“Loyalist Trails” 2014-33: August 17, 2014

In this issue:
A Loyalist’s Son Goes to School: Part Two, by Stephen Davidson
Right Church, Wrong Pew: Samuel not Thomas
Benjamin Becraft UEL (Part 5), by Doug Massey
Celebrating Evelyn Denton, UE – Age 105, Nova Scotia Branch
Nova Scotia’s First Multi-Racial Refugees: The Loyalists, by Brian McConnell, UE
King’s Royal Yorkers Identified; So is the Place
St. Lawrence Branch: New Website
Where in the World?
Loyalist Symposium in South Carolina
Loyalists and The War of 1812: Isaiah Cain
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory


A Loyalist’s Son Goes to School: Part Two, by Stephen Davidson

My dear Mama,

I love you dearly. How I shall long to see you when I get to England. I shall never forget you my dear Mama. I shall sail next week in the ship Sally — all my things are pack’d up. Papa has bought me a charming chest and Grandmama is to bake me a whole parcel of gingerbread and pyes, and they are to be put in the chest and my servant is to keep the key.

The Gentlemen will all be kind to me, and I shall be very comfortable. I wrote you last night and so I have nothing more to say — only my love to Pop and Tom, & little Pen & Kitty James.

I am, dear Mama,

Your loving & faithful son,

Daniel Murray Winslow

(The signature was made by a boy’s hand on the quill, guided by his father.)

It was Saturday, September 25, 1784. Murray Winslow was just seven years old. His father, a Mayflower descendant, was Edward Winslow. The latter had been one of the strongest proponents for the creation of the new loyalist colony of New Brunswick. But the job before him required even more resolve. In a few days’ time, he would have to put his son on a ship bound for England to receive a proper British education.

That Murray was a high-spirited boy is evident in the series of letters that Winslow wrote to his wife Mary. “Miss Kitty Taylor (who is one of the most amiable girls in the whole world and is vastly fond of Murray) has been for an hour almost, endeavouring to prevail on Murray to kiss her, which he has steadily refused; at last under a pretense of whispering to him, she has given him a very loud smack.

“0h, hang it,” says Murray, “Tis not so bad as I thought it was, now you may kiss me as much as you have a mind to.” The whole company are now in a roar laughing at him, Marston among the rest, whose fondness for Murray has made him dearer to me than ever. Murray is with him half the day and he is constantly collecting nuts, apples, &c, for him.”

Finally, on Tuesday, October 5, 1784, Murray boarded the Sally in the company of newly hired servant and three of his father’s friends to begin his trip across the Atlantic. Twenty-five days later, the young Winslow’s English adventures began with his safe arrival at “the Downs.”

Thomas Coffin, a friend of the Winslows who lived in London, wrote to Murray’s father on December 2nd to say that the boy had safely arrived in London where he had stayed at the home of Frederick Geyer for a week or ten days before starting school. The English couple rigged him out in “a new suit of clothes, with hat, stockings, etc.” Murray then went to the Cheshurst School, “and though among perfect strangers, behaved very manfully.” Coffin assured the loyalist couple that, with the Christmas holidays beginning soon, Murray would be returning to the Geyers’ home where he would “receive every sort of attention and care.”

The boy’s Christmas stay with the Geyser family may not have gone so well. Remember Murray’s high spirits? How his own father called him a “varlet”, a “rascal” and a “vagabond”? Apparently Mrs. Geyer saw more of this side of Murray than she wanted, for when the summer break of 1785 rolled around, she did not invite him to spend his return to her home.

In a letter to another loyalist, Coffin confided that “It not being convenient to Mrs. Geyer to have Murray home all the Holidays, as her family is so large of itself, he remained a fortnight at school… {Edward} I hope will not think that there was any inattention to the boy, but he really is so riotous, and her own boys and girls so numerous, that she could do no otherways.

He is a fine spirited boy and will I dare say do well, but he must be looked after and kept within bounds. His mother’s indulgences. . . — if he had not been removed as he was– have made it a very difficult business’ to manage him.”

