“Loyalist Trails” 2015-02: January 11, 2015

In this issue:
Rebels of the St. John River Valley (Part One), by Stephen Davidson
CBC TV Series: Book of Negroes
Lifetimes in Mere Sentences: Black Loyalists in the Book of Negroes
Skeletons in the Loyalist Closet
Addendum: London was “Worn Out”
Addendum: Tar and Feathering
2015 Conference Loyalists Come West: Inner Harbour, the Heart of Victoria
Where in the World is Doug Grant?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
      + Responses re Challenges Facing Loyalists
Last Post
      + William MacLeod Campbell, UE
      + John S. Gardiner, MSA, UE


Rebels of the St. John River Valley (Part One), by Stephen Davidson

If you have loyalist ancestors who first settled in New Brunswick, then there is a very good chance that you also have rebel ancestors. As American refugees flooded into the St. John River Valley in 1783, they established homesteads next to New England Planters who had lived in Nova Scotia’s Sunbury County since the 1760s. At least thirty of those Planters had sided with the patriots during the American Revolution. They remained in what became New Brunswick, and, over time, their children married the children of the loyalists. These are the stories of Nova Scotia’s rebels — men, who in their day were described as “very great rebels and of very bad character”.

In the opening years of the American Revolution, the St. John River valley was in the westernmost frontier of Nova Scotia. In addition to Portland Point (which would become the city of Saint John) at its mouth, there were seven English settlements along the St. John River before the arrival of the loyal refugees.

These townships had been established by New England Planters two decades earlier. The settlers maintained contact and trade with their families back in the original thirteen American colonies. When the revolution broke out, most of these Planters pledged their Yankee cousins that they were “ready with their lives and fortunes to share with them the event of the present struggle for liberty, however God in His Providence may order it”.

Emboldened by the successful destruction of Fort Frederick by American forces near Portland Point in 1775, the rebels of the St. John River Valley decided to join Jonathan Eddy in his attack on Fort Cumberland. The fort guarded the Isthmus of Chignecto, the narrow neck of land that today links New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Eddy had once lived in the Cumberland area, but had returned to Massachusetts. In August of 1776, he headed toward the St. John River with 28 men, a force he intended to increase with patriot sympathizers among the Planter settlers.

“I found the people,” he later wrote, “to be almost universally hearty in our cause; they joined us with one captain, one lieutenant and twenty-five men, as also sixteen Indians.” By the time Eddy arrived at Cumberland he had a rebel force of about 200 men. They only had their hunting muskets and no artillery whatsoever.

The Planter rebels looted the loyal settlers who lived near Fort Cumberland, seized several sloops, and took a number of prisoners. Their repeated attacks on the fort itself were unsuccessful. Under the leadership of Major Batt and Captain Gilfred Studholme, the rag-tag army of rebels was overthrown in late November, and the men made a hasty retreat back to their farms along the St. John River.

Having routed a local rebel army, what would the British forces do next? For six months, all was quiet along the St. John River. The rebel Planters remained on their farms with no reprisals. Then, in May of 1777 Colonel Arthur Goold arrived at the mouth of the St. John River. With him was Gilfred Studholme, recently promoted from captain to major – and a man who remembered fighting the Planter rebels.

However, rather than expelling the patriots from their river farms, Goold made an offer of clemency. In a letter to the seven Planter settlements, the colonel notified the inhabitants that Nova Scotia’s government was “well informed of their treasonable doings, and that the tenure of their present possessions was due to the clemency of the most just, generous and best of Princes.” His desire was “to effect a reconciliation for them with Government”. Goold cautioned the rebels that while he came to them with the olive branch of peace, should they refuse the government’s overtures of mercy, “an armed force would follow and employ a very different argument”.

Major Studholme knew the names of over thirty men who had either been combatants at Fort Cumberland or were “active rebels” – men who had spied on the British or formed republican committees. Should they refuse Goold’s offer of mercy, they were very aware that they were marked men.

