“Loyalist Trails” 2014-29: July 20, 2014
In this issue:
– The Blue Laws of Connecticut – by Stephen Davidson
– Comment on A Loyalist’s Psychoanalysis
– Benjamin Becraft UEL (Part 1), by Doug Massey, UE
– Add the Lawrence Loyalist Rose to Your Garden
– Where in the World?
– Patriots / Americans Taking up the Challenge!
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
+ Response re Roles of Thomas and Guy Carleton
+ Response re Robert Gordon and Hugh McGillis
– Last Post
+ Lynne Anabel Webb, UE
+ Gilbert Peter Pearsall Purvis, UE
+ William John “Bill” Francis, UE
+ Margery Unruh Carriere
By definition, “Blue Laws” were created by the Puritan colonies in North America to prohibit commercial and recreational activities on Sunday. Their colourful name goes back to the “blue-stockings”, the supporters of England’s Puritan dictator, Oliver Cromwell. Although later used to described intellectual women, the term was originally coined to describe those who wore simple unbleached woolen stockings rather than the dyed stockings of the worldly and affluent.
The term “blue laws” was first used in a New York City newspaper in 1755 in reference to the Puritan laws of Connecticut. Twenty-six years later, the Rev. Samuel Peters used the term in his book, A General History of Connecticut. A loyalist Anglican, Thomas wrote his history to try to explain the reasons for the American Revolution and why the patriots abused the loyalists – their neighbours and relatives – so harshly.
Central to his argument was that Connecticut had a heritage in which one group was seen as being on the side of God. The godly were authorized to visit the divine wrath upon the erring minority. This tradition took on political implications after 1776 – patriots, who saw themselves as the true guardians of liberty, were therefore obligated to root out the corrupt and treasonous loyalists.
It all began, claimed Peters, with the century-old Blue Laws. Consider how the following laws could be extended from a religious situation to a political one and applied to a loyalist. (Numbering is used simply to distinguish one law from another.) 1) No one shall be a freeman, or give a vote, unless he be converted, and a member in full communion of one of the Churches allowed in this Dominion. 2) No man shall hold any office, who is not found in the faith, and faithful to this Dominion; and whoever gives a vote to such a person, shall pay a fine; for a second offence, he shall be disfranchised. 3) Each freeman shall swear by the blessed God to bear true allegiance to this Dominion, and that Jesus is the only King.
The laws for the Connecticut legislature take on a new significance if one were to think of them being applied to a rebel house of assembly: 1) The Governor and Magistrates, convened in general Assembly, are the supreme power under God of this dependent Dominion. 2) No appeal shall be made against what the assembly has determined. 3) Conspiracy against this Dominion shall be punished with death. 4) Whoever says there is a power and jurisdiction above and over this Dominion, shall suffer death and loss of property. 5) Whoever attempts to change or overturn this Dominion shall suffer death.
Here, Peters recognized, were the seeds of democratic republicanism and the beginnings of what he would have seen as “mob rule”. The success with which patriot rhetoric fired up the “lower classes” frightened loyal Americans such as Peters. They feared the “thousand tyrants” at home far more than the single tyrant on the throne of England. Throughout his Connecticut history book, Peters uses such phrases as “drunken mobs” “the pious mob then dragged him out of church”, “mad mob”, “the mob acts without law”, “the mob enraged”, and “mobs driven on by the hopes of plunder and the pleasure of domineeering over their superiors”.
The Blue Laws had no tolerance for differences in opinion, theology, or political beliefs. The liberty espoused by patriots that did not allow for the liberty of free speech can be seen “in utereo” in the following commands. Simply put “loyalist” in the place of any minority’s name (especially a non-Puritan faith), and you will see the inspiration for the patriot’s persecution of the loyalists: 1) No Quaker or dissenter from the established worship of this Dominion shall be allowed to give a vote for the election of Magistrates, or any officer. 2) No food or lodging shall be afforded to a Quaker … or other Heretic. 3) If any person turns Quaker, he shall be banished, and not suffered to return but upon pain of death. 4) No Priest shall abide in the Dominion: he shall be banished, and suffer death on his return. Priests may be seized by any one without a warrant.
