“Loyalist Trails” 2015-16: April 19, 2015
In this issue:
– Conference Dinners Nearing Capacity
– 2015 Conference Loyalists Come West: Whales to Watch
– History is Written by the (Loyalist) Victors, Part 1: The Planters, by Stephen Davidson
– Dissertation on “Dishonoured Americans: Loyalist Manhood and Political Death,” by Tim Compeau
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
– Additions to the Loyalist Directory
– Last Post: Margaret “Peggy” Barkley (née Hickey), UE
After the planning meeting on Saturday here in Victoria, I am letting you know that we are nearing capacity for the two dinners. There is a little more room for the Friday Night Loyalist Dinner, but the Gala is nearly full.
…Aurelie Stirling, Co-Chair, Planning Committee
Read the details for Loyalists Come West – the 2015 UELAC Conference in Victoria BC May 28-30, 2015.
Attendees coming to the Loyalsits Come West 2015 Conference in Victoria will have free time to explore this beautiful city. If you like whales, we have a special offer for conference delegates.
The Conference Planning Committee highlights another Victoria “must-do” activity – Whale Watching, with SpringTide Whale Watching & Eco Tours. This is an activity option for the attendees of the UELAC Conference 2015 in Victoria, BC this May, either pre or post conference or during your free time during the day.
Attendees and their friends & family will automatically receive our 30% discount by just mentioning their conference when they reserve directly with SpringTide. Read more about whale watching and about SpringTide.
…2015 Conference Planning Committee, Victoria, B.C.
Despicable? Wretches? Extortionists? Disloyal? These are hardly the words that one wants to hear being used to describe one’s ancestors. And yet that is what the loyalists called a group of people that they outnumbered many times over. You would think that being on the losing side of a war, the loyalist refugees would be a bit more compassionate.
Does anything raise your hackles more quickly than when loyal Americans are described as “traitors to their country” or “obnoxious Tories”? Does it irk you that the loyalists’ principles are quickly dismissed as either being a product of an Anglican faith or as a consequence of being members of the British colonial service? These skewed perspectives were all too common in American history books that were written by the descendants of the “victors.”
Canadian history has also been written by the “victors”. A series of questions will quickly demonstrate the point. Who were the founders of English Canada? If you said the loyalists, you would be wrong. Who were the first to settle Saint John (New Brunswick’s loyalist city)? Not the loyalists! Who were the first Nova Scotians to suffer the trauma and violence of rebel attacks? The answer to all of these questions is not the Loyalists, but the Planters.
What raises the hackles of Planter descendants and historians is having Canada’s first English colonists abruptly dismissed as “early comers”, “old inhabitants”, and – worst of all – “Pre-loyalists”! Until the late 20th century, historians almost completely ignored the Planters. History books characterized post-revolutionary New Brunswick as an empty wilderness and Nova Scotia as devoid of culture before the arrival of the loyalists. And because the Planters happened to live in the Maritime colonies, the great mass of Canadians in Ontario and Quebec have paid even less attention to them than they have to the Atlantic region’s loyalists.
(How many people realize that the Maritimes received five times the number of loyalist refugees that settled in Upper and Lower Canada? Nowhere else in the world did the arrival of loyalist refugees make so great an impact.)
Since loyalist historians and descendants seek fair treatment for the refugees of the American Revolution, it only seems right that they should be concerned for a fair representation of the values, actions, and prominent figures in Planter history. After all, it was the intermarriage (and co-operation) between Planters and Loyalists that helped to forge the initial character of non-Aboriginal Atlantic Canada. Many who can trace their roots back to loyalist ancestors will also find a Planter or two in the family tree.
Who were the Planters? After the British expelled the Acadians from both sides of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia was desperate to fill its vacant lands with loyal (preferably English) Protestant settlers. It offered Acadian farms and crown land to colonists in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island — as well as to farmers and craftsmen in Yorkshire (England) and Northern Ireland. Between 1759 and 1775, approximately 8,000 New Englanders responded to Nova Scotia’s offer, establishing homes along the Atlantic coast, throughout the Annapolis Valley, on the plains of Cumberland County, and along the St. John River Valley. These New Englanders were known as Planters, an old English word that means those who establish a colony or a plantation.
Then one needs to add in the Irish and English settlers (as well as German and Swiss Protestants) who were encouraged to homestead in the former Acadia after 1749. By 1783, there were at least 25,000 people of European stock in the region. A little more arithmetic shows that these settlers arrived in Nova Scotia a full generation before the loyalist refugees. Within that time, they established trading ties with Britain (and the original thirteen colonies), created political institutions, and put their stamp on Nova Scotia’s character.
