“Loyalist Trails” 2012-37: September 16, 2012
In this issue:
– Travels Amongst the Loyalists: 1811 – by Stephen Davidson
– Good Statistics Depend on Good Definitions – Numbers of Loyalists
– John Davis Beardsley (1771 – 1852) by George McNeillie
– Loyalist Weekend in Shelburne Nova Scotia Sept 21-23
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
– Editor’s Note
+ Sir John Johnson’s Bell
+ Lyddie Haines: Her Father, Her Brothers
In the first decade of the 19th century, the relationship between the United States and Great Britain had deteriorated to the point that war in North America seemed inevitable. The crown’s only hope for holding onto its remaining colonies lay in training their provincial militias. To this end, the crown sent ten lieutenant colonels to British North America to supervise a militia training program. Six officers went to the Canadas, and four went to the Maritimes.
One of the latter was Lt. Col. Joseph Gubbins who arrived in New Brunswick in 1810. As part of his responsibilities, Gubbins had to make annual inspections of the colony’s militia regiments. This involved two months of travel on horseback or by canoe, taking the British officer from the colony’s largest centres to its most distant settlements. While making his inspections in the summer of 1811, Gubbins kept a diary. In its pages are snapshots of daily life in New Brunswick, a colony founded by loyalist refugees almost thirty years earlier.
Every male New Brunswicker between the ages of 16 and 60 was enrolled in the militia, giving the colony a potential fighting force of 4,000 soldiers Thinking that the United States might one day attack with a force as large as 8,000 troops, Gubbins was still confident that “this province might be defended with every prospect of success”.
It was the loyalist heritage of New Brunswick which gave Gubbins such confidence. He recognized that the colony’s people had “once abandoned their homes from motives of loyalty without receiving anything like an adequate return for what they left behind.” Nevertheless, he found that they ” were almost all loyal, or the descendants of those who proved themselves loyal, and entertain the most sovereign contempt and hatred for their neighbours of the United States. They are generally equally attached to Great Britain, are an athletic, brave people well accustomed to the forest and the fowling piece, as well as the extremes of a severe climate, and would prove an important aid to a regular force in discovering or repelling desultory attacks.”
Gubbins’ diary, written during his travels amongst the loyalists in 1811, reveals how these “brave people” had thrived over their three decades in New Brunswick — and how ready they were to oppose the republic that they had once fled.
On June 29th, Gubbins left his home near Fredericton, heading down the St. John River in a birch bark canoe. Over the next few days, he “proceeded through such woods and swamps as I never expected to emerge from”. The countryside, he maintained, was “one continued forest and the soil generally bad”.
After staying at local inns or the homes of “old American Royalists”, Gubbins arrived in Sussex Vale. There he found “erected a handsome building as a college” for Native people. But the attempt to induce Natives to abandon their nomadic hunting lifestyle was “not attended with good effect”. The college was no longer being used. Settlers were offered 20 pounds a year to take Native children as apprentices in an attempt to encourage them to settle down in one place. Gubbins saw that New Brunswick’s caribou, moose and deer had “been either all destroyed or driven a great distance into the interior”. Natives who had been granted land usually sold it, often for rum. The First Nations people were being forced to abandon their traditional pursuits, compelled to take up farming or to cut firewood.
Six days later, Gubbins was near the site of modern day Sackville, New Brunswick. Here he was pleased to find “the most efficient corps I had to review in my district”. Dressed in blue uniforms, the local militia had both drums and bugles. While regiment impressed Gubbins, he had bad memories of the Fredericton militia. The latter had spent its money on “colours, drums and everything but the repair of arms.”
On Saturday, July 20, Gubbins jotted down his observations of the “American character”. He felt that New Brunswick’s settlers were in a “lonesome and extremely difficult situation where a little of everything must be done to support life…They are their own weavers, dyers, tailors, shoemakers and carpenters…The sons of the officers of rank and of other gentlemen who took refuge here after the American war, though many of them have received tolerable education and are gentlemanlike in their manners, yet they are obliged to undergo all the drudgery of farming…the present rising generation are certainly inferior to their parents in every respect that relates to manners and good society …”
“There is such a general demand for labour that it is highly valued. The weakest and oldest may earn a living, and there are no poor. Children constitute the riches of parents and a widow with a large family is caught at as a fortune… Some of the most respectable and affluent families in Fredericton are occasionally without a female domestic…In some parts of the country those you hire will not submit to be called servants .. and stipulate to dine with the master and mistress whom they call Mr. or Mrs.”
Gubbins’ diary also contained reflections on colonial politics. Instead of looking to Great Britain, the loyalist settlers “become national New Brunswickers and naturally seek for precedent in the democratic and tumultuous meetings of their neighbours in Massachusetts, rather than in the record of the British House of Commons.”
