“Loyalist Trails” 2014-01: January 5, 2014

In this issue:
Six Loyalists Remember New Year’s Day, by Stephen Davidson
Perspective: Canada’s Queen, and Canada, by JR Matheson, UE
‘Tis the season to Recognize Achievements
Where in the World is Roger Reid?
The War of 1812 and Nova Scotia’s African Heritage
Book Review: Redcoat 1812
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: Colonel John Ross Matheson, UE (1917-2013)
      + Family of William Kelly, son of John Kelly
      + Help Wanted for Transcription


Six Loyalists Remember New Year’s Day, by Stephen Davidson

New Year’s Eve is one of those occasions that can be so memorable that decades after a particular changing of the year, a person can still recall where he or she was as the clock struck midnight. Here is what six loyalists remembered as they looked back on New Year’s Days of the past.

Stephen Jarvis was a teenager when the calendar turned to show January first, 1777. In December, he and some other Connecticut loyalists had tried to board a vessel so that they could join with British forces. However, his father called him home to Danbury. The young loyalist found that his house was “filled with American soldiers”. Although his family was known to be supporters of the crown, nothing came of the visit. However, by New Year’s Day, Stephen began to fear the worst.

Looking out of his door, Stephen discovered a large number of armed horsemen with loyalist prisoners in tow. Among the latter were friends that had been with Stephen on the coast – those who had tried to join the British army.

Clearly it was time for young Jarvis to leave Danbury. But because January first “had been stormy, both snow and rain, and the roads {were} very sloppy”, he could not get away during the day.

After an inquisitive patriot had entered his home at suppertime, the young loyalist decided he had to make his escape. He bolted for his horse and rode “full speed down the street”. Stephen took shelter for the night in a private home that held two British prisoners of war. Although rebel soldiers were sleeping in another part of the house, the teenaged loyalist figured that no one would look for him among the prisoners. Later, the house’s owner guided Stephen to an upper room.

Stephen hid there until the evening of January second. After he snuck out to a field, he met his father who gave his son some money and a change of clothes. Following a series of close calls, Stephen eventually escaped from Connecticut and joined the British army. Had the New Year’s Day of 1777 gone differently, he might have spent much of the revolution as a prisoner of the rebels.

1781’s New Year’s Day was one that Massachusetts loyalist Benjamin Marston was more than willing to forget. On December 19th, he and his crew were forced to abandon their leaky brig at Nova Scotia’s Cape Canso and trek overland for Halifax. Nine days of trudging through rivers and snowy forests began to take their toll. Having used up all of their food, the men killed Marston’s dog Tiger, but the loyalist could not bring himself to eat the “poor, faithful animal”. Two days later, Mi’kmaw hunters found Marston’s crew and took them to their camp. New Year’s Day was spent resting and regaining their strength in the warmth and shelter of the Native wigwams. Marston and his men eventually reached Halifax, but not until April.

For Gilbert Dickinson of Dutchess County, New York, New Year’s Day 1784 marked the day he and a friend discussed the process of how to get compensation for his wartime losses. News had gone through Parrtown (in what would later be New Brunswick) that if the loyalist refugees hoped to receive any compensation, they needed to send their claims to England. A Mr. Hardy was sailing for England via Halifax and would take loyalist petitions with him – for the price of one guinea. Gilbert Dickinson “had no money and could not get any”, and so he despaired of ever being compensated. Fortunately for him, this New Year’s Day of dismal news was replaced by happier developments in January 1787. That was when Dickinson was able to stand before the loyalist compensation board that convened in Saint John rather than far off London.

Frederick Williams also had memories of January 1st, 1784. He had arrived in Annapolis Royal in the summer of 1783, but his wife and children were still back in Frogs Neck, New York. Given the violence that Williams had experienced during the revolution, he was anxious to bring his family to the safety of Nova Scotia.

Williams had joined the British as soon as they arrived in New York in 1776. In addition to his espionage work, he was also a captain in the Westchester Refugees Regiment. His loyalty had been costly. Rebels burned his house, and seized his ferryboat, 45 sheep, 13 oxen, 17 cows, and “a considerable number of horses”. They also took his two African slaves and their four children.

Despite the harsh treatment he suffered at the hands of his rebel neighbours, Williams was able to return to Westchester County and bring out his family. It was during the first days of January 1784 that all the Williamses arrived in Annapolis Royal, a new year’s memory that would become part of their family’s lore as long as they lived.

