“Loyalist Trails” 2015-39: September 27, 2015

In this issue:
Nine Welsh Loyalists of the American Revolution (Part 1), by Stephen Davidson
Alexander Forbes: Highlander (Part 3), By Richard Nickerson
Introducing Borealia: A new blog on early Canadian History
Sources for Loyalist Studies: Christopher Minty at Borealia
Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives During the Rev War (Ken Miller Podcast)
Digital Gazette: Fall 2014 Publicly Available; Order Fall 2015 Now
Memorial Stones, Plaques and Other Objects
Where in the World?
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond


Nine Welsh Loyalists of the American Revolution (Part 1), by Stephen Davidson

© Stephen Davidson, UE

They were threatened with tarring and feathering; one was a butcher who was hanged as a spy while another was an accomplished organist. One was a widowed Baltimore innkeeper and one was a New York gunsmith. Besides being loyalists, all nine were born in Wales and had settled in the thirteen colonies before the American Revolution in the hope of beginning better lives.

Scottish, German, and Irish loyalists have enjoyed scholarly examination as have Jewish and African loyalists, but Welsh loyalists are still waiting to be “discovered” by historians. Given that only five of the 5,656 loyalists who sought compensation from the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists were Welsh, it is easy to understand why their stories have become lost over time. Here are the stories of nine Welsh men and women who suffered persecution as loyalists during the American Revolution.

Owen Richards had the great misfortune of leaving Wales to take a civil service job in Massachusetts in 1770. His timing could not have been worse. Richards and his family settled in Boston where he served as a customs officer, one of the colonial authorities most despised by New England patriots. In 1770, Massachusetts’ citizens became enraged when Richard seized contraband sugar on a merchant ship.

Richards would later recount that “a tumultuous mob of near 2,000 and came to your petitioner’s house, broke his windows and destroyed his furniture; they then dragged him by the heels along the streets to the custom house, then tore all his clothes off his body to his nakedness, and then rolled him in the channel, then put him into a cart, tarred and feathered him, then set the feathers on fire on his back, and fixed a rope round his neck, in this position they exposed him round the town for seven hours until he was just expiring.”

After the British government closed the port of Boston in retaliation for the infamous Tea Party, Richards went to Marblehead, staying there for a year. The Welshman was “unable to do any duty” following the British victory at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Because he “always did his duty like a loyal subject” in this case, carrying arms for the defence of Boston he was consequently “treated more severely” by the rebels.

Fortunately, Richards was able to join other Massachusetts’ loyalists who fled the colony with the British army in March of 1776, finding refuge in Halifax. Like those fellow loyalists, Richardson had every hope that he would be able to one day reclaim all of his Boston property and possessions. Mrs Richards and their four children remained in their well-furnished North End home. Tragically, Richards’ wife died soon after his departure.

The Welsh loyalist sailed for England in 1777 where he remained for the duration of the revolution. On February 9, 1784, Owen Richards appeared before the loyalist compensation board which recognized him as a loyal subject. It repaid him for the cost of his home and furniture and provided him with an annual allowance of £30.

Another Welsh loyalist who was threatened with hot tar and feathers was Susannah Marshall. She and her Irish husband, William, along with their two children had immigrated to Baltimore, Maryland in 1774. The couple operated an inn for the next year until patriot persecution compelled William to flee for his safety. He first sought refuge in Providence, Rhode Island and then journeyed to the West Indies where he died.

Now a widow, Susannah, continued to operate their Baltimore inn. Rebels “maliciously compelled” her to offer room and board to patriot soldiers. The feisty Welshwoman refused, and had she not fled her home, rebels would have tarred and feathered her. As it was, they seized ” a great many of her goods”. Susannah sold what remaining effects she had, including “spiritous liquors” and furniture, and used the money to buy 81 barrels of flour and two hogsheads of ham, assets that she could later sell for a profit. She boarded a ship at the Head of Elk, but it was captured and she lost all of her cargo. Susannah eventually escaped to England in 1777. Eight years later, the loyalist compensation board determined that both she and her late husband were loyalists and awarded her an allowance.

The third Welsh loyalist to seek refuge in Great Britain was David Propert. He had immigrated to Boston in 1770 where he was employed as a music teacher and the organist at Trinity Church. He taught his pupils how to play the spinet, a small harpsichord that was very popular in the 18th century. At the insistence of local rebels, Propert signed a paper in 1775 saying that he would not buy provisions for the British troops stationed in Boston. Although the Welshman never carried arms or served in the militia, patriots seized what he had, including his four spinets. Like fellow Welshman, Owen Richards, Propert left Boston with the British army in 1776, travelling first to Halifax and then on to England. In 1785, he was recognized as a loyalist who did not bear arms and was awarded a “bounty” of £20 a year.