While the popular punishments of making a loyalist ride on a rail or be subjected to tarring and feathering are not among the consequences in the Blue Laws, there is a severity of punishment for other crimes that would make violent persecutions justifiable to those with a Puritan heritage.
When it appears that an accused has confederates, and he refuses to discover them, he may be racked. (Imagine this applied to loyalists who help British soldiers, Hessians or fellow loyalists). A drunkard shall have a master appointed by the selectmen, who are to debar him from the liberty of buying and selling. (This sets the precedent for the community acting on behalf of the citizen who has “strayed”.) Whoever publishes a lie to the prejudice of his neighbour, shall sit in the stocks, or be whipped fifteen stripes. (Unfortunately, this did not deter patriots making up stories about their loyalist neighbours.) Whoever sets a fire in the woods, and it burns a house, shall suffer death; and persons suspected of this crime shall be imprisoned, without benefit of bail. (Destruction of property merited the same consequences as murder. A handy precedent when loyalists attacked patriot stongholds.) Adultery shall be punished with death, and Married persons must live together, or be imprisoned. (Anyone “unfaithful” or who failed to live up to “contractual obligations” as a citizen could also expect dire consequences during the revolution.)
While these laws created a worldview that made it easier for those with a Puritan heritage to rebel against a distant king and persecute nearby loyalists, there were other Blue Laws that simply made Peters’ readers shake their heads in disbelief or ridicule. Holding up to public view a patently silly law that said “No woman shall kiss her child on the Sabbath or fasting-day” mortified the patriots of Connecticut and brought down their wrath on Samuel Peters.
Read next week’s Loyalist Trails for the most embarrassing of Connecticut’s Blue Laws.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
In 1660 as a descendant of an English pioneer who moved his family location from Devonshire, England, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and in 1775 as a New Hampshire Quaker family in Unity, New Hampshire, at the time of the Revolution before coming to Crown Point, New York, in the first decade of the 1800s, I find the remarks in “A Loyalist’s Psychoanalysis of Connecticut’s Rebels” about the Puritan descendants in Connecticut to be very interesting — and very believable.
b. 1758, Schoharie, New York Province
d. 1800-01, Ancaster Twp, OC 24 Feb 1801
m. Elizabeth Westbrook, 1790-92
Anne, OC 23 Nov. 1816
James of the Grand River, OC 23 Nov. 1816
Sara, OC 25 Feb. 1819
Anthony of Fairchild Creek, OC 2 Oct., 1822
On April 19, 1799, Benjamin Becraft did something very much out of the ordinary: Ill with an intestinal complaint, he went to see a doctor. That physician was most likely Dr. Oliver Tiffany. Written in a patient ledger ascribed to Tiffany, and opposite Benjamin’s name, is evidence of the medicine prescribed – “worm pills No. 2″. Dr. Tiffany was a legend at the Head-Of-The-Lake in the early Nineteenth Century, but it is doubtful that his prescription did the trick. Benjamin died within the next two years at the age of 42. Surely Ben could have expected to live longer than this, given that his own father, William Becraft lived to be 100, and his half-brother, Francis, lived to 90. Why did Benjamin die so young? Arguably, his intestinal complaint was part of something broader: He was a victim of the “skulking war”, that cruel, exhausting, barbarous, unknown part of the American Revolution that he had fought, and which shortened his life.
Ben should have lived out his days in Blenheim, a town in the Schoharie Valley, New York Province. Life would have been good there. But revolution came to the Schoharie settlement in earnest in 1777, and life for Benjamin was to take an ugly turn. He lost all because he remained loyal to George III. Nine years later he was a refugee at Fort Niagara and destitute. We find his name on the “Old U.E. List” – “Benjamin Begraft, Beacraft – S.G. Corpl. Becraft, Indian Dept. single P.L.N., Niagara, stamped book”. Amazingly, in one entry, the clerk managed to spell his name three different ways! Most likely Ben could neither read or write and so was unable to correct the mistake. It must have been very hard to start all over again. But like so many other loyalists, he would manage it, settling on 200 acres in the Home District (Ancaster Township, Lot 11, Concession 2).
