“Loyalist Trails” 2015-40: October 4, 2015
In this issue:
– Nine Welsh Loyalists of the American Revolution (Part 2), by Stephen Davidson
– Alexander Forbes: Highlander (Part 4), by Richard Nickerson
– “Loyally Yours” Goes International
– Digital Gazette: Fall 2014 Publicly Available; Order Fall 2015 Now
– Going Digital: The Loyalists of the Maritimes
– Where in the World is Barb Andrew?
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
+ John Hanson Sr., a UE Loyalist?
+ Moses Crankshaw of Ernestown
© Stephen Davidson, UE
The loyalists of the American Revolution had ancestors from across Europe and Africa who represented a variety of languages, ethnic groups and religious affiliations. Among the most recent immigrants to the rebelling thirteen colonies were men and women who spoke Welsh as their first language. Here are the stories of four known loyal Welshman who stayed in North America after the end of the American Revolution.
After leaving Wales, Edward Jones settled in Ridgefield, Connecticut, a town just miles from the New York border. When the British took control of New York City and Long Island, Jones offered his services as a butcher to the king’s army. Three years later, while foraging for game, Jones inadvertently crossed over patriot lines where army scouts arrested him for spying. Taken to Redding, Connecticut where three Continental Army brigades were camped for the winter, Jones was found guilty of “going to the enemy as a guide and coming out as a spy.”
Twelve days later, the loyal Welshman was led to a 20-foot ladder that was to serve as his gallows. His last recorded words were “I am innocent of the crime laid to my charge.” A witness later wrote that “Jones went out of this world not seeming much concerned.” However, once he got to the top of the ladder, Jones refused to jump, and the patriot general overseeing the execution ordered boys from the town to kick the ladder out from under the loyalist’s feet.
John Jones initially came to North America in 1755 to fight against the armies of New France in the Seven Years War. Thirty-three years later the Welshman was once again establishing a home for himself in what is now Sorel, Quebec.
Following the British victory in 1763, Jones was appointed barrack-master at Fort George, a British garrison on Lake George, New York. All went well until the outbreak of the revolution. Knowing Jones to be a loyalist, local patriots burned down his sawmill and barns. Although he carefully buried £500 worth of wine, rum, brandy and other liquors at Fort George, rebels found Jones’ cache, expropriating it as they had his livestock and furniture. Once again, the Welshman did his part to serve his king, conveying intelligence concerning the planned rebel attack on Canada in 1775. Patriots captured Jones, but he eventually escaped.
Jones joined General Burgoyne’s army at Skenesborough, New York as it advanced south, but he was not made a prisoner of war following the Battle of Saratoga for at that time he was obtaining more supplies for the British army in Canada. Jones remained in Quebec for the rest of the war and at its conclusion, became the barrack-master in Sorel.
John Murray was a poor man when he emigrated from Wales to Massachusetts, a situation that would change over the succeeding decades as he enjoyed success in the mercantile business. This, in turn, led to his acquiring both social status and political influence in Boston.
Murray also had an imposing physique; he stood at 6 feet 3 inches and was regarded as “a very handsome man”. However, his family life was marred by the death of three wives. Sometime before 1774, the Welshman married for a fourth time. While Murray’s domestic situation was improving, his political fortunes were in decline. In 1774, he was appointed to the much-hated Mandamus Council of Massachusetts. 1,500 rebels marched on Murray’s Rutland home, demanding that he publicly announce his resignation in the Boston newspapers. Told that Murray was not at home, they took their wrath out on the loyalist’s portrait, piercing it with either a bayonet or a bullet. Whatever the weapon, it left a hole the size of a silver dollar.
Within two years, Murray, his wife, and a number of their children fled Boston for Halifax. Alexander, a son of Murray’s first wife, was a patriot and stayed behind on the family farm in Massachusetts.