Thomas Hughes left Wales in 1765 and became a prosperous store keeper in New York City. Within five years, he owned two houses in the city and a farm in New Jersey’s Bergen County. During the revolution, Hughes purchased horses, wood, hay, and other necessities for the British Army.

However, the Welshman took the greatest pleasure in recounting another service he performed for the crown in the September of 1778. Hughes led a party of British soldiers under General Charles Grey to two barns in Old Tappan, Orange County. There they surprised Lady Washington’s Light Horse, a corps also known as Lt-Col. Baylor’s 3rd Regiment of Continental Dragoons. Attacking with bayonets, the British killed eleven men, wounded twenty-five, and took forty dragoons prisoner. American historians would refer to this incident as an “inhumane slaughter”, dubbing it the Baylor Massacre or Tappan Massacre. Hughes’ name is not mentioned in patriot histories, but a plaque commemorating the attack says that “tories betrayed” the dragoons’s presence to the British. For his service to the crown, the British government granted the Welsh loyalist, his wife and their five children a pension of £20 a year.

David Walkeys had immigrated to New York City around 1774 where he set up business as a gun smith. Governor Tryon, New York’s last loyalist governor, hired Walkeys to furnish arms to the British Army. By 1781, he had become the armourer to the garrison of the City of New York, supplying arms “at the risk of his life”. Confident of a British victory, the loyal Welshman bought a house on Little Queen Street from a fellow loyalist, James DeLancey, in 1782. He would only live there for a year before leaving the United States with the British army and other loyalists in 1783.

After arriving in London, Walkeys sued DeLancey because he had discovered that the house he had bought had been seized by rebels before he had acquired it from DeLancey. However, the court decided in DeLancey’s favour. Undaunted, Walkeys crossed the Atlantic to Halifax to appeal to the loyalist compensation board. Despite having David Matthews, the last loyalist mayor of New York City, as a key witness, Walkeys did not recover the money that he had spent on his house. Where he eventually settled after 1786 is not known.

In next week’s Loyalist Trails, discover the stories of four Welsh loyalists who settled in the Maritimes and Lower Canada.

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

Alexander Forbes: Highlander (Part 3), By Richard Nickerson

Alexander Forbes’ personal combat experience is uncertain; “records of the 38th were lost … lack of information from Regimental sources has made it difficult to follow all the 38th’s part in the American War of Independence ….” (VSSR 19). The bulk of Alex’s time would certainly have been spent in relatively uneventful garrison duty in the camps around the British-held enclave of New York, although he may well have participated in two more active operations; the defense of Newport, Rhode Island in 1778, and the raid on New London, Connecticut in 1781.

Before Alexander’s appearance on its muster roll in Sep 1777, the 38th had been at Boston, and had fought at Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill in 1775 (the oral tradition that Alexander Forbes himself was at Bunker Hill, is, in this light, likeliest to have been sparked by his recounting of the fire-side stories of his longer-serving regimental comrades who had).

When Boston was evacuated in March 1776, the 38th had sailed for Halifax, reorganized, and then had participated in the assault and capture of New York, fighting on Long Island and Manhattan.

Elements of the 38th occupied Newport, R.I. After Alex Forbes had joined the regiment, Newport was the target of an American and French combined operation in 1778. Garrison commander Robert Pigot “was not the man to stand by and watch, and his troops made daring attacks on Providence to the north and New London to the south-west, thereby greatly hindering the American plan.” In July 1778, the French fleet shelled Newport, but a combination of caution, the weather, and the intervention of the British fleet forestalled the landing of assault troops. “The American commander, Sullivan, decided not to press the siege and commenced to retire, to be immediately followed by his enterprising enemy. The 38th and 54th, Dorsets, moved against his left and severely mauled it, before the American rearguard, as usual well-handled, succeeded in getting it clear …” (VSSR 23-24)

In 1779, the British withdrew from Newport, the garrison being evacuated to New York. “Here, mostly on Long Island, the 38th was to remain until the end of the war; it was stationed at Fort Washington.”