While the Williams family settled into their new life at Annapolis Royal, across the Bay of Fundy, Henry Nase was writing in his diary. The bachelor soldier’s entry for January first read “this day I enjoyed my self very agreeably in my solitude, having only Guy C. Coffin as a companion for the day.” It doesn’t sound like much of a New Year’s, but it was far better than what Nase had had to endure the year before.

In December of 1782, Nase was on a naval vessel headed north along the coast to New York. It was, he wrote, “the most shocking storm of wind, rain, hail etc. I ever endured at Sea and {it} continued to rage with such violence, I thought it impossible to continue above water.” His life literally flashed before his eyes as he realized that as the sea raged around him it had been six years since he joined in the fight against the rebels.

The storm abated, and on New Year’s Day of 1783, the ship finally came within sight of the Neversinks lighthouse in New Jersey; two days later it was safely anchored in New York harbour. By comparison, Nase’s first New Year’s Day in New Brunswick was “very agreeable” indeed.

As these six stories show, New Year’s Day could be a time of new beginnings, a time of reflection, a turning point – or just a time to be thankful that one was still alive.

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

Perspective: Canada’s Queen, and Canada, by JR Matheson, UE

The “Last Post” which follows below notes the life and times of John Matheson, and the many reasons why he has been highly regarded. A Loyalist, John served the UELAC for many years. Canada celebrated the Bicentennial of the arrival of the Loyalists in 1783 and 1784 during his period of service. He wrote about his perspective on our royalty, the Queen, and about Canada and its reputation in this article “The Royal Metaphor – A Servant(PDF) which was published in the June 1984 issue of the Loyalist Gazette.

‘Tis the season to Recognize Achievements

Traditionally, December seems to be a time of producing lists of achievements. Across Canada, many Branches are preparing their lists of nominees for provincial volunteer service and local recognition ceremonies. The Office of the Governor General released the Order of Canada appointments for 2013 on December 30.

In the last few days of the year, Macleans Tweeted the 2013 Parliamentarians of the Year earlier announced in November. For many UELAC members there was a sense of pride in the recognition of specific names with their connection to the Association. Top of the list would be The Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Peter Milliken UE who has served as the UELAC Honorary President since 2003 and is presently the President of the Kingston and District Branch. The London and Western Ontario Branch would take pride in recognizing the Most Congenial Award (Runner-Up) for Ed Holder UE who received his Certificate of Loyalist Lineage for Jacob Holder at the 40th Anniversary celebration in May. UELAC members who gathered at Rideau Hall in 2010 to witness HRH Queen Elizabeth II will remember how the Hon. John Baird of Ottawa West-Nepean joined them for a photo-op and declared his Loyalist lineage. He was chosen as the Best Orator. The Hon. Jason Kenney, Oakville Ontario born but representative of Calgary Southeast, later shared at the Queen’s Garden Party that he too had Loyalist lineage. He was chosen as “Most Knowledgeable Parliamentarian”. In case there is a member who feels this article is too political with the selections, mention should be made of the “Second Runner-up for Parliamentarian of the Year”, Justin Trudeau of Papineau, who could claim Loyalist lineage from Jesse Armstrong. Yes, as achievements can be more satisfying when recognized; UELAC keeps a record entitled UELAC Honours and Recognition.


Where in the World?

Where is Roger Reid?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is. If you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well – send to Jennifer Childs.

The War of 1812 and Nova Scotia’s African Heritage

The War of 1812 not only had implications for the survival of North America’s loyalist colonies, it also marked the second great wave of African migration to modern day Canada before the creation of the Underground Railway.

In 1783, as many as 8-10,000 Black Loyalists claimed the freedom granted them by the British Empire and fled the new United States. More than 3,000 of them settled in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Thirty years later, these Black Loyalists welcomed another group of former slaves to the Maritimes.

During the War of 1812, the British once again promised sanctuary and liberty to any slaves of Americans who would join their side in the conflict. This course of action was not motivated by any high humanitarian ideals; it was simply one means by which the British hoped to weaken the American economy which was in part based on slave labour.

Tactic of war or high ideal, it mattered little to the slave for regardless of its intent, the scheme meant freedom and a new home. In September 1813, one hundred and twenty blacks who had escaped their masters were sent to Nova Scotia by the British. They were just the first of many such “black refugees” who would make the long journey to Halifax over the next few years.

On April 2 and 7, 1814, the commander of the British fleet on the Atlantic coast opened the way to freedom for more blacks by making official the policy which had been common practice unofficially up to that time. Now any resident of the United States who came to a British ship or military post would be given free transportation to a British possession as well as free land on which to settle. This scheme was not designed specifically for the blacks but over 3,600 slaves responded to Britain’s offer, two thousand of whom were sent to new homes in Nova Scotia. Most of those who came to the Maritime colony were settled in the Preston and Hammonds Plains area around Halifax.

