“Loyalist Trails” 2016-43: October 23, 2016
In this issue:
– Life in Loyalist New York City, by Stephen Davidson
– Bedeque Museum: Loyalists Visit the Loyalist Display
– Peter Newman’s Hostages to Fortune Publishes Nov. 1
– Georgian Papers: King George III in the American Popular Imagination
– UE Loyalist Certificates Issued in September
– “Branching Out” Reports from the Loyalist Gazette Spring 2016
– JAR: With Cornwallis to the Dan
– Atlantic Loyalist Connections: Loyalist Lowdown: The Jonathan Odell Edition
– How the American Revolution Worked Against Blacks, Indians and Women
– Fall 2016 Issue of the Loyalist Gazette
– Where in the World?
– Region and Branch Bits
– From the Twittersphere and Beyond
© Stephen Davidson, UE
New York City was the headquarters for the British army during the American Revolution. As the war dragged on, it was also a sanctuary for persecuted loyalists in the northern colonies. Both British troops and loyal colonists followed the course of the revolution — and the news of New York– by reading Rivington’s Royal Gazette. The newspaper was decidedly on the side of the crown, praising loyalist victories and condemning patriot atrocities.
Today, the Royal Gazette offers its 21st century readers a glimpse of what life was like in a loyal city surrounded by rebel forces. Here are just a handful of anecdotes from its pages that help us appreciate the everyday world of loyalist New York between 1777 and 1783.
Like the modern day media, stories of bad news tended to dominate the Royal Gazette’s pages. In October of 1777, rebels arrested and executed Stephen Edwards, a “Loyalist inhabitant of Shrewsbury”. Mr. Taylor, caught taking a letter to General Burgoyne, was hanged as a spy. Rebels in Dutchess County crucified Patrick Dungarvon and James McNaughton for “having attempted to desert to His Majesty’s army.” In that same month, three sailors in the British navy deserted their ship, and some enslaved Africans ran away from their masters.
The good news sometimes spotlighted loyalists who were given permission to find sanctuary in New York City. This was the case for the wives and children of Joseph Pynchon, Titus Smith, Thomas Goold, Benjamin Smith, William Richmond, Theophilus Chamberlain, Richard Woodhull and Daniel Humphreys. Rebels allowed these families to leave Connecticut in a sloop. The New Haven refugees did their best to start new lives in the city. An attorney at law in Connecticut, Daniel Humphreys decided to support his family by opening a school where he taught reading, grammar, arithmetic, Latin and Greek.
Loyal New Yorkers might also take comfort in the fact that their newspaper reported the arrest and imprisonment of three rebels in their midst who were charged with “treasonable correspondence” with His Majesty’s enemies. New York was often the site of family reunions. John Goodrich Senior arrived in port on the St. Albans and advertised that he “wishes to see his sons and friends” after escaping from “the Virginia relatives”.
Other good news included the wedding announcements of various British officers and their American brides. Somehow, in the midst of war, love blossomed and thrived. There were also sad accounts of young mothers dying on birthing beds; one was only 19 years old. The loss of a mother could be fatal for the newborn child. This explains ads seeking “a woman with a good breast of milk”. Another ad indicates that a woman so equipped was prepared to “take a child or go into a family”.
Loyalists had all the foibles and failings of human nature. Given the number of newspaper stories pertaining to crime and marital problems, they certainly weren’t plaster saints. At least once a month, the Royal Gazette carried notices that a man’s wife had “eloped” from his “bed and board”. Mary Boss wanted everyone to know that she had left her husband Joseph because “of ill usage at his hands.” Some of the abandoned husbands published notices to say that they would henceforth “pay no debts contracted in the future” by their wives. Some couples simply notified the public that they had “lately separated” or divorced.
Human nature has changed very little. Readers eager for salacious gossip could find it in The Royal Gazette. Betsy Sidman, a tavern keeper’s daughter, had reportedly given birth to a son of George Washington. The general’s current mistress –alleged the paper– was a corporal’s wife, left behind in Tappan, New York after the execution of Major Andre.
A loyalist named Joshua Hamilton left his wife and two children in New York City when he went to Georgia on business. Rebels imprisoned him for two years. Upon his return home, he found that his wife had married a Hessian officer less than a year after his departure. In the intervening time she had “become a common prostitute to both soldiers and sailors”.