It could have gone very differently had the British action of 1777 under Burgoyne, Clinton and St. Leger succeeded. The plan was for General Clinton to move up the Hudson River from New York City, General Burgoyne to pinch south from Crown Point and Lt. Col. St. Leger, based at Oswego, to take Fort Stanwix. The three forces would crush American opposition and meet at Albany, New York and so cut off the New England colonies from those of the centre and south. In the Schoharie region, matters quickly moved towards violence.
In May of 1777, independent statehood for New York was about to become a reality. Loyalists viewed this as highly illegal and started to demonstrate more openly about their sentiments. In response, patriot hardliners stepped up operations against “Tories”. Pushed hard, many loyalists were radicalized. In June, Joseph Brant ordered Adam Crysler of Breakabeen to organize the Schoharie Mohawks and loyalists in order to support Burgoyne, Clinton and St Leger. Since Blenheim was just a matter of miles away from Breakabeen, Crysler either knew, or knew of Benjamin Becraft. Undoubtedly, Ben was part of the contingent of 70 loyalists who took up arms with Crysler and the Schoharie Mohawks in the summer of 1777. But things did not go as planned. The three British forces never met, did not take Albany, and in the Schoharie Valley, the wider loyalist uprising was thwarted. Cyrsler’s force was dispersed after the “Battle of the Flockey” on August 13. However, the Schoharie loyalists were not beaten. Benjamin “fled to Canada” in 1777, like many of his loyalist neighbours, only to return repeatedly to destroy crops, and terrorize his former patriot neighbours.
1. “Ledger of an early doctor of Barton and Ancaster 1798 – 1801”, The Buchanan papers, p. 929 – 1112, Hamilton Public Library Special Collections.
2. The German name for the flats, level land on either side of Schoharie Creek, was “die Flache”, that then came to be known in English as The Flockey
…Doug Massey, UE, Hamilton Branch
Mary F. Williamson UE of Toronto and Gov. Simcoe Branches has more than one of the Lawrence Loyalist Roses in her garden.
The story of the Lawrence Loyalist Rose and how Mary came by it is quite fascinating. You can read more about it here (PDF).
She has agreed to make one – a “three-year old cutting” – available for sale and will donate the $25 proceeds to the Association. The buyer must pick up the rose by arrangement directly with Mary; contact details are in the description.
Where are Colin and Robert Heath?
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.
In last Sunday’s “Loyalist Trails” With recipients across North America, the following appeared. “Loyalist Commanding British Forces: Burning the White House and Plattsburgh”. A life member of the Toronto Branch, United Empire Loyalist Assoc. of Canada, since 1984, is an ardent re-enactor, Major David G. Moore, UE, Canadian Regiment of Fencible Infantry (1809-1816) and King’s Royal Regiment of New York (1776-1784) carries his loyalist military heritage proudly, right into the field of action. Although he will participate in many historical scenes this year, he notes two particular events in which he will be commanding the British forces, that of burning the White House and at the Battle of Plattsburgh.
The editor of the Loyalist Trails extends congratulations to David – lay it on them. Craig Russell will be in command of the American Forces. He needs our support.
…G. William Glidden, Major (NYARNG Ret.)
- On July 22, Chilliwack Branch UELAC will celebrate the third annual Loyalist Day in BC with a flag-raising ceremony at City Hall.
- On August 12 in Winnipeg, a Memorial Garden to honour the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada 100 year anniversary will be unveiled by the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba Philip Lee.
- In the days following the April 19, 1775 Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Battle Road, Joseph Warren and Governor General Gage agreed to an understanding to allow patriots to leave besieged Boston. This time Gage outwits Warren.
