“Loyalist Trails” 2016-47: November 20, 2016

In this issue:
The Fury of the Mob: New York, by Stephen Davidson
A Re-examination of the DeLanceys, c. 1768-1769
Not In My Master’s House: Why Rev. Agnew Matters
JAR: The Revolution told by one of the [American] Navy’s Greatest Ships
GPP: King George III in the American Popular Imagination
Review of Hostages to Fortune, by Peter C. Newman
New Book: The Loyalist Legacy, by Elaine Cougler
Gravestones of Loyalists Project
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
      + Information about Benjamin Boice


The Fury of the Mob: New York

© Stephen Davidson, UE

In times of civil unrest, elements of the population will take advantage of the upheaval’s lack of restraints to pursue their own desires. During the American Revolution, New York City’s newspaper was filled with ads regarding runaway slaves, fugitive apprentices, and indentured servants who were absent without permission. Women fled unhappy marriages. The times also gave birth to a monster known as “the mob”.

In the years leading up to the Declaration of Independence, patriot rhetoric, political sermons, and rebel propaganda labelled those Americans who had remained loyal to the crown as reprehensible villains. In many communities, “tories” were the targets of verbal abuse and persecution long before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Like the Nazis treatment of Jews, this intimidation quickly escalated into physical attacks on both the loyalists and their property.

Eager for financial gain, some colonists took advantage of the times, becoming mobs that used the revolution as an excuse to steal from their neighbours. As psychologists in a 2016 study of mob mentality noted, “a group of people may behave in ways that violate the moral standards of each individual in that group, often leading to destructive behavior and brutality.” One need only ask the loyalists of New York about the consequences.

Following the revolution, Alexander Campbell of Schoharie, New York settled fifty miles upriver from Montreal. When he travelled to Montreal in 1787 to seek compensation from the British government, he had the opportunity to tell the story of his encounter with a rebel mob. Up until “the troubles”, Campbell had been a shopkeeper. Rebels declared him to be an “enemy to America” when he refused to sign an oath of allegiance.

In Campbell’s words, “a number of people of bad character formed themselves into a committee and examined all persons who had anything to allege against him. His house was attacked by the mob but he opposed them.” The mob also plundered Campbell’s store, compelling the loyalist to move his family to Schenectady. There, in 1776, another mob assisted by Continental soldiers burned his store with all of its goods and merchandise because they believed that Campbell had passed intelligence on to the British. Rebels burned his hay and poisoned his cows.

Patriots imprisoned the loyalist for a time and then gave him 48 hours to leave the colony with his family and all that he could carry in a single wagon. The Campbells found refuge at St. John’s on Lake Champlain where they remained for the duration of the revolution.

Alexander White had been the sheriff of New York’s Tryon County until his loyalty angered local rebels. He was attacked by an armed mob and his house “beset” before being rescued by Sir John Johnson. Later, White became a farmer on the Mohawk River, but a mob stole his horses, cows, sheep and furniture. The mob drove his wife from their home and kidnapped his African servant at the same time, stripping the family of “almost everything”. Following the war, the White family settled in Sorrel on the St. Lawrence River.

Richard Cartwright, a 70-year-old loyalist, also journeyed to Montreal to seek compensation in 1787. Forty-five years earlier, he had left England to settle in New York. Albany became his home, but by 1778 his status as a loyalist made him a target of mob abuse. It attacked Cartwright’s home, stealing clothes, furniture and “various articles”. A mob of three to four thousand (!) surrounded his home on the occasion of George III’s birthday. The rebels “beat and abused” the sixty-one year old loyalist. The local Commissioners of Conspiracies then forced him to leave the town. After finding sanctuary in Montreal, Cartwright and his family settled in Cataraqui, modern day Kingston, Ontario.

A fellow settler of Cataraqui who knew the intensity of mob mentality was Daniel Macquin. His wartime service included raising men for a regiment, being twice imprisoned and sentenced to death, and losing property to local rebels. “Everything” he testified, “was sold at public venue, except the shop goods which were plundered”. When Macquin returned to his home in New York following the peace, he was “seized by the mob, robbed, and driven away”.

John Crawford was another loyalist who only just managed to escape the fury of the mob. When he joined the British in 1780, the rebels of Poundridge in New York’s West Chester County “persecuted, beat, and abused” him. He was tried for his life on suspicion of serving the British as a pilot. The mob was ready to hang him, but Crawford was acquitted at his trial. His responsibilities to his large family prevented Crawford from immediately running away, but he later served in a loyalist regiment as a cordwainer and shoemaker until boarding an evacuation ship for Nova Scotia.