The Planters were the first major permanent English settlers in mainland Canada. They established their homes before Scottish traders set up business in recently acquired Quebec and before terrorized loyalists began to flee north from rebellious seaboard cities.
Large as the Planter numbers were, they were dwarfed by the flood of loyalists that poured into Nova Scotia between 1776 and 1784. 40,000 refugees and their slaves sought sanctuary in the Maritime region. They poured into Cape Breton Island, Antigonish, the eastern shore, St. John’s Island, and on both sides of the Bay of Fundy.
Portland Point was one of the most popular destinations for the loyalist evacuation fleets that left New York City. Located at the mouth of the St. John River, it was a Planter settlement that had enjoyed the protection of Fort Howe throughout most of the revolution. Portland Point and Conway across the harbour were the first victims of the loyalist flood. They were abruptly renamed Parrtown and Carleton, respectively –and then in 1785–incorporated as the city of Saint John.
Not all of the loyalist refugees wanted to remain at a site that patriots had attacked so often during the revolution. They sailed up the St. John River past Planter settlements (Gagetown, Maugerville, Burton, Sunbury and Newtown), past the old Acadian village of St. Anne’s Point, and beyond. Their desperate need for land was an immediate threat to the Planter settlers. If those who had not lived on the St. John River for the past twenty years could not give proof of their right to their land, it would be given to the loyalist refugees.
James Simonds, a Planter merchant at Portland Point, protested the British government’s plans to give away the land of the “old inhabitants”. “Instead of our being stripped of our rights to make amends for the losses of the Loyalists, who were plundered in New York or elsewhere, we have at least as weighty reasons as they can possibly offer to claim restitution from Government for the value of all the property taken from us, our distress by imprisonment, etc. They had a numerous British army to protect them; we had to combat the sons of darkness alone. In a word, we had much less than they to hope for by unshaken loyalty and incomparably more to fear.”
Many loyalists, not knowing what had happened in Nova Scotia during the revolution, characterized the Planters as being “disloyal”, charging that they had not supported the crown. Edward Winslow of Massachusetts wrote “A large proportion of the old inhabitants of this country are natives of New-England, or descendants from New Englanders, they, from their situation, never experienced any of the inconveniences which resulted from the violence of political animosity, they remained quiet during all the persecutions in the other provinces — they retained a natural (perhaps laudable) affection for their country.”
Winslow later called the Planters “languid wretches” who were “accumulating wealth at a great rate by the exorbitant prices which they extort from the Strangers.”
Perhaps most chilling to the Planters’ ears were the comments made by Col. Thomas Dundas, a commissioner for loyalist compensation claims. “The number of Loyalists is 12,000. The old inhabitants are not 3,000 and these are a despicable race ready to sell their improvements as the Loyalists are enabled to purchase from them.”
Despicable? Wretches? Extortionists? Disloyal? Was a new history of the Planters already being composed as the loyalists settled the Maritime colonies? Were 40,000 refugees writing their own historical revision?
Next week’s Loyalist Trails will reveal more of the story of those caught in the path of the loyalist diaspora.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
An American historian once wrote that he could not understand “why any sensible, well-informed, right minded American with a modicum of imagination and common sense could possibly have opposed the Revolution.” As many readers of this will know, the loyalists are often left out of American histories, or at best are given a very short, (often unflattering), mention. The loyalists just don’t fit, and historians in the past have attempted to explain them away as being somehow culturally different and not really American at all. In effect, just as the loyalists were driven from their homes into exile, they were also cut from American history. The dissertation which I have just completed at the University of Western Ontario, under the guidance of Nancy L. Rhoden, and with the financial assistance of the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada, applies ideas from cultural history, gender studies, and anthropology to determine how American revolutionaries used ideas of manhood and honour culture to remove the loyalists both from their homes and from American history. It also explores how loyalists used the same culture of honour to rationalize their experiences, justify their continued allegiance to the Crown, and transform injuries intended as marks of shame into badges of honour.
Entitled “Dishonoured Americans: Loyalist Manhood and Political Death in Revolutionary North America,” my dissertation explores the careers of loyalists who either considered themselves, or were considered by others, to be “gentlemen.” These men and their families left behind the most detailed records in Canada, Britain, and the United States, and continue to loom large in most of the loyalist histories. It was my intention to explore the elite culture that these loyalists live in or aspired to, and what that could tell us about why they chose to remain loyal, or how they made sense of what was happening to them. People in the eighteenth century did not think as we do today, so it is important to get a grasp of their own culture to really appreciate the significance of things like tarring and feathering, or other insults. In a world of patricians and plebeians, and slaves and masters, seemingly minor things to you or I could take on extraordinarily potent meanings.