The Murray family eventually settled in Saint John, New Brunswick. John had a large home built on Prince William Street, but he also acquired farmland up the St. John River in Maugerville and Fredericton.
John Murray died in 1794, willing his fourth wife and his loyalist children all that he had amassed since arriving in New Brunswick. His portrait that was attacked by the rebels of Massachusetts is now in the collection of the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John.
Richard Bonsall was another Welsh loyalist who eventually settled in Saint John. He left Cardiganshire to settle in New York, married Mary Smith of Long Island, and had two children by the time the family joined the loyalist evacuation of 1783. Although he had begun to study medicine in Wales, Bonsall became a tavern keeper in New Brunswick. At his death at seventy-two in 1814, Bonsall left a grieving wife and seven children: Sarah, George, Thomas, Mary, Elizabeth, Richard, and Jane.
Some of these loyalists may have descendants living today who are aware of the role their ancestors played in the American Revolution. But how many have descendants who know that their loyalist forebears were born across the sea in Wales? It is a land where people still sing, “The land of my fathers, the land of my choice, The land in which poets and minstrels rejoice, The land whose stern warriors were true to the core, While bleeding for freedom of yore”. It’s an anthem that would have resonated with many loyalists of the American Revolution.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
Marion Robertson tells us:
“By September 29 most of the men of the British regiments had received their discharge and those going to Nova Scotia were ready to sail. Their accounts were settled and paid to October 24 and each man had been given two pairs of stockings, two pairs of mitts, a pair of shoes, extra clothing and an axe and a spade. On their arrival they were to be victualled on board the transports until the day of their landing from which time the King’s allowance of one year’s provisions was to commence…
“They were to remain in their regiments as a militia and their officers were to continue in their respective ranks and were to be obeyed as such until the governor of Nova Scotia made other arrangements. Many of the men of the regiments were allotted to transports bearing companies of Loyalists …. Men of the 38th [Alex Forbes’] Regiment came in the transports ‘G.D. Russia’ with John Minshull and his Loyalists and in the ‘Charming Nancy’ with John Huggeford’s company …. ” (RKB 76-77)
The disbanded soldiers who, like Private Alex Forbes, had opted to settle in Nova Scotia rather than return to Great Britain, were among the last to evacuate New York. The civilian Loyalist refugees, who they had been protecting, had of course been shipped first. Therefore the soldiers found themselves well down the pecking-order for the allocation of land once they reached Shelburne in the fall of 1783. The Loyalists had been pouring onto the site of the new city since the first fleet of 3000 refugees had arrived on its wilderness shore from New York the previous May.
The Shelburne surveyors under Benjamin Marston laid out new Divisions to the south and north of the existing main town plot for the disbanded soldiers. On 22 November, 383 soldiers drew for their lots. It is not known whether Alexander Forbes drew his town lot at this time.
The ” town” lot of Alexander Forbers in Shelburne was 2nd Block E, No. 14, Parr’s Division (HEF 49), near the north-east corner of the town. Of course, in this context, the word “town” is, essentially, a euphemism for a collection of survey-stakes, laid out in the midst of the woods and the rocks. This lot may be where Alexander spent the winter of 1783-84, although the “38th and 40th Regiments hutted in the woods that winter”, perhaps collectively (MTUS 21).
The following year, 1784, saw the combined Shelburne muster of Loyalists, Loyalist troops, and disbanded British troops at 2698 men, 1325 women, and 2284 children for a total of 6307 souls. There were men from 23 British regiments. The 38th Regiment was represented by 85 men, with 21 women and 22 children, total 128 (ES 196-197).
Alexander – Grantee
Probably because of the general chaos of attempting to accomodate the needs of thousands of clamouring and displaced individuals without enough logistical resources, it appears that the soldiers in the Shelburne migration were not given top consideration in the allocation of land – or at least that was their perception.