The stories could go on and on. For his opposition to New York sending delegates to the continental congress in 1775, rebels descended on the home of John Hill at night, ill-treating, beating and confining him. The mob also plundered the Hill house and destroyed everything. The New York loyalist was put on trial for his life, but finally acquitted.

Dr. Azor Betts, a loyalist who settled in New Brunswick, later told British commissioners about his experience of being “attacked by a mob” after his home was looted for its books, medicines and furniture. Philip Frymire who settled in New Johnstown (today’s Cornwall, Ontario), told of his farm, livestock, tools, furniture and clothing all being taken and destroyed a rebel mob. Frymire’s father had cash stolen from his home as well. It is hard to see the actions of these colonists as anything more than taking advantage of the times to line their pockets.

Next week in Loyalist Trails this series on mob terrorism reviews the plight of loyalists in the southern colonies.

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

A Re-examination of the DeLanceys, c. 1768-1769

By Christopher F. Minty, The Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society

“The DeLanceys are striving their utmost to make our famaly ridiculous,” raged Peter R. Livingston in April 1770. According to Livingston, not only had the DeLanceys “from the beginning of this Province opposed” his family, but they also wanted to “keep them out of all Posts of Honor or Profit.” The DeLanceys were “determined to oppose every thing and every Body that they [the Livingstons] support.” By this time, Livingston and his politically like-minded colleagues in and around New York City were not fans of the DeLanceys; far from it, in fact. Just over a year earlier, they were cast out of the Assembly after a DeLancey landslide in the Assembly election for New York City and County, and living there under a DeLancey-led Assembly was too much for Peter. He told his father it was “too hard to bear.” The DeLanceys were “Minions of Tyranny.”

Historians’ considerations of the DeLanceys have often echoed Livingston’s statements. Since the mid-twentieth century, the DeLanceys have been depicted as self-interested, opportunistic politicians. Historians have argued that the DeLanceys lacked civic virtue largely because they sought to advance only themselves within society. They were men who lacked ideological conviction. They were not committed to protecting the public good, let alone advancing it, and they were not civic humanists, as eighteenth-century colonists understood the term.For well over a generation, this has been the standard depiction of the DeLanceys, and it still has some traction. As recently as spring 2014, arguments framing the DeLanceys as “self-interested” have continued to drive historians’ interpretations of politics in colonial New York City.

This essay argues against this interpretation. To be sure, it does not suggest that the DeLanceys were not self-interested; they were, after all, candidates standing for election. Just as any hopeful politician would describe their candidacy in a more favorable light, this essay hopes to do the same thing for the DeLanceys’ run in the eighteenth century.

Read more. (Scroll down past the sign-in notes at the top, which only required if you want the PDF copy)

[Editor’s Note: Christopher F. Minty is a former holder of a UELAC Scholarship]

Not In My Master’s House: Why Rev. Agnew Matters

By Steph Walters, October 16, 2016

After giving my talk at Historic St. Luke’s in August and having the opportunity to tour Glebe Church in Driver, Virginia, I’ve received quite a few questions about Reverend John Agnew. This is most likely due to the fact that even the most seasoned lovers of Virginia history have never had the opportunity to engage with Agnew’s story. He never really pops up in academic or popular history books. Only one historian, Otto Lohrenz, has ever studied Agnew in depth–and that was as recent as 2007. When I talk about Agnew it’s very easy to gather from my enthusiasm that I believe the incident between Agnew and William Cowper on March 24, 1775 is when the Revolution in Virginia “got real.”

Historians rarely agree on anything. When it comes to the historiography on “the coming of the Revolution,” historians disagree on what event started the domino effect that led to July 4, 1776. Some religious historians would argue that it was the Great Awakening. Military or War and Society historians point to the French and Indian War. Economic historians–the Stamp Act. Some historians argue it’s Lexington and Concord. Political historians say it was the King’s Proclamation of Rebellion. And then you have some cultural folks who say it’s Thomas Paine’s 1776 publication of Common Sense. And that’s only a few of the dozens of arguments out there. We all make different claims when it comes to significance. And that’s just for the general historiography on the “coming of the Revolution.” There are hundreds of more arguments about each individual colony.

Read about the Agnew-Cowper altercation.

[Editor’s Note: Stephanie Seal Walters, PhD Candidate is a current holder of a UELAC Scholarship]

JAR: The Revolution told by one of the [American] Navy’s Greatest Ships

By Joel W. Thurman on November 16, 2016.

