This email comes from a location a little further from home than last week’s Prague – we are now in Budapest, Hungary. An eight-day river boat cruise took us down part of the Danube form Nuremburg to Budapest where we have been ensconced for three days. I am slowly getting caught up on work and Loyalist things – somehow the cruise program kept us too busy! Tomorrow we move on to our last major stop – by train this time.