“Loyalist Trails” 2016-24: June 12, 2016

In this issue:
Conference 2016
The Comfortable (Loyalist) Pew (Part 2 of 3), by Stephen Davidson
Ben Franklin’s World: American Loyalists in Canada
Loyalist House in Saint John: Restoration Project
Borealia: Forgotten Indigenous Figures
JAR: Drummer Fisher Hung from a Tree
JAR Comment: Battle of Gwynn’s Island
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
      + What Did Refugees Do at Ft. Niagara?


Conference 2016

The 2016 UELAC Conference in Summerside PEI will be hosted by the Branches of the Atlantic Region: Abegweit, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on July 7-10.

Information about the conference, including the registration form, is now available read here.

The Comfortable (Loyalist) Pew (Part 2 of 3)

© Stephen Davidson, UE

The last loyalist from Falmouth who sought compensation for his lost pew was the Rev. John Wiswall, an Anglican vicar. His continued prayers for the king’s health, his refusal to hold a fast in support of the rebel cause, and his unwillingness to collect funds for the patriots in Boston soon brought about persecution, “ill use”, and imprisonment. After escaping, he eventually sailed for England where he served as a navy chaplain for the rest of the war. Wiswall returned to North America in 1783, ministering to the Anglicans of Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.

When the compensation board met in Halifax in 1786, Wiswall described the pew rent fees in his claim, explaining that he earned a living of £75 a year from the “tax upon the pews”. Wiswall’s parishioners at St. Paul’s Church paid one shilling each Sunday to rent the pews of their choice. His own pew was valued at £10 a year. This was a quarter of the value assigned to the minister’s enslaved African woman and her son.

Three other loyal citizens of Massachusetts who sought compensation for their lost pews were all from Boston. Elizabeth Brinley, the widow of a distiller, made her claim in London in 1785. Her husband Thomas had “signed every paper drawn out in favour” of the government, thus making him “very obnoxious”. Being one of the hated Mandamus councillors didn’t help either.

The Brinleys left Boston in March of 1776 with the British forces and found refuge in England. Thomas Brinley died eight years later. Elizabeth sought compensation for her husband’s house, garden, distillery, land, wharf, 1400 bushels of salt and their box pew. The pew was in King’s Chapel, the first Anglican church built in New England. Only those who owned or rented pews had the right to vote on matters of congregational concern. Almost all of the church’s parishioners left with the British forces and the church was vacant until 1782.

The British government recognized Thomas Brinley as a loyalist in 1785 and repaid Elizabeth for her family’s losses. She died eight years later, never returning to Boston.

Another Boston loyalist named Francis Green worshipped at the Congregational Church on Brattle Street along with such patriots as John Hancock and the Adamses. (John Adams later became the second president of the United States.) Green paid £44 for his pew. His wife died during the seige of Boston, leaving the loyalist merchant to care for their five children. Like the Brinleys, Green’s family fled their city, finding sanctuary in England.

What makes Green stand out from his peers is his interest in the education of the deaf. His oldest son Charles could not hear, but thanks to six years in a private institution in Scotland, the boy “became proficient in language both oral and written, in arithmetic, geography, and painting”. While living in England as a refugee, Green published a pamphlet on the importance of helping the deaf to communicate.

By 1785, the family had settled in Halifax where Green, then 43, married again. Two years later, 15 year-old Charles Green drowned. The family eventually returned to Massachusetts where, in memory of his deaf son, Green continued to “convince his countrymen of the practicability of educating mutes” while remaining “a bitter foe of democracy”. Since Green and his family settled in Medford, a community north of Boston, it seems unlikely he ever sat in his Brattle Street Church pew again.

The last loyal Bostonian who sought compensation for the loss of his church pew was Thomas Oliver. In 1774, he became the lieutenant-governor of Massachusetts and the president of the rebel-despised Mandamus Council. After threats were made on his life, Oliver found temportary sanctuary in Boston before heading to England with his wife and six children. The British government continued to consider Oliver as Massachusetts’ lieutenant governor, paying his salary until his death in 1815. He was also compensated for his property losses, including the £10 he paid for his pew at Boston’s Trinity Church.

Judging by the claims of two Charleston, South Carolina loyalists, a church pew was rather expensive. Both Henry Peronneau and Thomas Phepoe quoted £100 as the value for their seats in the church sanctuary.

Perroneau was South Carolina’s public treasurer until the rebel congress asked him to issue money to aid their cause. When he refused, the patriots imprisoned him. Friends in high places prevented “the mob” from attacking Perroneau, and he managed to flee to Holland and then England. After being granted compensation for all of his losses, Perroneau learned that his property had been restored, and he declined the British government’s aid. He returned to South Carolina where he died in 1786.

Thomas Phepoe, dubbed “the Tory lawyer” bravely defended the loyalists in the courtrooms of South Carolina. At his compensation hearing in London, several former clients gave glowing testimony. One said Phepoe “pleaded his cause without fee or reward. He refused money when he offered it.”