The American Revolution was a deadly conflict for sure, but at a local level patriots often destroyed a loyalist’s public existence and honour rather than kill him outright. I refer to the combination of legal punishments and social ostracism as “political death,” an original idea drawn from a phrase I occasionally saw in the original records, that describes the process and consequences of the loss of citizenship, the negation of patriarchal power and privileges, financial ruin, and the cultural dishonour of white loyalist gentlemen and their families. The dissertation explores ideas of honour and dishonour, the importance of the home and family, and how the patriots used that culture to “unman” loyalists by attacking “Tory” households. I then explore how these ideas of honour and dishonour influenced the nature of public and printed insults, loyalist captivity experiences, and what the loyalists thought about justice and taking revenge on their enemies. In the end the patriots formed a consistent propaganda image of the loyalist man as a cowardly, deceitful, cruel and dishonourable monster. This partly explains why the hundreds of thousands of loyalists who stayed in the United States after the war, let their role in the conflict fade away.
The final section of the dissertation explores the importance of honour in the loyalists’ self-perception, their official claims on the British government for compensation, and their political rebirth in Canada as they attempted to restore their privileged status with Britain’s help. Loyalist honour has been described by American historians as being submissive and deferential, but I argue that it was in fact as assertive and demanding as the patriot concepts of manhood formed in the American Revolution.
I want to thank the UELAC again for their very generous assistance which allowed me to travel to archives throughout Canada and the United States. Additionally I have been flattered with many kind invitations to speak to branches and share my work in progress, which was always fun and led to some very illuminating discussions. I hope the loyalists’ descendents enjoy the work, warts and all.
The dissertation is available free to download at Western’s Electronic Thesis Depository.
I can be reached at email@example.com. Best regards,
From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.
- If you haven’t yet been able to savour real Spring, Summer and branch events like picnics is just around the corner. This photo from a Hamilton Branch picnic in 2001 should get you into planning mode – if you aren’t already.
- A life-size replica of the French navy frigate that brought the Marquis de Lafayette to America prepares for its maiden voyage to the United States. (Video – 1 minute)
- A 1776-81 British 76th Regiment, silvered copper button from the Colonial Williamsburg museum collection
- Who wore it better? Portraits of two 1770s ladies by Thomas Hudson – same gown, colors reversed.
- Take a peek at a few of the items at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia
- The Bugs that Bugged the Colonists. Small warriors against mankind, in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century illustrations: Below, a flea, a louse, a cockroach, and a fly. The planet was theirs before the dinosaurs and will remain in the clutches of their several legs after humans are gone. Photo: Then as now, lice were among the worst pests. And more…
As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
- Best, Hermanus – from Albert Smith
- Cass, Josiah – (volunteer Sandy McNamara)
- Casselman, Thomas – (volunteer Sandy McNamara)
- Keithland (Keithline), Philip – (volunteer Sandy McNamara)
- McDonell, Helena – from Bev Craig with certificate application
- Schryver, Jacobus – (volunteer Sandy McNamara)
Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions and guidance.
The family of Peggy Barkley announces her peaceful passing on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at the Glen Stor Dun Lodge where she had been a resident for the past three months. Born in Montreal on November 24, 1927; grew up in her beloved village of Aultsville, and tirelessly told of happy years there, and our family history, in her very entertaining and amusing stories. She was one of the original Lost Villages members, a proud United Empire Loyalist and a devoted UCW member at Knox-St. Paul’s Church for many years and retired employee of Domtar.
Peggy leaves behind ‘her girls’, Brenda Poirier (John) and Barbara Brazeau, both of Cornwall. Proud grandmother of four, “Big Nan” to ten great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her brother Allen E. Hickey (Shirley) of St. Petersburg, FL. life-long friend Mavis Nixon (Beckstead). Predeceased by her parents John and Addie (Cramer) Hickey, step-father Carl Markell, and her sister, Luella Cross (Cramer) and brother-in-law Robin Cross.
Visitation and celebration of life at Wilson Funeral Home, Cornwall. Interment at a later date in St. Lawrence Valley Cemetery. Cremation has taken place. If so desired, contributions in her memory to St. Lawrence Branch UELAC, the Lost Villages Historical Society or to the charity of your choice. Online messages of condolences may be made in the obituary section of www.wilsonfuneralhome.ca.
Peggy Barkley joined The St. Lawrence Branch 10 Feb. 1981 under application of John Hickey, Sr.
…Lynne Cook, UE, St. Lawrence Branch