The soldiers’ “town” lots had been acceptable places for them to hunker-down in huts to ride out the icy winter of 1783-84; they’d no doubt endured much worse hardship during the lately-ended war than merely bivouacking amidst snow, woods, and stumps. But it was farm land the soldiers had been promised, and good farm land was what they needed as the foundation upon which to begin to build their new lives. The process for this crucially important next phase of the allotment of land was painfully slow, however.
One area that had been selected for the soldiers was in Clements, across the province from Shelburne near Annapolis. These “rock gardens” were not an unqualified success with their intended settlers, however. “It was soon evident to the officials that many had no intention of going on their land, even when surveyed … A large number left Clements early. Almost all of the 38th and 40th regiments left before even drawing for their lots, and many others, drawing bad land, left soon after. The land was simply not worth working.” (MTUS 21,171)
During the summer of 1784, the frustrating conditions in Shelburne heated to the boiling point. Without good farms on which to fulfill their own dreams; without women for the single soldiers to pursue as wives (the gender ratio in Shelburne was atrocious, and most of the women were already married anyway); with not enough paying jobs available in the meantime; and with the Black Loyalists perceived as undercutting their labour-market wages, some disbanded soldiers rioted. They took out their frustrations on those who were even further down the pecking-order then were they:
“On the 26th of July Marston recorded ‘Great Riot today,’ the work of the still unpaid and largely unsettled veterans of the king’s army. Reduced to poverty and humiliation, they had come to see the blacks as robbing them of work by accepting wages far lower than anything whites were prepared to settle for … The white soldiers … came as a gang, waving clubs, roaring that they would drive them from the town. Twenty houses belonging to blacks were torn down, their few possessions looted, the blacks themselves, women as well as men, forced to run for it … The mayhem went on for ten days, and sporadic episodes of violence and intimidation were reported for at least a month.” (SRC 233-239)
ES: J. Plimsoll Edwards, “The Shelburne That Was and Is Not”, in The Dalhousie Review, Vol. II, No. 2 (July, 1922).
HEF: Forbes, Herbert E. Forbes Family of Nova Scotia, 1980.
MTUS: Neil MacKinnon, This Unfriendly Soil: The Loyalist Experience in Nova Scotia, 1986.
RKB: Marion Robertson, King’s Bounty: A History of Early Shelburne, 1983.
SRC: Simon Schama, Rough Crossings, 2005.
Promoting UELAC with gifts of our centennial special edition continues. At the Canada Club Rome social on September 30, the Canadian Ambassador to the Italian Republic, Peter McGovern, was pleased to receive a copy of Loyally Yours, One Hundred Years of the UELAC from Fred H. Hayward, former Celebration 2014 chair of the UELAC. Shown in the photo are Margaret and Fred H. Hayward and H.E. Peter McGovern and his wife, Sharon. The ambassador has roots in Richmond PQ and is looking forward to retiring in the Eastern Township, perhaps on Lake Memphremagog.
If you missed getting your personal copy, or are looking for a unique Christmas gift to a family member, there are still a few copies available. Contact email@example.com for details. Photo by Anna T Ambrosini, CCR
…Fred Hayward, UE
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 – a lot of colour. Have a look.
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.
NOTE: The Fall issue of the Loyalist Gazette is currently in the design stage, a bit behind schedule. The printed copy will most likely be mailed about mid-November.
…The Publications Committee
Fifteen years following the original publication of The Loyalists, Pioneers and Settlers of the Maritimes, A Teacher’s Resource has been transcribed and posted to the Education folder on the UELAC website. It was prepared in 2000 for teachers in the Atlantic Provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick under the leadership of Bernice Wood Flett UE, Chair of the Dominion Education Committee UELAC. Previously the resource was intended for use by teachers, members may now appreciate the content from the convenience of their computers.
Where is Manitoba Branch member Barb Andrew?
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.
From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.