The importance of the maritime history of the American Revolution is often overlooked. Most of the war was fought on land, and what few ships the American’s could muster failed to achieve significant wins throughout the course of the war. Many history books record one significant battle and its hero, John Paul Jones. In recent years, the historiography of the American Revolution has started to shift resulting in an explosion of new ideas, new information, and new viewpoints. Unfurling the sails on one of the lesser known ships of the American Revolution, the USS Boston, serves as a window into the nascent navy. Boston’s creation, service, and fate reveals a great deal about the struggles and triumphs of the American Revolution and the hopes and fears of the Colonial Navy.

The ship Boston in many regards is the embodiment of the city of the same name. As early as 1747, fishermen in Massachusetts kidnapped Royal Navy officers in exchange for the release of impressed sailors.[1] Impressment was a common means of forced military service used by many world powers at the time. While arguably necessary it was hardly ever well received. Boston was one of America’s largest commercial ports, and home to one of the first causes of the revolution, the Boston Massacre. It was a city under siege from the various rules and regulations of the crown, occupied by an army of redcoats that had systematically crept in to heighten an already hostile atmosphere. The city was surrounded by a fleet of the world’s strongest navy.

The decision to create a Navy was not an easy one and, as appears to be the trend of colonial politics, there were several debates and arguments over if, how, and when a navy should be created. Among the most prominent politicians in favor of a Navy were John and Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin. The creation of a navy was effectively the same as declaring independence from Britain. Read more.

GPP: King George III in the American Popular Imagination

By Karin Wulf, Georgian Papers Programme (GPP)

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.

Americans have a trove of popular images of King George III on which to draw, but some are more accessible than others. A key cultural text is an import: The Madness of King George, the film adaptation of Allan Bennett’s play starring Nigel Hawthorne and featuring Helen Mirren and Rupert Everett. The film advances the (now-discounted) theory that the king suffered from porphyria, and grapples at times sensitively with his increasingly fragile mental health. The film was well reviewed, with Hawthorne and Mirren’s performances as King George and Queen Charlotte particularly praised. Despite the central theme (the king’s madness and his relationship with the Prince of Wales), the New York Times reviewer focused on American independence. In the review titled “Going Mad without Being a Sore Loser,” Janet Maslin pulls out a key reference to the American problem: “We must get used to it,” King George eventually sighs about the nation formed from his American colonies. “I have known stranger things. I once saw a sheep with five legs.”

But Americans also have a large fund of home-grown images of King George. The king is often a key figure in brief children’s histories of the American Revolution. For example, prize-winning children’s author Jean Fritz’s marvelous book, Can’t You Make them Behave King George? originally published in 1977 and illustrated by the prolific Tomie dePaola, is a favorite. Fritz has written a host of quasi-political histories of early America for young readers, including And then What Happened Paul Revere (1973) and Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution (1987). Her biography of America’s last king begins with his childhood and ends just after the Revolution. A sympathetic reading of the king’s rule, Fritz emphasizes his (well-documented) desire for order and sense of responsibility. The Revolution arrives, then, as an affront to both. In dePaola’s emblematic cover illustration the king slumps in resignation.

Read more.

Review of Hostages to Fortune, by Peter C. Newman

“Come from away: Peter C. Newman returns with a history of Canada’s foundational exiles,” by Terra Arnone, special to the National Post, November 16, 2016

If you don’t know Peter C. Newman for his metaphor, you might for his hats.

In 60 years’ work, the prolific Canadian author and journalist has donned many of both, the latter somewhat more consistently (a modern ascot with newsboy panache), and the former written with an eloquence that’s become his signature. Hostages to Fortune, Newman’s latest, is proof the author hasn’t given up either.

Describing Canada’s journey to nationhood, Newman oscillates, calling it by turns a “long waltz” and “breech birth”, but in that quirky way of our country’s history, both hit the mark. And if there’s space between those allegories, it’s occupied by this book’s subject: the United Empire Loyalists. A staunch and battle-ragged bunch, Hostages to Fortune chronicles their post-Revolution exodus from the United States and first cracks at life on the Canadian frontier.

This history’s most tempting story — that of the proud, free and valiant American Patriots — has been told. (And told, and told.) Here Newman instead recounts the United Empire Loyalists in a time often overshadowed by other histories of 1812, tracing their settlement of British North America alongside a loose narrative of Toronto’s storied and street-minted Jarvis family.