While bright lights of Broadway were a century away, New York was still quite colourful during the American Revolution, judging by the names of various taverns. Imagine walking along streets where establishments bore the Sign of the Golden Checkers, the Sign of the Hand and Pen, the Sign of the Prince of Hesse, the Sign of the Jolly Sailor, the Sign of the Dolphin, the Three Crowns, the Sign of the Fried Oysters, and the Sign of the Brave Lord Hood — to name but a few.
Lotteries were a part of life in the Big Apple; one prize was as much as $1,500.00. Charles Loosely and Thomas Elms, who operated a loyalist tavern (and would later settle in Saint John, New Brunswick), won a $500.00 prize.
Runaway ads were regular features in the Royal Gazette, but they did not always deal with enslaved Africans. Young men from Ireland, France and England who were apprenticed to local craftsman or who were indentured servants also had their names published as wanted fugitives. Watches, horses, cattle, and small boats also went missing on a regular basis.
Rewards for the return of lost possessions were common. Sometimes soldiers placed ads for lost dogs. Poignantly, the lonely owners sought their “Newfoundland dog named Watch”, “a dog named Carlo”, and “a spaniel named Rover”. In 1783, Barak Hays offered a reward of five guineas for the return of two parchment rolls that had been taken from the synagogue. There were want ads in Rivington’s paper as well. Charles Loosely at the King’s Head Tavern was hoping to hire an organist and a waiter.
Where imagination fails to help us appreciate the bustling life of a loyalist sanctuary, the Royal Gazette readily fills the gaps. William Deal advertised that there would be a match between two cricket clubs at his home. New Yorkers could also attend band concerts at the White-Conduit-House or buy chocolate from Rebecca Gomez on Nassau Street. Elizabeth Dudley operated a confectionary shop on Crown Street. Displaced loyalists could visit shops operated by gunsmiths, tobacconists, sail makers, oyster-fryers, breeches makers, hairdressers, saddlers, and wig-makers. Chimney sweeps — those child labourers that we tend to place in the Victorian era– were under the supervision of two local businessmen.
This has been just a taste of what one can find in the pages of Rivington’s Royal Gazette. Rest assured that we will flip through its pages again in future editions of Loyalist Trails.
To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.
The Bedeque Museum has been open from June 28 to September 4, staffed by our two student workers, Nigel Waite and Callie Campbell, and has been visited by over 450 people, a considerable increase from last year. A special occasion was the visit by more than one hundred members of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada in July.
Our new Loyalist exhibit has been set up and new donations of artifacts have been made to the Museum. We have also held a series of talks which attracted about 140 people. And one of our members, Earle Lockerby, has made an exciting discovery concerning the account book (actually a store ledger) of William Schurman, the Loyalist progenitor of all the Schurmans on Prince Edward Island.
All of these topics are covered in this newsletter. Thanks for permission to post a copy of the newsletter on the UELAC, as given by the Board of the Museum through Doug Sobey, and requested by Bonnie Schepers, UELAC. The newsletter contains much Loyalist content and numerous photos in articles on:
• Loyalists from across Canada visit on July 8 as part of the Conference bus tour;
• The official opening of the Loyalist Exhibit on July 9;
• A History Circle on the Loyalists;
• The Monument to the ‘Bedeque Harbour Loyalists’;
• Researching Loyalists on Prince Edward Island;
• The Loyalist Murray Family of Bedeque;
• Marriage License of Stephen Wright and Fanny Lord;
• The Account Book of William Schurman, Loyalist.
Read the newsletter. Enjoy!
The United Empire Loyalists and the Making of Canada
Esteemed Canadian author Peter C. Newman recounts the dramatic journey of the United Empire Loyalists—their exodus from America, their resettlement in the wilds of British North America, and their defense of what would prove to be the social and moral foundation of Canada.
In Hostages to Fortune, Peter C. Newman recounts the expulsion and migration of these brave Loyalists. In his inimitable style, Newman shines a light on the people, places, and events that set the stage for modern Canada.
Click here to watch Peter talk about why he wrote the book, see the description and read an excerpt.
NOTE: See “Region and Branch Bits” below for an invitation to a book launch in Toronto on Nov 3.
(By Karin Wulf) As we consider the range and depth of materials emerging from the Georgian Papers Programme it’s clear that any number of historical subjects will be newly framed or newly illuminated. And it’s likely that a more subtle perspective on King George III will be among the project’s outcomes. Historians have interpreted eighteenth-century attitudes to the English king who last ruled North America differently, with some arguing for a more benign view of the monarch and a harsh view of his ministers, and others finding an intensity of opposition to the monarch himself as well as monarchical rule. And though he ruled Britain for a long time, one way or another Americans usually encounter George III in the context of the prelude to, war for, and conclusion of the Revolution. In this context it’s useful to think about how and why the monarch Americans most closely associate with the American Revolution is imagined in popular culture.