The last stop on Gubbin’s inspection tour was the city of Saint John. He found both the city and county militias “in very good order”. However, he could not return to Fredericton without first attending a party or “gregory” hosted by the leading ladies of Saint John. After enjoying a “substantial supper”, Gubbins had to endure an hour “devoted to songs too bad even to laugh at”. By August 14, 1811, he was once again home, having completed his travels amongst the loyalists.
Highlights from the diary Gubbins kept during his 1813 inspection tour will be featured in next week’s Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
I recently read in Loyalist Trails Stephen Davidson’s two essays entitled “Your Essential Numbers,” (Part I; Part II) which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Without an understanding of how many Loyalists there were we will never be able to truly appreciate their significance within the epoch of history, both in an American, British and Canadian aspect. Davidson’s essays cover the “how many” questions so commonly asked of the Loyalist population, both before and after the American Revolution. Whilst reading the first essay, however, I found Davidson’s accept of Maya Jasanoff’s estimate of the Loyalist diaspora far too transient, without questioning the reliability of Jasanoff’s research. In a 2008 article published in the William and Mary Quarterly, Jasanoff writes that “at least sixty thousand loyalists with fifteen thousand slaves in tow” left the newly-established United States to settle in a plethora of regions in the British Atlantic world. Jasanoff also stated she would give full documentation of this estimate in “forthcoming book on the loyalist diaspora,” which was published in 2011 and was recently awarded the Washington Prize. Jasanoff’s estimate, however, is flawed.
Her account of the Loyalist diaspora is predicated upon two returns of Loyalists going to Nova Scotia (New Brunswick), housed in the National Archives in Kew. The first listed some 29,278 individuals who desired to move to Nova Scotia, and the second stated that 32,224 left. Both these returns, however, significantly exaggerate Loyalism, as they include children as Loyalists. Can the child of a Loyalist be defined as also a Loyalist? I think not. Without active enunciations or voluntary displays of Loyalism I do not believe that an individual can truly be classified as a Loyalist; American colonists may have held Loyalist sympathies but, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
This may significantly decrease their number, and it could be the case that John Adams’ often-quoted estimate that Loyalists, Patriots and Neutrals comprised thirty-three per cent of the population is, in fact, too generous. What it all comes down to is definition: what is a Loyalist? Jasanoff’s Liberty’s Exiles does not give a true definition of what a Loyalist is, and I believe that without this her figures must be interpreted with caution. I should add that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Maya’s book, and particularly enjoy the variety of covers available, each differing in Great Britain, the United States and Canada.
But does her research answer one of the “how many?” questions? No, but it does offer the most up-to-date account and should act as a foundation to the next individual to tackle this elusive question.
…Christopher F. Minty, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Stirling, firstname.lastname@example.org
His brother, Major John Davis Beardsley, had quite an adventurous career. He went to the United States and upon the outbreak of the American Civil War, in 1860, joined the Northern Army. He saw much service, attained the rank of Major, and was with General Grant at the capture of Richmond. Not very long afterwards, he met Cousin “Sue”, whom he afterwards married. She was a rank “Southerner” and at first would hardly deign to speak to the Northern Major. But in the end she married him – not only so but coaxed him to stay with her “in Dixie’s Land”. They lived in West Virginia. Afterwards in Louisiana and Arkansas, where he engaged in railroad construction. My brother Arthur lived there for a time and learned some of the idiosyncrasies of the genus Mule, while assisting at railroad building. Major Beardsley made and lost a good deal of money in the South. His wife “Sue” and daughters Alice and Anna were clever women. They spent a good many summers in Woodstock. The eldest daughter Alice married Rev. Canon Wheyling, and Anna married a Frenchman, named Simard, who lived until recently in Montreal. Both girls were very clever, well-educated women and we knew them intimately in our young days. They were much with their father’s cousin Jane (of Woodstock) whom they called “Aunt Jennie”. In fact she had as much to do with their early bringing up as had their own mother.
At the Grove in Woodstock Cousins “Till” and Mary were lovers of gardening. Mary in my young days always seemed to find the first spring wild flowers, no matter how hard we boys tried to be first. Her life was a pathetic one I always thought. Her prospects, once so bright, and the end so sad. At one time she moved in the best Montreal society and she and her husband Charles Bourne were very popular. Through rash speculations he was ruined financially, fled to the States, and the happy home was broken up. It was a terrible grief to the wife and her sisters.
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].
The Shelburne (Nova Scotia) Reenactment Association will be hosting a living history/Loyalist history weekend from Friday, Sept. 21-23rd featuring guest speaker Todd Braisted.
The event begins with a wine and cheese meet and greet at the Shelburne Co. Museum from 7-9pm. The remainder of the event gets underway at the Shelburne Regional High School on Saturday, September 22nd with sessions running from 9 – 4pm and again on Sunday with sessions running from 10-5pm.
Information sessions include: Bergen County 101, History of the 4th Battalion of the New Jersey Volunteers, New Jersey Volunteer Material Culture, Who Do You Think They (men of the NJV) Were? Land Settlement and Heritage, military Drill sessions, Mannerisms and Deportment, Personal Development, Choosing Period Correct Fabric, Basic Minuet and English Country Dancing lessons.