After a town meeting at Maugerville, the settlers sent a reply to Goold’s letter. The Planters said “that their greatest desire hath ever been to live in peace under good and wholesome laws.” They were “ready to attend to any conditions of lenity and oblivion that may be held out to them.”

After reading the letter from the St. John River settlements, Goold was pleased at “their resolution to observe loyalty and obedience to the government under which they lived”. He said he was surprised that they had allowed “a few incendiaries to disturb the public tranquility.” He challenged the settlers to form a committee in favour of the British government instead of a rebel committee. He felt sure that in the end the settlers would see that their best hope lay within the British Empire.

But the American Revolution was far from over in the spring of 1777 and could easily tip in favour of either side. Nova Scotia’s government sent troops to fortify the mouth of the St. John River. Gilfred Studholme, who knew the river’s rebels by name, was put in charge of building Fort Howe. For the next six years, this fort defended the Planter settlers and warded off patriot attacks from New England. In May of 1783, Fort Howe looked down on the harbour it defended as the first fleet of loyalist evacuation vessels dropped anchor. Studholme, who was still the military commander, knew that the loyalists desperately needed land and had to move on to it before the winter.

Within a month of the first fleet’s arrival, Studholme sent a four-man party up the river to take a census of its settlers and the validity of their claims to their land. When the commissioners returned with their data, Studholme read their report and made his own additions, making a point of noting which farmers had turned on the crown during the revolution. Studholme had it within his power to confiscate the rebels’ river farms and grant them to the loyalists – much as the victorious states had seized loyalists’ land and given it to patriots. Would Studholme honour the amnesty of 1777 or take vengeance on those he had fought at Fort Cumberland seven years earlier?

Learn the names and fate of the rebels of the St. John River in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

CBC TV Series: Book of Negroes

As you know, the TV mini-series based on Lawrence Hill’s novel, The Book of Negroes, has begun its run on both Canadian and American networks this week. This is putting a spotlight on loyalist history, in a big way.

Did you know that since 2006, Loyalist Trails has published 17 articles that drew directly on the data found in Sir Guy Carleton’s ledger, the (original) Book of Negroes? In addition to this, there have been 44 Loyalist Trails articles that featured or mentioned Black Loyalists. Pretty much all of these have been articles that Stephen Davidson wrote and Loyalist Trails published. We have all learned more about the stories and struggles of Black Loyalists (and Africans who were enslaved) during the loyalist era.

Here follows the article that “introduced” the Book of Negroes to the readers of Loyalist Trails. It was originally published on October 28, 2007. Any of you who wish to explore further can search through the Loyalist Trails archives or use the search tool in the page header on any page in the website to find out more about the stories in the Book of Negroes or about Black Loyalist history. Of course there are other good reference sites like the Black Loyalist Heritage Society of Nova Scotia.

Lifetimes in Mere Sentences: Black Loyalists in the Book of Negroes

© Stephen Davidson

Although it was compiled to be an official record of the American Revolution’s African refugees in the event that they might later be considered stolen patriot property, the Book of Negroes is a compelling primary source for anyone interested in loyalist history. As fleets of ships evacuated some 30,000 white loyalists from the port of New York between April and October of 1783, the British government made note of almost 3,000 blacks who sailed with the Revolution’s refugees.

The Book of Negroes recorded the names of both Black Loyalists and slaves as well as brief physical descriptions, their places of origin, and – sometimes – the circumstances that brought them to New York City. The entries clearly reflect the racism of the 18th century. However, by taking the time to make an imaginative and compassionate reading of the Book of Negroes‘ entries, these sentence-length descriptions of the Africans who sailed to British North America, one receives fascinating insights into what these people endured.

A 24 year-old free mulatto woman named Elizabeth Black was from Madagascar originally, having been an indented servant of a Mrs. Courtland for the previous 15 years of her life. Miss Black sailed to Parrtown on the Aurora. A fellow passenger on that ship was Bob Stafford, a 20 year-old Virginian who had been freed from his master by a party of Royal Navy sailors in 1779. The British Army had seized John Vans in Pennsylvania in 1777, but he became a slave of a Sam Barber. However, eight months before the Aurora sailed, Vans was given his freedom. How he came to have a blind right eye is not recorded.