The Georgian Papers Programme will likely bring a more nuanced view of George III into view. Though he, too, loved an intellectual woman, and fresh perspectives about Queen Charlotte are likely to be a key aspect of new research in the Georgian Papers, it’s unlikely we’ll see a version of the king that approximates either the role Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote or the one Jonathan Groff has performed (on stage and on Youtube). Still, it’s important to appreciate the distinctive place of America’s last king in its popular culture.
A list of UE Certificates issued since late in 2012 — showing the Loyalist ancestor, name of descendant (when permission is granted), branch and date — has been updated with the certificates issued in September of this year. The same updates have been applied to the Loyalist Directory.
The Loyalists are the main focus of the association of branches across the country. Over tum new branches have formed; others have closed. This history of the branches was developed by Fred Hayward who continues to expand the information about them. In each issue of the Loyalist Gazette, reports (now called Branch News Highlights) from a number of branches are published.
These have been captured in the “Branching Out” file for each branch, which is posted to Branches of the UELAC. Thirteen Branch reports from 2016 Spring issue have now been added.
Did you know that there have been 41 named branches, although in fairness a small number of branches have changed their name over time to better reflect their geographic constituency.
Our Loyalist history is fascinating; our association story is likewise.
Deconstructing the “Forbes Champagné Letter” by Gregory J. W. Urwin
The American War of Independence produced many dramatic episodes, but none surpassed the campaign that Lt. Gen. Charles, Second Earl Cornwallis, conducted in North Carolina during the first three months of 1781 for hair-raising suspense and heartbreak. Things got off to a bad start for the British on January 17, 1781, at the Battle of Cowpens in western South Carolina. There Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan with a mixed force of eighteen hundred to twenty-four hundred Continentals and militia smashed eleven hundred British and Loyalist regulars under the earl’s most flamboyant subordinate, Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. Determined to redeem the reputation of British arms and recover the six hundred prisoners Tarleton had lost, Cornwallis tried to prevent Morgan from rendezvousing with the main Continental army in the South under Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene.
Morgan gave his pursuer the slip, but Cornwallis remained determined to realize his original strategic vision. He would invade North Carolina and destroy Greene, which would secure the British hold on South Carolina once and for all, and also leave the Tar Heel State at his mercy. Although Cowpens had reduced the earl’s enlisted strength to 2,440, more than 2,150 of those men were seasoned regulars and widely considered superior to any number of troops Greene might put into the field. As James Lovell, a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, confided to a Boston friend about affairs in the South: “Our Army there is no match for Cornwallis, and if he pushes Suddenly he will ruin Genl. Green.”
A sudden and sustained push was exactly what Cornwallis had in mind.
Jonathan Odell lived a varied life, changing professions and locations many times; but through it all he retained his views on the importance of living a positive and generally peaceful life, while sticking steadfastly to what he believed to be righteous opinions which made him much admired. When it came to his loyalist views, Odell became increasingly outspoken as the American Revolution became more tempestuous; the man who once wished to focus on his role as a clergyman could no longer stay out of the political sphere. The Loyalist Collection at UNB Libraries holds microfilmed copies of the Odell Family Papers (the originals are housed at the New Brunswick Museum Archives) which covers the Odell family beginning with Jonathan and follows his family into the 1900s. These include letters, poetry, and sermons written by Jonathan Odell, as well as various other documents which help to show a vibrant figure.
Read more about Jonathan Odell and family. “Offering glimpses into The Loyalist Collection, this blog illuminates relations within the British colonial Atlantic world as reflected through the wealth of primary sources, such as letters and administrative documents. Check it out.”
Review of AMERICAN REVOLUTIONS, A Continental History, 1750-1804. By Alan Taylor. Illustrated. 681 pp. W.W. Norton & Company.
Taylor says “American Revolutions” is “a sequel” to that earlier work. Most books on the Revolution, he writes, “focus on the national story of the United States … That approach demotes neighboring empires and native peoples to bit players and minor obstacles to inevitable American expansion.”
