“Loyalist Trails” 2014-16: April 20, 2014

In this issue:
The American Revolution in Nova Scotia: The Troubles Begin, by Stephen Davidson
Confirming “Dominion” from Confederation Loyalists
Don’t Miss 2014 Annual UELAC Conference: A Great Weekend
Discharge for Francis McLean in 1764 from Seven Years War
Where in the World can Gloria Howard be?
Research Resources in Digby NS
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: Hugh Cameron Christie, Jr.


The American Revolution in Nova Scotia: The Troubles Begin, by Stephen Davidson

The histories of the loyalist era have a tendency to ignore a British North American colony that contained a majority of loyal citizens, was guarded by loyalist regiments, and provided sanctuary for loyal refugees during the American Revolution. It fended off attacks from other colonies as well as from rebels within its own borders. Some of its communities had divided allegiances; its government did all in its power to keep Natives on the side of the crown. Nova Scotia was the colony, and this is its wartime story.

Once the French colony of Acadia, Nova Scotia was a crucial corner of North America. It guarded access to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the mighty river that fed into it. It was also within striking distance of the British colonies that clung to the Atlantic coast. This strategic location made it highly prized by both the French and the English. To control Nova Scotia was to control the northern regions of the continent. Ultimately, Acadia fell into British hands, and, by 1755, the new government had expelled any French colonists who would not swear allegiance to the British crown.

Although there were five forts to ward off attacks on Nova Scotia, the government was anxious to fill the empty Acadian farmlands with loyal colonists. German and Swiss Protestants settled in the Lunenburg area. Britain also invited New Englanders to emigrate north. Some settled along the Atlantic coast between Yarmouth and Liverpool, many built homes in Cumberland County at the head of the Bay of Fundy, and others settled in the Annapolis Valley. As many as 200 Massachusetts families settled in Sunbury County, clearing land along the banks of the St. John River. In addition to these Yankee immigrants, families from Yorkshire, Scotland and Ireland crossed the ocean to make a new life for themselves in “New Scotland.”

Built as a naval fortress in 1749, Halifax was now the capital of the fourteenth colony, having replaced Annapolis Royal. It was also home to a fortified dockyard that built and repaired British naval vessels. Despite all of this activity, by 1776, Halifax had a population of only 2,000 people.

The “troubles” that began as a slow simmer came to a boil in 1775, making ripples that were felt as far north as Nova Scotia. In May, several ships arrived in Halifax, having fled “the scene of the civil war” in Boston. The colony’s government issued a ruling that anyone wishing to live in Nova Scotia had to take an oath of allegiance. By June, the colony began to fear attacks from the New England colonies. When the general assembly convened in Halifax later that month, Governor Francis Legge commended them for their “steady and uniform behaviour in your duty and allegiance to the king”. The representatives assured Legge that Nova Scotia would “ever be induced to a strict allegiance to his majesty.” Nova Scotia was determined to remain a loyal colony.

More American colonists sought refuge in Nova Scotia, bringing smallpox with them. By July, Governor Legge issued a proclamation that forbade any Nova Scotian from “corresponding with or assisting the rebels in New England.” Fearing pirate raids from New England, the colony’s townspeople received arms from Halifax. Militias prepared to “defend the country.”

In August, Nova Scotians’ worst fears were confirmed when rebels attacked Fort Frederick at the mouth of the St. John River, stealing supplies intended for Boston, and burning the fort to the ground. Immediately, the government sent the HMS Tartar and two sloops of war to patrol the mouth of the Bay of Fundy.

By October, a regiment of loyal colonists, the Royal Fencible Americans, arrived in Halifax for garrison duty. The Nova Scotia government began to grant free land to “indigent fugitives” (loyalist refugees) in that same month. In November, Legge declared martial law in Nova Scotia. Having lost their traditional New England trading partners, the loyal colonists now looked to Great Britain for their flour, pork, and butter.

By the end of 1775, Nova Scotia had become both a bastion of sea power in the battle against rebel Americans and a refuge from violence for loyal Americans. Strangers were considered spies unless they reported to local magistrates. Innkeepers were to report any unfamiliar guests. No ship could enter Halifax’s northwest arm without a special license.

Legge created the Loyal Nova Scotia Volunteers to protect Halifax from rebel attack. Out in the towns settled by New Englanders 20 years earlier, people feared that they would have to take up arms against “their friends and relations”. But despite this ambivalence about fighting fellow New Englanders, the governor described Nova Scotia as the “only settled province on the sea coasts which has preserved itself from the madness and contagion which has overspread all the other of His Majesty’s colonies.”