A 12 year-old girl named Joyce had lived as a slave to James Moore for half her life, but she was numbered among the Black Loyalists because her father had died in the king’s service. Many a Black Loyalist boarded an evacuation ship clutching a Birch certificate, the official document that recognized their freedom for having served with the British forces for at least one year. Among the Africans on the Ariel was 25 year-old Sam Brothers, his wife Betsy and their two “stout and healthy” children. The Brothers family, like the overwhelming number of Black Loyalists, were from Virginia.

On board the Spencer was Sarah Fox, a woman who purchased her own freedom from her master in Antigua. A fellow passenger was 27 year-old Isaac Core. He had once been a slave of William Mott of Long Island, but because Mott was a Quaker, he gave Core his freedom. The Lady’s Adventure carried Black Loyalists with a variety of wartime experiences. 21 year-old Dick Jackson had been a trumpeter with the British forces. At least two men had First Nation members as one of their parents.

William Hanson of Maryland became a free man after he was taken by a British armed boat in 1782 and then served his liberators. Thomas Morgan of Connecticut had a lame arm, but managed to run away from his master and earn a Birch certificate. James Anthony was abandoned by his master when the latter fled to England. 38 year-old Samuel Edmond was noted as being “remarkably tall”. He had been the slave of Liven Ballad for the first 21 years of his life. George Roberts was a free born African, but he was “totally ignorant of the place of his birth”. This 30 year-old had also came aboard the Lady’s Adventure with a Birch certificate.

Other sentence-length descriptions hold the potential for a book’s worth of story. John Tyng was a 19 year-old who had been belonged to a Colonel Tyng , a “slave bred in his service”. James, a 25 year-old Georgian, was the cook on board the Two Sisters, the loyalist ship whose journey was recorded by Sarah Frost of Connecticut. Nine year-old Andrew sailed aboard the King George. He was in the company of Lt. Cox who had found him wandering in the woods of North Carolina.

Three Africans tried to board the Mars which was bound for the mouth of the St. John River. But 27 year-old Mingo and his 26 year-old wife, Diana, would never enjoy freedom. They and their 18 month-old daughter Phebe were “returned to owner” in Flushing, Long Island.

However, not all of the stories in the Book of Negroes are tragic ones. Caesar Closs had once been enslaved in New Jersey until he ran away in 1781. He earned a Birch certificate and eventually settled in Saint John, New Brunswick as a labourer. By the time he died in 1797, Closs had amassed enough of an estate that it had to be processed in the province’s probate records. Another Black Loyalist, Jack Patterson, came to New Brunswick as an indentured servant, but later acquired his own farm along the St. John River.

These are just a few of the brief stories found in the Book of Negroes, proving once again that truth is stranger (and more fascinating) than fiction. For more information, visit the Black Loyalist Heritage Society Website at http://blackloyalist.com.

The Book of Negroes can also be a significant genealogical data base for descendants of white loyalists.

Skeletons in the Loyalist Closet

© Stephen Davidson

What would you risk to determine the ship that brought your loyalist ancestors to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia? If you were willing to learn that your UEL forebearers were slave owners, then you have an amazing resource at your fingertips. Not only will it tell you the name of the ship which brought your ancestors, it will also give you the date the ship left New York City, the name of its captain, and its destination. But you have to be willing to confront some unpleasant truths.

A number of years ago I was helping a cousin-once-removed in tracking down her loyalist ancestors. Since I had been doing a lot of research using the Book of Negroes, I thought I would browse through its lists to see if I could find any reference to Frinks being the owners of slaves.

It is an odd quirk of history that almost all of the manifests for ships that carried 90% of the loyalist refugees have been lost. European loyalist descendants have few resources to help them discover how and when their ancestors arrived in the Maritimes. However, 10% of the loyalist refugees who came to the Maritimes, the Black Loyalists, have a ledger that provides such information. The names of Africans who came to the Maritimes as slaves are also recorded in the Book of Negroes, giving the descendants of both free and enslaved blacks an incredible primary document for family research.