- While King George III, in Britain, was being portrayed – more like an old gentleman than a king – like this,some portrayed George Washington like this.
- Almost all of our Canadian built heritage is more recent than the Loyalist era but we continue to lose for various reasons more of that which we do have each year. Heritage Canada The National Trust has released its 2014 list of Worst Losses.
- As part of its mission to raise awareness of the value that historic places bring to quality of life, local identity and cultural vitality and in trying to preserve what we do have, Heritage Canada The National Trust has released its 2014 Top Ten Endangered Places List to draw attention to historic places in Canada that are threatened.
- Following a recent announcement of his successor, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario David C Onley UE and Her Honour Ruth Ann Onley UE thanked artist Juan Martinez, whose portrait of His Honour was unveiled at a special dinner hosted by the Premier of Ontario. In the portarit His Honour is dressed in his uniform as Colonel of The Queen’s York Rangers (1st American Regiment), a successor to the Queen’s Rangers which was commanded for part of the American Revolution by John Graves Simcoe, who later became the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, now Ontario.
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Brown, Gasper – from Richard Hedegard (volunteer Stephen Botsford), with certificate application
– Hughson, George – from Patricia Brown (volunteer Linda McClelland)
– Miller, Garrett – from Aurelie Stirling (Volunteer Sandra McNamara)
– Shippy (Shippey), Zebulon – from John I. Shotwell
– Willcox, Elisha Sr. – from Richard Hedegard (volunteer Stephen Botsford)
Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact email@example.com for instructions and guidance.
Lawrence Hill writes a great novel – and it’s easy in the midst of so much adventure and so many people to get one name wrong. It was Sir Guy Carleton who was in charge (reluctantly) of evacuating British troops and loyalists (both white and black). His brother Thomas became the governor of the world’s first loyalist refugee colony, New Brunswick, in 1784.
Yours in sunny Nova Scotia,
Response re Robert Gordon and Hugh McGillis
[Answering a letter, hence no link to the query in the online archive – ed.]
I refer you to this book – The History and Master Roll of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York, by Ernest A. Cruikshank & Gavin K. Watt. The book was published by, and is available for, $74.95 + postage from Global Genealogy at 158 Laurier Ave., Milton, Ontario L9T 4S2. It will give you a very complete history of the regiment and has a detailed listing of all the men who served and where they settled after the war. From your letter, I suspect the following individual is of particular interest to you.
Robert Gordon was born in 1744 in Ireland (whether in Ulster or Eire is not known). Before the war, he lived in Albany, New York and earned his living as an Inn Keeper. He enlisted in the Royal Yorkers (KRRNY) on July 24, 1777 and served in the 1st battalion as a sergeant. He served until disbandment in December 1783 in Captain Alexander McDonell’s Company. In October 1784, he was settled at Royal Township No.1 (just east of Cornwall, Ontario) with a woman and a boy under ten.
Reverend Bethune’s Presbyterian baptismal records indicate that Robert’s wife’s name was Elizabeth Emery. Bethune baptized four of their children: three daughters named Elizabeth, Jane and Susannah, and a son, Robert. It is unknown if the boy who settled with them in 1784 was Robert or not.
Robert Sr.’s trade/employment after settlement is unknown.
As to your question about whether the regiment’s men were Scottish – about 29% of the men were born in Scotland and 12% were born in Ireland. Of course, many of the Irish-born men were possibly of Scottish extraction. As well, 59% of the men had been born in America and many of those could have had Scottish parents. Eight of seventeen captains of the 1st battalion were Scots. Fifteen of the forty-five men who served as sergeants in the 1st battalion were born in Scotland.
Sir John Johnson was an American-born baronet and the second richest man in America before the Revolution. His primary business interest was land speculation and he owned some 50,000 acres in New York. Of course, he lost everything because he remained loyal to the Crown. He was awarded a great deal of property in Canada after war, but nothing really compensated for his losses. Sir John owned several grist mills in New York before the war and no doubt several saw mills as well. He very likely continued with these interests in Canada.