In September 1781, the 38th was included in a raid against New London, Ct. “The Regiment with three American Loyalist units was directed on the town itself, but a detachment … under command of Captain Millett, 38th, was sent to deal with Fort Trumbwell. Meanwhile the remainder of the force attacked another, stronger fort, Griswold. Millett’s men forced Trumbwell with very slight loss and its garrison made for Griswold, which was also stormed. The main body of the 38th entered New London and together with the Loyalists burnt it, destroying valuable stores and guns. Having dealt a similar fate to the nearby town of Groton, the force returned to New York.” (VSSR 23-24)

In the end, of course, the Americans gained their Independence. The last British enclave, New York, was to be evacuated in the fall of 1783. The soldiers in the British army were given the choice of either returning to Britain with their units, or to be discharged to join the flood of civilian Loyalists who were to resettle in Britain’s remaining North American Colonies. Alexander Forbes, aged about 28, chose to imagine a new life for himself in Nova Scotia.

Alexander was discharged 24th Oct 1783 in New York. His discharge paper still exists – faded, worn, and tattered. Ritie Forbes, granddaughter of Alexander, was to find it folded up in an old coat pocket when she was cleaning out the Homestead – then called the “old house” – which had been uninhabited since the death of Alexander’s son, John D. Forbes, in 1889.

The Certificate reads:

“His Majesty’s 1st Staffordshire or 38th Regiment of Foot, whereof Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Pigot, is Colonel.

This is to Certify, That the Bearer hereof Alexander Forbus Private Soldier in the above-said Regiment, hath served the Crown of Great-Britain honestly and faithfully, for the space of Five Years & Six Months but in Consequence of His Majesty’s Order, is hereby Discharged, he having first received a full Account of all his Pay, Arrears of Pay, and Cloathing as appears by his Receipt on the Back of this Discharge.

Given under my Hand and the Seal of the Regiment, at New York this Twenty fourth Day of October 1783.

In the Absence of a [First?] officer of the Regt

Ol. DeLancey [?] Adjt. Gl. [?]


I Do acknowledge to have received all my Pay, Arrears of Pay, Cloathing, and all other just Demands, from the Time of my Inlisting to the Day of my Discharge: As Witness my Hand, this Twenty fourth Day of October 1783.

Allexr x [his mark] Forbus

Witness Present,

Patk Larkin [?] Seg. [or Scy?]

John [?] [unreadable] Sergeant [?]”


VSSR: Col. W.L. Vale, History of the South Staffordshire Regiment, 1969.

Introducing Borealia: A new blog on early Canadian History

Borealia (bor-ee-al-ya) is a new academic group blog on early Canadian history, featuring writing by regular, occasional, and guest contributors. It can be found at earlycanadianhistory.ca. We begin with the basic assumption that the field of early Canadian history is vibrant and varied–there’s plenty to talk about!

The goal of Borealia is to provide an energetic, professional, and respectful space for conversation about research and teaching in early Canadian history. We believe that a dedicated forum for discussion, alongside broader historical associations and publications, will nurture informal networks of scholars and will demonstrate the vitality of the field among colleagues and the public.

Borealia (“northern”) is a title expansive enough to take in the breadth of our field. We are interested in all regions of what eventually became Canada, to about 1867, and connections to the wider world. We hope our contributors will reflect the diversity of our field, encompassing cultural, intellectual, political, religious, economic, and other perspectives, and will come from every stage of academic careers. We will strive to have content in both English and French.

We intend the tone of the blog to be positive, focused on content and ideas, respectful and civil in conversation, and professional. If the blog were a restaurant, it would be “casual fine dining.” Posts will include research notes, author interviews and book reviews, reflections on teaching and career development, digital and public history, and conference recaps. In the near future you can expect posts on violence in British North America, newspapers and sociability, Quebec in the American Revolution, and material history. And yes, readers of Loyalist Trails can look forward to several posts on Loyalists!

New posts are scheduled for early Monday mornings. You can receive an email notice for new posts by “following” at the blog, or receive updates on Twitter via @earlycanada.

Keith Grant

Sources for Loyalist Studies: Christopher Minty at Borealia

In his first post at Borealia, the new blog on early Canadian history, Christopher Minty writes about an overlooked source for Loyalist studies: oaths of allegiance and petitions. Here’s a taste of that post:

“It doesn’t take long to sign a piece of paper. A flick of the pen. A transitory introduction of ink with paper, forever etching a combination of letters together with a contract, an idea, or a statement. Even though it didn’t take long, there could be long-term consequences for signing a piece of paper. Indeed, once a name hit the page, the cloud of anonymity was lifted. Political views could no longer be hidden from view… These documents are one of the most underused collections relating to loyalists.” Read more.

Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives During the Rev War (Ken Miller Podcast)

When we think about the Revolutionary War, we don’t tend to think about enemy prisoners of war, the British and German soldiers the patriot militia and Continental Army units captured during and after battles.

In this podcast, explore the day-to-day experiences of British and German POWs during the War for Independence with Ken Miller, Associate Professor of History at Washington College and author of Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence.