My search for my relative’s loyalist ancestors was successful, but the price we paid was to discover that the Frinks came to New Brunswick as slave-owners. Using the data I discovered in the Book of Negroes, here is the previously unknown story of the Frinks:

On September 18, 1783, Captain Watson took his ship the Elizabeth out of New York harbour. On board was the family of Nathan Frink and his two African slaves. James (16 years old) had been given to Hester by her mother, Mrs. Culyer. Diana (just seven years old) had been bought from a Mrs Beadle/Bedell of Staten Island.

The date of departure from New York tells us that the Frinks arrived in Parrtown near the end of September as part of the “fall fleet.” They would have had little time to get ready for their first New Brunswick winter which came early in November and was noted for being particularly cold and snowy. If the Frinks could not find shelter with those loyalists who had arrived in the summer, they and their slaves would have had to live in tents or in poorly constructed shacks.

It would be fascinating to know what happened to the two young Africans, but there is no record of the fate of Diana and James. I consulted the probate records for the province and discovered that Hester Frink died a widow in St. Stephen in 1825. Forty years after the family had fled Staten Island for New Brunswick, their slaves were no longer in their possession. The probate record states “Personal property had been given away prior to decease.”

If you are the descendant of a Black Loyalist, you owe it to yourself to visit the online version of the Book of Negroes. If your refugee ancestors were European and you are willing to discovering that they were slave owners, this is a valuable resource for your family research, too. Visit the Black Loyalist Heritage of Society of Nova Scotia website to begin your search.

Addendum: London was “Worn Out”

I have a comment on Stephen Davidson’s article about Thomas Bosworth. In the article, he mentions that Bosworth’s slave London was “worn out.” The inference is that his body generally was worn out, from overwork or whatever. However, the expression “worn out” at that time may have had a different meaning.

Richard Feltoe in his book “Redcoated Ploughboys” on the Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada during the War of 1812, explains that at that time “worn out” meant an individual’s dental decay had progressed “to the point that insufficient teeth remained intact in the upper and lower jaw to be able to grasp and tear open the heavy-duty paper of the musket cartridge, thus making the individual unable to properly load the musket.” As Richard explains, this was a common cause of dismissal from military service.

It may have had the same narrow meaning, in military terms, in the description of London.

…Mike Fowler

Addendum: Tar and Feathering

Related to last week’s Tarring and Feathering: The Reality

I am researching the life of Andrew Steven, a brother of my ancestor William Steven. Andrew was the Steward for the St. Andrews Benevolent Fund in Dundas, a founder of St Andrews Church (now St Pauls Presbyterian Church) in Hamilton, and then became the Cashier for the Gore Bank, also in Hamilton.

In 1826 a tar-and-feathering took place in Dundas as the result of an allegedly adulterous situation with a female servant in the home of George Rolphe. Some of the people involved in this case were well known citizens in the area, who had been out to dinner with Dr. Hamilton, that evening. The case was heard by Judge MacCauley who fined two of the offenders 1000 pounds in damages, but both only ended up paying twenty pounds.

Andrew was called to testify at the case and “refused to give evidence on the grounds that he might implicate himself.” There are a number of references to this case, such as is included in Margaret Houghton’s “The Hamiltonians – 100 Fascinating Lives”, or the “Dictionary of Hamilton Biographies”.

I was puzzled because there did not seem to be extreme injury in this case, and had concluded that they must just have heated the tar. The medieval punishment in Britain did involve hot tar and was a very grievous punishment! I am relieved to hear that pine tar was used in the US and trust this was the case for the Dundas incident!

Thank you for this article from J.L.Bell and others who have contributed to it.

Explanatory note re Family: Andrew Steven came out here in 1819.