I have not been able to find any record of Hugh McGillis in the Royal Yorkers or the Glengarry Light Infantry. There were three men named McGillis who served in the Royal Yorkers. Their names were Daniel, Donald, and Donald Jr. No men named McGillis served in the Glengarries; however, a Thomas Gordon enlisted in that regiment on November 19, 1812 at the Prescott depot and was later killed in action. How or if he was related to Robert is unknown.
If you wish to find more information about the Glengarries, I refer you to:
Winston Johnston, The Glengarry Light Infantry, 1812-1816: who were they and what did they do in the war? (self published, 1998)
There’s one last useful source which gives names of those who served in the War of 1812. This book deals only with militia units and volunteer units drawn from the militia. Consequently, neither the Glengarry Fencibles nor the Canadian Regiment of Fencible Infantry is included, as both of these are considered Regular regiments. The book is: William Melville Gray, Soldiers of the King – The Upper Canadian Militia 1812-1815. A Reference Guide (Erin, ON: Boston Mills Press, 1995)
I am listing McGillis’s and Gordons who served in militia battalions in Eastern Upper Canada – the Old Eastern District as it was known.
Dealing with McGillis’s first –
McGillies (a frequent spelling variant), Donald, 1st Glengarry Battalion, Eastern District. He was a lieutenant commissioned in 1804 and appointed captain on February 22, 1813.
McGillies, Alexander, 1st Glengarry Battalion, Eastern District. A lieutenant commissioned February 22, 1813.
McGillis, Duncan, 2nd Flank Company, 1st Glengarry Battalion, Eastern District. A Private soldier.
McGillis, John, 3rd Flank Company, 1st Glengarry Battalion, Eastern District. A Private soldier.
A John McGillis is also listed twice in the 2nd Flank Company, 2nd Glengarry.
McGillis, Donald, 3rd Flank Company, 1st Glengarry Battalion, Eastern District. A Private.
A Donald McGillis is also recorded in the 2nd Flank Company, 2nd Glengarry.
McGillis, Angus, 1st Flank Company, 2nd Glengarry Battalion, Eastern District. A Private.
An Angus McGillis is also recorded twice in the 2nd Flank Company, 2nd Glengarry.
McGillis, William, 1st Flank Company, 2nd Glengarry Battalion, Eastern District. A Private.
McGillis, Finlay, 2nd Flank Company, 2nd Glengarry.
McGillis, Donald, 2nd Flank Company, 1st Stormont Battalion. A Private.
McGillis, Angus, 2nd Flank Company, 1st Stormont Battalion. A Private.
In many cases, these various McGillis’s may be the same man moving from one company, or battalion, or county to another. It would take a great deal of research to determine that.
Now for the Gordons –
Gordon, Thomas, 1st & 2nd Flank Companies, 1st Leeds Battalion. A Private.
Gordon, Abraham, 1st & 2nd Flank Companies, 1st Leeds Battalion. A Private.
I hope this has been helpful.
…Gavin K. Watt HVP UELAC
Died July 11, 2014 at the age of 68 following complications from diabetes. Lynne was born in Windsor, Ontario on March 4, 1946, the daughter of the late Oliver Alan Myers Webb and his wife, the late Annie Pearl Cady. She is survived by her husband, Gary Bagley; her sister Belva Webb (Richard Burman), her nieces Elizabeth and Annalisa Webb Burman; her brother-in-law Don Bagley (Shirley), sister-in-law Shirley Johnston (the late Ron), and many Bagley nieces, nephews and grand-nieces and nephews.
Lynne earned her Honours B.A. and B.Ed from Queen’s University and began teaching in Atikokan, Ont. After her marriage, she moved to Ottawa and worked at Revenue Canada for the rest of her career. She continued her pursuit of learning, earning an M.A. in French literature and a CGA designation. Her love of education and desire to encourage it in others can be seen in the bursary she set up at Queen’s in honour of her father.