Although some of the black refugees came from Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina, the majority were from Virginia and Maryland. The slave system from which these blacks had escaped was a milder one than the Black Loyalists had known in their day. This mildness ill-prepared the refugees for the kind of work settlement in a northern colony demanded.

The Black Loyalists had been used to hard work and so they did not have as great a difficulty adapting to the rigours of their new life style in Nova Scotia. Black Loyalists often had a skill, but the refugees could do little more than simple field hand labour. The rudimentary domestic skills, crop management, and learning to live with a white neighbour were all new things which the refugee had to learn and learn quickly if he hoped to survive in his new home. The process was often a painful one.

Despite government aid, the black refugees found it extremely difficult to adapt to the demands made upon them by their new life of freedom and many became beggars and burdens on the community. By comparison with the Black Loyalists of thirty years before the refugees were a frightened, disorganized group of people ill-prepared to begin an independent life for themselves so abruptly.

John Burton, a white Baptist minister, was among those who tried to help the refugees adapt to life in Nova Scotia. Already familiar with the area and its black community, Burton was able to work closely with the government officials who had to wrestle with the countless problems the sudden immigration posed.

Recognizing Burton’s unique ability to relate to the blacks, the government put him in charge of the populations of Preston and Hammonds Plains. The religion of these blacks, no doubt, was an important factor in Burton’s sway over then as well. Virtually all the refugees were Baptists. Perhaps what was most encouraging in this period was not so much the phenomenal increase in black church members, but the beginnings of black leadership within the church.

In 1816, an escaped slave from the Virginia tobacco fields came to Halifax in search of his mother who had fled to Nova Scotia earlier with the black refugees. When he found her in the town of Preston, Richard Preston resolved to stay with his mother and “make some sort of a life in the coastal colony. Since his mother had last laid eyes on him Richard Preston had undergone a profound change. In 1815 he became a Christian, not “just a Christian”, but one who delighted in sharing his faith.

The blacks of Halifax and Preston saw “that they had a useful acquisition in their ranks,”‘ and Richard Preston was quickly put to work in the Baptist efforts among the members of his race. Despite a limited education Preston had a keen wit, a ready sense of humour and a natural gift for oratory which someday would charm congregations in England as it did the humble black refugees of Nova Scotia.

John Burton was not long in bringing Preston under his wing, teaching and assisting him, eventually producing a “great success to the cause of Christianity”. The apprenticeship pattern Burton established with Preston was to become standard procedure in the selection, training and growth of future elders among the black Baptist churches.

In time, Richard Preston became the undisputed leader of Nova Scotia’s black Baptists. By 1854, he had established the African Baptist Association which, although a religious organization, also helped its members achieve their socio-economic goals, safe-guarded their existing rights, and worked to attain the rights enjoyed by white Nova Scotians.

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

Book Review: Redcoat 1812

From the endless rush to master Canadian history in school, individuals remain faintly connected to events and characters. Now two years into the bicentennial of the War of 1812 commemorations, it is increasingly easier to see how wrong Thomas Jefferson was with his proclamation that the conflict would be a mere “matter of marching”. There are so many anecdotes and details to discover. In an effort to recreate those tumultuous years, new authors have stepped forward to provide a fresh view of the period and the people affected by the war. In particular, John Nixon in his novel Redcoat 1812 creates a James FitzGibbon more detailed than previously known as the officer who received the report from Laura Secord.

Readers discover James in his native Ireland shortly after he joins the 49th to fight Napoleon. From there, as if recorded in a personal journal, James shares his assignments through Holland, Lower Canada and Upper Canada well in advance of the Battle of Beaver Dams for which he is best remembered. His encounters with familiar names such as Brock, Sheaffe, Macdonell, Norton and Harvey develop a broader view of both the developing conflict and personalities known largely in history books.

In his Hamilton Spectator Book review, Jeff Mahoney was also attracted to the flow of his [Nixon’s] ” prose and his instincts around choices”. He wrote that “Nixon’s language vivifies the physical descriptions, the descriptions feed the mood, the mood feeds character and the rhythm of the action and they all coalesce to form a cohesive, deeply convincing imitation of life, as relevant now as then.” As the book jacket says, “Redcoat 1812 is an action-filled tale of leadership, valour, duty and sacrifice that blends the best elements of The Book of Negroes and The Red Badge of Courage.”