Another Charleston loyalist was John Rose, a shipbuilder and a plantation owner. One demonstration of his loyalty was provisioning British army from his plantation’s stores; another was the enlistment of his son Hugh in the royal militia. Rose fled Charleston during the loyalist evacuation in December of 1782. Along with the claim he made for his lost property in 1784, Rose included his pew. Declared a loyalist, Rose nevertheless tried to return to his estates in South Carolina, but was unsuccessful.

Oliver DeLancey, the commander of three provincial battalions bearing his name, was the first loyalist officer appointed during the revolution. Rebels in his native colony of New York once posted a reward of £500 for DeLancey’s head. He survived the revolution with his head intact, living long enough to receive compensation from the British government, including £20 for his church pew. DeLancey died two years after being repaid for his losses.

The remaining four loyalists who sought compensation for their lost church pews all once called Massachusetts their home.

That Ebenezer Cutler was a very religious man is evident in that he made a claim of £45 for two pews in the Amherst Anglican Church. Despite his piety, Northboro rebels posted a reward for his capture. Trying to escape the patriots, Cutler once hid between a farmhouse’s chimney and its outer wall where he almost suffocated. This loyal trader settled in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Royal at the end of the revolution. One story of his Anglican zeal has survived to this day. Cutler apparently discovered his cow drinking from a stream that passed under the local Methodist Church. “He beat her severely for her apostasy from the true faith”. One can only wonder what it must have been like to confront Cutler when he served as the chief clerk in Annapolis Royal’s law courts.

William Browne of Salem, Massachussetts listed four church pews in his compensation claim. One pew valued at £12 was in St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Salem, a building which had vegetables thrown at it during the revolution because of its many loyalist parishioners. The North Meeting House was where Congregationalists worshipped in Salem. Brown’s half-pew there was worth £12 while a second full pew was £28. The pew that had been his grandfather’s in the First Meeting House, the oldest Congregational Church in America, was valued at £33.

In addition to having so many pews, Browne also had many responsibilities. Prior to 1774, he was a colonel in the Essex County militia, a judge of the superior court and a member of the appointed Mandamus Council. Persecuted for his loyalist principles, Browne fled Boston in 1776.

Five years after his arrival in England, Browne was made the governor of Bermuda. It is somehow fitting that this loyalist of many pews would worship at an historic church in St. George’s, Bermuda for six years. St. Peter’s is the oldest surviving Anglican Church in continuous use outside of the British Isles and the oldest continuously used Protestant Church in the New World.

This series on loyalists and their pews concludes in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

Ben Franklin’s World: American Loyalists in Canada

A Podcast; Episode 085: by Bonnie Huskins

The War for Independence was a conflict between Great Britain and her 13 North American colonies. It was also a civil war. Not only did the war pit Briton against Briton, it also pit American against American. But what happened to the Americans who lost?

In this episode, Bonnie Huskins, coordinator of Loyalist Studies at the University of New Brunswick, joins us to explore the experiences of the American Loyalists.

During our investigation, Bonnie reveals who the American Loyalists were; How individual Loyalists experienced their evacuation from the United States; And, the varied experiences of the white and African American Loyalists who settled in Canada. Listen here.

Loyalist House in Saint John: Restoration Project

A major milestone was reached this week in Saint John’s Loyalist House restoration project, and now the rush is on to finish the project in time for peak tourism season.

Dozens of windows from the 200-year-old landmark were removed when the restoration project got underway in the winter, and now the refurbished windows are being installed. Read more.

Borealia: Forgotten Indigenous Figures

by Kathryn Magee Labelle

I always try to incorporate the life stories of lesser-known and often-overlooked historical actors when I teach the Pre-Confederation history survey. The content for these biographical sketches are usually drawn from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (DCB). Easily accessible on-line with well-researched and informed essays, it has been an essential tool in my course creation.

Yet, I am continuously shocked as to who remains neglected within this substantial collection. In many cases, individuals who have contributed greatly to the early history of what would become Canada are not found. More specifically, Indigenous men and women from this time period are rare to say the least. What follows are three case studies of individuals who I include in my course lectures, but who are not represented in the DCB. I’ve included a few highlights about them and their accomplishments. I hope that this is helpful and that one day they will find their way into other course outlines or perhaps even the DCB! Read more.

JAR: Drummer Fisher Hung from a Tree

By Don N. Hagist, published June 8, 2016

John Fisher hung from a tree. “Near the high road” from Fostertown to Mount Holly, New Jersey, he was in plain sight to the soldiers who marched past. He hung there as an example of what deserters could expect, especially if they were caught bearing arms for the enemy. The impact Fisher’s dangling corpse had on the rank and file soldiers cannot be measured, but it made a strong enough impression on officers that several recorded the grizzly sight in their writings. Today the tree is gone, but a roadside marker commemorates the event that occurred on June 22, 1778, albeit with an error. Fisher’s story, however, has been overlooked. Read more.