In January of 1776, the Glasgow, a ship carrying 255 Scottish immigrants that had been bound for New York, arrived in Halifax. Given the choice of fighting for the king or spending the remainder of the “troubles” in prison, the men join the Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment. Their commanding officer, a loyalist from Staten Island, made the Halifax citadel his headquarters.

While Nova Scotians feared the imminent attack of “rebel cruisers” all through the winter, the fact that no one had heard from Boston for six weeks began to worry officials. Rumour also had it that “treasonable associations” were beginning to form in Cumberland County (situated on today’s New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border). Militias formed in Windsor, Falmouth, Cornwallis, and Newport.

The first great evacuation of loyal Americans arrived in Halifax on March 30, 1776. 1,500 loyalists, 200 officers, and 3,000 soldiers fleeing the patriots in Boston suddenly flooded the town of 2,000 people. While some refugees found shelter in army barracks, others had to live in tents on the windy slopes of Citadel Hill.

Smallpox began to spread through Halifax, but a loyalist doctor inoculated the garrison. Not one soldier lost his life to the dread disease that eventually killed more people during the revolution than all of the fighting on the battlefield. The poorer Bostonian loyalists were forced to remain in “Nova Scarcity”, the rich bought passage to England, finding sanctuary there for the balance of the revolution.

Despite the strong military presence of both British and loyalist troops in Halifax – and despite the naval vessels that patrol its shores—Nova Scotia sheltered rebels who wanted to join the revolution. That story will be told in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

Confirming “Dominion” from Confederation Loyalists

From Loyalist Great-Grandfathers of Confederation, Part 2: “Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley … credited with suggesting that Canada be referred to as a Dominion rather than a Kingdom.”

The above indeed did ‘coin’ the usage of the phrase “. . . Dominion from Sea to Sea . . . .” – I don’t give a hoot about the dissident “historians.”

One Sunday in St Andrews NB, pre-Confederation, he (Tilley] was sitting on a stone bench, 3 blocks from his own house, in the backyard of my gggrandfather’s house (Dr Samuel Tilley GOVE – Samuel L Tilley’s first cousin – they were like brothers) reading the latter’s Psalm Book. This anecdote has been passed down in our family since then. I still have this Psalm Book, at my cottage west of Ottawa, with a book mark on the Psalm that has the phrase. While the stone bench is long gone, the house is still there, built for my gg-grandfather in 1859 and used by him and then his son, Dr Harry GOVE, until about 1920. It is now a B&B (which I will be staying in for a weekend this Summer).

Keep up the great work – very enjoyable.

…James Gove Oborne, Winnipeg

Don’t Miss 2014 Annual UELAC Conference: A Great Weekend

The “UELAC Centennial Celebration 1914 – UELAC 2014” will be hosted by Toronto Branch at the Eaton Chelsea Hotel, Toronto on June 5-8, 2014, See conference details.

Our Centennial Celebration is shaping up to be a great weekend!


– Kathie Orr on Home District Loyalists for the genealogists meeting

– Peter C Newman on his new Loyalist book

– The launch of Loyally Yours

– Todd Braisted on the New Jersey Volunteers ( a rare opportunity!)

– Lesley Anderson from Ancestry.ca

– Marian Press, Jane Macnamara, and others

AGM: make sure your vote counts!


– Discovering Mississauga’s Loyalist Past

– Walking tour of old York, bring comfortable shoes!

Dinners at Burwash Hall and the Eaton Chelsea

Entertainment by Muddy York and the concert performance of Molly of the Mohawks

A service of morning prayer at the Chapel of St. Alban the Martyr

All entertwined with OUR history!

Deadlines are fast approaching! May 6th for the special hotel price of $139. There are still rooms available, book now!

Early bird conference registration ends April 30th.

Come to one, two or all of the events to be part of the Centennial Celebrations!

…Martha Hemphill UE, Conference Chair, Toronto Branch

Discharge for Francis McLean in 1764 from Seven Years War

From Jim Morrison comes an image of a Discharge. He notes that many inhabitants in the Mohawk Valley served in the Albany County Militia during the French and Indian War. You can see it here.

Transcription [errors are mine – editor]

By John Campbell Esq. Lieut. Col. Commanding, His Majesty’s 17th Regiment of Foot.

These are to Certify that the Bearer hereof Francis McLean Private Soldier in Captain Edward Hope’s Company of the aforementioned Regiment born in Scotland, Kintyre Cambeltown Aged Forty Years by trade a black Smith, hath served honestly and faithfully in said Regiment Ten years but from a long series of Sicknesses contracted in the West Indies being Rendered infirm & incapable of further Service is hereby Discharged he having first received all just demands of Pay Clothing etc. from his Entry into said Regiment to the date of his discharge as appears by his Receipt on the back hereof.