She travelled the world with her husband and took her then-teenage sister on her first trip to Europe. Having no children of her own, she was a loving and doting aunt to her Burman nieces, and was unfailingly kind and hospitable to a wide circle of friends, relatives and acquaintances.
Lynne and her husband shared a keen interest in genealogy, and Lynne was especially proud to discover that she was both a Mayflower and a United Empire Loyalist descendant, and was active in both societies. She also enjoyed attending several family association meetings, especially the Hathaway and Misener annual get-togethers.
A celebration of Lynne’s life will be held on July 19 from 11a.m. to 2 p.m., at The Good Companions Seniors’ Centre, 670 Albert St. Ottawa: a time to share stories and reminiscences about Lynne and the precious years we spent in her company. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada or the Oliver Alan Myers Webb Bursary at Queen’s University would be appreciated.
With sincere thanks to the nurses and doctors of the ICU unit at Queensway-Carleton Hospital for their sensitive and compassionate care.
Lynne was a member of the Sir Guy Carleton Branch UELAC. She joined the executive in 2004 and served as Vice President, Secretary and latterly as President. She is a descendant of loyalists Jacob Glover and Johann Matthias Boughner.
Lynne’s Mayflower ancestors were Richard Warren and Francis Cooke. She was on the board of the Canadian Society of Mayflower Descendants for about 10 years, with the last four years as Treasurer.
Monday, June 30 2014, peacefully at his home with Heather by his side in his one hundredth and second year. Born 21 January 1913, Gilbert was the son of Stanley Aylsworth and Lula Gertrude Purvis. Predeceased by beloved wife Kathleen and sisters Selma, Edna and Hildred. Dad to Heather and David; Grandfather to Kirsten (David M) and Tor (Laura) and Great to Anna and Jack. Survived by many 15 nieces and nephews. Will be sadly missed by friends Effie, Shirley, Elgon and Ken (brothers and sisters in law) as well as Mary and Bruce.
At Gilbert’s request, cremation has taken place with Interment at the Cobourg Union Cemetery. If desired, donations may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society, or a charity of your choice in memory of Kaye and Gilbert. Condolences and donations received at www.MacCoubrey.com.
…Lynne Cook UE
“To Dream The Impossible Dream”. Bill passed away peacefully in Ottawa on the 12th of July 2014 at the age of 78. Beloved husband of Gail Aldus for 58 years and loving father of their five children; Brent (Lucia), Darrell (Erin), Janet (Angus MacDonald), Matthew and Daniel (Ronalda). Survived by nine grandchildren; his sister Doris Rose (late Ivan), brother Reginald (Lyn), and he was predeceased by his brother Hugh (late Lois). Dear brother-in-law of Dave Aldus (Eleanor) Peterborough.
Bill began working with his father H.G. Francis in 1953, selling and servicing home comfort products, eventually taking over the business and growing it to become one of the largest independent firms in the petroleum, heating and air conditioning industry in Canada.
The family will receive friends at the Garden Chapel of Tubman Funeral Homes Monday and Tuesday, July 14th & 15th; Funeral Service at Bethany Baptist Church on Wednesday, July 16th at 10:30. Interment Pinecrest Cemetery. Donations to the Kidney Foundation or the Canadian Diabetes Association would be appreciated. Condolences, tributes or donations may be made at www.tubmanfuneralhomes.com.
Bill has Reached the Unreachable Star.
Beloved wife of Carl Carriere passed away peacefully on Monday, July 14th 2014. She is also survived by daughters Laura, Lisa and Jacqueline, several grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Marge was a proud member of Colonel John Butler (Niagara) Branch. She really enjoyed the meetings and said she just loved everyone she met there. Marge and Carl shared a keen interest in family history and Marge was especially excited to find many Loyalist ancestors for Carl and his extended family and Loyalist and Mayflower ancestors for her daughters. Her bubbly enthusiasm will be missed by all who knew her.
…Lisa MacGregor & Bev Craig, Col. John Butler Branch