Redcoat 1812 will be added to the “Books for the Young at Heart” page in the new year. In the mean time, look for it in your local book store or library. Nixon, John Redcoat 1812, Victoria BC: Friesen Press Victoria BC 2012 (978-1-4602-0066-7 or as an eBook, 978-1-4602-0065-0)


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:
– Fraser, David – by Barry Baker, with certificate application
– Rogers 2, James – by Robert Rogers

Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact loyalist.trails@uelac.org for instructions and guidance.

Last Post: Colonel John Ross Matheson, UE (1917-2013)

UELAC acknowledges the passing of The Honourable John Ross Matheson UE on Friday December 28, 2013 in Kingston. Records clearly show that he served his country well in the armed forces, in politics, in the legal system and in the communities in which he lived. While John R. Matheson is perhaps best known for his contribution to the 1965 Canadian flag and to the development of the Order of Canada in 1967, for many members of UELAC, he is also recognized as our Honorary President serving the Association from 1991 to 2003 and earlier as an Honorary Vice-President from 1974-1991.

His involvement with UELAC, however, began many years earlier. While a member of the Sir Guy Carleton Branch in 1972, he proved his descent from the United Empire Loyalist Peter Ferguson. In 1975, John served as Branch President. His accomplishments on behalf of all Canadians, as well as members of UELAC, were recognized with the Heritage Branch UELAC presentation of the Order of Meritorious Heritage in 1977. In his retirement years, he also supported the Kingston and District Branch UELAC. His personal pride in the legacy of his United Empire Loyalist heritage continues through the many life memberships he secured for his family.

UELAC is honoured by the many contributions of Colonel John R. Matheson UE to the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada and to our country.

Further details can be found in the obituary provided by the Reid Funeral Home of Kingston, Ontario.


Family of William Kelly, son of John Kelly

William Kelly (ca 1792 – ca 1875-76), son of New Jersey Loyalist John Kelly (ca 1760 – between 4 September 1824 and 29 October 1825) and Mary Kean (ca 1771 – ca 1845), married Sarah Ann Howard (ca 1796 – between 1881 and 1891 census) on 23 March 1813 at Kingsclear, York County, New Brunswick. Sarah Ann Howard appears to be the daughter of Loyalist John Howard (ca 1770 or 1771 – 6 July 1854) and Rebecca Hayward (ca 1772 or 1774 – ?), and it has been suggested that Rebecca Hayward is the daughter of George Hayward (ca 1739 – 31 March 1799) and Ann Derley/Durley (ca 1731 – December 1806), who came from England with their infant daughter Mary Hayward (ca 1762 – ?) to New Brunswick in 1763. George Hayward and Ann Derley/Durley were married 13 April 1761 in England.

Murtie June Clark in her Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War documents that Private John Howard is listed as “prisoner with rebels” on 29 November 1779 under “Muster Roll, Lieut[enant] Colonel Stephen Delancey’s Company, Second Battalion, Brigadier General Oliver Delancey’s Brigade, Savannah, GA. . . .” (Volume III, p. 35) Clark documents that Howard remains a prisoner and is listed as such between 25 December 1783 to 24 February 1783 in the “Muster Roll, Captain Barent Roorback’s Company, First Battalion, Brigadier General Oliver Delancey’s Brigade, Little Plains. . . .” (Volume III, p. 29) (Clark, Murtie, June: Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, Copyright 1981 by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, Maryland.)

I cannot establish a paper trail from Sarah Ann Howard to John and Rebecca (Hayward) Howard, and the birth year of ca 1770 or 1771 for John Howard doesn’t seem rational if John Howard was a Loyalist.

I also cannot establish a paper trail from Rebecca (Hayward) Howard to George and Ann (Derley/Durley) Hayward.

Any help in solving this riddle would be greatly appreciated.

Darrell McBreairty, Maine

Help Wanted for Transcription

Jonathan Jones, a loyalist, was apparently the first settler of Baddeck, Cape Breton. I discovered some books (ex. Patterson’s History of Victoria County, Cape Breton) that had information about him. They discuss his wealth and how he was stripped of it after the war, when he was forced to migrate to Canada. I am currently joining a branch and applying for a loyalist certificate.

A brother was Loyalist Solomon Jones whose house is now an Ontario Heritage Trust museum.

I have copies of letters that Jonathan Jones wrote to his brother, but I’m not good at reading 18th century script writing (sample). Would someone possibly interpret his writing and transcribe it for me? I’d be willing to negotiate a stipend. Thanks in advance.

Dana Jones, MA