The rest of Murray Winslow’s academic career is a mystery; it may have included naval training, given the circumstances of his death. By age 37, the loyalist’s son was in Upper Canada as a combatant in the War of 1812. Murray Winslow was a member of the crew of the Detroit, the 490-ton flagship of Captain Robert Barclay. Perhaps he never outgrew his youthful high spirits; they may have predisposed him for a sailor’s life rather than the more serious legal professions chosen by his father and brothers.

Murray’s younger brother, J. F. Wentworth Winslow, also fought in the War of 1812. He was the adjutant on the staff of General Pearson and a volunteer in the 104th Regiment. Whether the two Winslow brothers ever met one another in Upper Canada during the war is unknown.

On September 10, 1814, nine American vessels attacked, defeated and captured six belonging to the British Navy including Barclay’s ship. This victory, one of the largest naval battles of the War of 1812, gave the Americans control of Lake Erie for the duration of the war. Among the 41 British sailors who were killed that day was Murray Winslow.

A friend had once assured Mary Winslow that sending her seven year-old son to England for his education was a wise decision. “She will in the end be thankful for it, as the want of the advantages resulting from it we have every reason to believe could never be compensated.”

In the end, it was not the dangers of the Atlantic Ocean that claimed Murray; it was a battle on Lake Erie. What, indeed, had been the “advantages” of his English education?


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

Right Church, Wrong Pew: Samuel not Thomas

Sometimes there are just too many loyalists running around in a historian’s head. The recent Loyalist Trails series on the History of Connecticut is a prime example. I have a special interest in the Black Loyalists, a group that includes Thomas Peters, a founder of Sierra Leone. I also do research into the Jarvis and Dibblee families, an extended clan that includes the Anglican minister, the Rev. Samuel Peters. Somehow in typing up my series of articles on Connecticut’s history, Samuel Peters’ name got rendered as Thomas Peters. A senior’s moment to be sure! While readers’ past newsletters will contain that error for all eternity, the archived versions of Loyalist Trails newsletters have been corrected to give credit where credit is due: to the Rev. Samuel Peters. I appreciate Canon David G.P. Ricketts’s sharp eye in catching my “typo.”

…Stephen Davidson

Benjamin Becraft UEL (Part 5), by Doug Massey

In the year 1779, there was a hiatus in the raids into the Schoharie Valley. The Americans were gearing up for a huge retaliatory raid on the Haudenosaunee, and Brant sought to disrupt this plan as best he could. On July 20th, Brant attacked the Minisink settlement south of the Schoharie Valley with 60 warriors and 27 white loyalists. Benjamin may have been part of a larger body that waited behind at what was called Grassy Ford. But his future father-in-law Anthony Westbrook, and his future brother-in-law Alexander Westbrook were definitely part of the attack on Minisink, as they lived in that area. Was Benjamin part of the destruction of the Goshen militia at the Battle of the Delaware the next day, on the 21st? There is no documentation that places him there. Then on the 29th of August, Brant and many others from Fort Niagara were at the Battle of Newton where they were greatly outnumbered by Sullivan’s forces, fought well but had to retreat. There is a very good chance that Benjamin was there in the battle, but again no proof.

This drought of historical details on Benjamin becomes a flash flood of information in the contemporary pamphlet “The Captivity and Sufferings of General Freegift Patchin”. In this small tract, Patchin provides an intriguing, first hand account of an April 7, 1780 raid on Harpersfield by Brant, his “Indians” and volunteers where they overwhelmed fourteen, patriot militiamen lead by Captain Alexander Harper. Patchin, a young militiamen in the group, gives us a most interesting account of Brant Volunteer fighting style:

So silent had been the approach of the enemy, that three of our number lay weltering in their blood, before I, or any of the rest, knew they were among us. . .(15)

Blindsided, the patriots had been taken by a group of men who were on the point of starvation, who had walked over three hundred miles from Niagara, through deep snow, to carry the war to their enemies. Harper’s group had been blissfully collecting maple sap. Brant’s men, having used up all their provisions in the journey, “devoured with the rapacity of cannibals” the maple sap Harper’s party had collected. (16)

The captives, says Patchin, were placed in a hog pen for safekeeping, and “a guard of tories, with one Becraft by name at their head was set over them in the pen”. Patchin continues:

All night Brant and his warriors, with the tories, were in consultation whether the prisoners should be put to death, or taken alive to Niagara. . ..And added to this, the sentry, the bloody Becraft. . .would every now and then cry out to us, ‘You will all be in hell before morning’. (17)