Read more.

[Editor’s Note: Loyalist Trails, to which Peter subscribes, is mentioned in the book’s bibliography, which made my week!]

New Book: The Loyalist Legacy, by Elaine Cougler

Elaine Cougler has written a wonderful trilogy, The Loyalist Trilogy, and the third book, The Loyalist Legacy recently released just in time for the holidays. This trilogy follows the stories of a family over generations who are Ontario-area Canadian loyalists to the Crown during the time of the American Revolution. The Loyalist’s Wife begins the story of John and Lucy; The Loyalist’s Luck continues their war torn story in Niagara area.

After the crushing end of the War of 1812, William and Catherine Garner find their allotted two hundred acres in Nissouri Township by following the Thames River into the wild heart of Upper Canada. On their valuable land straddling the river, dense forest, wild beasts, displaced Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans.

With spectacular scenes of settlers recovering from the wartime catastrophes in early Ontario, Elaine Cougler shows a different kind of battle, one of ordinary people somehow finding the inner resources to shape new lives and a new country.

The Loyalist Legacy continues the story with the next generation — William, the son of John and Lucy Garner. William and his family are living in Upper Canada after the brutality of the War of 1812. They haven’t heard from his family in two years and he’s grown increasingly concerned.

Read more.

Gravestones of Loyalists Project

Brian McConnell, UE, of Nova Scotia Branch, reports that he now has over 700 graves and gravestones of United Empire Loyalists listed in the Grave Locations of United Empire Loyalists section of the Find A Grave website.

(See photo.)

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • 14 Nov 1775: George III notifies Lord North that he has contracted 4,000 German recruits for Great Britain. Painting of German Soldiers.
  • Nov 16, 1776: The Continental Army loses Fort Washington to the British after a defense of 4-5 hours. The scene (painting – but not the right scene – painting is of the Battle of Long Island). Read a short description of the New York Campaign, of which the loss at Fort Washington was near the end.
  • Immigrant Ancestor Jonas Larroway, a Loyalist. Jonas Larroway, United Empire Loyalist, born 1731 Schoharie Co. New York, was descended from the LeRoy dit Audy family who settled in New France (now Quebec) from France in 1668. His great-grandfather, Simeon LeRoy dit Audy was born in Creances Normandy. Read more…
  • This ancient log cabin in Philipsburg, Quebec, was built by United Empire Loyalist, Simon Lyster, a blacksmith, in 1784. The extraordinary cabin is the earliest known example of Loyalist style construction in Quebec. Philipsburg is 85 kilometres southeast of Montreal.
  • Cheesemaking In The Early 19th Century. We have a very special episode today! Deanna Berkemeier, from Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, NY, walks us through the process of making cheese from scratch. Deanna is a master at the art of Cheesemaking. We hope you enjoy this! If you’re ever in the Rochester, NY, area, be sure to put Genesee Country Village & Museum on your itinerary! You won’t regret it!
  • The National Trust for Canada’s 2016 This Place Matters Competition has concluded. The votes have been counted and the public has spoken. The winners of the 2016 This Place Matters Competition are Save Lock One (St. Catharines) in the City Beacon category and Renewed and Rewritten: The Story of the Kentville Library (Kentville) in Town Spotlight. For more information, visit “This Place Matters” and then click on the “Main Street” sign for more.
  • News from Library and Archives Canada. As of November 15, LAC reports that the digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force personnel services files has progressed to the point that 361,236 of the 640,000 files have been digitized and the images placed online. The scanning is complete to Box 6052 and the surname Mattineau. The digization order is “roughly alphabetical” but some files may have been incorrectly stored, so be patient as the project continues.
  • Findmypast Additions Findmypast.com Among last week’s additions to the site were many military records, such as British Campaign, Gallantry and Long Service Medals and Awards, British Royal Navy Ships’ Musters, British Royal Naval Reserve Records, and British Royal Navy and Royal Marine Pension and Service Records. For Canadians, the addition of the Lower Canada Census of 1825 adds 74,000 records for residents in modern-day Labrador and southern Quebec.


Information about Benjamin Boice

I am looking for more information about Benjamin. He was born 2 Feb 1775 at Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York, USA. He later married Margaret Bartley who was born about 1777, also in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York, United States.

Benjamin married Margaret 20 Aug 1798 Fredericksburgh, Lexington Addington, Ontario suggesting that either or both could have been children of Loyalists.

I would appreciate any information that you might have.

Norman Barber, Logan, Utah