Given under my hand & seal of the Regiment at Fort Stanwix the 1st day of May in the year 1764.

John Campbell, Lieut Col

Appeared for land in New York

To all whom it may concern.

…From Jim Morrison, forwarded by Gavin Watt

Where in the World?

Where is Hamilton Branch member Gloria Howard?

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.

Research Resources in Digby NS

the Admiral Digby Museum now has a copy of the “NS Digby County Honour Roll 1914-1919” and “NS Annapolis County Honour Roll 1914-1919” both compiled by Wayne W. Walker of all the Digby & Annapolis County WWI Veterans. Digby is a major settlement area for Loyalists, so many of these WWI participants may have been Loyalist descendants. If anyone is trying to follow their families we can help with the research.

Genealogy Department, Admiral Digby Museum

P.O. Box 1644, 95 Montague Row, Digby, NS, Canada B0V 1A0

Phone: 902-245-6322

Website: www.admuseum.ns.ca

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • April 17 is the anniversary of Queen Anne’s proclamation of the Union Flag in “Loyalist Flag” dimensions – see “The Loyalist Flag
  • Grave of British soldiers, at Concord MA. “They came three thousand miles and died / To keep the past upon its throne”
  • Marko’s obsession: to understand what exactly the soldiers who fought the British in America nearly 240 years ago wore when they were fighting.
  • Joseph Warren, as president pro tem of the second Massachusetts Provincial Congress, keeps colonial agent Arthur Lee apprised of the unstable situation in Massachusetts in early April of 1775.
  • Did our colonial-era ancestors imbibe more than we might have thought, or might wish? This authour believes so. Interesting article, and check the names of some of the drinks: Sangaree, Syllabub, Flip, Stone Fence and Rattle Skull. The ingredients will make you wonder as well.
  • Fort Fever Series Program April 27th Focuses on Highlights from Fort Ticonderoga’s World Renowned Museum Collections – a short description of some of the many items.
  • War of 1812 Legacy Council in Niagara announced its scheduled events – Chippawa, Lundy’s Lane, Fort Erie and more – for the 1814 season. Buffalo: Siege of Fort Erie to highlight War of 1812 commemoration
  • The travelling exhibit by the Canadian War Museum called “1812: One War, Four Perspectives” has now opened at the RCA Museum at Canadian Forces base Shilo, near Brandon MB
  • A beautiful sampler from the Victoria and Albert Museum, made early 19th century. The man “Dear Father” appears to be in military uniform. Do you suppose he saw duty in North America?
  • Learn more about some of the many Canadian monuments in Ottawa–Gatineau. See traditional commemorations honouring Canadians and events from the War of 1812 to firefighters in this photo montage from Heritage Canada
  • Photo: Breakfast – or is it dinner (the shadows are long, so can’t be lunch) – for a lamb at Colonial Willamsburg

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Eaman, Jacob – from Robert Memmott
– Moody, Col. James – from Rick Moody
– Ostrander, Antonius – from Ken Artlip
– Shippy (Shippey), Zebulon – from John I. Shotwell
– Snider, John – (Volunteer Sandra McNamara)

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

Last Post: Hugh Cameron Christie, Jr.

It is with deep regret that the Christie family announces the passing of Hugh Cameron Christie Jr. (Skip) in his 84th year. Skip, predeceased by his parents Ida and Hugh will be sadly missed by his brothers Alan (Carol) and Brian (Janice) and remembered for the many good times they shared at the family cottage on Kushog Lake. Nephews Ric (Laurie), J (Sheryl) and Alex (Jerika) enjoyed the stories he liked to tell at family gatherings. Skip loved his nieces Cathy and Leah (Hayato) like they were his own. In his final years, Skip delighted in watching his great-nephews Christopher, Evan, Gavin and Sean play their impromptu games of rugby in the backyard. He was quick to share stories about Kayden, Gavin and Chayse with neighbours and family. He cherished his great-nieces Beth, Emma and Erica, sharing their accomplishments with all who would listen.

Skip was an avid reader and relished the opportunity to share his love of history with others. Skip was well liked and respected by his neighbours. Their friendship and support was appreciated by Skip and his family. Interment will be in the family plot at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In remembrance, donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society and/or the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Hugh was a member of Gov. Simcoe Branch and was in the midst of applying for a loyalist certificate application as a descendant of John Green UEL who settled first in Grimsby, then in West Flamborough.

…Jo Ann Tuskin UE, Gov. Simcoe Branch (in Toronto)