“Loyalist Trails” 2016-50: December 11, 2016

In this issue:
Unpacking Entries in a Ledger: Part One, by Stephen Davidson
Borealia: Stewarding a Canadian Culture of Comity
JAR: Fishermen and Foxhunters: Washington’s “Gentlemen of Fortune”
The American Revolution Through the Eyes of King George
Book: Captured in the War of 1812
Region and Branch Bits
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Last Post: Eugenie “Emma” McFadyen (MacPherson), UE
      + Loyalists Fleeing Through Sackets Harbour Area


Unpacking Entries in a Ledger: Part One

© Stephen Davidson, UE

Bill Brown was a 24 year-old Black Loyalist who set sail for Port Roseway, Nova Scotia in April of 1783. With him aboard the evacuation ship, Ann & Elizabeth, were Dinah, his 23 year-old freeborn wife, and their infant child. The African trio was travelling with the refugee family of Nicholas and Hannah Brown of Connecticut.

Because their names were recorded in Sir Guy Carleton’s ledger, the Book of Negroes, we know that Bill had been the slave of a rebel in Morristown, New Jersey and that Dinah was in the employ of a New York loyalist who had been hanged as a spy. By carefully following the clues provided in the Book of Negroes, the richer and deeper story hiding within the Browns’ meager entries can be unpacked and appreciated for the very first time.

Until he escaped slavery at the age of 21, Bill Brown had been forced to work for Jacob Arnold of Morristown, New Jersey. The Arnold family moved to the Washington Valley area from Connecticut in 1730, bringing with them the first sleigh ever used in New Jersey as well as a number of slaves. One of these Africans, a woman known as Aunt Jenny, lived to be over 100 years old. However, there are no records to indicate if she was a relative of young Bill.

Historical accounts differ as to whether the largest tavern in Morristown was originally built by Jacob Arnold’s father or Jacob’s business partner Thomas Kinney. The latter was a prominent man in Morris County, being the owner of an iron works and a farm as well as having served as High Sheriff. With the outbreak of the revolution Kinney organized and equipped a rebel company of light horsemen. It is remembered for escorting William Franklin, the last loyalist governor of New Jersey, to prison in Connecticut. By 1775, Kinney gave his partner the Kinney House tavern and the command of the light horsemen.

Renamed the Arnold Tavern (see drawing), the town’s principal inn was located on the Morristown green which was bordered by the court house, jail, and Presbyterian church. A three-story building, the tavern was divided down its centre by a wide hall. There were front and back parlours on its south side, and a kitchen, barroom and dining room on the north side. A French officer remembered the mirrors and “handsome mahogany furniture” which decorated the dining room. A wide spiral staircase took guests to the second floor and the “commodious” ballroom that was the site for many balls and Masonic lodge meetings. Guest rooms made up the third floor. The 200-acre farm behind the Arnold Tavern supplied the produce for its dining room.

From January to May of 1777, General Washington used the second floor of the Arnold Tavern as his headquarters. Three years later, Morristown’s chief hotel was once again the command post for the Continental Army. On May 10th of that year, the French nobleman Lafayette told Washington and John Hamilton of France’s plans to become an ally of the patriot forces.

These biographical details for Jacob Arnold provide clues for events of the life of his slave Bill. Given that Arnold had a large farm, a prosperous tavern, an iron works (called a slitting mill) and commanded a light horse company, he would have used Bill’s labours in one or several of these ventures. By 1777, Bill was 18 years old – strong enough to work in the fields, tend horses, labour in the mill or wait on customers in the tavern. The New Jersey tax records shed some light on the African teenager. In 1778, Captain Arnold paid taxes on his land, eleven horses, sixteen cattle, four hogs, one riding chair, and one servant. The latter was probably Bill.

Bill’s entry in the Book of Negroes says that he escaped Arnold in 1780 –a year that witnessed intensive fighting in the southern colonies and celebrated a number of significant British victories. Colonel Tye, a Black Loyalist fighter, had also led many successful guerrilla raids in New York. The British promise of freedom to patriot slaves was too good to ignore. Blacks in Virginia, South Carolina, and New Jersey had the greatest number of successful flights to freedom. And Bill –the slave of Jacob Arnold– was among the latter, finding sanctuary in New York City sometime during 1780.