JAR Comment: Battle of Gwynn’s Island

I was surprised and pleased to see the JAR article, “Battle of Gwynn’s Island, Lord Dunmore’s Last Stand in Virginia”. Just this week I have been reading a letter dated 21 June 1775 written by my 4x great grandfather, William Hartshorne of Virginia, to his father, Hugh Hartshorne in England, with a comment about Lord Dunmore. In this letter he said,

“We are informed Lord Dunmore our Governor, is gone on board a man of War at York. He has threatened to erect the King’s Standard, proclaim Freedom to the Slaves & set Williamsburg on Fire if any more armed men come over Rufane Ferry. He is also suspected to have tried to set the Indians on our Frontiers — we believe him guilty of these wishes and intentions. I therefore suppose he will never land in Virga again.”

The original letter is in the collections of the Monmouth County Historical Association Library and Archives, Freehold, NJ, “Hartshorne Family Papers, II, 1664-1915”, Coll 24.

William was a neighbour of George Washington’s and, although a Quaker, supported the American cause of independence as a member of the Fairfax County (VA) Committee of Safety. Through him I have become a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. His son, Robert Hartshorne (my 3x great grandfather), came to Nova Scotia in 1806, swore allegiance to the British in 1812 and married Harriet Elizabeth Cutler, the daughter of Thomas Cutler, a United Empire Loyalist. I have proven my Loyalist lineage to Thomas Cutler and have the certificate. Rather unusual to have both sides of the American Revolution represented in one couple, although I expect you may hear of others.

…Dorothy Meyerhof, UE

Region and Branch Bits

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

  • Join in Loyalist Day celebrations on Sunday June 19 in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Edmonton.
  • Look at this great promotion piece. Sunday June 19 Loyalist Day celebration in Vittoria Ontario. Join Grand River Branch for an afternoon of tribute, flag raising, food & fun!
  • Kudos to Bill Terry UE and members of Norfolk OGS for pursuing this important part of Norfolk County history – dedication of the Poorhouse Cemetery. Photo.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • We all need more sparkle in our lives! Check out these 1740s silk, silver & red leather shoes at the Museum of London.
  • Plaque at the start of the path to the grave of Col. James DeLancey, UE Loyalist at Round Hill, Nova Scotia, from Brian McConnell.
  • Did you know that the plaques that hang in the Mohawk Chapel (Brantford ON) are a phonetic version of the Mohawk language? Can you decipher this?
  • History can come in all shapes and forms. See this segment of a cartoon history of Canada, about the loyalists [Stephen Davidson].
  • A new Canadian Tulip. The Dutch bred a tulip just for Canada to celebrate our 150th! “The tulip represents gratitude and the long-standing friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. Blooming in the colours of Canada’s flag, ‘Canada 150 tulips’ will bring both pride and joy to gardens and communities from coast to coast to coast,” said His Excellency Cees Kole, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in a news release. More than 200,000 of the ‘Canada 150 tulips’ will bloom across the National Capital Region this spring. Next year 300,000 will be showcased in the NCC’s flower beds, with thousands more expected to be planted in community gardens across Canada.


What Did Refugees Do at Ft. Niagara?

I am a descendant of several Loyalists. The main one is the Peter Secord, Sr. family.

I am writing a story about them and have not been able to find out what the loyalists refugees did at Ft. Niagara during the years of 1777 until they started settling on their own land in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area.

I have documentation for Peter Secord taking his family to Ft. Niagara around 1777. I have not been able to get any of the following questions answered:

• Where did Loyalists live? In the Fort in tents or outside or something else?

• What tasks did they do while they were there? Like how did they find food, cook food, bathe, socialize, etc. What was the typical day like for a refugee at Ft. Niagara?

• How would they have interacted with the natives around them?

• What path did they use to travel from Tioga area to Ft. Niagara? Did they use pack horses? Wagons? Carts?

I have found material on the Ft. Commanders, some soldier activities, and so on, but nothing much on the families. There are some stories that get repeated, like the Bowman(?) woman who delivered a baby, then saw her husband taken, her son foraging in the snow and so on. Also the story about several women and children being rescued by Col. Bolton and James Secord, Sr. and how they arrived at the Fort with one pair of shoes on someone.

I have also read that Butler’s barracks were built near the Fort at first, and then later on the opposite side of the Fort – across the Niagara river.

I was wondering if anyone can point me at some resources about all the above that would shed more light on the Loyalists actual daily life at the Fort?

I visited Ft. Niagara last September and no one who was there at the time was able to help me about the Rev. War period and so on. I also went to Brock Univ., 10th floor and got copies of Francis Goring’s journals. The librarian couldn’t identify any resources that would help answer my questions.

Thank you in advance for any help.

Ellen Tiernan, Chicago, IL