- Congratulations to Chilliwack Branch which will celebrate its 25th anniversary on Saturday, October 24th beginning at 2:00 pm at Chilliwack Museum 45820 Spadina Ave., Chilliwack, BC. The program will be followed by a Celebration Cake and light refreshments. Period Dress is encouraged. RSVP to Shirley firstname.lastname@example.org
- Congratulations to Thompson/Okanagan Branch VP Pat Kelderman who was awarded the 2015 Philip E M Leith Memorial Award, presented by Vancouver Branch UELAC presented the annual award for volunteerism to at an annual luncheon in Vernon, BC on Sat. August 22nd.
- Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago today on 4 October 1777, the rebels attached the British and Loyalists at Germantown. Yesterday many activities were scheduled at the Germantown Festival. The Battle of Germantown re-enactment is Philly’s ‘loudest block party’.
- Brian McConnell UE visited the Cairn to the United Empire Loyalists at North Wallace, NS. Cairn. Plaque on the cairn.
- Podcast: Malcolm Gaskill, How the English Became American. In this episode, Malcolm Gaskill, Professor of History at the University of East Anglia and author of Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans, leads us on an exploration of the early days of English colonization of North America. During our exploration, Malcolm reveals how and when Englishmen decided to establish colonies in North America; How literature and colonization experiments in Ireland informed English colonization in North America; And, how interconnectedness between England and her North American colonies informed politics and culture in both England and her colonies. (From Ben Franklin’s World)
- “1776” was a Broadway Musical, composed by Sherman Edwards. It was a success, won several awards, made into a movie and was revived on Broadway. The story is based on the events surrounding the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It focuses on, and partly fictionalizes, the efforts of John Adams to persuade his colleagues to vote for American independence and to sign the document.
It seems I descend from a second loyalist, John Hanson Sr., b. 1739 in Dover, New Hampshire (The UELAC confirmed my descent from Daniel Smith Sr., UEL, of Milford, CT in 2012). The St. John Globe ran an obituary on John Clark Hanson Jr. in 1863, and referenced his father John Hanson’s presence at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and then called Hanson Sr. a Loyalist. The UELAC directory does not list him as a Loyalist.
John Hanson petitioned Gov. Carleton in 1785. He claimed service as a Loyalist:
“That your Excellency’s petitioners were comfortably situated at Gouldsborough when they were obliged to leave the same together with a Considerable property to avoid taking up arms against his Majesty and to seek for a Habitation among the Subject of Nova Scotia. That on this arrival in Passamaquoddy they began a Settlement on Chamcook Island [note: later called Minister’s Island, in New Brunswick’s Passamaquoddy Bay near the town of St. Andrews.] then unclaimed by any person and after Six years Constant Labour (two years of which time they underwent the greatest distress having large families and no provision, being obliged to subsist on shellfish and whatever they could procure with their Guns) have cleared and brought to perfection a great part of said Island so as to Render themselves a Necessary Subsistence.”
I am seeking more information about John and would like to prove another Loyalist ancestor. If anyone has more information, has a family connection, or suggestions about next steps (I have been through most of the information that is available online – but may have missed something), I would appreciate it.
Our research has hit a snag. We’d appreciate any help. The ancestor which we are researching is Moses Crankshaw. He settled in Ernestown, Canada after serving as a British regular with the 53rd Regiment. According to family history, he was captured at the Battle of Saratoga.
From the book, Ontario Historical Society, p64, is listed as a bachelor living in Marysburgh and on March 9, 1788, he married spinster Mary Rose of Marysburgh.
One witness to the marriage was John Rose. The other witnesses were William Carson (British regular) and Isabella Collier (wife of a British regular).
We can’t figure out:
1. If the name is really Ross? There appears to be a John Ross who served with the 53rd.
2. Is Mary a daughter of Matthias Rose? Matthias settled in Ernestown.
3. Is Mary a Hessian daughter/sister since the Hessians were in Marysburgh?
Any information that would help us better understand the family would be much appreciated.