During the next three years, Bill met Nicholas Brown, a loyalist from Charlestown, Massachusetts. After marrying Hannah Barns, Brown moved to Hartford, Connecticut, earning his living as a locksmith, shopkeeper and planter. In April of 1777, Brown openly sided with the British and had to flee to Long Island. When his family attempted to follow him by sailing on a rebel ship under the command of Captain Eliphalet Thorpe, they were turned back. Although they sailed under a flag of truce, the loyalists were told that they did not have the mandatory special license.

Hannah Brown’s second attempt to join her husband was successful, but it was done on the proviso that Cynthia, Nicholas Junior, and their sister Hannah, –three of the couple’s children– must remain in Connecticut. By 1781, all seven of the Brown children and their parents had been reunited; on April 28, 1783 they boarded the Ann & Elizabeth, an evacuation vessel bound for Port Roseway, Nova Scotia. Sailing with them as free servants were Bill and Dinah Brown with their infant child.

The loyalists’ ship was part of a fleet of 18 vessels that carried 424 refugee families. They disembarked in Nova Scotia on May 4, 1783. A year later, Bill Brown’s name could be found in the Muster of Free Blacks of Birchtown and Port Roseway. Given that Bill’s name is not found among the list of those who left Nova Scotia for Sierra Leone, it would seem that the Black Loyalist elected to remain in his new home. How he used the skills that he learned while a slave to the owner of Arnold’s Tavern will forever remain an untold chapter of his story.

And thus, the entry for Bill Brown is unpacked — providing posterity with a story far richer than the mere 18 words recorded in the Book of Negroes. The story of Brown’s wife Dinah will be told in next week’s Loyalist Trails.

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

Borealia: Stewarding a Canadian Culture of Comity

By Elizabeth Mancke, posted 6 December 2016

The election of Donald Trump as US president raises concerns about the impact on Canada: on trade, energy policy, currency exchanges, pipelines, climate change. Most anxiety inducing is the toxic turn of civic discourse, as the US political process tolerated expressions of racism and sexism, as well as outright lies and intimidation.

The contaminating effects, we fear, may spread north. Although Canadians now have a cultural confidence about their differences from Americans, and believe that they should be protected, the task is complicated by the difficulty of identifying these differences.

At a very mundane level, Canadian “niceness” might be undermined. That niceness, however, is not from Canadians spending more time in Sunday school (lower than in the US) or table time with parents over supper. It reflects a culture of comity, of courtesy and consideration in civic discourse, dating back to the Loyalists of the 18th century. As refugees from a war they opposed, these Americans moved north armed with words not weapons as the primary tools to rebuild shattered communities and forge deliberative governments.

Read more.

JAR: Fishermen and Foxhunters: Washington’s “Gentlemen of Fortune”

by Gary Shattuck published on December 7, 2016

Before Lexington and Concord, before there was any need for an army, and before men found themselves beholden to the dictates of military service there were the many trade, social, and sporting organizations offering them opportunities to associate together. In Philadelphia, where before the war there were no less than seventeen private fire companies engaged in heavy socializing when not attending to fire prevention concerns, there are perhaps no better examples than the Schuylkill Fishing Company and Gloucester Foxhunting Club.

The rosters of each of these organizations share many of the same names, with members coming from both the city and immediately across the Delaware River in New Jersey’s Gloucester County. These mens’ close bonds and leadership abilities were so evident that in November 1774 they formed the nucleus of one of the colonies’ first all-volunteer organizations enforcing the First Continental Congress’s non-importation dictates, the Light-Horse of the City of Philadelphia. They used an important flag displaying, reportedly for the first time on any banner, the distinctive thirteen stripes symbolizing the number of colonies.

Sport and the comradery it allowed was the common factor drawing these men together in the decades preceding the Revolution. Until then, the area around Philadelphia was populated with an abundance of fish and wildlife, drawing many to tramp its thick forests and wade in its streams.

Read more.