Lunches and nutrition breaks are included. Registration for this event is $20. To register please contact Sam Brannen via Facebook, email at email@example.com or by phone at 637-3422. Registration deadline is Sept. 18th. Some members of the association have offered rooms at their homes for out of town attendees. Please ask when registering. Period clothing is encouraged!
A separate event within the weekend will be the New Jersey Volunteers, 3rd Bt. Regimental dinner. This will take place at the Shelburne Lions Hall on the Saturday of the event. Cost of this event is $25 and registration is required by Sept. 15th Please contact Mary Lee Gonzaga at 875-3291 and state meal preference – pork or chicken. 6pm appetizers – 7pm dinner – Period dress please.
…Stephen Davidson UE
- Canada announces new honours for War of 1812-tied regiments
- Battle honours long overdue recognition – SDG Ceremony in Cornwall
- Federal government calls for War of 1812 national monument
- Serial story set amid War of 1812 (Ogdensburg, Sacket’s Harbour; teaching guide)
- Schroeder’s Man of War [about reenactors; good read]
- American town marks a dark episode from War of 1812
- U.S. Brig Niagara to visit Canalside, Buffalo
- Navy Week Brings Back Memories For “Greatest Generation”
- Plattsburgh commemorates War of 1812 victory
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Curgenven, James – from Peter Newman
– Guiou, Isaac – from Gwen Guiou Trask
We have returned home and are now in the midst of the catch-up. The concierge at the desk could not believe the size of the bag which was required to hold five weeks of our mail.
Six days in Vienna were about right, for now. With a central hotel, many of the historical sites were within walking distance, and the subway, tram and train system can take you most anywhere further afield. With our interest in European royalty, architecture and history, Vienna ranks right up there with the best of European cities. We also managed an opera.
From Vienna we took the train to Salzburg. Our magical run of almost perfect weather ran out on this journey: 15C down from high 20’s in Vienna, and rain. Enjoyed a walk around the city but decided on a Sound of Music bus trip for our last half day, rather than enduring more wet walks. The late afternoon train took us to Munich airport, out of the rain and into warmer temperatures – but of little advantage when one is just boarding an airplane.
It was a good trip. Now for that pile of accumulated mail. Good to be home again.
It’s likely well known in Loyalist circles that in 1822 Sir John donated a bell to St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Chambly, Quebec. Although once stolen, the bell was recovered and can be seen at the historic church. It was made in England in 1812 by Isaac Tod.
Perhaps not as widely known is the bell Sir John donated to St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in St. Andrews East (now officially Saint-André d’Argenteuil), Quebec. Having purchased the Seigniory of Argenteuil in 1808, Sir John had built a home there—later destroyed by fire. He donated land for the Scottish church which was completed in 1821. I quote from W. Harold Reid, The Presbyterian Church, St. Andrews and Lachute, Quebec, 1818-1932 (Hamilton, ON: Eagle Press, 1979):
“Sir John Johnson had brought up from his former home in the Mohawk Valley this bell which at first was used at his new Manor House, but later he presented it to Mr. Henderson [incumbent 1818-1877]. It was used for some time as a church bell, then was taken down, and for many years has stood on a table in the vestibule of the church. The inscription on the bell reads:
ME FECIT PIETER SEEST AMSTELODAMI AD 1764” (p. 11)
A little research showed that master founder Pieter Seest was the foreman of Amsterdam’s bell and cannon factory, eventually becoming a director of the firm in 1770. The date on St. Andrew’s bell makes it a year older than the famed “U.S.S. Constitution bell” currently being displayed in a Rhode Island museum’s War of 1812 exhibit this month: www.hearthsidehouse.org/news/2012.constitution.html. The American ship U.S.S. Constitution, nicknamed Old Ironsides, won an 1812 sea battle with the British H.M.S. Guerriere and took the bell as a war trophy.
Apparently other bell and cannon artefacts have been occasionally located with Pieter Seest’s foundry signature. With only superficial research, I wonder if many are older than 1764. My burning question is: Does St. Andrews Presbyterian Church still have and display its historic bell? Anyone?
I have a land petition for my 3rd great-grandmother, Lyddie ______ Haines, (filed under Libbie Hainer, crossed out on petition) who settled in Niagara Twp., Lincoln County. She was granted 200 acres as the daughter of a loyalist.
I know this is the correct petition for her as she names her husband as “Nathaniel Hanes”. In her petition she states that she is the daughter of a loyalist and several of her brothers served in Butler’s Rangers. Usually the loyalist’s name is listed on the petition somewhere but not this one.
I am interested in finding her parents’ names and those of her brothers. I don’t think there were very many groups of brothers who served but I am researching all of them to see if there is any connection.
If anyone has found a “Lyddie” in their loyalist tree that might be a match, or has other information which might narrow the search, please contact me.
The images of the original petition can be viewed here: