“Loyalist Trails” 2015-17: April 26, 2015

In this issue:

History is Written by the (Loyalist) Victors, Part Two: Planter Land, by Stephen Davidson
Spring in Nova Scotia
Another Aspect of the UEL Monument Rededication at Adolphustown
Large Loyalist Families: Gilbert Orser with 15 Children
Book Review: Colonial America & the Earl of Halifax, 1748-1761
Life for British Soldiers After the Rev. War
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post
      + Lloyd James J. Mellor
      + Marion Bessie Holman (née Detlor), UE
      + Donald W. Valleau


History is Written by the (Loyalist) Victors, Part Two: Planter Land, by Stephen Davidson

Because history – in the words of Winston Churchill – is written by the victors, part of the account of actual events is always missing. In Canada, loyalist descendants and historians have celebrated 50,000 refugees finding sanctuary in British North America, stressing the hardships they faced and overcame. While all of this is appropriate, what has been lost is the story of those living in British North America who were overwhelmed by the flood of the loyalist diaspora. 25,000 colonists of European ancestry lived in Nova Scotia before 1783. Known as the Planters, these colonists were completely overrun by 40,000 loyalist refugees at the end of the American Revolution.

As one might expect, the Planter perspective on the arrival of the loyalists would differ in many ways from that found in the historical accounts later written by the refugees’ descendants. While their arrival in Nova Scotia was the start of a new life for the loyalists, it was the end of the world that the Planters had known for the past twenty years. One can forgive them for being less than thrilled.

Land was the primary point of conflict between the loyalist newcomers and the resident Planters. The loyalists expected to be compensated for their wartime losses with grants of land, and for a while it looked as if the British government would simply hand over land that had been cleared and improved by the Planters.

John and Mary Bradley had lived on the St. John River since the end of the Seven Years War. However, patriot raids on the settlements at the mouth of the river in 1775 forced the couple to move inland to Maugerville, a large Planter settlement. On their two lots of land, the Bradleys and their six children grew wheat, potatoes, corn, bean, turnips and cabbages. Mary had served the Planter women of the St. John River valley as a midwife in the twenty years before the loyalists’ arrival.

When the British government made plans to evacuate its loyal colonists out of the United States, the news soon reached the Planters living along the St. John River. William Hazen, a local merchant, heard “that the king’s troops were repairing to this province” and advised John Bradley “to go to Halifax and endeavour to procure a grant of the two lots”. The Planter family’s situation was not unique. A number of them were “squatters” who had started farming on crown lands during the war and had not bothered to get the necessary paperwork.

John Bradley had no money for the long journey to Halifax, and because it was the spring, he needed to get his crops into the ground. Then came the summer that was remembered as “the time the Kings Troops came on the river”. On August 15th, a loyalist named James Woodman suddenly appeared at the Bradley farm claiming that one of their lots was his and that he had a “minute of council” to prove it. George Haywood and his son-in-law Joseph Hoyt, also loyalists, promptly claimed the second of the Bradleys’ lots.

It was all too much for Mary Bradley. She later described the events of 1783 in a memorial to Thomas Carleton, the province’s new lieutenant governor. Mary was “taken very very ill and continued so for a long time and then was bereav’d of her Senses and … her Children – at that time having the small pox or Measles – was oblidg’d to have a Nurse to take care of them, {and} was the most distres’d Family that ever was in the Country.” Overwhelmed by all that was happening, her 45 year-old husband decided to have a mid-life crisis; he abandoned his family and left the colony.

When Mary recovered from her illness a year later, she was without a husband, had six mouths to feed and had to seek government intervention to hold on to just a quarter of the land they had before the arrival of the loyalists. In her memorial, Mary said she had “not an inch of land to raise any kind of support for her distress’d children for the tedious long winter now ensuing.”

No records have surfaced to tell us how Mary Bradley the Planter fared in her struggle with the loyalist newcomers. Her family may have been among those who benefited from the generosity of Thomas Knox, the muster master.

In 1784, Knox decided to give government provisions to some “old inhabitants” as well as the newly arrived refugees. The Planters, he observed, had “been reduced to circumstances of great distress”. They had “been some years settled on the River and who have lately been obliged to relinquish their possessions and improvements in favor of Refugees to whom they are allotted.”

In March of 1785, William Tyng wrote a letter to Jonathan Odell in which he outlined how land disputes were being resolved. (Both men were loyalists.) “I take the liberty to enclose a paper containing two valuations of the same lots – those lots were in possession of old inhabitants and were … numbered and drawn for by the Refugees…. We accordingly appointed two discreet persons on behalf of the loyalists, and the old inhabitants chose two for themselves…. It is, I think, very evident that the appraisers for the old inhabitants have been unreasonable in the value they have set upon some spots.”

Col. Thomas Dundas, a British commissioner who assigned the compensations awarded to the loyalists, commented on the Planters. He felt that the loyalists had “experienced every possible injury from the old inhabitants of Nova Scotia, who are even more disaffected towards the British Government than any of the new States ever were”. While in New Brunswick in 1786, Dundas noted, “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.”

In the end, Loyalists and Planters made peace with one another. Their similarities far outweighed their differences. Within a generation, their children had intermarried, forming the foundation for the Maritimes economic, educational, political and religious development in the years before the next great flood of immigrants – the Irish. And yet, somehow, it was the story of the Loyalists that overwhelmed the history of the Planters , burying it for centuries.

While the Planters were outnumbered by the Loyalists, they nevertheless retained a pride in being the first English settlers of mainland Canada. The 1807 obituary of Sylvanus Plumer proudly pointed out that he “came to this country a few years before the American War”. Forty-eight years later, Samuel Jones’ obituary stated that he was born near Saint John “six years before the landing of the loyalists” and could remember the city “when it was in a state of nature.”

How the Planters endured throughout the American Revolution is a story that will have to be told in a future Loyalist Trails – a story of loyal settlers who were able to remain in their colony at the end of the war. As one Planter said, “We had to combat the sons of darkness alone. In a word, we had much less than {the loyalists} to hope for by unshaken loyalty and incomparably more to fear.”

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

Spring in Nova Scotia

How does Loyalist Trails columnist Stephen Davidson know it’s spring? People want to listen to loyalist history! On Saturday, April 18th, he spoke to a meeting of the Nova Scotia Branch UELAC. Given the interest in Lawrence Hill’s novel and the TV mini-series, Stephen spoke on “Carleton’s Book of Negroes: A Ledger’s Legacy”. It was great to have the descendant of a Black Loyalist in the group that gathered in Lower Sackville.

On Saturday, April 25th Stephen spoke (via telephone) to a chapter of the Children of the American Revolution in Detroit, Michigan about loyalist children. Loyalist Trails reader, Brenda Ozog contacted Stephen and arranged for him to share the loyalist story with the CAR kids. Are there any other (loyalist) signs of spring out there?

Another Aspect of the UEL Monument Rededication at Adolphustown

As many of you already know, the Glengarry Light Infantry Re-Enactment Weekend with the Re-dedication of the UEL Monument is set for Sat. May 23rd and Sun. 24th with the re-dedication on the second day.

Also taking place on the Sunday is an unveiling of a plaque which relates briefly the history of the Monument from 1884, the refurbishing of the site in 1956, the 2014 restoration and a thanks to those who made it possible. The plaque will be placed near the Monument.

The original dedication of the UEL Monument in 1884 was a huge event. Let’s make the re-dedication of 2015 equally memorable. You’re invited! More details.

…Peter W. Johnson, UE

Large Loyalist Families: Gilbert Orser with 15 Children

Gilbert Orser was born in Westchester County in 1765, the youngest son of Joseph Orser and Annette Jurckes. The family goes back to about 1640 in Manhattan when the first Dutch settler arrived in New Amsterdam. Descendants settled later in Westchester County on the very large Plantation of Phyllypse Manor located where Sleepy Hollow is today on the Hudson River.

Joseph Orser was a well-off farmer who owned 200 acres – a freehold farm – on the River and he tenanted 200 more in the plantation itself. He had 5 sons who were very involved in the Delancey’s Brigade Chasseurs, raiding rebel lands for support of the British. Although Joseph never served in the British forces or actively took up arms against the so called Patriots, he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the patriots in the Revolution.

As a result, the leader of a group of vigilantes attacked their farm, burned it down and stole all cattle and horses, beating Joseph on the head and limbs until he was nearly dead. They fled to New York City for protection and soon came to know Captain Michael Grass who had convinced Carleton to let his group of Associated Loyalists settle in Cataraqui, now Kingston instead of New Brunswick. On board the ship Camel to Sorel, Quebec where they wintered Joseph died of his injuries and his widow and 15 other family members survived. This included 3 servants, including 2 young slave children both aged 11, Abigail and Oliver, who are mentioned in The Book of Negroes.

The family petitioned for compensation for their seized land which had been sold by the new State of New York but to no avail. The eldest son, John who remained in the USA eventually bought it back. We had a reunion there in 2000. Gilbert, his youngest son and my UEL ancestor was a member of the surveying crew that laid out the township and Kingston. He became the first sexton of The Rev. William Stuart’s Anglican Church in Kingston.

Later he was called to testify as to how the survey under Collins and Holland had been done because it was done not according to plan. The Town was to be done first and then the Township. It was surveyed in reverse and caused a problem at the mouth of the Trent River. More.

…David Woodward, UE

[Editor’s Note: Additional entries for Large Loyalist Families and for Loyalists and the War of 1812 are welcome.]

Book Review: Colonial America & the Earl of Halifax, 1748-1761

Review of Colonial America & the Earl of Halifax, 1748-1761, by Andrew D. M. Beaumont (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

(This review is written by frequent guest poster, Christopher F. Minty, the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellow at the New-York Historical Society and Eugene Lang College at The New School for Liberal Arts. Chris is also the recipient of a UELAC Scholarship.)

Andrew Beaumont has written a provoking biography of George Montagu Dunk, second earl of Halifax (1716–1771) that covers the crucial period between 1748 and 1761. This book offers a re-evaluation of how we understand colonial American politics and, by implication, it forces us to reconsider the origins of the American Revolution.It also reorients our understanding of British figures who wanted to centralize the Empire during the eighteenth century. For Beaumont, we should look less at the familiar cast of characters: George Grenville; the Earl of Bute; William Pitt, later Lord Chatham; and Lord North. There are others, of course. But, we are familiar with these men. We know their stories. We know their contributions. Beaumont does not argue that we should look away from these men. Rather, he argues that we should look at other “ambitious men” and how they affected the British Empire. In this book, Beaumont examines the “Father of the Colonies,” the Earl of Halifax.

Read the complete review.

Life for British Soldiers After the Rev. War

Wars were fought by soldiers, but it is the campaigns and commanders that are remembered and studied. This is a shame because the soldiers had a remarkable range of fascinating experiences, often more exciting than those of the policymakers they served. And yet, the farther back in history one goes, the fewer personal stories of soldiers survive. The names of most British soldiers who served in America can be found on regimental muster rolls, but those administrative documents give only a few career details. Only a few personal narratives by British soldiers who served in the American Revolution are known to exist.

There is, however, a vast trove of records that contains some precious details about what many of these men experienced. British soldiers could get pensions if they served well and survived their ordeals; in fact, it was just about the only profession that offered a pension during the 18th century. Read more by Don N. Hagist in the Journal of the American Revolution article 10 Disabled British Pensioners.

Where in the World?

Where is former dominion president Doug Grant of Gov. Simcoe Branch?

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.

  • Digby lawyer Brian McConnell was elected president of the Nova Scotia branch of the UELAC during a meeting April 18 at Lower Sackville. Those attending the meeting also heard presentations from Loyalist historian Stephen Davidson on the ‘The Book of Negroes: A Ledger’s Legacy’ and Kerry Delorey, a historical re-enactor with the 84th Regiment, Royal Highland Emigrants. More.
  • The Ontario Genealogical Society will be holding their annual conference at Georgian College in Barrie on 29-31 May 2015. Although registration is required for the workshops, tours and lectures, the Marketplace is open to the public. More information here.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Coopers in Colonial America – Everything You Wanted to Know. Coopers in Colonial America were standard fixtures on ships, as well as on plantations, breweries, wineries, distilleries and any other industry that required containers for the commodities they produced. [editor: good article]
  • A one page history of Fort Henry (originally Fort Fincastle, named for Viscount Fincastle, Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia) which stood about ¼ mile from the Ohio River where the town of Wheeling, West Virginia is now located.
  • A quick-read example of how illustrations and marketing can give the wrong information, and to some extent lead us astray. No the Black fighting in the illustration is not Col. Tye, nor is he from the Ethiopian Regiment. Read more
  • If you think all chickens look exactly alike, and share one color, white, you have not seen Colonial Williamsburg’s. The hues of its poultry range from soft chestnut to black- and-white “stripes.” For more about our loyalist ancestors and the chickens in the family, and in the pot, go here.
  • The elevators to the observatory atop 1 World Trade Center show an animated time lapse that recreates the development of New York City’s skyline, from the 1500s to today. (from Mark Gallop. Editor’s note: this moves very quickly. I clicked on video near the bottom to show the progress bar and then started and stopped it every few seconds. I could then take a closer look at what changed each time – the year “bubble” helped.)
  • Sewing Stitches of the 18th Century. I suppose most every family made many of their own clothes. Do you suppose they knew some, many or all of these stitches?

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

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

  • Currier, Issachar – from John Noble with certificate application
  • McDonell, Alexander [#2 Cap Rouge, Quebec] – from Bev Craig with certificate application
  • Moran, Matthias and son William – from Gary Campbell
  • Morris, Lutheran – from Bob Morris
  • Spicer, Robert – from Gary Campbell
  • Warner, Michael Johannes (Sr.) – (volunteer Sandy McNamara)

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

Last Post

Lloyd James J. Mellor

Peacefully at Glendale Crossing in London, ON, on Thursday, April 16, 2015, at the age of 92. Only child of Harold and Leta (Wright) Mellor of St. Marys and Strathroy. Loving husband of Muriel Stokes UE and Jean Muma Chambers, who predeceased him. Beloved Dad of Mary Lou (Peter), Pat (Doug), Keith (Jennifer) and David (Cie) and step-dad of Steven and Jim Chambers. Proud “Gramps” to many.

Lloyd had a full life. He trained as an RCAF pilot in WWII and graduated in 1948 from the University of Western Ontario, where he was a varsity athlete and BIG W Club member. RW Bro Lloyd Mellor also enjoyed an active life in Masonry.

His circle of good friends was wide and deep and to them (and his family), Lloyd was an energetic, full-of-fun and modest man who wrote in his own biography “from hard work comes great enjoyment.”

Service was held at Highland Funeral Home in Toronto on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.

Muriel and then Lloyd (although himself not of Loyalist descent) served for many years on the executive of the Gov. Simcoe Branch.

Marion Bessie Holman (née Detlor), UE

Passed away peacefully with her loving family by her side on Saturday, April 18, 2015 in her 93rd year. Beloved wife of James Edward Holman. Dear mother of Dan Holman, Pat Holman-Moreau, Stephen Holman (Pauline) and Jean Henney. Grand, Gr.-grand and Gr.-Gr.-Grandmother. Missed by her brother Lorn and predeceased by Hugh and Harold and survived by their wives Alice and Mary Helen. Predeceased also by her step-sister Margaret Patterson.

A home maker and (along with her husband, Jim) a skilled artisan, she served on the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority for nearly 30 years and was a founding and charter member of the Niagara Heritage Quilters’ Guild (formed in 1980) and a charter member of the Canadian Quilters’ Association (formed in 1981). Generations locally will remember her in the log cabin at Balls Falls demonstrating hand quilting during the Thanksgiving Festival.

An antique refinisher and a restorer, she travelled widely in her commitment to heritage preservation- a passion that sent her across North America. Marion was a Wren during WW2. Proudly Canadian, proudly Empire Loyalist, Veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy. Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend. Mentor, business person and much, much more.

A private interment will take place with a memorial service to be announced in the near future. As an expression of sympathy, donations may be made to the Salvation Army. Online condolences can be placed at www.pedlarfuneralhome.ca.

Marion was a loyal member of Colonel John Butler (Niagara) Branch UELAC and a proud descendant of Loyalist Valentine Detlor. Our deepest sympathy to her husband Jim and family.

…Bev Craig, UE, Col. John Butler Br.

Donald W. Valleau

Passed away peacefully at Rayoak Place on Friday, February 13, 2015 at the age of 87. Don beloved husband of Margaret. Loving father of Karen (Ian), Alan (Laurianne) and Brian. Grandpa and Great-grandpa. Don will be sadly missed by all family members and friends.

Don was 50-year member Past Master 1980-1981 of King Solomon’s Lodge 22, Grand Sword Bearer 1993-1994 and many other Masonic Branches. Resting at the PAUL O’CONNOR FUNERAL HOME. Service in our Chapel. Interment at Resthaven Memorial Gardens. In memory of Don, donation to SickKids Foundation.

Don was a member of Gov. Simcoe Branch for many years, but never proved his Loyalist ancestry in the Prince Edward County area.