Finally it was decided that the prisoners should be kept alive, and forced to accompany the party back the three hundred miles to Niagara. And so began a twenty-two day trek of horror, which included rafting down the Susquehanna River, and gruelling overland marches through snow that was up to their waists. (18) Interestingly enough, the captives were allowed the same food allotment as their captors, two handfuls of corn a day. Each corn kernel was counted so that all got exactly the same. Grudgingly, Patchin had to admit, “in this respect Brant was just and kind”. (19) But the corn ran out long before they returned to Niagara and they were on the point of starvation when they came upon the carcass of a horse that had died during the winter and lay frozen in the snow. Wolves had devoured the exposed side of the animal but could not get to the other side. This, the party seized upon, rejoicing as at the finding of “hidden treasure”. (20) All parts of the horse were consumed, bones, head and hoofs, and again “equally divided among the whole”.


15. Josiah Priest, “The Captivity and Sufferings of General Freegift Patchin”, Tarrytown N.Y., reprinted W Abbatt, 1918, pg. 286

16. Ibid., pg. 289

17. Ibid., pg. 286

18. See accompanying map of New York State for the details of the return trip to Fort Niagara

19. Josiah Priest, op. cit., pg. 292

20. Ibid., pg. 295

Doug Massey, UE, Hamilton Branch

Celebrating Evelyn Denton, UE – Age 105, Nova Scotia Branch

As part of our UEL Centennial year celebrations, on August 12, 2014 Marian Munroe, my husband Roy and I visited Evelyn Denton UE to present her with a certificate from the United Empire Loyalists’ Association in recognition of her being the oldest member of the Nova Scotia Branch. Photo: Marian Munroe, Alma Hayward UE and Evelyn.

Evelyn now lives in a nursing home in Halifax. She was born Evelyn Natalie Powell in Aulac, N.B. on November 12, 1908 which makes her 105 years old. She remembers her childhood growing up in Amherst, N.S. where her father was station master. She told us about her family sitting around the table for lunch one day when her father’s telegraph key sounded in the next room. When he returned from taking the message his face was ashen as he announced to his family that Canada was at war with Germany. The date was August 4, 1914. She told us about her whole family contracting the Spanish Flu in 1918 and that they all recovered from this devastating disease. Photo (very small, taken about the beginning of WWI: Evelyn (the younger one in front), her sister Dorothy and parents Mabel and Leonard Powell.

She married Harvey Denton, a Baptist minister, in 1930 and raised three children. She started a degree at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. when she graduated from high school. However, she became ill with tuberculosis in her second year and had to drop out. After Harvey’s death in 1965 she studied at the Ontario Teachers College and got her teaching license. She taught for 15 years and in 1969 at the age of 61 she finally completed her degree at Acadia.

Evelyn’s eyesight is poor but her hearing and mental capacity are excellent. She spoke of the state of the world now with so much going on in the Ukraine, Syria, Israel and Iraq. She was delighted to receive the certificate we presented to her and was pleased that we still remember her. She is very proud of her Loyalist heritage.

The certificate reads:

This certificate is presented to Evelyn Natalie Powell Denton in honour of being, at the age of 105, the eldest living member of the Nova Scotia Branch, remembering your consistent promotion of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada, and with particular appreciation for your many years of service as a loyal Member of both the Nova Scotia and the former Halifax-Dartmouth Branch of UELAC.

We left Evelyn looking forward to her 106th birthday on November 12.

Evelyn proved her Loyalist ancestry to Gabriel Purdy, and received her Loyalist certificate in 1982.

…Alma Hayward, UE (submitted by Carol Harding), Nova Scotia Branch

Nova Scotia’s First Multi-Racial Refugees: The Loyalists, by Brian McConnell, UE

[Read the full text as a PDF with photos and notes]

Located on the scenic waterfront in the Town of Digby, Nova Scotia is a Cairn dedicated to the 1200 United Empire Loyalists who landed near there in June, 1783. It was dedicated by John E. Shaffner, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia

During the years between 1775 and 1784 what is now Canada received approximately 50,000 refugees from the territory of the United States, with the majority as many as 35,000 coming to Nova Scotia ( which then included New Brunswick), with another 10,000 going to the old province of Quebec. It overwhelmed the old population and led the British government to create two new colonies of New Brunswick and Cape Breton Island, and eventually the Province of Upper Canada (Ontario).