Ken reveals details about what American prisoner of war camps for British and German Revolutionary War POWs looked like; Why the Continental Congress and Army insisted on sending at least 3,000 POWs to Lancaster, Pennsylvania; And, the day-to-day experiences of both the British and German POWs in Lancaster and the civilian residents who lived among them.

More details and access to the podcast. (From Ben Franklin’s World)

Digital Gazette: Fall 2014 Publicly Available; Order Fall 2015 Now

As you may recall, we began really creating in colour and making available a digital copy of the Loyalist Gazette in 2014. The two 2013 issues (mostly b&w) were also made available. Two objectives:

• to offer our UELAC periodical – The Loyalist Gazette – in a digital format with enhanced features (colour) for those who prefer it

• to contain and reduce printing and mailing costs

The digital version of the Fall 2014 issue of the Loyalist Gazette until now has been available only to members and Gazette subscribers. It is now available publicly, with lots of colour. Have a look.

As well people who are paid-up members and Gazette subscribers can now register for the digital copy of the Fall 2015 issue (and get access to the Spring 2015 issue in the same place). Each request is processed at Dominion Office (to check that the requirements are met) before the access details are returned (the office is open Tues, Wed, Thurs).

Those who received access in the Spring need NOT reapply; a message will be sent to you to confirm your choice.

We hope you will enjoy this year’s issues of the Loyalist Gazette – in digital full colour.

…The Publications Committee

Memorial Stones, Plaques and Other Objects

It occurred to me today, that on my wanderings over the past many years, loyalist related memorial stones, plaques and other objects regularly seem to just pop up in entirely unexpected places.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this. This may be an interesting section for Trails as such things should be shared.

…Don Galna, UE

[Editor’s Note: Photos of such items, preferably with you or another person involved in Loyalist era history in the photo as well, are welcomed for Where in the World. In addition, there is a section on the UELAC website called Loyalist Monuments, Memorials and Commemoratives where more extensive descriptions are most appreciated – many thanks to Fred Hayward, who has curated this section. Contributions will be noted here in Loyalist Trails, where good content is always welcome.]

Where in the World?

Where are Sheila Brownrigg (Thompson-Okanagan), Aurelie Stirling (Victoria) and Carl Stymiest (Vancouver)?

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.

  • Loyalist Burial Plaque unveiled in Milton. The Hamilton branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada recently held a special ceremony at DeForest Pioneer Cemetery, where members unveiled a Loyalist Burial Plaque in honour of Loyalist Abraham DeForest UEL.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Following last weeks item “Loyalist Family Splits Between New Brunswick and Upper Canada” which referenced Beaver harbour/Pennfield, Stephen Davidson noted “an afternoon celebration in remembrance of the Loyalist Quakers who settled in Beaver Harbour in 1783” which was held the same weekend, on Sept. 19
  • Fort Ticonderoga presents the Fifth Annual Material Matters: It’s in the Details weekend on November 7 & 8, 2015, in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center. We invite you to join us for this weekend focused on the material culture of the 18th century. The informal setting promotes interaction between presenters and attendees throughout the weekend. Presenters are experts in their fields. One session is titled Clothing Rogers Rangers. More details
  • Governor General David Johnston promotes longtime Kingston and Islands member of Parliament and Speaker of the House of Commons Peter Milliken to an Officer of The Order of Canada to during an investiture ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Wednesday Sept 23, 2015.
  • From a year+ ago: New York Public Library Puts 20,000 Hi-Res Maps Online & Makes Them Free to Download and Use. Over ten thousand of the collection’s maps are of New York and New Jersey, dating from 1852 to 1922, including property, zoning, and topographic maps. In addition, over one thousand of the maps depict Mid-Atlantic cities from the 16th to the 19th centuries, and over 700 are topographic maps of the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1877 and 1914. More details, and some information about overlaying old maps on new using “warping”.
  • Emily Blunt’s reluctant American Revolution. The last time I went to Colonial Williamsburg, I was sitting in the capitol’s courtroom and listening to the guide give his spiel on eighteenth-century trials, when it suddenly hit me: Americans lived under a monarch before the Revolution. I don’t mean that I didn’t know this before, of course; I mean that it hit me viscerally for the first time. I’d never felt so distant from the inhabitants of eighteenth-century America as I did at that moment, sitting in that reconstructed courtroom where men – where subjects – dispensed justice under the aegis of a crown on the far side of the Atlantic. Read article from Past in the Present.
  • Are you into both family history and technology for that purpose? Could be rewarding – check out the RootsTech competition.