The American Revolution Through the Eyes of King George

A treasure trove of nearly 350,000 documents, about to be released to the public, reveals new insights about how George III lost the colonies

Shortly after the Revolutionary War, a British father of 15 sat down to think about the world “turned upside down.” He had never seen the American continent, and rarely set foot outside London. But his private papers reveal that he closely tracked the war’s path in maps and regiment lists. A man of routine, he dated his daily letters to the minute as the conflict raged on. He tried hard to picture the England that his children would inherit. “America is lost! Must we fall beneath the blow?” he wrote in a neat, sloping hand. “Or have we resources that may repair the mischiefs?” These were the words of George III—father, farmer, king—as he weighed Britain’s future.

Why open up the once-private royal archive? The Georgian papers are “absolutely key to our shared past,” says Oliver Urquhart Irvine, Royal Librarian and assistant keeper of the Queen’s Archives. “It’s not just about us. It’s important to see George III’s relationship to science, to agriculture, to family and domestic life, to women, to education, and to all kinds of subjects.”

History, however, has not always been kind to George III. His loss of the American colonies, an extended conflict with Napoleon and painful episodes of mania (possibly caused by porphyria) all plagued his reign. But though biographers have painted him as authoritarian or erratic, scholars say that his private papers tell a different tale that humanizes the misunderstood monarch.

Long a shadowy figure in American history, George III and his world reemerge via his private papers. So, too, does a people’s history of how the British experienced a transformative period in science, art, and culture. The archive’s opening could mean a new era for scholars. Historians eager for evidence of George III’s personal politics may find that court life also needs a new history.

Read more (the Smithsonian).

Book: Captured in the War of 1812

by David F. Hemmings & Joshua Lichty, $5.00 incl. GST, plus P&P $10.00. ISBN 978-0-9733078-3-2, 272+x pp., with photographs, detailed list of POWs, index, etc.

Payment by cheque payable to “David Hemmings” or by Visa/MC/Paypal through www.bygonespublishing.com.

There is little detailed information written about the cantonments that housed British and Canadian prisoners in the United States of America (U.S.A.) during the War of 1812. There is even less information about the interaction prisoners had with people in the U.S. towns and villages that confined the officers and men; but the humanity of each individual’s circumstances is largely lost in history. What does exist are lists of prisoners, rolls of names and ranks. This book is intended to enlighten readers on the camps that held prisoners of war (POWs) in America during the years of 1812 to 1815 and the conditions of their imprisonment.

Captured by the enemy, marched hundreds of miles to remote parts of America, held as hostages, removed from what is familiar, placed in tight quarters for an extended duration of time: these were the conditions for thousands of POWs throughout the War of 1812. Even before 1813 and 1814 when most captured soldiers (and a few sailors) were confined in U.S. camps, it is recorded generally that the winter of 1812 to 1813 saw one in every eight soldiers die of disease – more than all those wounded in the entire War.

In large cantonments such as Newport KY, Chillicothe OH, Pittsfield MA and Greenbush NY that housed thousands of American troops in the same vicinity as the British and Canadian POWs, or small towns such as Cheshire and Stockbridge that held less than one hundred locally-paroled British and Canadian officers, the experiences of prisoners in American camps varied significantly from town to town, camp to camp. To complement the profiles of some camps, the process of parole for officers and men is also outlined to explain the different meanings it had some two hundred years ago.

A major influence on the treatment of most British and Canadian POWs was Major Thomas Melvill, Superintendent of Prisoners at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. From Boston to France, gaining influence and rank, he married the granddaughter of General Henry Dearborn, commander of the United States Northern Army. Posted at the largest POW camp in America, he wielded a heavy influence on prisoner activities in the United States.

This is one of the first publications to address comprehensively the American camps for POWs taken from land and lake battles throughout the War of 1812. It discusses camp layouts, conditions, captors and the names of the prisoners staying at each camp; this composite of topics for the War of 1812 has been rarely researched and never compiled in one document. Many primary documents and resources, prisoner’s personal accounts, and illustrations of layouts add richness to the subject. It is grounded in original documents and site-specific studies that consider the military and social environments of the time. This book is written for those interested in a fuller history of the War of 1812, and offers a listing of the 5,200 POWs held in U.S. camps during this period.