Who were these refugees and why did they come to Canada? This year marks the 100th anniversary of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada. It was formed in 1914 and followed upon a provincial Loyalist organization which existed in Ontario. Its Mission Statement includes “…increasing public awareness of the Loyalist contributions to Canada…”

The Loyalists who arrived in Canada were refugees. Through the conflict which has become known as the American Revolution many had lost all or most of their personal possessions. Some called them British Tories. However, they came from many backgrounds including German, Dutch, Scottish, Irish, English, and religious minorities like the Quakers and Mennonites. As well there were native people like the Mohawks who went north to Canada and different racial groups like the approximately 3,000 Black Loyalists who came to Nova Scotia.

The Loyalists were Nova Scotia’s first Multi-Racial refugees.

A majority of the Loyalists were farmers or landowners and therefore rural residents like James Moody from New Jersey who served with a Loyalist militia during the conflict and later settled in Weymouth, Nova Scotia, engaged in shipbuilding, and was elected and served 12 years in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. There were also artisans, merchants, servants, shopkeepers, innkeepers, printers, like John Howe, father of Nova Scotia’s 1st Premier Joseph Howe, who sailed from Boston to Halifax in 1776, labourers, seamen, lawyers, teachers, doctors, clergymen, and office holders like Abraham Cuyler, the former Mayor of Albany, New York who helped lead a group to Sydney, Cape Breton in 1784.

The Loyalists came from all places in the colonies. The greatest numbers were from New York, followed by South Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Connecticut, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Delaware. The majority moved northward to Nova Scotia and Canada, however some fled to England, Bermuda, and the West Indies.

Also see more about Digby Loyalist History of Nova Scotia (Facebook).

Brian McConnell, UE

King’s Royal Yorkers Identified; So is the Place

In last week’s issue of Loyalist Trails, Fred Hayward revisited a photo which had been included in Loyally Yours history of UELAC. The photograph showed a number of Royal Yorkers. The item last week named them.

Since then David Moore UE, one of those in the photo, has reported that “The photo referred to in the UELAC newsletter (and attached above) is of the Yorkers in 1984 in Napanee, Ontario charging down the street in front of the Paisley Hotel” which you can see in the right background.

A more recent photo from 2005 shows that things were not doing so well for the old hotel in 2005. Google still lists the hotel as being active – perhaps it has since been renovated.

St. Lawrence Branch: New Website

Congratulations to St Lawrence Branch whose new website is now live at www.uelac.org/st-lawrence/ thanks to branch member and volunteer Jennifer DeBruin

Where in the World?

Where are Nancy Conn and Doug Grant?

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.

Loyalist Symposium in South Carolina

October 4, 2014 – York, SC – the Southern Revolutionary War Institute presents “The King’s Own Patriots: Loyalists and Provincials in the Southern Campaigns of the Revolution.” This program will focus on the British and Loyalist who fought in the Southern Campaigns. Presenters scheduled include Todd Braisted, Carole Troxler, Jim Piecuch, Greg Brooking, Bob Bemis, Michael Scoggins, and Ben Rubin. The symposium will last from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and will be held in the Lowry Family Theater at the McCelvey Center, 212 East Jefferson Street, York, SC. Lunch will be included for a $50 registration fee.

More about the Southern Campaign (explore the website).

For more details about the symposium, contact Michael C. Scoggins, Research Director, Southern Revolutionary War Institute, The Historical Center of York County, 210 East Jefferson St. York, SC 29745, Voice 803.818.6768; micscoggins@chmuseums.org; www.chmuseums.org; www.srwi.net.

…Ray Blakeney (who is planning to attend)

Loyalists and the War of 1812

Thanks to those who have contributed to the slowly growing index of Loyalists and the War of 1812.

We have added a new entry for Isaiah Cain thanks to Arthur Pegg, UE.

If you have a family ancestry which qualifies (see the heading of the page with entries), please submit to loyalist.trails@uelac.org. Our rich history continues to emerge through these family histories.

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:
– Barnhart, Nicholas – with certificate application by Bruce Weaver


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