In this volume, Taylor seeks to set the American Revolution in the broadest possible context — not only involving it in all the struggles of the rival European empires in the New World, but making the native peoples and the African slaves more important, indeed, even central, to it. It was not just the Eastern Seaboard’s protesting taxes that explains the Revolution. Conflicts in the trans-Appalachian west, Taylor contends, need to be linked “with resistance to parliamentary taxes as equal halves of a constitutional crisis that disrupted the British Empire in North America.” The several small uprisings that took place in the Spanish Empire in the early 1780s may not have greatly affected the course of the American Revolution, but the slave rebellion on the French island of Saint-Domingue in the 1790s certainly did; indeed, Taylor seems to have selected the end date, 1804, in his subtitle in order to include the creation of the second republic in the Americas, Haiti.
Read the remainder of this New York Times book review by By GORDON S. WOOD
The next Loyalist Gazette is in final stages of proof reading and will soon by at the printers. As the printing and then mailing cycle is in the order of two weeks, we expect it to be delivered to Canada Post during the second week in Nov., barring any unexpected delays.
Thanks to those who have already requested the digital copy. You should receive a notice, with instructions, that it is available a few days before the mailing date.
It is not too late to request a digital copy and be one of the first to read it – as a paid-up member or a subscriber to the Gazette (published twice each year), you can still register today.
Where is Ross Wallace of Toronto 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 your submission to the editor at email@example.com.
From the UELAC branches, news and events of interest to others.
- A book launch (see the flyer) for Peter Newman’s book – Hostages to Fortune – about the Loyalists will be held in Toronto, ON Thursday 3 November at Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St., 6-8pm. You are invited, but as space is limited, be sure to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Boston Light, America’s first light station, turned 300 on 14 Sept 2016, having been first lit in 1716. In 1774 the British took over the island and in 1775 the harbor was blocked and the lighthouse became useless. During the early revolution, the island and its lighthouse saw several skirmishes, changed hands. In June 1776, before sailing away, the British sent a boat ashore at Boston Light and left a time charge which blew up the lighthouse. Read the history…
- Brian McConnell’s Peregrinations in Nova Scotia
- Gravestone of Loyalist John Sulis in Sulis – Smith Cemetery at Smith’s Cove, Nova Scotia, named after Loyalist settler Joseph Smith
- Plaque to Douwe Ditmars, United Empire Loyalist, on wall in Old St. Edward’s Church, Clementsport, NS
- Long-Toppled Statue of King George III to Ride Again, From a Brooklyn Studio — New York Times. His Majesty’s protuberant eyes were fixed cruelly on his New York subjects. His voluptuous lips were set in steely resolve. Towering on a marble base above the Bowling Green, the gilded equestrian statue of King George III evoked a Roman emperor. With right arm upraised over the heads of the rabble, his message to a colony in revolutionary turmoil was plain enough: Don’t even think about it. On July 9, 1776, however, after hearing the newly adopted Declaration of Independence publicly proclaimed, 40 American soldiers and sailors under the command of Capt. Oliver Brown stole down to the Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan under cover of night. They lashed ropes around the statue, pulled until their ropes broke and then pulled again. At last, the symbol of a detested monarchy lay in pieces on the ground. Pieces of precious lead. Read more about this recreation project…
- An introduction to a Forum to expand on the new book Slavery’s Capitalism. At The Junto by Tom Cutterham. This book has been a long time coming. The conference from which this book arose was held at Harvard and Brown Universities in spring 2011. To mark this moment, we have put together a week-long forum that we hope will develop into a broad conversation. We aim to give an overview of Slavery’s Capitalism, but more than that, to ask questions and provoke debate about the state of the various fields involved in this endeavour. Does Slavery’s Capitalism, the book, represent an end-point for the scholarship that inspired it in 2011? Or is this only the beginning? the book as a whole raises troubling questions about the relationships between capitalist economic reason—which we can no longer separate from the inhumanity of slavery—and the stories we wish to tell about America, as a nursery of equal liberty, and a competitive, egalitarian capitalism. Read this introduction to a Forum – it by itself notes some provocative points. For more:
- The Global and the Hemispheric
- Commodities and Agents in the History of Slavery
- Slave Economies of the U.S. North
- Slavery’s Civil War?
- A Harvest Succotash by Jas. Townsend and Son, Inc. Today’s recipe is for a harvest version that uses dried ingredients instead. It’s a much heartier dish than its sweet-corn cousin, but that heartiness is balanced well with the addition of squash. Corn, beans, and squash were often referred to as the “three sisters” by early Native American peoples, and were often cooked together in stews and soups. Watch video
- If the first recipe or cook book was published not far removed from the Loyalist era, where did one previously find recipes? If a book of another sort also contained recipes, what was it called? Read Recipes in Manuscript Miscellanies for a discussion of what came before.
- The United Empire Loyalist Park in Fort Erie is the site for the first round of replacement trees.