…David F. Hemmings

Region and Branch Bits

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

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • Leisler’s Rebellion: New York’s (not so) Glorious Revolution: A special guest blog by Sophie H Jones (a recipient of 2016 Loyalist Scholarship). 1688: The Glorious Revolution. For many of us, these words bring to mind the overthrow of the tyrannical Catholic King James II and the happy arrival of William of Orange and his Queen, Mary. But what happened in New York? Read more…
  • In 1780, Loyalist units based in Canada launched a daring rescue mission into New York. For these loyalists, participation in the 1780 operation was more than opportunity to get away from the boredom of garrison duty. Instead, this activity represented an opportunity of revenge for the failures of Saratoga. Read more about the rescue mission.
  • A map showing Forts & outposts in South Carolina during the Rev. War (1775-1783).
  • Tribute posted inside Trinity Anglican Church in Digby. Nova Scotia to Loyalist Rev. Roger Viets
  • St. Augustine Colonial Night Watch & Torchlight Parade St. Augustine Colonial Nightwatch. A grand torch lighted march and parade with 18th-century military units, fife and drum music and living history participants down St. George Street in Saint Augustine, Florida. Short video.
  • A scrumptious c. 1775 beauty: Woman’s Dress and Petticoat (Robe à la française). Interested in more, A Few 18th and 19th Century Fashion Resources
  • Rebellion or riot?: black Loyalist food laws in Sierra Leone by Rachel B. Herrmann. In 1800 black Loyalists in Sierra Leone participated in an event that historians have called a rebellion. Reinterpreting the 1800 rebellion as a food riot reveals more extensive black Loyalist political activity in the 1790s, greater cooperation between black Loyalists and white councilmen, and increased animosity between black Loyalists and Africans. Black Loyalists created food legislation with the approval of the Sierra Leone Council, but those laws fostered disagreements with Africans. When the Sierra Leone Council revoked the black Loyalists’ law-making abilities, colonists rioted to reclaim the political and legal rights that they developed through their food legislation. Published in Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies, Volume 37 2016 – Issue 4 (found at Taylor and Francis Online)
  • Blue Loyalist plate – Wood & Sons Burslem, England (photo) showing the Loyalist Monument in Hamilton, Ontario
  • 1814 hot chocolate that’s sure to keep you warm!

Last Post: Eugenie “Emma” McFadyen (MacPherson), UE

A life well lived: Emma celebrated her 103rd Birthday with the Col. Butler Branch of the UEL on Saturday, the 5th of November, 2016.

She was born in Guelph, ON, 8 Dec 1913, the first child of Palmer Murton MacPherson UE and Beatrice Ann Jordan. Emma passed away on Dec. The 4th, in the arms of her family, at Niagara Gardens Assisted living, in St. Catharines, ON, 4 days before her 103rd Birthday.

Emma descends through her father from Samuel Soper, Butler’s Ranger, United Empire Loyalist.

She was a graduate of the Canadian Mothercraft Society; a member of the Canadian Women’s League of Health and Beauty.

She has been awarded The Order of Niagara

Emma has always been active in her community: Leader of Brownies, Junior Achievers, craft classes for children, 4 H Club, President of Weller Park Rate Payers, President of Port Weller Home and School, president of Grantham Women’s Institute, member of The Eastern Star, member of Grace Anglican Church, member of Campers and Hikers Assoc., member and President of the Golden Wanders, delivered Meals On Wheels, Hospital Visitor, plus, a life filled with volunteering.

Emma is survived by her daughter Elizabeth Robbins UE and her grandchildren, Wendy and Scott Robbins. Predeceased by her daughter, The Rev. Margaret Ann Greenhow, UE, in 2014.

Emma lived life. She was a biker; pulled a trailer to Florida when she was 89. She continued to take her trailer to camp-outs with the campers until she was 96. On her CB radio she was Auntie Em because Big Mac was already taken. In this photo, Emma about age 96 was visiting Elizabeth in Florida. The same year, she fell off a bike after a ride and broke her wrist as she had one foot on the pedal and one on the ground. Although she then gave up driving, she continued to camp, but with friends in their fifth wheeler.

Emma didn’t miss a trick; seemed invincible.

…Elizabeth Robbins, UE


Loyalists Fleeing Through Sackets Harbour Area

We recently had an inquiry asking if we know anything about American Loyalists headed to Canada in the 1780s and 90s staying in huts in the area where Sackets Harbor is located (It was not yet Sackets Harbor until 1801).

Do you have any references about Loyalists passing through this part of Jefferson County (NY)?

Connie Barone