“Loyalist Trails” 2014-11: March 16, 2014

In this issue:
Frontline Reporting in Loyalist Newspapers: 1780 – by Stephen Davidson
Book: Loyalist Refugees: Non-Military Refugees in Quebec, 1776-1784
UELAC [ON] Licence Plates and Spring
Where in the World can Bonnie, Pat and Barb be?
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Editor’s Comment
      + Relationships: John, Jacob and Hannah Holder


Frontline Reporting in Loyalist Newspapers: 1780 – by Stephen Davidson

The American Revolution was, in fact, the first of two civil wars that would divide the people who became citizens of the United States of America. This fratricide was especially evident in the colonies of New York and New Jersey, both of which had sizeable loyalist populations. While lost to popular history, the stories of the war from the loyal American perspective may be found in the loyalist newspapers of the era. Here are just some of stories that can be found in the pages of newspapers from 1780.

Much of the news gathered during the revolution came from eyewitness reports. “A Jersey Loyalist” wrote a story for the Royal Gazette in March. Not wanting to” see such “savage acts” repeated in the future, he felt that he had to describe the “barbarity exercised by Joseph Hedden of Newark, New Jersey. Three years previously, the latter had issued a mandate “to banish a helpless woman and children, for no crime, except her husband being a friend to his Majesty’s government, and accordingly sent a rebel guard to execute his order; who, when they came to the house of the disconsolate woman, (six miles from Newark) found her very weak, and unable to travel, having been delivered of twins about fourteen days, which excited so much compassion in the guard as to cause them to forego their orders and return without the woman, which only produced a new and absolute decree from Hedden to bring her at all hazards to Newark, and from thence to be sent to Bergen, and when the rebel captain remonstrated to Hedden that executing his order would be the death of the woman. Hedden replied, Let her die there will be one damn’d Tory less; and accordingly the guard was sent the second time and brought her and her children in a wagon to Newark, although she fainted, (through weakness) on the wagon; when the woman arrived at Newark her deplorable case drew tears even from the eyes of rebels; and the kind offices of some friends of her sex enabled her the next day to go through the last stage of her journey to Bergen, where, (soon after) her death, and the death of her two innocent babes, closed the dismal tragedy.”

Stories of atrocities were balanced by stories of the triumphs of loyalist combatants (often referred to as “refugees”). “One of the most gallant Privateering Exploits has been lately performed by eleven determined refugee sailors . . . that perhaps has happened during the present or any preceding war. These brave fellows having all been severely persecuted and repeatedly stripped of their properties by the rebels, found themselves reduced to circumstances detested by generous soaring minds, to remedy which they unanimously resolved to balance accounts with the authors of their misfortunes, or perish in the attempt.

Last Monday . . . they embarked in a whale-boat, named the Lewis-Town-Revenge, Wilby, commander; armed with a swivel gun in her bow, eleven muskets and eleven pair of pistols. They passed Sandy Hook and proceeded to Egg Harbour in the Jersies, where they found three privateers ready for Sea, and a 12-gun letter of marque schooner laden with lumber.

Their number being inadequate to the force collected there, they pretended to be rebels, and spent an evening with those who were really such in the most social manner. From thence they sailed to. . . Morris’s River {where} they captured a loaded vessel, after which they stood for Reedy Island, and alternately fell in with nine sail of vessels outward bound, eight of which they burned, and took one; they also made prize of three vessels carrying produce up to Philadelphia. During their cruise, they discharged between fifty and sixty rebel prisoners, after exacting a parole that a British subject should be exchanged for each of them.

Last Tuesday morning they brought in three of their prizes, one, in which were two of the associated adventurers, they had the mortification to see retaken by whale boats off Cape May, when the lightness of the wind prevented assistance being given. The other is reported to have arrived at the Hook yesterday. Those who have arrived were also attacked off Cape May, but repulsed the assailants in doing which, one of the heroes received a wound in his arm by a splinter.”

The persecution by rebels outraged loyalists. On July first, loyalists formed a Committee of Retaliation in New Jersey’s Monmouth County. This was in response to the fact that while rebel prisoners were “genteely lodged, entertained and protected” by their captors, “the King’s Loyal Subjects, merely for a conscientious adherence to their principles, have been to the everlasting infamy of a rebel legislature, condemned at mock tribunals, tortured and ignominiously put to death; and hitherto not one single instance of retaliation has been attempted upon the monstrous actors in these horrid Tragedies.”

The committee’s formation did not deter the rebels’ treatment of loyal Americans. Three weeks later an eye-witness told the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury “However, savage the Idea, and strange to tell, it is not the less true that during the Attack the Rebels made on the Refugees on Friday, they stripped all their killed except a Few that lay near the Works, as naked as they came into the World, and threw 10 or 12 of the Bodies down the Rocks towards the River, nor did they leave one wounded Man but such as were quite dead.”

Civil wars are the most vindictive, a fact readily borne out by the incidents reported in the loyalist newspapers of 1780. Little wonder, then, that patriots were unwilling to forgive their loyalist neighbours –or that thousands of loyal Americans felt they could never return to their homes– at the end of the War of Independence.

To read more loyalist newspapers, see “Extracts from American Newspapers Relating to New Jersey” found at archive.org.

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

Book: Loyalist Refugees: Non-Military Refugees in Quebec, 1776-1784

(by Gavin K. Watt) To my knowledge, the creation of a master list of non-military loyalist refugees who sheltered in lower Quebec between 1775 and 1784 has not been attempted before. In contrast, there have been several studies of the fighting men. But, what of the wives, mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters, brothers and children of the fighting men who were compelled to take refuge in lower Quebec during the war? What of the soldiers who grew too old to continue in service, or lost the use of a limb by accident or enemy action?

This new book by our UELAC Honorary Vice-President will be available from Global Genealogy. Rick Roberts advises that the book should be in stock by May. It will likely only be available through his on-line store.

Read more details (PDF).

UELAC [ON] Licence Plates and Spring

Now that St. Patrick’s Day is here, can Spring be finally coming to Ontario? While some may look for robins or snowdrops in the garden, I will be looking for those special UELAC Ontario licence plates in parking lots and on the highways across the province. If you have been holding back, there is still a dwindling supply left to show your support of The United Empire Loyalists’ Association as it celebrates 100 years. It is not too late to give a gift that counts. For further details and the application form go to UELAC Projects.


Where in the World?

Where are Bonnie, Pat and Barb? And who are they with?

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.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

Editor’s Comment

I have been rather preoccupied with work the last few weeks, which makes it hard to do extra Loyalist things such as posting to the Loyalist Directory. Our annual conference – 500 people, 30+ sessions in three streams with over 60 participants, 30+ exhibitors – runs Monday afternoon and Tuesday all day here in Toronto. I am looking forward to about two weeks sleep when it is over.



Relationships: John, Jacob and Hannah Holder

Last week, I received a query from a descendant of Hannah Holder (sister of Jacob Holder in Delaware). He was wondering whether the John Holder from Pennsylvania in the Loyalist Directory is the same John the father of Loyalist Jacob Holder from Pennsylvania.

The Genealogist for the New Brunswick Branch shared the following information: “Jacob Holder and John Holder are both Loyalists, but I have no idea if they were related. Both came from Pennsylvania, but Jacob served with the Bucks County Volunteers whereas John served with Delancey’s Brigade. Both received grants in Parrtown, but Jacob eventually settled in Kingston, NB, whereas John move to the Washademoak in Queen’s County NB.”

If you can help solve this problem, please contact public.relations@uelac.org.