William Steven came out to assist his brother Andrew start an Insurance company either connected with or separate from the Gore Bank in 1842. He brought 3 daughters with him, all of whom were married within 2 years or so to Hamilton men.

William’s wife died on arrival in Hamilton in 1844, after a mutiny on the ship they travelled over on, and William died 1 week later “of a broken heart.”

My Gt.Grandmother was William’s daughter, and Andrew’s niece.

…Judy Nuttall, UE

2015 Conference Loyalists Come West: Inner Harbour, the Heart of Victoria

Loyalists Come West – the 2015 UELAC Conference, Victoria, B.C., May 28-30, 2015.

Victoria’s Inner Harbour is, arguably, the heart and soul of Victoria. As well as being the location of the first European settlement, much of the city’s historical, cultural, recreational, and political events revolve around this area.

Historically the First Nations recognized the area as most suitable as a place to put down roots. When Fort Victoria was established, it was neighbours with a long established First Nations settlement. The view across the harbour from the Conference 2015 hotel is an area named the Songhees, after the settlement that existed in the mid 1800’s, now a very posh collection of condominiums.

If you were fortunate to be travelling between Vancouver and Victoria in the early to mid 1900’s, you would likely be aboard the pocket liners operated by Canadian Pacific and would be treated to a spectacular entrance into the harbour. The Empress Hotel was just ahead of the bow of your ship, once docked, and a short stroll away.

Read more with photos (PDF).

2015 Conference Planning Committee Victoria BC

Where in the World?

Where is Gov. Simcoe Branch member 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.

Region and Branch Bits

From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.

  • It is estimated that approximately five thousand refugees choosing to remain loyal to the British Crown settled in Niagara at the conclusion of the American Revolution in 1783. The Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University have created and continue to build a library of original United Empire Loyalist documents on microfilm housed at Brock University in the heart of the beautiful Niagara peninsula. This collection provides an insight into their history as they developed this Province and Country, and Brock University is the ideal location for it. It is open for academic, students and the public.
    Explore the history of these United Empire Loyalists at Brock Loyalist History Collection. The UELAC is a proud supporter through an annual grant.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Loyalists Flee to Canada is the title of a one-page “bite” from Bite Size Canada. “There are many Canadians today who are proud to be descendants of the United Empire Loyalists. They were the people who lived in the United States until the American Revolutionary War led to the break with Britain. Remaining loyal to Britain, they decided to move to Canada, many of them giving up beautiful homes.” Well worth a read – some interesting facts and a little different perspective on a couple of things.
  • What’s for dinner? The Soup That Won The American Revolution. An interesting article, pictures, especially if you are interested in historical food and if you agree that an army fights on its stomach.
  • The catchy and memorable music to “My Ain Folk” was written by Guelph native Laura G. Lemon. Born of United Empire Loyalist stock on October 15, 1866, young Laura had only the vaguest memories of this riverside home they called Mavis Bank. The family moved on to Queen Street when she was five and her prominent lawyer father, Andrew Lemon, after whom Guelph’s Lemon Street is named, was initially successful. Read more
  • Library and Archives Canada: The United Empire Loyalists – finding their records.
  • Should you always handle artifacts with gloves? Find out on the Museum of Ontario Archaeology blog.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:

  • Andrews, Samuel – (volunteer Brian McConnell)
  • Cole, David – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
  • Doan, Joseph – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
  • Harding, Israel – from Carol Harding with certificate application
  • Lymburner, Matthew – from Bev Craig

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


Responses re Challenges Facing Loyalists

We received two further responses to last week’s query.

Honorary Vice-President Gavin Watt suggested Chapter One – “Why Refugees And Why So Many?” – of his book, Loyalist Refugees, Non-Military Refugees in Quebec 1776-1784 (PDF). Of particular interest would be the section “Loyalist Claims for Compensation,” which contains four memorials from widows of loyalist soldiers.

Richard Ripley recommended the following:

View the episode of the American show, Who Do You Think You Are, concerning the ancestors of Rachel McAdams and her sister Kayleen. One of Rachel’s ancestors was a Loyalist, and there is a good description of the hardships which that Loyalist family endured near Montreal – mother and children waiting there in tents and shanties, lacking food, sanitation, and medical care, while the father fought in America on the Loyalist side, in the hopes that the war would be won, and the family could then return to their ancestral home in America. This was not to be, and there was much hardship before that family reunited and recovered in Ontario.

Another good resource which helps understand the hardships the loyal persons and families suffered in America during the war, is a set of reports created by Alexander Fraser in 1904, titled United Empire Loyalists – Enquiry into the Losses and Services in Consequence of their Loyalty. Evidence in the Canadian Claims. These reports, copied from original handwritten papers of the 1770s and 1780s, contain hundreds of reports of hardships and losses suffered by Loyalists during the war years in the United States. Many larger libraries have paper or microfilm copies. Some genealogists have collections of such papers and resources. The Maya Jasanoff book provides details and analysis of hardships suffered after the war years by the Loyalists, Liberty’s Exiles.

Finding suitable resources for the middle school students is a challenge.


Last Post

William MacLeod Campbell, UE

Passed away peacefully on January 5th at Hospice Niagara in his 81st year. Loving and devoted husband to Ruth. Loving ‘little’ brother to Eileen MacGillivray of Dalkeith, and father to Paula (Klaus Okunowski) Campbell of Germany, Beth (Rico) Natale of St. Catharines, and Scott (Kelly) Campbell of Campbellville. Grandpa and Uncle to many. Will was predeceased by siblings Ethel, Betty, Florence, Donald, Murray and Bob.

Will was born and raised in Dalkeith, Ontario. He started his working career as a one-room school teacher in Glengarry County before joining the Royal Bank in Toronto and eventually Bell Canada. He retired from Bell Canada after 35 years of service in various management roles throughout Ontario, Quebec and abroad.

He and his family moved to St. Catharines in 1969 where he was an active member of the community:. Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, St. Catharines Hydro, Canadian Cancer Society and Junior Achievement. He attended Knox Presbyterian Church and belonged to the St. Catharines Golf Club.

Most importantly, Will was a devoted family man, supporting his family in their many various activities. He enjoyed travelling, golfing, curling, doing stained glass and spending weekends at the family cottage on the Bruce Peninsula. He was described by many as a ‘true gentleman’ and will be greatly missed.

Cremation has taken place, as has a visitor’s reception. A private memorial service and burial will be held at a later date. More details.

Will was very proud of his Loyalist roots. He ordered many batches of Loyalist Rose hasti-note cards from Gov. Simcoe Branch. Ancestors John and Mary Cameron Ancestors John and Mary Cameron brought the rose from Scotland to New York Province and thence Canada. Will’s eldest sibling, Ethel (Campbell) MacLeod and her husband Alexander MacLeod, donated roots of the Loyalist Rose to Gov. Simcoe Branch in the 1980’s. Descendants of those roses have blessed many homes since.

John S. Gardiner, MSA, UE

Born February 11th, 1927, passed away peacefully in Brockville on January 7th, 2015. A graduate of the Ontario Agricultural College and the son of the late Charles and Ethel (Danby) Gardiner of Morewood, he was predeceased by his brother Gerald. The beloved husband of Marilyn Stone, Mr. Gardiner was predeceased by his wives Dorcas Bolton and Dorothy Miller Lyon. He is survived by his daughter Jane (Harold) Hess of Brockville, his sons John (Barbara) of Brockville and James of Toronto; and numerous grandchildren.

Retired Kemptville Agricultural School / Kemptville College of Agricultural Technology

John received two Loyalist certificates,through the Colonel Edward Jessup Branch, UELAC, one as a descendant of Conrad Wert, the other as a descendant of Benoni Wiltse, Sr. His great grandchildren, now aged 1 1/2 and 3 years old received their certificates as descendants of Benoni Wiltse while his children and grandchildren received theirs through their mother’s ancestor Jonathan Fulford.

…Myrtle Johnson, UE, Col. Edward Jessup Branch